Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Learning Spanish & English with I Love Lucy

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

First let’s learn some Spanish

Now for some English …

I hope you enjoyed a laugh or two. If you want to watch some more, there are plenty on Youtube.

10 Palabras Contradictorias en Inglés

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Burning down or burning up?

Si pensabas que era fácil aprender inglés, toma nota de las siguientes palabras que, dependiendo del contexto, pueden tener significados que se contradicen entre si.

1. Bill – (a) billete, dinero en efectivo que tienes (b) una factura/nota, dinero que debes.

2. Against – (a) hacia, cerca de “against the wall”, “contra la pared” (b) que se opone “against the wind”, “contra el viento”.

3. Discursive – (a) pasando de tema en tema, sin orden (b) procediendo con mucha coherencia de un tema al que sigue.

4. Cleave – (a) separar “meat cleaver”, “cuchillo para partir carne” (b) mantenerse juntos, no separarse “to cleave to one another”, “no separarse”.

5. Before – (a) en el pasado “I did it before coming here”, “lo hice antes de venir aquí” (b) en el futuro “The future is before us”, “el futuro está ante nosotros”.

6. Blunt – (a) amellado, que no tiene filo (b) hablando de palabras, son palabras agudas que van directo al grano.

7. Either – (a) uno o el otro, “you can choose either of the options”, “puedes escojer uno de las dos opciones”. (b) ambos, los dos, “there are cars parked on either side of the street”, “hay coches estacionados en ambos lados de la calle”.

8. Fast – (a) rápido, algo que se mueve rápido (b) fijado, amarrado firmemente, que no se va a mover.

9. Buckle – (a) asegurar “to buckle your seatbelt”, “abrochar el cinturón de seguridad” (b) vencerse, caerse, desplomarse “the bridge buckled”, “el puente se desplomó”.

10. Oversight – (a) cuando le das atención a un asunto: supervisión, vigilancia (b) cuando no le das atención a un asunto: descuido, equivocación, inadvertencia

¿No te encanta este idioma donde your house can burn down while it’s burning up, your alarm clock comes on when it goes off, and when you fill out a form, you’re actually filling it in?

¿Conoces más palabras contradictorias en inglés o español?

Photo credit: Krawiec. Used under a Creative Commons license.

W00t! Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year is Out

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

The English language is expanding and Merriam Webster tries to make that expansion official. The results are in and w00t is the new 2007 word of the year. It’s a combination of letters and numbers and is used to express joy after winning or for no reason at all. The word is part of what is know as l33t or leetspeak (l33t => leet => elite) used among gamers and computer nerds. W00t was originally an acronym for we owned the other team, and can alternatively be spelled woot. There’s even a website that spreads the joy by offering a speacial deal every day, and when it’s sold out, it’s gone.

Here are Merriam Webster’s top 10 words for 2007 (some new, some old):

1. w00t – expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word “yay”

2. facebook – to use

3. conundrum – a difficult problem, question or riddle that has a conjectural answer, or the answer involves a pun.

4. quixotic – foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals.

5. blamestorm – a meeting or gathering whose purpose is to pass or assign blame to someone.

6. sardoodledom – mechanically contrived plot structure and stereotyped or unrealistic characterization in drama.

7. apathetic – having or showing little or no interest, concern, emotion or feeling.

8. Pecksniffian – unctuously hypocritical.

9. hypocrite – acting in a contradictory fashion to your stated beliefs and feelings.

10. charlatan – someone who makes showy pretenses to knowledge or ability.

Language Trivia

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Here’s some interesting trivia I’ve collected from all over. Some is Spanish-related, and the rest is just language-related, but it’s all interesting– at least to me. Can you tell I like trivia? This isn’t the first time I’ve posted some.

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is a sentence which contains every letter of the English alphabet and is useful for testing printing equipment or fonts. These sentences are called pangrams. A couple of common pangrams in Spanish are: “El veloz murciélago hindú comía feliz cardillo y kiwi. La cigüeña tocaba el saxofón detrás del palenque de paja.”, and “El pingüino Wenceslao hizo kilómetros bajo exhaustiva lluvia y frío, añoraba a su querido cachorro.”

The phrase “The 3 R’s”– which stands for “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic”– was created by Sir William Curtis, who was illiterate.

The most commonly sung song in the world– “Happy birthday to you”– is copyrighted until 2010.

Two of the greatest writers who ever lived, William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes— of Don Quixote fame–, both died on April 23, 1616.

There are supposedly no words in English that rhyme with “month”, “orange”, “silver”, and “purple”. If you can think of any please let me know.

The word “Bookkeeper” is the only English word that has three consecutive double letters.

The expression “mad as a hatter” comes from a 19th century disorder called “hatter’s shakes” which afflicted hat makers and caused them to tremble, become easily excitable, act irrationally and mumble. The cause? The hatters were being poisoned by mercury. A mercury solution was used to treat the felt for making headgear, which in turn attacked the central nervous system.

España was called Hispania by the Romans, which was borrowed from the Phoenician’s term for the Iberian Peninsula– “The Land of Rabbits”.

Ever wonder about the origin of the Ñ? Originally it was used to save space when writing words that had a double N. So instead of writing “NN” the second N was written above the first one, which eventually evolved into a squiggle instead the the complete N. An example of this is the Latin anno, which is now written año in Spanish.

Corn has been cultivated in Mexico since the year 7000 B.C., more than 4,500 years before the Chinese had begun to develop a national cuisine. Many of the most popular Mexican dishes date from long before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521, making Mexico the country with the longest tradition of a national cuisine.

The Canary Islands are not named after the little yellow bird as you would assume. They were named after dogs via the Latin root “can”. Think “can” in Spanish, or “canine” in English.

I’ve made a reasonable effort to ensure that the above-mentioned trivia is all accurate, but don’t use it in your doctoral dissertation without doing some more research.

Why Learning English is Hard

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Have you heard of homophones? These are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. English has a lot of homophones, which can make learning English a lot harder than it would have to be.

  • boar (wild pig)
  • Boer (a South African of Dutch descent)
  • boor (tasteless buffoon)
  • bore (not interesting)

See Alan Cooper’s list of Homophones for more inspiration.

And that’s the number #1 reason why English is hard to learn.