I came across an interesting website recently called Postcard Shorts. It was inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s very short story called “Quarantine”. Although it was a science fiction piece, the site itself boasts all kinds of work, from romance to westerns to literary fiction. But…the underlying idea here is that the stories are VERY short….whatever could fit on a postcard (about 250 words).
If you’re a writer, there’s space to upload your own story to the site. But if you’d just like to read a few good stories, you can either go through randomly or search by title. Just note, the language can be a little rough at times, but some of the stories are very interesting. (I read quite a few and was surprised at how dark many of them were….deaths, murders etc., but then sometimes people just write about pleather pants!)
Short stories are difficult to create and I would assume that ones this short must really take into account that every word must hold meaning. No room for fluff. If you’ve never written one, why not try your hand at writing 250 words and see if you can come up with something interesting and complete!
Once again, it’s time for the top words of the year. 2010 was another year full of brand new words and words we’ve just never heard of before. Politics and environmental disasters generated quite a few of these words, but they’re still being used in conversation.
Here is a sampling of some of the top words used in 2010:
Spillcam — the underwater camera used to monitor the oil spill
Refudiate — “refute” + “repudiate” — a word coined by the ever interesting Sarah Palin
Guido — from the popular tv show Jersey Shore
Snowmageddon — after the record snowfall in the US and Europe last winter
Vuvuzela — the horns used in the World Cup Soccer stands
As expected, “twitter”, “H1N1” and “Obama” were also top contenders. You can see the whole list and more on language used around the globe at the Global Language Monitor. There’s also lots of fascinating information on words in general so look around the site. Maybe you’ll find a word you can start using in everyday conversation. Go ahead, start a trend!
Did you know that the word “are” is the only word in the English language to which you can add one letter and it becomes a 3-syllable word?
Are + A = Area
Did you know that the word “forty” is the only number that when spelled out, has its letters in alphabetical order?
Similarly, did you know that the number “one”, when spelled out, has all of its letters in reverse alphabetical order?
“Stewardesses” is the longest word you can type with one hand (when you type correctly on a QWERTY keyboard).
Just a few things to make you think today! You can find lots of great examples of remarkable language and number facts right here. Be sure to scroll down the comments list for more!
We often don’t think about funny words that we use in our day-to-day language, but we certainly use them. Author Adam Jacot de Boinod has just penned his second book of weird and wonderful words called The Wonder of Whiffling and Other Extraordinary Words in the English Language, the follow-up to The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words From Around the World.
In each book, he explains the origins of many of the world’s strangest words, the likes of which will make you giggle. You might want to check out his interesting and amusing blog as well, where you’ll find fascinating explanations of words from around the globe.
I took the fun quiz that was offered here, based on words from his book and got the fabulous score of one out of ten. (The site called me a jobbernowl….a blockhead…but I refuse to be offended.) I think I’ll get out my dictionary and do a little studying before I take another quiz like this one, but it was fun anyway.
I don’t pretend to know what young people are talking about today, but I can get along just fine for the most part. Every so often, and mostly online, I’ll come across a word or phrase that just totally eludes me. So, off to the Urban Dictionary.
I must warn you that this “dictionary” is not for the faint of heart, and that many of the entries are rather, shall we say, crass, but it is also a sign of how our world is changing. However, there are a few terms that I can identify with. Here are a few of my favourites:
#1. FACEBRAG — People who use Facebook as a platform to brag about something great in their lives, such as a new job, new car or fabulous vacation. (I will say that someone in my facebook list of friends posts rather often in full-facebrag form and frankly, I’m tired of reading about how “fabulous” her life is.)
#2. GD2 — Stands for the Great Depression 2, which is the economic downturn that we are currently experiencing.
#3. Parking Karma – Our head librarian seems to have parking karma, which is the lucky act of always finding a great parking space in a crowded parking area.
So if you want to appear “cool” (hip? groovy? fresh?) to all of the young people in your life, drop by the urban dictionary and pepper your vocabulary with a new term or two. You might be surprised!
Planning on traveling into the past? Have you just discovered a time machine that will bring you back to the days of the caveman? What will you say to the people you find there or will you be able to communicate at all? In almost every movie where someone travels to the past, they encounter people and after only minutes, are able to communicate freely with them. Is this really possible? Some scientists think it is…to a point.
The study of glottochronology is based on the idea that language changes at a constant average rate which should allow us to be able to trace the changes in language through history, thus making it possible for us to figure out how to “speak” the English language during any part of history. Does this really work? It assumes that there are words that essentially do not change, such as “I”, “who”, “two”, “five” and “thou”, and words that will disappear from the language after a short period of time (words in our vocabulary such as “stick”, “dirty”, “guts” and “squeeze”.) So if you do pop back in time, try to avoid those words if you want to fit in with the locals.
Here is an example of a language being traced. (Courtesy of Alexander Bainbridge at his blog TransCaucasus.)
You can read more about the idea right here.