Archive for the ‘language’ Category

Uncharted Waters

March 14, 2007

I finally finished reading Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. It’s impressive that anyone made it back (albeit only 18 of the original 260 crew members, and one of the original five boats), considering their spotty information about most of the world and the many real (monster storms, natives who didn’t know what to make of them) and imagined (monsters of the deep) threats they encountered or expected to encounter. Depending on which accounts you read (all of which the author references), Magellan is portrayed as a brave explorer, a hero, a traitor, a control freak, a religious zealot, or worse. The book is well written and I learned a lot about that period of exploration and life on-ship in the 1500s. It was particularly interesting to read about the armada’s experiences along the coast of South America and navigating the now-named Strait of Magellan, which I stood overlooking from a point near Punta Arenas, Chile, a few years ago.

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Accented

October 25, 2006

Here’s something interesting, the Speech Accent Archive. Hundreds of people were recorded reading the same paragraph of English text, and you can listen to them to get a feel for the accents of people from different parts of the world and with different levels of English proficiency. Pretty cool.