Celebrating English Language Day

Apparently it’s William Shakespeare’s birthday today. Well, history has it that he was born and died on the same day. It turns out those aren’t the only coincidences ‘cos, what do you know, today also happens to be English Language Day! I had no idea! The two things in the world that I’m craziest about are celebrated on the same day and I didn’t know? Duh!!!

At any rate, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in some long ago blog post that I grew up reading Shakespeare and happen to be a big fan of his plays. Although I don’t quote him out loud as often as I used to, his quotes still do pop up in my mind every now and then. It’s still my ambition to be as great a writer as he was when I grow up.

As for that other love of mine, the English language, what can I say?  It is, to me, the most beautiful language in the world. So why aren’t people more serious about learning it and getting it right? I could write a book about that. Suffice to say that over the years, I’ve watched the standard of English decline to a level where some days, it sounds and looks almost unrecognizable to me.

Yes, English is important and it’s not enough to say “I only need enough of it to get by in daily life” because from what I can see, it’s clearly not enough. It’s not enough to be able to string together some random words in no particular order and with a total disregard for grammar and pronunciation. And yes, I’m frustrated at people who refuse to learn.

But clearly today is not the day to lament about what we can’t change. It’s a day to celebrate the fathomless power and elegance of the English language!

Be not afraid of greatness

Be not afraid of greatness

For a guy who was hunched over a rickety old desk in a dim, candle-lit room with a quill pen, he sure produced some of the greatest and best loved writing. I’m talking about Shakespeare, of course, who left us with his literary works of art 400 years ago this week. The man is brilliant, what can I say? Strange how I speak of him in the present tense as if he were still alive.

I read two of his plays in my Literature class and I’ve been in love ever since. Of course, it helped that my teacher took such pains to delve into details and often even play-acted the scenes for us. The class was so fun and interesting I didn’t even mind having to memorize all those crazy many quotes.

The opening act of Twelfth Night starts out with some of my favorite lines. Here the lovesick Orsino is asking his musicians to give him an overdose of music to drown his pining for love.

If music be the food of love, play on

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.

My favorite quote from Act  3 Scene 1 of Julius Caesar is where Caesar compares himself to the unwavering nature of the Northern Star, the one thing sailors of old could always count on to bring them home safely.

But I am constant as the Northern Star,

Of whose true fixed and resting quality

There is no fellow in the firmament.

Back in the day, I was constantly quoting Shakespeare. I just couldn’t stop. I know, I probably sent some people of my dates spinning. But for me, the literary freak and hopeless romantic, Shakespeare was huge.

I don’t quote Shakespeare quite as often these days but I treasure my beautifully aged volume of the Complete Works of William ShakespeareComplete Works of William Shakespeare, a birthday surprise from someone who was obviously as spellbound by my Shakespearean quotes as I was with the  great writer himself LOL.

Be not afraid of greatness

I think you look handsome here, just like I always imagined you. 고맙습니다 (thank you) for inspiring the writer in me!

Rainbow-l

Rainbow-l

Rainbow-l

이게 제일 맛있어요!

Tastiest thing ever!

Speak it or drink it

Speak it or drink it

So there’s been this little hooha about someone speaking Mandarin which, if you ask me, is no big deal. Hey, lots of people whose native language isn’t Mandarin speak Mandarin, many much better than him, I might add. You don’t see them in the news. This is just like the case where if a dog bites a man, it’s no big deal but if a man bites a dog, it is.

Same thing here. He speaks a splattering of Chinese, and suddenly it’s a big deal. People are all aghast and praising him to the sky (why?) and his video gets a bazillion views. Turn this around, and you have lots of people whose native language is not English, who can speak and write English, way better than his Chinese there, I might add, but no one thinks anything of it. Just sayin’.

I think anyone can master a language, any language, if they set their minds to it. In fact, Chinese is easier to learn because there are no tenses. No present continuous, no past perfect continuous, no wading through that barrage of English tenses.

There’s a joke that if you (are in the habit of sharing drinks and) ingest enough of someone’s saliva, you’ll be able to speak their mother tongue… and he has a Chinese wife? See where I’m going with this? So now you know the secret. Hmm, maybe someone should think about selling language in a bottle. Brilliant *pats self on back*.

langbot

And with that, I’m outta here, off to buy myself a few bottles of Korean at a grocery store near me. And after I get through drinking them all, my next post may or may not be in Korean 😉 . Stay tuned?

Monday Quiz 15

Acting Balanced1. May is National Asparagus Month – do you like it? Have a favorite recipe?

I like my asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with olive oil.

2. May is also National Salad month… what’s your favorite salad?I

I have several – tostada salad (which I just had at Baja Fresh yesterday), Nicoise salad, apple cranberry, just to name a few.

3. Laundry Question: Fabric Softener yea or nay? How do you keep your clothes soft and static free?

Yes, if I’m hanging my clothes out to dry in the sun, I use Downy softener. If I’m using a dryer, I go with Bounce sheets, they make my clothes smell heavenly.

4. Do you speak more than one language? What language would you love to learn?

I speak 4 languages, as do my kids (no, we’re not aspiring tourist guides 😆 ). Our conversations tend to get jumbled with vocab from all of them at once. I took some classes in Japanese once but am out of practice and would love to pick up from where I left off. I’m in the midst of learning French on my own but it’s not easy and I’m stalled right now because I don’t have anyone to practise it with.

5. My question…

Do you stick strictly to expiry dates on food, or do you go easy with them?

Celebrating bookwormism, if that’s even a word

Celebrating bookwormism, if that's even a word

We found the perfect excuse to celebrate last weekend with this rare treat. A most decadent double fudge chocolate cake. One slice shared among the 3 of us girls (that’s how we roll)… and even then, we ended up pushing each other to finish it up.

choccake2

The reason for this excitement. Hip2bDaughter2 won a reading award for “student who has read the most books in high school”. And how many is that total? We don’t have the exact figure (she hasn’t got the tally back from her teacher) but we do know it’s in the region of oh, 400+ books in her years of high school combined! How anyone can read that many story books on top of all of her school work and activities is beyond me! But that’s my bookworm for ya!

No wonder there’s so much banging on the bathroom room – she’s always in there reading 😆 , and some days, she’s curled up with a book and the house is so quiet I can hear a pin drop. I don’t recall ever buying her that many books though. Not even close. But the philosophy of my two bookworms is to beg, borrow or steal if they have to. Their love for books is insatiable.

Hip2bDaughter2 was the latest bloomer in terms of reading. Hip2bSon was reading by age 2 and Hip2bDaughter1 by 2.5. But because Hip2bDaughter2 is the youngest, I always think of her as a baby. Suddenly there she was, 3 years old and illiterate 😆 . I was horrified. Bad mommy! How could I have let that slip? So began my mad scramble to get my “little sponge” caught up.

Fast forward to this week and my ‘baby’ high school senior is receiving a prize and a plaque, and giving a 7-minute speech to an entire school of 1,200+ students about the benefits of reading. She quietly wrote her own speech without any help from me or her sister, then stood up and rehearsed it to her ever-supportive audience of two – me and Hip2bDaughter1.

Since the award, she’s become a celebrity of sorts at school. Other students (even some she doesn’t know) are coming up to commend her, some to ask for a copy of her speech and many more to ask if she was nervous speaking to 1,o00 odd people. Apparently she surprised herself too that she hadn’t been as nervous as she had thought once she got past the initial jitters.

She’d told me the night before she might be “just a little nervous” and I thought yeah, maybe, this being the first time she’s speaking to such a big crowd. Then again, I took one look at that huge grin on her face and I knew that if she’s anything like her older brother and sister (surely it’s genetic, right?), she would be able to pull it off without a hitch.

Don’t you think she deserves a few bites off a slice of cake?

Curious

So I was whizzing past the mushroom kiosk where this promoter was sauteing samples and handing them out to shoppers passing by. Japanese mushrooms, hmm, interesting! Sometimes I walk too fast and have to double back, so yeah, I decided to go back for some mushrooms.

I told the promoter, “Yeah, I’ll try some. I’m curious to see what they taste like.”

“Curious? Is that how you say it?” she mused with a huge grin.

I’m like, huh?

“Curious, what does that mean?”

So there I was, conducting English lessons at the mall now, eh? But she seemed nice enough so I thought, heck, why not? I mean it’s not everyday that someone makes me feel like I’m some Einstein of the English language, right?

So I obliged, even to the extent of spelling out the word for her right there in the middle of the grocery aisle at the freakin’ mall. And apparently me spelling the word out loud for her wasn’t enough. She abandoned her spatula and started hunting frantically for a bit of paper so I could write it down for her.

I mean, come on, how could I not be impressed by this lady’s desire to learn? She may be a mushroom promoter but let’s be honest here, how many promoters do you know of who show a genuine interest in learning anything, let alone new vocab? Many would be quite content to stand there day in, day out, dishing out sauteed mushroom samples like clockwork.

Not this woman. There was no stopping her. I admire her enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. If I had to name the most curious person of 2012, it’d be her! 😉

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