Archive for the 'linguistics' Category

the more things change

The more things change, the more they stay the same…… this Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! (14 December 2014) comic strip says it all……

br 141214

from here

瓜瓜瓜瓜

为什么只有南瓜和西瓜,却没有东瓜和北瓜?

rhetorical reasons that slogans stick

Slogan is an ancient Gaelic word. It means, or at least it meant, battle cry.

When medieval Scotsmen were charging their enemies in remote and warlike glens, they would shout the name of their clan or their chieftain again and again and again. “Campbell! Campbell! Campbell!” or “McDonald! McDonald! McDonald!”

These days, in the battles of global corporations, there’s slightly less killing, and certainly fewer kilts. But otherwise it’s pretty much the same clamoring to be heard above the competitive fray.

Imagine an army of Apple employees, brandishing iPhone 6s and bellowing “Bigger than bigger!” as they storm a counterattacking legion of Samsung smartphone reps wielding Galaxy S5s and urging one another onward with “The next big thing is here!”

A slogan, a good one at least, is at the heart of a company. It doesn’t just face outward to the consumer, but inward to the employees. One sentence becomes the company identity, the corporate motto and the battle cry. So it had better be a cracking good sentence.

Click here for ‘Rhetorical Reasons That Slogans Stick’ by Mark Forsyth, which I found a very entertaining read!

you learn something new every day

Armscye is another name for armhole, or the fabric edge to which the sleeve is sewn. Apparently, the word itself has a pretty interesting etymology too!

you learn something new every day

Went to see the animated film Big Hero 6 on Friday evening. It’s a hilarious and heartwarming story of a teenage boy, Hiro Hamada, and his giant inflatable robot, Baymax, against a backdrop of love and loss. The way the Hiro dealt with his grief moved me to tears a few times. Definitely worth a watch!

Anyway, when I got home, I browsed the discussion topics about the movie on IMDb. In one of the discussions, I came across the term uncanny valley. A rather interesting concept indeed!

you learn something new every day

Contumelious looks contumelious indeed!

you learn something new every day

Abecedarian is a cuter way of saying ‘alphabetical’.

you learn something new every day

Vigesimal describes something related to or based on the number 20.

a rose by any other name

I was fact-checking a local medical history piece, contributed by one of my writers, a couple of months ago when I stumbled upon this 16-year-old news article, which may prove instructive with regard to the Angsana Primary naming issue. I quote (and I do find this portion particularly incisive):

What is needed is not a clinging to historic names but someone to trace their history and evolution, and explain the changes in the context of the social and political developments that they mark. For example, what we know as Fort Canning Park, was once a real fort, called Fort Canning and named after the first viceroy of India.

Before Stamford Raffles annexed Singapore for the British, it was known as Bukit Larangan, or Forbidden Hill, the home and burial grounds of ancient Malay kings. Who knows what it was called before that?

Now, if Singaporean leaders of the 21st century should change the hill’s name to Lee Kuan Yew Park, to honour the man who led the country to independence, would it rob Fort Canning of its history?

Of course not. A place’s current name is like an onion skin. Peel it away and another name, another story lies below.

Continue reading ‘a rose by any other name’

what’s in a name?

I have always been interested in the linguistics of names, and this issue naturally piqued my interest……

Griffiths and Qiaonan alumni upset over new name for merged school – Angsana Primary
Qiaonan and Griffiths hold plenty of history and memories for former staff and pupils

By Pearl Lee And Ho Ai Li

What’s in a name?

Plenty of history and memories, say former staff and pupils of Griffiths Primary School and Qiaonan Primary.

They are upset that the two pioneer schools, which together have been around for 145 years, will be merged to form Angsana Primary School – a name with little connection to its predecessors.

“Why Angsana? Why not something like Griffiths-Qiaonan?” asked 86-year-old Eunice Tan Khe Tong, a retired principal, who was there for Griffiths Primary School at its start, and its end.

Continue reading ‘what’s in a name?’

you learn something new every day

Oxford Dictionaries has selected vape as Word of the Year. I had never encountered this term before so I wondered what on earth it was about! Perhaps it has been a pretty big word in the Anglosphere? Apparently it is a verb which means to ‘inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device‘!

I also came across this rather amusing article from Yahoo Tech. I quote, ‘In 2014, Oxford Online’s Word of the Year was “vape.” In 2013, it was “selfie.” In 2012, it was “GIF.” In that spirit, here are 13 vape selfie GIFs. Hooray, English language!’

you learn something new every day

Recently stumbled onto the verb animadvert, which is a really formal way of saying ‘to criticize’.

you learn something new every day

Recently found out that embonpoint could be used as a (high-sounding) synonym for a woman’s bosom! It originated from the French phrase en bon point, or ‘in good condition’. (The first example sentence given by Oxford Dictionary is rather hilarious: ‘the lady of a certain age and uncertain embonpoint wore strapless black lace kept up by sheer determination’!) When I first encountered this word, I thought it was some sort of needlework!

you learn something new every day

Carrie: Have you ever been in love?
Mr Big: Abso-fuckin-lutely!

(Sex and the City, season 1, episode 1)

Recently learnt that words separated by words, like abso-fuckin-lutely, are actually called tmesis!

you learn something new every day

Was recently googling to find out the etymology of the Chinese idiom ‘马后炮‘ (ma hou pao, or ‘cannon behind horse’), when I stumbled onto this old discussion on a local forum. Someone wanted to know how to translate that Chinese idiom into English, and someone else suggested ‘Monday morning quarterback‘. I had never heard this term before, and after checking it out, I concluded it summed up the essence of ‘cannon behind horse’ perfectly! :D


wordpress visitor counter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 54 other followers