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28Jan/15

Boeuf Bourguignon – Word of the day

Boeuf Bourguignon - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Boeuf Bourguignon - Word of the day - EVS Translations

English is an amalgamation of numerous languages that have been left to simmer over time and flavoured to meet different palates, but it’s interesting to note one area where the language doesn’t seem to want to make changes - cookery. At the same time, for a great number of people, there is still an air of mystery surrounding some cooking phrases, which are, for Western cuisine, mostly in French. Today, let’s look at one of the tastiest cooking words to come out of 1915 - boeuf bourguignon.

 

Boeuf bourguignon, which literally can mean “Burgundy-style beef,” is a stew consisting of beef, Burgundy wine, broth, herbs, mushrooms, and typical stew vegetables - such as potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. But beyond the dish itself, boeuf bourguignon essentially tells the story of the global rise of classical French cooking. For many years prior to the word’s first usage in France circa 1866, the dish was considered a simple peasant stew, where meat required time to cook in wine and broth. In the half century that it took the word to arrive in English, the dish gathered wide attention in France as well as abroad as being a classic example of French cooking (along with the likes of coq au vin, escargot, jambon persillé, etc.). To finally cement its place among the culinary elite due to its inclusion in renowned chef Auguste Escoffier’s (of Savoy and Ritz-Carlton fame) Le Guide Culinaire, published in 1903.

It wasn’t long until the word finally made its way into the English language. A mere 12 years after Escoffier’s guide, the word appeared in a September 1915 issue of The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, where the author describes a meal by saying, “We sat over our substantial soup and our working-men’s portions of boeuf bourguignon.”

In 1944, the restaurant critic and chronicler of the social elite Iles Brody, described the richness of the dish in the On The Tip of My Tongue cookery book: “Who wants to drink water to wash down oysters? ...Or boeuf bourguignonne?”

Though possibly the most common reference offers the best suggestion - coming from Michael Kenyon’s May You Die in Ireland (1965), “He would have liked someone to cook boeuf bourguignon for him in the evenings.”

Seeing as how we are currently in the grip of a cold winter, this may be a good time to warm up with a nice, hearty bowl of this classic peasant stew.

 

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27Jan/15

Salt and pepper – Word of the day

The term salt and pepper, like ivory and ebony, refers to things that are composed of two colours – normally white (salt) and black (pepper), and can also be used for light and dark shades.

And while ebony and ivory was popularised in 1982 by a duet song of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, which got its title and inspiration from the case of two old women (one white and one black) playing piano together, who after suffering a stroke became partially disabled yet continued playing the white and black keys together, one hand each; the salt and pepper term had a way less glossy story even if coined 100 years ago.

In the January 9, 1915 issue of the American magazine Saturday Evening Post, a main character of a magazine's serial was pictured as “running her hand over her smooth salt-and-pepper hair”.

Even if the straight image a salt and pepper hair colour strikes is a Cruella de Vil or Dalmatian-like (distinguishably defined areas of white and black hair), the salt and paper goes for any hair colour of at least two different colours, one of which is white – bad or good news, every greying hair can go for salt and pepper.

The salt and pepper term got into the spotlight in the late 50s, for a meaning far away from hair, but tightly linked to colour – the so known coloured schools. It was the Dallas plan of 1958 to begin a school programme which to support racial integration. Under the program students would had been given the voluntary preference to decide whether to attend segregated or mixed races schools and classes. The plan resulted in opinion clashes and court hearings and became known as the salt and pepper plan. Houston followed shortly, as Wall Street Journal reports in its August 12, 1959 issue: “Houston is considering the ‘salt and pepper’ plan which has been widely suggested but not yet used. It calls for initial integration in schools where there is least objection from parents and expansion into other areas later.” An year later, Houston had its first Afro-American pupils in white schools.

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26Jan/15

Shinkansen – Word of the day

The word shinkansen refers to Japan’s high-speed rail network, although most people use the word when referring to the train itself. In this sense, shinkansen is sometimes translated as bullet train because of its speed and appearance.

The Tokaido shinkansen (Tokyo to Shin-Osaka) was Japan’s first high-speed line which opened in 1964 – the year of the Tokyo Olympics. In 1968, the word first appeared in English print when an edition of the Japanese National Railways Newsletter was translated and described a plan to “improve the design of the Shin Kansen type electric railcars to be used on the New San-yo Line which is an extension of the New Tokaido Line”. Since the 1960’s, the shinkansen network has continued to grow and has brought great benefit to businesses, the economy and the environment; although noise pollution is an issue. In 1978, a writer for The Times Literary Supplement mentioned the shinkansen, describing “the clatter of the neighboring shinkansen bullet train”, and here in 2015, ways to further reduce this noise are still being researched.

Shinkansen are a good way to travel around Japan - especially for foreign tourists who are able to buy shinkansen rail passes to tour the country’s major cities (the passes are not available to the Japanese or anyone resident in Japan). Shinkansen are spacious, extremely clean and can get you to major cities in record time with top speeds of 240–320 km/h (150–200 mph) on the major lines. Don’t be surprised if you can’t board your shinkansen once it has stopped at your station, however. Before you can get on, teams of cleaners rush into each of the cars armed with feather dusters, plastic bags and polishes to make sure everything is sparkling when you sit down. Once the cleaners have finished, they come out of the car, stand by the side of the train and bow to all the awaiting passengers. Once you have boarded, you can sit back and enjoy the scenery in comfort knowing that you will make your destination in excellent time.

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23Jan/15

Metroland – Word of the day

Whether you spell it as metroland or metro-land, and regardless of how pronounce it, the term is there to describe the area surrounding a metropolis. When thinking of a metropolis nowadays – images of a modern, overcrowded central city with skyscrapers would arise, yet the word metropolis dates back to 2nd century Rome, when the term was serving the same purpose of referring to a capital city, to later name the mother city of the Byzantine Empire's colonies and to enter the English language only in the early 16th century.

Not surprisingly the term metroland was firstly used to describe the suburbs of London and in particular the northwest part of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Middlesex.

And even less surprisingly, it was coined by the Metropolitan Railway Company (the Met), which was servicing the area.

The Metropolitan Railway Country Estate Limited - a housing developing branch of the Met - was on a quest to sell houses for every budget, situated in the so called rural areas, yet the advantage claimed that are well connected to London, been regularly serviced by the reliable Metropolitan Railways.

The term metroland was coined in 1915 by the marketing department of the Met when the Guide to the Extension Line became the Metro-land guide and the company advertised its dream houses, located in peaceful and charming nature, yet only a drive away from the heart of London in the Railway Magazine. A monthly magazine published in London and aimed at the railway enthusiasts, which had no commercial rival at the time and was the perfect advertising platform – a real adland for the metroland.

The Met concept of the dream and well connect to London houses seems to have not completely answered the buyers' expectations as 11 years later, Rose Macaulay in her Crewe train, has described one of the metroland houses in Buckinghamshire as a great one, yet the owners “must have a car, though; relying entirely on the Met. is too awkward, with so many strikes and so few late trains...”

And she went a few steps further: ”After all, it's not London; metroland can't be London. “

But the last decades' tendency of more and more families fleeing the big metropolises and settling down at suburbs indicates that metroland might actually be the dream land.

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22Jan/15

Franken-Schock!

Franken-Schock

Franken-Schock Analysis - what short and long-term effect it could have on the euro and the franc, along with on the individual level

A small, quiet, neutral Alpine country that is best known for timepieces, chocolate, cheese, and as an economic (and tax) safe haven isn’t necessarily the sort of place that you would expect to witness a global currency tremor. As virtually everyone knows by now, the tremor was caused by the Swiss National Bank’s removal of the Swiss franc’s peg to the euro. While the event itself is clear and the fact that it could cause some economic/financial issues is evident, there’s still a lot to be understood about why it happened, what short and long-term effect it could have on the euro and the franc, as well as what effect it will have on the individual level.

Much with explaining any incident, we have to look at what caused this to happen. For Switzerland, everything centers around the currency peg, which was 1.2 francs per euro. Though this peg made international travel and international business easier, it was increasingly causing pains at the Swiss National Bank, which was being forced to devalue the franc and purchase euros in order to keep the currency peg in place. After 3 years of the peg being in place, the Swiss cantons and individuals who own the SNB started to become worried about potential inflation and the $480 billion in foreign currency (mainly euros) that they had been forced to accumulate.

The threat of quantitative easing (QE) is what turned this worry into action. With the EU teetering on the brink of a recession and the typical actions taken to bolster the economy being ineffective, such as deficit spending or the lowering of interest rates, it seems increasingly likely that the EU will resort to quantitative easing, which would involve creating more euros to buy the debt of euro-zone countries. For the euro-zone, this would “cheapen” the euro, which would increase liquidity and increase economic activity; however, for Switzerland, this would mean having to print vastly more francs and acquire more euros to keep the peg in place. As the QE estimate being floated is currently in excess of €550 billion and Swiss National Bank has the amount of 70% of the Swiss GDP’s worth of foreign currency (again, mainly euros), the threat of QE was far more risk than the Swiss were willing to handle.

As soon as the removal of the peg was announced, the effect on both currencies was felt. In the span of a day, the franc went from being worth 1.20 per euro to being CHF1 worth €1.17 to finally settling near parity, which still represents a gain of approximately 20%. Additionally, this fluctuation forced currency broker FCMX into a necessary $300 million financing deal in order to continue operations and closing of Everest Capital’s $830 million Global Fund, which has been betting on a decline in the franc. For the franc, the removal allows it to better retain its independence as well as its reputation as a “safe haven investment,” along with precious metals, U.S. Treasuries, etc. For the euro, while this won’t have a large macroeconomic impact (since the EU draws Switzerland in economic size), it definitely exposes some issues regarding the strength of the EU’s economy as well as the actions of the European Central Bank, aside from giving the euro and the EU a PR disaster.

Unfortunately, it is only the individual level where most of the pain will be felt. In business terms, cross border trade just became approximately 20% more expensive. So, for buying anything Swiss or, possibly, vacationing in Switzerland, everyone, especially those paying in euros, can expect to pay more. Given, with 70% of Switzerland’s GDP coming from the export of goods and services, this could be a painful break; however, there is an upside: reports from towns bordering Switzerland, such as Germany’s Constance, are reporting an economic boom as Swiss customers, who have just gained an additional 20% of purchasing power, are spending freely.

With this news being fairly new and details on the ECB’s QE policy yet to emerge, there’s a lot of speculation as to what impact the Franken-schock will actually have. Whether this is purely a case of Swiss protectionism or whether this signals a broader, renewed interest in hard currencies and away from manipulated currencies remains to be seen. Still, actions speak louder than words, and when the reputable Swiss franc makes a move like this, the EU and the global economy are bound to take notice.

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22Jan/15

Radio Frequency – Word of the day

The term radio frequency is another centenarian to join our list of words celebrating 100 years this year. It was first printed in English in The Electrician, a British scientific journal, which stated: “Mercury arc rectifiers can be operated at a good efficiency even at radio frequencies”. After reading this sentence, the term may not ignite your curiosity initially, but in the context of radio astronomy, radio frequency starts to become a more intriguing and mysterious scientific phenomenon.

Radio waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum and oscillate at a very high frequency of 300 GHz to a very low frequency of 3kHz; this is what we understand as radio frequency. In the field of radio astronomy, scientists use radio frequency to study activity in space. At a radio frequency of about 15 MHz up to 38 MHz, scientists can hear noise produced by interaction between Jupiter and its moon, Io. Solar bursts can also be heard, as well as many other sounds originating from cosmic objects.

Depending on how much of a space geek you are, perhaps the most fascinating discovery to be derived from the use of radio frequency is the Wow! Signal

SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and for decades the SETI Institute, as well as other universities and organizations, have carried out SETI projects, scanning the skies for signs of life beyond earth. In 1977, using the Big Ear radio telescope at the Ohio State University Radio Observatory, the American astronomer Jerry R. Ehman made history when he recorded a signal of unknown origin in space. He was so amazed at what had appeared on his computer print out that he circled the signal and wrote a big Wow! in red pen, thus naming this mysterious signal. Whether the signal Ehman recorded was really a sign from space is the source of debate, yet to this day it remains unexplained and it is the only time a cosmic signal of unknown origin has ever been recorded.

So there you have it…you may think you understand the term radio frequency, but now you know a little more about the incredible insight it gives us into our universe. One day, by using radio frequency, we might get another chance to hear from life beyond the stars.

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21Jan/15

Adland – Word of the day

It’s no understatement to say that advertising is literally all around us. Whether or not it actually influences what we buy or when, we interact with elements of advertising all throughout the day, regardless of whether it’s at home, during our daily commute, on the internet, or even during a sporting event. So where does all of this advertising come from? The tongue-in-cheek answer is today’s word of the day: adland. A centennial American colloquialism, adland is simply a representation of the overall advertising industry, much in the same way that the term Fleet Street is still synonymous with the British press.

While adland may not be a real place, the industry that it represents in the UK is real and expansive. Nationally, traditional advertising spending was valued at over £11 billion in 2013; however, when you add in digital advertising, the amount jumps to well over £17 billion. Beyond these currently available numbers, the projected forecast for 2014 and 2015 is an increase of 5-6%. While this increase may not seem terribly large, it seems as if adland is following us into the age of mobile communication and information: internet ad spending has grown by over 15% (from 2012), and ad spending solely on mobile devices has grown by 95%, with an additional growth of 74% expected for 2014.

Though being worth a lot of money, adland has always been somewhat suspect. In fact, the first known usage of the word comes from the American advertising publication Printer’s Ink, which, in 1915, remarks, “A curious place is adland.” Poking fun at the persuasive nature of the industry in 1959, Changing Times (which became Kiplinger’s) printed, “Adventures in Ad-land, or which cigaret should you smoke?”

For better or worse, as long as there is a product or idea to be sold, advertising will be with us, and adland will continue to be a vibrant place. If you disagree, maybe it’s just because you haven’t seen the latest TV commercial or pop-up ad on Facebook?

 

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20Jan/15

Lifestyle – Word of the day

Though we may all share some commonality, the fact remains that we, as individuals, are different. When put together, these subtle nuances which make us individuals, are today’s word: lifestyle. In origin, the word comes from the works of Austrian psychiatrist/psychotherapist Alfred Adler and may be a derivative of the German word/concept Lebensstil. Defined, the word itself simply means the style in which a person chooses to live their lives; however, the psychology behind the definition is vastly more complex and in depth. For example, have you ever given any thought to what makes you an individual and why?

Regardless of whether you believe that people are defined by their lifestyle choice or that people can choose their own lifestyle, our lifestyle both defines us as well as how we change over time. From small changes like getting into better shape or quitting smoking to larger changes like deciding when to start a family and with whom, they all define who we are. In 1974, approximately 45% of the British public smoked tobacco, but that number in 2013 fell to 18.7%: this represents a change in individual lifestyle. To see a larger, national impact of lifestyle changes, consider that, over the past 40 years, Britain has seen the average household size decrease from 2.91 persons to 2.35 persons, while the number of married/cohabitating couples has decreased from 92% to 78%, which shows a generational shift- Millennials don’t seem in as much of a rush to get married and have kids as their parents were.

For such a complex and far-reaching concept as lifestyle, the term has only actually been around since 1915. It first appears in volume 24 of the publication Mind, which initially said that, “This spirit of expediency...excludes any possibility of peace or rest in unity with the universe. The author applies to it, as the ‘life-style’ of our age, the term Impressionism.” Though, as stated before, the term originates from and has its basis in psychology, as time passes, we can begin to see it taking on more of a broader, social meaning, such as George Orwell in 1946 writing in his Critical Essays that Koestler was “true to his life style,” or The Guardian in 1961 saying that, “The mass-media...tell their audience what life-styles are ‘modern’ and ‘smart’.”

Overall, from the term itself to its applied usage, we can see that things change. From one individual to another, and from one generation, cultural group, or country to another, lifestyle is a constantly changing thing. While all of this constant change may be confusing, don’t fret- everyone else is just as confused, and our lifestyle differences predate the word by several millennia!

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19Jan/15

Bullshit – Word of the day

The term bullshit celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, yet its origins, even if not absolutely clear and surrounded by urban myths, go far back.

It is a common and totally understandable misconception that bullshit is a combination of "bull" (male bovine) and "shit" (excrement) and that originated to reflect smelly talking.
Yet the term bullshit is actually a contraction of "bull" (lies) and "shit" (excrement) and is therefore related to bollocks (the difference is that bullshit is a lie which is known by the teller to be untrue) and comes to the English language in the mid 13th century via the Old French boul meaning "fraud, deceit,trickery”, which originates from the Latin bulla - seal, sealed document.

The word bullshit, as a term to mean nonsense, started its official life from a 1910th unpublished Thomas Stearns Eliot poem, boldly entitled The Triumph of Bullshit. The poem was initially aimed to address the critics of his poetry who were, among the rest, finding it ...”tasteless...impotent and possibly imitated” and were refusing to get him into print. His answer to all critics was the simple : “For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.” As Eliot emigrated to England and made it to print several years later, he replaced the “critics” with “ladies”, significantly changing the meaning of the poem to now aim at all the women who did not appreciate his attention and merits.

And the first written reference to the word bullshit comes from a 1915th editorial letter from Percy Wyndham Lewis, the famous English painter and author, who reviews Eliot's The Triumph of Bullshit as “an excellent bits of scholarly ribaldry”.

The term bullshit has also early paved its way into the USA literature and that was in 1928, in the Enormous Room of Edward Estlin Cummings. Cummings was sent to Europe as part of WW1 Abmulance Corps and in his work refered to the First World War as “lotta bullshit”.

It is believed that bullshit was highly used among WW1 troops, been popularized by Australian and New Zelanad troops and by 1920 been part of even the American and British commanding officers' vocabularly and refering to the ceremonial protocol and the nonsense of all the cleaning and polishing drill).

The modern world highly embraces the word bullshit, and gone are the times when it was a taboo - instead today it is familiar and used in pretty much every part of the globe and seems to have the linguistic powers to fit in any context and label any situation.

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16Jan/15

Headstand – Word of the day

The word headstand celebrates its 100th year in print this year following its first appearance in 1915 in The Indianapolis Sunday Star: “Barrett..brought the crowd to its feet by doing a Barnum and Bailey flip, handspring and headstand all combined”. It’s hard to visualize this feat... could a headstand, which is a stationary balance position on the head supported by the arms, be part of an acrobatic series that requires speed and momentum to perform the flip and the handspring? Who knows for sure what breathtaking scenes took place, but this is where the headstand first appeared in print. Its origins, however, go back centuries, since it’s a classic feature of yoga and gymnastics.

In 1968, The Times newspaper described the purpose of the handstand in the context of yoga, writing: “Hatha yogis have known for centuries that the vigorous flow of blood to the brain brought about by the headstand..is likely to create..improved clarity of concentration”. This is an interesting method to improve concentration. The headstand is not a comfortable position to get yourself into, but it's certainly a healthier (and cheaper) option than grabbing a cup of coffee to fuel brain power as many of us do these days.

The sport of gymnastics is also well known for including headstands in its catalog of moves. It’s much younger than yoga, originating in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Germany when boys practiced physical exercises on apparatus. In 1896, it appeared as a sport in the first modern Olympic Games and has gained huge popularity since. Perhaps back in the nineteenth century, the headstand was a major feature of gymnastic displays, but since then, it's been downgraded to a beginner's move as increasingly hair-raising acrobatic skills take its place.

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