Size matters. Dictionary size (a thing for Dictionary Day)

Jagoda Ratajczak, kategoria: English readers are welcome
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What else can a person obsessed with English do on a nice and lazy Sunday, if not have some five o’clock tea and watch „Keeping up appearances”? Celebrate Dictionary Day!  Here comes a piece on why paper dictionaries are indispensable no matter how big Internet resources are, why Google Translate is good for nothing, and once again, on the case which my friends remember as “Crucifying Species- Gate”, that is on why spending quite a few quid on a good dictionary is better than dishonor  :)

Polish version available here

How could I not mention that it’s Dictionary Day today? David Bowie called  Oxford Dictionary “a long poem about everything”, which suggest that you do not need to be a lexicographer or Heaven forbid, some kinky highbrow to appreciate and  enjoy using dictionaries. Using a dictionary is like watching videos on YouTube- you just want to check one thing, and you end up browsing through it for an hour.   Przeczytaj Całość »

Put the spoon in

Jagoda Ratajczak, kategoria: English readers are welcome
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Without emotions, the world would probably know neither wars…nor excitement. And there would be even less excitement if language didn’t confuse things a bit in the already confused world of emotions and the words that denote them. The confusion continues, which you can judge by what different people see once they hear the word „fear”,  the communication breakdown between Greeks and the rest of the world, the incredible simplicity of Ilongot mentality and the way psychopaths seduce others with tender words. And most importantly, you can judge it by the fact that something that you put into one jar, may be put into five different jars when given to someone else…

 Polish version here

Never mind the weather or the destination. It doesn’t matter whether  it’s sunny or rainy and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a trip to Warsaw or to Beijing-  grandpa refuses to take the plane, no matter what.  Never mind heat or frost- when grandpa leaves his hometown, Kutno, to visit his grandchildren in London, the only way he does it is by his wheezing car, changing then to a wheezing ferry. On his way, he avoids any routes leading through fields, just in case some disoriented Airbus was to crash somewhere there. He also avoids any bridges just in case some lost Boeing 737 was to get entangled in between its spans.  What grandpa sees once he hears the word „fear” are on-board sickness, captain Wrona informing the passengers that the undercarriage is kaputt, the burning fuselage and the black box searched for among the rumbles and burnt corpses. Przeczytaj Całość »

Changing the set

Jagoda Ratajczak, kategoria: English readers are welcome
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Who are we when we speak our second language? Does being bilingual mean having two personalities too? Is a language barrier a real obstacle on the way towards getting to know another person?  What’s the opinion of common people, what’s the opinion of linguists and why shouldn’t you believe in what Depeche Mode sing about? This post is dedicated to everyone who had or has a partner from abroad…

Polish version here

Probably the most fascinating Depeche Mode’s video is the one in which the lead singer, Dave Gahan, dressed up as a king and carrying a deckchair, wanders through hills and plains without being even slightly distracted by changing seasons and weather conditions. During his stroll, he every now and then sits back in his deckchair and enjoys the views singing that silence is cool, words are very unnecessary and they can only do harm[1]. For stifled corporation workers whose day-to-day business is keeping their nose to the grindstone, taking a Dave Gahan walk, with a crown on the head, in serenity and with utter disregard for the outside world, may be even therapeutic, but trusting the poet’s words may be dangerous. After all, words ARE VERY necessary and even if they sometimes do harm, as the King Gahan sings, more often than not, their absence or inappropriate use may do even greater harm, especially during the mission known as „getting to know each other”. Speech is silver and silence is gold, but this pertains to the half of the cases only; in the other half of the cases there is no gold, but the layer of Chinese golden varnish and as you scratch it off with your nail, you find out the genuine reason behind silence, the reason which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with diplomatic reserve or unwillingness to waste one’s breath. In fact, and this conclusion is far from being revealing, the most common reason behind silence is language impotence, especially if we talk about the situations which require switching into our second language. Przeczytaj Całość »