Archive for April, 2008


April 21, 2008

Yes…I admit.It is not my territory. But With time to go out on Sunday I bought myself a Teach Yourself Polish course. It promises “all round confidence”, a bit like a personal hygeine product. I’m quite excited.

A quick scan of the chapters gives me a taste of what to expect on my next trip to Poland, if I master the pronunciation…

It starts well: unit 2 “Pleased to meet you” and unit 5 “We buy some food”. But things take a bizarre turn in unit 6 “I prefer to swim”. By unit 9 “We make a date” things are looking better, but it gets more serious in unit 12 “Have you been to the doctor’s?” – probably due to swimming just after eating. Things are looking ominous by unit 16 “I’ve got a problem”, with no sign of a solution in unit 18 “How did it happen?”. Things turn out OK in the end, unit 20 “Did you like it in Poland?”

I like the narrative flow. It will spur me on to complete the course.

When I got home I compared the contents list with my Colloquial Icelandic course, in which I never got past the first couple of chapters “Welcome to Iceland!” and “Where are you from?” In fact I noticed that my book mark was still halfway through chapter 3 “Where are we going?”

Perhaps in keeping with the national character, the Icelandic course is a lot more down to earth than Polish. The chapters have pithy titles like “Clothing”, “The Family”, “Appointments” and “Accommodation”. But it loosens up towards the end with “Story, history and people” which flows unsteadily into chapter 15 “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes”, which I thought might be a Viking drinking song, but contains the unmissable section “Body parts: how to use them in Icelandic”.

Just as I put the book away one useful item of vocabulary caught my eye: “rjómabolla – a bun filled with whipped cream traditionally eaten on ‘bun day'”… In Iceland they have a ‘bun day’! I wonder if that is weekly, monthly or annually.



April 8, 2008

This season’s word seems to be “monetize“. Which means “finding a way to make money out of an idea or a piece of technology“. I think that what it really means is “exploit”, but for some reason in the articles I am reading the authors avoid using this. Perhaps these days it is not politically correct to say “exploit”, due to its association with, um, exploitation. So “monetize” is a more capitalistically correct term. After all, who could disagree with making money as a worthy aim…and saying “company x needs to monetize its offering to consumers” sounds less greedy than “company x should exploit its customers”!


Has the latest buzzword reached your workplace yet? Perhaps they would have started their transition to be at the linguistic cutting edge. If you come across “monetize” in an internal report or document, do remember OTG.


Now, dear readers, if only I could find an easy way to monetize my blogging…:-)


April 1, 2008

A newspaper article caught my eye: “a study this week suggests that an amazing 40 per cent of the population in G£a$gow sleepwalks”… My immediate reaction was that I already know this. I often find one of those sleepwalkers driving the car in front of me on the way to work. But, hang on… This percentage looks rather high.


Is it really the case that when you are sitting in a meeting in G£a$gow it is likely that four out of the ten people round the table spent some of the night walking around oblivious? [Looks around office…hmm, well perhaps]


I investigated further… seeking to corroborate the story from other sources, online and in print.Actually the real story is a bit different. The story comes from a press release from the Travelodge chain of hotels. Research was conducted at 310 Travelodge hotels, with a sample of 3,000 adults… In other words an average of just under 10 people per hotel were asked about sleepwalking.


There are two Travelodge hotels in G£a$gow, so a maximum of 20 Travelodge guests in G£a$gow contributed to the survey. I think that it is fair to assume that a sizeable proportion of the people staying at a Travelodge hotel in G£a$gow are not actually from the city.


So, the real story is that…about eight people, probably residents of a variety of different towns and cities, who have stayed at a Travelodge in G£a$gow admitted to sleepwalking at some point.Which is a far cry from “an amazing 40 per cent of the population of G£a$gow sleepwalks”.I sometimes feel that standards of objectivity are slipping.


I do hope that you all enjoyed your extra hour on weekend night, whether you were asleep in bed or out of it.