Terry's English World

English on English; English on the World!

Natural disasters

May 14, 2008 by · 1 Comment · wonderful world

My home town of Napier in New Zealand had an earthquake in 1931 when about 250 people died. The latest earthquake in China is of a completely different scale in terms of deaths. Unfortunately, China has had many of the worst earthquakes in history, including the two worst. In 1556, 830,000 are estimated to have died in Shensi, and in 1976 in Tangshan 255,000 are officially recorded as having died, while unofficial estimates are as high as 655,000. You can find more out at the United States Geological Survey web site.

This catastrophe, of course, comes after thousands of people died in the tornado in Myanmar/Burma.

Not a good time at all for many Asian people.

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Games trivia

May 2, 2008 by · 3 Comments · wonderful world

I’m sure you know that the Olympic Games are starting soon in Beijing. But what other facts and figures do you know. For example, Beijing is not the only city that is hosting sporting events. Here are a few numbers on the Olympic Games.

70,000 volunteers are needed. These will be chosen from 560,000 people who applied.

The Games will last for 16 days from opening to closing ceremonies.

Over 10,000 athletes will take part, competing in 302 events.

There will be 31 sports venues within Beijing. Six other cities will host events (Hong Kong, Qingdao, Tianjin, Shenuang, Shanghai, and Qinhuangdao).

The National Stadium, called the Bird’s Nest, has 91,000 seats.

It’s a massive undertaking but, from what we hear, planning seems to be well on target.

Let the Games begin!

Do you know what your dog is saying?

April 18, 2008 by · 1 Comment · wonderful world

Do you know of a machine called Bowlingual? It might not be on sale any more. It was invented to translate a dog’s barks into human language. Barks from dozens of dog breeds were recorded and grouped into six different moods or ‘meanings’; happy, sad, frustrated, on-guard, assertive and needy. As well as a Japanese version, there were Korean and American English versions. Time magazine said it was one of the best inventions of 2002.

Although the maker, the Japanese company Takara, claimed the device was only a toy and should be used for fun, many people took the claims more seriously. There were complaints that the barks did not accurately reflect the dog’s mood. I’m not sure if the toy is still on sale. Do you know if it is on sale in your country?

Do you think that one day humans will be able to communicate deeply with animals? I actually don’t think so. Maybe on a superficial level – I’m hungry or I don’t like you – but not about the deeper, more interesting questions of life.

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The World’s Funniest Joke?

April 8, 2008 by · 2 Comments · wonderful world

Do you know what the world’s funniest joke is? A British psychologist, Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire, conducted an online survey to find out what people around the world thought was the funniest joke. Over 40,000 jokes were submitted and nearly 2 million people voted. This was the winner.

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t
seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out
his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is
dead! What can I do?”. The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First,
let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard.
Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?”

What do you think? I think it’s quite funny, but people have very different senses of humour, don’t they?

You can read an article about the research at this link.

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The Seven Wonders of the World

March 31, 2008 by · 1 Comment · wonderful world

Have you heard of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? The ancient Greeks made a number of lists of wonders. If you are interested in reading about them one good website is here.

However, last year a list of New Seven Wonders of the world was voted on by more than 100 million people around the world. Unfortunately, no New Zealand place made it on the list. How about your country?

The list is

Chichen Itza, Mexico
Christ Redeemer, Brazil
Colosseum, Italy
Taj Mahal, India
Great Wall of China
Petra, Jordan
Machu Picchu, Peru

You can read more about these wonders at this site.

We certainly live in a wonderful world!

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