Tag Archives: Language

Dating Ads on Gumtree

I love text: the written word. People who read this blog will know that sometimes I rant about the use of language (grammar/spelling etc.) and I have also talked about the erotic quality that language can have for me.

I’m interested in textual expressions of ‘self’ – how the way people write gives away clues as to their personality and character, giving a fair idea of the type of person they are (in the same way maybe that some people interpret ‘body language’ or the way people dress). It is in this context that I occasionally read dating ads on Gumtree (no, I’m not looking for a relationship 😛 ). The great thing about the dating ads on Gumtree as opposed to, for instance, those where you have to fill in a pre-existing form and tick your interests etc. is that there is nowhere for you to hide.

Serious dating sites, where much of the ‘matching’ is done via comparing interests ticked by each of the persons, does not give you much info at all about who someone is. Eejits can hide behind any profile, and the profiles themselves all look very similar (and often, very interesting if you go by what they ticked!). Not so with Gumtree. On Gumtree, each word used is significant with meaning – for me at least: From the selection of heading, to the body of the text, including spelling, grammar, spacing/paragraphs, and picture, it conjures a much clearer image of the ad’s writer – much more so than any extensive regular profile could.

It works both ways though – helping to weed out the 99.9% of eejits straight away, but similarly, someone could write just 3 sentences and a good heading, and you would know the person already. And want to know them more. Such is the power of language 🙂

dict.cc needs English Speakers to Pronounce Stuff

dict.cc, which I’ve used just this week when checking some translations, emailed me today to ask for my help pronouncing English words. I’ve blogged about them previously – really like their idea of a dictionary-wiki, where users contribute vocabulary and translations. The audio is currently in beta, and the email I got read:

The reason I’m contacting you is that I recently finished a voice
recording feature for dict.cc to overwrite the existing computer generated
voice files. This should eliminate some of the problems the computer voice
creates and make dict.cc feel a bit more personal.

My current problem is that there are lots of German native speakers trying
to record English words, leading to recordings of questionable quality.
Unfortunately there aren’t too many English native speakers around.

That’s why I’d ask you to help me get this going. If you have a microphone
or headset at hand, or maybe your computer features a built-in microphone,
I would be very grateful if you could go to
http://www1.dict.cc/contribute/?action=audio-rec and record a few entries.

Hehe. While I don’t have a decent microphone yet (I tried just now recording an entry), I’ve started rating others’ contributions. They need 10 ‘diggs’ to be verified, and 10 deletes to be deleted (I think – though it should probably take less than 10 tbh).

The only problem with the rating system (yes, I know it’s still Beta 😛 ) is that it doesn’t tell you whether you’ve already voted or not. I.e. on digg etc., you won’t be able to vote more than once. Also, it would be great if the number of diggs could actually be displayed, rather than having to hover over an entry to see the ‘voting history’.

It’s great fun though – similar to FreeRice, this too is an interaction that’s actually productive, stimulating and fun. Much better than the navel-gazing of Facebook et al. Might even give dict.cc a banner on here 😛

edit: he probably doesn’t realise that I’m not a native English speaker. I’ll still try once I’ve got a decent mic; after all, German speakers always think I’m native. The other thing to note is that they don’t seem to differentiate between BE and AE. It would be great if, while recording, you could select between BE and AE. Though that probably makes things even more complicated! Also he’s based in Vienna – anaj might be interested.

Falling Back into Scottish English

Over the last few days, I’ve been going back to using some variants of Scottish English. It’s not a lot, but it happens subconsciously due to being exposed to Scottish English instead of its standard English variants.

A few examples:

– today, I phoned the council to enquire about a letter they had sent me regarding some arrears (turns out it was an automated letter etc. so basically I’m *not* in arrears). I asked them:

How am I in arrears?

Or something to that effect. In Scottish English, ‘How’ is used as a substitute for ‘Why’. A very common short phrase is: ‘How no?’ (= ‘Why not?’).

Another very common substitution is to use ‘stay’ instead of ‘live’. So, I said to my neighbour the other day:

I stay in London (= I live in London).

This one can be quite confusing for English speakers who don’t know that ‘stay’ = ‘live’. For instance, my friend had an email from her Columbian friend, saying:

‘I’m staying in Greenock’.

I had to explain to my English friend that it may mean that the person currently lives in Greenock, rather than ‘staying’, which in standard English could mean:

(a) I’m (currently) staying in Greenock (but will return to Glasgow next week)

(b) I’m staying (= remaining) in Greenock (for a while/for good).

but *not* ‘I live in Greenock’.

I do enjoy very much listening to it. Compare this to an Oirish guy who came to view my flat on Monday. I cannae stand the Oirish accent, especially the ROI one that is used e.g. in Dublin (though I do find a Belfast one quite sexy, at times).

Oirish really gives me the creeps, which is one reason I could never ever live there.

Scottish English, on the other hand, I find almost sexually arousing 😛

How Intellectuals Can Feed the Poor by Sitting on Their Arse and Feeling Intelligent

I came across this – FreeRice – it was on the WordPress featured blogs which I never usually look at.

Basically, it’s like Nintendo DS Brain Training, only that each time you select the right meaning from a multiple choice question, you apparently donate 20 grains of rice. C00l idea.

What I don’t understand that it says in the FAQs that the money is donated by advertisers whose ads are displayed underneath:

The rice is paid for by the advertisers whose names you see on the bottom of your vocabulary screen.

Only I can’t see any ads displayed under my questions. I wonder if they’ve been blocked by my Firefox..

Anyway, if it *is* true, then we should all spend some time each day playing the game, instead of updating our Facebook status and writing on walls 😐