Thursday, July 29, 2010

Long-awaited Dream

I wrote "Long-awaited Dream" when I was living in Japan. It is one of my most romantic poems.

Long-awaited Dream

I want to love you deeply, let you know
I want this feeling to last forever.
My heart never knew I could love you so,
Magic moments I'll always remember.

I see you in dreams with passionate mind
From sunrise of morning to late at night.
So loving, wonderful, gentle and kind,
Your soft skin and sweet smile my heart's delight.

Scent of your hair and breath upon my face,
Sparkling eyes of beauty placed next to mine,
Your soft whispers and light touches of grace
Enchant me with their wonder so divine.

We are creating paths of adventure
Learning and growing on each stepping-stone.
We have now become part of each other.
Parts of innermost hearts we have made known.

Place your hand into mine, then close your eyes.
Feel my wild heart beating just for you.
Bond your soul with mine, forge eternal ties,
Become my long-awaited dream come true.

"Long-awaited Dream" consists of five stanzas with four verses each. The rhyme scheme is a regular one in which the first and third verses and the second and fourth verses of each stanza rhyme with one another. The number of syllables in each verse is ten. In order to achieve a syllable count of ten, the word "wild" in the second verse of the final stanza must be counted as two syllables. For me this poem will always be very special.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

English Orthography

English orthography presents a number of inconsistencies. It is not nearly as phonetic as the orthographies of languages such as German and Spanish. Though many grammarians have called for a more phonetic spelling system, traditionalists prefer to maintain the current one.

The "f" sound can be represented with more than one spelling. Besides the "f" as in "fish," this sound can also be represented with the "gh" of "laugh", the "ff" of "cliff" and the "ph" of "phone."

The "sh" sound can be represented not only by the "sh" of "shower" but also the "ss" of "pressure and the "ti" of "nation."

The "ee" sound of "feet" can also be represented by the "ie" of "believe," the "ea" of "wheat," the "ei" of "receive," and the "y" of "city."

The "u" sound of "up" can also be represented by the "o" of "government," the "ou" of "rough" and the "au" of "because." The word "because" is subject to dialectal variation and not pronounced with this vowel in all dialects.

The "k" sound of "key" can be represented in various ways. They include the "ck" of "luck", the "q" of "queen" and the "c" of "car."

Finally, the ,vowel known as the schwa has a number of possible spellings. They include the "a" in "ago," the first "o" in "potato" (some speakers pronounce the final "o" as a schwa), the "i" in "turnip," the "e" in "wooden" and the "o" in "question." It is clear that the schwa has many possible spellings.

English orthography is relatively unphonetic. This is particularly true in comparison to the orthographies of many other languages. However, many people are opposed to a spelling reform and as a result, the current orthography is likely to remain.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hungarian Fried Cheese

Hungarians like to make fried cheese, a very simple and tasty dish. For this recipe you need:

one pound of cheese such as swiss or mozzarella
one egg
breadcrumbs
flour
a quarter cup of oil
salt

Slice the cheese into thin slices. Beat an egg and add salt. Cover each small slice of cheese with flour. Then place the slice in the mixture of beaten egg and salt,and finally cover in breadcrumbs. Cook in hot oil until each side is golden brown. This dish is best eaten warm and can be eaten as an appetizer or served as an accompaniment to many different dishes. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Phobias

The word phobia refers to an irrational fear. English borrowed it from Latin which in turn borrowed it from Greek. In Greek the word is phobos. The terms for the many different kinds of phobias understandably have Greek and Latin roots. A knowledge of Greek and Latin is valuable for deciphering the meanings of the different phobias.

The word photophobia does not refer to a fear of light in the world of medicine. It simply means extreme sensitivity to light. Other common phobias include pyrophobia, pathophobia and xenophobia. They mean the fears of fire, disease and foreigners.

The phobias thermophobia, apiphobia, entomophobia, arithmophobia and acoustiphobia refer to the fears of heat, bees, insects, arithmetic and noise. Another phobia, claustrophobia, is the fear of closed spaces.

A common phobia is undoubtedly the fear of heights. This is known as acrophobia. Another common phobia is the fear of spiders. This is arachnophobia. The fear of men is androphobia and the fear of women is gynaephobia.

Other phobias are zoophobia, autophobia, hemaphobia, noctiphobia, hydrophobia and heliophobia. They are the fears of animals, being alone, blood, night, water and sunlight. The fear of books, bibliophobia, has the same root as in the most widely-read book of all time, the Bible.

An inexplicable fear is a phobia. Many kinds of phobias exist but some are far more common than others. Without question, the fear of heights, acrophobia, is more common than the fear of books, bibliphobia. Another phobia, one that can comprise several, is the fear of fear- phobophobia.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Three Riddles of Turandot

The opera "Turandot" features an Asian princess who many men wish to marry. However, if they wish to do so, they must answer three riddles correctly. Failure to do so leads to death. No man can answer the three riddles correct until Calaf appears.

Turandot is so beautiful that many men long to be with her. Though the penalty for failure is death, many men risk their lives to marry her. Calaf's father begs his son not to accept Turandot's challenge, but he does so.

The first riddle is "What is born each night and dies at dawn?" When I first heard this riddle, I thought of the moon. It appears at night and disappears during the day. But this is not the answer Turandot seeks. It is "hope."

The answer to this riddle does not seem obvious. Perhaps hope appears at night when one goes to bed and then dreams but it could just as easily appear during the day and die at night. In addition, one could argue that hope never dies but is always present.

The second riddle is "What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire?" The answer is "blood." Blood is red and warm like a flame but it does not flicker. The definition seems inaccurate. A big difference between fire and blood is that fire is a gas and blood is a liquid. Had Turandot asked "What is like fire and water?," the riddle would have been more accurate. Blood is red and warm like fire and it is a liquid that flows like water.

The third riddle is "What is like ice yet burns?" The answer is "Turandot." The riddle implies that Turandot is cold. She is a cruel ruler who rejects love. At the same time, she burns because she is a woman filled with anger and has warm blood flowing through her veins. The problem with this riddle is that many answers are possible. Besides Turandot, many others could satisfy the definition. However, the key is to give the answer that Turandot wants and that is written on her ministers' scrolls.

The answers to the rules of Turandot are not wholly satisfactory. Nevertheless, Turandot does not care because it is her intention to make them so difficult that no man can solve them and thus claim the right to marry her. Prince Calaf's ability to solve the three riddles astounds not only the princess but all the citizens of her kingdom.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Operas and Musicals

Operas and musicals are similar in many ways but they are also quite different. Nevertheless, many people are not quite sure how they differ. One obvious difference is that operas are usually considerably older but this is not the only one.

Operas such as "Don Giovanni" and "Fidelio" are classics of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. They are from a time period which predates musicals. However, operas such as Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot" are considerably more recent. Along with Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi is one of the most famous composers of opera. Without doubt, "La Traviata" and "Aida" are two of Giuseppe Verdi's most popular operas. "La Boheme" and "Madame Butterfly" are among Giacomo Puccini's most popular.

Operas are almost always completely sung. In essence, operas are long songs which tell a story. However, this is not the case with musicals. They are better known for their stories and acting. Thus musicals can be characterized as stories which have songs. In an opera, the music is foremost but in a musical the story takes precedence.

The music of operas and musicals is also different. Operas often have very elaborate orchestras with a wide range of instruments. This is not always so with musicals. The music of operas can be classified as classical music. In the case of musicals, the music is usually much more contemporary.

The training necessary to sing opera is usually far more rigorous than that required for singing a musical. As a result, many opera singers also perform in musicals. Musical performers, however, often dance and act very well. They do not focus on singing as much as those who perform opera.

Operas and music share a number of similarities. The two tell a story through music. However, operas predate musicals. Operas use music to tell a story and musicals tell a story with music. In addition, the two use different musical styles. The style of opera is classical and that of musicals is contemporary.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Uvular /r/ in Europe

The uvular /r/ has spread into many languages of Europe. At one time, all European languages had an /r/ that was pronounced as an apical trill or flap. This is not surprising because the apical trill and flap are the most common /r/ sounds. However, the /r/ of Parisian French changed from an apical trill to a uvular. This pronunciation spread not only into French but also to other languages. As a result, it is now standard not only in French but also in German and Danish. It is also common in many varieties of Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch.

The change in the pronunciation of the French /r/ may have taken place in the 1600's. In an area of Sweden located between Stockholm and the southernmost part of the country, the uvular trill has replaced the alveolar trill in certain contexts but not in others. The alveolar trill occurs word-finally and the uvular trill occurs word-initially. This is the opposite of southern Germany and Austria where many speakers have a word-initial alveolar trill and a word-final uvular fricative.

In the Portuguese of Lisbon, the syllable-initial /r/ is uvular. It is a tap when it occurs intervocalically but the orthographic "rr", a multiple trill in Spanish, is a uvular trill in Lisbon. This uvular pronunciation does not occur in the rest of Portugal. As it only occurs in the area around Lisbon, it may be termed an urban phenomenon.

The adoption of the uvular /r/ is more common in urban centres than in rural ones. It appears that innovations tend to spread in urban centres. Rural areas, on the other hand, tend to resist them. The diffusion of the uvular /r/ which originated in Parisian French is one such example.