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The World of Graphic Novels

Written by Matt


In Japan many people read manga on a daily basis. There are manga about different kinds of subjects and so there is something for everyone. 

In England and America some people also read Japanese-style manga and even translations of certain Japanese manga. Naruto in particular is very popular and more recently Attack on Titan has become popular too. 

Apart from reading manga however many more people read the more traditional-style serial comic books produced by Marvel or DC (Detective Comics). I'm sure you've heard of some of the characters in these comics such as Iron Man, Superman or Batman. They have become very popular recently due to the movies that have been made based on them. 

Apart from these shorter serial comics there is also a longer form called the graphic novel. This a much longer and larger book usually containing one complete story. Often they are actually a collection of the short serial comics. 

There are two graphic novels which I would like to recommend because they are seminal works in the world of comic books. Both were released in 1985 and they changed the way stories in comics could be told. 

The first is The Dark Knight Returns. This comic changed the way people viewed the character of Batman. Much of the most common things that we think about Batman come from this comic. 

The second is called Watchmen. This is a tale about what would probably actually happen if ordinary people really did try to become superheroes, and what the consequences would be. 

If you get the chance please try reading these excellent graphic novels. They are long, but they are very good and will keep you engaged until the end.


English Loan Words from Asia

Written by Rion


We tend to regard English as a European language as it has borrowed most heavily from the languages of Europe. However, it has also acquired many loan words from Asia. When the British began to trade with the Indian subcontinent and the Far East, it was necessary to find words for many things never before encountered, whether they were foods, plants, animals, clothing, or events. Many words that were borrowed from Asian languages as a result of trade no longer seem foreign, having been completely assimilated into English, and the process continues today. I hope you will enjoy reading about the surprising origins of some commonly used English words.
1. Bungalow
The term originated in India, deriving from the Gujarati baṅgalo, meaning "Bengali" and used for a "house in the Bengal style". This Asian architectural form and design originated in the countryside of the Bengal region in South Asia. Such houses were traditionally small, one-storied and detached, and had a wide veranda. The term was first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe "bungales or hovells" in India for English sailors of the East India Company. Later it became used for the spacious homes of officials of the British Raj where it initially had high status and exotic connotations.
2. Brainwashing
From 洗腦 (xǐnǎo) (where 洗 literally means "wash", while 腦 means "brain", hence "brainwash"). This term came about after the Korean War, when 24 of the American troops held in a Chinese Prisoner-of-War camp chose to stay in China after the ceasefire rather than return to the United States. Members of the American media couldn't believe that these young men would willingly decide to stay in China rather than return home, and so they picked up on the Chinese word which literally means "brainwash" to describe what -- a then new concept in American culture -- was the only possible means of explaining that behavior.

3. Admiral

Amīr al-bahr ("commander of the sea") was a title Arabic-speaking Muslims used when they controlled the now Italian island of Sicily. After the fall of the Emirate of Sicily, the Normans in Sicily continued using this title in a Latinized form, which was successively adopted by the medieval Genoese and French. As the birthplace of seafaring, it makes sense that this word came from what is the present-day Arab world.

4. Tea 

Te is from the Amoy  of southern Fujian province. It reached the West from the port of Xiamen (Amoy), once a major point of contact with Western European traders such as the Dutch, who spread it to Western Europe. This pronunciation gives rise to English "tea" and other similar words in other languages, and is the most common form worldwide.

5. Typhoon

The Oxford English Dictionary cites several Oriental words from Persian and Chinese giving rise to two early forms in English: touffon (from Persian) and tuffoon / tay-fun (from Chinese). The Persian source is the word tūfān ("storm"; also Arabic ṭūfān, "to turn round") from the verb tūfīdan (Persian: "to blow furiously"). The Chinese source is the word tai fung (simplified Chinese: 台风; traditional Chinese: 颱風; pinyin: táifēng), cited as a common dialect form of Mandarin  "big" and fēng"wind".

6. Zero 
The word zero came into the English language via French zéro from Italian zero, an Italian contraction of the Venetian zevero form of Italian zefiro via ṣafira or ṣifr. In pre-Islamic times, the Arabic word ṣifr had the meaning "empty". Sifr evolved to mean "zero" when it was used to translate Sanskrit śūnya from India, a concept invented around the 7th century. The first known English use of "zero" was in 1598.

7. Gung Ho
The term is an adjective used to describe someone that is overly excited or too enthusiastic. It has its origins in the Chinese word 工合 (gōng hé), a shortened word for industrial cooperatives which were created in China in the 1930s. During that time U.S. Marines adopted the term to build up the same sort of working spirit seen in China where all the soldiers dedicated themselves to one idea and worked together to make that idea a reality. It is used to refer to someone with a can-do attitude.


DON'T BE THAT GUY: Part 3 The Story of the One Upper

Written by Elliot


Click here to see today's comic (February 9, 2016).


Telling stories or anecdotes with friends can be a great way to socialize.  Instead of just saying something quickly, you get to put more feeling, time and energy into what you want to say.  It is also great at getting your listeners to not only pay attention but to feel like they are experiencing the story themselves.

People usually tell stories in turn.  First one person tells a story and then the next tells a similar story about themselves or someone they know.  Having similar experiences can heighten friendships and build bonds between people.

However, there is a trap you have to be careful about not falling into.  It is becoming the "One Upper" or person who has to have or do more than everybody else.  This is the person who tells an almost similar story but raises one aspect to make them look better than the previous person.

For example, the first person may say, "I can eat a lot of sushi, about 25 plates at a time."  Not to be outdone, the One Upper will say, "well, I can eat 57 plates, two soups and a large ramen...and still have room for dessert."  Could it be true, it very well may be, but it is unnecessary and only makes the first person feel bad about themselves.

Like I said earlier, there is nothing bad about telling stories about what you are able or can do, but if all the story does is outdo someone else, it's better to not tell the story.  Be kind and support your friends.  Don't be a One Upper.

Some topics to be careful of when telling stories:

Your salary
Where you have traveled and what you did
Your job position

Can you think of any other topics?


Fun with Word Stems: Killing Mattresses

Written by Nick


Click here to see today's comic.


In Fun with Word Stems, we take a look at difficult words and discover their meanings by using word stems! Let’s get started!


In today’s comic, Goat mentions the word matricide when talking to Pig, stops and says, “Sorry… Do you know what that (matricide) is?” Pig, in these comics, is usually not very smart. In the 2nd panel, we see Pig shooting a mattress. 


The joke here makes no sense unless you understand what the word matricide means. What does it mean?


Well, similar to Japanese, where kanji come together to make words (夜night + 空sky = 夜空night-time sky), many English words are made out of word stems.  Word stems come together together just like kanji to make words. Matricide has two word stems: MATRI and CIDE.


Cide comes from Latin and means to kill/killer. There are lots of words that use CIDE.


homoCIDE: to kill someone

suiCIDE: to kill yourself

pestiCIDE: something used to kill unwanted plants or animals



Now that you know that CIDE means to kill, look again at the 2nd panel. Pig is shooting a mattress. He is killing the mattress! Matricide must mean to kill a mattress! Right? Wrong.


In the 3rd panel, Goat says, “No.” This means that pig has made a mistake. Pig knows that CIDE means to kill something. He thought it meant to kill a mattress. Mattress + Cide = Matricide! But Pig is wrong.


So, what does matricide mean?


Homework Time!


Go to www.learnthat.org/pages/view/roots. Here you can see almost all of the word stems that we use in English! Look up matri. Once you have done that, you can probably guess what matricide means.


Bonus HW: what about pesticide, suicide, and homocide? What do pesti, sui, and homo mean?


Post your answers in our blog or let your teacher know! That’s all for this week. Stay warm and use a lot of virucide so you don’t get sick!


Got Proof?

Written by Gosia


Click here to see today's comic.


In today's blog, I'd like to focus on some vocabulary containing the word proof. In the comic strip, the rat asks the flight attendant to “put all the babies in a soundproof box.” Soundproof means not allowing sound to go through. The reason why the rat asks for that is because babies tend to cry on a plane and make a lot of noise and so other passengers can't sleep. But, of course, that's not possible.


Here is a list of some common vocabulary containing the word proof:


1. soundproof (doesn't let sound through; 防音)

examples: a soundproof room, a soundproof wall


2. waterproof (doesn't let water through; 防水)

example: a waterproof sleeping bag


3. bulletproof (doesn't let bullets through; 防弾)

examples: bulletproof glass, a bulletproof vest


4. fireproof (can't be damaged by fire, 防燃)

example: a fireproof safe


5. childproof (can't be opened by a child; 小児用安全)

example: a childproof container


6. foolproof (so simple to understand that it can't go wrong; 馬鹿よけ)

examples: a foolproof system, a foolproof camera


7. shockproof (not easily damaged if hit or dropped)

example: a shockproof watch