Tonal in the lead!

Know what the ten most commonly spoken languages in the world are? I would have guessed English, followed by Arabic. And I would have been wrong.

Here's the actual breakdown:

1. Mandarin
2. English
3. Hindustani
4. Spanish
5. Russian
6. Arabic
7. Bengali
8. Portuguese
9. Malay-Indonesian
10. French

Useful trivia provided by one of my favorite bloggers, Maggie Mason.

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Like Swiss Cheese

Which part of the brain is the one that stores all the memorized stuff like basic multiplication tables and the spelling of everyday words? Because I'm pretty sure mine is full of holes.

Yesterday, I had to really, really think about whether 7+5 equaled 12, or if I was totally crazy. I knew for a fact that 7+6 equaled 13, which made the moment that much more pathetic.

Then this morning, I was composing an email to a co-worker and forgot how to spell the word "integral". Instead, I kept typing the word "intregal" over and over. Which isn't even a word. And because Apple Mail kept flagging it as misspelled, I was convinced the program was malfunctioning. A quick Google search straightened me out, but now I'm not positive I haven't been saying "intregal" out loud to people who definitely know the difference between a real word and a made-up word.


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Reality, Shattered: The Sequel

Theme song "Transformers, robots in the skiiiiiiiies" is actually "Transformers, robots in disguiiiiiiiise".

There are no words.

Ok, yes there are. They are FLYING robots. They are in THE SKIES, aren't they? Any stupid robot can don a costume, but how many robots do you know that can take to flight? My 20-years-strong version is clearly better. I will not accept reality today.

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Reality, Shattered

I always thought it was "the whole kitten caboodle". Until like five years ago. Eventually I read it as "kit and caboodle" somewhere, and loudly accused the author of being an idiot until someone set me straight. And even then I didn't believe it. Do you know what finding out that there's no such thing as a kitten caboodle does to a person? I'll tell you what is does: it destroys them.

I'd be willing to bet that you remember Sara Lee's slogan as: "Nobody does it like Sara Lee", even though it's actually "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." Yeah, I know. I'd like to get into a physical altercation with the person responsible for that crap.

Oh, and just the other day I learned that it's "beck and call", not "beckoned call." Which actually didn't bug me at all. They both suck.

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Alphabetical Exceptions?

Usdropdown_3 I'm not sure which side of the fence I'm on when it comes to country drop-down menus. I admit that I feel a tinge of relief and am slightly less inconvenienced when the United States gets placed at the top of these menus, regardless of its rightful place in the alphabetical country list (the bottom).

And I get why drop-down menus are designed this way - the company providing the software or service is American, and/or the company thinks that the majority of its users will be American and wants to simplify the sign-up process for as many people as possible.

But when all the other countries (often with the exception of the United Kingdom) are in alphabetical order, doesn't it look a little arrogant to have the U.S. put first on the list anyway? You can''t really argue with alphabetical.

I wonder I'd be more bothered by this if I lived in, say, Uganda? Or better yet, Venezuela?

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The Grammar Police are Scratching Their Heads

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you're probably familiar with my deep appreciation of the English language. I love spelling eccentricities, obscure definitions, palindromes (although it's always bothered me that the word 'palindrome' is not one), crossword puzzles... things like that. I spend way too much time on this crap.

One phrase has always baffled me, though.

"I could care less."

We all know that when someone says "I could care less", they actually mean that they could NOT care less. It's not as if the rest of us are confused by that. But why aren't we? It's not said sarcastically, so as to obviously infer that the opposite is true (like when I see a picture of Paris Hilton on the internet and mumble that she "just seems so nice"). I can't imagine how English as a Second Language teachers deal with such a ridiculous phrase morph. "I know it seems crazy, class, but both 'I could care less' and 'I couldn't care less' should be taken to mean 'I could NOT care less'." Why aren't students revolting? Why have any rules at all if people are just going to talk backwards and opposite and in nonsensical code?

Can you think of any other ridiculous phrase morphs that should be brought to my attention?

Speaking of English as a second language, my Columbian friend Maria (who I met in India earlier this year) once asked me to explain 'I was' vs. 'I were'. As in: "If I was/were planning on swimming, I would have brought my bikini." Maria's English is quite good, but I knew that the term "subjunctive" would be lost on her, so I tried to explain it in layman's terms. It went a little something like this:

"Well, this is a tricky one. See, it's kind of like something that's true versus something that's not true. Like, if you were to say 'If I were a lion.' You're not a lion and you're never going to be a lion, so you say 'were.' It's just what you do. So it's like something that isn't true. But if you were late, you'd say 'I was late.' Because you were late, and you know it and everybody else knows it. You know?"

I think it's because of teachers like me that English grammar rules often go unobserved. A lion? Poor Maria.

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The English Language is Sneaky.

Ever wonder why some words are either spelled or sound exactly the same, but mean different things? I do. Who's responsible for this?

Ok, there's close and close.
to you, Close that door.

Or, read and read.
I read that book last weekend.
I'll read that book Friday.

Um, how bout deer and dear.
My dear, you look ravishing.
The deer are grazing.

She breaks bread at dawn.
My car's brakes squeal and it annoys me.

That thyme goes in my stir fry tonight.
It's time for me to get the hell outta here.

So I'll see you tomorrow.
I'll be heading out to sea when the moon's full again.

As she leaves, a man knocks into her and spills wine all over her dress.
Wanna run and play in the leaves with me? back so hurts right now.
Baby got back!

We might be late cause we gotta pick up the beer tap.
dancers amaze me.

You're so mean. Go jump off a cliff.
My dear, whatever do you mean by that?

I'd like a piece of that action.
, man.

That's quite a rite of passage.
Make a right here at the light. Oh damn, you missed it.

I could go on and's addictive! Have more?

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