I hope that [. . .] you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever done before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes [. . .].

(From Neil Gaiman‘s Journal)

Image: http://www.icysedgwick.com/?tag=making-mistakes

The habit of reading


To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.

W. Somerset Maugham, British writer (1874 – 1965)

Image: Wikipedia


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, kangaroo is a noun meaning ‘a large plant-eating marsupial with a long powerful tail and strongly developed hindlimbs that enable it to travel by leaping, found only in Australia and New Guinea’.

This word was first used in English in 1770 by British explorer Captain James Cook (1728 – 1779).

The history of this word began in July 1770, when the HMS Endeavour (the Royal Navy research vessel commanded by Cook) was grounded off the north-eastern coast of Australia. During the weeks when it was being repaired, Captain Cook and his crew, that included astronomer Charles Green and botanist Joseph Banks, made contact with the native population.

In the book An Account of the Voyages ‘undertaken by the order of His present majesty for making discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere’, which is based on the diaries of Cook and his officers, we can read the description of what was called a kangaroo by the natives:

‘July, Saturday 14, 1770. […] The head, neck, and shoulders, are very small in proportion to the other parts of the body; the tail is nearly as long as the body, thick near the rump, and tapering towards the end: the fore-legs of this individual were only eight inches long, and the hind-legs two and twenty: its progress is by successive leaps or hops, of a great length, in an erect posture; the skin is covered with a short fur, of a dark mouse or grey colour, excepting the head and ears, which bear a slight resemblance to those or a hare. This animal is called by the natives Kanguroo. The next day, our Kanguroo was dressed for dinner, and proved most excellent meat.’

Those natives spoke Guugu Yimithirr, which means something like ‘this kind of language’ or ‘speaking this way’, from guugu ‘language’ and yimi-thirr ‘this way’. It is famous for being the source language of the word we are talking about in this article, and also for its method of describing the arrangements of objects in space based on geographic directions. There are only a few remaining speakers of Guugu Yimithirr  which can still  be heard in Hopevale in north-eastern Australia. Now the language has undergone simplification under the influence of English.

Almost 50 years after Cook had left the north-eastern coast of Australia, another explorer, Captain Phillip Parker King, was not able to find the same meaning for the word. From the 1850’s up until the present day a myth spread about the meaning of the word kangaroo. Comedians began to say that kangaroo was the phrase for ‘I don’t understand’. But this isn’t true.

So kangaroo is a noun which may have developed in the following way:

gangurru > kanguroo > kangaroo

It can also mean ‘an Australian share, especially in mining, land, or a tobacco company’.

Its plural is kangaroos.

It can also be a verb (regular) which means:

To kangaroo: (informal) (of a car) to move forward or to cause (a car) to move forward with short sudden jerks, as a result of improper use of the clutch.

The word is used in an Australian phrase :

‘To have kangaroos in the (or one’s) top paddock’, which means (informal):  to be mad or eccentric.

The phonetic transcription for kangaroo is: |ˌkaŋgəˈruː|

The Kongouro from New Holland by George Stubbs

The kongouro from New Holland (or The Kangaroo) by George Stubbs. This painting would have offered Britons a first look at the animal called a kangaroo. The artist had to paint it relying only on verbal accounts, probably made by the botanist Joseph Banks.



I am a poor devil and my name is Titivillus, I must each day bring my master a thousand sacks full of failings and of negligences in syllables and words.

(«Soy un pobre diablo y mi nombre es Titivillus, cada día debo llevar a mi amo mil sacos llenos de errores y descuidos en sílabas y palabras»).**

Anonymous, The Myroure of Oure Ladye

*Image from Wikipedia

**Traducción: M. L. Abalo

Little things

steinbeck writing

On the third finger of my right hand I have a great callus just from using a pencil for so many hours every day. It has become a big lump by now and it doesn’t ever go away. Sometimes it is very rough and other times, as today, it is as shiny as glass. It is peculiar how touchy one can become about little things. Pencils must be round. A hexagonal pencil cuts my fingers after a long day. You see I hold a pencil for about six hours every day. This may seem strange but it is true. I am really a conditioned animal with a conditioned hand.

John Steinbeck (American writer, Nobel Prize in Literature 1962)

Pequeños detalles

«En el dedo corazón de la mano derecha tengo un gran callo debido a usar el lápiz muchas horas al día. En este momento se ha convertido en un bulto grande y no hay manera de que desaparezca. Unas veces está muy áspero, y otras, como hoy, brilla como el cristal. Es extraño cómo pueden afectarle a uno los pequeños detalles. Los lápices tienen que ser redondos. Un lápiz hexagonal me hace cortes en los dedos después de una larga jornada. Piensen que escribo a lápiz unas seis horas al día. Esto puede parecer raro, pero es cierto. La verdad es que soy un ser condicionado con una mano condicionada».*

John Steinbeck (escritor americano, Premio Nobel de Literatura 1962)

*Traducción: María Luisa Abalo