Posts Tagged ‘dictionary’

Handy News

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Apparently I’m not the only person who needs help conjugating French verbs. I was reading the Le Monde newspaper online this morning and discovered that they have a section next to the classifieds and job opportunities that shows you how to conjugate verbs! Brilliant. I think The West Australian should pick that idea up because plenty of Australians need help with the English language. They may need to extend it beyond verb endings though. It’s about time people became aware that “Can I help youse?” is NOT a sentence.

I did particularly enough learning how to conjugate the verb “Estérifier,” which, according to my French/English dictionary, means to esterify. According to my English dictionary, to Esterify means to create an organic compound by replacing the hydrogen of an acid by analkyl or other organic group. Many naturally occurring fats and essential oils are esters of fatty acids. Now that’s a handy verb! You, too, can learn such verbs and how to conjugate them in French! Won’t that be fun.

I See!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I had a moment of ‘Ohhhh!’ yesterday while trying to find synonyms of the word “Business” in order to come up with a FANTASTIC title for a research brochure I am putting together for UWA. Some of you may remember an entry I wrote on 29 March (I can hear you all saying “Ahh… yes. I remember it well!”) where I complained about business not being spelt how it sounds. Well yesterday I discovered thanks to my good friend Wiktionary that the word business is derived from the Old English word ‘bisigness’, which is where we get ‘busy’ from. Where that damn ‘u’ fits in, I’m not sure, but at least we can now all see where the ‘i’ sound comes into it. Of course it also raises more questions such as “Where did that U comes from?” and “What sort of odd word is bisigness?” but no one has filled in those pages on Wiktionary so the answer remains unknown.

Busy Bizzy Busi

Monday, March 29th, 2010

The English language is a real odd-ball sometimes. I am currently receiving French tuition from a lovely French girl who loves language just as much as I do. When we sit and discuss the conjugation of French verbs and I ask questions that generally sound like, “Why do you say that?” we are constantly questioning the logic behind both the English and French languages. Sometimes it’s just plain STUPID. I think English takes the cake for Most Stupid Language in Existence, though. There are so many rules and so many exceptions to those rules resulting in the rules being wastes of time.

One of my biggest gripes is the fact that we don’t spell words how they sound. The fact that homophones and homonyms exist is just annoying. Life at primary school would have been so much more enjoyable if I hadn’t been forced to learn homophones. Actually, who am I kidding? I loved learning homophones but that’s because I’m a word nerd. This rant all stemmed from an email I was just writing. I was trying to write a version of the word “business” incorporating the word “whack.” I couldn’t decide how to spell it. Buswhack was my first option, an obvious derivative of business. But really that describes what happens when you get hit by a large people carrier. I then wanted to add an ‘i’ to create the right sound but business puts the ‘i’ after the ‘s’. I was oh so confused. I ended up writing ‘Bizwhack’ and avoiding the whole business concept and then wrote a lengthy explanation about what I was trying to write.

It amazes me how people can learn English when they have to get over the concept that “read” and “read” are both present and past tense. I suppose the French do similar things and I have recently discovered that there are about 5 additional tenses of French verbs that I was unaware of during my 7 years of French education. Excellent.
And now a short test for you all. Spot the error on this Sydney-based sign and win fabulous prizes!

Roed Closures sign

Good work, kids.

J is for…

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

As a child (and even later in life), I recall being asked to find words that started with the same letter as my name. There was that memory game you played when you started school where the class would sit in a circle and you’d have to say your name and that of the person next to you and then it would go around the circle until the last person had to say EVERYONE’S name. Tricky stuff. I hated that game. Purely for the reason that no good words start with J. I was stuck with “Jumping Jess” or “Jellybean Jess” or “Juggling Jess” while Sarahs and Tims and Rebeccas had endless words to choose from. Even now it hurts when I have to participate in an ‘ice breaker’ (now there’s a topic to write about!) and I have to introduce myself to a room of co-workers as “Juvenile Jessica”. It’s just not fair.

So I have decided that for this blog entry I am going to complete one of my favourite activities – reading the dictionary – and find myself a word. Yes, reading the dictionary is fun. You don’t realise how many words you don’t know until you do it! My ex-work mates had to listen to me prattling on about the fantastic new word I had found and Do They Know what a ‘Quincunx‘ is? I do now!

Today I will be reading from the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus which promises me “Unique format for one-stop lookup, comprehensive language coverage, and a wide choice of alternative words.” Exactly what I’m after.

Well! Here’s my problem! In a dictionary with 1363 pages, the letter J has 11 pages! The injustice! Ok, we have:

Jabber and Jabberwocky which really make me feel much better already. One of the greatest poems ever written with those slithy toves and the frumious Bandersnatch!

Then come all of the Jack words – Jackal, Jackanapes, Jackass (that would have gone down well in Year One), Jackpot, Jack Rabbit…

Jactation/Jactitation – The act of boasting or the false assertion that one is married to another. Also means the restless tossing in bed, characteristic of severe fevers.

Jainism – an ancient Hindu religion that believes the material world is progressing in a series of cycles. Very true when you think about 80s clothes coming back into fashion despite obvious reasons why it shouldn’t.

Jaunty – Sprightly and cheerful.

Jaywalk. Jealous. Jenjunum – part of the small intenstine between the duodenum and the ileum. Jelly Fungus. Jerk.

Jess! Excellent! I’m in the dictionary! I’m a short leather strap, one end of which is permanently attached to the leg of a hawk or falcon. Meanwhile a Jessie is an effeminate, weak or cowardly boy or man.

Jetsam. Jezebel. Jibe. Jiggery-Pokery. Jimjams – A state of nervous tension. Jinx. Job satisfaction. Jockstrap. Jocose – characterised by humour. Jodhpurs. Joggle. Joke. Jolly Roger (Arrr!). Journalist. Joyless. Jube. Juggernaut. Jumbo. Jump suit. Junior. Junk. Jurassic. Juxtapose.

And that’s it. I’ve never read the dictionary and learnt so little before. What a disappointment! All I’ve learnt from that experience is that next time I have to put a word next to my name it’s likely to signify that I am negative, somehow related to the digestive system or a piece of very bad clothing. Can’t wait!

And now for something completely random and Belgian.