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Spelling Word of the Day: shrews and househusbands

February 28, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right is from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee, as photographed by Kimi Milo.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

Spelling Word of the Day: words for womanhood

February 27, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right, by Semyon, was taken when Williamsburg Spelling Bee founder bobbyblue was on tour, and burlesque star World Famous *BOB* guest-hosted.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

Monday Math Problem: The Answer to “The Lexmark Tribe”

February 26, 2010

Every Monday, I’ll be posting a math problem on this site; every Friday, I’ll post the answer to that week’s problem. Here is Monday’s problem again — click “Read More” for the explanation, and then come back Monday for a new quantitative challenge!

This Week’s Math Problem:

The Lexmark Native American tribe quite liberally awards membership to anyone who claims at least .08% (that’s two twenty-fifths of one percent) Lexmark ancestry. However, the Lexmark tribe rejects membership claims from anyone claiming a mathematically impossible percent or fraction Lexmark ancestry, as both honesty and quantitative abilities are highly valued in Lexmark culture. Assuming that a person with one Lexmark parent is 1/2 Lexmark, a person with one Lexmark great-grandparent is 1/8 Lexmark, etc., and that no one applying (and none of his or her forebears) has been cloned or produced by any method other than sexual reproduction with two parents, and that applicants may list their Lexmark ancestry in fraction, decimal, or percent form (and need not reduce or simplify), which of the following applications will be accepted by the Lexmark tribe?

  Name
Abalone
Bulwark
Caesar
Dalton
Erstwhile
Fugazi
Gaga
Hoopskirt
Injera
Jarjar
Kasper
Lexulous
Mintyfresh
Neverland
Opus
Puissance
Quiche
Richfood
Smith
Titan
Uxorious
Vuletic
Winnow
Xerxes
Yam
Zephyr
  Lexmark Ancestry Claimed on Application
.125
11/60
1/12
3/4096
.1%
27/60
.875
37.5%
.05%
5/24
111/3072
.01
75/128
6.25%
3/256
17/512
7/64
799/1024
88%
5/2048
18.75%
.03125
39/64
7/896
3.2%
(.01)/16


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Spelling Word of the Day: thick-skinned

February 26, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right, by Semyon, was taken when Williamsburg Spelling Bee founder bobbyblue was on tour, and burlesque star World Famous *BOB* guest-hosted.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

English is Tough Stuff: Audio Recording of a Famous Pronunciation Poem, Much Beloved or Reviled by ESL Students and Lexophiles

February 25, 2010

800px-english-language-iconsvg.pngEnglish is Tough Stuff” is a poem intended to point out, satirize, or exaggerate the inconsistencies in English spelling and pronunciation. It is particularly popular on websites and online forums intended for people learning English. The introduction typically appended to the poem says that “a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months at hard labor to reading six lines aloud.”

On this forum and on this one, forum participants asked for audio files of the poem, especially read with an “American accent.” I am really quite happy to oblige!

I’m not sure if anyone’s gotten around to recording this before me (one of the above requests was from 2007), but as a semi-professional spelling bee word reader, I figure that I am uniquely qualified to contribute.

So, here it is — a four-minute audio recording of “English is Tough Stuff”!

English Is Tough Stuff

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation — think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough –
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Have you listened yet? Here it is again:

I did have to look up sward, ague, Terpsichore, topsails (it sounds like tonsils with a p!), Balmoral, Melpomene, victual (“vittle”), foeffer, and gunwale (“gunnel”). Also, I chose to pronounce “bass” like the instrument, not the fish.

Incidentally, this blog says the poem was written by “a Dutchman, Gerard Nolst Trenité, who was born in Holland in 1870.”

After twelve or so takes reading this, I celebrated with a beer and a lozenge (not at the same time).

Enjoy!

Spelling Word of the Day: the stuff your grandmother brought back from those cruises

February 25, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right is from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee, as photographed by Semyon.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

Spelling Word of the Day: so named because it’s rolled up like a snail

February 24, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right is from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee, as photographed by Semyon.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

Los Ases

February 24, 2010

I attended a party this evening, and was excited to finally wear the Cuban-heeled stockings I had purchased at least three years ago and never gotten around to deploying. Since my iPhone was already packed snugly in my tiny purse, I pulled out my digital camera, and took this photo:

stockings.jpg

Here’s the whole deal:

dress.jpg

Want to know one of my dress-buying secrets? (I view dresses as investments in my Future of Awesome, and the dresses are the main reason I have renter’s insurance). Go here: Asos.com.

Is there someone in the UK knocking off Victoria Beckham designs and sending them to the US for just $6 shipping? Oh, fuck yes there is. Can you see a preview of each dress in a video, on a runway?! Oh, yes, fuck yes.

Be warned: if you order clothes from the UK, you’ll have to write a check to the UPS man for import duties. My box of English dresses arrived quite dilapidated (just the box, not the dresses), and the check I wrote to the UPS man was equivalent to about 15% the price of the merchandise. I would’ve been incensed at the impediment to global commerce and proposed a NYLFTA (New York London Free Trade Agreement) had not the dresses been so fucking sweet. The Brits know how to tailor. (Other UK shopping news pursuant to my trip to the Fringe last year: If you ever need to buy a raincoat, Scotland is the place!)

So, when I plugged my camera into my laptop to upload these photos, I saw that there were photos from my trip to Mexico that I had never bothered to upload. Here’s me in my hotel room:

mexhotel1.jpg

Every time I go on vacation, I bring all kinds of “casual” clothes, and then feel an acute lack of gravitas while trying to wear them, and then I find a Zara and buy a blazer. Crisp shoulders really give a girl a little avoirdupois.

And now: here is a store in Mexico City called Fanny Internacional:

fanny.jpg

And here is a store just down the block called Los Ases:

losases.jpg

Spelling Word of the Day: you can tell I had a cold while recording this post

February 23, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right is from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee, as photographed by Brian Van.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

Monday Math Problem: The Lexmark Tribe

February 22, 2010

Every Monday, I’ll be posting a math problem on this site; every Friday, I’ll post the answer to that week’s problem. Give this one a shot and post your solution in the comments!

This Week’s Math Problem:

The Lexmark Native American tribe quite liberally awards membership to anyone who claims at least .08% (that’s two twenty-fifths of one percent) Lexmark ancestry. However, the Lexmark tribe rejects membership claims from anyone claiming a mathematically impossible percent or fraction Lexmark ancestry, as both honesty and quantitative abilities are highly valued in Lexmark culture. Assuming that a person with one Lexmark parent is 1/2 Lexmark, a person with one Lexmark great-grandparent is 1/8 Lexmark, etc., and that no one applying (and none of his or her forebears) has been cloned or produced by any method other than sexual reproduction with two parents, and that applicants may list their Lexmark ancestry in fraction, decimal, or percent form (and need not reduce or simplify), which of the following applications will be accepted by the Lexmark tribe?

  Name
Abalone
Bulwark
Caesar
Dalton
Erstwhile
Fugazi
Gaga
Hoopskirt
Injera
Jarjar
Kasper
Lexulous
Mintyfresh
Neverland
Opus
Puissance
Quiche
Richfood
Smith
Titan
Uxorious
Vuletic
Winnow
Xerxes
Yam
Zephyr
  Lexmark Ancestry Claimed on Application
.125
11/60
1/12
3/4096
.1%
27/96
.875
37.5%
.05%
5/24
111/3072
.08
75/128
6.25%
3/256
17/512
7/64
799/1024
88%
5/2048
18.75%
.03125
39/64
7/896
3.2%
(0.1)/16

Just to be clear — the correct answer will be in the form of 0-26 last names. Good luck!

Spelling Word of the Day: I can’t wait to bring my horse or car to this competition

February 22, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right is from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee, as photographed by Brian Van.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

Gratuitous: My Cat Would Like to Enjoy a Romantic Dinner With You

February 22, 2010

img_1316.JPG

That is all.

Spelling Word of the Day: you so crazy, I think I wanna have your baby

February 21, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right is from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee, as photographed by Brian Van.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

Spelling Word of the Day: drums and embroidery

February 20, 2010

Every day of 2010, I’ll be posting a spelling word here for those who would like some spelling bee practice. Photo at right is from the Williamsburg Spelling Bee, as photographed by Brian Van.

Start the audio file to hear the word, definition, and etymology. Once you’ve spelled the word for yourself, click “Read More” to see the answer.

Read more

This Week’s Math Problem: The Answer to “Deranged, Syphilitic, and Insolvent”

February 19, 2010

Every Monday, I’ll be posting a math problem on this site; every Friday, I’ll post the answer to that week’s problem. Here is Monday’s problem again — click “Read More” for the explanation, and then come back Monday for a new quantitative challenge!

This Week’s Math Problem:

All of your exes have one or more of the qualities of being deranged, syphilitic, and insolvent. 2 of your exes are deranged, syphilitic, and insolvent. 11 possess exactly two of those qualities. In total, 19 of your exes are deranged, 4 are syphilitic, and 17 are insolvent. How many exes do you have, and, if from now on you only date people who are deranged, syphilitic, and insolvent (and you break up with all of them, thus making them your exes), how many new exes will you need to add such that 88% of your exes will be deranged?

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