Archive for July, 2013

Are They Speaking English?

Posted on July 27th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

With so many things in common, it´s perhaps a little surprising that there are so many differences in the common language spoken by both Brits and Americans. British English and American English can differ in spelling, pronunciation and even the meanings of words.

Accent changes regionally within Britain or within America can have a huge impact on words, with the same words being spoken but pronounced completely differently. Spread this accent difference across the water and you can imagine how different the same words can sound.

Let´s take a look at the spelling. There are simple changes that most people are already familiar with from reading books by American authors, seeing information on the Internet, using Americanised phone apps etc. Simple changes such as ‘colour’ in British English but ‘color’ in American English, ‘centre’ in British English but ‘center’ in American English, ‘programme’ in British English but ‘program’ in American English; you get the idea.

Then there are slight spelling changes that slightly alter how a word is pronounced. For example, the word ‘aluminium’ is used in British English but the second ‘i’ is removed in American English changing the word to ‘aluminum’. Objects can have completely different names: the part of someone´s hair covering their forehead is known as a fringe in Britain whereas Americans call it their ‘bangs’; an aubergine in Britain is called an eggplant in America; when asking for a bill in Britain, you´d ask for the check in America; and you´d go flat hunting in Britain but look for an apartment in America.

Some words used in both countries can have completely different meanings. Brits refer to pants as underwear whereas Americans call their trousers ‘pants’. Brits would keep money in a purse; Americans refer to a handbag as their purse. Jam in British English is called jelly in American English, but what is known as jelly to the Brits is actually jello for Americans.

Confused? Although the same language is spoken, individual differences occur in both versions. Each country has put its own stamp on the language to keep a bit of originality about it. Next time you´re reading a book, flicking through a magazine or browsing the Internet, take some time to notice the spelling and identify the origin of the piece. And next time you´re travelling (or should that be traveling?) listen out for the differences in the way people speak the English language and you should be able to work out which type they´re speaking.


Mixed Messages

Posted on July 20th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg: the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid.”

No, it´s not a mistake; you read that correctly. Or did you read that correctly? You should have read “I couldn’t believe that I could actually understand what I was reading: the phenomenal power of the human mind”. So why are the words jumbled up and how can you understand the sentence?

It´s a phenomenon called ‘typoglycemia’. Typoglycemia, a portmanteau of ‘typo’ (typographical error) and ‘hypoglycemia’ (although not actually related to the medical condition), is the term used for a supposed cognitive process used to read text. This piece of muddled text has spread via an Internet meme which claims that the brain´s interpretation process has been proven as part of a scientific study by Cambridge University. The jumbled sentence is the start of some text commonly seen on the Internet which is extremely easy to read and, although the university has denied carrying out the study, is an interesting subject nonetheless. As long as the first and last letters of each word remain where they are, and all of the letters in each word are still there, it doesn´t matter in which order those middle letters are written. This is because the human mind reads words as a whole rather than individual letters.

Similarly, numbers can be used to replace letters: 7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! (This message serves to prove how our minds can do amazing things!). Mixed case words can also be understood although it has been proven to considerably slow down a person´s reading capabilities, ‘CaSe MiXiNg’.

Our brains have unique ways of processing and learning languages, and this goes for speaking them too. There is no hard and fast rule to learning a language and you should never underestimate your mind´s capabilities at handling the information it´s given. Laenrnig a lugnaage can be fun and rawreding!

All Set for Summer Camp! (Part 2)

Posted on July 13th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The first week of summer camp for Marcus was a training week which included everything from lifeguard training to building campfires, cooking lessons, health and safety regulations, and learning the songs, dances and games that he´d be doing with the kids during the summer. He also spent a couple of nights on a camping trip away from the summer camp grounds which was a way for all the new staff to get to know each other. After such a fun and busy week, he´d almost forgotten that he had to actually look after some children the following week!

As one of the camp counsellors, it was Marcus´s duty to greet all of the kids as they arrived with their parents, show them their rooms and help them to settle in. When the whole group had arrived, he took them down to the river so they could all mess around and get to know each other. Dinner that evening was a fun barbecue around a campfire.

Each weekend, they´d have a camp carnival which involved body painting, singing, acting and dancing. Normally something that Marcus would be too embarrassed to do, he actually dived straight into it all and found that he really enjoyed it, and he looked forward to the carnival atmosphere each weekend. The weeks were spent boating, horse-riding, hiking, going on treasure hunts, playing archery, camping under the stars, and enjoying meals around the campfire. With so much to do, he still managed to fit in his regular English lessons whilst staying at the summer camp in Los Angeles.

As the summer placement drew to an end, Marcus couldn´t believe all of the new activities he´d tried and all of the great friends he´d made. He´d certainly keep in touch with them and he´d definitely be back to summer camp again in the future!

All Set for Summer Camp! (Part 1)

Posted on July 6th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Marcus had just landed a new job as a camp counsellor at a summer camp in Los Angeles. It was a 3 month placement to look after kids during the summer by doing activities such as swimming, climbing, putting on shows, sitting around campfires…basically getting paid to have fun!

He´d flown to LA by himself which was quite nerve-wracking as he hadn´t been abroad by himself before. He´d said goodbye to his family and friends in Sweden with mixed feelings as he was worried about being homesick whilst looking forward to his summer job. But the excitement of his upcoming summer trip did well to counteract the nerves.

He had decided to apply to the summer camp as part of a placement during his university course to widen his horizons, gain some experience and to have something different to add to his CV. The only stipulations that the camp had when he applied were to be over 18, be full of enthusiasm and able to take on challenges, and also to have a sufficient competency level in English to be able to interact with the kids as well as the camp staff without any difficulties. Marcus had studied the English language throughout school, but decided to keep up the standards with some extra English courses in Los Angeles while he was there. The tutor actually visited him at the camp to teach him during his free time which surprised him but that helped him immensely by not taking up too much of his time with travelling to and from lessons. The extra tuition really helped him, especially when confronted with the diverse conversations from the kids which he hadn´t expected to be so in-depth and ‘grown up’.

On arrival at the camp, he´d had a quick tour of the grounds and went through the itinerary for the first week, before meeting his fellow camp counsellors. He was thrilled to receive such a warm reception from everyone and any nerves quickly vanished. This was going to be a great summer!