Curiosities

Stuck at home?
Josef Essberger
Here’s something you could do if you’re stuck at home, in a single room.

To panic, or not to panic? That is the question
Josef Essberger
What do YOU think?^^

Santa Comes a Cropper
Josef Essberger
Santa (proper noun): short for Santa Claus; another term for Father Christmas to come a cropper: (informal British idiom) fall heavily; suffer a disaster

English to remain official EU language
Josef Essberger
EU diplomats have decided to keep English as an official and working EU language. So even if the home of English goes, the language of English will stay

Non-Smoking Flight
Josef Essberger

Emancipated Marionette
Josef Essberger
Picture by my talented Viennese cousin Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig, who writes: Marionette (from the French meaning little Mary): We all function sometimes like marionettes—under the control of a marionettist. Depicted: emancipated marionette—free from control, free from bondage, free from any influence—just free—on its own… marionette (noun): puppet controlled by strings function (verb): work, operate […]

The Laughing English Teacher
Josef Essberger
I’ve got an English teacher, he always takes our class A fat old jolly red-faced man, he gives us all a pass He’s too kind for a teacher, he never has a rule And everybody says he is the happiest man in school. He laughs when giving homework, he laughs and doesn’t teach He laughs […]

Autophagy of a Black Hole
Josef Essberger
Picture by my Viennese cousin Univ. Prof. Dr. Peter Heilig, who writes: “The story goes back to the days, when the experts proclaimed: ‘Nothing escapes from a black hole’. So I put this statement in question. In a thought experiment a blacke hole might engulf itself – like the legendary ourobouros – of course it […]

New Mural Celebrates Amazing Leicester City’s Thai Links
Josef Essberger
The surprise winners of the 2015–16 Premier League in the UK were Leicester City Football Club. A surprise, that is, to all except Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan who predicted it, despite Leicester City’s 5000-1 odds of winning at the start of the season. Leicester City’s Thai owner is Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who invited Phra Prommangkalachan — the […]

Trumpxit
Josef Essberger
With the election of Donald Trump as the next US president, the term Trumpxit is added to the Brexit lexicon, sharing as the US election and British referendum do the same misreading of the electorate by an establishment of media personnel, government officials, experts and data-driven pollsters.

What’s this guy got to do with English?
Josef Essberger
This guy is “Guy Fawkes“, and English was his mother tongue. His death is gruesomely celebrated in England every 5th November when ordinary people mindlessly burn effigies of him on bonfires. What did Guy Fawkes do to deserve such venom? He plotted with others to assassinate the king of England (and of Scotland) by blowing up Parliament […]

Organic or Conventional? WT*?
Josef Essberger
I was intrigued to read about research into what fruit flies think of organic food. Apparently they like it: “By nearly every measure, including fertility, stress resistance and longevity, flies that fed on organic bananas and potatoes fared better than those who dined on conventionally raised produce.”

The three rings of marriage
Josef Essberger
“There are three rings involved with marriage. The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering.” Woody Allen (1935-) American actor, comedian and director Wordchecker ring (noun): a small, round, metal band that you wear on your finger involved with: connected to engagement ring (noun): a ring that a man gives to a woman when they decide to […]

The chain of marriage
Josef Essberger
“Marriage is a chain so heavy that it takes two people to carry it – sometimes three.” Variously attributed to Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) French writer and Alexandre Dumas (son) (1824-1879) French writer Original: Les chaînes du mariage sont si lourdes qu’il faut être deux pour les porter; quelquefois trois. Wordchecker chain (noun): a series of connected metal links […]

Better to have loved and lost?
Josef Essberger
I hold it true, whate’er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all. (By Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809–1892) What do YOU think? Is it better to have loved and lost? Or is it better never to have loved at all? Wordchecker […]

How long is a question?
Josef Essberger
Today I was asked a question that at first sight seems very much like the famous “How long is a piece of string?” question. “How long is a piece of string?” is something that people say when asked a question and they want to answer “It depends”, “It depends on the situation”, “It depends on […]

The Very Unnaughty Noughties
Josef Essberger
In previous centuries each decade has generally had a label based on its numerical value: 1950-1959: The Fifties 1960-1969: The Sixties 1970-1979: The Seventies 1980-1989: The Eighties 1990-1999: The Nineties

End of a decade?
Josef Essberger
A decade? You guessed it – something to do with 10. Several words with “dec” relate to 10, coming from the Greek “deka” for “ten”. A decapod is an animal with 10 legs. A decahedron is a solid with 10 surfaces. A decathlon is an athletic contests with 10 events. Even December – it’s the […]

World’s largest English-speaking country?
Josef Essberger
USA? Think again 🙂

Smiling Moon
Josef Essberger
What can it mean? The Moon is smiling over Thailand. Here are two pictures I took tonight 1st December around 7pm in Bangkok. Have YOU have seen a smiling moon? What do YOU think it means?!

New dollar bill
Josef Essberger
To support the bailout of AIG, Lehman, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac the US Treasury Department has issued a new one dollar bill…

Willful panic
Josef Essberger
Watching CNN (or one of the other cable channels endlessly broadcasting the end of the world as capitalism knows it) I heard one of the “expert commentators” describe last Thursday’s sell-off on the London Stock Exchange as “a bloodbath – sheer, unadulterated, willful panic”. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with “willful panic”? Please add […]

College Entrance Exam
Josef Essberger
Time allowed: 1 minute Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll down for the answer… Scroll […]

Morality Test
Josef Essberger
This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision. Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous. Please scroll down slowly […]

April Fool’s Day
Josef Essberger
April 1st is called April Fool’s Day in English, and it’s a day when people play jokes on other people. They can be small, personal jokes or tricks, or big “industrial-size” hoaxes by newspapers or television channels like the BBC.

Swiss Spaghetti Harvest Hoax
Josef Essberger
Below is probably the most classic April Fool’s Day hoax of all time. On April 1st, 1957 the BBC ran a short programme about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland, showing spaghetti growing on trees. Many people believed the programme and phoned in to ask how they could grow their own “spaghetti tree”.

How many words in Shakespeare?
Josef Essberger
Several sources claim that Shakespeare used nearly 30,000 different words in his works. However, we need to ask what we mean by “different words”. Is it reasonable to count go and going and gone as three different words? If we count go and going and gone as one word (GO), then Shakespeare used fewer than […]

What is it?
Josef Essberger
Riddles are short poems or texts that ask a question that seems difficult to answer. The following famous riddle by Catherine Fanshawe is talking about something, but what is it?

7 That’s in a row
Josef Essberger
What’s the most times you can repeat the same word consecutively in a sentence and still retain meaning? Here’s a sentence with 7 words in a row.

Amzanig huh?
Josef Essberger
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid […]

The quick brown fox…
Josef Essberger
What is special about the following sentence? The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. This sentence contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet and is (was?) used by typists to test their keyboards. Such a sentence is called a “pangram”.

Joke
Josef Essberger
We all like to laugh at some time. And we all enjoy a good joke. Tell us a joke that makes you laugh.

Olympics in China
Josef Essberger
Next year the Olympics will be held in China. I noticed that they will start on 8th August. Then I thought: “Wow! The Chinese are very clever. They’re getting the games in their country on their LUCKY day.” I’m not sure if I’m right but I’m guessing that they engineered the games to start on […]

Consonant Strings
Josef Essberger
Normally, every syllable in English must have at least one vowel (or vowel sound). So it’s quite surprising to think that there are words with 5 or more consonants in a row. Here are a few words with 5-letter consonant strings: BIRTHPLACE, BREASTSTROKE, DOWNSTREAM, EIGHTHS, MATCHSTICK, NIGHTCLOTHES, NIGHTCLUB, NIGHTDRESS, STRENGTHS, THOUSANDTHS Here are two words […]

What is the third word?
Josef Essberger
Here’s a common puzzle: Think of words ending in “-gry”. “Angry” and “hungry” are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.

Longest word in English
Josef Essberger
The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary quote “loccinaucinihilipilification” (29 letters) as the longest genuine word, followed by “antidisestablishmentarianism“ (28 letters). According to Oxford, although there are a few other words that are longer, they are mainly technical words or invented for the purpose. I can now reveal that in fact “smiles” is the longest […]

Anagrams
Josef Essberger
If we take the word DOG and change its letters around we can get GOD. That is an anagram – a word (or phrase) made by mixing up the letters of another word (or phrase). The DOG = GOD example is a very simple anagram. Another example would be CINEMA = ICEMAN. But the cleverest […]