‘Words for Nerds’

Do you know what a finial is? In one of the Spotlight issues from 2020, Judith Gilbert, writer, editor and translator, wrote a little column titled ‘Words for Nerds’. Here she lists a number of words most people probably never heard of, and which demonstrate that it is impossible to know all the words of any language. They are all nouns denoting special little items of everyday life. See if you can find out what they are with the help of internet images. Do you know the term for the thing in your own native language?

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Oscars Potpourri – a selection of ideas

The 94th Academy Awards ceremony will take place on March 27. Again a little later than its pre-pandemic February date. If you like to learn more about the award itself, wikipedia is the place to go.

This year’s nomination ceremony has already taken place and can be watched on youtube.

I always like going through the Oscar nomination ballot sheet that lists all categories and films. It offers great general vocabulary practice, not just specifically film related. Going through the titles, finding out if anyone has already watched some of the nominated films, looking at trailers and synopsies of the films – all this I always find quite enjoyable even if – in most cases – we haven’t seen so many of the films.

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Companies forced to change old structures

Below you find the link to a text that discusses changes in companies’ or employers’ attitudes towards the working conditions they offer their employees. How voluntary or not these changes are is a question worth discussing.

During the last two years, a phenomenon called the Great Resignation has been spreading. I believe it started in the US, but also seems to be affecting companies in other countries. It assumedly started during the pandemic and seems to have been triggered by the radically enforced changes in peoples’ lives. Their is a wikipedia entry devoted to the phenomenon Great Resignation that could be read in connection with the text below.

Some of the questions worth discussing in connection with the Great Resignation:

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Quiztimate Round 1

I have a quizcard board game called Quiztimate that I liked playing every once in a while in groups before we went online. Many of the questions led to further discussions on the respective topic a question referred to, which for me is the main point of all quizzes: hoping the questions are so interesting that we can talk about them, not just go for finding the correct answer.

I have found that online people are more likely to sneak out of a conversation whose aim it is to think together and discuss possible answers to questions, and instead go for ‘instant gratification’, or what psychologists and neuro-scientists call the google affect – my biggest enemy 😉

For playing online, I have scanned some cards, 9 per round; the answers will be in a separate post, perhaps. If I forget to do that, try to find the answers via internet research. But only AFTER having exhausted all conversational solution generating processes!

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Find the mistakes

Below you find a list of sentences with mistakes learners of English have made or commonly make. Some are more common than others, but all of them touch upon certain ‘problem’ areas, though not all of them are so wrong that they would lead to misunderstandings in communication.

I regularly add to the list, therefore it has gotten pretty long. I would not recommend going through all sentences at once.

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Guess the Movie

Recently I bought a poster: 250 Top Movies Bucket List. I had it hung on my wall and was accordingly asked by some course participants what it was they were seeing. The single movie titles were too small for them to identify over my camera, but they were interested and some wanted to find out how many they actually knew.

I found a page that shows them all. And below I put some quiz questions together. Each sentence hints to one of the films. But before you guess the films: do you know the origin of the term bucket list?

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‘Be that as it may’ – a little language exploration Parts 1+2

Posted on February 1, 2022

This topic came up rather spontaneously in one of my advanced classes and definitely relates to a more advanced language issue. I wanted to post the topic anyhow. But since we haven’t yet finished with our language exploration, I will divide the post up in two parts. The second part will reveal the grammar point in question and elaborate a little.

In the text from The Case of a Tennis Player you find the sentence:

Judge Anthony Kelly’s ruling that Novak Djokovic be freed to contest the Australian Open overruled the government’s insistence that he should be barred for failing to prove he is exempt from being inoculated against Covid-19.

It was the BE in be freed that was unfamiliar, and the questions asked were: Why not is freed or should be freed?

Let’s do some language exploration to see if we can find out what kind of structure this is, and if we can find some similar patterns. Glosbe.com is a great web site for that.

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Get your proteins and your percentages too

Some time ago, I stumbled over claims made on the internet that spinach (and other vegetables) had more protein than meat. Though I’m positively sure this not to be the case, I continued searching for such claims – you never know. And as we do need to cut back on meat consumption of the mass produced kind, getting more of your protein from vegetables is a good thing, right?

(For all those who know me a little, this is not so much about nutrition and health and all, it’s more about numbers, and how rumours get started 😉

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Food Pyramids

‘Food’ is a topic that always comes up at some time during a course in various forms. Sometimes it is just a vocabulary issue: course members ask to review food vocabulary for example because they have guests from abroad and would like to explain their company’s menu. What we have often done was to simply get copies of the menu of the week and start translating, realizing how difficult even the translation of food vocabulary can sometimes be, especially when it comes to fancy menu names. (This would normally be the place where I would relate my famous food translation anecdote, but I will refrain from that for now, suffice it to say it involves turkeys and patrols).

And it’s always nice to have some pictures. Continue reading