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Friday, 24 April 2015

What is vlogging? And a haul?

Vloggers (or YouTubers as they popularly known) broadcast regular short videos on YouTube channels.  Anyone can set up a free channel - the trick is then to attract subscribers who regularly watch your broadcasts.

What is the appeal of vlogging?

Fame and fortune without leaving your house for the most successful. The most popular YouTubers have pop-star status amongst their fans. They are often known by their user names - PewDiePie, for example.

These, of course, are the lottery winners of the vlogging world. For most the appeal can be described in two words: free fun. 

What do YouTubers talk about?

Themselves, mainly. The appeal of the most popular YouTubers is that of an intimate friend who shares your interests and concerns. 

One popular topic is hauls (what I bought today) - here is an example.
Other staples include: 
  • How-to-make/do tutorials
  • Challenges (often involving food tasting - see above)
  • Pets
  • Pranks (elaborate practical jokes).

The best YouTubers are natural communicators with an instinctive sense of what interests and appeals to young people.

Are their rules? A code of conduct?

Not really. You are your own boss and only have to answer to your viewers. It is, however, advisable to consider the reaction of their parents if you want that advertising money to keep rolling in.

Who are the most popular YouTubers?

Zoe & Alfie (AKA Zalfie)
The King and Queen of vlogging are Zoe Suggs (Zoella - 8 million subscribers) and Alfie Deyes (Pointlessblog - 6 million). In July 2014 Zalfie (as they have become known) confirmed that they were a couple

Both component parts of Zalfie broadcast separately, though they largely share the same fan base. They sometimes come together for special posts like this one: 

The tone is generally friendly and upbeat, and there is a cast of friends and family who join in the fun. These include another popular YouTuber, Zoe's brother of Joe (ThatcherJoe). 

 A list of other popular YouTubers/vloggers can be found here.

But the videos are free. How do they make money?

Through advertising and endorsements mainly, though Alfie and Zoe have both had huge commercial success with spin-off books.

A good or bad influence on young people?

My view is that the best YouTubers are positive role models. They delight their young (largely female) without showing any of the mean-spiritedness that can characterise much of the online world.  

Having said that, if I had a pound for every time I've had to say 'please come off YouTube!' I could buy a house like Zalfie's .....

Friday, 17 April 2015

Where do emoticons come from?

The emoticon :)—a colon followed by a parenthesis—is a visual representation of a smiley face turned sideways. Although an emoticon may look like a smile, a frown or any number of facial expressions, it doesn’t represent a face, as many internet users assume. It’s actually intended to convey a feeling (“I’m happy,” or “just joking”).
This meaning is evident even in the first emoticon, credited to Scott Fahlman at Carnegie Mellon University. In a 1982 e-mail, Fahlman suggested :-) as a “joke marker” to indicate wisecracks or sarcasm in text communication. In this legendary e-mail, he also used the first instance of the frown emoticon :-(.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Where does the word baseball come from?

Surprisingly the word baseball originates from the country that famously doesn't play the game. 

The earliest reference to baseball comes in a diary entry of an Englishman. Surrey solicitor, William Bray, refers to playing 'base-ball' with his friends. 

But as Scyld Berry points out  the bigger claim that America's summer sport descends from the English game rounders does not 'get to first base'.

Another common misapprehension is that  cricket was always unpopular in the USA. According to this view, Americans could never warm to a game played over five days and often ending in a draw. But cricket 'was stronger in America than in Australia until the 1860s – stronger than anywhere else outside England'

More on the relationship between the rival summer games of 'two countries divided by a single language' here.

What is 'inside baseball'?
What is a curved ball?

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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Why do we say 'Good' Friday?

No clear answer to this question. Good Friday is the day of greatest sorrow for Christians but 'Good' here is meant in the archaic sense of 'holy'.

Good Friday, called Feria VI in Parasceve in the Roman Missalhe hagia kai megale paraskeue (the Holy and Great Friday) in theGreek LiturgyHoly Friday in Romance Languages, Charfreitag (Sorrowful Friday) in German, is the English designation of Friday in Holy Week   source

What is being marked by the word Good is the uniqueness of the event - rather any kind of celebration.

Kindle Bible - The Holy Bible Formatted for the Amazon Kindle
Authorized King James Version Holy Bible for Kindle (Kindle MasterLink Technology):

Friday, 27 March 2015

What is Passover? Where does the word come from?

The Seder is the special meal that celebrates Passover


[pas-oh-ver, pahs-] 
Also called PesachPesah. a Jewish festival that commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and is marked chiefly by the Seder ritual and the eating of matzoth. It begins on the 14th day of Nisan and is celebrated for eight days by Orthodox and Conservative Jews outside of Israel and for seven days by Reform Jews and Jews in Israel.
(lowercasepaschal lamb (def. 1).
1520–30; noun use of verb phrase pass over, as translation of Hebrew pesaḥ 
The Passover story is told in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 12 in the Torah
See here for a short summary of Passover traditions.

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Where does the word Easter come from?

There is no reference to the word Easter in the New Testament. Nor does it feature in most translations of the Bible into vernacular languages. Most use a derivation of the Jewish feast of Passover  - rooting the key events in their historical and religious context . 

In other languages there is often more linguistic emphasis on the idea of Holy Week (e.g. Semana Santa in Spanish).

So why Easter in English? Scholars agree that the origin is pre-Christian and pagan rather than strictly Biblical. Beyond that there is little consensus.
The most popular theory is reflected in the entry for Easter in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary:

Old English ēastre, after a Germanic goddess Eostre; related to Old High German ōstarūn Easter, Old Norse austr to the east, Old Slavonic ustru like summer.
According to this explanation, the Old English word eastre came Eostre, "a goddess associated with spring."
Further elaboration is found in a work written in AD 725 by Saint Bede, an English monk and historian. According to Bede, April was called Eosturmonath ("Easter-month") because in pagan times the month was dedicated to Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. 
Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts
When Christian beliefs spread throughout England, says Bede, Easter-month lent its name to the new April festival.
Another theory is that Eostre was simply the Anglo-Saxon word for spring festivals. Linguists trace this word to roots thousands of years old meaning "shine" and "dawn." Spring is a season of lengthening days and increased light. It would make sense for early peoples to give their spring festivals a name that celebrated the rising sun. Source

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Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Which language has the most words?

Difficult to calculate if you include non-alphabetic languages - but amongst the European contenders we can compare dictionaries.

The OED is  by far the largest dictionary. It has 23 volumes and defines 615,100 words.

❏ A similar German dictionary offers around 180,000 words. 
❏ A Russian language dictionary has around 160,000 words 
❏ A French edition has less than 150,000 words. 

This suggests English probably has the biggest vocabulary of all the European languages. However there is another problems in making this comparison ….

What is a word?

One issue is how what we define as a word. For example, the OED
distinguishes 430 senses for the verb set. Is each form of set a separate word? Linguists make the distinction between words and lexemes. The lexeme ‘run’, for example, includes all its forms: run, running, ran etc.

And what about numbers? If you count to a million, do you have a
million words?

Are all the words in OED in use?

41,700 OED words are obsolete . This means that you are unlikely to use them.

240 are ghost words. A ghost word has never existed outside dictionaries.

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