Who says I never read murder mysteries!

I am currently reading what is essentially a murder mystery (set in revolutionary Boston but with magic). I almost never do that. This book was signed by the author and recommended and given to me by the person it was signed for (my brother’s housemate).

Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson
Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson

At some point I realized that by an odd coincidence, the book I read immediately prior to this one was ALSO essentially a murder mystery (actually a contemporary thriller, set in the UK). It is ALSO signed by the author.

Bitter Fruits by Alice Clark-Platts
Bitter Fruits by Alice Clark-Platts

I did not read these two in a row on purpose. And actually, it turns out I didn’t really read them in a row; there was a YA fantasy novel in between that I read in one sitting. It’s just that I’m trying to read books more or less in reverse order as they come into my possession, and these are both books I got recently. And they’re not that much alike—they’re not even the same size!—except that they both revolve around murder cases and they’re both signed.

Queue for taxi

at the National Skin Centre
at the National Skin Centre

The sign says “QUEUE FOR TAXI”.

I wonder whether it means “[This is the] queue for [getting a] taxi” or “[Please ] queue [here] for [a] taxi”.

In one case, ‘queue’ is a noun, and in the other case, ‘queue’ is a verb. Actually, I think ‘queue’ is probably a verb.

Not that it really matters.

It only matters if the sign is trying to say, “[This is the] queue for [the] taxis [themselves]” because then it would be a singular/plural error.

The sign should just say “taxi queue” like most of them do.

In the US, we don’t really use the word ‘queue’. Which is fine with me, since as far as I can tell, ‘queueing’ is pretty much the only English word that has five consecutive vowels (HT XKCD).

In other news, ‘strengthlessnesses’ is a plausible hypothetical word with surprisingly few vowels, all of them ‘e’.

On a related note: at some point, Gallup chairman Dr. Donald O. Clifton apparently decided to name his awesome analysis tool  The Clifton Strengthsfinder, ensuring it would be unpronounceable even to native speakers of English and completely inconceivable to anyone else. I mean, ‘strengths’ is bad enough, but to then follow it up with a word starting with ‘f’? What was he thinking? I guess he never taught a small child how to read.

The White-Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom (2014)

I’m not an expert, but there seems to be a whole genre of Chinese historical-fantasy-war movies (wuxia). At any rate, that’s what this was. It had a dose of romance in it, too. Big budget. Nice effects. Entertaining. From my standpoint, actually, not that weird. It was good practice for me to listen to the Mandarin.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

My husband and I agreed that this movie was okay but not… spectacular. Which is ironic, because of course the whole thing is nothing but spectacle. It’s an amazing, long, fancy, expensive spectacle, and my reaction to it was more or less a shrug.

See below for why. Beware SPOILERS.

Continue reading Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

‘There’ is a noun.

In English, ‘there’ is an adverb. In Chinese, ‘there’ can be a noun. Or at any rate, can be analyzed as one.

Nàr hěn rè ma?
There very hot [question particle]?
Is it hot there?

Same with ‘here’.

是的。 这儿很热。
Shì de. Zhèr hěn rè.
Is [particle]. Here very hot.
Yes. It’s hot here.

If that isn’t proof enough, then observe that you can apply the possessive to ‘here’ and ‘there’.

Zhèr de cài hěn hǎo chī.
Here’s dishes very good eat.
The food here is delicious.

I am not sure whether ‘hǎo chī’ is considered a word or a phrase. I don’t think it matters.

If you translate zhè li and nà li as ‘this place’ and ‘that place’, they make perfect sense as nouns. Then you have to account for the fact that these phrases are used without prepositions as if they were adverbs and not nouns.

zài nà li.
He is [located] that place.
He’s there.

But in fact  is not a noun meaning ‘place’. It is a noun that means ‘in’ or ‘inside’, or it’s the preposition ‘in’. So ‘zhè li‘ is ‘this inside’ and ‘na li’ is ‘that inside’.

‘Sure’ is an adverb.

In English, ‘surely’ and ‘for sure’ are adverbs and ‘sure’ is an adjective:

If you ask, you will surely get a discount.
If you ask, you will get a discount for sure.
If you ask, you are sure to get a discount.

In Singlish, ‘sure’ can be an adverb even without ‘for’, and you would never put the adverb at the end of the sentence; it goes before the verb:

If you ask, you will [for] sure get [a] discount.


at Eggs & Berries at Westgate

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“No MSG added” is fine, but “in all our food” doesn’t make sense. In fact it almost makes it sounds like there is MSG… in all the food.


No MSG added in all our food.


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No MSG added to any of our food.
No MSG in any of our food.