Friday 12 November 2010

Video and Slang: US-Sino Currency Rap Battle

Something extra for your weekend, found a new and funny animation on YouTube, with a few slang terms we have gone through in the class (for those of you who have completed level 3 with me).

Sounds like something for the G20 in Korea. Have a nice weekend!

frenemy -- (n) (humorous) Someone who pretends to be your friend, but is really your enemy.
manipulator --  [C] mainlydisapproving a person who controls people to their own advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly
wag sb's finger -- A motion done with the finger, usually done to scold someone. See The Other F-words
Smörgåsbord -- (n) s a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a 
table, originating in Sweden.[1] In Norway it is called koldtbord and in Denmark it is called kolde bord
recession -- [C or Ua period when the economy of a country is not successful and conditions for business are bad
concession -- (n) [C or U] something which is allowed or given up, often in order to end a disagreement, or the act of allowing or giving this
discombobulated -- (adj) confusedembarrassedupset
denominate -- (vb) To specify a monetary unit
kibble -- (n) something that has been kibbled -- to grind something coarsely, especially grain for use as animal feed
smack -- (n) [C] a hit from someone's flat hand as a punishment


Business Writing: How to write like a pro? -- Part 1

Image from

I am glad that 3 of you did try to do the homework I put up on Wednesday.

Before we look into the examples, let me through you a term in computational linguistics -- Lexical Density,    meaning how packed a piece of written work is with content words. In simple words, lexical density is how many important words / keywords are there in one sentence compared with unimportant words/non-keywords.

The Learning and Teaching Unit of The University of South Australia has a website on Readability, meaning how easy or difficult is a piece of written work to read or understand. Under the page of content words and lexical density you can find a detail description (with examples) regarding the topic, and you are highly recommended to read it. But maybe before you read it, you can first read my simpler version,

Image from Wikipedia

eg 1 . Armadillo is an animal which has an armour shell and it is similar to leather.
Content words: 7
Total words: 15
Lexical density = 46.7%

eg 2 . Armadillo is an animal with leathery armour shell.

Content words: 5
Total words: 8
Lexical density = 62.5%

eg 3. A leathery armour-shelled armadillo ...
Content words: 4
Total words: 5
Lexical density = 80%

From the above examples, you can see that the higher the lexical density, the more compact the sentence / expression is and the richer the information is. A point to note is that eg 3 isn't even a complete sentence, which means you can still pack more information in it.

Now going back to our example in the previous article:
Version 1:
Yesterday in Hung Hom at the international Mail Centre, a parcel caught on fire. There were cell phone batteries in the parcel. 510 people were cleared from the scene as some people feared that it was a terrorist attack.

Content words: 22 including number
Total words: 39
Lexical density = 56.4%
Version 2:
A parcel containing cell phone batteries burst into flames at the International Mail Centre in Hung Hom, sparking fears of a terrorist attack and forcing the evacuation of 510 people yesterday. 

Content words: 21 including number
Total words: 31
Lexical density = 67.7%

So now, it should be easy to see which one will sound more professional in terms of lexical density. But exactly,
  1. how can we write using sentence structures that has higher lexical density? 
  2. does "higher lexical density" = "better writing" in ALL CASES?

If you want to know, do follow my Monday posting.

For now, here's a homework for your practice:
Try to increase the lexical density of this paragraph taken from

Poor show by MTRC
I think MTR Corp did not handle the situation well. It did not give enough information to commuters. There was a chaotic situation because passengers could not find their way easily to other transport modes. Perhaps the MTRC should send more staff and call the police for help in future situations.


Lexical Density on Wikipedia

The Learning and Teaching Unit of The University of South Australia

Content Words and Lexical Density

Original email from The Standard