Beki Grinter

Posts Tagged ‘english’

William Oughtred

In discipline, European Union, research on September 10, 2010 at 4:38 pm

William Oughtred died in Albury, Surrey on June 30, 1660. He had invented an early form of the slide rule and introduced the ‘x’ symbol for multiplication.

He also invented, or should it be “coined the expression” sin and cos for sine and cosine.

He was a member of the English clergy, early post-reformation, and like other scientists (e.g. Newton) he had an interest in alchemy.

Wikipedia tells me that one of his students was Christopher Wren. People probably know Wren for St. Pauls Cathedral. But Wren had a pretty eclectic (diverse) set of interests. He was an individual interdisciplinarian. Or was he a product of his times.

Well for cos, sin, and x, I thank you William. For being engaged with astrology and alchemy, I think it’s an important reminder of the origins of science.

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You have a nice accent

In European Union on October 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm

What do you do when someone says “You have such a nice accent”?  People say this to me fairly frequently.  It’s not actually a great accent, to the English I used to sound like I was from Norfolk (ask an English person why that’s a problem/hilariously funny).  Then I moved to the United States, and now to the English I sound like someone who is in need of serious help.  For many, I am not in fact English sounding anymore. If you think I’m kidding then perhaps the following will help explain:

  • I have been offered tours of the town where I lived and attended school.
  • I’ve been helped with the currency. A particular favourite of mine was when a lady showed me a pound coin and explained that England used to have notes (I remember and have a note) and that the switch to coins was a travesty (i remember thinking that too) but at least not as bad as joining the Euro (a point on which we disagreed)
  • I’ve had people argue with my husband, who is American, that I am not American – “no, surely she’s american too” (as if I wasn’t actually there)

But, here in the U.S. I seem to still sound English and all the wonderful things that come with that including having complete strangers tell me what a lovely accent I have.  Which leads me back to the question.  What’s the right answer?  Thank you.  (Short, polite, but somehow not a full response).  “Thank you, oh, yours is delightful too” (possibly, possibly not — although it does have the feeling of appropriate reciprocity).  Lately I’ve been experimenting with the “I grew it myself” response to my accent.  That gets some seriously weird looks.