Tim Boucher

Questionable content, possibly linked

Tag: language

Insult generator

One of many out there, I’m sure. Sample output: pimple licking tree sucker.

Failure of the should

Having trouble with the internet lately. Seeing so many shoulds floating around there. No one person can respond to all of them. And yet every day, there is so much outrage — some real and valid. We’re putting it onto each other. Our own anxieties and fears, we see more clearly their outlines in others.

So what is a should to do? Who should should? Why shouldn’t you should? What are the five fabulous things that should blow my mind about should — if I only click on this article. If I only sign up.  If I only give my email address. Should I be giving these people my email address? Should I be spending my time this way?

Should according to whose rules, according to what metric? What happens if we would and could and knew we should, but just finally for whatever reason don’t…

This is interesting, the etymology of should, from shall:

Old English sceal, Northumbrian scule “I owe/he owes, will have to, ought to, must” (infinitive sculan, past tense sceolde), a common Germanic preterite-present verb (along with can, may, will), from Proto-Germanic *skal- (source also of Old Saxon sculan, Old Frisian skil, Old Norse and Swedish skola, Middle Dutch sullen, Old High German solan, German sollen, Gothic skulan “to owe, be under obligation;” related via past tense form to Old English scyld “guilt,” German Schuld “guilt, debt;” also Old Norse Skuld, name of one of the Norns), from PIE root *skel- (2) “to be under an obligation.”

So there’s some linguistic connection to guilt, debt, owing. Obligation. Must.

And looking at guilt:

of unknown origin, though some suspect a connection to Old English gieldan “to pay for, debt,” but OED editors find this “inadmissible phonologically.”

Maybe it’s ‘inadmissible phonologically’ but not phenomenologically…


Old English gyldan “to gild, to cover with a thin layer of gold,” from Proto-Germanic *gulthjan (source also of Old Norse gylla “to gild,” Old High German ubergulden “to cover with gold”), verb from *gultham “gold” (see gold).

You shall wrap your shoulds in the gold of guilt; that much is an obligation.

Duolingo percent fluent score is way off

I’ve been using Duolingo for several weeks now to create a base floor of knowledge in German. I’ve decided their percent fluency score is pretty much random…

The length of time I’ve been 26% Fluent in German is ridiculous. Obviously, I understand this is a hard thing to measure, and that people need to incentivize their progress as they work through the steps towards a goal like this, but this is one element I really wish they would revisit.

I also don’t really care at all about their virtual reward currency, “lingots,” which allow me to “buy cool stuff at their virtual store.” It has almost no bearing on my usage of the application.

Lastly, don’t fool yourself into thinking that because you’re receiving good marks on a language via Duolingo that this will automatically translate into a “high score” when you go try to practice speaking that language in the actual country or community. It’s a fun app, and can be a good supplement to other learning, but I wouldn’t trust a 100% fluency score off Duolingo to equal real world fluence by a long shot…

Learning German

I’ve been playing around with Duolingo for German. I wouldn’t say I’m “learning” German from the app, though, as it claims I’m already 25% fluent in the language. Which I’m clearly not.

I’m starting to use Youtube to supplement the Duolingo exercises, and that seems to be helping to make more concrete what I’m drilling in the app. Plus when you hear people speak, you can listen to the music of the expression, which I think is a much easier way to learn than by rote memorization. Though the two can also go together well, I suppose.

In any event, this is a great playlist where the German speaker goes around the city and talks about objects, people, etc and it shows both the German words and a small English translation underneath. It’s by Easy German:


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