Feb 14th 2013

Valentine’s Day and the progression of Modern English!

About 700 years ago was actually the first time that the word “Valentine’s Day” appeared in print in a romantic context in a poem by Chaucer:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

This passage was written in Middle English which was used from the 11th – 15th Centuries. Translated into modern English, this poem would read:

“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day,
when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

Chaucer’s Middle English began changing into Early Modern English during the 15th Century. Events that marked the change from Middle to Early Modern English were the “Great Vowel Shift” (where long vowel sounds changed away from their origins in Latin and Italian), the migration of people to south England as a result of the Black Plague, the introduction of the printing press in the 1470s and the English standardizations occurring by the government in London.

Chaucer was the foremost writer during the Middle English period, but it would not be until the time of Shakespeare in the 14th – 15th Century that English would progress to a modern form that people in the 21st Century could easily understand.

Happy Valentines day from Ginger!

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Feb 10th 2013

Carnivals, Festivals and the important concept of Loanwords

Carnivals. We all know what they are, and how fun they can be, but where does this word come from? Since the the Rio Carnival is heating up right now in Brazil, it’s a perfect time to learn both where the word “carnival” comes from and the concept of a loanword.

A loanword is a word taken from one language and then incorporated into another. The word “loanword” itself is a comes from the German word “lehnwort.” A giant 29% of all words in English come from Latin (tied with French as the largest contributing language to English).

The word “carnival” is suspected to come from the two late Latin words “carne” and “vale” which loosely translates to “farewell to meat.” Early carnivals were Catholic events in Spain and Portugal that took place before Easter. At these carnivals, celebrants would be giving it up for the next 40 days as a means of fasting.

Festival also has Latin roots with an origin in the word “festivus” which means cheerful. Festivals are large parties or events hosted by a community which usually celebrates something particular community.

Historically festivals centered around religious celebrations in honor of gods, but in modern times we have wine festivals, music festivals, literature festivals and many more fun variants.

What carnivals or festivals are you excited to attend this year and what is your favorite loanword found in English?

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Feb 4th 2013

Monday Mistake: ABC Chilren’s Academy

Ouch! This sign is painful just to look at. This is the largest typo that we have seen… yet! Another massive Monday Mistake, makes you wonder how many sets of eyes looked at this gigantic billboard, and overlooked its glaring spelling mistake, before it was raised high over the streets of Houston Texas.

Certainly the computer program used to make this sign had a spell checker. We don’t think that this sign was made using MS Paint. Just because they ended the alphabet at the letter C in this picture does not mean that they can leave out the D in children.

Yet another funny, and expensive, Monday Mistake that Ginger could have prevented.

Have you seen any outrageous typos this week?

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Jan 30th 2013

Wednesday word: The 2 sources of the name “Super Bowl”

The Super Bowl is one of the most popular games in sports today, but where does its peculiar name come from?

1. A child’s toy called the “Super Ball.”

Lamar Hunt was the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs when the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL) were having meetings prior to their merger in 1970.

It was agreed that prior to their merger, the two leagues would meet together in a championship game which Hunt casually referred to as the “Super Bowl,” likely because he had the name of his child’s toy the “Super Ball” stuck in his head.

2. A Bowl Shaped Stadium in California

Long before this AFL and NFL merger, post season American college football games were known as “bowls.” The football stadium in Pasadena, California where the tournament of Roses was first held looked so much like a bowl that people started calling this the “Rose Bowl.” The name stuck and today we have the 35 college level “Bowls” plus the professional “Super Bowl!”

Who will you be cheering for in Super Bowl 2013? The Baltimore Ravens or the San Francisco 49ers?

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Jan 28th 2013

Monday Mistake: Let’s All Get On the Shool Bus!

What does it tell you about a city and education system when the sign for the school is spelled wrong? English grammar and spelling can often be confusing, but there is no excuse for incorrect spelling of a sign. Think of the children!

This image, literally, illustrates just how important it is to teach proper grammar and spelling in schools. Online grammar and spell checkers make it easy to fix mistakes like these before they hit the pavement.

If you are painting a sign on the road, spell check it first, ESPECIALLY if it is for an educational institution.

What is your favorite public spelling fail?

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