Monday, July 31, 2017

Semolina Porridge

Semolina porridge is very easy to prepare. It makes a great breakfast dish. This Norwegian dish is lightly sweetened. Here is the recipe:

4 cups milk
1/2 cup semolina
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Boil the milk.
Gradually add the semolina.
Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add butter and sugar.
Serve with cinnamon if desired.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Chocolate Soup

Chocolate soup is very popular in Iceland. This soup can be served hot or cold and as an appetizer or a dessert. It's very easy to prepare. Here is the recipe for this Icelandic soup:

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups water
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon potato starch
salt to taste

Mix the cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan.
Gradually add the water and stir.
Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.
Add the milk and simmer for another two minutes.
Mix the potato starch with a little cold water and add.
Serve with salt to taste.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

French Liaison Rules

French liaison refers to the linking of a word-final consonant with the first segment of the following word. The word-final consonant is usually silent. The second segment is a vowel or a glide. Liaison sometimes changes the pronunciation of the consonant. The /s/ in les (the) is pronounced /z/ as a result of liaison.

The pronunciation of liaison follows specific rules. They can be divided into three categories: 1) required liaison; 2) prohibited liaison; 3) optional liaison. Let's look at examples of each.

In the noun phrase un homme (a man), the /n/ of the indefinite article must be pronounced. This is also the case in the verb phrase vous avez (you have). Here the /s/ must be pronounced and it is realized as /z/.

The phrase un homme et une femme (a man and a woman) provides an example of prohibited liaison. The word et retains the silent pronunciation of the word-final consonant. In the phrase les haricots (the beans), the article les is pronounced without liaison. This is because the word haricots has an asprirated h.

In the sentence L'enfant prend un bonbon (The child is taking a candy), liaison is optional. The final consonant of prend can be pronounced. In this case, the word-final consonant is realized as /t/. It can also remain silent. The absence of liaison is more common in formal situations.

Liaison is a common phonological process in French. It can be categorized into three groups: required, prohibited and optional. In certain cases liaison alters the pronunciation of the affected consonant.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Clipping in English

Clipping refers to the shortening of a segment. The segment is usually a vowel. Clipped vowels have a shorter duration than other vowels and often occur in unstressed syllables. Two types of clipping which occur in English are pre-fortis clipping and rhythmic clipping.

English has many examples of clipping in a stressed syllable before a voiceless consonant. This consonant is also known as a fortis consonant. For example, the vowel of hat is shorter than the vowel of had. Pre-fortis clipping fails to apply to vowels which precede voiceless consonants in an adjacent syllable. For example, the vowel of sea in seashell remains long.

Another kind of clipping is rhythmic clipping. This occurs in polysyllabic words. The vowels become shorter in words with a greater number of syllables. For example, the first vowel of leadership is shorter than the first vowel of leader, and the first vowel of leader is shorter than the vowel of lead.

English has many examples of clipping. They can be classified into two types, pre-fortis and rhythmic. Clipping is a common phenomenon not only in English but in many languages. The most common form of clipping shortens and centralizes vowels in unstressed syllables.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Guatemalan Spanish

Guatemalan Spanish refers to the variety of Spanish spoken in Guatemala. It is spoken by approximately 13.7 million of the country's 16 million inhabitants. In addition to Spanish, 23 other languages are spoken in the country. 21 of these languages are Mayan. 60% of the population speaks Spanish as a mother tongue.

The pronunciation of Guatemalan Spanish is characterized by a glottal fricative in words such as joya (jewel) and gemelo (twin). The intervocalic [j] in words such as silla (chair) and tuyo (yours) is often deleted.  The word-final [n] in words such as en (in ) and con (with) is pronounced as a velar.

A number of words used in Guatemala have Mayan origins. The words chucho (dog), chumpa (jacket) and shuco (dirty) are examples. In standard Spanish these words are perro, chaqueta and sucio.

The Spanish language isn't spoken by all of the inhabitants of Guatemala. 23 other languages are spoken besides Spanish. The Spanish of Guatemala features a glottal fricative, velar nasal and many words borrowed from the indigenous languages spoken in the country.

Language Change

Language change refers to the variation of a language over time. This can be observed in morphological, phonological, semantic and syntactic features. Language change can be caused by many factors.

Among the factors involved in language change are the principle of least effort, language contact, geographic separation, migration and social prestige. The principle of least effort states that speakers tend to make sound changes that require less articulatory effort. For example, the weak pronunciation of for replaces the back vowel with a schwa, a sound which is reduced. Languages often borrow words from other languages they come into contact with. For example, English has borrowed many cooking terms from French. As a result of migration, speakers change and create languages such as pidgins and creoles. Geographic separation has resulted in different forms of English in Britain and the United States. In the case of social prestige, language may not only change towards a prestigious accent, but away from one which is viewed negatively. In British English, non-rhotic accents are more prestigious than rhotic ones, but this is the opposite from the United States, which favours rhotic ones.

Language change occurs for a variety of reasons. German is a language with many dialects. As a result of early German Bible translations, High German is very prestigious today. Language change is inevitable and affects all languages.

Brown Penny

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote Brown Penny. Here is the poem:

I whispered, 'I am too young.'
And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
'Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.'
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

The poem Brown Penny consists of two stanzas with eight verses each. The rhyme scheme is irregular. In the first and second stanzas, the sixth and eighth verses rhyme. The seventh verse of both stanzas is identical. William Butler Yeats tells the reader that nobody has sufficient wisdom to understand love fully. However, one doesn't need to know everything about love and must decide the age at which love might begin.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Analysis of Stress in English Words

The majority of English words are stressed on the first syllable. This is true for many words such as city, grammar and airplane. However, since English stress can appear on any syllable, it is largely unpredictable. I analyzed 20 English words to determinine the distribution of English stress. I chose the words from four categories: fruits, nature, literature and school.

The 20 words I chose are the following:


Of these 20 words, 16 have sentence-initial stress. They are orange, apple, mango, lemon, mountain, forest, river, jungle, poem, story, character, setting, author, student, teacher, and pencil.

Three words have penultimate stress. They are banana, volcano and assignment. One word has sentence-final stress. The word is exam.

From the list the distribution of stress is as follows:

syllable-initial 80%
penultimate 15%
syllable-final 5%

Of course this list is to small to determine the distibution of stress in English syllables. A larger list is needed to derive a more accurate analysis. Nevertheless, the list appears to show that syllable-initial stress is definitely the most common in English.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cardamom Ice Cream

This Swedish recipe for cardamom ice cream is simple and well worth the effort. Here is the recipe:

2 teaspoons cardamom
1 egg
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisp the egg in a bowl for about two minutes.
Whisk in the sugar a little at a time.
Add the cream, milk, cardamom and vanilla extract.
Blend all the ingredients together.
Continue to whip for about three minutes.
Transfer to a container.
Cover and freeze for three hours.

Cardamom ice cream is popular in Sweden. This ice cream is very good with berries and pancakes and is also wonderful on its own.

Canadian Literature

In the world of literature written in English, British and American are famous. British Literature has writers such as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and J.K. Rowling. American Literature has contributed writers such as Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Canadian literature is undoubtedly not as well known, but has made important contributions to the world of literature.

Eight Canadian writers who deserve attention are Roch Carrier, Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence, John McCrae, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Farley Mowat, Alice Munro and Gabrielle Roy. Roch Carrier and Gabrielle Roy represent French-Canadian writers. Alice Munro is Canada's only Nobel Prize winner in literature. She won the Nobel Prize in 2013.

One of Roch Carrier's most famous short stories is The Hockey Sweater, a story which illustrates the tensions between English-Canada and French-Canada. Robertson Davies wrote The Rebel Angels, a story which takes place in a fictional college.

Margaret Laurence's most famous novel is probably The Stone Angel, a story about an elderly woman who reflects on her life. John McCrae is best known for his poem about war, In Flanders Fields. He served in World War I and died of pneumonia at the end of the war.

Lucy Maud Montgomery is best known for the series Anne of Green Gables. The Green Gables farm is now a tourist attraction in Prince Edward Island. She also wrote many poems. One of the most popular is Come, Rest Awhile. Farley Mowat wrote many novels about nature. One of the most famous is Never Cry Wolf, which takes place in the north of Canada.

Alice Munro has written many short stories. She has been compared to the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov. One of her earliest novels is titled The Shining Houses. Gabrielle Roy wrote a French novel which was translated into English as The Tin Flute. It tells the story of a waitress in Montreal who struggles with poverty while searching for love.

Compared to American and British literature, Canadian literature isn't so famous. Nevertheless, Canada has many writers who have gained recognition both at home and abroad. One of them, Alice Munro, won the Nobel Prize in 2013.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lemon Bread

This Hungarian recipe for lemon bread is very simple to make. Here is the recipe:

3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Grease and flour a baking pan.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs and blend.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add to the wet mixture alternating with milk and lemon juice.
Mix well.
Add the lemon peel.
Pour into the pan.
Bake for about one hour.

This is a light dessert that is really nice after a heavy meal.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Love and Patience

This is my latest poem. It's dedicated to my father, who lost his life on July 9, 2016.

Love and Patience

Though you have gone, we remember.
You were quiet but spoke through action.
Your words of wisdom endure forever.
You exemplified dedication.

Those who knew you called you humble,
Diligent, kind and full of humour.
Life took you far from your cradle.
Canada became your future.

You experienced hardship and war in your early years,
But your words and actions bore no trace.
You were respected by your peers.
They recognized your kind face.

As time passes we miss you more.
Your love and patience are in your name.
Values of generosity and kindness we all adore.
You sought neither power nor fame.

We remember your love of family,
Hospitality offered to every guest.
Your words and actions are our memory,
As we strive to do our daily best.

Adjectives Ending With -ic and -ical

No rule can be given for the formation of adjectives with -ic and -ical. In certain cases -ic words are preferred over their -ical counterparts and in other cases, -ical words are preferred. A number of -ic and -ical pairs have differentiated themselves over time and now have distinct meanings.

Today the pair botanical is more common than botanic. Metaphorical is used more than metaphoric, but ironic and problematic are more common than their counterparts ironical and problematical. The word polemic is a noun and polemical is an adjective.

The word pairs classic/classical, comic/comical, economic/economical, electric/electrical, historic/historical and periodic/periodical have different meanings. The word classical is often used for well-defined historical periods of culture and science as in classical music. The word classic has a broader meaning. It has the meaning of great significance as in classic literature. The word comic relates to comedy and comical has the meaning of funny. The adjective economical relates to the economy and economics while economic means thrifty. The word electrical relates to electricity, for example, electrical outlets. Devices that run on electricity are electric such as electric cars and electric heaters. The word historical relates to the past as in a historical document. However, historic means historically signficiant as in a historic battle. The adjective periodic is used for situations that take place at regular intervals or are intermittent. The word periodical has a narrower meaning and means published at regular intervals.

In many cases adjectives with -ic and -ical are interchangeable as in botanic/botanical and ironic/ironical. Though these word pairs are identical in meaning, one of the two pairs is often more common than the other. With certain words pairs such as economic/economical and historic/historic, they were once identical but now have different meanings.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Red Currant Cake

Red currant cake is delicious to make and doesn't take so long to prepare. This Swedish recipe is flavoured with cardamom. Here is the recipe:

2/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
3 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup red currants
1/2 cup red currants

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Melt the butter and add the milk.
In another bowl whisk the eggs and the sugar.
Add the butter and milk to the egg mixture.
Add the cardamom.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, vanilla sugar and baking powder.
Add the dry ingredients.
Pour into a pan coated with butter and breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle the red currants on top.
Bake for about 30 minutes.

Here are the ingredients for the icing:

3 tablespoons cream
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cream cheese

Melt the butter in a pan and add the cream.
Now add the sugar and cream cheese.
Stir for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.
Let cool.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake.
Decorate with the remaining red currants.

This is a cake that combines the flavours of cream cheese, red currant and cardamom. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Resignation in 13

In a game of speed chess my opponent resigned after 13 moves. He was Joe 10000 of Serbia, who played white. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. Nc3 Bg4
4. Bb5+ Nd7

I decide to develop my knight rather than retreat my bishop.

5. d4 cxd

White's move is aggressive but brings out the queen early.

6. Qxd4 Bxf3

I decide to weaken white's pawn structure.

7. gxf3 a6
8. Bc4 e6
9. Rg1 Ngf6
10. f4 e5

White plays aggressively, but it's safer to castle.

11. fxe Nxe5
12. Bg4 Nf3+

White can prevent my fork with Be2.

13. Ke2 Nd4+

White loses his queen and resigns. The keys to victory in this game are white's weakened pawn structure and the royal fork by my knight on move 12. White plays aggressively, but fails to attend to the safety of his king.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chemical Symbols

Many elements have chemical symbols which are easily explained. The symbols for oxygen and hydrogen are O and H. Two letters are used for calcium and platinum, Ca and Pt. In the case of certain elements, however, such as iron and lead, the symbols are different. The reason is that the symbols are derived from Latin.

Here are chemical symbols which differ from their English names:

Antimony Sb
Copper Cu
Iron Fe
Gold Au
Lead Pb
Mercury Hg
Potassium K
Silver Ag
Sodium Na
Tin Sn
Tungsten W

The chemical symbols of ten elements are derived from Latin. The chemical symbol for tungsten is derived from German. Here are the names:

Antimony stibium
Copper cyprium
Iron ferrum
Gold aurum
Lead plumbum
Mercury hydragyrum
Potassium kalium
Silver argentum
Sodium natrium
Tin stannum
Tungsten wolfram

The chemical symbols of most elements are clear. The chemical symbols for carbon and hydrogen are C and H. However, a few elements have symbols with no connection to their English names. The reason is that they're derived from Latin and in the case of tungsten, from German.

Lemon Potatoes

Lemon potatoes are a fantastic way to prepare potatoes. This Greek recipe is great with lamb. Here is the recipe:

8 potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chicken stock

Peel potatoes and cup in half.
Let them stand in water while preparing the sauce.
Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl .
Dry the potatoes and add to the bowl.
Marinate for two hours.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Roast the potatoes for about one hour while turning occasionally.
There should be plenty of sauce left over after roasting.

If the potatoes are very large, you can quarter them. The chicken stock can be replaced with lamb stock.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tuscan Liver

This Italian recipe for liver is simple to prepare. Here is the recipe:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
400 grams beef liver
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat the oil and butter over medium heat.
Coat the liver on both sides with flour.
Cook the liver for 30 seconds a side and remove.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Do not overcook.
The liver should be pink and moist.
Add the lemon juice to the pan.
Return the liver to the pan to heat briefly.
Transfer to a serving juice.
Pour the pan juices over the liver.
Serve immediately.

This is a great way to serve liver. If you really like lemon juice, you can add more.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Resignation After 12 Moves

In a game of speed chess, my opponent resigned after only 12 moves. He was Muyambokamdigare of Zimbabwe, who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. c3 Nf6

My third move isn't so common. Bb5 is often played here.

4. Bc4 Bc5
5. 0-0 Ng4

Black's move is aggressive, but not so effective. A better move for black is to castle.

6. d4 exd
7. cxd Bb6
8. h3 h5

Black sets a trap. I can't take the knight. If I do, he opens the h-file for his rook and queen.

9. Nc3 d6
10. Nd5 Be6

Black's move is a mistake. Here a better move is to castle.

11. Nxb6 axb6
12. d5

Now the reason black's tenth move is a mistake becomes clear. My pawn forks the black knight and bishop. Black resigns.

In this game black postpones castling because he doesn't see the need. However, his tenth move is a critical mistake which allows me to win a piece. For this reason he resigns early.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ten Tricky Words To Spell

English spelling is irregular. The result is that many people misspell words. Here are ten words considered tricky to spell:

accommodate (this is spelt with a double c and double m)
collectible (the third vowel is an i)
inoculate (this word has only one n)
liquefy (unlike liquid, this has an e in the second syllable)
maelstrom (the ae sequence is unusual in English)
millennium (this is spelt with a double l and double n)
minuscule (the second vowel is a u)
possession (this word has four occurrences of the letter s)
privilege (the third vowel is spelt with an e)
threshold (this word has only one h)

Since English isn't a phonetic language, the spelling is often very irregular. The result is that many people misspell English words such as the ones in the list. Mastery of English spelling can certainly be a challenge.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Strawberry Snow

Strawberry snow is the name of a Finnish dessert. It's delicious and easy to make. Here's the recipe:

2 cups strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
12 strawberries

Press the strawberries through a sieve into a small mixing bowl.
Stir 1/2 cup of sugar, a little at a time.
Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl until stiff.
Fold the strawberry puree and then the whipped cream into the egg whites.
Pour the strawberry snow into an attractive serving bowl.
Decorate with the whole strawberries..

This can be served at once or it may be refrigerated and served later in the day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Consonant Length

Many languages have distinctive consonant length. This feature is also known as gemination. In English consonant length is only distinctive across morpheme boundaries but never within a word.

In Finnish the words kuka and kukka are distinguished by consonant length. The former means who and the latter means flower. In English such a distinction never occurs within a single word, but it can occur across word boundaries. An example is night train and night rain. The first compound has a long consonant and the second has a short one. With affricates, consonant length isn't distinctive. For example, orange juice is pronounced with a single affricate.

Consonant length is distinctive in many languages. They include Arabic, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese and Swedish. English has distinctive consonant length across word boundaries but not within a single word.

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