Lolcats and their Flawed Language

May 20, 2007 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Blogging, Culture, English, Language, Learning English, Lolcats | 3 Comments
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As a an addition to Lenina’s recent txt spk post, it might be worthwhile to have a (brief) look at the I Can Has Cheezburger blog which has been consistently among the top ten blogs in the past weeks. It works as follows: The owner(s) post a picture of a pet, mainly a cat, and add a bubble to it to indicate the ‘thoughts’ of the pet. The thoughts are offered in flawed English, the flaws supposedly representing the inferiorness of the animal to the human. The humans who visit this site, however, seek to come up with even more faulty language, and they assess each other’s comments too. The trashiest or most infantile comments (or those of members who have earned a standing in the group) get the highest ranking of 5 out of 5 cheeseburgers. Lolcats, according to the group’s language, are photographic representations of cats that make you laugh out loud.

Starten a gang

And while I am struggling to suppress an allergic reaction when reading the comments, the ‘lolcats tagged for you convenience’ do make me chuckle:-)

The Dark Side of the Force: The Issue of Microplagiarism in Microlearning

January 31, 2007 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Austria, Friends, Learning English, Microlearning, Plagiarism, Teaching English | 1 Comment

Surprise! At the end of the day, I manage to crank out another post, as I, even more surprisingly, managed to crank out a paper before the day ended.

It’s a proposal for the Microlearning conference in Innsbruck this summer. An old school mate pointed me to it, and its going to be nice to attend the conference with him. Provided they accept us.

The last conference (no surprise) was fairly male and age-dominated, even if they managed to push the lady on the left into the frame a couple of times.

Microlearning 2006

Anyhow, here is the abstract of my proposal:

The Dark Side of the Force:
The Issue of Microplagiarism in Microlearning

Based on the analysis of authentic examples of plagiarism in student assignments, this article proposes the term ‘microplagiarism’ to describe a new kind of plagiarism which uses relatively short sections of arbitrary sources and combines them to form a bigger, seemingly unified text. The authors examine to which extent learning through plagiarizing may be an effective strategy in some areas of language learning and discuss the difficulties in separating microlearning from microplagiarism. The current gap between the digital and the academic sphere and their methods of circulating and continuing knowledge is identified as a cause for the increase of plagiarism. While the hope is expressed that the Semantic Web will take care of this issue, it is suggested for the time being to minimize the risk by setting students tasks that don’t encourage plagiarism.

The Scholar Ship

January 26, 2007 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Globalization, Learning English, Teaching English | 1 Comment
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A friend sent me a link to the Scholar ship which – pun intended – is indeed a ship, a cruise liner, packed with scholars, students and teaching staff alike. The Scholar ship will depart in September 2007 from Piraeus (Greece) and, via Lisbon, Panama City, Papeete, Suva, Sydney, Shanghai and Okinawa, will arrive in Kobe, Japan, three months later.

The Scholar Ship

But it’s not just a seacruise, it’s a university set afloat, offering undergraduate and graduate courses in Business & Management, Communication & Advertising, International Political Science & History, Conflict, Peace and War Studies, Cultural Studies, Social Anthropology, Sustainable Development, Art History, Fine Arts, Literature and Performing Arts – TO NAME JUST A FEW…. check out their study programme.

The second trip, starting in January 2008, begins in Kobe and goes back to Piraeus, this time via Cape Town and Buenos Aires. They’re still looking for students ($ 20,000 for one trip) and have just announced that they’re giving away 50 scholar ships (meaning that you pay only half the price). Also, they’re looking for ESL (English as a Second Language) staff… Am I tempted? Hmm, I guess I would go nuts if I were trapped on board a ship for three months, above all as a teacher, meaning approachable for all…. but the thought of seeing all those places is rather neat…

Smashing Slang

January 22, 2007 at 10:59 am | Posted in Funny Stuff, Learning English, Literature, Television | 3 Comments

White TeethJust a quickie today. Do you know a tosser from a jumper? If not, play the “Smashing Slang” flash game on the PBS website. The game is based on slang expressions used in the TV series “White Teeth” (based on the novel by Zadie Smith).

“Even if you’re wrong, you’ll add a colourful phrase to your vocabulary”. That’s what the makers of the game promise. Just don’t use these terms in your essays, thank you 🙂

There’s more info about the novel and the series
on the PBS website.

Urinal cake

January 10, 2007 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Learning English | Leave a comment

I’ve always wanted to know what English speaking people call a Klostein.

Thanks to suggestion from my colleague Michael, I now have a whole range of labels to choose from:

Urinal deodorizer blocks are the small disinfectant blocks found in urinals. Other informal terms include “urinal mint”, “urinal cake,” “toilet lolly” (Australian), “urinal puck” or “trough lolly” (chiefly British).

I’ve got acute viral nasopharyngitis

January 7, 2007 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Learning English | Leave a comment

This is just another way of saying that I’ve got the common cold, or an infection of nose (nasum) and throat (pharynx). There are several hundreds of viruses that can cause the common cold, and there isn’t really a cure for it, as there hardly is a cure for any viral infection.


Viruses, in my view, are extremely intimidating creatures anyway. They aren’t acually alive (not like bacteria or unicellular organisms), they are, matter-of-factly, nothing but information that reproduces. In my nostrils and throat, in this case, causing my mucosal cells to break down and be expunged as snot (or so I imagine – where does snot come from, actually?)

German learners of English: A possible translation for Tröpfcheninfektion is “to inhale droplets of coughs and sneezes”. I’ve always thought that Tröpfchen is one of the cutest words of the German language, in particular the Pfchen part.

Anyhow, what am I doing to fight the common cold? Hot Vitamin C drinks and high doses of aspirine. Three days of bed rest didn’t help at all.

English dictionaries

November 29, 2006 at 11:12 am | Posted in Language, Learning English | 2 Comments

Here is my collection of useful and interesting English online dictionaries (a few of them useful for natives of German only ):

For your everyday English language needs:

» Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary – definitions and examples, mainly British English

» Merriam-Webster Online – thesaurus (synonyms), mainly American English

» Princeton WordNet – a lexical database to browse online or to download (thanks to Automatthias)

» – German/English – use only in combination with one of the dictionaries above

» – German/English – use only in combination with one of the dictionaries above

Popular English, English of the people:

» Urban Dictionary – user-managed slang dictionary, mainly American English

» Peevish – English slang and colloquialisms used in the United Kingdom

» Online Dictionary of Playground Slang – including school slang, gay slang and nursery rhymes

» Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions – i.e. not necessarily proverbs

» Word of Quotes, English Proverbs – Ale in, wit out

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