Thursday, April 13, 2006

English language nears the one million-word milestone

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Published: 13 April 2006
It will not be of much comfort to President George Bush and others who, on occasion, struggle to make themselves understood. But some time soon the English language, according to at least one reasonably authoritative source, will create its one-millionth word.
The Global Language Monitor (GLM), a San Diego-based linguistic consultancy, reckoned that on 21 March (the vernal equinox) this year, there were about 988,968 words in the language, "plus or minus a handful". At the current rate of progress, the one-million mark will be reached this summer.
And how does the GLM know? It started, it says, with a base vocabulary drawn from major dictionaries that contain the historic core of the language. Then it created its own algorithm, or formula, called the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), that measures the language as found in print, electronic media, and on television and radio. That establishes a rate of increase in the creation of new words, and the import and absorption of foreign words into English.
No one argues about the huge richness of the English language - fed by Germanic, Scandinavian and Latin streams, unrivalled in its readiness to borrow from every language, and mercifully free of tiresome bodies like the Academié Française to decide what counts and what does not.
The process is only reinforced by the universality of English. True, more people (more than a billion) may be native speakers of Mandarin Chinese than of English (an estimated 500 million or so, roughly the same as Hindi). French, incidentally, only limps into the top 10 with 130 million native speakers.
But if there is such a thing as a world language, it is English, spread first by the British Empire, then by the economic, cultural and military juggernaut of the US, and now by the internet. And, at every stop on the way, new words are coined, or scooped up from other languages.
But how many and how fast? The GLM claims that its projected figures are conservative - and in fact some estimates put the total of English words at two million or more. The devil lies in definition: what constitutes a new word? Does slang count? And what about archaisms and obsolete words? Another study, the Life and Times of the English Language, by Robert Claiborne and published in 1990, puts the number of words at no more than 600,000. The latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains more than 300,000 head words, and some 615,000 "word forms," that include the head words, plus combinations and derivatives. By contrast, Websters Third International Dictionary has 54,000 word families - base words, inflections and derivations.
But no one should feel intimidated. The average vocabulary of an educated native English speaker is about 24,000 to 30,000. Shakespeare used 24,000 words - 1,700 of which he is claimed to have invented.
Nonetheless, with an active vocabulary of just 3,000 or so, you can get along pretty well. And if you are stumped for a word, just make one up. It seems to have worked in the past for the most powerful man in the world, so it could work for you as well. The chances are, it will soon be swept up in the boundless net of the Global Language Monitor. You never know, it might even be the coveted number 1,000,000.
Comparing languages
* Up to 20 per cent of the words used by Global Language Monitor come from hybrids such as Chinglish and Japlish. Words from Chinglish include the business terms "drinktea", meaning closed, and "torunbusiness", meaning open. Bushisms such as "uninalienable" and 'misunderestimate' are included.
* English is evolving faster than other languages. This year's additions to the Oxford English Dictionary include "podcast" and "offshoring".
* Spanish linguists say there are 225,000 words in contemporary use.
* The largest edition of the Duden German-German dictionary contains about 200,000 words
* The Russian language has just reached the 125,000 mark.
* French has 100,000 words, one-sixth of the figure used in the UK.But the Academié Française, the body that defines the language, recognises 25,525.
Kate Thomas
It will not be of much comfort to President George Bush and others who, on occasion, struggle to make themselves understood. But some time soon the English language, according to at least one reasonably authoritative source, will create its one-millionth word.
The Global Language Monitor (GLM), a San Diego-based linguistic consultancy, reckoned that on 21 March (the vernal equinox) this year, there were about 988,968 words in the language, "plus or minus a handful". At the current rate of progress, the one-million mark will be reached this summer.
And how does the GLM know? It started, it says, with a base vocabulary drawn from major dictionaries that contain the historic core of the language. Then it created its own algorithm, or formula, called the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), that measures the language as found in print, electronic media, and on television and radio. That establishes a rate of increase in the creation of new words, and the import and absorption of foreign words into English.
No one argues about the huge richness of the English language - fed by Germanic, Scandinavian and Latin streams, unrivalled in its readiness to borrow from every language, and mercifully free of tiresome bodies like the Academié Française to decide what counts and what does not.
The process is only reinforced by the universality of English. True, more people (more than a billion) may be native speakers of Mandarin Chinese than of English (an estimated 500 million or so, roughly the same as Hindi). French, incidentally, only limps into the top 10 with 130 million native speakers.
But if there is such a thing as a world language, it is English, spread first by the British Empire, then by the economic, cultural and military juggernaut of the US, and now by the internet. And, at every stop on the way, new words are coined, or scooped up from other languages.
But how many and how fast? The GLM claims that its projected figures are conservative - and in fact some estimates put the total of English words at two million or more. The devil lies in definition: what constitutes a new word? Does slang count? And what about archaisms and obsolete words? Another study, the Life and Times of the English Language, by Robert Claiborne and published in 1990, puts the number of words at no more than 600,000. The latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains more than 300,000 head words, and some 615,000 "word forms," that include the head words, plus combinations and derivatives. By contrast, Websters Third International Dictionary has 54,000 word families - base words, inflections and derivations.
But no one should feel intimidated. The average vocabulary of an educated native English speaker is about 24,000 to 30,000. Shakespeare used 24,000 words - 1,700 of which he is claimed to have invented.
Nonetheless, with an active vocabulary of just 3,000 or so, you can get along pretty well. And if you are stumped for a word, just make one up. It seems to have worked in the past for the most powerful man in the world, so it could work for you as well. The chances are, it will soon be swept up in the boundless net of the Global Language Monitor. You never know, it might even be the coveted number 1,000,000.
Comparing languages
* Up to 20 per cent of the words used by Global Language Monitor come from hybrids such as Chinglish and Japlish. Words from Chinglish include the business terms "drinktea", meaning closed, and "torunbusiness", meaning open. Bushisms such as "uninalienable" and 'misunderestimate' are included.
* English is evolving faster than other languages. This year's additions to the Oxford English Dictionary include "podcast" and "offshoring".
* Spanish linguists say there are 225,000 words in contemporary use.
* The largest edition of the Duden German-German dictionary contains about 200,000 words
* The Russian language has just reached the 125,000 mark.
* French has 100,000 words, one-sixth of the figure used in the UK.But the Academié Française, the body that defines the language, recognises 25,525.
Kate Thomas

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

http://www.classicalnotes.net/classics/trout.html

The Death and the Maiden Quartet, written in 1824 by Franz Schubert, just after the composer became aware of his ruined health, and D. 810 in Otto Erich Deutsch's thematic catalog of Schubert's works, is a string quartet in four movements:
Allegro, in D minor and common time
Andante con moto, in G minor and divided common (2:2) time
Scherzo: Allegro molto, in D minor and 3:4 time
Presto, in D minor in 6:8
The opening movement is, along with that of the preceding and next quartet and that of his string quintet, among the most extended and substantial in his chamber music output, if not in his output as a whole. It is a sonata form movement whose exposition encompasses three main key regions, D minor, F major and A minor.
The second movement is a theme — taken from his macabre song Der Tod und Das Mädchen (D 531 in Deutsch's catalog) — and five variations, with coda.
The third movement's main theme can also be heard in one of a set of piano dances; its lyrical D major trio varies its 'repeats'.
The relentless finale-tarantella is a sonata-rondo in form — a rondo whose first episode returns as the last, and whose central section contains elements of development. Its coda promises major-mode triumph, and snatches it away.
This is one of the quartet works, along with Beethoven's quartetto serioso that Mahler arranged for use by a string orchestra, mostly by doubling some of the cello parts with double basses.
[edit]

Appearances in Film and Television
Besides the 1994 film Death and the Maiden directed by Roman Polanski, Schubert's quartet has been used in the score of at least the following:
The 1983 French film Le Bâtard
The 1996 Russian film President i yego zhenshchina
The 1996 Jane Campion film Portrait of a Lady
The BBC TV production of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking
Der Tod und das Mädchen

[Das Mädchen:]
Vorüber! Ach, vorüber!
geh, wilder Knochenmann!
Ich bin noch jung, geh,
Lieber!und rühre mich nicht an.

[Der Tod:]
Gib deine Hand, du schön und zart Gebild!
Bin Freund und komme nicht zu strafen.
Sei gutes Muts! ich bin nicht wild,
sollst sanft in meinen Armen schlafen!

-- Matthias Claudius (1740-1815)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Life expectancy of women exceeds men's for first time


By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
Published: 07 April 2006


For the first time in history, women now outlive men all around the globe. The milestone is as significant as the eradication of smallpox 30 years ago but is unlikely to be celebrated with the same fanfare, researchers say.
In the West, women have been outliving men for more than a century. Deaths from cancer, heart disease, suicide, accidents and Aids are all higher among men. In England and Wales life expectancy for men last exceeded that for women in 1841.
But in the developing world, women have been held back by the high risk of bearing children.
The biggest killer of women of childbearing age in the developing world is childbirth.
Professor Danny Dorling, of the University of Sheffield, and colleagues writing in the British Medical Journal, say: "We will never know with certainty the exact year in which women everywhere can expect to live on average longer than men, but this year - 2006 - is as likely as any." The authors describe it as "a remarkable achievement".
Professor Dorling said: "The reason for the increase in female life expectancy has got to be improvements in care during pregnancy and the presence of a midwife or other skilled attendant at birth.
"There is still a long way to go but things have improved enough to put women ahead everywhere."
The explanation for the female advantage in life expectancy has taxed health experts for years. Sir Donald Acheson, the former chief medical officer, argued that it was due to hormones. Testosterone-fuelled young men died in accidents and violence while their less driven female peers lived quieter and safer lives, he said. Later in life, men died of heart disease from which women were protected by the female hormone, oestrogen.
But Professor Dorling warns in the BMJ that the gender gap is narrowing as women have become more emancipated and adopted lifestyles more like men. In England and Wales, the gap was widest in 1969 - with women living 6.3 years longer on average.
Smoking is the main reason why it is now narrowing again, which was taken up by women later than men. Deaths from smoking in men peaked in the late 1960s, reflecting smoking habits 20 or 30 years earlier, but were still rising in women until the late 1980s.
The authors warn this year's milestone may not be a permanent achievement. "The largest remaining untapped market for cigarettes is made up of women in poorer countries," they note.
Women versus men: the statistics
* In developed countries, average life expectancy is 79 years for women and 72 years for men.
* Among centenarians worldwide, women outnumber males nine to one.
* Zimbabwe is one of the few countries where men outlive women. The average life expectancy for men is 40 whereas for women it is only 38.
* The mortality gap is widest in Russia where females outlive men by an average of 13 years.
* Men are more likely to smoke and drink than women.
* Oestrogen in women combats heart disease by helping to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol.
* Men are four times more likely to die during the "testosterone storm" between the ages of 16-24. This is often as a result of reckless and/or violent behaviour, such as dangerous driving or fighting.
* About 125 men are conceived for every 100 women but problems that develop in the womb - cerebral palsy, premature birth, stillbirth, deformities - are more likely to afflict males.
* Women have stronger immune systems than men, which scientists think may be designed to combat the rigours of childbirth.
* Men are twice as likely as women to opt for unhealthy snacks during work, such as crisps.
* Of the 72 major causes of death, only five affect more women than men. These include breast cancer and pregnancy.
Tom Harper
For the first time in history, women now outlive men all around the globe. The milestone is as significant as the eradication of smallpox 30 years ago but is unlikely to be celebrated with the same fanfare, researchers say.
In the West, women have been outliving men for more than a century. Deaths from cancer, heart disease, suicide, accidents and Aids are all higher among men. In England and Wales life expectancy for men last exceeded that for women in 1841.
But in the developing world, women have been held back by the high risk of bearing children.
The biggest killer of women of childbearing age in the developing world is childbirth.
Professor Danny Dorling, of the University of Sheffield, and colleagues writing in the British Medical Journal, say: "We will never know with certainty the exact year in which women everywhere can expect to live on average longer than men, but this year - 2006 - is as likely as any." The authors describe it as "a remarkable achievement".
Professor Dorling said: "The reason for the increase in female life expectancy has got to be improvements in care during pregnancy and the presence of a midwife or other skilled attendant at birth.
"There is still a long way to go but things have improved enough to put women ahead everywhere."
The explanation for the female advantage in life expectancy has taxed health experts for years. Sir Donald Acheson, the former chief medical officer, argued that it was due to hormones. Testosterone-fuelled young men died in accidents and violence while their less driven female peers lived quieter and safer lives, he said. Later in life, men died of heart disease from which women were protected by the female hormone, oestrogen.
But Professor Dorling warns in the BMJ that the gender gap is narrowing as women have become more emancipated and adopted lifestyles more like men. In England and Wales, the gap was widest in 1969 - with women living 6.3 years longer on average.
Smoking is the main reason why it is now narrowing again, which was taken up by women later than men. Deaths from smoking in men peaked in the late 1960s, reflecting smoking habits 20 or 30 years earlier, but were still rising in women until the late 1980s.
The authors warn this year's milestone may not be a permanent achievement. "The largest remaining untapped market for cigarettes is made up of women in poorer countries," they note.
Women versus men: the statistics
* In developed countries, average life expectancy is 79 years for women and 72 years for men.
* Among centenarians worldwide, women outnumber males nine to one.
* Zimbabwe is one of the few countries where men outlive women. The average life expectancy for men is 40 whereas for women it is only 38.
* The mortality gap is widest in Russia where females outlive men by an average of 13 years.
* Men are more likely to smoke and drink than women.
* Oestrogen in women combats heart disease by helping to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol.
* Men are four times more likely to die during the "testosterone storm" between the ages of 16-24. This is often as a result of reckless and/or violent behaviour, such as dangerous driving or fighting.
* About 125 men are conceived for every 100 women but problems that develop in the womb - cerebral palsy, premature birth, stillbirth, deformities - are more likely to afflict males.
* Women have stronger immune systems than men, which scientists think may be designed to combat the rigours of childbirth.
* Men are twice as likely as women to opt for unhealthy snacks during work, such as crisps.
* Of the 72 major causes of death, only five affect more women than men. These include breast cancer and pregnancy.
Tom Harper

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Scientists find 'missing link' to land vertebrates


By Steve Connor
Published: 06 April 2006

An amphibious creature that lived 375 million years ago has turned out to be a "missing link" in the chain of events that led to the emergence of the first fish-like animals to walk on land.
The animal bears all the hallmarks of a primitive land animal, with limb-like appendages, a crocodilian head and tooth-filled jaws, but it still retains scales, fins and gills.
Scientists have described the discovery as one of the most important in the description of the evolutionary origins of all land-dwelling vertebrates. The "fish with fingers" lived in semi-tropical water and probably used its front limbs to prop itself up or to walk in rudimentary fashion on dry land for short periods.
Scientists found fossils of the creature, ranging in size from four to nine feet long, on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic, which 375 million years ago was part of a subtropical landmass that straddled the equator.
The researchers have called the species Tiktaalik roseae after an Inuit word for "large, shallow-water fish". Its description is published today in the journal Nature.
Neil Shubin, a professor of biology at the University of Chicago and one of the leaders of the research team, said: "Tiktaalik blurs the boundary between fish and land-living animals in terms of its anatomy and its way of life. This animal is both fish and tetrapod; we jokingly call it a 'fishapod'.
"Most of the major joints of the fin are functional in this fish. The shoulder, elbow and even parts of the wrist are already there and working in ways similar to the earliest land-living animals," Professor Shubin said.
An amphibious creature that lived 375 million years ago has turned out to be a "missing link" in the chain of events that led to the emergence of the first fish-like animals to walk on land.
The animal bears all the hallmarks of a primitive land animal, with limb-like appendages, a crocodilian head and tooth-filled jaws, but it still retains scales, fins and gills.
Scientists have described the discovery as one of the most important in the description of the evolutionary origins of all land-dwelling vertebrates. The "fish with fingers" lived in semi-tropical water and probably used its front limbs to prop itself up or to walk in rudimentary fashion on dry land for short periods.
Scientists found fossils of the creature, ranging in size from four to nine feet long, on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic, which 375 million years ago was part of a subtropical landmass that straddled the equator.
The researchers have called the species Tiktaalik roseae after an Inuit word for "large, shallow-water fish". Its description is published today in the journal Nature.
Neil Shubin, a professor of biology at the University of Chicago and one of the leaders of the research team, said: "Tiktaalik blurs the boundary between fish and land-living animals in terms of its anatomy and its way of life. This animal is both fish and tetrapod; we jokingly call it a 'fishapod'.
"Most of the major joints of the fin are functional in this fish. The shoulder, elbow and even parts of the wrist are already there and working in ways similar to the earliest land-living animals," Professor Shubin said.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tosca
Composer: Giacomo Puccini


ACT I.

Cesare Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, rushes into the church of Sant' Andrea della Valle to hide in the Attavanti chapel. As he vanishes, an old Sacristan shuffles in, praying at the sound of the Angelus. Mario Cavaradossi enters to work on his portrait of Mary Magdalene - inspired by the Marchesa Attavanti (Angelotti's sister), whom he has seen but does not know. Taking out a miniature of the singer Floria Tosca, he compares her raven beauty with that of the blonde Magdalene ("Recondita armonia"). The Sacristan grumbles disapproval and leaves. Angelotti ventures out and is recognized by his friend and fellow liberal Mario, who gives him food and hurries him back into the chapel as Tosca is heard calling outside. Forever suspicious, she jealously questions him, then prays, and reminds him of their rendezvous that evening at his villa ("Non la sospiri la nostra casetta?"). Suddenly recognizing the Marchesa Attavanti in the painting, she explodes with renewed suspicions, but he reassures her ("Qual' occhio al mondo"). When she has gone, Mario summons Angelotti from the chapel; a cannon signals that the police have discovered the escape, so the two flee to Mario's villa. Meanwhile, the Sacristan returns with choirboys who are to sing in a Te Deum that day. Their excitement is silenced by the entrance of Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police, in search of Angelotti. When Tosca comes back to her lover, Scarpia shows her a fan with the Attavanti crest, which he has just found. Thinking Mario faithless, Tosca tearfully vows vengeance and leaves as the church fills with worshipers. Scarpia, sending his men to follow her to Angelotti, schemes to get the diva in his power ("Va, Tosca!").


ACT II.

In the Farnese Palace, Scarpia anticipates the sadistic pleasure of bending Tosca to his will ("Ha più forte sapore"). The spy Spoletta arrives, not having found Angelotti; to placate the baron he brings in Mario, who is interrogated while Tosca is heard singing a cantata at a royal gala downstairs. She enters just as her lover is being taken to an adjoining room: his arrogant silence is to be broken under torture. Unnerved by Scarpia's questioning and the sound of Mario's screams, she reveals Angelotti's hiding place. Mario is carried in; realizing what has happened, he turns on Tosca, but the officer Sciarrone rushes in to announce that Napoleon has won the Battle of Marengo, a defeat for Scarpia's side. Mario shouts his defiance of tyranny ("Vittoria!") and is dragged to prison. Scarpia, resuming his supper, suggests that Tosca yield herself to him in exchange for her lover's life. Fighting off his embraces, she protests her fate to God, having dedicated her life to art and love ("Vissi d'arte"). Scarpia again insists, but Spoletta interrupts: faced with capture, Angelotti has killed himself. Tosca, forced to give in or lose her lover, agrees to Scarpia's proposition. The baron pretends to order a mock execution for the prisoner, after which he is to be freed; Spoletta leaves. No sooner has Scarpia written a safe-conduct for the lovers than Tosca snatches a knife from the table and kills him. Wrenching the document from his stiffening fingers and placing candles at his head and a crucifix on his chest, she slips from the room.


ACT III.

The voice of a shepherd boy is heard as church bells toll the dawn. Mario awaits execution at the Castel Sant'Angelo; he bribes the jailer to convey a farewell note to Tosca. Writing it, overcome with memories of love, he gives way to despair ("E lucevan le stelle"). Suddenly Tosca runs in, filled with the story of her recent adventures. Mario caresses the hands that committed murder for his sake ("O dolci mani"), and the two hail their future. As the firing squad appears, the diva coaches Mario on how to fake his death convincingly; the soldiers fire and depart. Tosca urges Mario to hurry, but when he fails to move, she discovers that Scarpia's treachery has transcended the grave: the bullets were real. When Spoletta rushes in to arrest Tosca for Scarpia's murder, she cries to Scarpia to meet her before God, then leaps to her death.


-- courtesy of Opera News

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Los Machucambos - Pepito


Pepito mi corazón (Pepiti, Pepito)
Pepito de mis amores (Pepiti, Pepito)
Canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Con amor

Pepito eres mi vida (Pepiti, Pepito)
Mi cariño, mi querido (Pepiti, Pepito)
Nunca comprendido (Ou-wa)
Nunca comprendido (Ou-wa)
Porque me intereso en ti

Quiere me (Quiere me)
Quiere me (Quiere me)
Besa me (Besa me)
Entre tus brazos

Pepito mi corazón (Pepiti, Pepito)
Dame mas de tu cariño (Pepiti, Pepito)
Canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Con amor

Pepito mi corazon (Pepiti, Pepito)
Pepito de mis amores (Pepiti, Pepito)
Canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Con amor

Pepito eres mi vida (Pepiti, Pepito)
Mi cariño, mi querido (Pepiti, Pepito)
Canta comprendido (Ou-wa)
Nunca comprendido (Ou-wa)
Porque me intereso en ti (Ou-wa)

Quiere me (Quiere me)
Quiere me (Quiere me)
Besa me (Besa me)
Entre tus brazos

Pepito mi corazón (Pepiti, Pepito)
Dame mas de tu cariño (Pepiti, Pepito)
Y canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Canta me asi (Ou-wa)
Con amor
As if I asked a common Alms

Emily Dickinson
323

As if I asked a common Alms,
And in my wondering hand
A Stranger pressed a Kingdom,
And I, bewildered, stand—
As if I asked the Orient
Had it for me a Morn—
And it should lift its purple Dikes,
And shatter me with Dawn!