Monday, December 31, 2012

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is delicious and easy to make.  The advantage of using split peas is that they cook more quickly than regular peas.  Here is a recipe that serves three to four:

one cup dried split peas
eight cups water
1 pound sliced ham
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
one carrot, chopped

In a large pot, cover the peas and soak overnight.    Add the onion, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for one hour.  Stir occasionally.  Add the carrots and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

You may also wish to add spareribs.  This is an excellent soup for all seasons, but I especially enjoy it in winter.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mate in Fourteen Moves

In a game of speed chess, I mated my opponent in fourteen moves.  My opponent was Robski424 of the USA.  In this game I played black.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. f4 d5
3. e5 f6

If black plays exf, I can reply with Nxf6.

4. Bd3 fxe
5. fxe Nc6
6. Nf3 Bg4
7. h3 Bh5

I decide to maintain the pin on the knight.

8. g4 Bg6

White breaks the pin but seriously weakens his kingside.

9. Bxg6+ hxg6

My rook now targets the pawn on h3.

10. 0-0 Qd7

White decides to castle, but his king is very exposed.  In this position, kingside castling is risky.

11. Ng5 0-0-0

The white knight can fork my rooks on the next move, but I decide that white's weakened kingside offers good compensation.

12. e6 Qc7
13. Nf7 Qg3+

White decides to gain material, but he needs to protect his king.

14. Kh1 Rxh3#

White's move is forced.  I mate with my rook.

My opponent decides to play aggressively by breaking the pin on his knight by my bishop and later forking my rooks with his knight.  The problem, though, is that his king is too exposed on g1.  His decision to castle queenside proves to be a serious blunder.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cooking Steak

Unlike pork, beef does not have to be cooked until it is well-done.  Steak can be served with different amounts of cooking time.  The six classifications for steak are blue rare, rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well-done.

Blue rare is cooked on the outside and completely red on the inside.  Rare is cooked on the outside and about 75% red on the inside.  Medium rare is cooked more so that it is about 50% red on the inside.  Medium is about 25% pink on the inside.  A medium well steak has a little bit of pink on the inside and a well-done steak is cooked until it is 100% brown.

Chefs use their knowledge of how the steak looks and how it feels to determine when it is ready.  A well-done steak is much harder than a blue rare one.  Obviously a blue rare steak needs the least amount of cooking time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quotes by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is considered the greatest English writer.  His plays and poems have stood the test of time.  It is not surprising that they are the source of many famous quotes. 

I have chosen ten of my favourite quotes from William Shakespeare's plays.  It was not easy to select ten, but I managed to do so.  Here they are:

1) (Romeo and Juliet)

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.

2) (Romeo and Juliet)  

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

3) (Romeo and Juliet)  

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?  

4) (The Merchant of Venice)  

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

5) (King Lear)

Nothing will come of nothing.

6) (Othello)

T'is neither here nor there.

7) (As You Like It)

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

8) (Julius Caesar)

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

9) (Hamlet)

To be or not to be:  that is the question.

10) (Twelfth Night)

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.

The single lines "To be or not to be: that is the question" and O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" are undoubtedly among the most famous lines written by William Shakespeare.  They are from two of his most popular tragedies, Hamlet  and Romeo and Juliet.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Roman Numerals

Ancient Rome did not use the counting system used throughout the world today.  It used Roman numerals.  They are combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet with different values.

Here is the Roman numeral system:


The number two is II.  The number for four, however, is IV.  Here the number one is subtracted from five.  The number six is VI.  The number one is added to five.

Here are different numbers in the Roman numeral system:

2012 (the current year) MMXII
1789 (the French Revolution) MDCCLXXXIX
2000 (the start of the 21st century) MM
52 (the number of weeks in one year) LII
365 (the number of days in one year) CCCLXV

The Roman numerals were used in the days of Ancient Rome.  Though they no longer enjoy the popularity of former days, they are still used to number sporting events, in clocks and watches, and to number the chapters of books.  This is a testament to their historical significance.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winning the Queen

In a game of speed chess against Spverma of India, who played black,  he resigned after losing his queen.  Though my queen was threatened, I ignored the threat because I was able to capture his queen with check.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. 0-0 h6

I ignore the threat on my e4 pawn because I want to develop.  Black plays a move that ignores development.  A better move for black is Be7.

6. d4 exd

With the black king in the centre, I decide to open the centre of the board.

7. Nxd4 d5

I now attack c6 with two pieces.  Here black needs to play Bd7.

8. Nxc6 bxc6
9. Bxc6+ Bd7
10. Bxa8 dxe

Black's last move closes the centre, but this is only temporary.

11. Bxe4 Nxe4
12. Re1 Qe7

I pin the knight and black decides to protect the pinned knight with his queen.  A better move is Be7.

13. Nc3 Bf5
14. f3 Qc5+

The check presents no danger.

15. Be3 Nxc3

Perhaps black expects an exchange of queens with 16. Bxc5 and ...Nxd1.  However, I can delay the capture of the knight because I have a move that captures with check.

16. Bxc5+

Black must respond to the check by blocking or moving the king.  This allows me to capture his knight on the following move.  With no queen and a miserable position, black decides to resign.

The turning point in this game is my ninth move, Bxd6+.  This fork of the king and rook puts black on the defensive.  My final move, Bxc5+, convinces him that the game is lost because it increases my material advantage.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Visualization in Chess

Visualization in chess is very important.  It is excellent practice to visualize positions without the aid of a chess board.  The ability to visualize well is present in all great players.  In a game of speed chess against Puliukko of Finland, I visualized different positions to help me achieve victory.  In the game I played white.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. Bc4 h6

Here black often pins the knight with Bg4.

4. h3 Qe7

I prevent a pin on my knight.  Black makes a move that hinders his development.  With the queen on e7, his king bishop has no square.

5. c3 a6
6. d4 exd4
7. 0-0 dxc

Black grabs a second pawn but at the cost of development. 

8. Nxc3 Nc6
9. Nd5 Qd7

My aim is to prevent black from castling.

10. Re1 Nge7
11. e5 dxe

With the black king in the centre, I decide to open the position.

12. Nxe5 Qd8

Black's move surprises me.  I visualize 12...Nxe5 13. Rxe5.  This pins the knight on e7 but is better than black's passive move which allows a winning combination.

13. Nxc7+ Qxc7

Black's capture is forced.  My move opens a diagonal for my bishop to mate on my next move.

14.  Bxf7#

The mate is the position I visualize when I play my thirteenth move.  Black's inability to develop his pieces and protect his king is critical.  His fourth move, Qe7, is premature because it slows his development and makes castling more difficult. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Gold and Silver Producers

Gold and silver are precious metals which have been valued since ancient times.  In fact, with the current global economic crisis, many investors have become more interested in precious metals such as gold and silver.  Though gold is currently worth much more than silver, some people believe the value of silver may increase drastically in the future.  Here is a list of the top ten producers of gold and silver as of March 1, 2012:


1) China
2) Australia
3) USA
4) Russia
5) South Africa
6) Peru
7) Indonesia
8) Ghana
9) Canada
10) Uzbekistan


1) Peru
2) Mexico
3) China
4) Australia
5) Chile
6) Russia
7) Bolivia
8) USA
9) Poland
10) Canada

China is a large producer of gold and silver, first in gold and third in silver.  Australia is also a large producer, second in gold and fourth in silver.  The USA is third in gold and eight in silver.  Russia, with a vast area, is third in gold and sixth in silver.  Peru, a country with a much smaller area, is first in silver and sixth in gold.  Mexico is not a top ten gold producer but is second in silver.  Six countries are top ten producers of both gold and silver-  China, Australia, the USA, Russia, Peru and Canada.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ten Popular Operas

It is not easy to determine the ten most popular operas.  One can look at the number of performances worldwide, conduct a survey, determine which operas are best attended, and also compare sales of opera music.  However, no one can dispute that for many Italian opera is the greatest and a list of the most popular operas always includes Italian ones.

One of the most famous opera houses, the Metropolitan Opera of New York, has eight Italian operas among the ten most performed operas.  The two exceptions are the French operas Carmen and Faust.  Here are the ten most performed operas at the Metropolitan Opera through March 14, 2009:

1) Giacomo Puccini La Boheme
2) Giuseppe Verdi Aida
3) Giuseppe Verdi La Traviata
4) Georges Bizet Carmen
5) Giacomo Puccini Tosca
6) Giacomo Puccini Madama Butterfly
7) Giuseppe Verdi Rigoletto
8) Charles Gounod Faust
9) Ruggero Leoncavallo Pagliacci
10) Pietro Mascagni Cavalleria Rusticana

From the list of the ten most performed operas at the Metropolitan Opera, it is clear that Italian opera is very popular.  Also evident is that the composers Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi both created operas with lasting popularity.  Of the ten operas on the list, they composed more than half of them- six out of ten.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Victory in Chess

In a game of speed chess against Timmy Forsberg of Sweden, I forced resignation on his 21st move.  In this game he played black.  It was an open game with many captures.  Here are the moves along with my commentary:

1.  e4 c5
2. d4 d6

Here it is common for black to play cxd.  If black does not wish to capture, e6 is possible.  The move d6 does not effectively challenge white's control of the centre.

3. Nf3 Bg4
4. Be2 Bxf3

Black helps me to develop.

5. Bxf3 cxd
6. Qxd4 Nc6
7. Qc3 e5

I place my queen on the ideal square for my queen knight.  The move Qa4 is better.

8. 0-0 d5
9. exd Bb4
10. Qb3 Nd4

Black forks my queen and bishop.

11. Qxb4 Nxc2

Nxf3+ is a better move for black.  He forks my queen and rook but the move is a mistake.

12. Qa4+ b5
13. Qxc2 Nf6
14. Nc3 b4

Black is aggressive with the pawn but it is overextended.

15. Qa4+  Ke7
16. Qxb4+ Ke8
17. Qb5+ Qd7

Down in material, black should not offer to exchange queens.  A better move is Kf8.

18. Qxd7+ Nxd7

I am happy to exchange queens.

19. Re1 f6
20. d6 Rf8

My move takes away the e7 square for the black king and allows my bishop to threaten the rook on a8.

21. Bxa8

With his material deficit and his exposed king, black decides to resign.  Black makes a number of aggressive moves in this game such as Nxc2 on his eleventh move, but he does so at the expense of his development and the safety of his king.  My twelfth move, Qa4+, which leads to the loss of black's knight, is one of the key moves of the game.

Friday, October 26, 2012

English Stress

English stress can fall on any syllable of a word.  This can be seen in the words never, polite and afternoon.  However, English stress is not entirely unpredictable.   For example, rules can be given for words with penultimate and antepenultimate stress.

Consider the following words:  (An Introduction to Phonology:  Katamba)

a)  cinema Agatha overture Malibu
b)  Galapagos America rhinoceros epitome
c)  tornado rhododendron aroma bronchitis

The words in (a) and (b) have antepenultimate stress.  The ones in (c) have penultimate stress.  The difference between the words in (a) and (b) and the ones in (c) is that in (a) and (b) the penultimate syllable is light and in (c) the penultimate syllable is heavy. 

The second syllable in cinema consists of a nasal and a schwa.  This classifies the syllable as light.  Because it is light, it does not bear stress.  In the word overture, the second syllable has a schwar or schwa with r-colouring.  In many accents of British English, the vowel is not a schwar but rather a vowel similar to the schwa with a longer duration.

The second syllable of tornado consists of a nasal and a diphthong.  This classifies the syllable as heavy.  For this reason it is stressed.  The third syllable of rhododendron consists of a mid front unrounded lax vowel and a nasal.  This combination of a vowel and consonant classifies the syllable as heavy.  As a result, it carries stress.

Although stress varies in English, it is not entirely random.  Rules can be given for English stress.  One such rule is the one which determines penultimate and antepenultimate stress in loan words.  The rule states that if the penultimate syllable is heavy, it is stressed.  On the other hand, if the penultimate syllable is light, stress is then placed on the antepenultimate syllable.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Exciting Chess Game

I played an exciting game of speed chess against Tcet of Croatia.  In this game my opponent played black.  We attacked from start to finish.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  e4 d5
2.  exd Qxd5
3.  Nc3 Qe6+

The check achieves nothing.

4.  Be2 c6

This is an excellent square for the knight.

5.  Nf3 h6
6.  0-0 Nf6
7.  d4 Qd6

Now black can advance the king pawn.

8.  Be3 e6
9.  h3 Be7
10. Qd2 b6
11. Rad1 Ba6
12. Bf4 Qd8
13. Bxb8 Bxe2

I hope for Qxb8 or Rxb8 so that I can win the bishop on a6, but black does not fall for this.

14. Nxe2 Rxb8
15. c4 0-0
16. Ne5 c5

Black fails to prevent the fork.

17. Nc6 Qc7
18. Nxb8 Rxb8
19. d5 exd
20. cxd Bd6
21. Nc3 a6

Black prevents Nb5 which forks the queen and bishop.

22. Rfe1 Nh5
23. Re2 Nf4
24. Re3 Nxg2

Black's move surprises me.

25. Kxg2 Bf4

Black's knight sacrifice allows him to pin my rook with his bishop.

26. Rde1 Re8

Black wants to increase the pressure on e3 but this move is a mistake because I can check.

27. Rxe8+ Kh7
28. Qd3+ g6
29. R8e7

My fork of the queen and pawn convinces black to resign.  With my control of the e-file and my material advantage, I have a dominant position. 

This is a memorable game.  It features a knight sacrifice and pin by my opponent, a check that enables me to break the pin, and a rook fork that ends the game.  The key move of the game is undoubtedly my 27th move, Rxe8+.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Dissimilation is a phonological process.  In assimilation sounds become more similar to one another.  In dissimilation, however, the reverse occurs- sounds become less similar from one another. 

In Kurundi, an African language spoken in Burundi, a consonant in the prefix must disagree in voicing with a the first consonant of the root to which it is attached.  The rule can be states as follows:

A voiced root initial segment requires a voiceless consonant in the prefix and a voiceless root initial segment requires a voiced consonant in the prefix.  The data illustrates this:


rya eat

1st person singular present



mwa shave

1st person singular present



soma read

1st person singular present



kubita hit

1st person singular present


The prefix variant du occurs with roots that have a voiceless initial segment in the root.  With roots that have a voiced initial segment in the root, the prefix variant tu occurs.  The examples from Kurundi serve to illustrate the phonological process of dissimilation. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spanish Loanwords in Tagalog

Tagalog has many Spanish loanwords.  This is due to the fact that the Philippines was a colony of Spain for over 300 years.  Tagalog has more loanwords from Spanish than from any other language.  The following provides a list of a few loanwords in Tagalog.  On the left is the Tagalog spelling followed by the Spanish spelling on the right and the English translation in parentheses.

arina harina (flour)
bisikleta bicicleta (bicycle)
bodega bodega (warehouse)
departamento departamento (department)
eskwela escuela (school)
gwapo guapo (handsome)
giyera guerra (war)
hustisya justicia (justice)
istudyante estudiante (student)
kalye calle (street)
kabayo caballo (horse)
karne carne (meat)
kotse coche (car)
mundo mundo (world)
probinsya provincia (province)
relo reloj (wristwatch)
sapatos zapatos (shoes)
silya silla (chair)
tuwalya toalla (towel)
yelo hielo (ice)

The list provides examples of Spanish loanwords in Tagalog.  From the list it is clear that the ll of Spanish corresponds to the ly in Tagalog.  Also, the c, v and z of Spanish correspond to the k, b and s of Tagalog.  In the case of a soft c in Spanish such as bicicleta (bicycle), the c is an s in Tagalog.  The short list clearly illustrates the influence of Spanish in the Tagalog language.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Attributive/Predicate Adjectives

Most English adjectives can be used in two positions- before a noun and following a noun.  When adjectives occur before a noun, they are in attributive position.  Following a noun, they are in predicate position.  For example, the phrase the happy man has the adjective happy in attributive position and the sentence He is happy has the adjective happy in predicate position.

A number of English adjectives can only occur in attributive or predicate position.  The adjective live only occurs in attributive position and alive only in predicate position.  However, live can occur in both positions if the noun modified is inanimate.  Consider the examples This is a live concert and The concert is live.

With animate nouns, however, live must occur before the noun it modifies.  The adjective alive must follow the noun it modifies.  Consider the following examples:

The live insects are in the laboratory.
The insects in the laboratory are alive.

Certain adjectives can only be used in attributive position.  These include sole, mere and maiden.  The following sentences are grammatical:

My sole intention is to delegate responsibilities.
The mere mention of his name made her angry.
Her maiden name is Edwards.

Other adjectives can only be used in predicate position.  These include afraid, alone and asleep.  The following sentences are grammatical:

The child was afraid.
He is alone.
Now the children are asleep.

A few adjectives can be used in both attributive and predicate position but the meaning is different.  Consider the following examples:

The secretary was present.
The present secretary is Linda O'Connor.

Robert Turner was late.
The late Robert Turner loved poetry.

English adjectives usually occur in both attributive and predicate position.  However, many adjectives are an exception.  A number only occur in one position- either in attributive or predicate.  Also, certain adjectives can occur in both positions but the meaning varies depending on the position in which they occur.

Blunder in Speed Chess

In a game of speed chess against Vshape05 of Italy, a blunder allowed me to mate in nine.  My opponent, who played black, failed to find the best move.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  e4 e5
2.  Nf3 Nc6
3.  Bb5 a6
4.  Bxc6 bxc6

I usually retreat my bishop to a4 but in this move I decide to capture.  Black does not make the correct capture.  It is best to play dxc6 to open squares for the dark-squared bishop and queen.

5.  0-0 d6

It is possible to play Nxe5 but I decide to castle instead.

6.  d4 Qf6

With the black king in the centre, I want to open up the game.  Black's move is a surprise.  I expect exd.  The square f6 is a common square for the king knight.

7.  dxe dxe

Now I control the d-file.

8.  Bg5 Qg6

Black blunders.  It is necessary to counter my control of the d-file with Qd6.

9.  Qd8#

With the support of my dark-squared bishop, my square delivers mate on the back rank.  Black fails to prevent the control of the d-file.  This leads to mate in nine moves.

Black makes three mistakes in this game.  One is the capture bxc6 which is weaker than dxc6.  Another is the sixth move, Qf6 which deprives the knight of an excellent square.  The worst mistake, however, is undoubtedly Qg6 which allows me to deliver mate on my ninth move.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Distinctive Features

In phonology distinctive features are used to analyze sounds.  Distinctive features use the concept of binary features which show the presence or absence of a feature in a particular sound.  The presence of the feature is indicated by a + sign and the absence by a - sign.

The distinctive features syllabic and consonantal can be used to classify vowels, glides and consonants.  This is demonstrated here:

vowels-  [+syllabic] [-consonantal]
consonants [+/-syllabic] [-consonantal]
glides [-syllabic] [-consonantal]

Some consonants are syllabic such as the nasal in rhythm and the lateral in bottle.

The four major classes of consonants can be identified with the features sonorant and continuant.

plosives  [-sonorant] [-continuant]
fricatives [-sonorant] [+continuant]
nasals [+sonorant] [-continuant]
approximants [+sonorant] [+continuant]

Distinctive features can also be used to identify specific speech sounds. 

[m] [+nasal] [+labial]
[n]  [+nasal] [+coronal]
[p]  [-voiced] [+labial] [-continuant]
[d]  [+voiced] [+coronal] [-continuant] [-nasal]
[w] [+back] [+sonorant] [+continuant]
[u]  [+high] [+back] [+round] [+tense]

Distinctive features are a useful tool in sound analysis.  They illustrate the features which identify sounds.  In addition, they show the relationships of sounds, the major classes, and the features relevant in their decription.  They are an important part of phonology.

Winning with the pin

The pin is one of the tactics of chess.  In a game of speed chess versus Texascanyon of the USA, I used the pin to win the game.  In this game, Texascanyon played black.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  e4 e5
2.  Nf3 c6

Black's second move is not common.  The c6 square is often used for the knight.

3.  Bc4 d6

Black has yet to develop a piece.

4.  d4 exd
5.  Nxd4 d5

I have a clear lead in development.

6.  exd cxd
7.  Bb5+ Bd7
8.  Qe2+ Be7

The king bishop is pinned.

9.  0-0 Nf6
10. Nf5 Bxb5

Black cannot castle because this would lose a piece.

11. Qxb5+ Nc6

Now the queen knight is pinned.

12. Nxg7+ Kf8

The check takes away black's right to castle.

13. Nf5 Rg8
14. Bh6+ Ke8
15. Re1 Ne4

The knight breaks the pin on the bishop.

16. f3 Bc5+

Black wants to play actively but the check is a blunder.  The reason is that the knight is now pinned.  A better move for black is to move the knight.

17. Qxc5

My queen is immune to capture because of the pin on the knight.  With this move, I am up a piece and black decides to resign.

The pin is a very effective tactical tool at the chess player's disposal.  In this game, I use the pin to disrupt my opponent's plans and find a path to victory.  In fact, my final move succeeds because of the pin on the black knight.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Free Variation in English

Free variation refers to a phenomenon whereby a word can be pronounced in two different ways which are acceptable to native speakers.  The word free is not entirely accurate, however, because for most speakers one form is preferred over another.  English has many examples of free variation.

Words with two different pronunciations include either, neither, data, status, bouquet, Caribbean, economic, divisive, often and kilometre.

The words either and neither can be pronounced with the vowel of me or the vowel of my.  I use the vowel of me.

The words data and status can be pronounced with the vowel of mat or mate.  I use the vowel of mate in data and the vowel of mat in status.

The word bouquet can be pronounced with the vowel of toe or two.  I use the vowel of two.

The word Caribbean can be stressed on the second syllable or on the third.  I stress it on the third.

The word economic can be pronounced with the vowel of met or meet in the first syllable.  I use the vowel of met.

The word divisive can be pronounced with the vowel of sit or site in the first syllable.  I use the vowel of site.

The word often can be pronounced with or without a t.  I pronounce it without a t.  A word with a silent t (no free variation) is listen.

The word kilometre can be pronounced so that it rhymes with thermometer or with the same pronunciation as in the word metre.  I pronounce kilometre with the pronunciation of metre.

English is a language with many examples of free variation.  This is in contrast to many other languages in which free variation is not so common.  However, it is important to note that the two different pronunciations of a word usually do not vary so freely because most speakers prefer one pronunciation over another.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca pudding is a delicious dessert that is easy to make.  For this recipe you need the following:

4 tablespoons tapioca
3 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan.  Lightly beat the egg.  Let stand for five minutes.  Bring to a full boil over medium heat and stir constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in one teaspoon of vanilla.  Let cool for twenty minutes.  The pudding will thicken as it cools.  Serve warm or cold.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Victory with a Check

In a game of speed chess against Dingdone of Canada, I checked his uncastled king to turn the game in my favour.  In this game he played white.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  d4 Nf6
2.  Nc3 d5

White usually plays c4 here.

3.  Bg5 e6
4.  e4 h6
5.  Bxf6 gxf6
6.  exd exd
7.  Bd3 Be7

With the open g-file, I do not wish to castle kingside.

8.  h3 Be6
9.  Nf3 Nc6
10. Bb5 Qd6
11. Qe2 0-0-0
12. Bxc6 Qxc6

Black's decision to give up another bishop is committal.

13. a3 Kb8
14. Nd2 Rhe8
15. Nb3 Bd6

My bishop now controls more squares.

16. Qb5 Bd7+

Black wants to exchange queens but I do not cooperate.  I exploit the position of the uncastled king and put black in check.

17. Ne2 Qxb5

Black blocks the check with his knight but this removes the protection of his queen.  A better move for black is to move the king (Kd2 connects the rooks) but even with this move, he loses a piece.  Down a queen, black has no desire to continue and resigns.

Black's failure to castle is the reason for his quick loss.  My sixteenth move puts him on the defensive and gives him a losing position.  This game illustrates the importance of keeping the king safe.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Day

New Day is the title of my latest poem.  I hope you enjoy it.

New Day

Moments of yesterday can never come again,
Though they often return in my mind.
Today brings heightened sensation
In reaction to all I find.

I have no power to change the past
Or to restart the present.
The die of life has been cast,
Life mirrors an ocean current.

Yesterday has become history,
Today is my adventure,
Tomorrow is my destiny,
My three medals of life to treasure.

When yesterday disappears,
Tomorrow begins anew,
Not confronted by sudden fears
But surrounded by hope and virtue.

Tomorrow becomes another new day
With surprises for me to discover.
Each one can take troubles away
And make joys of life last longer.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chess Miniature

I played  a game of speed chess at which ended on my twelfth move.  This qualifies it as a miniature.  My opponent was Pawnkiller of the USA who played black.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1.  e4 c5
2.  d4 Nc6

Black's move is a surprise.  The reply dxc is very common.  Other possible replies are d5 and e6.  Black's reply allows me to put him on the defensive.

3.  d5 Nd4

Black makes a mistake.  The retreat Nb8 is much better.

4.  c3 Qa5

Black tries to save his knight by pinning my pawn.

5.  b4 cxb4

Now the black knight is undefended.

6.  Qxd4 bxc3

I centralize my queen.

7.  Nxc3 Nf6
8.  Bd3 g6
9.  Bd2 Bg7

Both sides prepare an attack against the enemy queen.

10.  Nb5 Qd8
11.  Rc1 Ng4

The problem with black's move is that the bishop is undefended.  Black needs to castle before making this move.

12.  Qxg7

Black resigns.  With my queen threatening black's rook and my knight ready to check on c7, black realizes the game is over.   Black commits a number of errors in this game.  The third move, Nd4, is a critical one which leads to the loss of his knight.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Capitals of the former Soviet Union

The former Soviet Union consisted of fifteen republics.  The largest in area and population is Russia.  Here is a list of the former Soviet republics and their capitals:

Armenia Yerevan
Azerbaijan Baku
Belarus Minsk
Estonia Tallinn
Georgia Tbilisi
Kazakhstan Astana
Kyrgyzstan Bishkek
Latvia Riga
Lithuania Vilnius
Moldova Chisinau
Russia Moscow
Tajikistan Dushanbe
Turkmenistan Ashgabat
Ukraine Kiev
Uzbekistan Tashkent

After Moscow, the most famous capital is Kiev.  Another spelling of this city is Kyiv which is based on Ukrainian rather than Russian.  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are known as the Baltic republics.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rule for Doubling the Final t of Base Verbs

A number of English verbs with a word-final t double the t when a suffix is attached to the stem.  However, this is not always the case.  Some verbs do not double the t.

Verbs such as hit, sit, forget and regret double the t with the addition of a suffix.  This can be seen in forms such as hitting, sitting, forgetting and regretting.  The last syllable of the base is stressed.  This is the penultimate syllable of the word.

In verbs such as visit, benefit and exit, the t remains single when a suffix is attached.  This can be seen in forms such as visiting, benefiting and exiting.  The difference between these verbs and the ones with a double t is that with the verbs of this group the stress falls on the first syllable.  It does not precede the suffix.  The t is only doubled when the final syllable of the base is stressed.

The rule for the doubling of the t has an exception.  Bases with a doubled vowel such as oo and combinations such as ea and ou do not double the t.  Consider the forms looting, heating and shouting.

The final t of verbs sometimes doubles when a suffix is attached.  The rule for doubling is determined by stress.  The t can only be doubled if the final syllable of the base verb is stressed.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Danish plurals

Danish plurals are usually formed in three ways:  with -e or -er added to the base or a form which is identical to the singular.  The number of plurals which do not add a suffix to the base is relatively small.  Thus, the majority of Danish plurals end in -e or -er.

The following nouns add -er:

alligator alligatorer (alligator/alligators)
bil biler (car/cars)
ged geder (goat/goats)
kylling kyllinger (chicken/chickens)
problem problemer (problem/problems)

The following nouns add -e:

dag dage (day/days)
fugl fugle (bird/birds)
hest heste (horse/horses)
hund hunde (dog/dogs)
stol stole (chair/chairs)

These nouns are invariable in singular and plural:

ben ben (leg/legs)
mus mus (mouse/mice)
ord ord (word/words)
sko sko (shoe/shoes)
sten sten (stone/stones)

Danish nouns which do not add a suffix to form the singular and plural are usually monosyllabic.  With nouns which add -e or -er to form the plural, it is necessary to memorize.  In Norwegian, however, -er is the most common plural suffix.  In Norwegian, the plurals of dag, fugl, hest, hund, and stol are dager, fugler, hester, hunder, and stoler.  Formation of the plural is thus more complex in Danish than in Norwegian.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dust of Snow

The American poet Robert Frost wrote many beautiful poems.  Dust of Snow is not his most famous, but is very memorable.  In the poem, the narrator relates his experience with a crow.

The poem is very short.  It has only eight verses and they combine to form one sentence.  The rhyme scheme is a, b, a, b, c, d, c, d.  Here is the poem:

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

The narrator recalls a special moment.  A crow shook bits of snow which looked like dust from a hemlock tree.  The snow fell on the narrator who stood below.  Though a brief moment, this touched the narrator's heart .  His mood changed and improved a day which until that moment he had regretted.

The poem serves to remind us that even simple, unexpected moments can make a big difference in one's day.  The dust of snow from the crow was not only unusual but also completely unexpected.  The incident helped to change the narrator's mood and brighten his day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Barbadian English

Barbaridian English is often called Bajan.  It is a variety of Caribbean English spoken in Barbados.  Though similar to other Caribbean accents, it is nevertheless distinct.

One of the features of Barbadian English which makes it different from other varieties is that it is rhotic.  This means that the r is pronounced in all instances.  For example, the r is maintained in words such as art, finger and word.  This is not the case in other varieties of Caribbean English such as the English of the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.

Also distinct about the English of Barbados is the extensive use of the glottal stop.  It often replaces a word-final /t/ such as the /t/ of that boy and it.  This pronunciation also occurs in many varieties of British English.

The interdental fricatives have merged with the voiced and voiceless alveolar plosives.  As a result, the words dough and though sound identical.  This is also true for three and tree.

Barbadian English, often called Bajan, is a variety of Caribbean English.  Though most Caribbean English accents are non-rhotic, Barbadian English is not.  It is a rhotic accent which makes extensive use of the glottal stop.  The extensive use of the glottal stop also contrasts with the English of other Caribbean speakers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

West Country Accent

The West Country Accent refers to the English accent of the southwest of England.  The largest city in this region is Bristol.  The West Country also includes the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.  The accent of this region is distinct from that of London.

In the West Country Accent, the word-final y of words such as happy and party is pronounced as the diphthong in day, rain and grey.  This pronunciation is also common in the north of England.

The West Country Accent is rhotic.  This means that the r is pronounced in all cases.  Unlike in London, the r is pronounced in words such as heart, park and four.

Word-initial fricatives can be voiced.  For example, the f of five can be pronounced as a v and the s of so can be pronounced as a z.

The a in words such as ask, castle and dance is a low front or low central vowel.  It is not a low back vowel as in London.

In many words with an l before a word-final consonant, the l is often not pronounced.  For example, many speakers do not pronounce the l in words such as build and cold.

The West Country Accent is a famous accent of southwestern England.  Two characteristics of the West Country Accent which make it distinct from that of London are the retention of the r in all instances and the pronunciation of the a in words such as bath and fast as a low front or low central vowel rather than a low back vowel.  This accent is one of the best-known accents of England.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gender of French and Spanish Nouns

French and Spanish nouns often have the same gender.  This is not surprising because they are both Romance languages that are descended from Latin.  This is the case with the French phrase le livre and the Spanish phrase el libro with the meaning "the book."  Both phrases have masculine gender.  The French phrase la lune and the Spanish phrase la luna mean "the moon."  In this case they share feminine gender.  However, a number of related nouns do not share the same gender. 

Here is a list of ten nouns with different genders in French and Spanish:

le sang la sangre (the blood)
le lait la leche (the milk)
la minute el minuto (the minute)
le nez la nariz (the nose)
l'auto el auto (the car)
la couleur el color (the colour)
le sel la sal (the salt)
le doute la duda (the doubt)
le fruit la fruta (the fruit)
le nuage la nube (the cloud)

In the case of auto, the French word for car, the definite article le is replaced with l' because the noun starts with a vowel sound.  However, the indefinite article une is feminine in the phrase une auto.  Compare this with the masculine indefinite article un in un lac which means "a lake."

Many French and Spanish nouns share the same gender.  This is evidence that the two languages are related.  Despite the similarity of the two languages, though, certain nouns do not share the same gender.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Short Responses to Negative Questions

In English, short responses to negative questions pattern differently from full responses.  Long responses show more variety.  This can be illustrated with a few examples.

If A asks, "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" B can answer in two different ways.  One possible response is "No, I don't have any brothers or sisters" and another is "No, I have no brothers or sisters."  However, with a short response of two words that contains no verb, the only possible response is "No, none."  Notice that here any cannot be used.  The only possible response is the one that contains have in the full response and not don't have.

Another example is the question "Have you heard anything?"  This can be answered with "No, I haven't heard anything" or "No, I've heard nothing."  In a short response of two words with no verb, however, the only possible response is "No, nothing."  Notice that here anything cannot be used.

One rule of English is that double negatives must not be used.  Double negatives were considered grammatical at an earlier stage of the English language but not today.  For this reason, students are taught to say "I have no health problems" or "I don't have any health problems."  The verb don't have must not be used with the word no.  In short responses, however, the double negative is grammatical.  This allows constructions such as No, nothing and No, none.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Opening Blunder

In a game of speed chess at, my opponent MuratMihcioglu of Turkey made a blunder in the opening which was swiftly punished.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 f6

My opponent makes a very bad move.  The problem is that his king is in the centre and I can sacrifice my knight to open lines of attack.

3. Nxe5 fxe5
4. Qh5+ Ke7

It is usually not a good idea to bring the queen out so early in a game, but here it is a strong move.

5. Qxe5+ Kf7
6. Bc4+  Kg6
7. Qf5+ Kh6
8. d4+  g5

This is my fifth check in a row.

9. h4 Kg7

The black king tries to escape.

10. Qf7+ Kh6

I force the king back into the corner.

11. hxg#

The black king is checked by both the rook and the pawn.

Experienced players know that after 1. e4 e5 Nf3 black must not play f6.  Unlike d6, the move f6 exposes the white king to a deadly attack after Nxe5.  I take full advantage of my opponent's blunder and mate on my eleventh move.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stress in British and American English

Many words are stressed differently in British and American English.   French loanwords are often stressed on an earlier syllable in British English than in American.  In other cases, American English stresses an earlier syllable.

The following French loanwords have first-syllable stress in British English and final-syllable stress in American:  adult, ballet, brochure, buffet, cafe, chalet, croissant, garage, gourmet, salon, vaccine.

The following words with the suffix -ate have first-syllable stress in American English and final-syllable stress in British:  dictate, migrate, rotate, vibrate.

These words also have first-syllable stress in American English.  In British English, the stress is on the second syllable:  mama, marshmallow, papa, weekend.  However, with words such as caffeine and paprika the reverse is true.  They have first-syllable stress in British English.

The number of words with stress differences in British and American English is far greater than the list given here.  Nevertheless, this list illustrates that one group includes  French loanwords and another words with the suffix -ate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hungarian Word Order

Hungarian word order is much freer than in many other languages.  This is especially true in sentences which contain a direct object.  In such sentences, the direct object is marked by the suffix -t.  Because the direct object is marked, it does not have to follow the verb.

To illustrate word order in Hungarian, let us look at the following sentence:  Krisztina szereti a levest.  This sentence means "Christina loves the soup."  The word order of the sentence is the same as in English.  The word for soup is "leves" but with the suffix -t, it becomes a direct object.  However, other word orders are possible.

A levest Krisztina szereti.  In this sentence the emphasis is on the subject "Christina."

Krisztina a levest szereti.  Now the emphasis is on the object "soup."

A levest szereti Krisztina.  Here the emphasis is on the object "soup" but the emphasis is even greater than in the former sentence.

Szereti a levest Krisztina.  The emphasis is on the verb "loves."

Szereti Krisztina a levest.  Again the emphasis is on the verb "loves" but the subject Christina is more prominent than in the former sentence.

In languages with a relatively fixed word order such as English, a sentence such as "Christina loves soup" cannot be expressed with a different word order.  In Hungarian, however, the word order of such a sentence is very free.  The result is that the sentence can be expressed with six different word orders.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ten Great Beers

Beer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world and also one of the oldest.  The ten beers I have selected are not only of excellent quality but also beers that I strongly recommend.

Belgium is a country which produces hundreds of beers.  Three which are outstanding are Kriek, a cherry beer, Framboise, a raspberry beer and Hoegaarden, a beer with flavours which include coriander and orange peel.

Germany has a wheat beer called Weissbeer which is light in colour and very refreshing.  It is a beer with a lot of foam.

The Czech Republic has a dark beer called Gambrinus which is very popular.  It is one of my favourite dark beers.

Ireland produces two very popular beers.  They are Guiness, a strong dark beer and Kilkenny, a beer which is not as dark as Guiness and is very creamy.

Mexico has beers that are often enjoyed with lime.  One such beer is Tecate.  It is a light beer which is very refreshing on a hot day.

Scotland is the home of McEwan's Ale.  It is a dark beer but tastes sweet with a hint of caramel.

Japan produces a very popular beer called Asahi Super Dry.  It is a light beer which is undoubtedly the most famous of Japanese beers.

Many kinds of beer are produced all around the world.  However, a few beers are so special that they distinguish themselves from the rest.  The fruit-flavoured beers of Belgium, the wheat beer of Germany, and the sweet Scottish ale called McEwan's are examples of such beers.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chess Openings

An important part of a chess game is the opening.  Without a good opening, it is difficult to excel in the middlegame and endgame.  A few popular openings are the Ruy Lopez, Sicilian Defence, Giuoco Piano, Queen's Gambit Accepted and Queen's Gambit Declined.

The Ruy Lopez, also known as the Spanish Game, is popular at all levels.  White begins with 1. e4 and  black  replies with 1...e5.  White follows with 2. Nf3 and black with 2...Nc6.  White then plays 3. Bb5.

In the Sicilian Defence, white plays 1. e4 and black counters with 1...c5.  In this defence, black immediately attempts to develop counterplay.

The Giuoco Piano, also known as the Italian Game, is less popular than the Ruy Lopez at the highest levels.  The reason is that it is considered an opening that often ends in a draw.  The first two moves for white and black are the same as in the Ruy Lopez.  In this opening, white plays 1. e4 and black replies with 1...e5.  This continues with 2. Nf3 ...Nc6 which is followed by 3. Bc4 ...Bc5.

In the Queen's Gambit, white opens with the queen pawn.  White plays 1. d4 and black replies with 1...d5.  Now white plays 2.  c4.  The goal of the opening is to sacrifice the c-pawn to gain control of the centre.  White wants black to play dxc in order to play  e4 on the following move.  If black replies with 2...dxc, this is called the Queen's Gambit Accepted.  However, if  black replies with 2...e6, this is the Queen's Gambit Declined.

The moves 1. e4 and 1. d4 are common opening moves for white.  With these moves, popular openings such as the Ruy Lopez, Giuoco Piano and Queen's Gambit can be played.  However, other opening moves are also popular such as 1. Nf3 and 1. c4.  The moves 1.e4, 1.d4, 1. c4 and 1. Nf3 are definitely the most popular opening moves for white.  A good opening is essential for success in chess.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Relational Grammar

Relational grammar is a syntactic theory which was introduced in the 1970's.  It has declined in popularity but is nonetheless an alternative framework to transformational grammar for analyzing grammatical relations in languages.  Among the grammatical relations which it analyzes are passivization and dative shift.

In the sentence "William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet," the subject is "William Shakespeare" and the object is "Hamlet."  However, in the sentence "Hamlet was written by William Shakespeare," the subject is "Hamlet" and "William Shakespeare" is the agent.  Relational grammar explores the relationship between the subject and object and between the subject and agent.

According to relational grammar, the sentence "Hamlet was written by William Shakespeare" has a subject, a predicate and a chomeur.  The chomeur in this case is "William Shakespeare" and this simply means that the constituent no longer has a grammatical relation. 

In the sentence "Paul gave a gift to Lisa," the subject is "Paul," the direct object is "a gift" and the indirect object is "Lisa."  In dative shift, the sentence is expressed as "Paul gave Lisa a gift."  The dative is "Lisa" because this is the indirect object which now precedes the direct object "a gift."

In relational grammar, the constituents which serve as arguments to predicates are numbered.  Thus, in the sentence "Paul gave Lisa a gift," the subject is (1), the direct object is (2) and the indirect object is (3).  The sentence "Paul gave Lisa a gift," the structure is (1) P (3) (2).  P stands for predicate.  In the sentence "Paul gave a gift to Lisa," the structure is (1) P (2) (3).

Relational grammar is a theory of grammatical relations.  It is more closely connected to semantics than is transformational grammar.  The chomeur is an idea which is particular to relational grammar. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Banana Pancakes

Banana pancakes are delicious and easy to make.  Be sure to use ripe bananas.  This recipe makes about four pancakes.  You need:

1 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 bananas

Mix the egg and flour in a bowl.  Add the milk gradually and mix.  Mash the bananas in a separate bowl  and add them to the batter.  Grease a frying pan with a bit of butter and melt over medium heat.  Pour batter onto the pan and cook for about two minutes on each side or until the pancakes become golden brown.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Checkmate in Eight

In a recent game of speed chess at, I checkmated my opponent on my eighth move.  He was Ffoodd of the USA who played black.  This quick checkmate surprised me because my opponent was not a beginner, but undoubtedly the three-minute time limit affected his play.  Here are the moves along with my commentary:

1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. e5 f6

I usually play Nc3 here.  Black attacks my pawn centre.

4. Nf3 fxe5
5. Nxe5 Nf6
6. Be2 h6

Black makes a bad move.  He prevents Bg5 but this is not critical.  He needs to play g6 to prevent Bh5+.

7. Bh5+ g6

All black can do is delay mate.

8. Bxg6#

In this game, my opponent's blunder on his sixth move leads to his quick defeat.  It weakens his kingside so much that he cannot prevent mate.  His exposed king and lack of development are the reason for his rapid downfall. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Canadian Football

Canadian football is a variety of football that is played in Canada.  Though it is similar to American football, it nevertheless has a number of differences.  The football, the length and width of the football field, and a few rules are different in Canadian football.

One major difference between Canadian and American football is that in Canadian football the field is 110 yards long and 65 yards wide.  Compare this to American football in which the football field is 100 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide.

The football is also different in the two sports.  In Canadian football it is a little bigger than in American.  The Canadian football has two white stripes but the American football has none.

The number of players is also different.  In Canadian football twelve players are present on the field, but in American football there are eleven.

A significant rule difference concerns the number of downs.  In Canadian football a team has three downs.  This is one less than American football which allows four.  Since Canadian football has fewer downs, Canadian football tends to have less offensive rushing and more passing than American football.

Another rule difference is the single.  In Canadian football, if a kicker misses a field goal but the receiving team catches the ball and fails to return it out of the endzone or if the kick goes through the end zone, a single point is awarded.  In American football, no point is awarded.

Without question, American football is better known than Canadian.  However, Canadian football enjoys great popularity in Canada.  Despite the similarities between the two sports, many differences also exist:  these include the length and width of the football fields, the football, the number of players, the number of downs and the single point which only Canadian football allows.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When We Two Parted

Lord Byron was an English poet who wrote many beautiful poems.  "When We Two Parted" is a very sad and moving poem.  Here it is:

When We Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sank chill on my brow—
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me—
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:—
Long, long shall I rue thee
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met—
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
With silence and tears.

This poem has four stanzas with eight verses in each. The rhyme scheme is regular. We notice that the even and odd verses of each stanza rhyme with one another.  In the second verse of the third stanza appears the word "knell." This means the bell which is rung to announce death. It is clear that two people have parted because one has met death.  "When We Two Parted" is a very powerful poem which expresses the love and sorrow of the narrator.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are easy to make, but there are many variations.  Here is a simple recipe for this dish:

6 potatoes
1/3 cup of hot milk
2 tablespoons of butter
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces.  Place them in a large pot of salted water and boil for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes break easily when they are pierced with a fork. 

Drain the potatoes and leave them in the pot.  Slowly add some of the hot milk and stir at the same time.  Add the butter.  Now use a potato masher to mash the potatoes.  Slowly add the rest of the milk and add salt and pepper to taste.  You may wish to serve the mashed potatoes with gravy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

World's Most Indebted Nations

National debts can be compared in various ways.  One is simply to look at the debt of a nation, but because populations differ so widely, this is not considered the most accurate.  Debt can be divided by the population of  a country to determine the debt per capita and it can also be expressed as a percentage of GDP.  Not surprisingly, the world's most indebted nations have a higher debt than GDP.

According to, the five most indebted nations in the world are Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.  It may come as a surprise because these are all classified as developed nations, but this is also the reason that these nations are able to borrow to the extent that they do.  If they were not developed nations, they would have less access to capital.

The figures below are for the year 2011 and are given in US dollars:

1) Ireland:  debt ($2.26 trillion)  GDP (182.1 billion)  debt divided by GDP (12.41)

2) UK:  debt ($10.157 trillion)  GDP ($2.250 trillion)  debt divided by GDP (4.5)

3) Switzerland debt ($1.332 trillion)  GDP ($340.5 billion)  debt divided by GDP (3.9)

4) Netherlands debt ($2.590 trillion)  GDP ($705.7) billion  debt divided by GDP (3.7)

5) Belgium debt ($1.457 trillion)  GDP ($412 billion)  debt divided by GDP (3.5)

From the figures, it is clear that the UK has the highest debt of these countries, but that in relation to GDP, Ireland has greater debt.  This is the reason that Ireland is ranked first.  In fact, if we divide Ireland's debt by its GDP, we get 12.41  For the UK, this figure is 4.5.  This is quite a significant difference.  It means that as a percentage of GDP, Ireland's debt is almost three times greater than that of the UK.  The countries ranked from third to fifth have very similar percentages when debt is divided by GDP.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Decisive Sacrifice

I used a decisive sacrifice to defeat my opponent in a game of speed chess at  He was Pindours of France who played black.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 d6
2. d4 Nf6
3. Nc3 Nbd7
4. f4 e5

I play f4 to gain more control of the centre and black immediately challenges it.

5. Nf3 c6
6. Bd3 Qc7
7. 0-0 Be7

With the black king in the centre, I decide to begin a series of captures to create open lines of attack.

8. fxe dxe
9. dxe Nxe5
10. Nxe5 Qxe5
11. Bf4 Qd4+

The check is harmless.

12. Kh1 0-0
13. e5 Bg4

Though the black king is attacked, black hopes to gain time by forcing my queen to move.  The problem for black is that the black queen is unprotected and I have a move at my disposal to take full advantage.

14. Bxh7+

I sacrifice my bishop to gain the black queen.  With no desire to continue without the queen, black resigns.  His failure to protect his queen is the reason for his quick defeat.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chef's Salad

A delicious and simple dish to make is the chef's salad.  This salad can be served with one or more varieties of meat and a variety of dressings.  I like it with ham and a vinaigrette.

Here is a traditional recipe for the chef's salad:

8 cups lettuce
1 cup ham, julienne strips
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Swiss cheese, julienne strips
2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and sliced
salad dressing

Tear the lettuce into small bite-sized pieces and put in a large bowl.  Add the ham, tomatoes, cheese and hard-boiled egg.  Before serving, add a dressing of your choice.  This recipe makes four servings.  The chef's salad can even be a full meal.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Victory with the King's Gambit

The King's Gambit is an opening for white that consists of the moves
1. e4 e5 2. f4. It is an exciting opening that sacrifices a pawn for quick development. In a game of speed chess at versus Luokun1984c2 of England, I used the King's Gambit successfully. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. f4 Nc6

More common moves for black are exf and d6.

3. Nf3 d6
4. Bc4 Nge7

Black's king bishop is trapped.

5. Ng5 d5

I target f7.

6. exd Nxd5
7. 0-0 e4
8. Nc3 f5

Black protects the e-pawn but the d5 knight is underprotected.

9. Bxd5 Bc5+
10. Kh1 Qf6
11. Bf7+ Ke7

Black fails to see the fork.

12. Nd5+

I fork the black king and queen. Already down a piece, black decides to resign. My ability to take advantage of the exposed king leads to a quick resignation.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Closed Game

I played a closed game of speed chess against Charlie33 of the USA who played black. Closed games often last several moves, but this game is rather short. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. d4 e6

To my surprise black does not play cxd.

3. d5 d6
4. Nc3 e5
5. f4 f5
6. Nf3 h6

Black has yet to move a piece.

7. h4 Be7
8. g3 Nf6
9. Bd2 Ng4
10. Bh3 0-0

With few pieces on the kingside and the weakened pawn structure around the king, black makes a move that exposes his king more.

11. Qe2 h5

Black leaves a hole on g5 for my knight.

12. 0-0-0 a6

I castle to connect my rooks and develop a kingside attack.

13. Ng5 Bxg5
14. hxg5 Nd7
15. Bxg4 fxg4

Black's kingside is not well-defended.

16. f5 Qe8

Rxh5 is stronger.

17. g6 Nf6
18. Bg5 Rb8

I prepare to remove a key defender.

19. Bxf6 Rxf6
20. Rxh5 b5
21. Rdh1 Qd7

Black wants to save his queen but he cannot prevent mate.

22. Rh8#

In this closed game, black makes the mistake of castling kingside where I have a powerful attack. He also fails to develop his pieces and generate threats. This allows me to deliver a quick victory.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

German Dual Prepositions

A number of German prepositions always take accusative case such as the preposition durch (through). Other prepositions always take dative case such as mit (with). However, other prepositions can take either accusative or dative case. Such prepositions are known as dual prepositions.

The following German prepositions are dual prepositions:

an (at)
auf (on)
in (in, into)
vor (in front of)
hinter (behind)
neben (beside)
unter (under)
├╝ber (over)
zwischen (between)

When a dual preposition answers the question where, dative case is used. If it answers the question where to, accusative case is used. Here are two sentences which illustrate this difference:

Die Leute gehen in die Kirche. (The people are going into the church).
Die Leute sind in der Kirche. (The people are in the church).

The first sentence uses accusative case and the second dative case. In the first sentence we can use the preposition "into" but in the second we must use "in."

German prepositions can be followed by accusative or dative case. However, a special class of prepositions, dual prepositions, can be followed by either. Accusative case corresponds to motion or direction and dative case to a lack of motion.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Four Types of Infinitives

Infinitives can be classified into four types. They are simple, perfect, continuous and perfect continuous infinitives. Each type has an active and a passive form.

The verb "make" has the following active forms:

simple (to) make
perfect (to) have made
continuous (to) be making
perfect continous (to) have been making

These are the corresponding passive forms:

simple (to) be made
perfect (to) have been made
continuous (to) be being made
perfect continuous (to)have been being made

The continuous and perfect continuous forms in passive are rarely used. The infinitive marker to is not used with modals. For example, the simple infinitive is "make" in the sentence "I can make it for you."

Here are two sentences with passive forms of the continuous and perfect continuous infinitive:

The toys are being made in this factory.
The toys have been being made in this factory for years.

In conversation these forms are not common. It is more common to say "They are making the toys in this factory" and "They have been making the toys in this factory for years."

In addition to the simple infinitive, the infinitive has three other forms. They are the perfect, continuous and perfect continuous. All of the infinitive types have not only an active form but also a passive. However, this only applies to transitive verbs because intransitive verbs do not have a passive form.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Game of Errors

I played a game of speed chess against an opponent with a higher rating than mine. Even so, he made many errors. My opponent was Karst of Bulgaria who played white. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. Bc4 e6
3. Nf3 d5
4. Bb5+ Nc6

I usually play Bd7.

5. 0-0 a6
6. Bxc6+ bxc6
7. exd cxd

Black helps to repair my pawn structure.

8. Ne5 Bd6
9. Nc6 Qc7

Now the knight is trapped.

10. f4 Qxc6
11. Qf3 Bb7

I prepare an exchange of queens.

12. Nc3 d4
13. Qxc6+ Bxc6
14. Ne2 Nf6
15. c3 0-0
16. cxd cxd
17. Nxd4 Bc5

White makes a mistake. He cannot save his knight.

18. Kh1 Bxd4
19. a4 Rfd8
20. d3 Bc5

I move my bishop to attack the pawn on d3.

21. b3 Rxd3
22. Ba3 Bxa3

With my material advantage, I am happy to exchange pieces.

24. Rxa3 Rad8
25. Raa1 h6
26. Rac1 Ba8
27. b4 Rd2
28. Rc5 Bxg2+
29. Kg1 Bxf1

Black can now resign but he decides to play on.

30. Kxf1 Rxh2
31. Kg1 Rb2
32. Kf1 Rd1#

To delay mate black must play Rc1. Black makes a number of errors in the game. He loses his knights with Nc6 on his ninth move and Nd4 on his seventeenth. These errors enable me to achieve a decisive victory.

Names in Genitive Case

In English it is very common to use the apostrophe followed by an "s" to show possession. This is especially true with names. However, many speakers do not add an "s" with names which end in an "s."

For example, many speakers say "James' room" instead of "James's room." Though the form "James's" is possible, many people do not use it. With names which end with one consonant in the coda, however, the apostrophe followed by "s" is common. For example, many people say "Liz's room."

In my case, I use an "s" after the apostrophe if a name has one consonant in the syllable coda This is the case with the name "Liz." With a name which has two consonants in the coda, I add an "s" if the final consonant is voiceless. This is the case with the name "Lance." I add an "s" and say "Lance's room." However, with a name such as "James," the final consonant is voiced. For this reason, I do not add an "s."

The use of an apostrophe and an "s" with names that end with "s" varies from speaker to speaker. In my case, I use an "s" with all monosyllabic names. For names of more than one syllable, I use an "s" for names that have one consonant in the coda and two consonants in the coda in which the final one is voiceless. For me, the lone exception to this rule appears to be the name "Jesus."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Attacking the Exposed King

In a game of speed chess, I took advantage of my opponent's exposed king to force an early resignation. My opponent was Jackvandal of the USA who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. d4 cxd
3. c3 Nc6
4. cxd d5
5. e5 f6

It is now difficult for black to develop the king knight.

6. Nf3 fxe
7. Nxe5 Nxe5
8. dxe5 d4
9. Nd2 Bf5
10. Nf3 Qa5+
11. Bd2 Qb6
12. b3 e6

The black bishop prevents Rb1.

13. Bc4 Bb4
14. 0-0 Bxd2
15. Qxd2 0-0-0

Black chooses to castle queenside but with the open c-file this is risky.

16. a4 h6
17. a5 Qc5
18. Rfc1 Qe7

The black king is very exposed.

19. a6 b6

Black pushes the b-pawn because bxa exposes the king even more.

20. Bxe6+ Kb8

Black's move is forced.

21. Bxf5 d3

I win a piece.

22. Rc3 g5

Black tries to generate counterplay.

23. Rac1

Black resigns. He realizes that he cannot defend c8. With his knight paralyzed on g8, he cannot connect his rooks. Rather than continue in this position, he decides to end the game. The exposed black king and the undeveloped black knight on the back rank lead to black's downfall.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Lecso is a Hungarian vegetable dish which is easy to make. To make lecso you need the following:

2 sliced onions
3 peppers, seeded and sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

Heat the oil, add the onions, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the sliced peppers and cook for another 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt and paprika to taste. Cook for another five minutes or until the vegetables are well cooked. If you want, you can also add chopped sausage.

I hope you enjoy this simple and tasty dish. It ocmbines three ingredients which Hungarians love: peppers, tomatoes and paprika.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Boston Accent

The Boston accent is one of the most famous accents in the United States. President John F. Kennedy spoke with the Boston accent. The two features which are most associated with the Boston accent are features which vary from speaker to speaker. They are the lack of rhoticity and the broad a.

The non-rhotic pronunciation of the Boston accent is also heard in New York and other parts of New England. In Canada, this pronunciation occurs in the southern part of Nova Scotia. Words such as "father" and "card" do not preserve the r that is heard in other American accents. However, it is important to note that not all people from Boston have a non-rhotic pronunciation. Some have a rhotic pronunciation and in other speakers, rhoticity is variable.

For non-rhotic speakers, the words "heart" and "hot" are pronounced differently. The first word has the low back unrounded vowel of "father" and the second has the low back rounded vowel which is also heard in Received Pronunciation. This is different from New York where the two words are pronounced the same.

The broad a is also associated with the Boston accent. However, it is used less extensively than in Received Pronunciation. Words such as bath, ask and answer are often pronounced with this vowel. Other American accents only use the low front vowel of cat in these words. Though the broad a is a feature of the Boston accent, many Boston speakers do not use it. The word aunt is a notable exception. All speakers of the Boston accent pronounce the word aunt with a low back vowel.

The Boston accent is one of the most recognized accents of the United States. It is a prestigious accent with two features which it shares with Received Pronunciation. They are the broad a and the lack of rhoticity.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Unaccusative Verb

An accusative verb is a verb which does not take an object and has a subject which is not an agent. The subject has the semantic role of a patient. This distinguishes the accusative verb from an unergative verb, a verb which does not take an object but has a subject which is an agent.

The verb "die" is an unaccusative verb. In the sentence "He died," the subject is a patient. The subject is not actively responsible for the action of the verb. However, in the sentence, "He resigned," the verb "resign" is an unergative verb. The subject is an agent because it is actively responsible for the action of the verb.

The following sentences all have unaccusative verbs:

She has fallen.
They have arrived.
The ice melted.
The window broke.
The guests have left.

Unaccusative past participles can be used as modifiers of a noun but unergative past participles cannot. Compare the following:

the melted snow, the fallen soldiers, the departed visitors
*the shouted employee, *the slept woman, *the telephoned father

An unaccusative verb is a special type of intransitive verb. Unlike an unergative verb, the subject is not an agent but a patient. Another important difference is that unlike unergative past participles, unaccusative past participles can function as nominal modifiers.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Canadian English/ RP

The pronunciation of Canadian English and RP (Received Pronunciation), also known as Queen's English and Oxford English, can vary significantly. The following ten words are pronounced differently by speakers of Canadian English and RP. The Canadian pronunciation corresponds to my own.


In Canadian English, of is pronounced with the vowel of up. In RP, it is pronounced with the vowel of park.

In Canadian English, city is pronounced with a flap. In RP, the "t" is realized as a voiceless alveolar plosive.

Canadians pronounce middle with a flap In RP, the "d" is realized as a voiced alveolar plosive.

Most Canadians pronounce tube without a palatal glide. In RP, this word is pronounced with a palatal glide.

Almost all Canadians pronounce car with an aveolar approximant. In RP, however, the "r" is not pronounced.

The word debris is stressed differently by speakers of Canadian English and RP. In Canadian English, the second syllable is stressed. In RP, it is the first syllable.

In Canadian English, dot is pronounced with the vowel of car. In RP, however, the vowel is a low back rounded vowel which does not occur in Canadian English. The Canadian vowel is unrounded.

Canadians pronounce tournament with the vowel of turn and the r is pronounced. In RP, however, the vowel of tore is used in the first syllable and the r is not pronounced.

Canadians pronounce fast with the vowel of cat. In RP, however, the a is pronounced with the vowel of father.

Most Canadians pronounce marry with the vowel of let. RP speakers pronounce it with the vowel of man.

Canadian English and RP exhibit many differences in pronuncation. Differences also exist in stress. The list of ten words helps to illustrate this.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ship Terminology

The language used for ships is unique. Many terms are different from those used for other means of transportation. There are specific words to refer to the front, back, left and right of a ship.

The front of a ship is called the bow. It can also be called the prow, but the prow refers only to the part of the ship which is above the water. It is a more specific word than bow.

The back of a ship is called the stern. The control room of the ship is the bridge. The bridge is located close to the bow of the ship.

The left of a ship is called the port side. One easy way to remember this is by the number of letters in the two words- both left and port have four letters. The right of a ship is called the starboard side.

The language of a ship is special. Many words such as port, starboard, bow and stern are used only for ships. This adds to the allure of sailing.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Victory with Rapid Development

In a game of speed chess at, I developed my pieces much more rapidly than my opponent. This propelled me to a quick victory. My opponent was Romano of Canada who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. Bc4 Bg4

Black makes a committal move. Developing a knight first is more flexible. This move also allows the sacrifice Bxf7+. If black accepts the sacrifice, I can play Ng5+ and capture the bishop on g4 to gain a pawn. I play a different move.

4. h3 Bxf3
5. Qxf3 Qf6

Black allows me to develop my queen. I do not wish to exchange because I prefer to maintain a strong attack.

6. Qb3 b6
7. 0-0 Ne7
8. d4 Nbc6

I prepare to sacrifice a pawn to open a diagonal for my dark-squared bishop.

9. dxe Qxe5

Black makes a mistake. A better move is Nxe5 which attacks my bishop on c4. Black's move allows Bxf7+ but I decide to develop another piece.

10. Nc3 d5
11. exd Nxd5

Black makes another mistake. I have three pieces that target d5 but black has only two.

12. Nxd5 Nd4
13. Qa4+ b5

This move loses material. Kd8 is better.

14. Bxb5+ Nxb5
15. Qxb5+ Kd8
16. Bf4 Qe8

Black wants to exchange queens, but I have a better move.

17. Bxc7+

Black resigns. He is forced to play Kc8. I then capture his queen with Qxe8+. This leaves black with a severe material deficit, so he decides to concede. In this game my rapid development and control of the centre are key factors in my victory.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coronal Consonants

Coronal consonants are consonants which are articulated with the tip of the tongue. In English, the coronal consonants are the alveolar plosives /d/ and /t/, the alveolar nasal /n/, the liquids /l/ and /r/, the alveolar fricatives /s/ and /z/, the interdental fricatives of "the" and "three," and the alveopalatal fricatives in "ship" and "genre."

Many rules involve coronal consonants. For example, in many Swedish and Norwegian dialects, a rules states that the coronal consonants /d/, /t/, /n/, /l/ and /s/ become retroflex consonants when they are preceded by an /r/ in the same syllable. Across syllable boundaries this does not always occur. The word svart (black) is pronounced with a retroflex alveolar plosive in the syllable coda by Norwegian and Swedish speakers who use retroflex consonants.

In many varieties of Brazilian Portuguese, the coronals /d/ and /t/ are palatalized before an /i/. For example, dia (day) and tia (aunt) are palatalized by speakers who palatalize in this position.

Most speakers of American English do not use a palatal glide in words such as duty, tuna and new. This is in contrast to British English in which most speakers use a palatalize glide in such words. However, even in British English the palatal glide is usually not applied to words such as suit and luge. However, it is common for Welsh speakers to use the palatal glide in not only those words but also words with /r/ such as rule and rumour.

One class of sounds is the coronal class, a class which includes interdentals, alveolars and alveopalatals. In many languages such as French the alveolar plosives of English are in fact dental plosives. Many languages have rules which apply only to coronal sounds.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Medial Posttonic Schwa Syncope

In Canadian and American English, a word-medial posttonic schwa is often deleted. This refers to a schwa which follows a stressed syllable. However, schwa deletion only occurs in a specific context.

The following words have a word-medial schwa which can be deleted:


In certain words, however, the schwa is never deleted. This is the case in the following words:


The schwa is never deleted when the schwa is preceded by a sound which is a liquid or alveolar nasal and followed by a sound which is a liquid or alveolar nasal. Another way to state the rule is with distinctive features. It is possible to say that the schwa is never deleted when the preceding sound is +sonorant/+coronal and the following sound is +sonorant/+coronal. The schwa can be deleted when the following sound is +sonorant/+coronal but in such a case the preceding sound must be either -sonorant/+coronal or it must be -sonorant/-coronal. For example, in the word "opera" the /p/ has the distinctive features -sonorant/-coronal and in "listening" the /s/ has the distinctive features -sonorant/+coronal.

Word-medial posttonic schwa syncope is a common rule of Canadian and American English but the rule does not apply in all environments. The rule is blocked when the preceding and following sounds are +sonorant/+coronal. The reason that the rule fails to apply here may be that the sounds have the same places of articulation and thus the deletion of the schwa makes the articulation of the two sounds less salient. Another reason may be ease of articulation. It is possible that with sounds which are homorganic, the retention of the schwa preserves a syllable structure which is not only less marked but also requires less effort to articulate.

Victory with Two Sacrifices

In a game of speed chess at, I defeated Tonito5402 from Bulgaria with two sacrifices. He resigned as black after only 19 moves. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 h6
4. a3 a6
5. Nf3 c5

Black wants me to play dxc so that he can develop his bishop to c5.

6. exd exd
7. Be2 c4
8. 0-0 Be6

Black finally develops a piece.

9. Ne5 Nf6
10. Kh1 Be7
11. f4 Qb6
12. f5 Bc8

The bishop retreats to the back rank.

13. Bh5 0-0
14. Bxh6 gxh6

I first sacrifice my bishop.

15. Qf3 Nxh5
16. Qxh5 Kh7
17. Nxf7 Rg8

Black can offer more resistance with Kg7.

18. f6 Bxf6

I now sacrifice my pawn to prevent the black queen from defending h6.

19. Qxh6#

In this quick game, I sacrifice my bishop to weaken the pawn shield around the king and sacrifice my pawn to cut the queen off from the defence of h6. Although black castles kingside to protect his king, my two sacrifices prove decisive. Also critical is black's lack of development. He has four pieces on the back rank at the end of the game.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Schwa in North American and British English

The pronunciation of North American English is quite different from that of British. One of the differences concerns the schwa. It is often pronounced by British speakers in words in which North Americans use a different vowel.

The following words are pronounced differently by Brits and North Americans:


In Lebanon, phenomenon, marathon, Amazon, lexicon and octagon, the final vowel is a schwa in British English. In North American English, however, the final vowel is the same as the "a" of father.

In the word mascot, the pattern is the same. British English has a schwa in the final vowel but North American English does not.

The capital city of Scotland is pronounced differently by Brits and North Americans. In British English it has only three syllables. The "u" is not pronounced and the final vowel is a schwa. In North American English, it has four syllables and the final vowel is the same as the "o" of go.

In North American English the final vowel of hurricane is the a of late. In British English, however, the final vowel is a schwa.

The final vowel of thorough is a schwa in British English but has the "o" of go in North American English.

In ceremony and testimony, the third vowel is pronounced with the "o" of go in North American English. In British English, however, this vowel is a schwa.

Many words are pronounced differently by British and North American speakers. A number of words which are pronounced with a schwa in British English are pronounced with a different vowel in North American English. If the pronunciation of the schwa in these words is viewed as the result of vowel weakening, one can say that British English is more innovative and North American English is more conservative in this aspect of pronunciation.

Unusual Chess Game

At, I played an unusual game of speed chess. My opponent was Merimopsi of Finland who played black. My game was unusual because I sacrificed a bishop, never developed my queen knight, allowed the pawn shield around my king to be ruined, and delivered mate with a king knight pawn. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Bd6

Nc6 and Nf6 are more popular moves for black.

3. Bc4 a6
4. a4 Nc6
5. d3 h6

I usually play d4.

6. c3 Nf6
7. 0-0 0-0
8. Be3 Be7

Black makes a very passive move. A move such as Re8 is better.

9. Re1 d6

Black's dark-squared bishop is immobile.

10. Qd2 Bg4

Black threatens to double my pawns. I do not mind because opening the g-file can help in an attack against the white king.

11. Bxh6 gxh6
12. Qxh6 Nh7
13. h3 Bxf3
14. gxf3 Bg5
15. Qh5 b5
16. axb axb
17. Rxa8 Qxa8
18. Bd5 Qa6

Black moves the queen out of the pin.

19. Kh1 Ne7

I prepare to place my rook on the open g-file.

20. Rg1 Nxd5
21. exd5 f6
22. h4 Qa1

I pin the bishop.

23. hxg5 f5

It is better for black to play fxg.

24. Qg6+ Kh8

Black's move is forced.

25. Qe6 Qxb2
26. g6 Qxf2
27. g7#

It is not so common to deliver mate with a king pawn. In this game I fail to develop my queen knight and allow my pawn shield around my king to be destroyed. This is normally disastrous, but in this game it is effective because I generate sufficient threats to prevent black from taking advantage. This game illustrates that in certain situations basic chess principles can be broken.

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