Incidents & Such Like: BELL

My favourite teacher at school was the English teacher for she was very young and a most encouraging person.

One time she came to our class still laughing in stitches because she was highly amused of what had happened in the previous class. She turns to me and says:

“I asked in a class ‘How does one ask for time in English?

One boy put his hand up all eager to answer:

I know, I know, he says:
‘How plenty is the bell?’”

We were in hysterics both of us. I still remember it like it just happened.

For non-English native speakers this answer says volumes straight away, for in many languages such as in Finnish and Swedish, for example, the way that one asks for the time, literally is this way.

Years later came the television series that was so popular called: Saved by the Bell; but then it was not known, so the pupil could not have guessed that.

Have a great week.  Rii :))

What kind of school memories do you have?

SONNET of Chaucer: Legende of Goode Wimmen

For thy trespas, and understond hit here:
Thou shalt, whyl that thou livest, yeer by yere,
The moste party of thy tyme spende
In making of a glorious Legende Of Goode Wimmen, maidenes and wyves,
That weren trewe in lovinge al hir lyves;
And telle of false men that hem bitrayen, That al hir lyf ne doon nat but assayen

(Legend of Good Women or as he wrote: Legende of Goode Wimmen)

Isn’t it just wonderful? I do love the way the words are so recognizeable even today when one considers that these lines were written sometime between 1385-1386! As you know, I do love words and the beauty of languages  is in the expressions and the use of words, and this is no exception, for it really appeals to me very much indeed.

Chaucer wrote in continental accentual-syllabic metre, a style which had developed since around the twelfth century as an alternative to the alliterative Anglo-Saxon metre. Chaucer is known for metrical innovation, inventing the rhyme royal, and he was one of the first English poets to use the five-stress line, the iambic pentameter, in his work. The arrangement of these five-stress lines into rhyming couplets, first seen in his Legend of Good Women, was used in much of his later work and became one of the standard poetic forms in English. His early influence as a satirist is also important, with the common humorous device, the funny accent of a regional dialect, apparently making its first appearance in The Reeve’s Tale.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – October 25, 1400) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat courtier, and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars with being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French or Latin. His name is derived from the French chausseur, meaning shoemaker.

The Prologe of IX Goode Wimmen

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A thousand tymes have I herd men telle,

That ther is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle;
And I acorde wel that hit is so;
But natheles, yit wot I wel also,
That ther nis noon dwelling in this contree,
That either hath in heven or helle y-be,
Ne may of hit non other weyes witen,
But as he hath herd seyd, or founde hit writen;
For by assay ther may no man hit preve.
10 But god forbede but men should leve
Wel more thing then men han seen with ye!
Men shal nat wenen every-thing a lye
But-if him-self hit seeth, or elles dooth;
For, god wot, thing is never the lasse sooth,
Thogh every wight ne may hit nat y-see.
Bernard the monk ne saugh nat al, parde!

A possible indication that his career as a writer was appreciated came when Edward III granted Chaucer a gallon of wine daily for the rest of his life for some unspecified task. This was an unusual grant, apparently, according to Wikipedia where this information comes from. Chaucer had a very interesting career as a diplomat, author, poet et al so there is so much what one could write on him but this is it for now.

Rii xx

Source: Wikipedia

Incidents & Such Like: PUTTY


The fact of the matter is that Donald Duck and I share the same predicament in being persons for whom things happen – whether one is looking for them to happen or not!! Sad things, mad things, glad things, do roll out in a never-ending roller coaster. I have said in another entry that I am rather lively and energetic of meself’ and tis so very true as all sorts of incidents tend to happen me DD-like wherever I go! Never a dull moment in me life, I am telling you.

This incident happened to me when I had just about arrived in Ireland all those years ago. Well, the moral of the story is this:

How (not) to make an unforgettable impression on your in-laws-to-be. And to stand out like a sore thumb, to boot!!

We – that is the mother-in-law, the father-in-law, himself and I, were sitting by the table in the kitchen a January evening after Tea – read: dinner, as it is called in Ireland – and it was very cold and draughty inside because of the single pane, large windows in spite of the heavy-lined curtains, so says this new daughter-in-law-in-the-making:

“Why don’t you insulate the windows
to keep the heat in,

because that is what we do in Finland and Sweden?

I do not know the name of the thing that one uses to do
the job in English,
but in Finnish it is called, ‘Kitti’, and

in Swedish it is called ‘Kitt’ ( – pronounced: s**t).”

For a second there was absolutely no reaction from anybody, then I realized what I had said and burst into fits of laughter!!

The mother-in-law gives an amused chuckle for that one, but says nothing.

The father-in-law is deadly serious, and says nothing.

Himself gives me a good kick under the table, and says not a thing.

Moi says: ” Oooppss… What did I say?!!”

They must have been all thinking, ‘ What have we got here?!!’ Strange people them Finns using such a substance for insulations. It just shows that certain words in one language, can have so very different meaning in another. I did not know that the word I was looking for was, putty. Ever after that intermezzo, I most certainly do!

Tis for now again until the next posting. Riihele xx.

* The in-laws were of the age that they could have been my grandparents, so to say a thing like that in their hearing was just not normally done.
Picture is off the net.

FINN HUMOUR: Optician’s Chart

Optician's chart

The joke about the Finno-Ugric languages is this that:

“We do not only read the chart at the optician’s,
but we can (correctly) pronounce it as well!!”


Finnish language belongs to a family of languages, the Finno-Ugric Group of languages with Estonian, Hungarian and a few others; whereas Swedish, English, Russian et cetera belong to the Indo-European Languages, and it is, also, one of the few official languages in Europe that does not belong to the latter. Swedish and Finnish both have the ‘funny’ letters – ä, ö, å, Ä, Ö, Å – but we in Finnish do not sing with a lilt, like the Swedes do when we speak, but we do it solemnly!! Meaning: Finnish is not a so-called ’tonal language’.

Now, with my name, RIIHELE, [ree-hele] the accent is on the [-he] – which is my WordPress name, is a combination of my two first names, and this, Riihele, can be divided into two parts: rii ~ the two ‘i’ are pronounced like ‘me’ and hele ~ both the letter ‘e’ are pronounced like the first ‘e’ in Heather.

Still in the wagon or did you, by any chance, drop off at some point?
As you know rather well that I am very fond of quizzes so here comes to you the one on Finnish language quizz in the link – not for the faint-hearted, mind you, but do have a go!

It is a fact worth considering that the English speaking nations have a huge financial advance over the other languages for as the report, entitled ‘As you Like It’, estimates that the economic advantage to Britain of speaking the world’s most common language is worth £14.5 billion a year. (The online). That is an awful lot of dosh – in any language!

Tis for now. Riihele xx

Incidents & Such Like: BYE!


I have lately talked an awful lot about Ireland and this happened there as well some years ago. I was working with the students coming from all over the world for ten years and this Incident took place in our home with a most lovely student from Italy.

She would come into the house every time and say:

Then she would leave the house and say:
“Bye, Bye!”

This went on for a good while and then himself decided that we couldn’t possibly let the girl go back to Italy not even knowing the correct basic greetings, so he got up off the dinner table and did the following actions:

He walks out of the house closing the door and immediately comes in saying:


Then he walks back out again shutting the door while saying:


He did this for a couple of times and then the Italian girl gets the Eureka! and says:


From then on the greetings were correct and she was one of the loveliest persons ever that we met. When we told this to some English speaking people they were thinking, that she was a bit ‘thick & dim’ but that is not the case if one keeps in mind that in Italian these greetings are:

Ciao‘ when coming in and

Ciao Ciao‘ when leaving;

so for her the way she was saying made perfect sense!

Tis for now yet again. Riihele xx.

The moral of the story: Never judge the foreigner to be dumb, if you do not know anything about their customs, culture and country or language.

Incidents & Such Like: Love


This GOLDEN OLDIE incident took place in Ireland in my home. I worked for ten years with foreign students who came to Ireland to learn and to improve their practical knowledge of the English language which they needed so that they would be able to study further in their chosen field in the university in their countries. I met the most amazing people through it with many of whom I am still in touch.

One time I had these three handsome hunks from Barcelona and one of them, Aleix, had to begin with huge difficulties to get across even the most simple thing he wanted to say. I got to know a lot of Catalan with him, because nearly everything had to be checked in the Catalan-English dictionary, specially, to start with. However, by the time he left his language skills were phenomenal; cracking jokes and so on.

By the way, Catalan is a mixture of French, Italian and Spanish, a lovely sounding language, indeed. Sorry to say but my knowledge of the said language is non-existant at present.

This is what happened:

A single girlfriend of mine and myself were sitting in the living room each on our own sofas and doing the usual ‘Girl Talk’ – no gents, please, when in walked Jose and Aleix, one plunking himself down beside me and Aleix sitting beside E.

E. is so used to all these nationalities in my life that she like a bestest of the best Irish people wanted to do some polite small talk with them as usual.

Here is the conversation between the two: Aleix and E.

E. “How long have you been in Ireland?”
A. “Yo-uu loo-vee —mee–“

E. trying again, slower, “How long have you been in Ireland?”
A. “Yo-uu loo-vee–mee–!” (in a rather surprised voice)

E. yet slower and with a perfect Irish intonation,

“How long have you been in Ireland?”

A. “Yo-uu–loo-vee–mee??” in a totally confused voice by now

E. by now so frustrated and embarrased that she says flicking the hair back:

“Am going home!”

Jose and I had rather enjoyed the comedy holding our aching stomachs and nearly falling off the sofa.

And off she goes. I see her off the door as is the custom of the hospitality in Ireland not knowing what to say and holding myself as serious as I possibly could.

When I return back to the sitting room, says Aleix, after Jose had translated the conversation to him,

“I think I put my foot in it.”

I nodding said,

” Yes, I think so, too.
But don’t worry E. has a brilliant sense of humour
and she will be grand.”

After this small talk E. avoided like a plague to ask any foreigner she met in my house as to how long they had been in Ireland. That question was never raised up ever again.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

I worked as a support person: mama, nurse, shrink, teacher, cook, caterer, friend, et cetera 24/7 for them. A most rewarding, though demanding job.

The photo is taken by me.

Do You Speaka the Language?


That is the question, but to answer it, it is not so simple. My words are different to your words and that is why the mix-ups and misunderstandings often happen. The most commonly spoken language one would think is the Mandarin Chinese but it is not, would you believe, as this article where I read about this stated that ‘the most common language is badly spoken English‘! Apparently, the total number of English speakers in the world is about 1,4 billion, and the native speakers of this figure are about three to four hundered million in all. I remember myself while learning English in Finland that good old saying:

‘English is spoken all over the world.’

I read these hilarious and belly-achingly funny signs in English that had been placed in the hotels and shops in various countries.The thing with these signs and notices is that what the people meant to say and what actually was expressed were miles apart. I spent one evening trying to figure out how the wording should be to come across as the correct message correctly delivered. I will write down some of my suggestions which I will give after the hiccups. The European Union has this article called Fight the FOG – Translation Service guidelines. Here are some examples of the aforementioned signs and notices that I got from the EU and other sources:

‘Guard dogs operating.’ – USA

‘Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.’ – Swedish furrier’s

‘Don’t go to another shop to be cheated – come in here.’ – USA

‘GO AWAY!’ – Travel agency in Barcelona

‘When two trains approach each other at a crossing, they shall both stop and neither shall start up until the other has gone.’ – Law in Kansas

‘After one visit we quarantee you will be regular’.* – Indian restaurant sign

‘Not to preambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.’ – Austrian ski hotel**

‘Closing down, thanks to all our customers’ – Notice at a factory

What the Swedish sign wished to state was that ‘We make fur coats for ladies from the pelts provided by the customers.’ The guard dogs operating in a hospital would mean that the dogs did the operations and not the doctors! Funny. But what was supposed to have been said is this, I think, ‘Guard dogs are patrolling in the area’. The travel agency sign in Barcelona is really saying to the customers to scram! Not a very service-oriented attitude of a company if one’s thinking would be this! ‘Get away‘ is what they had in mind, I should think.

English is really my third language after Finnish and Swedish and I have spoken it for decades as my first language while living abroad. I have lived more away than in Finland. I think in many languages depending on who I am thinking of, and I have also dreamt in nine languages! I don’t translate the languages in my head in what I hear, neither in what I want to say but just let it flow. Most of the time it works fine but then there are the exceptions that are absolutely hysterical and side-splittingly funny. HA HA!! Stuff big way.You just gotta laugh at yourself.


Tis for now. Riihele xx.

* The article that would have made the sentence to what was aimed at is ‘a’ – to become a regular (customer) in their restaurant. To be regular is totally different thing as it means that you are not constipated. This very one gave me the best merriment of them all.

* * This one about the Austrian ski hotel really made ma brains work overtime in thinking what is the message that was supposed to have been delivered. Then as I was pondering and wondering it hit me, this is it! And this what I think it is: ‘Do not roam around the corridors in the skiing boots during the quiet night hours.’

The very last line of the hiccups about the ‘closing down-notice’ – what comes to me head is that they wanted to announce the closing down and thank their customers, not to blame them as this sign really indicated! So my suggestion is this: ‘Closing down. Thank you to all our valued customers for your support over the years.’ Or something like it. I find the trains in Kansas such a toughie one if there ever was one…

What are Your ideas to get the true, intended messages across?