Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Guruji is an Indian supermarket with a wonderful range of goods, but their spelling leaves something to be desired!

“They sadly lack a good proof reader.
Where’s Lynne Truss when we really need her?


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ECan Error

Our regional council has added this sign to many local buses.  It’s pity someone didn’t proofread it first.

Perhaps it’s to do with hairstyles, and means your tresses will be passed?

“This spelling error’s hard to take
they might have checked for a mistake.”

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“Micromanagement stifles creativity” said film-maker Ken Loach in a recent interview with Kim Hill.

Teacher friends have been enjoying a new book “Disobedient Teaching” which has a similar message.  It points out that teaching students how to pass tests can actually narrow the options for learning.

I’ve spent many years in the voluntary sector where it was noticeable that as new regulations were introduced and more form filling was required it became harder for the spirit of volunteering to flourish.

Have you noticed examples of creativity being stifled?

“Bureaucracy can be a pest
sometimes our intuition’s best.”


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I’m enrolled in a MOOC.   That’s a Massive Open Online Course, with unlimited participation and open access via the internet.  The course I’ve started is run by the University of Iowa, and is called “Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Poetry and Plays”.   Registration is free.  It’s optional to pay $US50 to get a Certificate of Completion.   Certificate fees are used to fund the development of future MOOCs.

I don’t want a certificate, and am not sure whether I’ll complete, but I’ve enjoyed the two weeks (out of seven) that I’ve done so far.  Each week we are given video lectures, readings, and an assignment.  There are also optional group discussions.  The lectures are short – the longest I’ve seen was 24 minutes – and given by a wide range of academics from around the world.  Feedback on assignments is given by other students, and we are all encouraged to give feedback to each other (that’s one of the requirements of course completion).  When I submitted my first assignment I was pleased to get feedback from four other students, but I haven’t yet felt confident to comment on others.  My writing tends to be short and simple, and I’ve had difficulty understanding some of the other assignments I’ve read.  There are options to write either poetry or plays, and the discussions are graded for beginners (that’s me!) and experienced writers.

Some screens say “This programme was made possible by the generous support of the American people throught the U.S. Department of State and by the University of Iowa”.  It’s pleasing to think there’s something beneficial coming from the U.S. these days.  Have you ever studied on a MOOC?

“I’ve started on a writing course
thanks to the U.S. State resource.”


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This sign for ‘Beglian’ chocolates caught my eye at the supermarket.   It was repeated several times.  I guess, like Fairfax, they don’t employ proofreaders.

The next shop we went to had fresh ginger, clearly labelled as garlic.

What is the retail world coming to?

“It seems if people want to sell
there is no need for them to spell.”

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I was intrigued to see this Latin motto on an architects’ office at the corner of Colombo and Peterborough Streets.

It reads ‘Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas’.  I knew the first two words meant strength and usefulness, and I guessed the third must mean beauty, but I’d never come across Venustas before.  I looked it up in our trusty Latin dictionary, and sure enough it means beauty.  Plus the Shorter Oxford says that venust means beautiful, elegant, graceful.  I learn something new every day.  Now, all I need is to find a place for it on a scrabble board.

“Today I met a brand new word
it’s one that I had never heard.”

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Eight weeks of writing classes have taught me heaps, and stimulated all kinds of writing.  Fiction writing is a challenge for me, but we were given good questions to trigger this.  I found I love the Tanka format.

Tanka are similar to Haiku, but written from a subjective viewpoint, with a syllable count that goes 5,7,5,7,7.  The first two lines are an introduction.  The third changes the tone, gives a twist.  The last two lines should have a profound meaning and/or prompt reflection, and the whole should be able to be read as one sentence.   We were also introduced to Haiga, where the poem (which could be a Tanka) is combined with a picture.  I enjoyed being given a picture and asked to write an accompanying Tanka within ten minutes.  Here are a couple I wrote (sorry I don’t have the pictures they were intended to go with).

Your concentration
is focussed on one pathway
let your mind wander
there are other points of view
that may give a fresh outlook


Together apart
each of us on our own path
there is unity
with an agreed objective
reached by diff’rent processes


Have you come across Tanka poems before?  And do you know whether the plural of Tanka should have an ‘s’?

“After this course I now hanker
to be writing many Tanka.”



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