Thursday, November 29, 2012

Momentous Archeological Finds, Tremendous Benefits to Mankind

Archeologists, together with anthropologists and paleontologists continuously work to unearth significant fossils, relics and remnants of past civilizations. It is their untiring work that provides the world a glimpse of the rich histories of nations, how civilizations and peoples started and make people understand the past better.

From their numerous findings, there stands out some archeological finds that created a great impact and gave huge benefits to humankind.

Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone in the British Museum
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian stele, which was displayed at a temple, probably during the early Christian or the Medieval period. It was inscribed with a decree from King Ptolemy V that was issued in Memphis (currently a place south of Cairo, Egypt) in 196 BC. It was discovered by a French soldier named Pierre-François Bouchard in 1799 in the town of Rosetta, now known as Rashid.

It was inscribed in two languages, Egyptian and Greek. The text used three types of scripts: demotic, ancient Greek and hieroglyphic. Its discovery and eventual translation became the key to understanding the formerly undecipherable hieroglyphs created by the Egyptians.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Silent Language of Gestures

What is okay with you might not be all right in other countries

The world is getting smaller as travel to other countries becomes easier and faster. People from different nations find common grounds through social networking and cultural exchanges. Communication in almost all forms is available in most countries. And however miniscule the help of free online language translators give, these are oftentimes enough for simple conversations among people who speak different languages. 

But there is still a language that people cannot hear, a language that is more powerful, the silent language of gestures that could be common to most people of one culture but may be interpreted differently by people from another culture. Just be aware that some commonplace gestures in your country could be misinterpreted by people from another country and it will do you good to learn of a few of these.

The Okay Sign
Okay sign

The okay sign is quite commonly used and accepted. However, when you are in Germany, Brazil, Turkey and Greece, beware because this sign for them is quite vulgar. Giving them that okay sign tells them that they resemble the hole in your bottom and as such is a homosexual. In Kuwait, that simple sign is interpreted as you giving them the evil eye.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Burdock – a vegetable that inspired the invention of Velcro

The Metal Zipper
Velcro, a hook and loop fastener has rivaled the zipper in its ability to fasten two pieces of an item together. Where zippers cannot be used, strips of Velcro fasteners are used instead. Velcro fasteners are used everywhere, as fasteners for clothing, shoes, bags, toys, and school and office supplies. Its application seems endless. It’s even used in space shuttles. Such is the wide range of applications for this innocuous invention that was inspired by the seeds of a vegetable, the burdock. The vegetable is a native in the Old World, composed of Asia, Europe and Africa. 

What is a burdock?

Burdock is a biennial root vegetable that is related to the artichoke. It has large, heart-shaped dark green leaves with wooly undersides. Seeds of the burdock are covered with burrs, which adhere to fabric and fur, facilitating the seed dispersal.  The long and slender taproot, which could grow to about one meter in length, is edible and figures in many Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisines. It is crisp and has a mild sweet taste. In Japan, burdock is called gobō  while the Taiwanese and Koreans call it u-eong (u-ong). It is also popular in Portugal, Italy and Brazil, where it’s called garduna or bardana.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Folding Hand Fan and its Secret Language

The folding hand fan might not be too common in the United States, but this small and handy fan, which provides cooling air during summer, is used by men and women in the East, particularly those living in Japan, China, South Korea, the Philippines and other Asian countries. Unknown to many, the hand fan has such a rich history. And to top it all, it was once used as a communication tool; with a secret language only users of the hand fan knew about.

Japanese Fan Dancers
During the 19th century the fan was used as a communication tool to send out secret messages during the time when outright verbal communication between men and women were controlled. Ladies then usually have chaperones to monitor their every move. In Japan, it was used in warfare by the Samurais as well as in dances. In Korea, folding fans were used as a fighting tool and likewise in one of their beautiful dances.

While there are newer ways to keep cool, a folding hand fan is very much in use today as in ancient times. And there remains the old language of the folding fans that is still recognized in the modern day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Professionalism in the Work Place, in Business, and in Everyday Life

The dictionary defines professionalism as the aim, qualities or conduct, which mark or characterize a profession. It was derived from the Old French term, profession, which was used circa 1200. It meant the vows that were taken by an individual entering a religious order, from the Latin word, professionem. In early 15th century, the meaning of profession became the “line of work someone is skilled in.” The word professionalism started being used around 1856.

A survey done by eWeek, a publication focused on decision makers in technology purchases, and which also provides corporate news, trends, reviews and analysis, revealed that 88% of the respondents relate professionalism not on the position a person holds but to the person itself. The survey also said that almost 30% of the modern workforce display poor attitude while 27% are inconsiderate and disrespectful. Poor grammar skills had been noted in about 40% of the workers of today, according to the same survey. These figures could pose a great dilemma to the management process in today’s business environment.

Professionalism is a word that is easy to say but difficult to accomplish. Professionalism translates into so many meanings. To be called a professional isn’t an easy task; it has rules to follow, be it in dressing up, in the manner of speaking or in conducting oneself. And while many of the modern workers may think that this is passé, it is in fact very much needed right now, more than ever.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, the day to give thanks to all veterans

Veterans Day Poster for 2010

The United States celebrates Veterans Day on November 11, which for 2012 falls on a Sunday. It is a day of thanksgiving and of honoring all the veterans, dead and living that served in the wars, in the service of the United States of America.

Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day, for which some assume are one and the same. Memorial Day is the day when the country honors those that have given their lives for the country, and celebrated on the last Monday of the month of May annually.

But why is Veterans Day celebrated on November 11? The date is very significant, that is why. It was the day “The Armistice” that ended the First World War was signed. The number combination was 11-11-11. It was signed in November, the 11th month, on the 11th day, at the 11th hour in 1918. The location of the signing of the armistice was the forest in Compiègne, a city in France, which is about 60 kilometers or 37 miles from Paris.

Friday, November 9, 2012

James Bond at 50

Sean Connery as James Bond in "Dr. No"
We’ve all been thrilled by the swashbuckling and daring stunts, the beautiful ladies, the fantastic cars, beautiful international locations, flashy espionage gadgets, and the cool and handsome persona. The covert spy, the dashing and debonair Englishman, the ultimate secret of M16, the one and only Bond, James Bond. And it’s been 50 years since Dr. No, the first Bond film to grace the big screen, came out in 1962. Sean Connery was the first James Bond in the franchise, based on the novel of Ian Fleming. Connery was only 32 at that time.

The thrilling espionage movies caught almost everyone’s fancy. Men and women, young and old, got mesmerized by the charisma of the leading men who portrayed James Bond through the years. The series is a worldwide hit. The hit Bond movies have been translated into 11 languages including Spanish, German, French, Italian and Russian. The latest Bond film, Skyfall, will also be translated into Kazakh.

Daniel Craig From The Skyfall's cast and crew arrive on location in Istanbul.
Through the early years of the movie franchise, there were some criticisms that the movies strayed from the books by Ian Fleming. However, once James Bond has settled in as a stand-alone character free from his literary roots, the only thing that remained were the titles and the Bond girls which were either from the books or related to Ian Fleming in some way. The books have also gone on to have a life of their own. Ian Fleming's last book, Octopussy and The Living Daylights, a compilation of short stories, was published two years after his death, in 1966. Since then there have been 40 James Bond books written by a series of authors.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Krampus will come and get you, so check your manners and behave

Krampus “Morzger Pass” Salzburg 2008

Why would you want to frighten children around Christmas time? It doesn’t compute. But in the Alpine regions, such in Bavaria, Croatia, Germany and Finland, they do. And Krampus is one frightening fellow. According to legend he is the right hand man, the jury and judge of Saint Nicholas, who is set to find out if children have been naughty or nice.

In a few weeks Christmas will again be upon us. And around the world, Christmas translates to merry making, wishes of good tidings and cheer, gift giving and a general sense of peace and prosperity. It is that time of year when children eagerly await the coming of Santa Claus bearing gifts.

Parents have always told their children to behave, to be nice, polite and good to others so that Santa will bring them the Christmas presents they wish for. Children are even told to write Santa a letter, telling him that they’ve been good the whole year round, except maybe for some erstwhile misbehavior here and there, minor at the most, and that they promise not to do it again. Young children eagerly await Santa’s coming on Christmas Eve, leaving him some cookies and a glass of milk to give him sustenance during his long journey to deliver presents.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Understanding the silent but dynamic language of hands

sign language interpreter

Most of us have been exposed to people who cannot speak and who are hard of hearing conducting conversions with the use of sign language. Sign language though, is learned and needs enrolment in a special school. And it is not just them that need to learn it but also people close to them so that they could conduct conversations normally, even if silently.

They belong to an exclusive clique, since not everyone knows sign language. Persons with speaking and hearing disabilities are still somewhat marginalized. On the other hand, they are fortunate since they are able to communicate and understand one another through sign language.

While people with hearing and speaking disabilities have their own language, there is another type of language that is more universal. It is not a unique language that is spoken by a specific country. It is not oral, nor is it written. It is more visual, but could be more forceful and impactful when you know how to read it. It is called body language, or rather; it is part of general body language. We are talking about something more pinpointed – the language of the hands.

Hand gestures could translate into so many meanings, whether positive, negative or in-betweens. It is believed that the hands are the second richest source of body expressions next to the face. As the hands also interact with other parts of the body such as the face, particularly the eyes, ears and nose, you would then realize just how extensive the symbols and meanings hand body language communicates.

Even the infinitesimal hand movement might show a subconscious thought, although at times some are done exaggeratedly or used when a point needs to be emphasized. While deemed universal, caution should still be exercised as some hand gestures that others think are innocent might have a different translation and interpretation in another culture.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sign Language Interpreter Lydia Callis Brings Sign Language Interpreting to the Next Level

Everyone knew that the superstorm Sandy was coming to New York. It was Mayor Michael Bloomberg's job to make sure that the residents took all precautions against the storm. By his side during the Sandy briefings was a petite smartly dressed woman who blew up a storm. Lydia Callis, one of two official interpreters for the Mayor's briefings became an instant star with her passionate and very emotive interpretation of the briefings.

Her Background

Lydia Callis graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technologys National Technical Institute for the Deaf in 2010. The RIT is one of at least seven schools for American Sign Language in the New York City and Long Island area. Lydia worked at the RIT after graduation

Her instant rise to fame has been propagated by Twitter tweets and Tumblr posts. As it turns out she has been likened as the one good thing that came out of superstorm Sandy. Since the start of the Sandy briefings, she has been interpreting beside Mayor Bloomberg, and has headed off straight to become a viral phenom in her own right.

Even with the instant celebrity status Lydia has no plans on riding the bandwagon. She has declined requests for interviews, but did tell the New York Post, I'm here to serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing. I'm just glad, and I'm honored, that I was able to get the message out there... that's what it's all about.

She did not only put the Mayor's words into action, but she also interpreted Bloomberg's dry style into quite a graphic rendering. American sign language (ASL) interprets the words and the meaning of what is being spoken. It is different from Signing Exact English (SEE), which is not used as much. ASL interpreters use facial expressions, hand gestures and body movements for inflection to carry the message. This usually results in more expressive signing. Lydia told New York Post, American Sign Language is a very visual language, so sometimes you have to use pictures to describe what people are saying in English."