Monday, January 24, 2011

Acronyms

Acronyms are abbreviations formed from the initial letters of a name or phrase. Long names and phrases are often abbreviated. Acronyms are often more common than the names or phrases that they represent.

The acronym UN is a well-known acronym for the United Nations. The acronym UNICEF is more common than United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. UNESCO is an acronym for United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. As it is a long name, the acronym is very common.

The province of British Columbia, Canada is often referred to as BC and the city of Los Angeles is often LA. The United Kingdom is often called the UK. However, Great Britain is not abbreviated to GB in spoken language.

In certain cases, acronyms become so popular that people may not even realize that they are acronyms and may actually think of them as words. Examples include laser, radar and scuba. They mean "light amplication of simulated emission of radiation," radio detection and ranging," and "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus."

Foreign acronyms are the name of the Dutch airline KLM and the Swedish car company Saab. KLM is Dutch for Koninglijk Luchtmaatschappij which means Royal Air Company and Saab is Swedish for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget which means Swedish Airplane Limited. Though Saab is associated with cars, it originally manufactured planes and still does today.

Acronyms are abbreviations that are often more common than the names and phrases that they represent. This is particularly true for long names and phrases. Some acronyms have become so popular that they function as words because many are not aware that they are in fact acronyms.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Western and Eastern Norwegian Dialects

Two of the main Norwegian dialects are the western and eastern. The eastern dialect is spoken in the capital Oslo and the western in Bergen, the second largest city of Norway. These dialects exhibit a number of differences in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. I wish to focus on pronunciation.

One difference between the two dialects is with respect to pitch. This is a feature which Norwegian shares with Swedish. Disyllabic words with identical pronunciation are distinguished by pitch alone. The two types of pitch are called Tone 1 and Tone 2. For example, the word bønder (farmers) has Tone 1 and bønner (beans) has Tone 2. The two words sound otherwise alike because the "d" of bønder is not pronounced.

However, the two dialects have different types of pitch. The eastern Norwegian dialects have a low-tone accent and the western Norwegian dialects have a high-tone accent.

The eastern Norwegian dialects are called low-tone accents because they have a low flat pitch on the first syllable of tone 1 followed by a rising pitch on the second. Tone 2 has a high falling pitch on the first syllable and a low pitch at the beginning of the second.

The western Norwegian dialects are called high-tone accents because they have a high pitch on the first syllable of tone 1 followed by a low pitch at the beginning of the second. Tone 2 has a rising pitch on the first syllable and a falling pitch at the beginning of the second.

The liquids are also pronounced differently in the two dialects. The lateral of words such as tolv (twelve) and hals (throat) is velarized in the eastern Norwegian dialects but not in the western ones. The rhotic sound of tre (three) and rot (root) is an alveolar trill in the eastern Norwegian dialects but a uvular trill or fricative in the western ones. In words such as først (first) and norsk (Norwegian) the eastern Norwegian dialects have a retroflex alveopalatal fricative but the western Norwegian dialects have a uvular followed by an alveolar fricative.

In words beginning with sl-, the western Norwegian dialects pronounce them as in English. The eastern Norwegian dialects, however, pronounce the "s" as a retroflex alveopalatal fricative. This is also the case when the two letters occur across syllable boundaries. This sound can be heard in words such as slott (castle) and also veksle (to exchange).

Another difference between the eastern and western Norwegian dialects is the pronunciation of the diphthong found in words such as vei (way) and hei (hi). In the dialects of eastern Norway, the diphthong is similar to that of the diphthong in words such as "why" and "my." In western Norway, the diphthong is similar to that heard in words such as "way" and "may."

The two most widely-spoken dialects of Norway, the western and eastern, have many differences in grammar and vocabulary. However, they also have well-known pronunciation differences. As a result, Norwegians can easily identify speakers of these two dialects.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Piet Hein

Piet Hein was a Danish poet who lived from 1905 to 1996. One of his poems is titled "A Psychological Tip."

A Psychological Tip

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.

This is a short poem which suggests that by spinning a penny, we can discover what we really want. In other words, we may not need to spin the penny at all because we may make up our minds before the penny does. The rhyme scheme of the poem is a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d. Piet Hein's poems reveal many truths about life. "A Psychological Tip" is no exception.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ratatouille

Ratatouille is the name of a French vegetable dish. It is a very tasty eggplant and tomato casserole that can be served hot or cold. To make ratatouille you need:

2 large egglants
salt
2 medium zucchinis, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons sugar
ground pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Wash the eggplants and cut into small slices. Sprinkle with salt and allow to stand.

Salt the sliced zucchini and stand for 30 minutes. Wash the salt from the eggplants and zucchinis. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add onion and cook until golden brown.

Add garlic and pieces of eggplant and cook until brown. Remove and cook the zucchini slices until golden.

Transfer all the vegetables to a large pan. Sprinkle with sugar, pepper and vinegar. Add the tomatoes and wine. Cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

This recipe serves 4-6 people. It can be served alone with French bread or as an accompaniment to meat and poultry dishes. This is one of my favourite French dishes. Enjoy!