When I’m looking for a topic for my weekly blog post, the first place I head to is *drum roll*… Wikipedia! I know Wikipedia gets a lot of negativity because it can be user edited, (and not always with correctly sourced information), but Wikipedia is truly a wealth of information. I, for one, love their homepage, because it’s the news and history, condensed. It’s up to me to see what piques my interest at that moment. If nothing does, fear not! I can always click “On This Day” and be whirled away to a list of birthdays, deaths, and other anniversaries. I love a good list and usually I can find an interesting read from either the homepage or the “On This Day” feature. I know I’m not the only one who loves Wikipedia. I haven’t gone so far as to create an account and edit articles, after all, I am but a mere plebe when it comes to research. That being said, I’ve used Wikipedia to write these blogs, to do research for essays in high school and college, to win arguments, to check spelling…the list goes on and on. I wondered, what would happen if Wikipedia just went away?
Once upon a time, Wikipedia tested this alternate timeline while protesting SOPA and PIPA, American bills that would censor websites, in 2012. Instead of its usual blue and white theme, the following image was displayed on the homepage:
While I applaud the website for shutting down (aka losing revenue) in response to an unjust bill, a different part of me says, a whole 24 hours without Wikipedia!? What about students who procrastinated and needed to get projects finished? What about people who always have to be right? What about people like me who check the Wikipedia homepage for fun? I suppose without net neutrality, using the internet for personal enjoyment would become a thing of the past anyway. I wish I could find reactions from Wikipedia-users in 2012 to Wikipedia’s black out, but alas, I don’t know how to optimize that search. My reaction? :
Five uses of ‘get’
Buy / obtain
Get can mean buy or obtain.
- I got myself a new phone last weekend.
- I need to get some new clothes.
Get can mean receive.
- I just got a message.
- I got a bike for my birthday!
Get with an adjective can mean become.
- I’m getting annoyed.
- It’s got quite hot in here suddenly.
Get can mean understand.
- I don’t get this joke.
- I don’t often meet people who get this type of movie.
Get can mean arrive.
- I need to get home early so I’m off!
- What time will you get here?
Recently at Amic, we did evaluations of our students’ progress with English. One of the criteria in which me measured our adult students on was their ability to ‘use hesitation mechanisms’ when speaking. In English, classic examples of these would be ‘um’, ‘uh’, ‘like’, ‘I mean’, ‘well’, and similar noises we make to show the other person we aren’t finished speaking and are thinking about what to say next.
Although it’s not something I’ve ever seen explicitly taught in an English textbook, I think using these filler sounds is an important step for any language learner wanting to sound like a native speaker. I may even start correcting my high-level students who fill their hesitation with etos and anos and see if it’s something that can be truly taught, or if they are something that just get ‘absorbed’ after listening to and interacting with enough native English speakers and media.
All of this also made me curious as to what filler sounds are used in other languages, and Wikipedia did not disappoint with me with their thorough list. Here are some interesting ones I came across:
- Chinese: en (um), zhège (“this”)
- Dutch: ehm (um), dus (“thus”), eigenlijk (“actually”)
- French: euh (um), bah, ben (“well”), tu sais, t’sais (“you know”)
- Persian: eh (um), bebin (“you see”), yaʿni (“I mean”)
- Polish: eee (um), no (“well”), wiesz (“you know”)
- Swedish: öhm (um), asså/alltså (“therefore”, “thus”), liksom (similar to “like”)
- Turkish: yani (“meaning…”), işte (“that is”), and falan (“so on”)
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Well, dear reader, as of now I have nothing to say. Really. Nothing.
If I felt like this in an actual face-to-face social situation, I would perhaps feel obligated to make nervous small talk in the hope that it eased the tension of the silent room. But online, surrounded by Earth’s HIVE of BUZZING information peddlers and broke content creators (the information and “content” probably falling somewhere between dire and excruciatingly meaningless), I’ve found silence is golden. Shiny-soul-warming-morning-sunshine-on-your-face-after-a-good-sleep golden.
But do not fret, dear reader. I’ll have something to say next week. Something so unbearably important to tell everyone that I’ll practically race my own shadow to my laptop followed only by the hammering of my icy, air-conditioned fingers descending on the keyboard like a hailstorm in an attempt to convey everything as accurately as possible before it slips my mind forever.
even the stars
are whispering to each other
（元の句は、「星さまの ささやき給ふ けしきかな」です♪）
I can’t feel my favorite season coming to its end, but it is almost September. The wee hours are a little cooler that I sleep with my windows open. As I rode my son to nursery school today, the cicadas weren’t chirping as loud. Maybe they know that their time has come and that the typhoons are approaching us.
I’ve noticed a common trope when it comes to movies set during World War II: a soldier sends a letter to their family or sweetheart only for censorship to render it unreadable! Of course, censorship was an important tactic to use in an era of espionage and misdirections. Perhaps soldiers just had to learn how to censor their letters over time or they got yelled at enough times from their superiors to know better than to include locations and positions in their notes home. How were soldiers able to communicate with their loved ones? I, for one, would be devastated if my child or husband were in war and the only communication I received from them was full of holes! Enter V-mail!
Short for Victory Mail; V-mail was a hybrid mail process that was used during World War II for soldiers stationed abroad to send secure correspondence. How did it work? V-mail correspondence was written on small letter sheets, or paper that could be folded and sent without an envelope. The V-mail would than be censored and then photographed and transferred as a tiny image to microfilm. Once the V-mail arrived to its destination, the image would be printed at 60% of the documents original size.
According to the National Postal Museum, “V-mail ensured that thousands of tons of shipping space could be reserved for war materials. The 37 mail bags required to carry 150,000 one-page letters could be replaced by a single mail sack. The weight of that same amount of mail was reduced dramatically from 2,575 pounds (1168 kg) to a mere 45 (20.4 kg).This saved considerable weight and bulk in a time in which both were hard to manage in a combat zone.”  Wow!
In addition to postal censorship, V-mail also worked to stop espionage communications by “foiling the use of invisible ink, microdots, and microprinting, none of which would be reproduced in a photocopy.” Who knew mail could be so fascinating?!
まずは「Put on 」
I put on a jacket this morning.
I am wearing a jacket now.
I dressed my son for kindergarten.
I dressed myself in a skirt.
Play, do and go for sports
We use play for team sports or ball games.
- I play football.
- I don’t play tennis.
- Will we play hockey tomorrow?
We use do for more individual activities.
- I do exercise.
- I don’t do judo.
- Have you ever done aerobics?
We often use go for activities ending in -ING
- I go running.
- I don’t go swimming.
- I would never go skydiving.
In addition to maps, as a kid I was also a huge flag nerd. While I liked to look at atlases for the actual maps inside, my true favorite page was at the back of book where every single country’s flag was displayed neatly. I’m only halfway embarrassed to say that I once had a shirt of a similar design, that I used to collect miniature flags, and that a few years ago I even downloaded an app to help me try and memorize every single nation’s flag (I didn’t quite ever make it to 100%). At one point I probably even wanted to be a vexillologist (a person who studies flags) but I’m guessing there aren’t too many job opportunities in that field.
Anyway, after spending all this time looking at flags, I naturally developed some favorites. While it’d be impossible for me to choose a true top list, these five would definitely be in the mix:
While most African nations use some combination of red-green-yellow-black on their flags, Seychelles lets everyone know how different they are from mainland Africa by sporting this fabulously different banner.
Macedonia’s flag looks like a permanent lens flare, or like you just unlocked some ancient gate or treasure chest that is opening for the first time in centuries.
I appreciate any flag that is probably extra fun for schoolchildren to draw (or that looks like it was designed in MS Paint).
What looks like some sort of retro-futuristic basketball court design is actually the beautifully balanced flag of Grenada. To let everyone know how into spices they are, they even stuck in a clove of nutmeg on the left hand side.
It’s a trident, just like Poseidon and Ariel’s father in “The Little Mermaid” have! Save for Kenya, I think it’s also the only flag with a weapon on it, so that’s pretty cool.