Archive for January, 2011

VOCABULARY NOTES-3

January 30, 2011

I am carrying on with Internet neologisms.

The word VLOG (pronounced “vlog” or vEElog”)  was first registered in 2005. It’s a blog containing mostly video content. The derivative words are VLOGGING and VLOGGER. A humorous citation is the violated saying “to vlog a dead horse” – based on “to flog a dead horse”. It’s when you make a video of a dead horse and post it on the web 🙂 . Some vloggers show how to cook, or they teach you elementary English (usually not going beyond a few video-lessons five minutes each). Others try to be funny and arrange mock news programs. IMHO vlogs are rather primitive: it takes some skill, if not talent, to make a really interesting vlog.

The word FRIEND has developed an interesting meaning in the InternetSpeak: it has become a transitive verb defined as : to add a person to one’s list of acquaintances on a social networking website:  e.g.: the students friended their dean via Facebook. It may well happen that after some time they may DEFRIEND (or UNFRIEND) him , i.e. remove from the list of friends:-).

A related coinage is the compound word FRIENDSOURCING: gathering information, recommendations, and other feedback from a trusted group of online peers. Derivatives: FRIENDSOURCE v. —FRIENDSOURCERn. The word was first used by a blogger Chris Brogan in 2007 (http://www.chrisbrogan.com/friendsourcing-and-friendhelp/) . He wrote: I wish I could share my googling with my Twitter  list, so they’d know what I’m trying to accomplish, and they could jump in. That’s friendsourcing. And when I need help, I am looking more and more to a blend of humans and machines. True cyborgs.

Two more compounds:

1.DARKNET: n. The collection of networks and other technologies that enable people to illegally share copyrighted digital files with little or no fear of detection. Darknetters band together in small groups , beyond the reach of the oppressors. Their clannish character gives them safety. The resilience of the darknet guarantees that it will remain a thorn in the side of the music and movie industries (from Richard Waters, “No respite from the forces of darknet,” Financial Times, London, July 29, 2003).

2. FRIDGE-GOOGLING: vb-n: Running an Internet search based on some or all of the contents of one’s fridge, looking for a recipe based on those contents. You just google whatever products you have in your fridge and the recipe will be delivered to your laptop. Half an hour later the fridge will be empty but the plates will be full. The word FRIDGE-GOOGLING was first defined by Sandy Berger, “Google Makes Dictionary,” Compu-Kiss, July 26, 2006 .

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THE END OF THE OLD SONG

January 29, 2011

The Daily Telegraph informed about the U.S. involvement in the Egyptian uprising: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8289686/Egypt-protests-Americas-secret-backing-for-rebel-leaders-behind-uprising.html#disqus_thread With reference to the Wikileaks, the British paper writes that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo helped an anti-government campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

When I was watching the live broadcast from Egypt, and saw tens of thousands of people in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria, I thought that no activist was able to take such multitudes out into the streets. It was not the activist who confiscated the goods of a trader in Tunisia, thus depriving the trader of the possibility to provide for his family. It was not the American ambassador who set that trader on fire – it was the trader himself who, in despair, committed suicide in the act of self-immolation. It wasn’t the CIA that used to buy fodder grain in Russia and sell it to the Egyptians as food grain. It wasn’t the Fed which gave education to millions of young people and left them without any perspective in life.

I also thought that the reasons for the protests we are watching now in the Arab world are very similar to Ukraine’s problems: corruption of the officials, suppression of the opposition, rising prices, dictatorial methods of ruling the country, poverty, unemployment. Do our authorities think that they can rule the country this way for 30 years (as Hosni Mubarak did) before the time of reckoning comes? I doubt that.

FOR WHOM THE BBC TOLLS…

January 27, 2011

From next April the BBC closes its Ukrainian service – along with the Russian, Azerbaijani, Spanish (for Cuba), Vietnamese, Chinese, Turkish, as well as (earlier announced) Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian services. The present-day British government has done what many dictators in many of these countries failed to implement. There are two main reasons for the closures: shortage of money and the fact that there are other available channels of information – including the Internet.

As a Ukrainian, I can competently say that the disappearance of the Ukrainian BBC will be irreplaceable. Even with the availability of the Internet. The thing is that it’s not about the channels or their number. It’s about professionalism. Currently, no other source of information giving news about Ukraine compares with the BBC in terms of the fullness of the news and their objectivity. The information presented by the BBC is very often a straight-talk critique of what is happening in Ukraine, but behind it you feel respect for Ukraine and its culture, as well as belief in its future. When I say “fullness of the news” I do not mean the variety of the events reported. Of course, the Ukrainian radio- and TV-stations, which broadcast round the clock, give more details. But the BBC reports hit the nail on the head: its news is really IMPORTANT in the reflection of the country’s present and future. While listening to it you may be sure that the news is on the air not because it has been “ordered” and paid by a money-bag, but because it is really of current concern and of high priority. Add to it the marvelous Ukrainian language of the news presenters and reporters who were specially selected and trained for the job.

During the coup attempt in August 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev, having his telephone connection cut off by the putschists, listened to the BBC to know about his plight. I wonder, what will the Russian and Ukrainian presidents be listening to if they get into a similar trouble?

A TRAVESTY OF THE COMMON SENSE

January 27, 2011

The General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine doesn’t permit the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to leave her place of residence. When she received an invitation from Brussels to meet the European leaders there, the Prosecutor’s Office said she couldn’t go to Brussels because the “invitation was in English”, i.e. it wasn’t translated into Ukrainian. A very touching example of the care taken by the Ukrainian authorities of this country’s official language! I wonder if all invitations sent to the Ukrainian politicians from abroad are written in Ukrainian — including those sent to the president and his men.

GRAMMAR NOTES-3

January 26, 2011

THE ARTICLE:

  1. When a word denoting a part of the body goes with a preposition, the definite article is used with the word. Without such a preposition a pronoun is recommended: <He took HIS hand out of THE pocket>
  2. The choice of the indefinite article instead of the numeral ONE imparts a colloquial tonality to the utterance: <I want to live for A hundred years>,  but:  <The journey took ONE hundred days>
  3. The zero article is known to be used when an activity or a process is emphasized <to go to school, to be in hospital> However, the Americans would rather say <to be in THE hospital> regardless of whether a person was hospitalized or just dropped in at the hospital to visit a patient. With an attribute an article is always used <to go to a good university>
  4. Schools generally go without articles if they are preceded by names of cities <Kyiv University, Oxford University>
  5. With names of diseases the following pattern is observed: “cold” is used with the indefinite article: <I’ve got a (terrible) cold”, “flue” may be used with or without the definite article. Other diseases are used without any article. The word “ache” with its appositions is used with the indefinite article if an attack of the disease is meant and without any article if it is durable pain: <I have had headache for the last two weeks>; <I won’t be able to meet you. I’ve got a headache>
  6. With the word “life” the indefinite article is used when qualitative adjectives precede the word. In other cases the article is omitted: <Modern business life is rather hectic>, <He led a quiet country life>
  7. The word “same” is often used without any article in colloquial English: <Have a nice weekend! – Same to you!>, <Same with me>. <Same time, same place>
  8. Names of governmental bodies names of TV- and radio companies are used mostly with the definite article in British English and without any article in American English <Government has responsibilities … – from the President’s Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 2001>, <State Department>, <the Foreign Office>, <NBC, CBS, the BBC>.
  9. Under the influence of the patterns “all day (all night)” the article starts being omitted in <all morning/afternoon/week/winter>, as well as in combinations of the type <in coming weeks>, <in early afternoon>

WILL WE FEEL SAFER?

January 25, 2011

After the airport blast in Moscow the Ukrainian authorities took steps to tighten security at Boryspil airport in Kyiv. Only passengers are allowed to enter the airport. If you have come to Boryspil to see off your friends or meet them, you should stay outside. A special task force BERKUT is patrolling the airport premises with dogs. People are warned against taking packages or other pieces of luggage from strangers.

While my heart goes out to all those who died and suffered, as well as to their families, I’d like to say emphatically that the preemptive actions taken are excessive for Ukraine. In this country there are no national or religious grounds for terrorism. The situation is exploited by the pro-Russian authorities to demonstrate that Ukraine is in the same boat with Russia and that the Ukrainians are a part of “Russki Mir” – the Russian World – so much propagated by Putin and by the Russian Orthodox church. The authorities are working tirelessly to make Ukraine a spitting image of Russia in all spheres: in education (the duration of learning at secondary school has been reduced by one year, as is the case in Russia), in history (events describing the struggle for Ukraine’s independence are being removed from school textbooks), in language (the Russian language is promoted while Ukrainian is pushed into the background). The trouble is that by aping Russia in security matters, Ukraine is being involved in Putin’s union of “fighting terrorism in the Caucasus”. If this perspective becomes a fact, bomb attacks will be started in Ukraine and no BERKUT will stop them.

ALWAYS ON AND NEVER OFF

January 24, 2011

To multitask is to work at several tasks simultaneously. The phenomenon is omnipresent nowadays when the intensiveness of labor has grown immeasurably and when people started to be “always on.” An experiment made by American scientists was to reveal how multitasking affects the human brain and its functioning. Subjects at a computer were shown an image of red rectangles.  Then they were shown a similar image, but the rectangles were a bit shifted. Noticing the shift was a comparatively simple job before a twist was added: some new rectangles – blue in color – were added. The subjects were instructed to ignore the change of the color: they were to filter out the distractions.

As it turned out, the multitaskers did significantly worse than non-multitaskers at recognizing whether red rectangles had changed their position. They had trouble filtering out the blue rectangles – the irrelevant information. Other similar experiments supported the conclusion: multitaskers are more  sensitive than non-multitaskers to incoming information.

The thing is that one part of our brain works like a control tower setting priorities for our activities. The other part which registers new information functions on a more primitive level. It processes sight, sound, warns the person of imminent danger, etc. Our “control tower” is all the time bombarded when more primitive parts of the brain are stimulated. If the bombardment is intensive or when it warns of real danger (like a nearby lion, for one), strategic goals are overridden (like building a hut). In modern world the chime of incoming e-mail can override the goal of writing a business plan or, say, a blog 🙂

For me, one of the most attractive features in a person has always been consistency of aim, purposefulness. There may be millions of things that will be turning him/her away from the original focus of attention. But there must be a guiding idea and the single-minded pursuit of it.

Long ago I met my fellow-student whom I had not seen for some ten years – since the time when we graduated. At school she had been quite a creative person participating in clubs, writing poetry. At the time when I met her she was working as a middle-level party-functionary. To my question how she was doing, she answered: “It’s a treadmill. With every day you are more and more lobotomised.”

Multitasking isn’t so recent as we think it is.

VOCABULARY NOTES-2

January 23, 2011

Word invention in English has at all times been intensive, with hundreds of new words conceived every day. Most of these new words are flashes-in-the-pan, but it’s still very interesting to watch many of these neologisms come into being and then capture a part of the public’s imagination. In the next few blog instalments I’m going to concentrate on some new coinages which are related to the Internet and are more or less established in the e-community.

Lately the noisiest buzz-word has been WIKILEAKS – the name of the international organisation that publishes private, secret, and classified information from anonymous sources. The WIKILEAKS site was originally launched as a user-editable wiki, but has progressively moved towards a more traditional publication model and no longer accepts either user comments or edits. Strictly speaking, WIKILEAKS has lost the characteristics of being “wiki”, i.e. it’s no more the result of readers’ collaborative effort. However, the WIKIPEDIA preserves the “wiki-quality” to the highest degree: any reader can present their information on any theme and can contribute to any existing information or correct it if the information is in the wiki-format.

Some companies upload their info as “wiki” with the idea that their readers will make their additions to it. This way they WIKIFY the information.  A case in point is Chevrolet which allowed its 30-second TV spot to be developed by readers: the readers introduced their comments, added videos about the new Chevrolet model – thus promoting the make of the car. The corresponding noun is WIKIFICATION.

The next interesting neologism is WIKIALITY which means reality as determined by majority vote (as when scientists voted to stop treating Pluto as a planet). Take an instance of a country which poses as a world power and tries to create a positive image of itself. If most wiki-contributors write negatively about the country (ref. human rights of its people, etc), its image will be negative in this WIKIALITY.

The last word formation in the series is WIKIPEDIA KIDS – students who are immature, relying too heavily on Internet tools such as Wikipedia as research sources, they fail to learn independently and they expect success without putting in the effort.  They know how to “cut and paste”, but take little time time to read, think and incorporate what they’ve read into a wider scheme of knowledge. They are the “operating costs” of INTERNETIZATION (a word coined to capture the pervasive influence of the Internet and the World Wide Web on all aspects of human endeavour in the 21st Century).

A VISION?… A MIRAGE?

January 22, 2011

Unity Day in Ukraine is about the unification of its eastern and western parts. After Kyivan Rus (as Ukraine was named in those days) lost its independence in the 13th century the Ukrainians lived in different countries: in what is now Romania, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Russia. During WWI, after Eastern Ukraine seceded from Russia and Western Ukrainians also formed their own state after the collapse of Austria and Hungary, the two Ukrainian countries decided to unite. The declaration was signed on January 22, 1919.

The unification was declared but it wasn’t materialized in those days. It was officially canceled eleven months later in December 1919 by the leader of Western Ukraine Yevhen Petrushevych because Simon Petlyura, the Eastern leader, asked Poland to help him in his war with Russia and the price for that help was Western Ukraine: Petlyura agreed that it should be incorporated in the Polish state.

That fact of Petlyura’s betraying the principle of Ukraine’s unity is not so often emphasized by historians. Nevertheless, I thought about this lack of national solidarity today when different groups of the so-called opposition were celebrating Unity Day separately – in different parts of Kyiv – because of discrepancies between them. Can you think of a bigger caricature of “unity” if it is celebrated  separately? So, for me the unity of Ukraine remains only a fond hope – as it was for those who were standing near St Sophia’s Cathedral 92 years ago.

But still…it’s hope

KEEPING THE KNOWLEDGE

January 21, 2011

A few days ago our friends’ daughter gave birth to a boy. He was born prematurely and the young mother has to stay in maternity hospital for some longer time now. She is sharing a ward with another mother whose baby is also preterm. Yesterday the head of the clinic department visited them and said that the two babies had the same problem: brain swelling. After only one curt phrase with this news the doctor floated out of the ward just as she had come in – slowly and reveling in her own importance. Her manners made it clear that she was licensed be the keeper of the knowledge inaccessible to the uninitiated. She did not say anything else to explain the disease or to support the women.

When I was told about what had happened in the maternity ward, I logged into the Internet and browsed a few sites.  One of them said that having such a child may be very stressful but there was no reason to be in panic. The children may have a complete recovery within a period from a few weeks to a few months – depending on the seriousness of the brain injury. You may find it helpful to talk about your feelings with a family member, close friend or a health care provider on a professional support team, the site said. You can get encouragement from other families who have had a similar experience by joining a support group. You may also find support available on the internet. Later I also found a forum where this problem was being discussed by the Internet users. I’m not a doctor and I couldn’t say anything about this case. I only asked myself a question: do such people as the dame in question have the right to be DOCTORS?

I know a young lady who is a student of medicine. Once, when we started speaking about her profession, she confessed that she would not trust 90% of her class to treat her if she fell ill. She knows better.


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