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Archive for the ‘Trivia and Linguistics’ Category

TVMobile is sexist

Posted by lovelyloey on October 2, 2009

or they are stupid.

I was on the bus on Wednesday and I was joylessly glancing at yet another Just For Laughs program on TVMobile when I spotted this insane quotation running on the footer:

“Freedom is the emancipation of the arbitrary rules of other men.”

One, is this quote addressing men only?

Two, arbitrary rules come only from men?

Three, what’s wrong with using Man?

Four, what’s wrong with using other people?

Clearly someone working in there choosing quotes to showcase isn’t very smart.

Posted in Trivia and Linguistics, Unfettered | Leave a Comment »

Mooncake

Posted by lovelyloey on September 27, 2009

Today I took out my Mum’s mooncake mould. My 3-year-old niece saw it and we had an interesting conversation.

Her: What is it?
Me: This is for the mooncake.
Her: Where is the moon?

All right. How do I explain that there’s no moon in a mooncake? Like how a shortcake isn’t short, and how a fairy cake has no fairy in it?

And if you’re wondering why I took out the mooncake mould, it COULD be because I will be attempting to make mooncakes. :D

Posted in Personal, Trivia and Linguistics | Leave a Comment »

Hiragana

Posted by lovelyloey on September 11, 2009

Yesterday I was coerced into buying a textbook to learn hiragana, which is the syllabic alphabets that make up one of the 3 writing systems used in Japanese. (Katakana and kanji are the other two.)

In the book I am provided space to practise my penmanship. I feel like a nursery student all over again when learning to pick up a new writing system. Perhaps the verb “pick up” trivializes matters; it certainly is not easy trying to learn another writing system. I’m so far past the critical age of language acquisition already this is beginning to resemble an impossible mission.

Nonetheless I will press on. I may have some aptitude for languages, who knows.

Posted in Personal, Trivia and Linguistics | Leave a Comment »

Should

Posted by lovelyloey on July 21, 2009

I am beginning to hate the word shall (and its derivatives) more and more. You may wonder how can anyone hate words. People just do. Like people who hate expletives like fuck, I hate the word shall. To me, shall must join the ranks of dirty words.

I refer to the sense that denotes “expressing a demand or assertion”. For example, “you shall not kill” and “you shall listen to me”. The word stinks. It clearly gives the user the power to demand something out of the intended recipient. Whoever gave the user that power then? Is it on a first-come-first-served basis?

And then there’s the sense that reeks of expectations, and public expectations at that. For example, “You should give up your seat” and “you should be nice to your classmates”. Even if I don’t want to, because should is used, I am expected to do as told. Such demands get constantly renewed and propagated by others, making the demand end up being regarded as a rule, or truth of some sort. Fundamentally, it’s public demand and expectation, nothing more than that. Why should the majority then be allowed to ennoble the role of these demands?

So I hate the word. There is no perceivable rational reason why every person must be subject to the same set of expectations. There is only that small universal set of expectations we can safely assume of everyone. A very small set. Allow me to illustrate:

P1. All humans eat.
P2. We are humans.
Q. Hence we eat.

But can we say this:

P1. All children learn the multiplication table by 6 years old.
P2. A child who does not learn the multiplication table by 6 is stupid.
P3. You did not learn the multiplication table by 6.
Q. Hence you are stupid.

All it takes is a lame blow to P1 to kill this seemingly logical yet fallacious argument. So how is it fair to use the word should in terms of what someone must know just because other people know it?

To me, shall is a dirty word. Supposing there is a set of words that are dirtier than the rest. Words like god, love and justice must then join this set of words because these three elements have singularly caused more conflict and hence death in history than any other words. So words like fuck and god share the same rank to me. And no one SHALL take this belief away from me.

Posted in Trivia and Linguistics, Unfettered | 1 Comment »

Hawk?

Posted by lovelyloey on April 30, 2009

My tuition student didn’t know what a hawk is. I told her it’s a big predator bird. And then she asked,

“how is it related to hawker?”

HAHA. I had a good laugh. I never looked at it that way. So I had to try to explain how language is so arbitrary, CAT has nothing to do with the animal. She shrugged and said language is strange. And then while working on vivid verbs, she asked me again, why does the verb and noun form of “cast” have so many different yet unrelated meanings. To cast a stone, to cast an actor, to put on a cast… I, again, attributed it to the arbitrariness of language. Then she spouted something that made so much sense,

“Then why don’t we have another word for these different meanings?”

Sometimes it really takes an outsider perspective to see that English, as a language, sucks.

Posted in Trivia and Linguistics | 4 Comments »

Excessing affixation

Posted by lovelyloey on April 9, 2009

I’m quite befuddled by two cases of excessive affixation I’ve observed.

(1) Obligated vs. obliged.

Recently I’ve been hearing some instances of obligated from my classmates. Is there a different meaning to these two words? Or different connotation? I don’t feel any difference between the two of them. I always prefer to use obliged.

(2) Tact vs. tactfulness.

I saw tactfulness on a friend’s blog. Again, is tactfulness the same as tact, especially in the context of “I need _ to handle these people.” ? I always prefer to use tact in that context. Tactfulness would be more like “her tactfulness has allowed her to excel in PR” or something. Hm.

Posted in Trivia and Linguistics | Leave a Comment »

Unputdownably

Posted by lovelyloey on February 26, 2009

Just now I was looking at a book description on the net when I saw the book being described as “unputdownable”. I went, WOW, since when was that a word?

So I had to turn to the “authorities”. Webster claims it is an adjective synonymous to riveting, used for describing books and the first instance of use was 1947. WOW. So I turned to OED Online and there was no entry for unputdownable, just a passing mention that the productive prefix un- has given rise to many new formulations, and unputdownable is an example. AH.

I hate that word. Simply because I would then be tempted to use putdownable which doesn’t exist. Why not, since un- is productive, I should have the right to describe a book as putdownable, right? And since -able is a suffix that simply changes a verb into an adjective, we can assume the root verb is putdown. So that gives us the possibility below:

(a) John is putdowning the book already, stop kicking a fucking fuss!

(b) She finally putdowned that crappy book otherwise known as Twilight.

And since we have words like probable and probably, let’s assume we can turn putdownable into an adverb putdownably. And hence the example below:

(c) That book was putdownably bad I want to make my enemy read it.

And really, there’s nothing stopping me from forming unputdown, because in the first place, putdownable is not considered a well-formed word. So unputdown will be a un- prefix plus a verb, which can mean the reverse of the action of putdown, i.e. pick up. Therefore the example:

(d) Please unputdown the book and start reading or I’ll blow your head off.

Ah, the beauty of language!

(And I had so much fun trying to convince you that this works. I obviously disregarded a gigantic fallacy. But in this case, it’s not important to consider fallacies. I’m just trying to be a true-blue quack non-fiction writer.)

Posted in Trivia and Linguistics | 2 Comments »

13 years and going

Posted by lovelyloey on January 10, 2009

Yesterday evening I met 3 friends whom I have known for 12 years, since 1997. The four of us make it a point to try to meet a couple of times a year to update each other on our lives. We went to a Korean restaurant along Mosque Road at Chinatown, called Togi. They serve pretty good and authentic Korean food, I really enjoyed dinner there. Pictures will have to wait because the pictures I took with my cellphone camera are too blurry to be put up – tak glam. We had  stir-fried beef and pork dishes that had to be wrapped in lettuce, a bean paste seafood soup, kimchee pancakes, spicy stir-fried rice cakes (highly recommended!) and a myriad of free side dishes like cucumber kimchee, cabbage kimchee, potato salad and greens. I like this place enough to want to go back again!

When we were walking along Chinatown area to Central after dinner, we spotted this hilarious poster and I just had to take a picture of it. In fact, all of 4 us crowded around the poster and each took pictures of it.

What the poster says in Chinese is that they buy in all good or spoilt hand CHICKEN. See, chicken and the equivalent of phone (in the compound cell/hand phone) are homophones (i.e. sound the same, written differently) in Mandarin, so the person who designed the poster must have had a lapse in his Chinese education. So I thought this is pretty funny.

Anyway, I really cherish my friendship with these folks. This is our 13th year of knowing each other and somehow these people never fail to surprise me at each of our meetings. Perhaps it’s long breaks in between each meeting and somehow we are still getting to know new facets to one another’s personality and lifestyle. Today we sat down and talked a lot about future dreams and aspirations, and that’s another side to them I discovered today. Even though we may not spend a lot of time together, but it seems that there’s just that something holding us together. So cheers to 12 years of friendship and the many more to come.

Posted in Food, Personal, Trivia and Linguistics | 1 Comment »

ELF

Posted by lovelyloey on January 5, 2009

That day I witnessed a trivial yet entirely classic episode of English as Lingua Franca (ELF) moment at the nail salon.

My friend and I went for express manicure the other day and the manicurists were mostly from China. When we knew, we spoke Mandarin to them, no biggie. After a while, this other Chinese lady came in with her friends and started yabbering away in English with a funny accent. I sort of guessed she was Taiwanese. She wanted to remove her acrylic nails so she asked the manicurists in English, so the poor manicurist tried to reply in English, but both didn’t understand what the other meant. I was secretly laughing away. Eventually they settled for Mandarin.

Looking at this incident, it’s that I’m poking fun at Chinese and Taiwanese English, just that, don’t you get that ELF moment, where English functions as more than a language, but a social phenomenon? Kind of reminds me of Mad About English. It wasn’t a particularly good documentary, but it does show certain aspects of ELF learning in China prior to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. And on another issue, it’s quiant how Singaporean Chinese salespeople will assume a Chinese face can speak Mandarin and automatically speak Mandarin to you most of the time, but these manicurists are more careful to jump to that conclusion. Interesting.

Posted in Trivia and Linguistics | Leave a Comment »

Restaurant puzzle

Posted by lovelyloey on November 21, 2008

Some of you may have heard this puzzle before, but I thought it’d be fun to post it up:

Three women went to restaurant and had a meal for $10 each, the bill totalling to $30. The restaurant manager then decides to give them a discount of $5, so the total bill was slashed to $25. He gives the waiter the extra $5 to be returned to these women. However, the dishonest waiter decided to pocket $2, leaving only $3 for the three women, which each received one dollar each. In essence, they paid $9 each, totalling to $27, and with the $2 that the waiter pocketed, that makes $29. Compared to the $30 paid earlier, what happened to the $1?

I’ve been puzzled by this question for the longest time. I’ve been thinking for days, and still I don’t have the answer. After some googling, I finally found out the answer. Work on it before peeking at the answers below!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Trivia and Linguistics | 2 Comments »

 
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