Category Archives: Grammar

Amazing Poem by 18-year-old Nienke Woltmeijer for National Rememberance Day

Nienke WoltmeijerShe is only 18 years old, but she penned an amazing poem. Every year, the Dutch government organizes a poetry contest. Youngsters between 14 till 19 are invited to write a poem for National Remembrance Day which takes place on May 4.

There were 260 entries in total. The winner of the 2014 competition is Nienke Woltmeijer with her powerful poem about a tree. Chairman of the jury Anne Vegter explained: “The jury was especially impressed with the amazing image that the poem evokes. A tree that has witnessed it all. Nienke also impressed with her presentation.”

Woltmeijer will read her poem in public on the Damrak in Amsterdam on the 4th of May.

Following is Nienke Woltmeijer’s original poem in Dutch with my TipTopTranslator’s English  translation:


Woltmeijer: “The old trees at Westerbork or in the garden of the Anne Frank Museum are tangible reminders of the past. Each time I see those trees, I wonder what they have seen over time that we as the younger generation heard about, but never witnessed. That is what I want to communicate.”

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Throwing The Book At Bookworms – Texas Style

eckPoor Jory Enck! He borrowed a GED study guide in 2010. He got it at the Central Texas community of Copperas Cove located about 70 miles northwest of Austin.

In September 2013, a new law came into effect that defines the failure to return library books as thef, which is a felony. The new law makes sense; non-returning of library books drains recourses. In Texas alone, the libraries loose an estimated $18 million in “lost” books (around 1 million items). Since many communities have to deal with shrinking budgets and rising costs, they are looking for ways to have their library items returned in time.

The Texas procedure is as follows. Any library item that is not returned within 20 days carries a fine of $200. If this fine is not paid in time, a warrant will be issued by the municipal court for theft.

That’s what happened to Mr. Enck. The police went to his address due to a reported disturbance. Once they arrived, they arrested based on a previous warrant for theft of the study guide. He was promptly arrested for theft since he failed to return his overdue library book.

Mr. Enck was released on a $200 bond, and returned the book in question to library. He also turned to the media to state that he wouldn’t set foot in a library again: He also said: “I think I will probably just purchase a book from Amazon.”

Mr. Eck forgot to mention that he had not been able to return the guide earlier since he had to serve a three-year prison sentence for robbery.

Texas is not the only state cracking down on people like Mr. Enck. Iowa jails this kind of offenders for one week. A man from Newton (Iowa) served jail time of more than a week for not returning six CDs and eleven library books with a total worth of a whopping $770. Vermont and Maine are also cracking down people that don’t return their library items.

The Enck incident is for now an oddity. However, it could happen far more frequently in the (near) future, especially since after such an arrest, long overdue library items are suddenly returned.

So what do you think? Are libraries (and the government) correct to crack down on people like Jory Enck to preserve their assets?

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“Selfie” Has Been Named As New English Word Of 2013

imageAccording to Judy Pearsall, chief editor of the Oxford dictionaries, “selfie” was first used in 2002 in Australia. ‘Hopey’ posted a photo of himself on September 13, 2002 with the text:

Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

The term became popular throughout the English-speaking world during 2013. The use of the word “selfie” increased 17,000%. A search on photo sharing app Instagram retrieves over 23 million photos uploaded with the hashtag #selfie, and a whopping 51 million with the hashtag #me.

The Oxford dictionary defines “selfie” as: “photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

There are several kinds of selfies: Helfie (a picture of one’s hair), Belfie (a picture of one’s posterior), Welfie (a workout selfie), and Drelfie (a drunken selfie)

According to publisher Katherine Martin, the term “selfie” is a typical Australian word pun similar to “barbie” for barbecue, “firie” for firefighter and “tinnie” for a tin of beer.

Other words that made the shortlist:

  • Twerk – a raunchy dance move to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance
  • Showrooming – to check out merchandise in shops and then order online for a lower price
  • Binge-watching – watching a marathon of episodes of a TV
  • Schmeat – a form of meat synthetically produced from biological tissue
  • Bitcoin – a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank

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The American Psycho Typo

American Psycho” is an iconic movie released in 2000 about a Wall Street serial killer.  In one scene, three executives are comparing their business cards. What was overlooked by almost everyone was the typo in the word “acquisitions”. In all three business cards, the word is missing the c.

Just watch the clip:

It’s one of those mistakes that viewers wonder how they could have missed it. Well, despite the best efforts of writers, proofreaders and editors, those little Gremlins slip through.

In this case, the oversight is minor. In case of Empire Magazine, that was a different story. The film magazine published an interview with Michael Fassbender, the popular German-Irish actor. During layout, an embarrassing mistake popped up. The F disappeared from view, resulting in misspelling Michael’s family name as “Assbender”.

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The Vatican’s Painful Typo – How Jesus became Lesus

typoThe Vatican wanted to commemorate Pope Francis’ first year of reign with a medal.

The Italian State Mint created and minted a few thousand medals in gold, silver and bronze for purchase.

The medals feature the Pontiff’s coat of arms and motto and went on sale on October8, 2013. Soon after, it was noticed that “Jesus” was misspelled as “Lesus” in Pope Francis’ motto.

His official motto is Vidit ergo Jesus publicanum, et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi, “Sequere me” [Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, “follow me”]

Once the typo was detected, Vatican officials quickly recalled thousands of medals slated for sale. However, four of the “flawed” medals were already snapped up by collectors before the embarrassing mistake was detected, which makes their value soar.

According to Francesco Santarossa, a coin and stamp shop owner close to St. Peter’s Square, no such a mistake has ever happened before in the 600-year-long history of papal medals.

In the current social media age, puns like “Lesus” Christ. “I blame the Lesuits” quickly made the rounds on Twitter.

Moral of the story: also the Vatican needs a good proofreader! Quod est demonstrandum!

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What They Say and What They Mean

universal-translator-comic-pictureWhat people say and what people mean is often worlds apart – especially in business meetings.  “Decoding” is therefore essential. I personally attended meetings where a potential buyer rated the product offered by the producer as “interesting”, basically saying that it was garbage. It took some delicate talks (and lots of coffee and cake) to convince the producer that (a) the potential buyer was not interested and (b) the product quite likely did not fit the local market.

As a marketing writer and translator, “decoding” is part of myjob.

To give you some tips:

What is said What is meant
Uh, huh I am not really listening to you
Interesting What a piece of garbage
I really don’t mind I DO mind!
OK Whatever
I assume that you can deliver in time? I have my doubts that you will deliver in time!
I hear what you say Are you serious?!
I say You are wasting my time
I must say This is your final warning
Not bad at all Are you serious? Stop wasting my time!
Please understand Let me explain it to you one more time
With the greatest respect I think you are a nincompoop
Not bad at all Please spend the next decade improving it
Quite good Nice effort, I bet our people can do better!
I would suggest… Go back to the drawing board, pronto!
Ah well, Let’s finish this meeting, you bore me
We’ll bear in mind We will forget all about you and your product  once you left or office
I would suggest You don’t know what you are talking about, I know better
That’s quite good Interesting concept for us to develop ourselves
We’ll let you know We will send you a thank-you note at a later time
I love your country Never visited it, but will check Wikipedia for main points of interest
Have a nice trip back Get out of my country

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Blond or Blonde – That’s The Grammar Question

It sounds like a joke, but it’s actually a legitimate grammar question: How do you spell “blond“?fotolia_501453_XS

The first known use of “blond” in the English language dates back to 15th century. The word has its roots in Old French, where “blund” or “blont” referred to a color midway between golden and light chestnut.

It gradually replaced the native term “fair” which derived from the Old English fæġer.

Blond is also traced back to the Medieval Latin word “blundus” which was a vulgar pronunciation of Latin flavus meaning yellow.

In modern English, the word keeps two forms: blond for a fair-haired male, and blonde for a fair-haired female.

Blond is also the more common spelling for the adjective. Both “blond” and “blonde” are can refer to objects that have a color reminiscent of fair hair. Examples include pale wood and lager beer. Starbucks used the female form to describe one of their roasts.


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