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Contradictions

23.01.2014

 
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One aspect of November 2013, left a great impression on me. This was the unusual results of actions to collect money for various charities.

For example, from the typically British, fireworks shows. A spontaneous collection outside a supermarket, for the Philippines disaster. An annual action to raise money for Children in Need. Collections across the country, when every Brit buys a copy of a Flanders poppy, plus contributing money in other ways. This goes to help injured soldiers and their families. All this money collecting took place within the same November month.

Without exception, each of the collecting actions, raised more money than ever before; some resulted in hundreds, others in millions of pounds, but always above average. What is the contradiction? The UK is experiencing one of the worst ever economic depressions, yet here we have millions of people giving more money then they ever have for others, who are in greater need than  themselves. If you need help to read this blog, contact inlingua Duesseldorf. They have the answers, but first try to find the answers yourself.

Waiting for the Winner

23.01.2014

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Have you ever woken up in the morning after a night’s sleep and thought yourself to be in a different world? Well, it happened to me recently.

Allow me to explain. A week or so ago, I went to bed when my immediate world was a vast parkland – green grass, where people had been walking their dogs, etc. When I woke up the next morning, I thought I was in the centre of an enormous lake. Instead of people walking their dogs, there were swans, ducks and gulls sailing on the water in every direction. I’m sure you’ve already concluded that,  because of heavy rainfall and storms the fields had become flooded.

Oxford sits on this part of the Thames river and is often a collecting point for all the rainwater that has fallen, further up-river. But my story doesn’t end there. At the same time as the floods began, I developed a cough. I have experienced (like you, no doubt) that the only cure for such an illness is time. So, here’s the point of my story; the flood water is slowly receding and so is my cough.

Now, when I wake up in the morning, I look out of the window to check the new level of the water, then I check the state of my cough. Every day I compare the water level with the improvement of my health, guessing which one will end first. There’s still no final answer, at the time of writing. You, dear reader, should read and re-read this blog, studying any new words, plus sentence style. Your comments will interest me. 

Wishing You a Merry (White) Christmas

18.12.2013

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Once more, the time has arrived for Christmas Cards. Cards from friends, cards from absent members of our family. Christmas Cards tell us that Christmas is with us again. Many cards have pictures on them with snow, winter birds, Santa Claus, etc.

Some time ago, I asked myself how snow could play such a prominent role in our Christmas celebration, when the original nativity took place in Bethlehem, in the Middle East. We never associate the Middle East with snow, but rather with sand. This year, the weather has put it all back into perspective. There is now snow in most of the biblical lands, including snow in Jerusalem. Maybe the original nativity really did take place in the snow.
 
 

A Human Conundrum

17.12.2013

 
The population of the UK is increasing at the annual rate of 0.5%, and is expected to continue increasing ‘ad infinitum’. The number of new houses being built is the lowest for decades.

One result of this, is the high cost of houses. This also results in the difficulties young people have in finding enough money to buy a house. (House rents are also high.) Most large towns and cities are surrounded by a ‘green belt’. A green belt is an area of mostly un-built land outside the town or city. It is normally forbidden to build on a green belt. So how do we solve the housing problem?

The only possibility has been to build within the town/city limits, often on so-called ‘brown sites’. These are sites having old, often unused buildings, e.g. empty industrial buildings. But they are not enough to solve the problem. So, where do we go from here? The government’s latest idea is to extend into the green belts.

‘No, no’ and again ‘no’ say the NIMBYs (Not in my back yard), who live in and around the green belts. Their main argument is that new buildings will spoil the  beauty of the green countryside. This attitude makes me laugh. Why? Well, if the people had said this same thing, throughout the centuries, we would have no houses at all. Even a NIMBY’s house site  land was once a green land,  before his house was built on it. So, we have NIMBys and non-NIMBYs.

Which are you? Once again I advise you to read and re-read this text as often as possible. Each time you read it, try to use it so as to improve your English, not only the meanings of words, but also your sentence style. Remember, inlingua Duesseldorf is always at hand to help you.
 

Farmers to Bull Markets

06.12.2013

FarmerstoA „market“ is a place where you can buy carrots and apples. But it’s now more used in the abstract; a place where all sorts of things get bought and sold. How did the word „market“ develop from its small argricultural origins to its present meaning?

The word comes from the Latin, meaning „to buy“ or „to trade“ and was first used in the English language in the 12th century. It first referred to permanent settlements which we still find in place names such as Market Drayton or Chipping Norton (chipping is the Saxon word for „to buy“). Market towns grew especially in places that were easy to get to e.g. at crossroads or river fords. By the 14th century the word was also used as a metaphor for the whole concept of buying and selling. It was soon used in the first stock markets which were located in coffee shops all over London in the 17th century.

Today, the word „market“ refers to place, people, infrastructure and systems of exchange. But you can still find the origins of the word in the title „market trader“, a term first used for the person who had a stall in the market square which is now also used for a financial manager at the stock exchange.

If you want to know more about the language of your market, feel free to talk to us.

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Talk about it, but don’t go there.

04.12.2013

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He’s in jail. He is in goal. What’s the difference? There is no difference, except in the spelling of the last word. So why is there this spelling difference?

Both words came into English from French. But there were two different forms of the French language. the first was the dialect of Normandy. Their spelling of the word was ‘gaol’. This word came into English in the 13th century. Much later, the Parisian dialect started to enter into the English language. In this dialect, the spelling of the word was ‘jail’. Both spellings have exactly the same pronunciation. So how do we live with the different spelling? American exclusively uses ‘jail’. British English still has both spellings, but ‘jail’ is the more usual. there are a few slang words, e.g. ‘prison’. this comes from the Latin ‘prehensio’. then there is the word ‘clink’. this comes from the name of a London street: ‘Clink Street’, where a big prison was once situated. In the ‘nick’, is another form of slang.

Poor learner: How and when do I use, which word? My advice is: stay away from jail, goal, clink and nick. Or, go to inlingua duesseldorf, where you can practice these words.

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The Animal With a Difference

27.10.2013

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War! War! War! When has there never been war in this world? Most of us alive today, have been affected in some way by war. Why is homo sapiens the only mammal that kills for other reasons than food? Physically, we are very much like other mammals. Our genetic structures are very similar. It just seems that our brains are quite different in many of its functions. We kill for reasons other than for food.

Today, I shall attend a group of old soldiers, to pay our respects to yet another young soldier, killed in Afghanistan. I am ready to respect this soldier, but I have great difficulty in respecting the reason for his death. Fortunately, that’s not the only part of human thinking (or is it instinct)?

Last Saturday evening, my wife and I were invited to a meeting of representatives of a nearly town. The purpose of the meeting was to present certificates to certain members of the town. The presenters were some local business firms, together with charity organisations. And the recipients were ordinary members of the town. For what? For the various ways they had helped others, less fortunate members of the community. There was no money involved. The event took place in the main theatre. There were very few vacant seats. One diploma, e.g., was presented to three old people, because they were judged to have the friendliest welcome in the town to their customers. The event included singing by a Gospel Choir; Irish dancing by little school-girls (which was excellent); a small school choir of little girls (and one boy), who were also excellent.

It was a wonderful evening. This was a coming-together of citizens of a middle-size town. People doing good to each other! What a contrast to my opening words of this blog!

What is this animal, homo sapiens? These are some of the thoughts which will be going through my head, while I am standing saluting the dead body of the soldier from Afghanistan. P.S. Don’t neglect working through the words and sentence style of the foregoing. inlingua Duesseldorf is there to help you.

A Human Conundrum

11.10.2013

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The population of the UK is increasing at the annual rate of 0.5%, and is expected to continue increasing ‘ad infinitum’. The number of new houses being built is the lowest for decades.

One result of this, is the high cost of houses. This also results in the difficulties young people have in finding enough money to buy a house. (House rents are also high.) Most large towns and cities are surrounded by a ‘green belt’. A green belt is an area of mostly un-built land outside the town or city. It is normally forbidden to build on a green belt.

So how do we solve the housing problem? The only possibility has been to build within the town/city limits, often on so-called ‘brown sites’. These are sites having old, often unused buildings, e.g. empty industrial buildings. But they are not enough to solve the problem. So, where do we go from here? The government’s latest idea is to extend into the green belts. ‘No, no’ and again ‘no’ say the NIMBYs (Not in my back yard), who live in and around the green belts.

Their main argument is that new buildings will spoil the  beauty of the green countryside. This attitude makes me laugh. Why? Well, if the people had said this same thing, throughout the centuries, we would have no houses at all. Even a NIMBY’s house site  land was once a green land,  before his house was built on it. So, we have NIMBys and non-NIMBYs.

Which are you? Once again I advise you to read and re-read this text as often as possible. Each time you read it, try to use it so as to improve your English, not only the meanings of words, but also your sentence style. Remember, inlingua Duesseldorf is always at hand to help you.
 

A Night to Remember

08.10.2013

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A recent week-end saw the ‘Last Night of the Proms.’ What am I talking about? Some of you may already know, many of you may not. It is the final of a series of more than fifty orchestral concerts, mostly in the Albert Hall in London. The series culminates in the ‘Last Night of the Proms’, on a Saturday evening.

It is organised by the BBC, and is very successful. Every concert was completely booked out. I watched many of them on TV. The music is classical and very varied,  including jazz, as are the orchestras. Saturday evening was the final evening for this year. As usual, all the seats were taken, and the large, central floor area was completely full of people, standing. The concert became more like a party. These people bob up and down, bending their knees, in time with the music. They wave flags, some wear funny clothes, others sound horns and make other sounds. They take care not to be louder than the orchestra.

Everyone accepts this as part of the last night. Towards the end of the concert, the music changes to old, patriotic, British songs.  Then the crowds start to join in, and sing their hearts out. Among the many British flags, there are some of other countries: Italian, German, Dutch, USA, Norway, Japan, etc.  Simultaneously, there are concerts in parks in Northern Ireland, Glasgow, Wales and in London’s Hyde Park, which is situated next to the Albert Hall. Hyde Park was again full, with flags waving, people singing, etc.

The evening ends with the National Anthem; but immediately before that, comes ‘Rule Britannia.’ A song which brings out the loudest, wildest singing from everyone, including the otherwise most introverted Brits. These concerts are broadcast to many other counties of the world. The classical music was international. The orchestra conductor was an American woman. The main singer was an American woman. The very badly dressed – but superb – violinist was a Brit – Nigel Kennedy.

There was a choir of at least 3 hundred singers, and the fact that there were the flags of many nations, makes me sometimes ask myself, why there are wars, when such music brings so many nations to act together, as one.
 
Glossary:
culminates   -   comes to a close
sound   -   notice this word, as a verb, also as a noun!

The Power of Energy

08.10.2013

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One year from now, Scotland will hold a referendum, asking the population whether or not, they want a Scotland, free from the rest of the UK (United Kingdom).
The main argument of the separatist politicians, is that they are losing billions of £s in tax revenues, from the oil and gas companies, which are working in the area of Scotland in the North Sea. If the Scots were independent, they would have these tax revenues for themselves. This would make them as rich as Norway (they argue).
Well, this may or may not become fact. But in the meantime it illustrates how much the world is depending on fossil fuels. (coal, gas, oil). Then we hear how damaging fossil fuels are to the world’s atmosphere. The latest energy source, is fracking. In the USA there are thousands of bore holes, with more to come. Gas is now plentiful there, and much cheaper then in Europe. More pollution of the atmosphere?
On the other side, we have natural, renewable energy resources, e.g. solar, wind and sea-wave systems. Mrs Merkel has said that there will be no new  nuclear power stations in Germany. That sounds good. I only hope there will be enough new development in non nuclear power, in time to replace them. Contrary to Germany, the UK is planning to build, at least five new nuclear plants. The costs will be enormous.

I think this is crazy in a country of constant high winds, and being completely surrounded by seas, with very active tidal waters. And despite the pessimists, there is enough sun power to make a difference. I am not an expert, but I feel sure these natural resources could be developed at a much lower price than the cost of nuclear plants. It would be safer, cleaner, and would continue unending. Angela, I wish you much success for your future energy.