martes, 23 de octubre de 2007

Anubis sails up the Thames

This is one of the most beautiful videos I've seen lately. It is Anubis sailing up the Thames all the way to Trafalgar Sq. for the Tutankhamun exhibition. The Guardian God of the Dead on his way to watch over Tutankhamun.
The video is followed by advertising, I'm afraid, because I was unable to find any other clip on the net. I saw it on TV, in the news and find it breathtaking. Enjoy


lunes, 22 de octubre de 2007

El País Nuevo

Unas líneas para comentar el nuevo formato de el periódico El País que siguiendo la línea de las publicaciones americanas (consecuencia, supongo del gran incremento de la franja de población que está entre los 50-80 años)ha aumentado en uno o dos cuerpos el tamaño de la tipografía. Estoy segura de que no soy la única que lo agradece inmensamente.
También un diez en los contenidos. Más de uno se habrá pasado todo el domingo leyendo el periódico.
En cuanto al artículo "Cambiemos el rumbo del mundo", reconozco que al ver los restos de periódicos de toda una semana empiezo a pensar que leer la prensa en Internet definitivamente acabará siendo la alternativa más lógica- muy a mi pesar.
Veo que en este artículo no se hace mención a una campaña noruega de eco-guerrilla que tuvo mucho éxito hace años. Consistía en quitar los envases superfluos de los productos en los supermercados y dejarlos en el lineal, pasando por caja únicamente el producto en cuestión. Dejaban las cajas de los tubos de dentífrico, por ejemplo, o las que llevan una lata en su interior. Supuso un caos en los supermercados (los códigos vienen generalmente en el envoltorio externo) pero al parecer llevó a más de un fabricante a replantearse el packaging de su producto.
No puede ser tan difícil cortar un poco con tanto despilfarro de papel, cartón y lo que es peor aún (dado que son objetos imposibles) los blisters de plástico.

domingo, 21 de octubre de 2007

American Lit Course


An important shift can be observed over the last few decades in the field of learning that could be summarized in: less emphasis on teachers and teaching - more stress on learners and learning. This reflects on language education and applied linguistics in many ways that also apply to the learning of a foreign language.
Literature plays a major role in involving students in the learning process inasmuch as it provokes an individual and personal response to a specific text. Each learner creates a different relationship with the same text.
Literature is rich in potential for group discussion, enhancing language learning and developing comprehension skills.
It is an unbeatable source of vocabulary and the road leading straight into a world that is alien to us as foreigners but which we must gain access to if we want to master a foreign language.
If you are interested in this Seminar on American Literature, please check out our website for more details.facetoface-personalenglishtrainers.com

martes, 16 de octubre de 2007

Think green my friend


Congratulations to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change"
No matter how many scientific uncertainties, the truth is he has helped to change perception on climate change the world over.
The future is green, my friend.

Sustainable Development

A lesson for real-estate developers, builders, town-planners, this extract from President Theodore Roosevelt's speech at the Grand Canyon in May 1903: "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so
far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the
rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection
with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country - to
keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to
learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding
not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you
will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a ho-
tel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublim-
ity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon.
Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it.
The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.
What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's
children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great
sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.
We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are
to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something
to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present
generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. What-
ever it is, handle it so that your children's children will get the
benefit of it.

A Royal Flush


Warm congratulations to Doris Lessing for a much-deserved Nobel Prize!
Brief press release of the Nobel Prize Org. describes her as"that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny"
Sitting at her doorstep surrounded by journalists, she says: "I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush."
You can listen to a telephone interview at: nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2007/lessing-interview
Thanks, UNGA for the image.

miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2007

The Crack


If you happen to walk into the Tate Modern one of these days, fear not, the uneven crack opening under your feet is the result of no earthquake or faulty construction.

It is Doris Salcedo's work "Shibboleth".

The meaning of this term is the usage of language indicative of one's social or regional origin, or more broadly speaking, any practice that identifies members of a group. It was originally used by the Hebrews to distinguish the members of a group whose dialect lacked a particular sound from the members of another group whose dialect did include that particular sound.
A shibboleth is a kind of linguistic password: A way of speaking (a pronunciation, or the use of a particular expression) that identifies one as a member of an 'in' group. The purpose of a shibboleth is exclusionary as much as inclusionary: A person whose way of speaking violates a shibboleth is identified as an outsider and thereby excluded by the group.

Doris Salcedo said in an interview that she wants people to forget the "technical" aspects - how on earth did they drill that? sort of question - and think of the MEANING of her work. This reminded me of the impression I had when visiting the last ARCO fair in Madrid. Everyone poking at the works, apparently far more interested in the canvas, plotter, metal or digital whatever being used than in the actual work. Container prevails over content.

Back to semantics, the chasm brought to mind the lines of a poem by Seamus Heaney:

"by God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it."

The son lives in a different world, uses a different language, yet both tasks are related. Both dig beneath the surface of things, cultivating the possibilities of what may grow under.
Green weeds are bound to sprout from Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth.

lunes, 8 de octubre de 2007

Best Speeches of XXCentury



Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lou Gehrig, Winston Churchill,Douglas MacArthur, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, JR. or Anwar Sadat are only some of the gifted speakers whose speeches were decisive in the XXCentury.
Churchill's speeches are a gold mine for quotes (and misquotes)Who hasn't heard "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat?"
John Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech was perhaps the most famous single moment of the Cold War.
One could argue that war spurs oratory brilliance, but the world is still at war in many parts of the world and politicians' utterances are far from convincing. The polish seems to have worn off .
Good speakers have shifted from the world of politics to the world of business. Steve Job's (CEO's Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios) address to students at Stanford University is a good example. It's a good speech, but "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" does fall a little flat all things considered...
If you're interested in this subject, FACETOFACE (Madrid) is holding a workshop starting tomorrow on BEST SPEECHES OF THE XXCENTURY. For more info:www.facetoface-personalenglishtrainers.com
Thanks, UNGA for the poster.

jueves, 4 de octubre de 2007

miércoles, 3 de octubre de 2007

It's only Words


New words are added to the English language at a rate of about 900 words every year. The methods used for admitting new words officially is not scientific . Generally, the word must be used by people in positions of influence or people who get a lot of media coverage. It also needs to be widespread, (here's where the Media, especially TV and the Internet come in) and in use for a certain period of time (how long is arbitrary) The criteria used for admittance is far from strict, it obeys more to a hunch that a word everyone's using "is here to stay".

Aside from the most common ways of creating new words, such as
joining two existing words, (dirty dancing), adding a prefix or a suffix (on-growing) or "blending" words (breakfast+lunch=brunch), you can also re-create, using an existing word in a different way or giving it a different meaning. This includes using a noun as a verb (to doorstep someone) or an adjective as a noun.
Or else you can shorten long words and when this shorter version is used widely enough, it becomes a word in its own right (porn instead of pornography) just like Acronyms do. (AIDS)
You can also introduce words from foreign languages, usually to describe something we haven't got a word for in English, such as siesta, which is slightly longer than a nap or fuselage introduced in aviation language from the French.
And last, but not least, you can come up with completely new or invented words.

I personally love the latter (though I don't recommend their use when sitting for an exam. Not before they are included in the dictionary, anyway.) But don't be afraid to use them in speech. Provided a word is descriptive enough and makes sense (some don't even have to make too much sense - the word googol, that means 1 with 100 noughts after, was invented by a mathematician's young nephew), go ahead and say it! Who knows? Your word might end up in the dictionary.
What happens when words are no longer used? Small abridged dictionaries might drop them, but you'll still find them in the complete versions. They are always there, ready for revival.

One of the most appealing features of the English language is, I believe, precisely this flexibility with words. Any lover of Scrabble will understand what I mean. I had a Dutch friend who refused to remove the y she had conveniently placed at the end of "further". What's wrong with saying "I live a little furthery"?, she asked. It stresses the "little further" a little further still. Soon it became the standing joke in our group of friends. Never made it to the Oxford dictionary, I'm afraid.

Few purists are against this practice that has helped to make English what it is.
Grammar, though, is another matter altogether. Far less flexible and yet..."You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country." Robert Frost. But we'll talk about that some other time.

More interesting facts on linguistics in http://itotd.com/articles/549/portmanteau/

NOTE:The image above is not mine, it comes from a website called something like "abeautifulrevolution" but I was unable to find it. My compliments to the person who created it and my apology if I am in any way infringing his copyright.

One perfect rose

This e-mail I received today is in line with the dreary weather. I'm sure my friend won't mind my posting it here. In spite of being down in the dumps, she always manages to make me smile. I share her love for Dorothy Parker and her acid, intelligent wit.

I spent all morning adding and substracting. Ends just refused to meet. I decided to deposit my short-term future in hands of a coin - Heads, I buy food and eat this month - Tails, I pay my rent and keep my landlord happy and even put down some weight in the process. OOOhhh, politically incorrect Dorothy Parker comes to mind:

A single flow'r he sent me,
since we met.
All tenderly his messenger
he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew
still wet--
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine,
do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck
to get
One perfect rose.

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