Friday, 20 July 2012

endangered languages

Today I read about an interesting online site aimed at gathering information about endangered languages around the world. I had a look at it and noticed that the indigenous languages around my own state, Victoria in Australia, were marked as 'vitality unknown'. I suppose that doesn't mean they're necessarily in more danger than other languages. Maybe it simply means the information is not available.

I think this is a wonderful project. I hope the use of modern technologies can turn back the tide of language loss.

It was fun to listen to native speakers of different languages. So far I've listened to Cherokee and to what a presume is a Hawaiian language.

Of course, what is simply fun for me is vitally important for others. I wish the project well!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

nestlé's milk - how do we say this brand name?

Bright in Victoria is beautiful in the winter, if the sun shines and not a cloud appears in the sky, as was the case when I was there recently.

The Old-Fashioned Lolly Shop was one of the highlights as far as I was concerned. I felt as if I had revisited Britain, as I browsed the array of fudges. I love fudge!

Because I enjoy pictures of dogs, my eye was caught by this lovely reproduction post-card and I bought it. 

It's interesting to think they were advertising the richness of the milk in those days. Today we're always on the look-out for milk that tastes great but has reduced fat.

The shopkeeper - who looked great in old-fashioned costume -  agreed with me that he would probably say the brand-name Nestlé as nest-uhls, as was the usual way when we were young.

Looking around the Internet to see how other people say it, I came across this thread. It seems it's still a debatable question as to whether it's nest-uhls, or ness-lee, or even nesslay.

I'd agree with the following British take on it:
It was always ness-uhlz when I was young, and, to the very very slight extent that I'm called on to say the word today, that is how I say it now. It was most notably heard in the jingle "Ness-uhlz Milky Bar (The Milky Bars are on me!)". Never heard it in the "singular": Nessul. We tend to like our esses on the end of store names: Woolworths, Marks and Spencers, etc., and for some reason the same always went for "Nestles" and some brands. No one in Britain seemed to have noticed the é until relatively recently, but I do understand that we are now expected to pronounce it.
I'll have to research what people are saying around me. All I have to do is mention Nestlé's condensed milk, I reckon, and tell them I love eating it straight from the tin, and I'll get a conversation going. (My friend from Argentina boils it up in the tin before eating it. Yumm!)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

oh for the normalcy of a normal word!

I received an email today asking about the difference between the words normality and normalcy. (Thanks for the suggestion!)

I didn't know, so I had a look in the Oxford Dictionary and found they are acceptable forms based on the word normal.  Of course, I wanted to know more about it, because I would never use the word 'normalcy', and I found a discussion in which it was thought that 'normalcy' is an American usage and 'normality' an English usage.

On the other hand, the online Macquarie dictionary (Australian English) says:
normalcy:   noun     the character or state of being normal; normality: back to normalcy.

The Online Etymology Dictionary says:
normalcy (n.) Look up normalcy at
1857, from normal + -cy. Associated since c.1920 with U.S. president Warren G. Harding and derided as an example of his incompetent speaking style. Previously used mostly in a mathematical sense. The word prefered by purists for "a normal situation" is normality (1849).

Language Corner has more about the Warren Harding connection, saying the word was avoided in the past in the US but is now  acceptable.

After consideration, I think I'll stick to using the word 'normality'.