Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Service of Dónde? Où? Woher? Dove? Onde? Nerede? Gdzie? Translation: Where?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

I was born in Manhattan and have lived much of my life in New York City. There are miles of neighborhoods in the five boroughs I would have trouble finding in a car, GPS or no GPS. Tell me where you want to go in Russian, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese and most languages, other than French and English, and I’m lost.

So apart from the fact that English has been the lingua franca in this country since its inception, does it make practical sense that speaking English is no longer a requirement of New York City cab drivers?

  • Should a Greek, Chinese or Arabic driver familiar with a different alphabet be asked to take a passenger to an address on Amsterdam Avenue, Broadway, Houston Street or Columbus Circle, for example, will he/she be able to read the street sign to know that they arrived?
  • What about the crucial direction in Manhattan“East” and “West?”

Should I invest in a street sign business in anticipation of a lineup of street names on every pole in the most used alphabets in addition to Roman? [I wonder if the English street name will remain at the top?]

No doubt I sound harsh but my dad came to this country in his 30s and had to learn English from scratch, which he did extremely well. He also wrote beautifully. [His charming accent was to die.] Millions of others have done the same. How many generations of newcomers were forced to learn English before they were eligible for certain jobs?

Years ago I met a laborer who lived and worked in New Jersey for 50 years and if he knew 50 English words, that was a lot. He spoke his native language with neighbors and colleagues at work and local shop owners too. But I wouldn’t recommend him for the job of taxi driver.

In order to work as a cab driver or in most jobs wouldn’t you want to learn Italian, French, German, Portuguese or Japanese if you moved to Italy, France, Germany, Brazil, Portugal or Japan?  Or even if you went there to live? What do you think of this new ruling?

 

 

 

Service of Being Out of It: Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Nobody ever called me hip but I try to keep up to date on words. I must have been wearing earplugs this year.

I became aware of how out of it I am when I heard on NPR that “Vape” is the word of the year according to The Oxford Dictionaries. According to NPR, “In case you’ve never frequented a vape shop, the word can apply both to breathing an e-cigarette’s vapor and to an e-cigarette device.”

I could have guessed what vape means but not the contenders: “bae” and “normcore.” NPR defined the noun “bae,” as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner and “normcore,” as “a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.”

Some other words you may not know as defined by NPR:

budtender, noun:
A person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.

contactless, adjective:
Relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc. to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.

indyref, noun:
The referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

slacktivism, noun, informal:
Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.

Are you familiar with these words? Do you plan to add them to your vocabulary? Can you list other English words that I or others may not know?

 

 

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