Tag Archives: culture

Vol is vol and no rainchecks!

Vol is vol. How to translate this little Dutch beauty?

I’ll tell you what not to do: full is full. NO.

Your translation will depend on the context.

 

If it’s for a concert or show:

Space is limited.

First come, first served.

Tickets will be sold on a first come first serve basis.

Seats will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.

 

If you’re selling a product:

Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Limited supply.

Limited time offer.

No rainchecks.

 

What’s a raincheck? It’s the opposite of vol=vol actually. When a store is out of stock of a sale item, you can get a rain check and then come back and get the item another time for the sale price! Talk about customer service. 🙂

Here is what a rain check looks like at Target:

rain check english lessons utrecht

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How language transformed humanity

Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of “social technology” that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.

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March 10, 2014 · 12:00 pm

New Year’s Resolutions and how to make them stick

Resolution is just a fancy word for goal. When we make New Year’s Resolutions, we are just setting goals.

We’re setting them for the whole year though! Most people can’t follow through on their self-challenges for a whole year, but what about for a month? Have you ever thought about setting yourself a 30 day challenge?

Matt Cutts gives a short (3 1/2 minute) presentation about why 30 day challenges are much more effective than big, crazy resolutions. This is an apt discussion for the New Year. Have you considered learning a new English word every day for 30 days? Or simply writing 250 words of whatever you want in English for 30 days? This structure can be especially useful for those who are trying to write academic articles: 250 words a day for a month. Check out the talk below.

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December 30, 2013 · 12:00 pm

The secret structure of great talks | TED.com

Nancy Duarte has discovered a structure for your presentations that can keep your audience engaged and actively listening to your idea. This 18 minute talk gave one piece of advice: describe the status quo and describe what could be. Move back and forth between the two worlds. In this way, we can persuade our audience of the truth or value of our ideas. Watch the talk below to get more details!

 

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December 23, 2013 · 12:00 pm

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday

Have you heard of Black Friday? It’s another name for the day after Thanksgiving. But why is it called Black Friday?

Thanksgiving is a busy week! You may or may not work on Monday and Tuesday. You cook or travel on Wednesday, you eat on Thursday. After such a busy week, you usually do one of two things on Friday: sleep or shop.

On Friday, everyone is either too tired from eating all that food that they take it easy or, if they have any energy left, they join more hordes of people to go shopping and take advantage of Black Friday sales. It’s called Black Friday because so many people start their Christmas shopping on this day that retail stores traditionally go from being in the red to being in the black, financially.

english course utrecht

There are plenty of good sales on this day to encourage everyone to shop, and to continue shopping throughout the holiday weekend! Some people get up ridiculously early and wait outside big shopping malls at 5 or 6am to get the early bird deals. Some people have actually been killed in the stampede!

Interested in more expressions and posts about Thanksgiving? See Thanksgiving part 1 and part 2.

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Thanksgiving is a big deal

The countdown has begun! Less than two weeks until Thanksgiving!

So how big of a deal is Thanksgiving actually?

When you ask if something is “a big deal” you want to know if it’s important.

Since it always falls on a Thursday, schools always give Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off. Thanksgiving is the only actual “holiday” but many adults also take off Wednesday and Friday, or at least Friday. Wednesday is usually necessary because great hordes of people travel to see their relatives on Wednesday, and since lots of families live quite far apart in the US, that’s a very busy day for the airlines.

In fact, the Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest travel period of the year. So Thanksgiving is a pretty big deal!

english course utrecht

Thanksgiving is more like a holiday week, since you can imagine that not much gets accomplished on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is a pretty busy day for those not travelling as they have to start preparing the huge meal on Thursday!

Speaking of food…

As we saw last week, food takes center stage at Thanksgiving. One of the most traditional foods for the Fall and Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie, so this week I decided to share a traditional pumpkin pie recipe! Fresh pumpkin pie is creamy and delicious and best served with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie

For the crust:

250g walnuts

2 tablespoons butter

Puree the walnuts and butter together in a food processor. Spread and pack into the bottom of a pie pan using your fingers. Bake for about 10 minutes at 175 C (I’m not really sure if this is necessary!) Easy peasy!

For the Filling:

3 cups pumpkin puree (roast a pumpkin or two in the oven, scrape out the flesh and puree)

1 cup sugar (metric: 200 grams)

1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice (piment)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

4 large eggs

1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (koffiemelk in the Netherlands ~500 ml, but you can also use coconut milk, soy milk, or whipped cream, whatever you want, really!)

Mix everything together in a large bowl and bake at 210 C  for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 175 C and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

This is what the finished product looks like:

English

The filling recipe originally comes from this fabulous site.

Interested in more posts about Thanksgiving? See Thanksgiving part 1.

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Trick or Treat

Halloween

You can’t be in the US without celebrating Halloween it seems, one way or another. Whether it’s going to a Halloween party with friends or sitting on your doorstep handing out candy to the kids who come by, Halloween is a pretty big deal for adults as well as children. There’s dressing up for the adults and trick-or-treating for the kids.

When you’re a kid, it’s fun to dress up and there’s a point that you can really believe that the spaghetti you’re putting your hands into is really human intestines, that the peeled grapes are human eyeballs. That haunted house really was scary at some point! (and maybe it still is…)

haunted house

And you know what was really scary? Taking a night time hayride and having crazy men jump out of the woods at you, screaming and brandishing chainsaws. Yes, that’s what we did in Texas. Terrifying.

Here is some vital vocabulary for talking about Halloween:

1. Pumpkins

As an adult, I would prefer to eat them rather than carve them and watch them rot, but still. Carving pumpkins was fun as a kid. Carved pumpkins, or jack-o-lanterns are lit from the inside with a small candle and can be put in your window or outside your front door. It makes for a nice effect on the street, especially when the carvings aren’t too scary.

pumpkin1

pumpkin2

2. Dressing up

Who doesn’t love to dress up? You’ve got to admit, babies are especially cute in their little pumpkin costumes.  You can do something crazy or just go for a traditional toned-down witch costume, like this one:

english lessons utrecht

3. Trick-or-treating

You basically go from door-to-door and ask people for candy, except that the magic word is no longer “please” but “if you don’t give me candy, I’ll play a (practical) joke on you/I’ll trick you.” And that’s what “Trick or Treat” means. It’s not very nice stuff, is it?

trick or treat

You can even sing:

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

Give me something good to eat!

Happy Halloween!

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