Mar
30
2015

Fuoco!

Every cloud has a silver lining, or, if you’re a writer, every cloud has a little story to tell. For example:

Venerdì sera stavo preparando la cena quando Geoff, che stava lavorando al computer, mi ha chiamato: “ Serena, puoi controllare il fuoco per piacere? Sta facendo un mucchio di rumore”. Così mi sono asciugata le mani e sono andata in soggiorno dove abbiamo il termocamino che fa funzionare il riscaldamento della casa.
On Friday evening I was getting dinner ready when Geoff, who was working on the computer, called me: “Serena, can you check the fire please? It’s making a lot of noise”. So I dried my hands and went into the living room where we have the wood burning stove that runs the central heating.

Il fuoco nel caminetto appariva normale, ma in effetti si sentiva come un ruggito provenire da dentro il camino. Ho tirato un paio di volte la leva che apre il portello del tiraggio, e dalla canna fumaria sono cadute delle braci. Insospettita da questa insolita vista, sono uscita in strada a dare un’occhiata al comignolo ed … era rosso incandescente con lunghe fiamme che uscivano fuori!!!
The fire in the wood burner looked normal, but there actually was a type of roaring coming from inside the chimney. I pulled the air bypass handle a couple of times, and some embers fell down from the flue. My suspicions aroused by this unusual sight, I went out into the street to take a look at the chimney pot and … it was glowing red with long flames coming out of it!!!

“Aiuto Geoff! Il camino sta bruciando!” ho urlato in preda al panico. Geoff è corso subito in strada mentre io sono andata a controllare che la presa dell’aria e quella del tiraggio fossero chiuse. Poi ho chiesto a Geoff: “Chiamo i Vigili del Fuoco?” “Sarà meglio di sì” mi ha risposto.
“Help Geoff! The chimney’s on fire!” I shouted, overcome with panic. Geoff ran out into the street straight away whilst I went to check that the air vents and bypass were closed. Then I asked Geoff: “Shall I call the fire brigade?” “It would be best” he replied.

Così ho fatto il 115: “Aiuto, ha preso fuoco il camino! Il soffitto è tutto di legno!” … “Dove abita, Signora?” mi ha chiesto il Vigile del Fuoco. “Vicino a Pontremoli” ho risposto io. “Va bene, le mando la squadra di Aulla. Intanto chiuda bene le prese d’aria per non alimentare le fiamme. Ci vorrà un po’ di tempo prima che la squadra arrivi”.
So I dialled 115: “Help, our chimney’s on fire! Our ceiling is made completely out of wood!” … “Where do you live, madam?” the fireman asked me. “Close to Pontremoli” I replied. “Okay, I’ll send you the squad from Aulla. In the meantime close the air vents to avoid feeding the flames. It will take a while for the squad to arrive”.

“Da Aulla?! ma ci vorranno almeno 40 minuti prima che arrivino. Farà in tempo a bruciare tutta la casa” ho pensato io terrorizzata. Decine di pensieri correvano nelle nostre teste: “Chiamiamo gli amici? Attacchiamo il tubo dell’acqua alla fontana fuori nella strada? Cominciamo a salvare il salvabile?” Per fortuna dopo alcuni minuti le fiamme hanno cominciato a diminuire. Ho richiamato i Vigili per avvertirli che il pericolo stava passando, ma il centralinista ha risposto che la squadra era già partita e che comunque era meglio che facessero un controllo.
”From Aulla?! but it’ll take them at least 40 minutes to get here. By that time the whole house will be burnt down” I thought, terrorized. Dozens (tens) of thoughts ran through our minds: “Should we call our friends? Should we attach the hose pipe to the fountain outside in the street? Should we save what we can?” Luckily, after a few minutes, the flames began to die down. I called the firemen again to warn them that the danger was passing, but the the switchboard operator replied that the squad had already left, and anyway, it was better that they checked it out.

Fire Brigade 1920's Greyscale-001

Mezz’ora più tardi dalla finestra ho finalmente visto i lampeggiatori blu dall’altra parte della valle. Ho chiamato Geoff e siamo usciti per andargli incontro al parcheggio, perché la strada del paese è molto stretta e ci passano solo piccoli mezzi.
Half an hour later I finally saw the blue flashing lights on the other side of the valley from our window. I called Geoff and we went out to go and meet them at the car park, because the village street is very narrow, and only small vehicles can get through.

Quando siamo arrivati al parcheggio c’era solo il fuoristrada dei Vigili del Fuoco, mentre l’autopompa non era nemmeno riuscita a scendere giù nella stretta stradina che porta al parcheggio, ed era rimasta su nella strada principale! Abbiamo accompagnato verso casa i tre Vigili del Fuoco, i quali man mano che si rendevano conto delle difficoltà logistiche del paese erano sempre più preoccupati, ed è stato perciò un sollievo tanto per loro quanto per noi quando hanno constatato che il fuoco si era esaurito da solo.
When we got to the car park there was only the fire brigade off-road vehicle there, the big fire engine hadn’t even managed to get down the steep narrow road to the car park, and had stopped up on the main road! We accompanied the three Firemen towards our house, and as they began to realise the difficult logistics of the village they became increasingly worried, so they were as relived as us when they had ascertained that the fire had put itself out.

Hanno controllato il camino fuori e dentro, ci hanno fatto un mucchio di domande sulla sua costruzione, ci hanno dato dei consigli e prima di partire si sono raccomandati di tenere d’occhio il soffitto nella zona vicino al camino, e di pulire bene la canna fumaria prima di riaccendere il fuoco.
They checked the chimney both inside and out, asked us a load of questions about its construction, gave us some advice and, before leaving, recommended that we keep an eye on the ceiling near the chimney and clean the flue before lighting the fire again.

Il lato positivo di questa brutta avventura è stato che il giorno dopo, quando abbiamo controllato la canna fumaria, abbiamo scoperto con piacere che si era pulita da sola e così ci ha evitato il brutto lavoro di farlo a mano.
The good side of this unpleasant affair is that when we checked the chimney the next day , we were pleased to discover that it had cleaned itself, and relieved us from the unpleasant job of doing it by hand.

Important Note:

In Italy we don’t have one single emergency telephone number, but a different one for each type of emergency. Here are the most important ones:
Carabinieri 112
Polizia (Police) 113
Ambulanza (Ambulance) 118
Vigili del Fuoco (Fire Brigade) 115

Vocabulary Note:

The words camino and canna fumaria tend to get a bit mixed up in every day speech, but technically the camino is the chimney and the canna fumaria is the flue. The caminetto is the actual fireplace or wood burner.

Mar
29
2015

German Abbreviations

This post is about commonly used Abkürzungen (abbreviations) to use when you write in everyday life. You might have already seen some abbreviations listed below but never known what they meant, so here are the Übersetzungen (translations):

Image by Jurgen Appelo on Flickr.

 

Abbreviations to use in emails:

LG   =   Liebe Grüsse:

Best regards – the literal translation would be “love greetings”. You can use this at the end of an email to sign your name.

zB.    =   zum Beispiel:

For example, eg.

bzw.   =   beziehungsweise:

Or/or rather – the literal translation is „respectively“. You can use it in a sentence like this:

Die Parkplätze sind für Kunden beziehungsweise Gäste reserviert.

The park spaces are for customers or guests reserved.

Ich komme aus England bzw London.

I come from England or rather London.

bzgl.    =    bezüglich

In terms of/concerning

Wir müssen uns unterhalten, bzgl der Pläne

We have to have a discussion concerning the plans

evtl.    =     eventuell

Possibly/perhaps

Kannst du mir evtl. zehn euro geben

Could you possibly give me ten euros

usw.    =    und so weiter

And so on/etc

Wir wollen einen Kuchen backen, wir brauchen eier, milch, mehl usw.

We want to bake a cake, we need eggs, milk, flour etc.

 

Abbreviations for texting:

Photo by paz.ca on Flickr.

A lot of abbreviations are taken from English such as “lol, btw, asap” so I won’t mention those but here are some German versions!

HGW    =   Herzlichen Gluckwunsch

Happy birthday

BB      =   Bis bald

See you soon – literal translation “until soon”

AKLA   =   Alles klar?

Is everything okay? – Literal translation “Everything clear?”

8ung  =  Achtung

Watch out/careful

BIDUNOWA    =  Bist du noch wach?

Are you still awake? I find this one funny as it’s so long you may as well write the sentence!

I hope you liked this post and that it will come in handy, whether you want to write some yourself or if you need to figure out what a text means. If you want to see more funny SMS (text) abbreviations you can find them on this website.

Mar
28
2015

Japanese Honorific Suffixes Part 3

This is my third post regarding Japanese honorific suffixes. I have covered so far ~ さん(san) and ~ちゃん(chan).   If you would like to review them, just click the link under each suffix. In this blog post today, I will explain about~くん(kun).  In Japanese language, it is very important to understand the use of honorific suffixes. If you use them in a wrong way, you could easily offend others. Or if you don’t use it at all, you could also sound very rude and impolite. The use of  ~くん(kun) is very specific in that you would want to know when to use it properly. Read on!

 

haru

photo from bryan… on flickr.co

 

~くん(kun)

This honorific suffix is very similar to ~ちゃん(chan) except that it is used mainly for boys.  It is very common to use ~くん(kun) for younger boys, including babies and toddlers. It is ok to use this suffix to someone who is younger than you; however you would not use this suffix to someone who is older than you. For someone older, you would want to use ~さん(san) or ~さま(sama) which I will explain in my next blog.

 

There are two exceptions to the rule I mentioned above. One is at workplace, and another at school setting. Young female employees are often referred to as “last name +  ~くん(kun)”. For example, Tanaka-kun(たなかくん), Hashimoto-kun(はしもとくん), or Yamamoto-kun(やまもとくん) etc.. So in this case, even if the person is a female, she is referred to as her last name +  ~くん(kun).  ~くん(kun) = boys rule does not apply here.

 

Another exception to the ~くん(kun) = boys  rue, is at school. Especially higher than high school level, it is also common for teachers or professors to address female students by her last name +  ~くん(kun).

 

In my opinion, if you are not sue which honorific suffix to use, just stick with ~san(さん) at first. Once you become more familiar with the use of each honorific suffix, you would be able to know when to use each one of them.

 

The last honorific suffix I would like to cover is ~さま(sama). This one is also very unique in that you would need to know when to use it. Stay tuned!

Mar
28
2015

50 Shades of Green

 

Image courtesy of Crafthubs

Le printemps (spring) has officially sprung —  even if parts of the east coast in the USA still have a white blanket of snow. La nature et vos allergies sont revenues à la vie (Nature and your allergies have come back to life). Flowers are blooming, bees are hard at work, and all that was brown has become green.

Le vert (green) is often associated l’argent et les finances (money and finances), l’avidité (greed), la jalousie (jealousy), l’ambition (ambition), la stabilité (stability), and la renaissance (rebirth). Along with their many associations, colors play an important role in language. When you’re sad, you’re blue. You can be tickled pink. You can be in the red with the bank. If you’re scared, you’re yellow bellied. To celebrate the return of Spring, we’re going to focus on the use of vert in French. En plus, c’est ma couleur préférée (plus, it’s my favorite color).

*****

Noun

Let’s start with the word as a noun. Le vert means green, green light (in traffic), vegetation, and the countryside.

As a proper noun, les Verts is referring to The Greens, a green-ecologist political group that dissolved in 2010.

Have you ever had a penny that had a green spot on it? This is called le vert-de-gris, and it’s just a green tinge that forms on copper. The same thing can be found on The Statue of Liberty in New York.

*****

Verb

“Vert” by itself isn’t a verb, but it’s used in some verbs.

Être au vert has 2 meanings. The first refers to being out in the country. The other is when you’re watching your diet. Both are referring to la verdure (the greenery) – either outside or on your plate.

Se mettre au vert also has 2 meanings. The first is to go out into the countryside for a relaxing rest. The other meaning is less literal: it means to go on the run (from the police, for example).

Mettre au vert without the reflexive pronoun is often presented in the past tense: mis au vert and means put out to pasture. The idea comes from the idea that once a horse is finished with a racing career, he’s put out to pasture (retired). This can be used for humans, though.

Couper en vert means to harvest a plant before it’s ready.

En voir des vertes et des pas mûres is an expression that means someone has said something pretty spicy things to someone.

Être vert(e) de rage is used when you’re very, very mad. You can also simply just use vert. (Elle est verte!) Think of The Incredible Hulk We say purple with rage in English.

Être vert(e) de peur means you are very scared. I think this is interesting because this idea is associated with yellow in English.

Être au temps de sa verte jesunesse and être encore vert(e) both refer to being in the bloom of your youth.

Donner le feu vert à quelque chose/quelqu’un means the same as it does in English: to give someone the green light to do something (to give permission)

Prendre quelqu’un sans vert means to catch somebody unaware.

*****

Adjective

Le numéro vert is a toll-free number. These are nice because in France if you need to call your internet provider, for example, you are charged by the minute.

Thé vert is the same in English: green tea.

Un haricot vert is a green bean, un légume vert  refers to a green vegetable in general, un poivron vert is a green pepper, and un citron vert is a lime. Are you a successful gardener who can plant all these fruits and vegetables by yourself? You have la main verte (a green thumb). In France, you have the green hand, but in Canada, you have le pouce vert.

*****

Despite the post’s title, I’m not going to give you 50 shades of green, but here are 19 different shades of green. Below the image, I’ve included the translations. Click the image for the full-sized copy.

 

vert pré/vert gazon – grass green
vert citron – lime green
vert pistache – pistachio
vert bouteille – refers to the color of a standard green bottle
vert mousse – moss green
vert céladon – celadon green
vert methe – mint green
vert émeraude – emerald
vert pâle – pale green
vert sapin – pine green
vert trèfle – shamrock green
vert jade – jade
vert malachite – malachite green
vert printemps – spring green
vert sauge – sage green
vert chartreuse – chartreuse
vert d’eau – sea green
vert olive – olive green
vert caca d’oie – this isn’t in the graphic because nobody wants to see this. It literally means “goose poop green,” and is used to describe a color between yellow and green.

Mar
26
2015

Communication difficulties: Der Tatortreiniger

Communication difficulties can arise whenever two people are engaged in a conversation. This also applies to the episode “Nicht über mein Sofa” (Not over my sofa) of the German comedy TV series Der Tatortreiniger (The Crime Scene Cleaner). Fortunately, the two interlocutors overcome their communication problems and Frau Hellenkamp finally opens the door for Schotty to let him clean up the crime scene in her mansion.

Admittedly, the title Der Tatortreiniger might lead to the assumption that the TV series is gloomy and gory. Of course, you can see theatrical blood every now and then but the murders themselves play only a minor role in Der Tatortreiniger. The focus is rather on the conversations between the crime scene cleaner Heiko “Schotty” Schotte (Bjarne Mädel) and a bereaved person.

While cleaning a crime scene Schotty (pronounced: Shotty) always learns something about the relationship between a dependant and the murder victim. In turn, Schotty’s job also becomes a conversational topic on every crime scene. But you better do not call Schotty an ordinary cleaner! Tatortreinigung (crime scene clean-up) is a specialised field in cleaning and Schotty had to complete an additional training for that. Every time Schotty is assumed to be an ordinary building cleaner he makes clear: “Meine Arbeit fängt da an, wo andere sich vor Entsetzen übergeben!” (lit. My work beginns at the point where others do throw up because of horror!).

Let’s get to know Schotty and listen to a slight North German dialect. Below you find the German transcription and the English translation.

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

If you cannot watch the clip on YouTube try this video on Dailymotion. It’s the full episode:

German

Schotty: Och Mann! Los jetzt, Oma, mach!
Alte Dame: Haben Sie grad Oma zu mir gesagt?
Schotty: Bitte? Nee, ich sagte nur: Oma … mal die Hecke schneiden sollte.
Alte Dame: Sind Sie vom Ordnungsamt?
Schotty: Nee, ich komm von der Reinigungsfirma Lausen. Sie hatten uns angerufen.
Alte Dame: Das waren Sie aber nicht am Telefon. Das war so ein netter, älterer Herr.
Schotty: Ja, das war mein Chef. Das war der Herr Lausen.
Alte Dame: Und Ihr Name ist?
Schotty: Schotte. Heiko Schotte.
Alte Dame: Wie?
Schotty: SCHOTTE!
Alte Dame: Sind Sie Ausländer?
Schotty: Nee, das ist mein Name. Sind Sie Frau Hellenkamp?
Alte Dame: Warum wollen Sie denn das wissen?
Schotty: Weil Sie angerufen hatten.
Alte Dame: Haben Sie Ihren Ausweis bei sich? … Hallo?
Schotty: Ja.
Alte Dame: Ich seh gar nichts.
Schotty: Hier.
Alte Dame: Ach jetzt. Sind Sie das?
Schotty: Ja, das seh’n Sie doch.
Alte Dame: Nee, hör’n Sie irgendwie ist die Kamera zu hoch eingestellt. So seh ich ja nur den Ausweis. Würden Sie bitte mal hüpfen?
Schotty: Wa?
Alte Dame: Na hochspringen, dass ich Ihr Gesicht sehen kann.
Schotty: Ja, soll ich dann in der Luft oben noch kurz stehen bleiben?
Alte Dame: Können Sie das denn? … Hallo?
Schotty: Ja, ich bin noch da.
Alte Dame: Sie müssten etwas höher hüpfen.
Schotty: Ist der Baum da im Bild?
Alte Dame: Der Baum?
Schotty: Wenn Sie vor sich auf den Bildschirm gucken, was seh’n Sie denn da?
Alte Dame: Da ist die Straße und ‘n Baum. Hach, hab ich mich erschreckt.
Schotty: Ja, das geht den meisten so. Damit muss ich leben.
Alte Dame: Also, soweit ich das von hier aus sehen kann haben Sie noch ‘n ganz anständiges Gesicht.
Schotty: Ja, danke
Alte Dame: Aber nach Abitur sehen Sie mir auch nicht gerade aus. Wie war noch mal der Name?
Schotty: Mein Name ist Heiko Schotte und ich hab kein Abitur.
Mann: Na so stolz wär ich da mal nicht darauf.
Alte Dame: Na wenigstens sind Sie ehrlich, junger Mann.

English

Schotty: Gosh! Hurry up, granny!
Old lady: Have you just called me granny?
Schotty: Sorry? No, I just said: Granny-you … cut the hedge?
Old lady: Are you from the regulatory agency?
Schotty: No, I’m from the cleaning company Lausen. You called us.
Alte Dame: But it wasn’t you on the phone. It was a nice elderly gentleman.
Schotty: Yes, this was my boss. This was Mr. Lausen.
Old lady: And what’s your name?
Schotty: Schotte. Heiko Schotte.
Old lady: Pardon.
Schotty: SCHOTTE! (remark: “Schotte” also means Scot)
Old lady: Are you a foreigner?
Schotty: No, this is my name. Are you Mrs. Hellenkamp?
Old lady: Why do you want to know?
Schotty: Because you called us.
Old lady: Can I see your ID card? … Hello?
Schotty: Yes.
Old lady: I don’t see anthing.
Schotty: Here you go.
Old lady: Ah, now! Is this you?
Schotty: Yes, don’t you see that?
Old lady: No, listen, the camera is adjusted too high. I can only see your ID card. Could you jump, please?
Schotty: What?
Old lady: Jumping up, so that I can see your face.
Schotty: And should I also freeze in the air for a moment?
Old lady: Can you do this? … Hello?
Schotty: Yes, I’m still here.
Old lady: You have to jump higher.
Schotty: Can you see the tree over there?
Old lady: The tree?
Schotty: When you have a look at the screen in front of you: What can you see on it?
Old lady: I can see the street and a tree. Oh God, you startled me.
Schotty: I know, you are not the only person who has to deal with that. I got used to it.
Old lady: As long as I can see it from here: You have a decent face.
Schotty: Thank you.
Old lady: But you don’t give the impression of possessing a high school diploma. What was your name again?
Schotty: My name is Heiko Schotte and I don’t possess a high school diploma.
Man: I wouldn’t be so proud of that.
Old lady: At least, you are honest, Sir.