Crumble is considered something typically British.
But as a word for food the origins are not quite so clear. Crumble has only been around seventy years or so. Strangely enough, it was an American nutritionist who presented the word in English in her 1947 work published in Chicago Meta Given's modern encyclopedia of cooking. She presents a recipe for apple crumble. She also introduced to the English language the concept of a tossed salad.
The first time the word crumble appears in a book published in England was five years later where it is referred to as a Canadian topping or crumble.
The recipe is one of the simplest around. Put in the base material e.g. apple or rhubarb. Then mix butter, flour and sugar together and sprinkle this mixture on top. Put it into the oven. Take it out when the mixture looks brown. Simple.
It was first cooked after the Second World War when there was rationing. The ingredients for this dish were simpler to get hold of than for pie crusts, What is more margarine was often used as a substitute to butter. As a result the recipe become very popular and in England they have been eating crumble ever since.
Wormwood origins from old German and is one of the first English words, first found extremely early where it is defined as “absinthium – wermod”. This was all the way back in 725. The spelling later changed to wormwood which was originally known as a way to get rid of fleas. Before 1500 it was recommended as “A medicine for a hawk that hath mites. Take the juice of wormwood and there and they shall die”. Turner the father of English botany described the plant extensively in his Names of Herbs (1548). But by then the plant had already become famous for its bitterness, also to the soul because of its use in the Bible. In the 1535 Coverdale Bible, Moses speaks to the Israelites and says that there should be among them so root “that beareth fall and wormwood”.
By the time of Shakespeare it is certainly well used. In an aside in Hamlet, Hamlet expresses his deep bitterness in two words “wormwood, wormwood”. In Love’s Labour’s Lost Rosamund gives a recommendation how “to weed the wormwood from your fruitful brain.” At more or less the same time you could drink a bitter – or wormwood beer or ale.
In vermouth wormwood has come back to its the roots in English. More recently wormwood is more well known as a plant which adds the bitterness to aperitifs. This was all the rage in the late 1700s in Italy who used it to provide the right flavour to a cocktail, such as the Martini and it is a key agreement for such drinks as Punt e Mes and Cinzano.
In German and Russian, wormwood is now called wermut.
Over the past month, one of the most interesting questions in international relations has been the whereabouts of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. While it now appears that things are returning to the status quo, as Kim seems to be resuming his public appearances, his mystery absence was allowing people around the globe to wonder “what if”. Though many have and are still wondering to what extent Kim Jong-un’s leadership style really differs from his father’s, his long absence allowed for extensive speculation on how North Korean politics could change if there was a change in leadership.
First and foremost, regardless of how a new political leadership in North Korea would look like, there would be change. The level of change, however, is highly unpredictable. North Korea could, similar to China enter a period of slow, market-oriented reforms. Or, the country could, like the states of the former Soviet Union, plunge into a phase of unrestricted capitalism that followed the years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But regardless of the level and pace of change that could occur, a significant political shift in North Korea would probably cause a local economic boom. In some ways, the relationship between the two Koreas might be best compared to the fate of the two Germany’s, whose political and economic union created a more politically influential and economically stable whole than the sum of its parts could be on their own.
But the differences between the North and the South are dramatic:
The current GDP per capita (PPP) in North Korea is approximately $1,800, lagging China’s and South Korea’s, $9,800 and $33,200, respectively.
A large percentage of North Korean GDP comes from agriculture (23.4%), while a relatively small percentage comes from services (29.4%). In both South Korea and China, agriculture contributes 10% or less, and services more than 45% of the nations’ total GDP.
International sanctions and political isolation have decimated North Korea’s international trade. The country’s trade per capita income is currently estimated to be at $161 (exported) and $197 (imported). This is merely a fraction of the international trade generated in the population rich People’s Republic of China ($1,631 exported and $1,439 imported) and in South Korea, where the international trade per capita income is about 100 times the size of North Korea ($11,373 exported and $10,543 imported).
As any student of economics knows all too well, a localized anomaly can only exist for a short period of time before being drawn back to balance with its surroundings. In the case of North Korea, this balance would take the form of significant economic growth, increased levels of international trade, and a massive influx of foreign direct investment (beyond just the current trade zones). Naturally, this can be a growth opportunity for any business, but besides real political change to capitalize on the Korean market will require the use of a translation and localization company that has a grasp of the language as well as the local business culture.
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Hiragana is the basic form of the Japanese writing system. It is a phonetic written script based on syllabic sounds. Each syllabic sound is constructed from one or two consonants followed by a vowel (with the exception of five sounds). The script begins as follows:
a, i, u, e, o あ、い、う、え、お
ka, ki, ku, ke, ko か、き、く、け、こ
sa, shi, su, se, so さ、し、す、せ、そ
… and so on for another 31 characters. It’s a simple and logical writing system which can be learned and memorized within a week, depending on the learner’s level of motivation. By looking at the examples above, you should already be able to read the following word:
The first reference to hiragana in English was when the book Illustrations of Japan, consisting of private memoirs of the djogoun was translated from Dutch. Isaac Titsingh, writer of the book and a senior official of the Dutch East India Company, describes a kind of Japanese poetry written in “firokanna, or women’s writing”. Since women historically did not have the same access to education as men, they used hiragana rather than kanji which was the writing system of the elite, hence Titsingh's reference to hiragana as women's writing.
Hiragana at school
In the 21st century, Japanese children begin reading and writing hiragana in primary school, though very soon move on to learning kanji, which takes a lot longer to master. But why don’t Japanese children just stick with hiragana and save themselves years of writing out lines and lines of kanji characters in order to memorize them?
Firstly, hiragana is written without using any spaces between individual words which makes it very awkward to read when you can’t quickly determine the end of one word and start of the next; kanji, on the other hand, makes this distinction clear. Even if spaces are inserted between words, because of the high number of homonyms in Japanese compared to English (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings), for the sake of easy reading, it is still better to use kanji.
Japanese adults use a combination of hiragana and kanji when writing; the hiragana is used mainly (though not exclusively) to show grammatical function, whereas kanji represents meaning. So in an example such as the verb "to eat", the root of the verb is 食 and the grammatical ending is added in hiragana.
The artichoke was grown in England first in the garden of King Henry VIII in 1530 and was referred to in writing in the very next year in connection with the king. In 1582, Hakluyt recalls how they were introduced - “In time of memory things have been brought in that were not here before, as the artichoke in time of King Henry the Eight”. As was recorded in yesterday’s Word of the Day contribution, in 1727 Switzer a landscape gardener stated that “artichokes, as most other kitchen vegetables” like deep soil.
And the right soil and climate for the artichoke is the Mediterranean climate. So it is not a surprised that the top three countries producing the vegetable are Italy, Egypt and Spain. Together they produce about half of all the artichokes grown worldwide.
It is hard work getting to the heart of an artichoke which is the softest and most delicious part. This was recognised all the way back in 1542 when a general book on good health commented that “There is nothing used to be eaten of artichokes but the head of them." This awareness of the hard work required before you found the heart was commented on by Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Pink Panther (2006) who commented “A woman is like an artichoke, you must work hard to get to her heart" .
The first time the word vegetable appeared in English was in a very early translation of a mediaeval Latin poem which took a full eight years to finish. Troy Book was one of the first books written to showcase the English language. Its author John Lydgate (a contemporary of Chaucer and a major early writer of English) commented in his prologue that the book was just as good in English as in Latin and French. He was right. His work was also a source to a later Shakespeare work Troilus and Cressida.
Vegetable in the French and Latin of the time meant being alive, being able to grow. It is used in reference to the dead Hector who was embalmed, but who looked so full of life that he was vegetable, i.e. had a soul and seemed to be alive. This idea of a vegetable soul which is alive planted in an earthly body was a common use of the word for some 200 years.
The idea of vegetable as being a food which was not alive was used for the first time in 1700. Once again it was a famous English poet who was translating from Latin. This time is was Dryden who wrote:
Nourish life with vegetable food
And shun the sacrilegious taste of blood.
Soon afterwards the word began to be used as a word to describe a plant used for food. It was a landscape gardener who introduced the word in its most common form in English. Stephen Switzer (who was also involved in the garden at Blenheim Palace) also wrote The Practical Kitchen Gardiner. There in 1727 he states that “artichokes, as most other kitchen vegetables” like deep soil. Switzer also introduced into English such phrases as garden plant, melon merchant pond maker.
From this time onwards the vegetable became a part of the culture. A vegetable garden was described in 1756, a vegetable market in 1789.
The word originates from the Latin - sub (below) and marine (sea). The first time it was used in English was in a book about natural history by Francis Bacon. Actually Francis Bacon is one of the most important introducers of new words in English - more about him in a later blog. Certainly his interests and life were varied. Besides being Attorney General and Lord Chancellor he wrote about politics, science and religion. In his book on natural history published in 1626 he wrote that near to Sicily “much coral is found. It is a submarine plant. It has no leaves.”
The definition of submarine was specified by Robert Boyle the great British chemist. In his 1670 pamphlet Temperature of the Submarine Regions where he stated that submarine is not “the places so called are below the bottom of the sea, but only below the surface of it”.
Even though there were several examples of vehicles moving under the water at this time, it was a long time before the primarily meaning of the word submarine was a vehicle which operated under water. Initial considerations were about breathing and submergence times in a submarine boat.
The first successful attack by a submarine was by the American ship Hunley. Called a “fish torpedo boat” the Hunley was powered by a hand-cranked propeller and managed to sink twice in training, killing its crew on each occasion. Most famously in 1864 it was the first time that a submarine attacked and sunk an enemy ship using a torpedo. Unfortunately, it got too close to its target and the only time it was used against a live target, it got too close and the torpedo killed the crew and sunk the vessel.
Finding the right propulsion for a submarine was essential . Batteries did not provide enough range. It was only with diesel fuel that the modern submarine was possible. By the First World War there were already some 100 submarines in service and in the Second World War the submarine was a key weapon with more than 300 being deployed by the United States alone.
Sumo is a type of wrestling popular in Japan and is probably best known throughout the world for its unusually “large” wrestlers wearing little more than a kind of rigid loincloth during matches. To build up and maintain their huge sizes, sumo wrestlers eat 10,000 calories per day and it is chankonabe (a high-protein stew) which is the popular choice for meeting this target, as well as drinking beer and napping after large meals.
William Keeling, British Sea Captain for the East India Company, was the first person to reference sumo in the English language in his book Tourists' Guide to Yokohama published in 1880. He was considerably less polite in his observations of these sportsmen writing, “The Wrestlers (sumo) are a sight worth seeing….fat and flabby with overhanging paunches...they tackle one another just as the wrestlers do in the Greco-Roman matches’”.
But despite appearances and what seems, on the surface at least, like an enviable lifestyle, these heavyweight champions are dedicated to hard daily training and the sumo culture is characterized by strict hierarchy and tough discipline.
Modern day competitive sumo began in the Edo period, although the origins of sumo can be traced back to the ancient Imperial Court with its rituals linked to Japan’s indigenous religion, Shinto. In recent years, however, the sport has been plagued by controversy - not only has it been linked to the Japanese mafia (yakuza), but the media has put the spotlight on allegations of match fixing and revealed horrific levels of bullying between the ranks over the last decade.
Partly in response to these issues, there has been a steady decline in sumo’s popularity and this is also highlighted by the fact that some of the top players now come from places such as Mongolia and Hawaii, since it is becoming harder to recruit native Japanese. Nevertheless, wrestlers are still revered by their fans and Sunday afternoons are still a time for sitting back and watching a tournament on the TV.
Status is an English word which has developed considerably over time.
It originated from classical Latin where it had a wide range of meanings from stature to station in life, similar to the range seen in English.
Its first use was in 1577 in a book Description of England. Its author Harrison gives a good account of what England was like at the time of Shakespeare. In a chapter called Of the manner of measuring the length and breadth of things after the English usage Harrison states that “the height of a man is status”. There is then an extensive description of various units, not surprising for a country where measurement only of length has such a wide range of units such as line, inch, foot, yard, mile, links, chain, furlong, hand, chain and rod. Such is the status or state of this defender.
It was almost 200 years that status took on a legal meaning. It´s first use in 1767 was explained “Such is the status or state of this defender.” Gradually the meaning of legal standing became a common meaning with legal status becoming a common phrase. At the same time, the word also was applied to rank or position in life. The first use in the context was in 1818 when a magazine reports that “there is a sort of conventional status” for anyone who lives in a social context.
But it was only after the Second World War that the status symbol arrived. The British psychologist Tom Pear mentioned them for the first time in 1955, stating that they are “sign-vehicles, cues which determine the status to be imputed to a person”. Finally there was a phrase for a clear external indication for social status.