Who Knows What You’re Talking About?

The current dmoz Tip of the Fortnight

It is considered bad form to use slang or abbreviations like “info”, “pics”, “etc” and “bio”. Using the full form of the word is not only more professional but is also easier for our users, whose native language may not be English, to understand or translate.

A very good tip. Every writer should remember not to use slang and abbreviations, unless they are very well known by the general public. Some sites or publications may have a very narrow readership they can focus on. But, even those sites could have a glossary or some way to understand their abbreviations.

Why send your readers to some other site to look up the words, slang or short forms you use?

Making your Site Work Globally

The best way to make your site international is to have access to a translation application visible. I don’t do this myself because I keep a translator from Google in my Chrome web browser. A simple solution. People who only know one or few languages should be prepared to encounter other languages. It is then their choice to translate, run away or ignore them. Of course, it depends on how interesting and well put together the site looks, that first impression.

Trying to cater to multiculturalism, global protocols, and international readers is a good thing, in moderation. But, you can’t possibly include everyone.

Instead, identify your own location. Show where you are from and who you are. Some of your readers will be happy to find they have something in common with you (at least geographically) and others will be interested to know more about your culture, history, traditions and point of view.

The advice given with this post (link below) is mainly cosmetic. Design and colours can make your site have more international or global appeal but I don’t think keeping it neutral is really in your best interest. Boldness, drama and colour will do more for your site than becoming neutral or bland.

Source: Think Global: 3 Tips to make your websites Internationalized • Inspired Magazine

Why is Canadian English unique?

Why is Canadian English neither US or UK English? Even the Canadian language version of WordPress seems to be just a modified UK English – it gets Canadian English wrong.

Canadians understand not being included in many versions of languages but… it does seem sloppy to create a Canadian version as if we spell words the same as people in the UK. We don’t.

BBC – Culture – Why is Canadian English unique?

BBC – Culture – Why is Canadian English unique?.

Time to Retire an Act of God

act-of-god1Where do acts of God belong in the current world? Why does insurance still use an act of God as an excuse to cover claims? Insurance, often referred to as God-forsaken, Godless and so on. Yet, they expect us to believe they have faith in God (when it comes to financial matters).

Should insurance still be allowed to use this antique phrase? Can they prove anything is an act of God? Do they all go to Christian churches every Sunday? Do they all have WWJD bumper stickers? I doubt they are all living such pious lives.

It seems time to retire “an act of God”. They can at least come up with a better excuse for not covering their policy holders.

Source of definition (and image): US Adult Literacy: Idiom of the Week:

Meaning: when something happens (usually an accident) and no human is responsible; often an act of nature.

Do you Speak Esperanto?

I first heard about Esperanto ten years ago when I was writing at a site called BackWash. One of the other writers was learning to speak the language and writing about it. I read some of the history, how the language was developed. I even wrote a post about Esperanto, as a resource for anyone else interested in finding out more. Then, I heard very little about it again, until finding this post today (see below). Esperanto is still around, still has all the potential to grow and become important… but it hasn’t yet.

Like its vastly more successful digital cousins — C++, HTML, Python — Esperanto is an artificial language, designed to have perfectly regular grammar, with none of the messy exceptions of natural tongues. Out loud, all that regularity creates strange cadences, like someone speaking Italian slowly while chewing gum. William Auld, the Modernist Scottish poet who wrote his greatest work in Esperanto, was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times, but never won. But it is supremely easy to learn, like a puzzle piece formed to fit into the human brain.

Invented at the end of the 19th century, in many ways it presaged the early online society that the web would bring to life at the end of the 20th. It’s only ever been spoken by an assortment of fans and true believers spread across the globe, but to speak Esperanto is to become an automatic citizen in the most welcoming non-nation on Earth.

Source: How an artificial language from 1887 is finding new life online | The Verge

Fake Accents and Dying Languages

Last year a Canadian public radio show called “This is That” reported a somewhat ridiculous-seeming plan, cooked up in the northern Alberta town of High Prairie: to attract more tourists, the town council had hired a linguist from Texas to invent a local accent.

via A new way to attract tourists: fake accents and dying languages – Quartz.

Everyone has tried a fake accent at some point. My brother is very, very good at it. I’m not. I do hear myself speaking with an accent (in my own head) it just doesn’t connect somewhere along the way from my brain to my mouth. I can live with that. Mostly because I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone pick up an accent and get it right as well as my brother does.

Why would you choose to fake an accent? Assuming you could do it well, or at least well enough. Also, which accent would want? Sure it would depend on the situation, sometimes. But, which accent would you really like, and why?

How to Stop Finding Language Arts Class Boring

Become Active in Language Arts

Change your way of learning language arts. Instead of sticking your nose in a book, get out there and find yourself new challenges, active challenges.

Get into storytelling. You’re not just writing a story, focus on how to tell the story.

Find spelling competitions at your school or groups competing in the schools in your area.

Join a book club where everyone reads the same book and then talks about it. What fresh insight could you bring to the group?

Read out loud. Have you ever read aloud before? It brings a new perspective to whatever you read if you say it rather than just read it to yourself.

Learn a new word every day. Keep a note of any new words you come across and don’t already know. Look up words you have a feeling you know what they are about but you never really checked to be sure exactly what they mean before.

Try word games like Scrabble, crossword puzzles and even the simpler word circle puzzles. Hangman is one of my favourite word games but you will need a friend to play with.

Does it all Seem too Complicated?

Really listen and break it down into steps. If you were giving instructions on the topic where would you start? Think of writing it out like a recipe, or telling a younger school kid about it. Peel apart the main steps from the extra information and work on that until you begin to see how it works, how it all makes sense.

If you really don’t understand ask questions, read more about the subject from different sources or ask a friend who seems to get it.

Think you Already Know it All?

Language is a skill we use every day. It could be easy to see it as something you already know. But, how much do you really know?

Test yourself.

Look for online language arts skills in spelling, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. If you didn’t get perfect scores you still have something to learn. If you did get a perfect score you need a test for someone at a higher level. Don’t slack off and take a test for a kid unless you are a kid, at that reading and comprehension level.

What to do if You’re Bored in Class

If the class becomes boring because you already know the material being discussed or explained then you could skip ahead in the text book, or read parts of the text which the teacher skipped in order to speed through the lesson.

If you’re still in need of something interesting, ask a question. Put some thought into your question and make sure it is relevant to the topic.

If you’re too quiet for a question, take notes. Write down your thoughts about the topic the teacher is discussing. Write down the questions you could have asked. Then find the answers yourself.

Other than that, begin planning your next assignment for the class. If you get ahead now you will have more time for something else later.

Bored or Boring?

I’ve never forgotten the old saying about people who are bored. I believe it’s mostly true. You do have to be kind of boring in order to be bored. How can you not see something interesting to try, do or think in a world so full?

However, I have had times when I did feel bored with something. When I felt I had explored every facet, every inch and every possibility. I was sure I knew the subject so well there was nothing new for me to find and explore. But, there is always another twist on an old tale. You just have to perk up your interest in finding it.

In my experience people also become bored when they find the challenge too much for them. Instead of trying to work on it they back away from it and make it simpler. But, then it become too simple and this makes it less interesting – boring.

I think this is how people really get bored. They let things become too simple, without challenges. They stop putting a real effort into learning or understanding or creating new methods or new thoughts. When there isn’t something new or challenging about what you are doing, of course you will become less interested in it.

If you exercise your imagination, create a new challenge for yourself and don’t take the easy way out – you can’t possibly get bored with anything.

 How to Get Boring Homework Done – wikiHow

Selecting, Collecting, Connecting and Correcting

Steps in the Writing Process

  • Selecting
  • Collecting
  • Connecting
  • Correcting

I browsed through an old language arts school textbook. I liked the list they wrote for the steps in the writing process. It’s true when you think about it.

Selecting – Choosing a topic or an idea to write about. (Sometimes that seems to be the part that takes the most time).
Collecting – Collecting your information, including gathering your thoughts and interviewing or talking to other people.
Connecting – Shaping your ideas, thoughts and planning your information into a form and order that will work to expand on or explain your topic or idea.
Correcting – Fixing things up, fine tuning your work in progress to shine as a finished work.

Which step is your favourite? Do you like getting ideas, gathering the information, putting a plan together or do you prefer to finish a project and have that accomplishment of a job well done?