August 21st, 2008

{the hour} the boy who knew too much

'Can you guess where my accent is from?'

I was linked to this interesting game from Very Short List (a great daily email with a link to something interesting for the day - highly recommended!), in which you listen to somebody speaking two lines from a poem, and have to guess where their accent is from. Sounds simple, but I found it quite taxing to differentiate between many of the European accents!

Anyway, just thought it may be of interest to some of you out there :)
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mokka

"Prepositions, Fritz! Prepositions!"

Since everyone loves these kinds of questions, here's a follow-up to this post. (Warning! Looking now may prejudice your answer!) Please complete the following sentence:
"I spent $200 ___ shoes."
You may give as many responses as there are acceptable alternatives in your idiolect.

Edit: I forgot to mention that it's customary to mention where you acquired your English in your responses. That way, we can try to spot regional patterns. Also, jrthro has already taken the piss, so you can leave off unless you've got a truly entertaining new twist.

(no subject)

Slightly in response to the previous post...

I'm a native American English speaker who's emigrated to the UK, and time-telling in the two different countries occasionally gets tricky. "Half ten" has already been mentioned, but try this on for size:

10:15
American: "quarter after (ten)"
British: "quarter past (ten)"

10:45
American: "quarter of (eleven)"
British: "quarter to (eleven)"

10:30
American: "ten-thirty"
British: "half ten", "half past (ten)"

"Quarter after" my Brit friends have no trouble understanding (although one of them once did say, "What a curious way to tell the time!" He was a bit camp, though.). "Quarter of" they find completely incomprehensible ("....sorry, I'm too tired today to deal with American time.") and I generally have to "correct" myself to British usage.

So here's a question: anybody know where these differences come from, and whether they're recent or not? And how did we end up with the preposition of in the States? I mean, isn't quarter of ten, like.... 2:30?

EDIT: I very stupidly listed the pronunciation of 10:45 in British and American English as 'quarter of (ten)' and 'quarter to (ten)'. It is, of course, 'quarter of (eleven)' and 'quarter to (eleven)'. It's fixed now.

EDIT 2: My point with 10:30 was more that in American English there's no alternative to 'ten-thirty'; we never say 'half past ten', for example.

EDIT 3: Wow, I didn't realize this was such a regional thing. I'm from Southeast Pennsylvania, and I'm kind of used to thinking of us mid-Atlantickers as not having any kind of regional... well, anything, really. Didn't realize there was so much variety in the States. Learn something new every day!
PSpider

Onomotopoieac Words

So Onomotopoiea is the phenomenon where "a word or a grouping of words [...] imitates the sound it is describing, suggesting its source object, such as "click," "bunk", "clang," "buzz," "bang," or animal noises such as "oink", "slurp", or "meow"." [Wiki].

What do these onomotopoieac words become when they are used in sentences in the following fashion? Is there a particular term for them.

"The gun booms the bullet out."


"The clock clickers away."


These are both odd uses. and I found the first in a fantasy book and the latter I heard on Bloomberg news. In the case of the novel, it seems like artistic license but even in that case, there has to be some precedence for such use.

At first I thought they would just be another expression of onotopoiea but it doesn't seem to be along those lines. So what would we call that.

Spanish saying

Hello all. Thank you again to everyone who helped me with my Arabic name questions.

I'm still working on my translation of a Spanish play and encountered a saying. I understand what it means, but I'm having trouble thinking of an English language equivalent:

Eso es echar fieros a sus espaldas, y después temblar en su presencia.

It's refers to speaking ill of someone behind their backs and fearing them when face to face.

I'd appreciate any help.
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multi-language T&I programs

Did (or does) anyone here study or teach at a multi-language translation/interpreting program?

I taught for several years in a Spanish-English (only) program, and now am being asked to help design a curriculum (and possibly teach) for a multi-language program focusing mainly on East and South Asian languages (with some Spanish and possibly American Indian languages also).

Basically, I'm curious how you could have T&I courses where the instructor doesn't speak both of the students' languages (I mean, I'm assuming they'll all be English-X or Spanish-X, but X could be Mandarin, Arabic, Navajo, Mixteco...). How do exams (etc.) get graded? What is the focus of the courses? What books are used? (And if anyone would be willing to talk in more detail by email, I'd be eternally grateful.)

Cross-posted to interlingual and linguaphiles