Saturday, March 31, 2012

Be On Your Guard, It's April Fools' Day!

It's April Fools' Day once again. This year, April 1, the designated date for April Fools' or All Fools Day, falls on a Sunday. Coincidentally, it also falls on Palm Sunday, the traditional start of the Roman Catholic observance of Holy Week. But there is nothing holy about April Fools' Day.

Every April 1st, it is important to be on one's guard because certified jokesters, pranksters, hoaxers and punksters are surely cooking up devilish practical jokes that can cause some level of embarrassment to the victims of their childish gags. If you have family or friends who love to dish out practical jokes, make sure you are ready to take it or come up with your own before the day ends! 

History of April Fools' Day

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Be One With the Earth on Earth Hour 2012

Mark the date: Saturday, March 31, 2012. Mark the time: 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening (local time zone). The event? Earth Hour 2012! Join billions of people worldwide in supporting Mother Earth through Earth Hour 2012! Help heal the planet by switching off all non-essential lights. It's one way to visibly show your commitment to the planet Earth in slowing down the negative consequences of global warming and climate change.

The very first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Now, on its 6th year, Earth Hour has moved beyond the Australian continent and is an anticipated global event that is eagerly participated in by people who have committed themselves to protecting the planet. Each year, Earth Hour organizers and supporters encourage and urge people to be part of this worldwide initiative. It is a worthwhile campaign that everyone should be part of. After all, the global warming and climate change will affect each and every person's way of life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Über and Other German Loanwords

"Oprah is so über rich!"
"Those boots are über-hot!"
"My car is über fast, not to mention über sleek."
"What an über-difficult exam that was!"

Outside of Germany, the word "über" has been used more than enough times in the media and by teenagers, young adults and those wanting to be part of the hip and in crowd. What does the word über mean and where did it come from?

Über is a loanword from the German language. It is both a prefix and a word in its own right. The letter "u" has an umlaut (two dots above the letter) when spelled. As a loanword in English, über is most often used to emphasize something, to say that something is big, superior or over the top, among other things. It über denotes an increase in quantity or elevation. Über can also mean elite, superior, predominant, over, and something in excess. The actual meaning of the word über will always depend on the context in which the word is used.  It is a widely used loanword in pop culture that is sometimes spelled in English as "uber" or "ueber" and appended to a word either with or without a dash.

Über's entrance into the English language

Friday, March 16, 2012

Women on the Guinness World Records

March is National Women's History Month! Klieg lights are focused on what contributions women are responsible for both in the past and in today's society. In nations like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, events are lined up to give tribute to women who have done great things not only for womankind but for the whole world as well.

This is such an appropriate time to look into the Guinness World Records (known as the Guinness Book of World Records until 2001) and see what the records held by women are. Some of the women who are part of the short list below (there's a lot more in the Guinness website) excelled in their respective fields like science, entertainment, politics, sports, etc. Others are on the list simply because they are special women in their own right. So here's to the Women on the Guinness World Records!

First Female President
Guinness records list Sun Yat-sen's widow, Soong Ching Ling, as the first female to become head of state of any republic. Known worldwide as Madame Sun Yat-sen, she was Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and subsequently became acting co-Chairman of the PRC from 1968 to 1972. Before her death, she held the office once again in 1981 as Honorary President.

Monday, March 12, 2012

South Africa's 11 Official Languages

Though South Africa is far from Bolivia's record of having the most number of official languages (that's 30 official languages for Bolivia), South Africa is probably in the top five. The country has 11 official languages recognized by its Constitution. Why is this so? Most likely for the simple reason that South Africa is a very diverse country in terms of its people and culture.

South Africa sits at the southernmost tip of the African continent. It is bordered by the Indian and Atlantic oceans as well as by the countries Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. South Africa, which is formally referred to as the Republic of South Africa, is populated by multiple ethnicities with diverse languages and cultures. Almost 80% of the country is made up of black Africans. The country also has large European and Asian (mostly Indian) communities. Due to the long history of the country, there are communities of racially mixed ancestry that call South Africa their home. Of the 11 official languages, two have been traced back to European languages.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stronger Women towards a Peaceful Future: A Continuous Legacy of the International Women’s Day

2012 Theme: Connecting Girls,
Inspiring Futures
This is our moment! A time for us to celebrate, commit, and connect to create a future that can inspire a world that is harmoniously equal and at peace.

It’s 8th of March and it is again the time of year when women from all over the world unite as they celebrate International Women’s Day in different languages. IWD is a special and joyous occasion that commemorates all the amazing achievements and valuable contributions in political, economic, and social communities of women in the past, present, and the future.

Believe it or not, International Women’s Day began as a political feature by the Socialists back in 1909 from which it was quickly acknowledged in Eastern Europe and Russia. Even after it has lost its political purpose on these countries, this annual celebration still continued so that men could express and display their appreciation and love to their mothers, wives, and sisters making it quite similar to Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. As this occasion started to blend and become recognized by other powerful countries such as the United States, the political agenda behind this day became stronger especially when the United Nations stepped in and decided to support this special event along with its state members.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tarzan, Ape-Man and Linguist (100th Birthday on March 9)

Poster for Tarzan of the Apes
film, 1918

One hundred years ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel about a feral child who was raised by great apes somewhere in the African jungles was published in a magazine. The novel was called Tarzan of the Apes. It was about Tarzan's adventures in the jungle and his encounters with both humans and animals. In 1914, Burroughs' novel was finally published in book form. Today, there are hundreds of works based on Burroughs' character Tarzan in different media. Tarzan of the Apes has spawned several comic books, movies, television shows and even a stage play.

The heroic adventurer celebrates his 100th birthday this year. There hasn't been much interest in Tarzan lately because there are no new movies or television shows about Burroughs' ape-man. The last Tarzan movie that enjoyed worldwide release was an animated Disney movie back in 1999. One of the closest adaptations of Tarzan of the Apes was the 1984 film Greystoke The Legend of Tarzan Lord of the Apes. The best way to learn more about Tarzan is through Burroughs' novels. Here's a sneak peak into the fictional character Tarzan and the man who created him.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Born on February 29 – So You are a Leapean!

Top of front page of New Orleans "States" newspaper
for Sunday, 2 January 1916

Or maybe you are a Leaper. Both terms actually mean one and the same thing. A Leapean or Leaper is a person born on February 29, leap day. It is only during leap years when the Gregorian calendar registers an extra (intercalary) day in February. Otherwise, February only has 28 days. If you haven't heard yet, 2012 is a leap year!

Leap year is a fun year. A woman is given the license to be bold and seek the hand in marriage of the man she fancies. The man is not obliged to say yes unless he wants to. But saying no has its consequences both for the man and the woman.

After 2012, the next leap year is 2016. So get to know more about this quadrennial event to better prepare you for its next occurrence.