Toast To A FruChoc

Fair full’s your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain of the lolly race,
Above them all, you take your place;
Apricot, coconut, chocolate.
Well are you worthy of a grace,
As big’s my eye-ball.

The orange baggie there you fill,
Your form is like a distant hill,
To reach you one would run a mile,
In time of need.
While in your core the taste distill,
Like amber bead.

One bite, see rustic labour dight,
And break you open with ready slight,
Exposing your orange entrails bright,
Is any’s wish.
And then, oh what a glorious sight,
Apricot, chewy, rich!

Then, piece by piece, we stretch and strive,
To eat our fill, then on we drive,
‘Til all our bellies, stitch in side,
Are bent like drums.
The old man, looking on with pride,
“Delicious” hums.

See over there with French brulée,
Or Mozart-kugeln at billiards to play,
Or fricassee would make him say,
With perfect word,
Looks down with sneering, scornful eye,
On such a dessert?

Poor devil! see him over his Smarties,
Though colourful and great for parties,
Not fruity and not very hearty,
His fist like ham.
Through shopping mall or park to dash,
Or traffic jam.

But mark the healthy, FruChoc-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Goyder’s line along he sped,
Or Torrens River.
With smiling face, orange packet led,
Best confectionary ever.

You powers which make mankind your care,
And dish them out there bill of fare,
South Aussies want no sugar-coated ware,
That rattles in plastic.
But, if you wish our grateful prayer,
Give us a FruChoc.

Adapted from Robert Burns’ “Toast To A Haggis”.

FruChoc slice.
Part of one wall of the FruChoc shop in Hahndorf.
The FruChoc Man.
The Official Website: http://robernmenz.com.au/
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Two Instances of Gaelic Phrasing You Use Every Day

… And Probably Don’t Realise.

(… provided you speak English.)

There are probably more instances, but I can only think of two at the moment. So, here they are.

“Awake” and “Asleep”

Gaelic (and less so Irish) very commonly uses what I would describe as the “present continuous” or “gerund” tense rather than the simple present.

If you don’t know what I’m on about, don’t worry. All you need to know is that Gaelic-speakers will say something that roughly translates as “I’m a-walking” or “I’m a-writing”. (And, in fact, some speak like that in English, too. It’s a very (stereo)typical Irish thing to do).

But the “a-” in Gaelic, “ag” or “a'” is actually – you guessed it! – a preposition, “at”, and they call it a “verbal noun” rather than a “gerund” or “present participle”.

(I’m convinced the language has some innate phobia of verbs, and a fetish for prepositions, since it seems to drop – or claims to drop – verbs all over the place, and replace them with prepositions).

The point is, there isn’t really another common way in English (modern, standardised English. Older English and dialects are another matter entirely) to describe being conscious, other than “I’m awake”. Likewise, you’re just as likely to say “She’s asleep” as “She’s sleeping”.

“It’s fine with me.”

In Gaelic (and Irish), you use the construction “Is (insert adjective here) with me (insert noun/verb here).”

Therefore:

“‘S toigh leam e” (Gàidhlig) = It’s good with me = “I like it”

“‘S cuma liom é” (Gaeilge) = It’s neutral with me = “I don’t really care”

“‘S breá liom é” (Gaeilge) = It’s beautiful with me = “I love it”
“‘S breagha leam e” (Gàidhlig) = It’s beautiful with me = “I love it”

Whilst in English, you would use constructions such as “I love it” and “I like it”, if something’s “fine”, it’s “fine with you”.

So, there you have it: two instances you use Gaelic and you didn’t know it. If you speak English, you’re halfway there already! And who said Gaelic was a difficult language to learn?

Prepositions are Evil!

Okay, this is another Lady of the Cakes-inspired post. She thinks prepositions are evil, too.

(She also thinks verbs are evil. I’m not so fussed with verbs. Verbs and I have come to an understanding. Then again, I’m no longer trying to live solely through Spanish, which no doubt accounts for that.)

Check out her post on prepositions here: http://ladyofthecakes.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/prepositions-so-much-depends-of-them/comment-page-1/#comment-8642

And her post on verbs here: http://ladyofthecakes.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/i-hate-verbs/?relatedposts_exclude=2057

Even though I don’t really mind verbs at the moment, I totally agree with the whole prepositions thing. I mean, if you conjugate a verb wrong, 99% of the time, you’ll still be understood. Except in Spanish, because Spanish verbs have evil twins. And you don’t use personal pronouns. But I’m not going to get into that. But prepositions… get a preposition wrong, and you can, as Lady of the Cakes so eruditely puts it, change the whole meaning of a sentence. Which is made even worse in German by the fact that if you get the preposition wrong, chances are you’ll get the adjectival endings wrong, too. (Even though I usually fudge over endings of any sort, be they adjectival or pronominal.)

I’ve posted about the evils of Gaelic prepositions recently, here: https://coveredrachel.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/owning-stuff-in-gaelic/ and here, at the end: https://coveredrachel.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/how-to-learn-a-language-and-the-seven-stages-thereof/. So I won’t get into that again.

But prepositions can really stuff you around in other languages, too. Yes, in English, you might be used to waiting for someone, being scared of something, looking after someone, going by car, or being angry with someone, and that might seem perfectly natural to you. But consider this: In German, you wait on someone (which, now I think of it, you can do in English, too. It usually means you’re they’re butler, but it can mean you’re waiting for them to arrive), you’re not scared but in fact have fear from something, in French you don’t look after children, you simply guard them, and in German you go with the car rather than by it.

And even when you think you’ve got a handle on the idea that the correct preposition you use changes from language to language, you then come to the startling and unwanted realisation that they change within a language, too! Are you look at something or on it? Are you angry with someone or at them? Why is it that some Germans are in the post office, while others inexplicably seem to be on it?

And then you find out that German not only uses different prepositions to English for just about everything imaginable, but prepositions also change the case you use! Which happens in most languages, to my knowledge, but there are two cases which German prepositions can sent the rest of the sentence into, and the reasoning isn’t always clear. (I’m pretty certain that if there’s any sort of movement at all, it goes to the accusative, while it being stationary means it’s in the dative. But whether there’s movement or not isn’t always clear, and like English grammar rules, there are exceptions!).

Oh, and Gaelic conjugates its prepositions. I like Gaelic, because it doesn’t conjugate its verbs (at least, not in a way recognisable to the speaker of a Romance or Germanic language – the verb doesn’t change depending on who is doing it, but rather whether it’s a negative, positive, or questioning statement, or some combination thereof). But then I discovered it conjugates its prepositions, in pretty much the same way a Romance or Germanic language conjugates its verbs. (I know Scandinavian languages may or may not be Germanic languages, being so similar, but in this instance they’re not, because they don’t conjugate their verbs).

For example:

Air (on)
Mi – orm (I – on me)
Thu – ort (You – on you)
E – air (He – on him)
I – oirre (She – on her)
Sinn – oirnn (We – on us)
Sibh – oirbh (You – on you)
Iad – orra (They – on them)

or:

Le (with)
Mi – leam (with me)
Thu – leat (with you)
E – leis (with him)
I – leatha (with her)
Sinn – leinn (with us)
Sibh – leibh (with you)
Iad – leotha (with them)

Fun. But surprisingly easy to guess. Particularly as Gaelic uses prepositions all over the place, so if you have even a few words of Gaelic, chances are the majority of them are prepositions.

So, there you go, the evils of prepositions. Here are three of them to leave you with:

1 – Prepositions used with verbs change from language to language.

2 – In German, prepositions send sentences either into the accusative or the dative, which changes the endings of everything.

3 – In Gaelic, prepositions conjugate.

“You Just Pick It Up!”

Hi! Me again! Sorry… how long has it been? Sixteen days? My goodness!

Well, I have an excuse. I broke my foot. And no, I don’t have a dramatic story. I fell out the back door. That’s all. But it’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

And I’m not even going to post my own post! Gasp! Actually, I wanted to reblog something from Lady of the Cakes, but I can’t work out how to do that, so you’ll have to just click on this handy link:

http://ladyofthecakes.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/urban-language-myths-you-just-pick-it-up/comment-page-1/#comment-8641

Because she makes some really good points, and she does it while being witty and funny.

I’ve blogged about a similar topic before, here: https://coveredrachel.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/what-is-fluency/. The topic in question being the annoying tendency of… well, pretty much anyone who can only speak/ hold a conversation in one language… to assume that people who speak more than one language have some freakish abnormal innate talent for learning languages.

Which, as anyone who’s learnt a second language can tell you, simply isn’t true.

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but here’s my stance: I firmly believe that there is not such innate talent for language (despite someone trying to convince me I have it at least once a week), and that anyone can learn a language with time, motivation, and stubbornness. (Or persistence. I’m not entirely sure on that one.)

Oh, and a good reason is probably important, too. Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s why Australians apparently aren’t particularly good at languages. (And Australians who bother are considered some sort of genius).

The other day, someone tried to convince me that people say they don’t see the point in learning a language to cover up the fact that they feel stupid about being unable to do so. This I can’t believe. A lot of people who claim to be unable to learn a language say just that, not that they can’t see the point in it. (Unless you’re talking about Gaelic. Then no-one can see the point in it). And living in a rather large country which pretty much all speaks one language, English  (ignoring some parts of central Australia where monolingualism is Pitjantjatjara is high), and where the closest country is five hours on a ‘plane and is New Zealand, which amazingly enough, also speaks English (and is pretty much like Australian in every way except it’s greener and wetter and smaller), means that a lot of the “true-blue” Aussie types really, truly, don’t quite comprehend that there are places out there where they’d be unable to communicate. (This is something that I doubt most people comprehend until they’ve been stuck in a strange country unable to communicate their utter lost-ness).

But anyway, I diverge. After getting rather annoyed that whomever I’m talking to thinks I have some freakish innate talent for languages, I then want to explain to them that I believe anyone can learn a language if they really want to. Some of them nod, accept my point of view, and move on. Others will argue the point.

And, really, how can you say all this to someone who is monolingual and convinced you’re a freak and that they’d never be able to learn a language, mostly because they did Indonesian or German in primary school and can barely count to ten due to a lack of a decent teacher, without making it sound like you think they’re lazy and not trying hard enough?

That said, and yes, I think I’ve said this somewhere before, yes, of course, now I have some sort of “freakish talent” for languages… by monolingual standards… maybe… and it’s simply because I’ve stuck at a few and now have the appropriate skills to compartmentalise, relate concept, and, well… I actually know the difference between a noun and a verb now, which I wasn’t quite clear on five years ago. Anyone who’s studied four languages, even if they’ve only managed to become anything resembling proficient in one, would be able to do that. It doesn’t mean I have any weird gene, it just means I was really stubborn when I started out.

(Which, now I think of it, could be a weird gene… After all, people with Asperger’s are known for being really stubborn and sticking to whatever their current obsession is.)

And, you know, while I might be some sort of crazy language genius to a monolingual person, I’d personally consider myself somewhere down the bottom of the talent range when it comes to learning languages. Yes, I know bits of a lot, but I don’t know much of any, except English and possibly German. I have a friend who is fluent (native-speaker level) in two (German and Dutch) and very close to native-speaker level in English, and did language Continuers in Year 12 for Spanish and French. One of my piano teacher’s other students is doing Continuers German and Spanish… and she’s a year ahead in German. Those people really are good at languages, and they don’t think anything of it (and probably don’t obsess about it like I do).

Anyway, I think what I’m saying is that there’s a certain amount – and by a certain amount, I mean a lot – of hard work that goes into learning a language to any sort of proficiency. Well, that and embarrassment, but usually both. And, even though people seem to think I’m some sort of crazy language genius, the truth is I’m not. By the standards of pretty much anyone remotely interested in learning languages properly, I’m probably lazy, slow, and have a short attention span. The only language I consider myself fluent in is English. My German is pretty good, but I can get out of my depth very easily. I may be able to impress with a few sentence is some languages, I may be able to hold a basic conversation in others, but I haven’t “picked up” those languages… I’m still working at them.

And now this has grown into a very long post, and I’m not at all sure that any of it makes sense. Oh, well. Just go over to Lady of the Cakes’ blog and read hers. It’s much better than my ramblings, I assure you.

Irn-Bru

As I mentioned in the other post, today I found a can of Irn-Bru.

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Well, okay, I found multiple cans of Irn-Bru. It was in a rather strange little sweet shop that sold other such strange things as passionfruit- and pineapple-flavoured Fanta, Jalapeño-Cheese Crisps, and powered Bubble Gum:

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But since, over the past year or so, multiple people have told me to try Irn-Bru, I bought a can and did so.

After seeing those adds, I’m beginning to question my desire to revisit Scotland.

Anyway, one of the first things I discovered about Irn-Bru, upon examining the can, was this:

It’s a lie! It’s not actually made from girders. They’re not in the ingredients list.

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There is, however, this helpful warning:

AdverseIMGP1659

Which, given that it’s a sugary carbonated beverage with added caffeine, feels like a bit of an obvious thing to say.

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Irn-Bru has a bit of an odd taste – a bit like a cross between chewing gum and banana lollies (neither of which I like). Despite this, and the initial shock of the taste, it grew on me, and about halfway through the can I was actually enjoying it.

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Here’s a little bit in a cup to show you the colour. The picture doesn’t really do justice to the amazingly bright shade of orange it is.

I’m not really a fizzy drink connoisseuse. Actually, I don’t like fizzy drinks very much at all. And Irn-Bru’s not really my favourite, but in terms of foreign fizzy drinks, it’s got to rate pretty high. Which, given that Coke makes me feel sick, Root Beer reminds me of hospital disinfectant, and Doctor Pepper tastes like cough medicine, isn’t very hard.

It can’t compete with Orangina, though.

For more information on Irn-Bru, see http://www.irn-bru.co.uk/.

Happy Birthday, Mum!

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Wrapping paper.

Yes, it’s my mother’s birthday today. I’m not going to say how old she is.

We went out for brunch at a café on the foreshore.

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Mum’s eggs Benedict.

Dad's eggs Benedict.

Dad’s eggs Benedict.

My "Spanish tortilla". It was a real tortilla, which was surprising, topped with eggs, tomato chutney, and bits of chorizo.

My “Spanish tortilla”. It was a real tortilla, which was surprising, topped with eggs, tomato chutney, and bits of chorizo.

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Jessica’s steak-mushroom-potato thing.

Jessica tried to take a photo of Mum.

IMGP1600And then she tried to take one of me.

IMGP1601And then I tried to take one of Dad.

IMGP1602Then we left the café…

IMGP1603… and went for a walk on the jetty. It was very windy.

At the beginning of the jetty was this sculpture thing:

IMGP1604IMGP1605They look like lifesavers to me. Here’s the plaque:

IMGP1606It’s a bit difficult to read.

IMGP1607Then we actually walked along the jetty.

The view about ten metres along the jetty. It's a cold, windy, overcast day... We could have hoped for better for a beach party in November.

The view about ten metres along the jetty. It’s a cold, windy, overcast day… We could have hoped for better for a beach party in November.

About halfway along the jetty is this overhead sculpture thing:

IMGP1611According to the sign, it is called a “Aeolian”, and makes a “constantly variable hum” (which, on a day like today, is a nice way of saying “annoying drone”).

IMGP1610We eventually got to the end of the jetty.

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Nothing between us and Antarctica.

And then we were a bit silly on the way back. I had the camera.

IMGP1614IMGP1615IMGP1616IMGP1617IMGP1619IMGP1620IMGP1622IMGP1623IMGP1625IMGP1626Well, some of those photos were nice. Some just look cold.

This is a pretty good photo of my dad. We don't have many good photos of him.

This is a pretty nice photo of my dad. We don’t have many good photos of him.

And a not-so-good one of my mum, feeling windblown.

And a not-so-good one of my mum, feeling windblown.

Then we went to the ice-cream shop.

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Jessica loves her ice-cream.

IMGP1628Mum and I both got “apricot, almond & honey yoghurt ice-cream”, which was surprisingly yummy. Dad got a waffle, since he feels he missed out in America. Jessica got a waffle basket with three scoops of stuff in it, as you saw above. Mum and I also shared a plate of freshly-made doughnuts.

Then we went to the sweet shop, which sold a lot of strange and interesting stuff, including powdered Bubble Gum:

IMGP1635And Irn-Bru:

IMGP1633Which I’ll write more about in my next post.

On the way home, Jessica tried to blow bubbles:

IMGP1646IMGP1645IMGP1634IMGP1636She eventually succeeded when we got home.

IMGP1651Here are some more pictures of the journey home:

IMGP1644IMGP1641IMGP1650IMGP1643IMGP1639Stand by for my analysis of Irn-Bru.

Chick Pics

Yay! I finaly have pictures for you!

IMGP1537This is one of the bantams; the Welsummer lookalike I mentioned. Here are her feet:

IMGP1536Her maternal grandmother was a Sizzle (half Silkie and half Frizzle; hence the extra toe, which is a Silkie characteristic).

Here’s the other interesting bantam:

IMGP1542And her hairy legs. She’s called Charlotte.

IMGP1540She’s the only chick with hairy legs thus far.

Here’s the ideal “black-and-gold” chick:

IMGP1554She’s such a show-off.

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She’s got gold-ish coloured fur (down) around her eyes, which is promising.IMGP1548And here’s a pic of her tummy.

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The other interesting one in the “black and gold” lot is this one.

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Mum found it first and showed it to me, and I got really excited because I thought one of the green eggs had hatched – this is the colour Graham (the half-Araucana rooster) was when he hatched. But no, she’s from the black and gold lot. Which is strange. Even stranger is the little white-yellow chick that hatched from the black-and-gold lot.

IMGP1562And here’s a nice orangey one from the “stripes” lot:

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And, just for cutes, I’ll add another orange-y one from the stripes lot, who was only about an hour old at the time of photo:

IMGP1585Old enough to be fluffy, but still young enough to not really be able to stand up properly, or walk; and to flop over and fall asleep in adorable poses, rather than face-planting as older chicks do:

IMGP1586Oh, and there’s also this slightly weird chick – I think there’s something wrong in its head. No, honestly, take a look:

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I mean, there’s one in every lot that sits apart from the rest, closes its eyes, and cheeps loudly and repeatedly. But they don’t usually start it until they’re a day or two old (this one was less than an hour old at this point); and they don’t usually have random bald patches or take much longer learning to walk than others. So, yeah, I’m sort of worried about this one.

Anyway, another cute chick from the “stripes” section is this one, Spot:

IMGP1579Isn’t she cute? There’s something to be said for asymmetrical markings.

The current total – and probable total total, since more are unlikely to hatch – is ten in the “stripes” group, four bantams, and seven “black-and-gold” chicks. There were four stillbirths (chicks who pip and even begin to zip in some cases, but die before hatching) – three bantams and one “stripes”. The bantam chicks are 1/4 large fowl, so it’s possible they’re just too big for the egg or something.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the drowned hen made a full recovery. And stank out the brooder area.