Saturday, December 12, 2015

8 Things You Didn't Know About Norman Rockwell

1. When he was just five years old, other boys played with store-bought ships to have naval battles. Since he couldn't afford them, Norman cut some of his own out of cardboard and painted them. They became so popular, other boys asked him to make some for them.
2. Norman Rockwell became the editor of Boy's Life at the age of 19.
3. Rockwell attempted to enlist in the U.S. Navy during WWI; however, he was underweight and was refused entry on his first try. After a night of eating as much as he coud, Rockwell returned to the recruiters and was appointed as a military artist.

4. In his earlier work, Rockwell worked with live models. When he began to use a camera to snap pictures of the models, he began to work in wilder, more exaggerated poses -- ones that would have been hard for a live model to hold for hours.

5.  Over his 47-year career, Norman Rockwell published a total of 322 original covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

6.  Much of the film, Forrest Gump contains visual aesthetic is said to be inspired by Rockwell's art.
This shot includes a recreation of Rockwell's Girl with Black
Eye, featuring Forrest instead of a girl. 
The iconic photo of Forrest sitting on his park bench
creates continuity in this Rockwell-esque quality.
7.  Norman Rockwell's  Breaking Home Ties sold for a whopping $15.4 million at Sotheby's in 2006.
Breaking Home Ties
8. Rockwell's mastery of composition is inspiring. He arranges his paintings wonderfully. For example, in the painting from Tom Sawyer, note how well he frames Tom with the bending figure around him. Adding to the woman the dark upper part of the painting and even the poised cat, Rockwell makes the whole painting seem to be pressing down in on him. Notice also how he throws a bowl on the floor to break up the foreground.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I Love You - in German

Ich liebe dich

Let's break it down:

It sounds something like the /j/ sound in Spanish, kind of like a snake hissing.
Most English-speakers get away with saying "ish," as in "finish" or "fish."

Say this slowly "lee-buh."

The "ich" in "Dich" is pronounced the same as "ich" in the first word.
"Dich" sounds similar to the English word "dish," except the /ch/ sound is produced in the middle of the mouth instead of the front.

If you want to get technical, that difficult /ch/ in German is a voiceless palatal fricative.
But it isn't pronounced the same way you would pronounce the /ch/ voiceless palatal fricative in English.

Yes, you can take the girl out of the linguistics and speech pathology career . . . . but you can't take the "annoying need to discuss these things" out of the girl!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

8 Pronunciation Errors - Which Ones Do You Make?

Someone I know tells a story about a very senior academic giving a speech. Students shouldn't worry too much, she says, if their plans "go oar-y" after graduation. Confused glances are exchanged across the hall. Slowly the penny drops: the professor has been pronouncing "awry" wrong all through her long, glittering career.
We've all been there. I still lapse into mis-CHEE-vous if I'm not concentrating. This week some PR whizzes working for a railway station with an unusual name unveiled the results of a survey into frequently garbled words. The station itself is routinely confused with an endocrine gland about the size of a carrot (you can see why they hired PRs). Researchers also found that 340 of the 1000 surveyed said ex-cetera instead of etcetera, while 260 of 1000 ordered ex-pressos instead of espressos. Prescription came out as perscription or proscription 20% of the time. 
The point is malapropisms and mispronunciations are fairly common. The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary lists 171,476 words as being in common use. But the average person's vocabulary is tens of thousands smaller, and the number of words they use every day smaller still. There are bound to be things we've read or are vaguely familiar with, but not able to pronounce as we are supposed to.
The term "supposed" opens up a whole different debate, of course. Error is the engine of language change, and today's mistake could be tomorrow's vigorously defended norm. There are lots of wonderful examples of alternative pronunciations or missteps that have become standard usage. Here are some of my favourites, complete with fancy technical names.
"Mine napron"

1) Words that used to begin with "n"

Adder, apron and umpire all used to start with an "n". Constructions like "A nadder" or "Mine napron" were so common the first letter was assumed to be part of the preceding word. Linguists call this kind of thing reanalysis or rebracketing.

2) When sounds swap around

Wasp used to be waps; bird used to be brid and horse used to be hros. Remember this when the next time you hear someone complaining about aks for ask or nucular for nuclear, or even perscription. It's called metathesis, and it's a very common, perfectly natural process.

3) When sounds disappear

English spelling can be a pain, but it's also a repository of information about the history of pronunciation. Are we being lazy when we say the name of the third day of the working week? Our ancestors might have thought so. Given that it was once "Woden's day" (named after the Norse god), the "d" isn't just for decoration, and was pronounced up until relatively recently. Who now says the "t" in Christmas? It must have been there at one point, as the messiah wasn't actually called Chris. These are examples of syncope.

4) When sounds intrude

Our anatomy can make some changes more likely than others. The simple mechanics of moving from a nasal sound ("m" or "n") to a non-nasal one can make a consonant pop up in-between. Thunder used to be "thuner", and empty "emty". You can see the same process happening now with words like hamster, which often gets pronounced with an intruding "p". This is a type of epenthesis.

5) When "l" goes dark

A dark "l", in linguistic jargon, is one pronounced with the back of the tongue raised. In English, it is found after vowels, as in the words full or pole. This tongue raising can go so far that the "l" ends up sounding like a "w". People frown on this in non-standard dialects such as cockney ("the ol' bill"). But the "l" in folk, talk and walk used to be pronounced. Now almost everyone uses a "w" instead- we effectively say fowk, tawk and wawk. This process is called velarisation.

6) Ch-ch-ch-changes

Your grandmother might not like the way you pronounce tune. She might place a delicate "y" sound before the vowel, saying tyune where you would say chune. The same goes for other words like tutor or duke. But this process, called affrication, is happening, like it or not. Within a single generation it has pretty much become standard English.

7) What the folk?

Borrowing from other languages can give rise to an entirely understandable and utterly charming kind of mistake. With little or no knowledge of the foreign tongue, we go for an approximation that makes some kind of sense in terms of both sound and meaning. This is folk etymology. Examples include crayfish, from the French écrevisse (not a fish but a kind of lobster); sparrow grass as a variant for asparagus in some English dialects; muskrat (conveniently musky, and a rodent, but named because of the Algonquin word muscascus meaning red); and female, which isn't a derivative of male at all, but comes from old French femelle meaning woman.

8) Spelling it like it is

As we've mentioned, English spelling can be a pain. That is mainly because our language underwent some seismic sound changes after the written forms of
many words had been more or less settled. But just to confuse matters, spelling can reassert itself, with speakers taking their cue from the arrangement of letters on the page rather than what they hear. This is called spelling pronunciation

In Norwegian, "sk" is pronounced "sh". So early English-speaking adopters of skiing actually went shiing. Once the rest of us started reading about it in magazines we just said it how it looked. Influenced by spelling, some Americans are apparently starting to pronounce the "l" in words like balm and psalm (something which actually reflects a much earlier pronunciation).
My head is spinning now, so it's over to you. Which words do you mispronounce, and which common mispronunciations do you think we should resign ourselves to?

A great article, don't you think? - our guest author is

folk etymology 
spelling pronunciation


Saturday, March 08, 2014

I Should've Ordered Glutinous Rice Chicken!

Can we all say, "Lost in translation?"

This is a list of actual English subtitles from real Hong Kong Kung Fu Movies. 

These are the results of the original Chinese dialogue being rendered — or rather, beaten out of recognizable shape — into English:

1. "I am darn unsatisfied to be killed in this way."
2. "Fatty, you with your thick face have hurt my instep."
3. "Gun wounds again?"
4. "Same old rules: no eyes, no groin."
5. "A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries."
6. "I'll burn you into a barbecue chicken!"
7. "Who gave you the nerve to get killed here?"
8. "Quiet or I'll blow your throat up."
9. "You always use violence. I should've ordered glutinous rice chicken!"
10. "I'll fire aimlessly if you don't come out!"
11. "You daring lousy guy!"
12. "I got knife scars more than the number of your leg's hair!"
13. "Beware! Your bones are going to be disconnected."
14. "How can you use my intestines as a gift?"
15. "The bullets inside are very hot. Why do I feel so cold?"
16. "Beat him out of recognizable shape."
H/T: Patrick Madrid

Monday, March 03, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Walmart Agrees to Phase Out SOME Harmful Chemicals in Products (starting in 2015?)

Here is yet another reason I love where I do most of my shopping (and, it is not Walmart). Thank goodness for what I have learned working with EveVenture!

Walmart, America's largest retailer, has announced it will phase out 10 potentially hazardous chemicals in products it carries in everything from baby shampoo and cosmetics to household cleaners.

Walmart didn't release which chemicals will be banned in its stores, but consumer groups like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics have lobbied against phthalates, parabens, triclosan and a handful of other chemicals in recent years. It's believed these are the same chemicals Walmart will ban.

"I think its good overall," said Dr. Chip Carson of the University of Texas Health Science Center.
Carson says the move by Walmart to phase out potentially toxic chemicals is a step in the right direction.
"In the United States, we've taken the point of view that to make something be removed from contact with the public, you have to prove that it's a hazard," he explained. "Whereas in other countries of the world and in some centers of academia, we take the point of view that if there's any question, you don't use it until you prove it's safe."

Triclosan is one of those chemicals. It’s been used in antibacterial soaps and gels for decades. In animals, there's evidence it can cause birth defects and infertility.

Still, Proctor & Gamble has promised to remove the chemical and phthalates from all of its products by 2014.
Johnson & Johnson has vowed its products will be free of phthalates and its baby shampoos free of potentially cancer-causing chemicals (dioxin and quaternium-15) that release formaldehyde by 2015.

No real deadlines have been released on when companies must remove certain chemicals. By 2015, Walmart says it will require suppliers to disclose ingredients online for items sold at its stores. In January 2016, Walmart will begin to report publicly on what progress is being made.


Saturday, October 05, 2013

10 Tips to Help Your Teen Maintain Healthy Sleep Patterns

Only 15% of teens are getting enough sleep. Keep your teen healthy . . .

  1. Make sleep a priority 
  2. Remember you are the parent  
  3. Body clock, same daily sleep and wake times— weekends too  
  4. Set a 9-10 hour sleep goal  
  5. Just say no to sugar and caffeine  
  6. Screen time, power down at sundown – 2 hours prior to bedtime  
  7. Bedroom, quiet and dark like a cave  
  8. Temperature, find the comfort zone  
  9. Meals, avoid heavy foods late in the day  
  10. Liquids, stop sips two hours before bed

Sleep researchers have discovered that the adolescent body clock is delayed, releasing melatonin about 90 minutes later at the onset of puberty. Teens don’t get sleepy as early as the rest of us. They get over stimulated by the sugar and caffeine laden energy drinks they chug to make it through the day. They are also more reactive to nighttime light. 

To compound this problem they are reducing their melatonin levels by up to 22% if clutching their glowing smart phones and tablets into the late night hours. 

A good reference:

And just for fun!