Archive for December, 2013

More Words about Christmas! :)

Christmas-Balbinka-lSince it is Christmas time, I keep on posting articles about it. 🙂

Here is another list of Christmas terminology that I posted last year. This one is particularly good because each word has their meaning as well… For those who have not read it yet, enjoy!

If you are not a native English speaker and if you want to improve your English, you may make some friends who are native. You discuss everyday issues with them and you clearly see how English is used in daily life. Some issues that you talk may require a certain terminological knowledge e.g. politics. There are many specific terms that do not come to your mind easily. If you are talking online, that’s fine; you have enough time to find the right term online while talking at the same time. However, if you are talking to them face to face, it is a little bit more challenging. You should be familiar with certain terms. In high school, when my English was just intermediate or so, I used to have a conversation class and once in a while my teacher brought a native speaker to the class. Since I was not familiar with certain terms on certain topics, my dictionary was always under my hand and often I had to resort to it. Therefore, the conversations went very slowly and boring that I can see from the face of the native speaker 🙂

Nowadays, everybody is talking about Christmas. Your native friends may want to start a conversation about it or you may hear a song about Christmas and wonder about the terms that you hear in it. What about learning the most common terms? You can find a short list below. If you want to see more, you can click the link at the bottom! Merry Christmas!

Advent – From the Latin Adventus (coming) the four week period preceding Christmas which serves as a time of reflection in preparation for the celebration of the Nativity.

Baubles – Shiny trinkets and ornaments, traditionally made from glass, used in Christmas decorations.

Bells – Hollow metal objects that emit a tuned sound when struck, used during Christmas to announce the arrival of the season and proclaim the birth of Christ.

Carols – Originally secular songs to accompany dancing during communal celebrations, Carols have evolved to become religious songs sung at Christmas.

Christmas Star – The star that guided the Wise Men, or Maji, to Jesus in the stable. One of the more prominent symbols of Christmas and one extensively used as decoration at Christmas time.

Dove – An ancient symbol of love and peace, later used by Christians to symbolize the Holy Ghost. Often used as a decoration at Christmas, particularly on the Christmas Tree.

Epiphany – A life changing event. The last of the 12 days of Christmas, Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christ to the gentiles, as represented by the visiting Wise Men.

Holly – A bush with green glossy leaves, and most known for the varieties with red berries, used as a Christmas decoration representing new life.

Holy – Sacred, or participant of the holiness of a divine power, usually God.

Lamb of God – One of the titles given to Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible.

Mistletoe – A semi-parasitic plant that grows on certain types of trees, typified by the sticky substance surrounding the seed which helps it to attach to a potential host when excreted by birds. Mistletoe is used as a Christmas decoration.

Nativity – That moment of birth when the infant takes its first breath and so begins the process of self maintenance of bodily functions. In Christmas terms, Nativity refers to the birth of Jesus.

Offerings – Gifts of money made in the spirit of Christmas gift giving and used to aid the needy.

Parade – A ceremonial procession involving people marching and also sometimes decorated vehicular floats. Christmas is a popular time for parades with many cities holding official parades.

Santa Claus – An imaginary man who circles the globe on Christmas Eve distributing gifts. Believed to be a derivation of Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of Children.

Shepherd – Someone who watches over a flock of sheep, usually in the fields. This concept has been expanded to mean anyone caring for another group of beings, such as a Pastor who watches over and cares for a group of people.

Sleigh – A vehicle used in snowy conditions, traditionally pulled by animals. Used by Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve journey.

Twelve Days of Christmas – A popular Christmas song representing the twelve days from December 35 to January 6. It is thought that the song was a means to teach the tenets of the Catholic faith during times when Catholicism was banned, although this is open to debate.

Wassail – From the Middle English “Waes Haeil”, meaning to be in good health, the custom of toasting to each others health, a custom that has woven itself into Christmas traditions.

Wise Men – Magi/Sages/Medicine Men from the East who visited Jesus with Mary and Joseph shortly after he was born. Although never stated, it is assumed they were three in number as they brought three gifts for the child; Gold and Frankincense and Myrrh.

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Christmas and Wintertime Vocabulary Word List

This is mostly for non-native speakers. 🙂

When it’s Christmas time, I see so many culture-specific words that sometimes it’s hard to follow if you’re a non-native English speaker. I guess I’ll never understand what “yule” is, somebody better tell me! 🙂

Here is a short and simple list of common Christmas-specific words that you see everywhere. 🙂

I hope it helps!

  • bells
  • Bethlehem
  • Blitzer
  • candles
  • candy
  • candy canes
  • cards
  • cedar
  • celebrate
  • ceremonies
  • chimney
  • Christmas cookies
  • Christmas tree
  • cold
  • Comet
  • cranberry sauce

merry christmas

  • crowds
  • Cupid
  • Dancer
  • Dasher
  • December
  • decorations
  • dolls
  • Donner
  • dressing
  • eggnog
  • elves
  • family reunion
  • festival
  • fir
  • Frosty
  • fruitcake
  • gift boxes
  • gifts
  • goodwill
  • greetings
  • ham
  • happy
  • holiday
  • holly
  • holy
  • icicles
  • jolly
  • lights
  • lists
  • merry
  • miracle
  • mistletoe
  • New Year
  • Noel
  • North Pole
  • pageant
  • parades
  • party
  • pie
  • pine
  • plum pudding
  • poinsettia
  • Prancer
  • presents
  • pumpkin pie
  • punch
  • red/green
  • reindeer
  • ribbon
  • Rudolph
  • sacred
  • sales
  • sauce
  • Scrooge
  • season
  • sled
  • sleigh bells
  • snowflakes
  • spirit
  • St. Nick
  • stand
  • star
  • stickers
  • stocking stuffers
  • sweet potato
  • tidings
  • tinsel
  • togetherness
  • toys
  • tradition
  • traffic
  • trips
  • turkey
  • vacation
  • Vixen
  • Winter
  • worship
  • wrapping paper
  • wreath
  • yule
  • yuletide


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Duolingo Introduces Gamified Virtual Store

When I checked the apps and games in my smart phone, I realized that most of them are about trivia on facts, words and books. When I install a game, the first question coming to my mind is “What will I learn from it?” With this in mind, I want to do something good whenever I “waste” my time with my smartphone. 🙂 I wrote the verb “waste” in quotation because I’m sure we always have something better to do than spending so much time looking at a small screen.

Anyways, here is a good news for those who think like me:

Free language learning platform Duolingo has launched an updated version of its iOS app, introducing a virtual store and a language coach, as it seeks to further engage its users and keep them using the app.

The virtual store features additions to help further engage Duolingo users by letting them purchase virtual items to customize their experience with its new virtual currency “Lingots,” which users can earn by achieving certain milestones in Duolingo.

The language coach, which comes in the form of Duolingo’s mascot Duo the owl, acts as a personal tutor to help users stay on track with goals they have set, helping ensure that they are continually engaged and active on the app.



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Culture and Vocabulary

Today is a snowy day in Istanbul. 🙂 Whenever it snows, I just couldn’t help but think how culture affects the vocabulary. You know what I’m talking about: Inuit words about snow. 🙂
In my culture, we always a strong bond with our relatives, so we have tens of words to define all kinds of relatives. Anyway, this is another topic alone. 🙂 What I’m trying to say is that culture affects the variety of vocabulary. In the image below, we see how Inuit culture has different words for every state of snow. 🙂





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Great opening lines in literature

I don’t know if you agree or not, the first lines/pages of a book are vital for me. It makes me decide whether or not I should read that book. Maybe it sounds too judgemental but it is not only me. I’ve been asking this question to my friends for so long that this is almost a general conclusion: If the first lines/pages are catchy, a book survives. 🙂

Sometimes, those lines may get lost in translation. This is a little discouraging for monolingual literature fans. However, this is the topic of another article, isn’t it?

Now, let’s see some great opening lines in literature, compiled by . You can always read more by clicking the link at the bottom.


“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (1813)


‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina (1878)


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Charles Dickens: A Tale Of Two Cities (1859)


“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by a Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.”

Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticising any one, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (1925)


“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis (1915)


“All children, except one, grow up.”

J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan (1911)


“Under certain circumstance there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady (1880)


Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita (1955)


“Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

Albert Camus: The Stranger (1946)

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