Vacation vs. vocation

My co-worker and I were composing an email today. He was writing and I was watching over. When I pointed out to him that he wanted to write “vacation” instead of “vocation”, he argued that if the word was wrong, the spellchecker would have underlined it in red. Since I was 99.9% sure that I was right, I aked him to double check.

It turned out that both “vacation” and “vocation” are legitimate words. But what surprised me was that their meanings were almost opposite.

“Vacation” has to do with resting and spending the time nicely. “Vocation” has to do with hard work. If you don’t believe me, check the definitions in the dictionary. Here are the words in : vacation and vocation.

P.S.: And I was right.

Dictionary plugins for Mozilla Firefox

Being a non-native English speaker, I have this mildly often need to lookup the translation of some word in the dictionary. Instead of installing translation software on my computer or visiting one of the online translators every time such a need arises, I chose to use an extension to Mozilla Firefox.

Until now I was using the DictionarySearch extension, which can be configured to lookup in several different dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. I was mostly happy with the extension, but felt that it could be improved simplified. I didn’t need all those configurations, choices and such. All I wanted was to lookup the translation of either English or Russian word in the Yandex Lingvo.

Today I came across an extension which does exactly that. Lingvo Online! for Mozilla Firefox is a very small and simple extension which does exactly what I want. It adds a context menu which allows quick lookups of selected words.


Char or trout

Consider the joke told by Richard Stallman that I read in this article:

Once I was eating in Legal Sea Food and ordered arctic char. When it arrived, I looked for a signature, saw none, and complained to my friends, “This is an unsigned char. I wanted a signed char!” I would have complained to the waiter if I had thought he’d get the joke.

Until today, the word “char” had only one meaning to me. It was a computer term, which is used as a declaration of a character or string variable in some programming languages. Such as C, for example.

It turns out, that there is another meaning. Here is a quote from the dictionary for you:

also charr (n. pl. char or chars also charr or charrs)

Any of several fishes of the genus Salvelinus, especially the arctic char, related to the trout and salmon.

Wikipedia entries for those of you who want to learn more on this fishy subject: Salvelinus, Arctic char.

New default dictionary

Until now I’ve been using for all my translation needs. I realize that it might not at all be the best out there, but it is was good enough. I wanted something fast and simple. No need for phrases, just quick word translations from Russian to English, and back.

I think I’ll be switching to now. It is also a good enough alternative. And fast enough. It also takes care of the greatest annoyance I have with the Rambler dictionary – language switching. When asking for the translation, I think, it is pretty obvious which language the original word is in. So, if I type ‘muse’ and ask for the English/Russian translation, it is obvious that I have typed an English word and I want thus a Russian translsation. For some strange reason, with Rambler, I had to specify. But I would have minded it aswell, if not the ugly interface. Check it out. What is the problem? Well, the language switch is after the submit button. That’s inconvenient.

I’ve been coping with this for far too long. Enough!

P.S.: Yandex dictionary has another nice feature – it shows the meaning of the word in other languages too. Educational.