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Showing posts from January, 2013

What is schmutter?

schmutter [ˈʃmʌtə] noun
(Clothing & Fashion) Slang cloth or clothing
[from Yiddish schmatte rag, from Polish szmata] Source

I have always envied Zoe three things: her figure, her taste and her eye for a good bit of schmutter
Jessica Hynes, Telegraph Magazine, January 26, 2013

And I have always had a soft-spot for Yiddish words in English - Schmutter (or Schmatter) sounds great, especially in the wonderful example given by Aldo ShattuckGalliano's career in schmatters ended in tatters

What is a metanarrative?

The definition of metanarrative is earnestly debated in faculty lounges and hipster coffee-bars. Here is one attempt:
a narrative about narratives of historical meaning, experience or knowledge, which offers a society legitimation through the anticipated completion of a (as yet unrealised) master idea.J. Childers/G. Hentzi eds., The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism (1995) p. 186 What does this mean in comprehensible English?  I can make no sense of 'narratives of historic meaning' but the meta here seems to be defined as 'wider' or 'overarching'.  So for a Marxist the story of the Russian Revolution forms part of the wider metanarrative of the (supposed) history of class struggle.

Terms like metanarrative have emerged from the influence of post-modernism on leading universities in the West. Matt Labash is one of many to question whether this influence has been entirely beneficial.

What is a meme?
What does meta mean? Meta language?

What does 'meta' mean? What is meta-language?

The prefix meta - as in metalanguage, metanarrative etc - is very difficult to pin down. In broad terms meta means 'about itself' - so metalanguage is the language of language. For example a language teacher might use metalanguage like lexicon or past perfect in a lesson plan.

This is reasonably comprehensible, though some might argue that a less fancy-pants alternative would be technical-terms or even jargon. It could also be argued that unlike other words with the meta prefix (see metatnarrative) metalanguage has at least the advantage of precision e.g. teachers should avoid using complex metalanguage in the classroom. And it can be useful for teaching identifying the concepts that underpin language learning.

What is a meme?
What is a metanarrative?
Mrs Langley's English Class Wiki

What are tweet seats?

Anyone attending an afternoon showing of a family film will observe that the big screen is not the only one glowing in the cinema. Now it appears that an increasing number of US theatres are running up the white flag to those desperate for their phone fix:

An American theatre is the latest to offer so-called 'Tweet seats' where audience members are encouraged to post comments about the performance on the social messaging site.The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has formalised a growing trend in theatre audiences to use their phones from within auditoria by giving obsessive tweeters a section of their own.Its management have roped off a special balcony-level section of the theatre 'that will not be disruptive to other patrons....
Read more:

What is the Tube?

The London Underground, the first urban rail transport system of its kind, opened 150 years ago today. It is known as the Tube because of the distinctive shape of the trains and tunnels.

Many local train networks have copied the basic model of the Underground, but none takes either of its names. So we have the Paris Metro, New York Subway and the Hong Kong MTR.

I took the original line (London Metropolitan) to my school every week day and then various lines to various jobs but still only know a fraction of the vast network. What I can say is that you should avoid the Northern Line (if you want to arrive on time) and the Central Line during the Sales. And my fave has always been the District - the beautiful green line which takes you out to Ealing or Richmond, depending where you branch off.

Happy Birthday, Tube!

150 facts from 150 years of Underground

What is sans serif?

In recent years the previously obscure field of typefaces has become increasingly fashionable. Seth Stevenson at Salon suggests that 'font fanatic' Steve Jobs was a crucial influence in the rise of the 'amateur typography expert'. 

To join this groovy world of graphic design you first need to identify the difference between serifs (those with 'little feet') and sans serif (those without).
sans-serif typefaces (with no little feet at the tops and bottoms of their letters) first appeared in the mid-1800s, they were labeled "grotesque" because they looked quite bizarre to unaccustomed eyes.Serif V Sans SerifTraditionally, sans serifs are used for headline rather than body text in print. The rationale is that the serifs help the eye to distinguish words. But increasingly this approach is challenged by some typographers - with the rules being deliberately subverted by the 'grunge typography' of David Carson, for example.

Many feel, however, that the r…