Xah's Belles-lettres Blog Archive 2011-06 〜 2011-07

Simplified Chinese Characters 态=態

态=態

This one is based on phonetic simplification, and i think is a good one.

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Facebook Twitter Char Limits and SMS Abbrevs; The Tyranny of Twit Writting.

Abomination of Simplified Chinese Characters 专业=專業

专业=專業

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Abomination of Simplified Chinese Characters

猎=獵

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Interloper in alt.usage.english Theater

Abomination of Simplified Chinese Characters

This is a abomination of simplified chinese characters: 兽=獸

According to chineseetymology.org, that's one-off simplifications. (i.e. idiosyncratic, just for that particular char.)

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灾=災

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The following two chars that i also had a hard time understanding, but their simplification are based on phonetics.

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See also: 简体/繁體 字表 (Simplified/Traditional Chinese Characters List)

Thanks to Lew Perin (babelcarp).

English Writing Style: on The Second Objection to Lots of Fun

A Dialog Between Men of Letters: “Lots” of “Fun”!

INCEPTION!

Am starting this blog.

I've been doing English vocabulary studies since about 1985. I've been blogging about literature, english writing style, linguistics interests, for the past 5 years (since 2004). I decided to start a blog of these related topics by itself. Here we are.

For past articles:

What follows are some recent articles moved here from Periodic Dosage of Xah Lee (that's my blog for misc topics).

Wordy English Today: a Better Vocabulary Test Site

A much better vocabulary test site: http://my.vocabularysize.com/.

This site gives you a test of 140 words, with a sample sentence and multiple-choice for answers. (not just words with check-boxes for you to check.)

The words i did not know are:

fen
lintel
hessian
hutch
aperitif
refectory
beagle
gauche
limpid
cordillera
erythrocyte

They reported that i know 16k word families, and «Your performance on this test ranks higher than 33% of all native English speakers who have taken this test without regard to age». Not exactly sure what that means precisely. They also say that the test is really only designed to test a max of 14k word estimates, and they are currently designing a new test.

Go thru the test and see how you do. Be sure to write down any words in the test you are not familiar with, so you can lookup later.

Also, install a dictionary tool on your browser so you can easily lookup words. See: Online English Dictionary Tools.

Here's more info from the site:

How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening?

SkillSize estimateNotes
Reading8k - 9k word familiesNation (2006)
Listening6k - 7k word familiesNation (2006)
Native speaker20k word familiesGoulden, Nation, & Read (1990)
Zechmeister, Chronis, Cull, D’Anna, & Healy (1995)

Updated tip and recommendation: Online English Dictionary Tools

Test your English Vocabulary Size

A very nice vocabulary testing page. Test your vocabulary here: http://testyourvocab.com/.

There are 3 pages, but actually just 2 pages of testing. (the 3rd page is optional survey on Age, Gender, etc.) Be sure to take 10 minutes for the test. And, be honest. Don't check if you are not certain about the word's meanings.

After you've done the test, it'll give you a score, which is a estimate of how many words you know. My score, turns out to be 24.5k words (second time 26.3k). According to them, this score is actually below average english-speaking adults. Quote:

Based on over 8,000 participations so far, we've got some initial statistics already. Most adults fall in the range 20,000–35,000, with the exact median score being 27,123 words.

I went thru the list carefully. The first page is trivial, the hard ones are in second page. On second page, almost none of the words in the last column i know of. But most others i've seen, half of it i forgot what it means without context. Those i didn't check-mark.

I was rather surprised by my below-average score, since i have 2 decades obsession with vocabulary size. From my experience, my vocabulary size is probably average, or slight above college educated adults. I'm guessing, most people simply put a check-mark on words they think they know, but actually is wrong. If the test actually give a multiple-choice question for each word, am sure the score will be much lower.

See also, collection of about 5k words with usage examples. Wordy English — the Making of Belles-Lettres

Take the test, and comment to let me know what you think of it!

what does “trope” means here?

in the blog article by a journalist: Why I quit my job By Kai Nagata. @ kainagata.com…, there's the following passage. I want to know what “trope” there meant?

Jon Stewart talks about a “right-wing narrative of victimization,” and what it has accomplished in Canada is the near-paralysis of progressive voices in broadcasting. In the States, even Fox News anchor Chris Wallace admitted there is an adversarial struggle afoot – that, in his view, networks like NBC have a “liberal” bias and Fox is there to tell “the other side of the story.” Well, Canada now has its Fox News. Krista Erickson, Brian Lilley, and Ezra Levant each do a wonderful send-up of the TV anchor character. The stodgy, neutral, unbiased broadcaster trope is played for jokes before the Sun News team gleefully rips into its targets. But Canada has no Jon Stewart to unravel their ideology and act as a counterweight. Our satirists are toothless and boring, with the notable exception of Jean-René Dufort. And on the more serious side, we have no Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. So I don’t see any true debate within the media world itself, in the sense of a national, public clash of ideas. The Canadian right wing, if you want to call it that, has had five years to get the gloves off. With a majority Conservative government in power, they’re putting on brass knuckles. Meanwhile the left is grasping about in a pair of potholders. The only explanation I can think of is they’re too polite, or too scared. If it’s the latter, I think it’s clear enough why.

PS it's a very well-written piece. Worth reading.

Answer: trope = ① Something recurring across a genre or type of literature, such as the “mad scientist” of horror or “once upon a time” as introduction to fairytales. Similar to an archetype. ② The use of a word or expression in a different sense from that which properly belongs to it; the use of a word or expression as changed from the original signification to another, for the sake of giving life or emphasis to an idea; a figure of speech.

Thanks to amoe and many people on alt.usage.english

Yaksha (夜叉) in “Journey to the West” (西游记)

Ok, it's Friday.

Dear Xah, your writing is:

Vote at: http://xahlee.blogspot.com/2011/06/xahs-writing-is.html.

Result. 32 votes. (multiple choice):

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