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Tips for non-English speakers

January 9th, 2015 Comments off

 

Tip your hat. Give me a tip for the 5.20. I’m taking this load of rubbish to the tip.

It was the subject of cow-tipping (sneaking up on the unfortunate animals when they are asleep and pushing them over) that inspired a late night mental ramble through the many, many uses of this small word – and a reflection on how difficult such small steps can be for students learning English.

Here’s a list, without even consulting dictionaries:

Tip out – to throw something away, “I tipped out all that soup that’s  been in the fridge for three months”

or

Tip out – to eject: “Ma tipped me out of bed and it was only two in the afternoon”

Tip your hat, as above – “A gentleman tips his hat when meeting a lady.”

Or a synomym for “dump” as in a place to leave large amounts of refuse: “This old mattress has to go to the tip.”

You can give someone a tip, and depending on your intonation it can be sarcastic: “Let me give you a tip about the best way to wash dishes.”

Or you could give someone else a tip for a likely winner in a betting race – as in Guys and Dolls, “I got the horse right here, the name is Paul Revere…”

That’s before we even get to the main noun meaning of tip – the summit, highest point. “We got to the tip of Everest and collapsed.” And there’s the tip of a finger, or a table, or a collapsing bridge – “AAAArgh! The cars are right on the tip of it!” (See the ending of  The Italian Job.)

 

Italian Job ending

 

The Oxford Dictionary says there are three main meanings of tip. By my reckoning there’s about 10 everyday meanings, noun or verb, without going to the compounds such as “tip-top”. Then there’s expressions such as “the tip of my tongue”.

No doubt others can think of similar words that are so versatile, all-purpose and user-friendly that they can pop up in a profusion of situations.

!Ay Caramba!

 

(Pic from express.co.uk)

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Best films of the year by A Long chalk

December 29th, 2014 Comments off

Everyone’s doing it, ’tis the season to be listing, cinephiles abounding – so here’s my pick of the flicks for the year that lies expiring.

The rider is that I haven’t seen either Mr Turner or The Imitation Game, which I suspect might have made the AL-List. The controversy is that I HATED Calvary, sorry to be disloyal to the Irish industry but it was a soggy pudding of cliches with the cherry of Brendan Gleeson’s ever-reliable performance skill on top. And you won’t see much-hailed Boyhood here, either. It was nice. But nice is not great, and the film’s main distinction seemed to be that it took 12 years to make.

So, taking it from first place…

  1. Jake Gyllenhaal brilliant, creepy, unsettling. Director Dan Gilroy.

  2. Under The Skin. Scarlett drives around Glasgow picking up men who end up in ooze (spoiler alert). Genuine art.
  3. Locke. Tom Hardy in a car. Yet you are riveted for 85 minutes. Respect for writer/director Stephen Knight.
  4. Two Days One Night. Belgian everyday excellence.
  5. Maps to the Stars. Julianne Moore sticks in the memory most from Cronenberg’s latest.
  6. What We Do In the Shadows. Silly, perhaps, but very funny. You expect that from Jemaine Clement, but the main vampire, Taika Waititi, was new to me and utterly enchanting.
  7. Frank. Not as mad about it as some, but it was different and well-done.
  8. Mystery Road. This Aussie movie starring Aaron Pedersen was perhaps not as widely seen as it deserved.
  9. Grand Budapest Hotel. Enjoyable whimsy from Wes Anderson with fine performance from Ralph Fiennes.
  10. My 10 was going to be Despues de Lucia, a Mexican film about bullying among teenagers – but although I saw it this year it came out in 2012. Highly recommended. Don’t be put off by what sounds like an unoriginal idea, for it’s masterly execution by Michel Franco.
  11. A substitute 10 would be Her, Spike Jonze’s movie about a man who falls in love with Scarlett Johansson’s voice. The Irish Times has it on its list, but does it qualify as a 2014 film?

Other lists…

Vanity Fair http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-hollywood/2014/12/best-movies-of-2014

Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/the-10-best-movies-of-2014-20141224-12dimw.html

BBC Culture: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20141219-the-10-best-films-of-2014

Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/ticket-awards-2014-our-top-10-movies-of-the-year-1.2025841

And the most popular, from IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/search/title?year=2014,2014&title_type=feature&sort=moviemeter,asc

Tee-hee, The Interview comes in at number 3!

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On Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – the ‘asocial media’ emerge

November 21st, 2014 Comments off

It’s good to see the Irish authorities have reached the stage of public consultation on fine-tuning changes to existing laws so they cover bad behaviour on digital platforms.

But why not a whole new law, even a suite of laws? As netizens [ugh], or rather people who overwhelmingly both work and play via the internet, we should have controls that refer specifically to this environment. It’s no longer possible to pretend that the wonderful freedom and openness of the web can be a highway without road-signs and restrictions.

More and more, the unlovely side of the internet comes into view. And that’s without discussing the Dark Web, hard-core porn and its trade, ditto for drugs and weapons.

Up in the sunny, noisy, hillsides of ‘social media’ it’s becoming ever more clear, to anyone with sensitivity and clear sight, that the term ‘social’ denoting a big open party is a misnomer. Even the implication that social implies a concern and regard for one another is often inaccurate.

More often it should be ‘asocial media’. ‘Asocial’ means ‘without society’. And individuals such as those who threatened athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill with sexual violence after she stated she would not support the re-employment of a convicted rapist at Sheffield football club should not be welcome in any society. They have no regard from others, except for those who confront them in the flesh. Read more…

Why aren’t there more women in the digital business world?

November 6th, 2014 Comments off

As I write these words on November 6 2014 [there’s a classic intro for you], the Web Summit in Dublin is about to hear a talk about the topic of the scarcity of women at such gatherings, and in the world of digital technology in general.

Coincidentally, I’m watching a webinar from the US, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, on open data and ‘the next big thing’. There’s a lot of talk about open data and emerging platforms, and the first panel featured four men and one woman.

In the second session, a woman did give the presentation, but, to the relief of the stereotype-seekers, she was dressed in shapeless jeans, shirt and jumper and messed up hair. Just like a male geek (the term will not give offence, I hope, for it is so short and handy).

I’ve been to so many conferences and hackathons, so many meetings on digital issues of interest, such as open data, and yes, females are in the minority. At a BBC-sponsored hackathon in Dublin earlier this year I handcounted the crowd of around 120, and put it at about eight to one. But why the hand-wringing? Why oh why aren’t there more women in this field?

I’ll tell you why. Read more…

Media of all kinds needs clear ethics

August 26th, 2014 Comments off

Because it can: death, respect and distasteful coverage 

WE all know why a dog licks its testicles: because it can.

That inelegant intro is the key to the recent furores over media behaviour in the wake of two tragedies – the death of Robin Williams on August 11, and the execution of James Foley on August 19.

Both incidents unleashed torrents of coverage on both professional and social media, and came to raise issues of contemporary importance for both streams. The events also highlighted the difference in ethical attitudes between the two streams – the old, legacy, sclerotic media, as some would depict it, compared to the swift, chatty, pervasive digital-only style.

Both men died violently: all streams of media have had an evolving relationship with handling death. Death, as I’ve often argued in lectures, is the fulcrum for all current affairs news. Death is what we all fear, so when it happens to others it is a cause of horrified fascination. Anything that might hasten our own deaths, whether it be an excess of alcohol, road traffic, a meteor colliding with earth or radon gas under the ground, is also riveting because of its possible implications. Read more…

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