Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Great ad!

Another viral ad doing the rounds . . . Can you guess what it's for before it's over? (This is not a sponsored post.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

He's making a list and checking it twice

We are going on vacation later this summer and DH, being the organized one in the family, is already planning. He's been making a list of things we need to make sure not to forget. I find it interesting that the very first list he wanted me to sit down and go over with him was the following:
  • cell phone
  • car charger for cell phone
  • iPod
  • car charger for iPod
  • USB charger for iPod
  • Battery-operated USB charger
  • Adaptor to charge iPod from wall outlet
  • cameras (x3)
  • wall charger for one camera
  • car charger for other cameras

Sense a theme here? So I was very surprised, given DH's obvious love of gadgets to hear him say a Luddite "No thanks!" to the offer of the loan of a satnav/GPS. His comment, "I hear people have driven into canals relying on those things! I can read a map just fine." OK, but you should see the size of the pile of maps we're planning on taking!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This is really quite good

(Photo borrowed from Miss Chicago.)

When I was training as a language teacher we were told that, very often, students have more difficulty not with a feature of a language that is very different from their own but with one that is only a little different. The words that don't sound anything like English ones are easier to get right than the ones that sound somewhat like English but actually have a different meaning. English and American English are just different enough to cause problems in that way.

NFAH commented recently on the phrase "Every little helps" and how she feels it really should have the word "bit" added to the phrase - "Every little bit helps." After reading on another blog how the German phrase "jedes bisschen hilft" translates as "Every little helps", I wonder if this is a phrase that has lingered on in our language since the days of the Vikings. These kinds of phrases can stop you in your tracks a moment, but when push comes to shove they are still comprehensible.

Miss Chicago, on the other hand, just commented on British understatement, specifically in regard to Marks & Spencers Rich Tea Cream Fingers (whatever they are!) which are advertised as "Really rather good." No missing words here. However, the statement "really rather good" sounds far less enthusiastic to an American than to a Brit.

When I was applying to graduate school in the United States, I went back to my alma mater and asked my tutor if she would mind writing me a reference, (knowing full well that she would NEVER have written me a recommendation for a place on a Master's degree course in the UK.) I explained where I wanted to go and why, and she assured me that she would write me a good reference. In fact, she explained, she had learned through bitter experience exactly how to write references for American universities.

She had once been asked to write a reference for someone for a position at an Ivy League college. The candidate was over qualified for the position, but wanted the opportunity to work at an American university for a while, and particularly an Ivy League one. She not only did not get the post but discovered that the man who was hired had vastly inferior qualifications and experience. So she did the American thing and sued. She won her case and was awarded compensation, but not the job. It turned out that the American hiring committee had interpreted what would have been considered a glowing reference in the UK as somewhat cool and not very enthusiastic. So my tutor assured me that she knew exactly what to write to get me accepted, hinting that by her standards it would be not exactly a work of fiction but certainly one-sided.

There are people like Lynneguist who base their profession on the fact that English and American are not really the same language. Most of the time the differences are insignificant, or easily understood. Occasionally however, phrases like "Every little helps", remind me that even though I've been here 25 years and feel very American I did not grow up here

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nothing that you write will be read?

I had to fill out (fill in) a form last night. When I got to the end I wondered why I'd bothered:

I do wonder though, how will they know to notify me if they are not going to read the form?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A reason to live in the USA?

Forget wanting to live in the USA being about freedom and the pursuit of happiness - apparently it's all about the doughnuts!

I only found the blog BritishSpeak today - looks like it'll be one I go back to!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 05, 2010

Independence Day Parade

As always on the 4th of July, we headed off to our local parade. There were all kinds of groups in the parade - police, firefighters, farmers, Scouts - and, as always, many antique cars. Can you spot what is 'wrong' about this picture though?

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