Tag Archives: english language

Tweetable in Oxford Dictionaries

Learning English is hard. Some new words recognised by Oxford Dictionaries make me feel a bit dizzy. Below is a list of some of the new words that have been added to Oxford Dictionaries as part of their February 2013 update. Read the original post here.

A selection of new words from the February 2013 quarterly update, by Oxford Dictionaries.

Image from OxfordWords Blog

Image from Oxford Words Blog

appletini, Baggy Green, biosimilar, blootered, braggadocious, burrata,
cane corso, cruft, dumbphone, feature-complete, flexitarian, FOSS, friend zone,
hump day, metabolic syndrome, omnium, range anxiety, schlumpy, sillage, social sharing, SSD,
touchless, tray bake, tweetable, upcharge, voluntourism

Why is Tray Bake a new term? Tweeter is so powerful that now certain things are ‘tweetable’. I haven’t got a Tweeter account, and does it mean that I’m out? It’s also interesting to learn about a new form of anxiety — range anxiety:

[mass noun] informal

  • worry on the part of a person driving an electric car that the battery will run out of power before the destination or a suitable charging point is reached:range anxiety is often cited as the most important reason why many are reluctant to buy electric cars

From the list, I can tell you that I’ve got a dumbphone, and my neighbour is a flexitarian.

Wy not try making a few sentences with these words? Please share your creativity with us in the comments.

It’s a hump day. Let’s have some tray cake, burrata and appletini. Make sure you’re not too schlumpy.

The Polish delight

Yesterday I wrote about Polish being the second most spoken language in England and Wales, according to the 2011 census.

I sensed the rise of the Polish language just over 2 years ago. In our local library, the self-service machine offered 4 language options, namely, English, Chinese, Russian and Polish.

Today I went to Winchester library to check if the language options have changed. No. It’s the same language options. This picture shows what I saw in the Polish version about account, borrowing and renewal and making payment.

Polish at your fingertips.

Polish at your fingertips.

There are 2 issues here. First, why offering the Russian option? How many Russian speakers have you ever met in Hampshire, or in England? Without any statistic, I’m sure the Russian population in Hampshire is minimal.

Second, why offering the Polish language option? Have you met any Polish who can’t speak or write English well?

Based on my encounters with people from different ethnic groups, the majority of the people who can’t (or can’t be bothered to, or who are culturally discouraged to) learn English are from South China, especially women. Sadly, a lot of people (especially women) whose dominant language is in Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali or Gujarati (which I called the Big 4) can’t function in English in this country. If the library is to offer any practical support to the needy groups, I feel that the languages needed would be the Big 4.

I think it’s time I (and you) learnt some Polish

This chart I created shows you the main spoken languages in England and Wales.

English (and Welsh), Polish and Punjabi

English (and Welsh), Polish and Punjabi

According to the 2011 census, English (and Welsh) — 92% — is still the dominant language in England and Wales, followed by Polish (1%).

The top 10 reported languages were English, followed by Polish, Panjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, French, Chinese (excluding Mandarin and Cantonese, which were the 27th and 40th most commonly-used languages) and Portuguese. According to the census, Chinese (excluding Mandarin and Cantonese) ranked number 9.

See the data from the Office for National Statistics,

Language distribution in England and Wales, 2011 (Source: Office for National Statistics)

Language distribution in England and Wales, 2011 (Source: Office for National Statistics)

As a linguist, I’m curious of this data regarding the Chinese language. What does Chinese (excluding Mandarin and Cantonese) really cover? Shanghainese, Min and Taiwanese, Hakka, Fuzhou……? How were various Chinese languages (regional languages or dialects) defined? Most modern Chinese speak Mandarin, and their functional language will be Mandarin (though they may are born speaking regional language/dialect.) Which option would the Chinese people have chosen? Mandarin or their regional languages/dialects? I reason that the percentage of the population who speaks Mandarin would be higher, if you included those who also speak their regional language/dialects.

To learn Polish, please pop over to the BBC for some quick tips. Good luck!

Click the image below to learn Polish.

Surviving Polish

Polish or dummies

Chinese Farewell song: Lyrics by LI Shutong; Composer: John Pond Ordway

The most refined Chinese Farewell song

In my last post, I recalled the Chinese version of Auld Lang Syne, commonly sung at graduation assemblies and funerals. Now, I’m going to share with you an original Chinese farewell song, elegantly written as a poem in 1915 by the charismatic and talented artist, LI Shutong 李叔同 (1880 to 1942), three years before he abandoned all worldly desires to become a Buddhist monk. This classical song with shared Chinese symbols is also often top choice for graduation assemblies. Continue reading

Friend: the word to honour 2012

In response to my previous post, Chinese Character of the Year 2012 Revealed: From ‘Tiny’ to ‘Lust’, my friend Vera Poh from To Dad With Love told the world with a warm heart that she would choose the Chinese character 友 (pronounced as yǒu; meaning ‘friend’) to be her character of the year 2012.

Here is the character ‘friend’ in Chinese, as chosen by Vera.

Poh Character of the Year 2012If you have been on WordPress for a while, you might also share Vera’s reflections on this Chinese character. Aren’t we not grateful that we’ve found some genuine friends through blogging, especially on WordPress? The most invaluable experience on WordPress is that many friendships have transcended nation, age and culture. Friendships have flourished and minds are nurtured. Our life has thus been wonderfully enriched.

Fascinating Chinese Character of the Year 2012

In China, the character 微 (pronounced: wēi) has been chosen by some media in China as the character which encapsulates the year 2012. This character means tiny, small, micro and insignificant.

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

What do you think of these characters representing the year?

In China, the equivalent of Twitter is called 微博(micro-blogging; pronounced ‘wēibó’), which is powerful in breaking firewalls and has allowed the voice of the general public in China to be heard. A few Chinese idioms also carry this character. It may refer to people feeling ‘insignificant’ and powerless. It also refers to the selflessness of many ‘tiny’ people of China with their spirit of sacrifice. Continue reading

Screen shot 2012-10-06 at 17.36.17

Weekly Writing Challenge: Metaphors for Homesickness

Weekly Writing Challenge: Easy As Pie

The writing challenge last week was about metaphors and similes. The metaphors for homesickness sprang to my mind. Homesickness – 乡愁 (pronunciation: xiāng chóu)  – is a famous poem in the modern Chinese history, written in 1972 by the eminent poet YU Guangzhong 余光中.

Poet YU Guangzhong

This short poem employed 4 metaphors: stamp, ship-ticket, grave, strait. Continue reading

Why ‘Opium Den’ is an offensive name

I was in Oxford last weekend. I walked past an Opium Den.

Apparently, it’s a cafe, restaurant and a Karaoke bar.

If you’ve a basic knowledge about the Opium Wars between China and the British Empire, you know that the wars were humiliating, millions of lives were wrecked, and to China, unequal treaties (such as Treaty of Nanking) meant losing territories and dignity.

Is Opium Den a good brand?

Therefore, why using Opium Den as a brand name? If you think the name “Opium Den” is funny, it’s not. This name is offensive. It’s in bad taste.

It triggered me to think about branding. When you decide to have a brand name, what’d be on your mind? Continue reading

5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Language

English is such a fascinating language. It’s common that people do not always say what they mean, or do not mean what they say. Below is a list of 5 things that I’ve learnt:

1) A Cream Tea is not a cup of tea with cream

On our honeymoon in Jersey back in 1999, my husband asked if I fancied some Cream Tea. I said yes as I was thirsty after a long walk.

He later gave me a plate with a fat, boring looking bun (I later learnt it was called a scone) with jam and cream next to it. I sat and waited patiently for my tea. “Where’s my tea?”  I asked. Hugh pointed at the fat, boring looking bun and said ‘You said you wanted some Cream Tea.’

Cream Tea means a scone. Continue reading

5 changes of a Chinese wife in England: on Culture

I’ve slowly picked up some survival tips after living in England since 1996. Here are 5 of them on culture:

1) Always starting your greetings with the weather, not food

Now I say ‘Isn’t it lovely!’ or ‘What a lovely day!’ to greet people, as ‘hello’, as opposed to saying, ‘Have you eaten?’, which is a Chinese way of asking ‘How’re you’.

And, I’ve learnt to agree with people when they praise or moan about the weather, because English people don’t expect you to disagree with them about the English weather. They just don’t. Continue reading