Wednesday, November 12, 2014

9 Words With Totally Unexpected Origins

9 Words With Totally Unexpected Origins CHRISTINA STERBENZ OCT 18 2013 It's a year old but who cares, still fun.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Denmark's education: two foreign languages compulsory, third available.

Danish Folkeskole Education Obligatory subjects
The teaching in the nine-year basic school covers the following subjects which are compulsory for all pupils: Danish, Christian studies — including in the oldest forms instruction in foreign religions and other philosophies of life, PE and sport, and mathematics during the entire 9-year period;English and history from the 3rd to the 9th year; music from the 1st to the 6th year; science from the 1st to the 6th year; art from the 1st to the 5th year; social studies from the 8th to the 9th year; geography and biology from the 7th to the 9th year; physics and chemistry in the 7th to 9th year; needlework, wood- or metalwork and cooking for one or more years between the 4th and 7th year.[3]
The instruction in the basic school furthermore comprises the following obligatory topics: traffic safety, health and sex education and family planning as well as educational, vocational and labour market orientation. Optional subjects The second foreign language, German or French, must be offered in the 7th to 10th year. The following optional subjects and topics may be offered to the pupils in the 8th to 10th year: French or German as a third foreign language, wordprocessing, technology, media, art,photography, film, drama, music, needlework, wood- or metalwork, home economics, engine knowledge, other workshop subjects, and vocational studies. Furthermore, Latin may be offered to the pupils in the 10th year.
The teaching in the 10th form comprises the following subjects as obligatory subjects: Danish, mathematics, and English to an extent corresponding to a total of 14 lessons a week (i.e. half of the minimum weekly teaching time). Instruction must be offered in PE and sport, Christian studies and religious education, social studies and physics or chemistry. Furthermore, pupils who have chosen German or French as second foreign language in the 7th to 9th years must be offered continued instruction in that subject in the 10th year.
My Comment 
Ach du meine Güte, make all the excuses you like about the dismal state of languages education in Australia, but Denmark has just over a quarter our population in 43,094 square kilometres (16,639 sq miles)and does so much better. It's attitude of the society, and political will. And "just do it."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Speech was given us to disguise our thoughts

A pearl of wisdom in the Hobart Mercury newspaper of 1 October 1895 following excerpts from the Government Gazette:
"Speech was given us to disguise our thoughts, but you may preach till doomsday and then you will not disguise the fact that Jones' IXL Jams are the best in the world."
[THE GAZETTE. (1895, October 1). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from]

I love IXL's old, zany and tiny ads such as:

EAT JONES' IXL JAMS. The total wealth of Great Britain with all her possessions is estimated at £8,000,000,000. France comes next with £7,500,000,000. The wealth of the six largest nations in the world aggregates £33,000,000,000. [EAT JONES' IXL JAMS. (1897, July 8) Launceston Examiner(Tas. : 1842 - 1899), p. 2. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from]

EAT JONES' ' IXL JAMS. "Lives there a man with soul so dead, who never to his wife has said-'Use BOROLEINE SOAP.' "
That's a pre-feminist puzzler. (

EAT JONES' ' IXL JAMS. Kid gloves, with hand-painted flowers on the back, are the latest fad in Paris.
(1897, July 10). Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899), p. 8. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from

The technique seems to be, we'll give you one extraneous fact to illuminate your life and you swallow our message and our jam, please. Reminds me of the outrageous, hilarious and high-production-value television advertisements coming out of Sweden lately. We'll give you a laugh or three; please buy our vacuum cleaners, Volvos and IKEA.

Information on Henry Jones, founder of IXL jams.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Greeks understood: Happy is the enthusiast

"The Greeks understood the mysterious power of the hidden side of things. They bequeathed to us one of the most beautiful words in our language—the word ‘enthusiasm’—en theos—a god within. The grandeur of human actions is measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a god within, and who obeys." ~Louis Pasteur""

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Languages Sound Like To Foreigners

This is hilarious and intriguing and maybe even useful for studying prosodics. The Daily Mail 19-03-2014 said: "A young woman has filmed herself speaking gibberish in a string of different accents to show how people speaking foreign languages sound - at least to her. Nineteen-year-old Sara from Finland uses her remarkable skill for mimicry to show what different languages sound to foreigners who don't understand them. Her caricatures are so good that, to anyone who doesn't know the languages she is imitating, she could almost be a fluent speaker." See also at YouTube and her second one on YouTube: What Languages Sound Like To Foreigners #2 The pumped up emotional reactions in the comments themselves show something: how much people care about the sound of their languages, and get defensive even about a joke, when they would normally not think about it consciously. (Same girl displaying her singing range: One Girl, 14 Genres - Remix by Manu) Career in linguistics, translation, film making or singing? Which one will pay best, I wonder?