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Showing posts from April, 2010

Libel and Lawsuits in China

Libel is any written or pictorial statement that damages a person or an organization. Posting libellous statements on the Internet, including online forums, BBS, blogs, instant messagers and mobile texts, can result in legal actions against the poster.

In many countries, Libel is not a criminal offence, so you can't be sent to jail for it. However, you can be sued for damages in civil court. But in China, libel can be 'made a criminal offence' if nvolves "state secrecy issues".

University of Oxford sets up a project on Libel law and the internet in China, about more than three hundred media libel cases and their court rulings are being examined through analyzing the law, court cases and rulings.

As many as seven bloggers have been detained over claims that a 25-year-old woman, Yan Xiaoling, had been gang-raped and murdered in Fujian province, southern China. Three of these — Fan Yanqiong, Wu Huaying and You Jingyou, known online as He Suoge — have been formally a…

English structure "What do you mean by..."

When 'mean' is used as a verb, sometimes followed by the preposition 'by'. This structure often puzzles me. Compare:

What does 'hermetic' mean?
What do you mean by 'hermetic'?

These two sentence are equivalent. But we may say, 'hermetic' in the second sentence, the questioner might somehow know the meaning, but not sure the meaning in specific context.

Once upon a time, when Confucius paid a visit to Lâo Tan, they talked about benevolence and Righteousness. If you have some background of the Confucianism and Tâoism, you might have known that these two sages held different views of benevolence and righteousness. So, Lâo Tan asked Confucius, 'Let me ask you what you mean by Benevolence and Righteousness.' Here he actually know these words literally, and had different meaning in his own thought. But he wanted to make them clear when Confucius used them.

We have another example,

What do you mean by waking me up at this time of night?

To the per…

The differences between Appear and seem

Appear can be a link verb, used to say how things look or seem. It is used in similar ways to seem, but is less frequent.

Seem can be used to talk both about objective facts and about subjective impressions and feelings. Appear is mostly used to talk about objective facts. Compare:

The baby sees/appears (to be) hungry.
She doesn't want to go on studying. It seems a pity.


Seem is often used with like. This is not normal with appear. Seem can be used in a special structure with can't. This is not possible with appear:

It seemed like a good idea.
I can't seem to make him understand.

American English and British Egnlish

There are many differences between American English and British Egnlish. Sometimes the same word has different meanings, and very often, different words are used for the same idea.

BrE: CV is short for the Latin term "curriculum vitae" which means "the story of your life".

AmE: Résumé is a French word, means 'a summery'. Now Résumé has the meaning of 'boigraphical summary of a person's carrer'.

BrE: Sweets
AmE: Candy, originates from old French, means crystallized sugar, this word ultimately comes from Arabic word 'cane sugar'.

BrE: Cot
AmE: Crib, its root probably related to German krebe "basket." Meaning "child's bed with barred sides" probably from frequent use in reference to the manger where infant Jesus was laid.

BrE: nappy
AmE: Diaper, from Old French, diapre "ornamental cloth."

BrE: torch
AmE: flash-light

BrE: rubbish
AmE: garbage, trash. Garbage originally was "giblets of a fowl, waste par…

UK Politics

The Northern Ireland Assembly has 108 elected members known as MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly ). The UK government kept the power to suspend the Northern Ireland Assembly if the political leaders no longer agreed to work together or if the Assembly was not working in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland. This has happened several times.

Towns, cities and rural areas in the UK are governed by democratically elected councils, often called local authorities. Many councils representing towns and cities appoint a mayor who is the ceremonial leader of the council but in some towns a mayor is appointed to be the effective leader of the administration.

Most of the money for the local authority services comes from the government through taxes. Only about 20% is funded through 'council tax'. It applies to all domestic properties, including houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes, mobile homes or houseboats, whether owned or rented.

It's the task of judges (who ar…

Abbreviations and acronyms

Do you write abbreviation with full stop (AmE 'period'), such as in Mr? Full stops are normal in American English.

Initial-letter abbreviations normally has an article (a/an or the), the form and pronunciation of the article depend on the pronunciation of the first letter of the abbreviation: an EU country - a US diplomat.

Some initial-letter abbreviations are pronounced like words. These are called acronyms Articles are usually dropped in acronyms, UNESCO = the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

An apostrophe (') is sometimes used before the s in the plurals of abbreviations: MP's, CD's or (more often) MPs, CDs.