Subversive Arabic Breast Cancer Awareness AD

This is actually quite clever, the ad shows a number of young Saudi (I presume) men who have been asked to publicly ask women to expose themselves, using the word Ikshifi (Arabic fonts don’t work on my blog due to an unresolved DB issue) they are really coy about it and a lot of them refuse to say it out right.

Initially you’d think from the way that they are talking and the common use of the term that they are asking the women to take off their hijab. But towards the end it becomes apparent that it’s a play on words, the Arabic for expose is also the Arabic for examine. A heartfelt request for women to get their breasts examined for breast cancer closes the video.

It got me watching it because I thought it might be about something else. Hopefully it has the desired effect.

Abdul Is Not A Name!


Cap’s being all gentlemanly and then Hawkeye appears leaping through the eye with a wisecrack.Oh Hawkeye, never stop being awesome! 
[Taken from The Ultimates 02 #12]

See, not an asshole. Ok Clint is being a bit ridiculous here but his family are dead and he has been tortured by this point.
Cap is just being a gent’.

Disregard the content of this, yeah sure the idea is that Captain America is trying to be a nice guy to the terrorist super hero or something (I don’t read the Ultimates so I don’t know what is going on).

The guys name Abdul Al-Rahman that’s not a real name!!!! Abdul means servant of, it’s actually “Abd” the “Ul” part is actually a prefix for the next word and just means “The”, Abdulrahman is a name it means the servant of  “Al-Rahman” or The “Rahman”; Al-Rahman being one of the 99 names of God meaning the merciful. The name Abdulrahman means servant of God, Abdul Al-Rahman means The The servant of god.


Sometimes Abdul is used as a a short form of Abdullah, literally Abd-Allah servant of Allah, servant of God. But not many people would use it like that, and they wouldn’t use a shortened version of their first name if  they were then going to say their family name.

Just because it sounds Arabic doesn’t make it okay! It irks anyone who speaks the language and enrages them, especially since you aren’t strictly supposed to use Abdul as a prefix for anything other than one of the names of God. Some people name their children Abdul-Rasool, servant of the prophet, but that is frowned upon and considered blasphemy in most circles…


The image is apparently from Ultimates 02 No. 12

Image From Pocket Full of Geek

Learn Koreans in 15 Minutes, Or at Least How To Read It…

I love linguistics and I love learning about different writing systems, Ryan Estrada has put together a webcomic that teaches you how to read Korean, it’s actually quite simple, unlike Chinese or Japanese Kanji, where the character has next to no relation to the sound; Korean characters are actually logically made up of sounds. You just need to know how to read the different sub characters and put it all together. Have a look:

Really Bad Translation

I saw this ridiculously badly translated flyer for a butchers in Riyadh posted to twitter by mkhonji. I don’t think you need to be able to read the Arabic to see how funny it is. But it helps…

Replace Abdullah: Should be Abdullah’s Place but could be interpreted as in place of Abdullah.

Baladi Dick: Deek means rooster, Balady means local so this actually means locally sourced roosters or chicken.

Homers: This is pigeon I’m not sure what went wrong here.

Baladi Bathroom: Again Baladi means local, and bathroom is supposed to be pigeon. The difference between the word for “bathroom” and “pigeon” is inflection.

Bathroom French: You’ve probably guessed this is French pigeons

I’m not sure what “Saman” is?

My Eggs: Is locally sourced eggs but was probably misread as the eggs of my country which lead to this mistranslation.

All in all this is made of win!

Arabic Translation Fail…

My colleague pointed this photograph by Sahil Anand yesterday, It amused me very much. Reminded me a little of this image of a Chinese restaurant that did the rounds on the internet 4 years ago.

via  The Guardian.

Chinese is not easy…

I have tried to learn Chinese, I spent a few months listening to audio lessons to try and get to grips with the language before going on holiday to Beijing a couple of years ago. It’s not an easy language to learn, grammatically it’s fairly simple, the difficulty is with the tones.

What to you or me might sound like one sound can actually be a falling rising tone, a rising tone a a falling tone or a flat tone. They all sound fairly similar to the untrained ear, or at least they do when someone is talking at full speed. I thought I had got the hang of the tones and gleefully tried to talk to people using my new found linguistic masters, but because I had no idea what I was doing not only could I not understand them they couldn’t understand me. The above poem consisting only of the syllable shi using various tones and contexts points this out beautifully…

That said English isn’t exactly the easiest language to learn if you aren’t a native speaker, I’ve seen this kicking about for the internet hundreds of times:

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  13. They were too close to the door to close it.
  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
It’s odd because to us all of the above is second nature, English spelling also confuses non native speakers, mainly because of the number of letter combinations that produce the same sound look at the letter “C” for example, the word can’t is pronounced kant, but celebrate is pronounced selebrate. The letter “C” is essentially a redundant letter, and don’t get me started on ph why that combination of letters sounds like an “F” is confusing to any non native speaker.
So yeah, Chinese may be complicated but so is English…


Mandagrams – helping to understand written Chinese

Johnson Banks has come up with a novel way of learning Chinese characters which he calls Mandigrams

The Basic Idea is to draw the Character within what it is morphing it slightly like so.

He has a whole bunch of examples in the post see if you can guess what these mean?

I love the drawing style and I think these could be used as a learning tool for Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji, except I think it might be quite difficult to do for some of the more abstract characters.

One of my favourite things he’s done is the clock face below with all the numbers in both Chinese and Arabic numerals. I’d considder paying money for a clock that had this face, it’s just looks really cool.

Via the johnson banks thought for the week.

Who do you write like?

I did some playing around with a tool called I write like today.  Its a pretty neat little web application that will compare any body of text you give it to a slew of famous authors and tell you who your writing is most like.  I entered in a bunch of chapters from my 2009 NaNoWriMo story and got some odd results.

Apparently I write like Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, Dan Brown and Steven King. I put a bunch of other blog posts in and got mixed results, lots of Steven King one of my dream journal entries was even compared to Jane Austen, arguably that was about a dream that was set in the same setting as Pride and Prejudice but with a steampunk Iron Man.
I’m not sure how it works out whose writing style you are similar, I assume it compares commonly used vocabulary and sentence structure.

I tested it to see if it could spot the genuine article and it did manage to identify an excerpt from a Margaret Atwood book as having her writing style.

Seems like an interesting toy, I just wish that it had more info on the computational linguistics behind it.

Incidentally this blog post is written in the style of…

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I’m Convinced Stephen King is their default we failed to find any patterns in your writing person…