Monday, December 31, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Here is a series of photos taken Hastings Park on Renfrew south of East Hastings Street in Vancouver. There was a break in the rain which provided ideal conditions for the growth of fungi, mosses and other organisms.
Monday, October 1, 2007
From the Los Angeles Times
German even the Germans don't like
Think rules to simplify a complicated language would be well received? Think again.
By Andrew D. BlechmanAugust 22, 2007Dusseldorf, Germany
As of this month, the German language is officially "reformed." After more than a decade of bitter debate, new grammar rules for the world's 100 million native German speakers are now set in stone.
That may sound like big news, but chances are you haven't heard ein wort about it. Even in Germany the event has been met with something akin to a news blackout, but then again, the vast majority of Germans detest the reforms.
I learned about them by accident while grilling bratwurst and complaining about the language's user-unfriendliness. "No problem," my bemused German companion assured me, "as of Monday, it will be easier."
As of Monday?
"Beginning Monday, the rules will have changed for good," he continued. "And everyone must follow them."
With the smell of sausages wafting in the air and the Rhine a stone's throw away, I had little doubt that I had left the U.S. and was now living in Germany. But nothing cemented the fact quite like a discussion of German language reform and its "mandatory" adjustments. I was already having difficulty putting together simple sentences; would I now be fined for my ineptitude? Thankfully not, I learned; only children would be penalized! The government-mandated changes will be incorporated into their textbooks.
To anyone who has suffered through German's torturous grammatical rules, the concept of language reform is probably music to your ears. Every noun in the German language is deemed masculine, feminine or neuter and is preceded by its appropriate article. Depending on a word's "case," or construction, Germans have more than a dozen different ways to say "the" and "a." When I asked my German teacher why a fork is feminine, a spoon is masculine and a knife is neuter, she just shrugged her shoulders.
Even more mysterious are the verbs, which frequently reside at the end of a sentence or are split in half and placed as far away from one another as possible. And one must not forget the compoundwordsthatareaboutthislong. Given these complications, I've found myself in the unenviable position of trying to communicate without nouns or verbs. But adjectives get one only so far.
The Germans have known for a long time that their grammar is confusing, even for native speakers. The first attempts at reforming the language of Schiller and Goethe occurred more than 100 years ago, when grammarians worked to standardize it. Nearly half a century later, the Nazis planned to institute their own language reforms, but the war cut those efforts short.
The impetus behind the reform is the German-speaking world's penchant for grammatical rules and the difficulty for students to learn them. Many of these rules for spelling and punctuation, developed over centuries, have been deemed ambiguous and unsystematic, let alone unnecessarily complicated. The latest reform, begun in the early 1990s and led by expert grammarians from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, set out to simplify the language: Grammatical rules were reduced from 212 to (only!) 112, and those governing commas dropped from 52 to a mere nine. The changes mainly addressed written grammar, and -- to my chagrin -- have little effect on the spoken word. Perhaps the most important change is that der Hot dog is now der Hotdog.
Nevertheless, the so-called grammar simplification, which was adopted by the three governments' education ministries in 1996, faced stiff opposition from the public: Several German states and regional newspapers refused to adopt the measures. A number of authors, including Günter Grass, rebelled.
Until the German supreme court ruled in favor of the reforms in 1998, they appeared headed for the big chalkboard in the sky. But doubts persisted, and yet another group of experts was assembled to "reform the reform." As one German friend put it: People wanted their commas back. The new rules were instituted in 2006 with a one-year grace period that has just ended.
In the meantime, it's the German schoolchildren who will bear the brunt of the changes. It is not enough for a child to hand in a well-written essay; it also must be grammatically flawless. Teachers are instructed to count every misplaced comma and misspelled word, multiply them by 100, and then divide the resulting number by the total number of words in an essay. Enough errors, and one's grades can drop precipitously.
And I thought I had it bad.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
As I was walking all alane,I heard twa corbies makin a mane;The tane unto the ither say,"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"
"In ahint yon auld fail dyke,I wot there lies a new slain knight;And nane do ken that he lies there,But his hawk, his hound an his lady fair."
"His hound is tae the huntin gane,His hawk tae fetch the wild-fowl hame, His lady's tain anither mate,So we may mak oor dinner swate."
"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;Wi ae lock o his gowden hair We'll theek oor nest whan it grows bare."
"Mony a one for him makes mane,But nane sall ken whar he is gane;Oer his white banes, whan they are bare,The wind sall blaw for evermair."
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Here are a couple of short video clips taken from the SkyTrain in the Greater Vancouver area over the past week. The first one is north bound from Scott Road to Columbia Stations going over the suspension bridge over the Fraser River. The second clip is south bound from 22nd Street to New Westminster Stations. Sorry for the quality of the videos. There were smudges and dead insects on the glass at the time. Both clips are 2 minutes long. I will have others from time to time to give you an idea of what the area looks like and what life is like. This will be in addition to the still photos that I have been posting up until now. Enjoy them and feel free to comment.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
There are more photos to follow. Please enjoy these and comments are gladly received.