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Five things I learned this week #2

1. @ quick 3x3rcis3 in dysl3xi@ @w@r3n3ss

Last week was Dyslexia Awareness Week in the UK and the lessons and activities put together by Oxford University’s Centre for Teaching and Learning were a useful reminder of how we can make our materials friendlier for all to read.

Trying to write a sentence with @ for a and 3 for e simply suggests the experience of reading and writing when dyslexic.

2. Lipizzaners derive from Lipica, Slovenia

A white Lipizzaner horse rearing in front of its trainer.

This week’s episode of Celebrity Race Around the World was very pretty, swooping through the Alps from Zermatt to Sarajevo, and included a stop at the Lipica Stud. When I was small, we went to see the Kyalami Lipizzaners in Johannesburg and I had no idea about Slovenia. I thought the name was Spanish or Italian, maybe.

3. Don’t say ‘Covid’, say ‘sniffles’

Whether you’re a school, a newspaper, or a fellow passenger on a train, don’t mention the C-word. It’s much nicer if you say people have got ‘sniffles’.

4. There’s a hierarchy of colour words in all languages

A chart from Duolingo showing the tiers of colour words in various languages.

When I learned isiZulu at school, we were taught that the words for green and blue were related, and a recent Duolingo blog put this into a wider context. If there are only two colour words in a language, they will be for dark and light; the third word will always be red; the fourth green-yellow. The concept of orange, pink and purple – and on to two types of blue, which Russian, Italian, Hungarian and Turkish share – only exist in languages with several prior basic colour words.

My kids couldn’t bear the main character’s voice so I had to watch it by myself. It’s beautifully animated and shot, and the self-indulgent existentialism really appeals to the 90s twentysomething in me, who could be obsessed with expressing my own personal crises as if they were the most important thing in the world. Things have changed, but even though I thought it went too long, it still was lovely to be moved by wind and leaves and dappled sun and to be able to concentrate on the ripples of one loss at a time.

A still from the film Marcel the Shell with Shoes On showing Marcel the Shell with his grandmother standing in a plant pot.

Which is your favourite factoid of the week?

  • Dyslexia awareness

  • Lipizzaners

  • Sniffles

  • Colour words


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