July 2nd, 2007


bilingual curiosity

This is kind of a long shot, but has anyone out there tried to solve crossword puzzles in their non-native tongue?

Actually, I don't even know if there are such things in German or French or other languages - which all seem more prone to diacritical marks, which I would imagine increases the difficulty of both construction and solution.

I was doing the Sunday New York Times crossword yesterday, and for some reason happened to think of a friend of mine from Chile whose grasp of English is excellent but for whom the occasional turn of phrase remains a mystery. Yet so much of crossword clues rely on familiarity with just those sorts of idiom, that it occurred to me to wonder how she would do with the NYT crossword; or how I would do with one from the Santiago La Nación, should such a thing exist.

Bird by bird: backyard avifauna!

We didn't do much to plant it, although my mom is working on cultivation. Our backyard, in any case, is often full of birds. I've taken to leaving my opera glasses and bird books out on the shelf next to the sliding glass doors, thus having a chance to use them for identification before the subject has chosen to move on. We have put up a hummingbird feeder (for the design and contents of which my mom did research! on the internet! Knock me over with a feather, so to speak - usually I end up doing the searches for that kind of thing. Go mom!) and a seed feeder, and they have both gotten traffic. So I've seen:
It isn't always easy to figure out who is what. For instance, I would swear the first hummingbirds I saw at our feeder were brown. But none of the descriptions say anything about brown - the closest is the rufous hummingbird, but the rest of the description doesn't fit. Then yesterday I saw one and since I was looking for green, I saw it as olive/kakhi green. Would I have said 'brown' again if I hadn't known to be looking for green?
Anyway, it's fun to watch them all come through and do their various things.