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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Countries: Switzerland

Countries Around the World: SWITZERLAND

The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons (states). In succeeding years, other areas joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation got its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. A constitution of 1848, later changed in 1874, replaced the confederation with a centralized federal government. Switzerland's sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two world wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations but still has a strong commitment to neutrality.

Word List:
  • alliance: an arrangement between two or more people, groups, or countries by which they agree to work together to achieve something
  • succeeding: coming after something else
  • sovereignty: the right of a country to rule itself
  • neutrality: the state of not supporting either side in a war, disagreement, etc.
  • integration: the process of combining with other things in a single larger unit or system
  • commitment: a promise to do something

Country Information
  • location: Central Europe; bordered by Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Germany
  • capital: Bern
  • official languages: German, French and Italian
  • type of government: confederation
  • total area: approximately 41,290 sq km
  • climate: temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
  • terrain: mostly mountains (Alps in the South, Jura in the Northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes
  • natural resources: includes hydropower potential, timber and salt
  • industries: includes machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking and insurance
  • agricultural products: includes grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs
Swiss Vocabulary
  • canton — A small territorial division of a country. Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons.
  • Swiss franc — The currency of Switzerland.
  • euro — The currency of several member nations of the European Union.
  • fondue — A hot dish that is made from melted cheese and wine and eaten with bread. Fondue is also commonly made with chocolate.
  • Gruyere — A nutty, pale yellow, firm cheese that is made from whole cow’s milk and has small holes. It is produced chiefly in France and Switzerland. Vacherin — A soft, rich, seasonal cheese that is made from cow’s milk and contained in a grayish-yellow blanched rind. It is produced chiefly in France and Switzerland.
  • Emmenthal — A Swiss cheese that is made from cow’s milk and contains small holes.
  • Tête de Moine — French for “monk’s head.”Also “Bellelay.”A rich, semi-soft cheese that is made in Switzerland. It is named after the monastery where it originated, the Abbey of Bellelay in the canton of Bern.
  • Fribourgeois — A cheese that is very similar to Vacherin, but firmer. It is made in the Fribourg canton of Switzerland.
  • Tilsit — A semi-hard, light yellow cheese made from whole milk that is similar in flavor to mild Limburger.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Countries: Australia

Countries Around the World: AUSTRALIA

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere made up of the mainland of the Australian continent as well as the island of Tasmania and many smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.

For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of roughly 250 language groups. After discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in the following decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.

On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system which functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federation is made up of six states and several territories. The population of 22.7 million is heavily concentrated in the Eastern states and is highly urbanised.

Word list:
  • indigenous: indigenous people lived in a place for a very long time before other people came to live there
  • penal transportation: sending convicted criminals to a prison colony.
  • urbanized: living in a town or city after living in the countryside

Country Information
  • location: Oceania, with the Indian Ocean on the East Coast and the South Pacific Ocean on the West Coast
  • capital: Canberra
  • official language: English
  • type of government: federal parliamentary democracy
  • total area: approximately 7,686,850 sq km
  • climate: generally arid to semiarid; temperate in the South and East; tropical in the North
  • terrain: mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in the Southeast
  • natural resources: includes bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper, tin, gold, silver, uranium, nickel, tungsten, mineral sands, lead, zinc, diamonds, natural gas and petroleum
  • industries: includes mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals and steel
  • agricultural products: includes wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits, cattle, sheep and poultry
Australia Vocabulary
  • Union Jack — Another name for the British flag.
  • Aboriginal people — A group of people who are the original, or native, inhabitants of Australia.
  • didgeridoo — A pipe-like wind instrument used by the Aboriginal people in traditional ceremonies.
  • outback — The rural semi-arid area in the interior of Australia, also known as the “bush.”
  • Australian dollar — The currency of Australia.
  • marsupial — A group of mammals, found primarily in Australia and the Americas, wherein the female has an abdominal pouch for sheltering and nurturing newborns.
  • eucalyptus — A group of tall trees, native to Australia, that have aromatic leaves, which yield an oil used for medicinal purposes and wood valued as timber.
  • echidna — Also called “spiny anteater.”A nocturnal, burrowing, egg-laying mammal that has a spiny coat, slender snout and an extendable, sticky tongue used for catching insects. It is commonly found in Australia,Tasmania and New Guinea.
  • fauna — Another name for animals.
  • flora — Another name for plants.
  • oztag — A non-contact sport that is similar to rugby. 
  • barbie — An Australian term that means “barbeque.”
  • cricket — A game for two teams, of 11 members each, that is played on a field with two wickets 20 meters apart.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Countries: Mongolia


Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only 38 kilometres (24 mi) from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest city, is home to about 45% of the population. Mongolia's political system is a parliamentary republic.

The area of what is now Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires. The Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan in 1206. After the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols returned to their earlier pattern of constant internal conflict and occasional raids on the Chinese borderlands. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Mongolia came under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. At the end of the 17th century, all of Mongolia had been incorporated into the area ruled by the Qing Dynasty. During the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence, but had to struggle until 1921 to firmly establish independence from the Republic of China, and until 1945 to gain international recognition.

As a consequence, it came under strong Russian and Soviet influence; in 1924, the Mongolian People's Republic was declared, and Mongolian politics began to follow the same patterns as the Soviet politics of the time. After the breakdown of communist regimes in Eastern Europe in late 1989, Mongolia saw its own Democratic Revolution in early 1990, which led to a multi-party system, a new constitution in 1992, and transition to a market economy.

At 1,564,116 square kilometres (603,909 sq mi), Mongolia is the 19th largest and the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of around 2.75 million people. It is also the world's second-largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by steppes, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately 30% of the population are nomadic or semi-nomadic. The predominant religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism, and the majority of the state's citizens are of the Mongol ethnicity, though Kazakhs, Tuvans, and other minorities also live in the country, especially in the west.

word list
  • landlocked = a landlocked country or area is surrounded by land
  • raid = a sudden short military attack
  • incorporate = united into one body; combined.
  • to collapse = to suddenly fail or stop existing
  • to struggle = to try hard to do something that you find very difficult
  • transition = changing from one thing to another
  • sparse = existing in small amounts, or a large distance apart
  • arable = arable land is suitable or used for growing crops
  • predominant = the most common or greatest in number or amount

Country Information
  • location: Northern Asia; bordered by Russia and China
  • capital: Ulaanbaatar
  • official language: Mongolian
  • type of government: mixed parliamentary/presidential
  • total area: approximately 1,564,116 sq km
  • climate: desert in the South; large daily and seasonal temperature ranges in the rest of the country
  • terrain: vast semi-desert and desert plains, grassy steppe, mountains in the West and Southwest; Gobi Desert in the south-central region
  • natural resources: includes oil, coal, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, fluorspar, gold, silver and iron
  • industries: includes construction and construction materials, mining, oil, food and beverages, processing of animal products, cashmere and natural fiber manufacturing
  • agricultural products: includes wheat, barley, vegetables, forage crops, sheep, goats, cattle, camels and horses

Vocabulary of Mongolia
  • Genghis Khan — A nomad who unified the Mongolian tribes and established an empire by conquering a large part of Asia. He lived from 1162-1227.
  • cyrillic — An alphabet used for certain Slavic languages. Cyrillic was introduced in Mongolia in the 1930s and is still used as a companion alphabet to the traditional Mongolian script.
  • ger — A circular, domed, portable tent used by nomadic peoples of central Asia.
  • steppe — Temperate, flat grasslands found in Europe and Asia.
  • togrog — The currency of Mongolia.
  • buuz — A traditional Mongolian dish made with minced meat and pastry.
  • Naadam — A major Mongolian festival featuring archery, wrestling and horse riding competitions in addition to different foods and costumes.
  • Gandan Temple — A major Buddhist temple located in Ulaanbaatar.
  • oboo — A pile of stones dedicated to the practice of ancestor worship.The oboo plays a role in several Mongolian shamanistic rituals.
  • del — A traditional Mongolian tunic.
  • khoomii — A form of polyphonic singing where the singers are able to vibrate their vocal cords in a way to produce two pitches at the same time.
Reference: Wikipedia - Mongolia

Monday, March 12, 2012

LESSON: Punctuation Marks

Common Punctuation Marks and Mathematics Symbols
Монгол хэлSymbolEnglish
цэг.period
асуултын тэмдэг?Question mark
анхаарлын тэмдэг!Exclamation point
таслал,Comma
тодорхойлох цэг:Colon
цэгтэй таслал;Semi-colon
зураасDash
богино зураас-Hyphen
хашилт“ “Quotation marks, quotes
бага хаалт( )Parentheses
дөрвөлжин хаалт[ ]Brackets
налуу зураас/Forward slash
олон цэгEllipsis marks (or series of dots)
апострофApostrophe
нэмэх тэмдэг+Plus (sign)
хасах тэмдэг-Minus (sign)
Үржүүлэх тэмдэг* or ×Multiply (multiplication sign)
хуваах тэмдэг/ or ÷Divide (division sign)
тэнцүүгийн тэмдэг=Equal (sign)
@ тэмдэгт@“at” sign or ampersat
Tugrugs currency
%Percent

End your sentences with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark
  • Use the period to show a full stop at the end of a statement.
  • The question mark ( ? ), used at the end of a sentence is usually asking for an answer.
  • The exclamation mark ( ! ) suggests excitement or emphasis in a sentence.
I can't believe how cold it is here in Mongolia!

Comma ( , )
  • Use when there is a break within a sentence that adds information to the subject.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the spiritual director of FPMT, will arrive tomorrow.
  • Use when denoting a series.
Buuz is made with meat, onions, and a little salt, steamed in a dough shell.
  • Use if your subject has two or more adjectives describing it.
  • Use when referring to a city and state. It is also necessary to use a comma to separate the city and state from the rest of the sentence.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
I lived in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, for four years.
  • Use to separate an introductory phrase from the rest of the sentence.
After the exam, we all went out to celebrate.
  • Use the comma to separate two independent clauses (can be split into two). If your sentence contains two independent clauses that are separated by a conjunction (such as and, as, but, for, nor, so, or yet), place a comma before the conjunction.
Tsetsgee bagsh taught 4 English classes this semester, but Jim bagsh taught five.
  • Use a comma to separate direct quotations.
When I was at Khulan's for Tsagaan Sar, she asked, "Do you eat meat, Jim?"

The semicolon ( ; )
  • Use to separate two related but independent clauses.
People continue to worry about mining in Mongolia; our failure to protect the environment will result in long term problems money can't solve.
  • Use to separate a complex series of items, especially those that contain commas.
Tsetsgee introduced me to her family including Ichkaa, her husband; Pujee, her son; Baska, her daughter; and Amgalan, her youngest son still in high school.

The colon ( : )
  • Use to introduce a list. Use only after a full sentence which ends in a noun.
The Stupa Cafe has many types of Mongolian dishes, but all without meat: tsuvin, khorshor, and buuz.

The hyphen ( - )
  • Use when a long word might have to be split between two lines.
  • Use a hyphen when adding a prefix to some words. The purpose of this hyphen is to make the word easier to read, for example: “re-examine” instead of “reexamine”
  • Use hyphens when creating compound words from separate words.
Everything is up-to-date in Kansas City.
  • Use a hyphen when writing numbers out as words. Separate the two words of any number under one hundred with a hyphen.
There are twenty-nine aimags in Mongolia.

The dash ( — )
  • Use to make a brief interruption within a statement, a sudden change of thought, an additional comment, or a dramatic effect.
An introductory clause is a brief phrase that comes — yes, you guessed it — at the beginning of a sentence.

Quotation marks, Quotes ( “ “ )
  • The double quotation ( " ) encloses a direct quotation
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said "Om Mani Padme Hum."

Parenthesis ( ( ) )
  • Use to clarify (can also use commas), to place an afterthought, or to add a comment.
He as a teacher at FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition).

Brackets ( [ ] )
  • Use to clarify or to revise a direct quote so that it appeals to your own writing.
"[The fire] was devastating," said the director of the center.
"It was devastating!" – the actual quote by the director.
  • Use to make a reference.

Forward slash ( / )
  • Use to separate and and or, when appropriate.
To get a visa, you will need your identity card and/or your birth certificate.
  • Used when quoting lyrics and poetry to denote a line break.
Row, row, row your boat / Gently down the stream. / Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, / Life is but a dream.
  • Use to use interchangeable nouns.
"The student/part-time employee has very little free time."

Reference:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

UBPost: Relax with Milk Tea

Originally from the UBPost print newspaper of Feb. 3, 2012
By Tivovalo

Tea holds an important place in the Mongolian people's daily life, especially the nutritious and sustaining milk tea. Mongolians usually prepare milk tea early in the morning, and keep warming it up over a small fire all day. When you visit a Mongolian family, they will treat you with milk tea made with water, salt and cow or sheep's milk. Sometimes the tea is served with rice, dumplings, flour and melted butter. This kind of tea is know to relax your body and mind.


To make Mongolian milk tea, first boil crushed brick tea in an iron pot or kettle of water. After the liquid turns reddish brown (in about ten minutes), add cow or sheep's milk, along with a little salt. Stir the brew well, and the result is a hot, hearty-flavored beverage.

the Mongolians are well known for their hospitality. When a guest arrives at the ger of a Mongolian family, the host will first present to him, using both hands, a large plate of dairy products such as cheese, milk curd and butter. Then milk tea will be served, which the guest should accept with both hands. He should then move the tea to his left hand, dip the tip of the third finger of his right hand in the tea, toss it up in the air and lick the fingertip. This is meant to show his gratitude for the host's hospitality. Milk tea is an indispensable part of the Mongolian's daily life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

UBPost: Fortune Telling Game of Mongolia

Originally posted Feb. 8, 2012 in the UB Post printed newspaper

Almost every Mongolian child grew up playing shagai, the ankle bones of sheep or goats. Shagai games are especially popular during the Mongolian summer holiday of Naadam. In shagai dice, the rolled shagai land on one of four sides: horse, camel, sheep, or goat. A fifth side, cow, is possible on uneven ground. Mongolians still exchange shagai today as tokens of friendship. The shagai may be kept in a little pouch.

Possible shagai positions: Camel, Horse, Goat, Sheep
In addition, male Mongolians also collect wolf shagai, which are viewed as good-luck tokens. In fortunetelling, four shagai are rolled on the ground, two convex sides, horse and sheep, are considered lucky, with horse being the luckiest. The sides with concave indents, goat and camel, are deemed unlucky; rolling all for sides on one throw is considered indicative of very good fortune.

A large variety of traditional Mongolian games are played using the shangai pieces. Depending on the game the ankle bones may be tossed like dice, flicked like marbles, shot at with arrows, caught in the hands, or simply collected according to the roll of a die. In many games the side on which a tossed piece lands (horse, sheep, camel, or goat) is significant. Some common shagai games are:

Horse Racing: A very common game, usually played with two, but also with more players. Each player flicks one piece (his "horse") in turn along a sequence of stationary pieces representing the race course.

Full Toss: Each of two to four players in turn tosses all the pieces. Depending on the number of horses and/or camels, the player can collect pieces from the pool, or has to add some. The winner is the player who has collected the most once the pool is empty.

Four Animals: The pieces are divided into four groups, representing herds of different animals depending on which side is turned upwards. Players take turns tossing one extra piece like a dice, collecting one from the herd of the type thrown, or putting one back if the respective herd is empty. Once all four herds are depleted, the player who has collected the most pieces wins.