Tag Archives: language


iLingual is a recent app produced by the Lean Mean Fighting Machine for the Emirates airlines. The app is smart, simple, useful and entertaining all in one and that is something rare to come by. It works by taking a shot of your mouth and then implanting it onto your phone for it to speak for you in other languages. Sounds crazy? Check it out below. So far it comes in English, French and German and I’ll definitely try it out this weekend.

I’ve experimented with many a language-teaching apps that offers services from vocabulary and grammar exercises to complex dictionaries and audio support. If you can’t be bothered with any of that and want a quick fix that might get some smiles, you might want to check this one out.



Wordnik is a neat alternative to the almost tranditional now online dicitionaries and thesaurus resource websites. The site is still in beta and displays words’ definitions, pronunciations, synonyms, antonyms as well as their etymology. My favorite features are the word stats that show you how often a word had been used throughout history as well as its almost live reflections in blog posts and tweets. Words are also presented in context of literary texts from various times, which allows you to see changes in style and use. For those who sign up, Wordnik also offers open-source editing, which will might bring it a little closer to sites like Urban Dictionary and Addictionary.

[Via Lifehacker]

Forever growing


So, what’s the word for that fuzzy feeling that eating sloe can leave on your tongue?

Know those irritating times when you just can’t find the right word for what you’re trying to express? Well, now you can add to the dictionary by inventing the words for whatever you think is missing in the global dictionary at Addicionary. Much like in Urban Dictionary, words get voted on and challenged by others’ alternatives. Some may claim that this is all made-up vocabulary, but well, at some point all existing vocabulary was made up and it’s only exciting to think that we’ll be able to understand more in fewer words of what people from around the world might convey about their experiences.

Below you’ll find an example of one of Adddictionary’s latest inventions…


Babbel away


So here’s a neat piece of online software called Babbel. I’ve been experimenting with it over the past few days and continue to be impressed with its capabilities. I’ve been forced into learning languages labour since the age of 6 and apart from humans, this is the first thing that’s actually somewhat fun to use in language learning. Back in the my days of learning German I used to sit in front of my cubic computer screen staring at the white ugly windows and typing in the endless Polish-German translations.


Babbel is a free service that includes German, Italian, French, Spanish and English. That’s not terribly much choice, they are still very young and there are more languages on their way. So roughly the learning curve looks like this: first you listen to the new words or expressions, then you have to recognise what is being said, then study word order within the expression and finally learn how to write it. Along with all the words and expressions go vivid images that you can select and rate as you please. Babbel also encourages interaction between learners and native speakers of the languages they’re learning through short text checking and study help. It also shows you other members doing similar things to you and thus encourages both interaction and keeping up the work. Babbel is said to be working on tutorials for all their languages – for now those are available only in Spanish, but I’m a true believer that they’ll be delivering some interesting solutions pretty soon.

All your base

This is too cool. I just found an online dictionary that contains all these words that can make you feel (1) ‘i’m oh-so-out-of-the-loop’ or (2) make you sigh ‘omg-i’m-so-glad-to-be-out-of-that-loop’ when you hear them walking down the street. The Urban Dictionary is an open source dictionary that is continuously updated with new entries that are then judged by the online community for their accuracy, coolness, and such. So far the only downside I find is a lack of a thesaurus and a normal language to slang dictionary, but that will probably come in time.

Bruno, My Love

We say it’s hard to pick our favorite favorites when it comes to many things, be it friends, countries, or pieces of art. Despite the wealth of choice of literature available and the intense differences between many a writers, I have come to a place where I can not only appreciate, but truly adore a writer.

Bruno Schulz was a Polish Jew, born in 1892 is a small down of Drohobycz in Galicia. Apart from creating drawings and a few magnificent pieces of writing, his life mostly revolved around teaching drawing and handicraft in a small-town Polish school. He was a man of a feeble health and an almost incurable state of self-perceived inferiority and insecurity. His life was an endless conflict between providing financial support for his extended family and carving out moments of freedom in which he was most creative. His life ended in 1942, when he was shot dead by a Gestapo officer in a street of his home town.

Despite not being widely known on an international scale, Bruno Schulz is regarded as one of the greatest Polish-language stylists of the 20th century. The quotation below referring to Jacob, Bruno’s father, could easily be pointed at the writer himself.

It is worth noting how, in contact with that unusual man, all things retreated, as it were, to the root of their being, rebuilt their phenomenon down to the metaphysical core — they returned to their primordial idea, only to betray it at that point and lurch into those dubious, daring and equivocal regions which I shall here succinctly call the Regions of the Great Heresy.

Descriptive to the point of transcending the nature of objects and states presented, Bruno Schulz’s writings are characterised by a language of incredible depth and color. The simplicity of the prose’s content is transformed, liquefied, and brought to its very essence in light of the language used to portray it.

But even further from the light there were cats. Their perfection was alarming. Locked up in the precision and meticulousness of their bodies, they knew neither deviation nor error. They sank for a moment into the depths of themselves, to the bottom of their being, then they froze in their soft fur and grew menacingly and ceremonially serious, while their eyes grew as round as moons, soaking up the view into their fiery craters. But a moment later, cast out to the edge, to their surface, they yawned in their nihility, disappointed and without illusions.

Due to his entrapment with teaching and poor health, and above all, lack of free time, the body of his most popular written work includes only two collections of short stories: The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. In 1975 a collection of Schulz’s letters was published in Polish as The Book of Letters. Several works have been lost or burned, including some short stories from the early 1940s that the author had sent to be published in magazines, and his final unfinished novel The Messiah.

This works have inspired other creations such as the adaptation of The Street of Crocodiles by the Quay Brothers:

Bruno Schulz’s writings and life have been described in more detail in a book by the Polish poet Jerzy Ficowski Regions of the Great Heresy. The texts of The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass are available here for free.

Spam please!

Am I out of my mind? Nope, just I’m doing a project on persuasion in online media. In case anyone out there feels like forwarding me their spam or pop-up window/banner images, please mail them to ligress@live.com (not to any other of my email addresses you may have!). I would really greatly appreciate. I have to build up a sizable database of these, so please please help out if you can!