Word of the Week

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The word is sometimes spelled nyubivagrant.

English never ceases to amaze me how it often has a word for such specific concepts.


SIEC 2017


SIEC stands for Summer Intensive English Course and it’s the second time I’ve led one of the sessions in Indonesia. This year I went with my friend and former colleague, Helene. Helene taught writing for publication while I taught presentation skills. I dread giving presentations so this was a challenge, but I found some great materials and my students, all working instructors, worked hard and in our final day presented their research in a mini-conference.

I was honored to work with these kind, hospitable people. They quickly formed a supportive learning community and were so kind and helpful in the feedback they gave each other.

On the weekends they took us sightseeing and at the end they showered us with gifts and kind words.

I so admire the dedication and effort they’re putting into making Indonesia more of a part of the academic world.

Word of the Week

acyrology, n.‘ Incorrect use of language.’
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌasᵻˈrɒlədʒi/, U.S. /ˌæsəˈrɑlədʒi/
Forms: 16 acurologie, 16 acyrologie, 16 18– acyrology.
Etymology: < post-classical Latin acyrologia incorrect use of language (from 4th cent. in grammarians) < Hellenistic Greek ἀκυρολογία< ancient Greek ἀ- a- prefix6 + κῦρος authority (see kyrine n.) + -λογία -logy comb. form. Compare acyrological adj. rare after 17th cent. Incorrect use of language.[1550 R. Sherry Treat. Schemes & Tropes sig. B8v, Acyrologia. Improprietas, when a worde nothynge at all in hys proper significacion is broughte into a sentence as a cloude.]

1577 H. Peacham Garden of Eloquence sig Dj, This vice or fault is called, Acyrologia: which is an vnproper speaking in forme and sense.
1609 Bp. W. Barlow Answer Catholike English-man 266 This Antilogie the Antapologer..would salue by a figure in Grammar called Acyrologie, and would scarre vp the wound by an improprietie of speech.

1645 J. Goodwin Innocency & Truth Triumphing 92 Not to impose any tax upon an acyrologie.

1659 R. Smith in R. Chilswell Let. R. Smith to H. Hammond conc. Creed (1684) 10 There is no Tautologie, or twice re-iteration of the self same thing, no acurologie or impropriety, contradiction or absurdity, no hysteron-proteron, no disorder in the position of it in the Creed.

1839 Lady Lytton Cheveley (ed. 2) I. x. 221 His work..was meant to be..a condensation of all the ‘logics’ and all the ‘ology’s’; but, unfortunately, tautology and acyrology were the only ones thoroughly exemplified.

1844 Lady Lytton Mem. Muscovite II. xi. 313, I wished..to bring my mother to a more specific declaration of her thoughts, freed from this species of acyrology which rendered them at least doubtful.

1994 Internat. Jrnl. Classical Trad. 1 42 Óláfr’s adaptation of Donatus’s treatise is particularly significant in two of these cases, acyrology and amphibology.

Hŭ tóu shé wĕ

Hŭ tóu shé wĕ is translated “tiger’s head, snake’s body.” This Chinese saying describes how things can start out well with a project or partnership and then (all too soon) the quality fades. In the book Poorly Made in China, this saying is mentioned a lot as it is how the Chinese like to do things all too often.

I saw this at Xiang Jiang High School where I taught for Coastline Community College. They cut back on time spent teaching English, on resources, but not on tuition. It’s happened with the Australian program here and my program. When I first started teaching here students got 10 hours a week of English. Now they get 8. Next year some freshmen will get 4 hours with the others soon to follow suit as they did with the Univ. of Tasmanian students. When all the first years get 4, then all the other students will just get 6. They’ll have more time mainly for test prep with the Chinese English teachers, some are fine and others aren’t. The less skilled Chinese English teachers just talk about English in Chinese. It’s the best they can do. They use a lot of rote learning. As these hours with Western educators decreases, the students will be less prepared to take on the daunting task of business or technology classes in English.

The program becomes a Potemkin Village, with a high price tag.

Word of the Week



skeuomorph (SKYOO-uh-morf)


noun: A design feature copied from a similar artifact in another material, even when not functionally necessary. For example, the click sound of a shutter in an analog camera that is now reproduced in a digital camera by playing a sound clip.


From Greek skeuos (vessel, implement) + -morph (form).


A skeuomorph can be employed for various purposes. Since people are used to the click sound of a camera as feedback that the picture has been taken, it is now artificially-produced in digital cameras. Other examples are copper cladding on a zinc penny (for familiarity) and wood finish on a plastic product (for a more expensive look).


“While working two months ago in South Lowestoft, Suffolk, British archaeologist Clare Good excavated a four-sided object made of the mineral jet. It closely matches a geometrically designed gold object found far away at a burial site called Bush Barrow near Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The match is so close that experts believe the black artifact is a skeuomorph, or a copy in a different material.”
Jennifer Viegas; Stonehenge Amulets Worn by Elite; Discovery News; Apr 6, 2007.

The High Life

Construction: I think 25 or 30 buildings are going up

Today we had some spring weather and I wandered around quite a bit. In the afternoon I went along the main road Di Kou Lu past all the construction and rubble from buildings that will soon fade from our memories. Though I don’t think I’ll forget the building that housed the neighborhood duck restaurant.

West of R. T. Mart

R. T. Mart's surroundings

East of R. T. Mart

There’s a new condo development in the works and it’ll be vast. They’ll have lush landscaping and they boast about a new international school. It’s right across from another middle school. The drawings make it seem quite Ivy League-ish. The sales office was grand with a pianist playing classical music and attentive staff dressed to the nines to wait on people. They didn’t know what to make of me. I was “just looking” but their English was limited as is my Mandarin.

Nice as this is I can’t help thinking: “Housing Bubble.”

Jinan Central Hospital

Jinan Central Hospital

I accompanied a colleague and a translator to Jinan Central Hospital. I had braced myself for squalor and chaos since that’s what I found at Shandong Provincial Hospital the one hair-raising time I went there. This colleague had gotten a Chinese friend in Shanghai to look into hospitals here. I’d asked my Chinese friends in Jinan and they all recommend the provincial hospital.

Well, the central hospital has an international department so the receptionist and nurses spoke English. We arrived at 2 pm and were done in 45 minutes with her prescriptions in hand and paid for. Now this wasn’t like a hospital in the U.S. or South Korea, scrubbed and shiny. It was dark and dingy and paint was coming of the walls, but it wasn’t too bad. My colleague had an appointment and we were seen right on time. The doctor spoke some English and the nurse was so friendly that we were at ease. There were parts that were different than what we experience in the US. Privacy wasn’t an issue so I was expected to go in along with the patient and translator. When we moved to the examination in the doctor’s office (rather than the first office) all three of us were supposed to stick together. The doctor examined the patient on a couch in her office rather than on one of those examination tables with white paper. The room didn’t seem as clinical as I expected. But all seems well.

At the provincial hospital when you’re getting examined, throngs are in the room with you. The doctor is seated at a desk and dozens of people are talking or yelling at him as he scribbles requests for tests or prescriptions. I have no idea how patients get the right medicine. Luck I suppose.