Showing posts from 2018

Actually, it's not that simple

Actual and actually do not refer to time.

actual (ESP) ≠ actual (ENG) and actualmente ≠ actually

So be careful when translating sentences like the following:

La situación política actual genera preocupaciónThe actual political situation is giving cause for concern. ❌The present political situation is giving cause for concern.
La tasa de desempleo actual es la más alta de la Unión Europea.The actual rate of unemployment is the highest in the European Union. ❌The current rate of unemployment is the highest in the European Union. 
La juventud de hoy tiene más oportunidades que sus padres?Do actual young people have more opportunities than their parents? ❌Do young people today have more opportunites than their parents? 
El Parlamento reformará algunas de las leyes actuales.Parliament will reform some of the actual laws. ❌Parliament will reform some of the existing laws. 
España es la campeona actual del mundo.Spain are the actual world champions. ❌Spain are the reigning world champions. 

No hugging in the workplace

Why you shouldn't hug your colleagues
Whatever happened to the simple handshake at work? asks author Alison Green, and the creator of the workplace advice column Ask a Manager.

You're greeting a colleague who you haven't seen in a while - and suddenly, without warning, they're enthusiastically opening their arms and heading in for a hug.

Hugging used to be reserved for close family and friends, but it's been infiltrating professional contexts for a while now, leaving huggers delighted and the rest of usshrinking backin the hopes that we can avoid unwanted embraces.

Hugging hasn't become the norm in every industry, but there are entire fields where it's common in both greetings and goodbyes, especially as workplaces become increasingly informal.

That can be odd for those of us who aren't huggers, or who aren't huggers at work. And the fact that different people have different preferences around hugging - and that there aren't any clear-cut rules …

Madrid travel guide

Image Source: Wikipedia (Felipe Gabaldón)


What does it mean to you?
What's your favourite neighbourhood? Why?
What advice would you give to a visitor?
What changes have you seen?
How would you compare it to other cities that you know?

Have a look at some of these extracts from the *Wikitravel guide to MadridDo you agree with them? What advice would you add?

*Text in Wikitravel may be edited.

Madrid is the capital of Spain, as well as the capital of the autonomous community of the same name (Comunidad de Madrid). The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million with a metro area population of almost 6.5 million.  Madrid is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, a good example of which is the El Prado museum. Madrid also boasts some of the liveliest nightlife in the world.

Image source: Wikipedia


The culture of Madrid was dominated by its religious and royal history. Enormous, monolithic cathedrals and churches are plentiful in Madrid, as well as medieval a…

An interesting read?

Man reads entire Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is not everyone's idea ofa page turner.

But a man has just completed the mammoth, if not bizarre, task of reading the 22,000-page tome cover to cover.

Ammon Shea, 37, who has been dissecting dictionaries since the age of 10, spent a year absorbing 59 million words, from A to Zyxt - the equivalent of reading a John Grisham novel every day.

Cooped up in the basement of his local library, the removal man from New York would devote up to 10 hours a day painstakinglymaking his way through all 20 volumes of the OED - helped by cup after cup of very strong coffee.

Every time he came across an interesting word, he jotted it down, fearful that he would not remember its meaning.

Among his favourite discoveries were obmutescence (willfully quiet), hypergelast (a person who won't stop laughing), natiform (shaped like buttocks) and deipnosophist (a person who is learned in the art of dining.)

He admitted there were time…

Dress v wear v put on

What is the difference between these clothes related verbs?

Let's start with put on. This verb is always used with an object.
I put on my glasses to read the small print.You should put on a jumper. It's getting cold.I took off my black shoes and put the brown ones on. They're much more comfortable.Why aren't you wearing your seatbelt? Putiton before the police catches us. You can see from the last example that you have to put something onbefore you can say you are wearing it. (Does that make sense?)
It's the opposite of take off.
You could say that put on is to start wearing and take off is to finish wearing something.
Both put on and take off are separable phrasal verbs. This means that the object can go between the verb and preposition or come after the preposition. However, if you use a pronoun, it must be in the middle. She forgot to put her earrings on. She forgot to put on her earrings. She forgot to put them on. She forgot to put on them. ❌ I took my tie off…

Ban on clapping - what next?

Image source: Wikipedia (Alex E. Proimos) Student union bans clapping to make events 'inclusive' 
The University of Manchester's student union wants praise communicated using jazz hands instead - and cheering is also banned.
Clapping has been banned by a student union in a move to be more inclusive towards those with anxiety or sensory issues.

Jazz hands - British Sign Language (BSL) clapping - will replace clapping, cheering and whooping at the University of Manchester's student union events.

According to student newspaper Mancunion, the ban was agreed at the first union meeting of the year.

"It resolved to swap out audible clapping for BSL clapping at SU events, and to encourage student groups and societies to do the same, and to include BSL clapping as a part of inclusion training," the student paper reads.

The motion was authored by liberation and access officer Sara Khan, and received little opposition.

Ms Khan has made the news previously in July when he…


Image source: Wikipedia (Florian Plag)
There are words which suddenly come into fashion and some of these expressions are, in my opinion, unwelcome. Many of them are Americanisms.

The British don't love food in the same way as, say, the French or Italians, although we do eat out more than before.

We would never expect the waiter or anyone sat at the table to say the equivalent of "buen provecho".

You might, just might, have heard the odd "Bon appétit" or "Enjoy your meal".

Over the last few years, "Enjoy!" will accompany everything that is brought to your table.

The other day while out for a meal, I lost count of the number of times I heard it.

I was given a beer. - Enjoy!
My mum was served a wine. - Enjoy!
The starters - Enjoy!
The main courses - Enjoy!
The desserts - Enjoy!

And all around us - Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!!!!!

Had I had one too many, I might have shouted out "Stop saying f*%!ing enjoy".

I often hear my students use "en…

Argue v discuss

Image source: Wikipedia (Chiltepinster)

Many Spanish students use "discuss" when they should actually say "argue".

If people argue, it suggests they disagree about something and they feel angry about it.

What are they arguingabout? (They have raised their voices or are shouting at each other and perhaps look angry)Don't arguewith him. It's not worth it. If people discuss something, they talk seriously about the subject. I am worried. The boss wants to meet me to discuss my future.Can we discuss this later? I'm busy at the moment.The plan was discussedin great detail they agreed on it.

Similarly, an argument often involves feelings of anger whereas a discussion is simply a conversation.  He had a huge argument with his girlfriend again. I reckon they'll split up.I don't want to get into an argument with you. I have enough on my plate.I had a very frank discussionwith herabout her results.The government is tohold further discussions with the unions i…

Stag and hen parties not welcome in Andalusia

Why the Spanish region of Andalusia is calling time onbachelor weekends 
High-speed train links, cheap apartment rentals and online entertainment packages have made these destinations irresistible to revelers, but locals are less thanamused
Andalusia’s principal cities have become magnets for bachelor and bachelorette parties in recent years. Each weekend, high-spirited groups wearing outrageous outfits are frequently seen staggering drunkenly around the streets of Granada, Málaga, Córdoba and Seville.

But while high-speed train links, unregulated apartment rentals and online entertainment packages have made these destinations irresistible to revelers, the locals are less than amused and the authorities are now taking measures tocurb the practice.

The mayor of Málaga, Francisco de la Torre, has announced a greater police presence on the streets in order tocrack down on the antics of these unwelcome tourists. In Granada, the deputy government spokeswoman, Ana Muñoz, called a multi-par…

Italy toughens up on tourists' bad behaviour

Florence tourists face fines of up to €500 if they are caught snacking on the pavement Florence has fired afreshsalvo in its perpetual battle against the effects of mass tourism by banning visitors from eating panini, pizza and focaccia on the pavement and on shop doorsteps.

Tourists who find themselves on the wrong side of the law, which comes into effect today, face fines of between €150-€500 (£135-£450).

The ban applies to streets and piazzas around a particularly popular delicatessen in the city centre - All’ Antico Vinaio, the Old Wine Merchant – which is situated between the Uffizi Galleries and Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s medieval town hall.

Described by one food and travel magazine as “home of the world’s best sandwiches”, it has enjoyed a surge in popularity after being favourably reviewed on TripAdvisor, where it is related “excellent” by 79 per cent of contributors.

Like many Italian cities, Florence suffers from a dearth of public benches, so tourists often resort tosqua…

Peeved Parisians

The very public 'pissoirs' that are even too much for Paris: Environmentally friendly urinals ‘incite exhibitionism’, say locals 
Public eco-friendly urinals on Paris streets are causing uproar among residents The 'urinoirs' disguised as flower-boxes are cropping up in chic neighbourhoods A tourist hot spot in Île Saint-Louis by the Seine has become a hotbed for protests Public street-facing urinals are causing a stir along pavements across Paris, with urinals disguised as flower-boxes and cropping up in some of the city's more glamorous quarters.

One eco-friendly 'urinoir' deemed to be particularly offensive is painted in letterbox red and topped with a flower-box in the chic neighbourhood of Île Saint-Louis, just a stones throw from Notre Dame.

Local shopkeepers and residents in the tourist hot spot are protesting for the 'immodest and ugly' urinal's removal and fear the city 'is making itself ridiculous'.

'There's no need to …

More scandal for Spanish royals

Former king of Spain Juan Carlos I accused of using 'lover' to secure low-tax property deals
The former king of Spain, Juan Carlos I, used his alleged lover Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein to buy multiple overseas properties due to her tax residence in Monaco, according to claims made by the German aristocrat in a leaked audio recording.

In a 2015 conversation with a former Spanish police officer in London, Princess Corinna alleged that the king’s lawyers put her name on overseas properties without her permission, complaining that she was being drawn intomoney laundering”.

The 53-year-old princess, who obtained her title from her second marriage, also claimed that Juan Carlos I held bank accounts in Switzerland in the name of his cousin, Álvaro Orleans de Borbón.

The allegations in the recording, published by the Spanish newspapers El Español and OK Diario, are the latest controversies to spring from the long-reputed relationship between the Monaco-based princess and J…

"Spiderman" saves boy from fall

Paris balcony boy family thank Mali 'Spiderman' Mamoudou Gassama
The family of a small boy dramatically rescued afterdangling from a balcony in Paris, France have expressed their thanks to the Malian man who saved him.

"He's truly a hero," the boy's grandmother said of migrant Mamoudou Gassama, who scaled four floors to pluck the child from danger.

The four-year-old's father, who had left him in their flat and gone shopping, faces charges of failing to look after his child, reports say.

Mr Gassama will be givencitizenship.

French President Emmanuel Macron personally thanked him, gave him a medal for courage and said he would also be offered a role in the fire service.

More details have begun to emerge of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Why was the boy on the balcony?

The boy left Réunion, where his mother and grandmother live, about three weeks ago and moved to Paris to join his father, who works in the city. His mother and the couple's se…

£10,000 for every 25-year-old

Give millennials £10,000 each to tackle generation gap, says thinktank
Resolution Foundation proposes ‘citizen’s inheritance’ to help redistribute wealth to young
Every person in Britain should receive £10,000 when they turn 25 to help fix the “broken” intergenerational contract between millennials and baby boomers, an influential thinktank has proposed following a two-year study.

The payment, described as a “citizen’s inheritance”, is intended to redistribute wealth at a time when young people need it most to find housing, return to education or start a business.

It is also intended to reduce resentment towards baby boomers (born 1946-65) who have typically done better out of the housing market and pensions than any subsequent generation.

The idea has emerged from the Resolution Foundation’s intergenerational commission, which has been working on the issue for two years and has now published its final report.

The panel was chaired by David Willetts, the former Conservative universit…