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Entries For: January 2008

Migration of words and original spellings

Filed Under:
  • fact: an Italian word spelled “ciao” is used in many latin-based languages in Europe with a similar meaning. It is used as an interjection when people part, or as a sign of surprise.
  • fact: in several European languages other than Italian, this word is actually used in writing by speakers, and spelled differently than in Italian — often localized to make the spelling match the pronunciation rules of the language.
  • Linguistically, the fact that people decide to change the spelling of a foreign word, despite widely distributed knowledge of its original spelling, can be interpreted as a takeover: the word is transformed so that it "belongs" more to the local language, so that it "looks" less foreign than it actually is. This effectively hides its origin: for instance, while “ciao” can morphologically be recognized as Italian, the French version “tchô” cannot.
  • Incidentally, one effect of this takeover by several languages in Europe is the multiplication of the number of different words used to express the same cognate (basic meaning).
  • fact: this word is not part of the dictionaries for the languages where it is used (other than Italian), or its official spelling is the Italian spelling.

Hence some interesting questions:

  • do you recognize the word “ciao” when you see it written using this Italian spelling?
  • how many different spellings do you know for it?
  • which spelling would you teach to (say) a child who learns the word for the first time? Why?

Do you think these questions are important? Why?

Transportation in the Netherlands at Christmas and New Year's Eve

Filed Under:

Currently, public transportation stops at 20:00 on Dec 24th and 31th. This calls for discussion.

Not knowing how to organize my thoughts on the topic, I called for De Bono's Six Thinking Hats :

White hat (objective)

Public transportation stops at 20:00 on Dec 24th and 31th.

NS and other OV-companies say that the demand is too low to create a night service on these days.

People use more cars on those nights than usual. Many accidents are caused by people driving after a party.

Red hat (intuition)

Would the service exist, many people would use it. (supply would drive demand)

Some employees are probably willing to choose to work on these days by preference (no other plans, needing the money, etc). These could support a night service.

Black hat (critical)

Many accidents are caused by people driving after a party.

The cost of having more medical staff at hospitals than usual (and more police staff) outbalances the savings of not providing public transportation.

OV-companies should promote public transportation (due to environment concerns, and to reduce traffic congestions), by providing extensive service, including those nights.

Yellow hat (positive)

The current system allows OV staff to join their family or friends for the evening.

It encourages people to stay close to their home and bond with their neighborhood.

Green hat (creative)

People spending the night far from their place could make arrangements (hotel) to stay there until the morning. For that purpose some hotels could offer discounts.

Like what happens in some bars, the OV-companies could call for volunteers (with pay) within their staff to run a night service on those days, at lower frequency than usual.

Passengers could be made aware that the staff is making "extra effort" on those events and possibly contribute to making the experience more agreeable for everyone (e.g.: paying extra fee for tickets, with extra used to offer presents to the employees)

Blue hat (meta)


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