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Showing posts from March, 2007


Keep up your English!

It will be a while before robots replace humans as translators. Instant translation is magic and as amazing as it is hilarious. I always wondered how they did that at international conferences. Now I understand why everyone looks so puzzled and perhaps why, after 61 years of operation the UN still has great difficulties in achieving its objectives. How does the European Parliament manage? Here are a few excerpts from the German translations of my blog. Haven't had time to look much yet, but you''ll see what I mean. Teller as in a person in a bank who takes your money is translated as storyteller Where I asked about whether the little girl I called Betty was Patty, it has translated Patty as pastetchen or little pastry My absolute favourite though is this one. In that Granny Appleby poem -in the Don't call me Granny! post, it translates "My Charlie won't get fed tonight " as "My Charlie won't get any Federal agents tonight." The Grammar i

Footnote: Pondering the Omnipotent Mind

You may have noticed small ads appearing at the bottom of posts. You will probably see different ones at different times, particularly if you are in another country. These are automatically put on by Google search engines working on keywords. I have nothing to do with what appears, but I am absolutely fascinated by some of the results. For example, when I wrote on "Surviving The Overland Track (February)," there was an ad at the bottom for survivalists. When I wrote about national mourning with respect to Korea's World Cup Defeat, there were ads for Grief Counselling and when I wrote about the chaotic traffic in Korea, there were ads for Defensive Driving Courses in Melbourne. At the moment, this is a private blog - ie only people I tell about it can read it, but a lot of people are saying I should go public so if you see any big mistakes or spelling errors let me know If anyone minds their picture being shown or their names being given, please let me know that too. Chee

The Missing Year - Goodbye, Soul City

The Great South Gate -Gwanghwamun- Cultural Treasure #1 Danpyong - or Leaf Fall, is another special season in Korea. Whole web pages are devoted to places, times and dates when the best foliage displays can be seen. Mothers tenderly lift up their children so that they may touch the changing leaves. It is a lovely time to be in Seoul, but it is tinged with sadness too because I know that soon like the autumn leaves, I will be gone. This is by no means the first time I have been in Seoul, but usually I've been here on business, whereas today I am just another tourist. I am on one of those buses that lets you get on and off all day and stops at all the tourist attractions. The city is lively, youthful and friendly. There are a lot of universities here and although it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world - only Tokyo ranks higher, I have never felt safer walking around a town at night. Street Procession. Scenes like this are commonplace in Seoul Following the crowd

The Missing Year - High Skies

Autumn is without doubt, the loveliest time in Korea, even before the leaves start to turn. Cosmos light up the roadsides, golden rice flows down the valleys like lava. Kimchi pots appear on balconies and rooves and chilli is dried in the streets. The children tell me that autumn is their favourite season because "the sky is high." I think they mean that the inversion layer with its perpetual haze and humidity has lifted. Certainly, the days are benign and cloudless and the nights cool enough to bring refreshing sleep. How Koreans feel about the fall is eloquently expressed in the following excerpt written by a Korean student at the English Language Institute at the University of Florida, reprinted here with kind permission: The Story of Fall in Korea Hyung-Ju Park 30P The story of fall in Korea is very important. It is a beautiful array of color, sound, dance and scent. My country is small but very beautiful. It only takes 6 hours to dr

The Missing Year - Of Dog Days and Hungry Ghosts

Queensland may have its Big Banana but in Gongju, Big Bear welcomes you as you come into town Until now, like the sound of the crickets under my window, life has been getting more and more frantic. Suddenly there is a lull and everything becomes much more languid. The Koreans have a special name for this short season -"pognal." Traditionally, dog was eaten at this time of year to give strength and to stimulate the appetite. Although the children assure me that this is rarely done now, I check anxiously each day to make sure that the two golden labrador puppies which have recently been installed in the yard of the restaurant next door, are still there. Samgeytang, chicken stuffed with ginseng and rice is another popular 'pognal' dish and is supposed to do the same job. (Korea has special foods for each season as well as representative foods for each region). I learn to make it under instruction from the women who sell spices in the market. I don't usually do much

The Missing Year - Mid -Summer Madness

An eerie mist envelopes the beach where we go to keep cool It's hot and it's humid. The aircon at the school works overtime, people fan themselves with small round fans to move the turgid air, which all seems like too much effort to me, and the ladies of leisure now play Go Stop under the bridge on the Jemichon to keep cool. I can't imagine what the wet season will be like as I have been rained on so thoroughly, so often already. Ross drops in from China. Election fever is in the air, and no sooner are they over, than Soccer season - The World Cup Series -begins. The students now look even more bleary -eyed than usual because it doesn't come on until 4 a.m. Election Fever in Gonju. This is a form of theatre in which all candidates have their own cheer squads and drive about the streets with music blaring, giving speeches to anyone who will stand still long enough Soccer Fever Soccer here is a national obsession. I've never been a big fan of spectator sports, much le

The Missing Year- The Greening

The blossoms seem to vanish overnight, but everywhere the trees which have been a drab brown all these months, are starting to put forth green shoots. It is Buddha's birthday and every town and village has its lantern parades. The fortress comes alive with bright banners and re -enactments and flowers bloom all over town - on the bridges, in front of shops and even the Post Office. Koreans also do a nice line in vertical floral arrangements, particularly at the entrance to towns. This lady at the Post office has just won the Customer Service Award. Trust me, she's earned it. She's the one I always see. The Fortress is now a splendid sight with colourful banners and men in tunics re -enacting the Changing of the Guard. Inside the fortress, there are all kinds of free activities for adults and children - dressing up in costumes, archery, making rubbings of the mandalas found in King Muryeong's grave, and the arrow throwing game that you find at many public venues such