Cured ham curated here

June 23, 2013

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We aren't alone in noticing the job-title inflation about the word 'curator' today.

Posted in: Colour Section

‘Ninja’ really is invisible ninja

June 12, 2013

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Probably the world’s only online explanation on the correct Chinese translation for the Japanese word "ninja."

Posted in: Colour Section

The Economist: ‘Why so little Chinese in English?’

June 7, 2013


The Economist asks why English has so little Chinese in it. I ask why Chinese has near-zero English. I think my question is more heavyweight than The Economist's.

Posted in: Colour Section

Site Updates: Archives A-Z

May 4, 2013

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By popular request, Learn English or Starve has created a new static page: Archives A-Z accessible immediately at

Posted in: Site Updates

Mr Moneybags, here are the men you’re looking for

April 10, 2013

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SEVERAL days ago my neighbour was looking for a heads-up on a couple of English phrases that have stumped him. Desperation was written all over his face. Here’s money in his pocket. My teenage neighbour is on the last nine yards of his decade-long school life now. I can relate to his feelings of desperation […]

Posted in: Colour Section

You pay peanuts, you get … (A follow-up)

February 11, 2013

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It had to happen sooner or later, I suppose. On the first day of the Chinese New Year (Year of the Black Snake, no less), someone sent LEOS an email commenting off-site about our last post (“You pay peanuts, you get … a punch in the googlies,” 05 Feb 2013) that it was:— hard to […]

You pay peanuts, you get … a punch in the goolies

February 5, 2013

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THIS was originally a post on The Naked Listener’s Weblog, dated 25 March 2011. I thought it’s high time to revive this as a crosspost here because I’m seeing the same kind of stuff is on the rise again over the past fortnight or so. (Parts of the original post have been amended for clarity, […]

The Italian Job

January 24, 2013

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IT’S NOT OFTEN that I visit non-English-language websites, mainly because of a couple of personally embarrassing factors:— My French, German and Italian have become pathetic, to say the least. I’ve forgotten all my Lebanese Arabic (since Lebanese consider French to be a native tongue for them). I’ve never properly picked up Farsi anyway because my […]

Site Update: Return to ‘Light’ Theme

January 6, 2013

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From the management Learn English or Starve has returned to its default ‘light’ theme because the WordPress ‘snow’ effect that graced us has run its course. Administrator © Learn English or Starve, 2013. (B13009)

Posted in: Site Updates

Fail: Who’re you quoting anyway?

December 17, 2012


CONSIDER this for a moment:— No names mentioned, but this newspaper is in an English-speaking country. It seems as if it’s quoting the tree, forcing the reader (even if momentarily) to do a double-take. It would’ve been better just to use the quotation as a blurb and be done with it. It’s a straightforward newspaper […]

Posted in: Colour Section

Site Update: Holiday Season

December 12, 2012

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FROM THE MANAGEMENT ’TIS the season of giving and goodwill, good cheer and to be fearless notwithstanding the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. Learn English or Starve is taking a rest from regularly scheduled programming on account of weather — well, actually, the holiday season. The various malingers and I who […]

Posted in: Site Updates

Site Update: ‘Dark’ theme for winter

December 5, 2012

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From the management Learn English or Starve is going on a dark theme for winter from now till 6th January 2013 in order to show off the snowfall that WordPress has kindly graced us with. On 6th January, we shall revert to our regular light theme. Enjoy the snowfall, wherever you are, and the very […]

Posted in: Site Updates

Ramping up the scholarly flak

December 2, 2012


’ERE WE GO AGAIN! Yet another post about that long-running saga (sago?) on the word scholarism that’s also the name of a Hong Kong student protest group. Learn English or Starve has gotten lots of off-site flak (German: fliegerabwehrkanone, lit. ‘aeroplane defence cannon’: anti-aircraft fire — as if you didn’t know already) for our two […]

‘Scholarism’: A reply that shouldn’t insult your intelligence

November 22, 2012


A VERY IRATE READER wrote in (off-site, by the way) about our manifestly well-researched article “Scholarism? Is it edible?” (LEOS, 1 Sept 2012), specifically homing in on the description of the student protest group called Scholarism (學民思潮). That very irate reader (who we shan’t name in order to avoid general embarrassment) wanted to know just […]

Prepositioning for failure

November 19, 2012


YOU have only one job and one job only, yet… As you may have noticed, the chart tries to give us a sense of various English prepositions. A preposition [prep-puh-zish-uhn, /ˌprəpəˈzɪʃən/] is a part of speech that shows the relationship of one word to another so as to provide spatial, figurative or some other meaning […]

Ten horrible habits about learning

November 12, 2012


HAVE BAD HABITS, say sayonara to learning a language. Full story by yours truly at Yago:— Ten horrible language study habits you must ditch | | 28 Oct 2012 © Learn English or Starve, 2012, licensed to Image via

Deep end: The difficulty of learning languages

October 26, 2012

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The biggest problem facing anyone learning a language boils down to just one line.

‘Scholarism’? Is it edible?

September 1, 2012


“I know you’re smart. But I hope you didn’t make the classic smart person’s mistake of thinking you’re smarter than everybody.” — Carl Van Loon to Eddie Morra in the movie Limitless (2011) IF there’s one thing worse than seeing our best and brightest go off at a tangent and waste their precious youth on […]

Pity the young souls

July 27, 2012

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HAVE A LOOK at this school worksheet:— We’ve converted the original photograph into monotone on purpose in order to hide the company watermark. This worksheet is for teaching how to figure out the days from descriptive language. * Fill in the blanks This is what the worksheet requires:— (a) The first Monday is the 3rd. […]

Posted in: Street of Shame

To lah or not lah, that is the question

July 7, 2012


Updated 07 July 2012 (correcting ‘parallel’ in ledegraf) THE FOLLOWING is the latest addition to the Glossary page. * * * SINGLISH — or more pretentiously, Colloquial Singaporean English — is a brand of super-retarded, non-language form of the English language spoken by those who reside in that rat-raced cosmo city-state located on 1° parallel north of the Equator at the […]

Posted in: Colour Section