An Odyssey; A Father, A Son, and An Epic

An Odyssey; A Father, A Son, and An Epic Daniel Mendelsohn  I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Mendelsohn is a College teacher and in the book he is about to begin teaching an undergraduate seminar on The Odyssey when he decides to invite his father to audit the course as an attempt to connect with him. Mendelsohn has come out as a homosexual and hopes to reach through the wall that


Trip of the Tongue, Cross-country Travels In Search of America’s Languages

Trip of the Tongue, Cross-country Travels In Search of America’s Languages; Elizabeth Little; Bloomsbury, 2012   Little is an obvious fan of language study. This book traces her search for languages (in the US) that are disappearing or at least are in danger, in the face of the predominance of English. It isn’t an academic study and it isn’t as broad-based as the title might suggest, however it is an

Words and Rules

Words and Rules; The Ingredients of Language; Stephen Pinker, Basic Books 1999   Reviewed by Graham Mulligan   The subject of this book is regular and irregular verbs. Everyone leans their native language in roughly the same way; lots of words and concepts assembled together following patterns and rules. People don’t just “blurt out words but rather combine them into phrases and sentences. So, what’s the issue with the verbs?

Dreaming in Chinese

Dreaming in Chinese, Mandarin lessons in life, love and language. Deborah Fallows, 2010 Reviewed by Graham Mulligan Deborah Fallows is a linguist married to a journalist, James Fallows. They have lived in Shanghai and Beijing and struggled to learn some Mandarin. This is her collection of fourteen useful, commonly-heard words or phrases and some cultural tales that they inspired her to relate.

Teaching English in Spain

For seven days in October we talked and talked and talked. 84 hours of contact time. One to one, two to two, small group activities, telephone calls one to one, conference calls one to three, whole group meetings, lunch time conversations Anglo-Spaniard, with wine, dinner time conversations Anglo-Spaniard, with wine, liquid English in the evenings.

Mandarin flashcards

I just added another deck of flashcards to Anki so it is nearly complete from lesson 11 to 27. You need to download the Anki program to your computer first. You will find it here. Once you have it installed you can open the program and go to the file menu and select Download (and Shared Deck from the drop-down menu). Type in ‘Langara’ and you should see the files.


I have created a set of flashcards for studying the mandarin vocabulary for each lesson in the Langara College program ‘Mandarin for Adults’. The flashcards are built in Anki and are posted on the AnkiWeb site. You need to download the Anki program to your desktop computer or mobile. Go to Download/Shared Deck and search for ‘langara’ and they will show up as ‘Langara lesson #’. I used the MDGB

Xin nian kuaile

花開 富貴 竹報 平安 Huākāi fùgùi. Zhúbào píng ān This is the Year of the Dragon. Mandarin learning sites Here are some of my favourites: This is a good word dictionary and can be synced with Skritter.

The Last Lingua Franca

The Last Lingua Franca; English Until the Return of Babel Nicholas Ostler; Walker; 2010 Summary by Graham Mulligan Lingua Franca was the common contact language of the eastern Mediterranean in which Greeks and Turks could talk to Frenchmen and Italians. In 1204 Constantinople fell to the Franks who were from Venice. Many now regard English as a lingua franca spread by Anglo-American colonialism and economic interests. Indeed it is the