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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Jan 21st 2013

Monday Mistake: The Mysteries of English Spelling

It is no secret that English spelling and pronunciation are very difficult. In fact, it’s easy to misspell “truck” with a CH – “chruck”!

For instance, why is there a K in “knife” or “knight”? One reason is that many, many years ago in the Middle Ages, the K was actually pronounced in KN words… Did you k-now that?

Same with the word “gnat” (those pesky little bugs). What is there a G at the beginning? Why is not pronounced Guh-Nat? The answer also comes from the dusty days of medieval English when it WOULD have been spoken as Guh-Nat!

When it comes to this 5th grader’s spelling test, the strange ways that we spell words in English are not obvious, and the big question is which spelling is better – the 5th grader’s or conventional English?

It isn’t this kid’s fault that modern English is made up of medieval words and spelling rules borrowed heavily from other European languages. Yet these English words still continue to evolve today.

While English can be very difficult to understand at times, and even harder to spell, it is very important to always use correct grammar and spelling.

What do you think?

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