Archive for the 'linguistics' Category

keep your le bistro, i’ll take kopitiam

I filed a copy of this somewhere and came across it today……

Keep your Le Bistro, I’ll take kopitiam
By Janadas Devan


MANY years ago, an American professor explained to me why he was anxious to visit what he quaintly called ‘the Far East’. ‘I want to see it before what is different about it disappears altogether, and it becomes an extension of suburban America,’ he said.

The gall, I thought, the obtuse smugness! But he happened to be a very distinguished scholar indeed, so I explained politely: ‘Even if the rest of the world looks like America, it remains different. Form should never be mistaken for substance’.

The more fool I. As I soon realised, the professor may not have been altogether right about Asian modernity, but he wasn’t altogether wrong either.

Continue reading ‘keep your le bistro, i’ll take kopitiam’

you learn something new every day

I was reading a local florist’s website when I suddenly noticed that their address was 311 Old Birdcage Walk. Googled that and realized Old Birdcage Walk was actually a thing…… in off-the-beaten-track, countrysidish Seletar. A very poetic name indeed. However, there is apparently no birdcage there, old or new, alas!

you learn something new every day

191015 3Was checking up something on Wiktionary yesterday when I noticed the ‘In other languages’ bit on the usual left sidebar. There was a language that I had never seen before. A simple google search revealed that this language was actually Cherokee! The development of the Cherokee syllabary is pretty interesting too.

you learn something new every day

Was on one of my usual jaunts through Wikipedia, this time delving into medieval European royalty, when I clicked to this odd-looking word – baldachin!

you learn something new every day

Was googling for something when I stumbled upon this French-looking word – vernissage!

you learn something new every day

So election fever in Singapore is hotting up. Read this article recently and learnt about the concept of ‘doorstep interviews‘!

you learn something new every day

So these are what pretty-sounding parterres are!

your name may be a sign of the times

An article on Singaporean Chinese names. Incidentally, l did notice the ‘Korean Connection’ naming phenomenon mentioned, by reading advertisements (containing names of students), placed by local Chinese tuition schools!

Your name may be a sign of the times
By Larry Teo

PEOPLE’S names are markers of time, according to Chinese onomastician Ji Changhong, as certain names are peculiar to or popular in certain periods.

Therefore, if you were a writer spinning a tale about Singapore in the 1960s, you should know that Chinese names such as Han (meaning refined) or Yu (universe) were rare, if not non-existent, at that time.

To capture the atmosphere of the era, go for names such as Ah Fu (blessing) or Ah Fa (prosper) for males, and Ah Lian (lotus) or Ah Hua (flower) for females.

I know these are now names associated chiefly with Chinatown or Geylang, but they were everywhere in the past.

Continue reading ‘your name may be a sign of the times’

family history in a trove of scribbles

I like to scribble and have kept a journal for most of my life, so I really found this article very enjoyable!

Family history in a trove of scribbles
By Corrie Tan

Last year, the number of people living in my family home shrank by half.

My youngest sister is studying abroad and is often home for only three months of the year. I got married; my husband and I bought a small flat close by. Then my grandmother, who was in her 90s, died peacefully of old age. Our domestic helper left to work and care for another elderly person, a line of work she had come to enjoy.

My parents decided that it was the right time to downsize. As luck would have it, they found a cosy apartment just a short walk from my block and we began to pack our lives into boxes.

Continue reading ‘family history in a trove of scribbles’

toothbrushes and toothpaste

My friend Gabriel posted this question on Facebook:

Why do I have 3 tubes of Colgate toothpaste in my toilet?

Responses I really liked:
– ‘Asexual reproduction’
– ‘Life will find a way. / No wait…’
– ‘There were 4 and someone took one?’
– ‘42

And this was mine: ‘there are more toothbrushes on our toothbrush rack than there are people at home. best thing is, some of my family members keep their brushes elsewhere… :/’ Curious, indeed!

you learn something new every day

Read this New York Times article yesterday and came across the word prurient for the very first time!

you are the poem

My friend John just posted this on Facebook:

are the poem
I never knew
how to write
and this life
is the story
I have always
to tell.

Tyler Knott Gregson

And so I discovered the amazing Tyler Knott Gregson. His poetry exudes the beauty of simplicity. I quite like this one:

Stare out with wonder
and feel the world staring back;
it sees your magic.

you learn something new every day

Lucubrate is an archaic way of saying ‘write’ or ‘study’.

you learn something new every day

Just learnt what an epergne is!

you learn something new every day

Rile, which I am familiar with, turns out to be a variant of roil, which I am not. Roil looks like a very roiling word indeed!

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