Author Archives: Bob Welbaum

Brave New World… of Food?

Something about the menu didn’t seem quite right. We were at one of our favorite restaurants for our weekly Saturday dining-out. The menu had been redone, and one of the new offerings caught my eye. It was an appetizer: Chicken Fingers with dipping sauce $3.99 Maybe it was the fact that I was unusually alert

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Thai Words in English

Yesterday’s column piqued a friend’s curiosity. In an email he asked what Thai words that I remember have made it into English? My tour of duty in Southeast Asia was 1972-73, but I quickly remembered one word — nitnoy. It’s online in the Urban Dictionary. Nitnoy — “A little bit” – from Thai “Nit Noi”.

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Why is English So Popular?

If the English language is so idiomatic (as discussed yesterday), why does it enjoy worldwide popularity?  Language-wise, the book The Story of English gives three reasons: — Unlike all the other European languages, gender is determined by meaning, so a noun doesn’t have to be matched with the right article. For example, in French the moon

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Beware of Heard…

Beware of heard, a dreadful word That looks like beard and sounds like bird, And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead — For goodness’ sake, don’t call it deed! Presumably written by a frustrated immigrant trying to learn the language, this poem exemplifies the inconsistencies in English. As related in The Story of English

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Happy New Year!

“An optimist stays up to see the New Year in.  A pessimist waits to make sure the old one leaves.”   —   Bill Vaughn   “Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right.”   —   Oprah Winfrey        

Team of Rivals

I recently finished reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  A fascinating book, it was really a political history of four men. I always wondered how Lincoln was able to win the presidential nomonation with so little experience in Washington. (He positioned himself as everyone’s second choice.)  Of

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