Search This Blog

July 26, 2013

Caxirola (count noun)

A percussion instrument used by football fans which makes a rattling sound when shaken
'Thought you'd heard the last of monotonous drones blasting out from the terraces? Think again … Following the international sensation of questionable musical value that was the vuvuzela … the caxirola has been unveiled as the aural stimulant of choice at next year's tournament in Brazil.'
The Independent 25th April 2013 

In the digital era, one indication that a word has firmly made its mark in the public consciousness is when it appears as an option in predictive texting, and whilst recently fumbling my way through a message on a smartphone touchpad, I was interested to come across the word vuvuzela. Four years ago nobody would have had a clue what a vuvuzela was, but its high profile and rather controversial image in the 2010 World Cup seems to have secured it a more enduring place in the language. Three years on, and as attentions turn to the next tournament in Brazil next year, it transpires that the Brazilians have responded to the South Africans by producing an instrument uniquely their own – the caxirola

July 19, 2013


A photograph of you taken by yourself, usually for use in social media (noun [countable] informal):

'If cinema was the great art form of the 20th century, the selfie (a self-portrait uploaded to social media sites) will stand as the pinnacle of creative expression in the 21st.'
New York Daily News 10th April 2013

'He's noticed that when he doesn't post a selfie, his followers go down by fifty a day. A lot of people are following him because of the selfies.'
Courier Mail [Australia] 15th April 2013

Background – selfie

The term selfie, sometimes though less commonly spelt selfy, first emerged in 2004 as a catchy Internet abbreviation of the word self-portrait. It was initially used as a hashtag on photo-sharing sites to indicate that the subject of a photo was the person who had uploaded it, but gradually began to take on a life of its own as a general reference to a self-taken digital photo.

Selfie/selfy is a recent example of the use of suffix -ie/-y to form diminutive nouns and pet names (compare, e.g. kid > kiddie, television > telly, Bill > Billy, etc). The same process also features in lappy, a newly coined reference to laptop, though this has so far been slower to catch on. In British English, use of -ie/-y generally has affectionate overtones, and its adoption in selfie could perhaps have been inspired by observing that it often features in 'guilty pleasures' or indulgences, as in e.g. choccy, biccy, drinkies, etc.
Source: MacMillan Dictionary Buzzword

July 15, 2013

Suspended Coffee

Dear NI1 students,

Can you go without a coffee? What about if you couldn't afford one? You could ask for a suspended coffee instead. What is a suspended coffee?

In this programme from six-minute English, Neil and Jen discuss the new idea of suspended coffees - a scheme where you pay for a coffee for someone who can't afford one.

This week's question:
Civet coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. How much does it cost per kilogram?
       a) $5
       b) $50
       c) $550

Listen to the programme to find out the answer.

July 11, 2013

NI2C Oral Exam on Sept 9th

This is the schedule for the speaking exam in September. If you consider something should be changed, just say so. 
Cristina R/Ana P
Isabel R/ Carlos B
Lidia M/ Cristina M 

Eduardo G/ Susana A
Miriam R/ David S
Lorena C/Cristina G/M.ª Jesús G

July 10, 2013

Sept 5th, NI1 groups' Oral Exam


As we haven't decided yet how to organize the oral exam in September, I'd like you to check this schedule so that you can tell me if there is any problem. 
Have a good day! 

NI1 C GROUP. Mondays & Wed 16H – 18:30
M.ª Carmen M
Manoli P
Aurora F
Ana F
Paula R/ Pilar P
Sara E
NI1 E GROUP. Tuesdays & Thursdays 16H – 18:30
Irene P
Manuel V
Emiliano A
Shirley M
Ana R
Gonzalo L
Noelia V
Alejandro A
Ricardo G
Inma T
Yolanda A
Luis L
Evelyn M
Jorge C
Gonzalo M

NI1 G GROUP. Tuesdays & Thursdays 18:30 – 21h
Esther S/ Vanesa U
Mariola S
Isabel M
Cristina I. G
Marta G/ Gema V
Gema F
Lydia M
M.ª Teresa P

July 04, 2013

The left to die boat

In March last year, 72 African migrants were forced onto an inflatable boat by Libyan soldiers in Tripoli. They were desperate to escape the fighting in Libya and hoping for a new life in Europe. Their boat headed for the small Italian island of Lampedusa, only 18 hours away across the Mediterranean.

There was a Nato naval blockade of Libya at the time and the area was full of military ships and aircraft. Yet, despite a number of sightings, the boat was never rescued.
Fifteen days later it washed up back on Libya's coast with only 11 survivors on board – two more died soon after. 

In this documentary the survivors tell their story to producer Sharon Davis and she investigates how it was that these people were left to die in a boat in one of the most heavily-monitored seas on earth.
  • Duration: 55 minutes
  • First broadcast: Saturday 27 October 2012, BBC4
  • July 02, 2013


    In this post, there is some useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary about using the noun advice:
    Advice is an uncountable noun, so:
    - it is never used in the plural
    - it never comes after an or a number

    ✗  Naomi Wolf gave me a good advice in her book.  
    Naomi Wolf gave me some good advice in her book.  
    ✗  They were always there to give practical advices.  
    They were always there to give practical advice.

    Q: How can I refer to a single item of advice, rather than to advice in general?  
    A: Advice is mostly used on its own or with some.  
    If you’re worried about it, contact your doctor for advice.  
    I think you should get some advice from a professional.

    You can also say a word of advice, a piece of advice, or (informally) a bit of advice. But none of these expressions is common.

    Don’t confuse advice (a noun) and advise (a verb):  
    ✗  I would advice you to choose this company.  
    I would advise you to choose this company.

    Kids Unplugged: Summer Camps Ban Electronics


    What do you think about being unplugged? Is it a good thing for kids? Why? How about you? will you be unplugged this summer? 
    For the script of this newsitem, check 

    July 01, 2013


    This week’s language tip helps with the word actual.

    Don’t confuse actual with current or present. Actual is not used for referring to things that are happening now or that exist now. Use current or present to express these ideas:
    ✗ The actual law obliges every young man to do military service.
    ✓ The current law obliges every young man to do military service.
    ✓ The present law obliges every young man to do military service.
    ✗ They have to work together to improve the actual situation.
    ✓ They have to work together to improve the current situation.
    ✓ They have to work together to improve the present situation.
    Actual is used for referring to what is really true or exact:
    The reports cites 554 AIDS cases, with 2600 persons infected with HIV. But officials concede that the actual number may be closer to 8000.
    If you’d like to find out more about the word actual, and two other words (eventual and important) which are often confused, read this MED Magazine article.