Friday, November 12, 2010

Proverbs/sayings across cultures

An important consideration for when you are writing or translating is to keep in mind that our sayings might not translate very well, or exist at all in the other language.

In English, we can call someone a smart cookie, but in Spanish, that doesn't really exist. You can do a direct translation: galleta intelligente, but it doesn't convey the meaning you wanted.

Proverbs also have the same difficulties, in English, there is a saying: Don't judge a book by it's cover, but in French, the same proverb is actually L'habit ne fait pas le moine (literally, the clothing doesn't make the monk).

It doesn't even have to be a different language; when writing in English, Canadians, Americans, Brits and Australians all have different expressions that the others might not be familiar with. So be careful!

While some proverbs and sayings are used by many cultures, it could be that the exact wording differs. Or, it could be that that idea doesn't exist in another language/culture. And so, when writing or translating, keep in mind that your idiomatic expressions are culturally, socially and linguistically based and to look up whether that expression has "crossed over".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Difficulties writing in French?

If you find yourself forgetting all your french, like me, and need some help when writing, here are a few useful tools.

The first is a linguistic dictionary/database that is offered by the Canadian Translation Bureau: Termium. This dictionary can actually be used for English, French and Spanish translation and definitions. It accesses a database with all the different uses of the word so you can find the one that best suits your needs. To use it, you choose what language you are searching in, English, French, Spanish, or all three under the Search Keys button, and then type a word to see the definition and translations.

 There is also a handy tool called BonPatron that corrects French spelling and usage. It doesn't help with verb tenses or whether to use avoir or ĂȘtre in past participles like that, but it will catch noun endings and accent use, etc. I find it helpful since I can't seem to remember word genders.

And, of course, you can always consult English-French or monolingual dictionaries and the very helpful Bescherelle for French verbs (la conjugaison).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A dilemma

The choice for cameras these days is overwhelming! And trying to dive into the digital SLR (D-SLR) field is even more daunting when you don't really know a whole lot about it. I am actually trying to buy a D-SLR at the moment since I want to learn how to improve my photography and learn how to use that type of camera. I had learned al ittle bit a few years ago, but I think I'll need a refresher!

But the choices are too much, as is the price sometimes. I don't want to buy a high-end camera if I am not going to stick with it, or improve passed a point, but is buying a lower end one worth it?

I actually have gotten some good advice, and I've seen it repeated in a few places. Go for a basic body of a camera first to learn the basics, and then once you know what you want to shoot, buy a lens that matches that. The lenses can actually stay with you for a long time if they fit more than 1 model. Canon for example has its EOS line, and the lenses fit on the cameras with that name. Imagine that!

I found a good guide online for information that is written in plain English, and that explains the terms of the SLR world for us newcomers. Go check out the guide to choosing a camera and the many reviews, etc. on the site, The Digital SLR Guide, at the same time. Very helpful.

Now on to actually choosing which one to buy and then purchasing and using it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A helpful tool

Ever wonder at the correct usage of punctuation or syntax and grammar is? A good guide to usage, although lengthy, is the Chicago Manual of Style. Not all disciplines use this style, but it does provide some useful information for those willing to go through it.

There is actually an online copy available where you can do a Quick Search or you can look through the Table of Contents/Index. If ever in doubt, check a style guide!

Here is the link:

Update: Now that I've written about it, I seem to be encountering a few pages where you have to subscribe to see the info. But even if you can't see that rule, you know how to look it up on Google, so not all is lost!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Its and It's

I know that people sometimes get tripped up by its and it's since the possessive apostrophe gets in the way of knowing which is which.

A way to figure it out, at least in this example is that the contraction convention trumps the possessive rule.

It's is the contraction for "it is". The apostrophe represents the missing letter.

That leaves its to be possessive. This isn't the only possessive to not use an apostrophe. There is also his and hers that I can think of off the top of my head.

To recap: it's = it is, its = possessive.
The house, it's beautiful, sadly its lawn needs works.

Hope that clears things up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just a little pet peeve

A short post for now since it is about one of my little pet peeves. I won't keep you for long.

I see people writing "irregardless" on the internet. Why? The idea is already conveyed in the word regardless. Please stop writing irregardless as that is not even a word, and if it was, would probably be the opposite of what is trying to be said!

So again, it is regardless, not irregardless!

My profound thanks if this advice is heeded!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The bokeh: A cool trick in photography

There is this really cool effect in photography, a bokeh, which is really just a pretty blurring, but there can be some really awesome, beautiful, wistful photos because of it! You need an SLR camera for it to work though, I think.

Here is how to create your own bokeh, from DIY Photography.

And some examples:

from the DIY site.

both from here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pretty photos

I realized I hadn't posted in a while, so I did a little web search for pretty photos of ink. Here they are just to keep this space pretty and have ink involved!

This was found here.

And another photo of ink and water colliding.

Found here. There are a few more that are really neat. Slow motion photography and filming is just so cool to see/watch. Here is a website that has a collection of different types of slow mo videos. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mondegreens and eggcorns

The English language is full of words that sound alike and are spelled the same, which can lead to confusion.

Homonym: [noun] each of two or more words having the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings and origins (e.g. beat (v.) and beat (n.))

Homophone: [noun] each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling (e.g. new and knew)

Homograph: [noun] each of two or more words spelled the same but not necessarily pronounced the same and having different meanings and origins (e.g. does (v.) and does (pl. n.))

The definitions were taken directly from the Oxford English Dictionary Online (and, where possible, from the Canadian version).

So why did I bring up these definitions? Because they can lead to a few types of mistakes, two of them being mondegreens and eggcorns.

Ever listen to a song and hear the wrong lyrics? That is called a mondegreen. You can read about how the term was coined and a few other examples in the mondegreen wikipedia article. There are whole websites dedicated to these, and they're great to read through to see what you, and others, mishear.

Here is an example: Instead of hearing There's a bad moon on the rise from "Bad Moon Rising" by CCR, people think they hear There's a bathroom on the right. Check out here, here and here for more mondegreens.

These are also related to eggcorns, where the word you are writing is replaced by a word or words that sound alike. (The term eggcorn came about when someone tried to write acorn and it came out as egg corn. Read the stories of how it came about on Language Log, a linguistics blog with many contributors.) If you want to see more, visit the Eggcorn Database.

Have fun passing the time!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There, their and they're...

This should be a simple thing to remember and follow, but I see these used improperly all over the place...

There: [adv] basically indicating a location. There are a few other uses, please see the full listing here.

Their: [poss. adj/pron.] indicating a possession. Details here.

They're: [contr.] a contraction of they are

There, standing with their umbrellas, are four men wondering where they're going to eat lunch.

Not a great literary piece, but hey, it gets the point across.... I hope. Please keep them straight!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fonts by moustache

I just found an awesome guide to Typestaches! It is pretty sweet and now the fonts are personified.

Via here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Discreet and discrete

Another word post:

Discreet and discrete are pronounced exactly the same, so you have to go with context to figure out which one is meant. 

Discreet: [adjective] careful and prudent, especially when trying to keep a secret

Discrete: [adjective] individually separate and distinct

So when trying to sneak by someone or trying to not to say something embarrassing, you are discreet.
And when you have separate things going on, you have discrete variables (especially used in math)

The definitions are loosely based on the Oxford Canadian English Dictionary

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stationary and stationery

Ok, so there is a difference between these two words and it'd be lovely if we could all remember it. If we can't, here is a little reminder for us:

Stationary: [adjective] not moving or not intended to be moved
Where you stand still or something doesn't move.

Stationery: [mass noun] for writing and other office materials
To be found in a store where you can buy pretty paper and such.

Clear now? Excellent!

A new blog

I figure Wet Ink Blog will be about language, art, and anything else I think of!