Friday, April 17, 2009

My New Domain

I've started a new site, called R. E. Craig Jr.. Please check out my domain. It is hosted by IXHosting out of Ohio. I've also started four sites linked in with it. Learning E-Curve, Good Together, I-Write, and Face-to-Face are specialized sites.

R. E. Craig Jr. Sites

Learning E-Curve is a site about blogging and e-commerce.
Good Together deals with relationships in general.
I-Write assists in writing in English.
Face-to-Face addresses more philosophical issues, including both theological and sociological.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Americans Willing to Give Up Cars

There is a website that scores U.S. cities based on how good it is to live there without a car! Can you believe it? We Americans are soooo attached to our cars! Yet the price of gas (petrol) has driven us to consider giving them up (at least for a time). Here is the site Walk Score.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Identity of the individual through language

English drives us to consider our relationship to the past. The individual is related to the act. Consider the differences between
  • I swam
  • I was simming
  • I have swam
  • I had swam
  • I used to swim
  • I used to go swimming
  • I went swimming
  • I have gone swimming
  • I had gone swimming
You have to really think about how you are individually related to the action of swimming in the past that you are trying to communicate. This is an example of how language can try to own us as we are trying to make the language our own.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

ING, not Chinese!

Words that look like verbs, but end in -ing in English play special roles. Indo-European Languages have words that function in similar positions within them. Here is one of the simplist presentations of the matter from the FSI (Foreign Service Institute - the old name for the Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Montery) handbook for Swedish. I hope this clears up the Chinese influence in English up for you ;-)
  1. Gerund - an English verb with an -ing ending and with the function of a noun.
    ................Swimming is my favorite sport.
    ................I'm tired of running.
  2. Participle - English has two participial forms: the present participle which ends in -ing and the past participle which ends in -ed, or sometimes -en, -n, etc. These are used in forming complex verb phrases, such as I am working; I have worked.

    Apart from their use in forming complex verb phrases, participles are also used as adjectives.
    ................A crying baby
    ................A closed door

Friday, April 11, 2008

Th and Thz

If you are not trying to eradicate your 'f' sounding 'th' then you will end up sounding like a child, since English speaking children exhibit this problem universally up to about the age of three or four. Also, you might be grossly misunderstood, even evoking a punch in the face!

Consider this common polite phrase, "Thank you!" If your 'th' is still an 'f' then it sounds like "Fank you!" Add the other common problem that vowels in Europe are darker sounding and the 'a' sounds like an 'uh'. Now we have the English speaker hearing "Fuhnk you!" Since the 'n' in European languages tends to have more of a nasal quality than in English, the English speaker may not hear it so well. Finally, just before he hits you in your face, he hears you say, "Fuhk you!" or more properly spelled, "Fuck you!"

You see why pronunciation can be critical to your health and good relations with English speakers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

English Dialects: American and British - part 3

Here is a good site regarding dialects in the British Isles. As the author says, "There is a problem in identifying any dialect as the standard, since this implies that other dialects are inferior or wrong. In the case of spoken English, we have good evidence that such prejudice exists - so there is an exaggerated danger that, in referring to a standard, we will strengthen what is already a tyranny. It may help to note that Standard English, too, is a dialect - albeit one that is no longer found in any one region of Britain." How enlightening! We are teaching a dialect of English that no longer exists as a regional representation. Perhaps this is the ideal situation, and it would be if it were not for the social stratification and oppression that accompanies the domination of RP.

Now consider which dialect of English can boast the largest number of native speakers. Without a doubt it is American English. Likewise, in spite of the brink of recession that the US is on, America is the world's largest economy. Britain as a whole comes somewhere near 5th. Consider that RP is really tied to England and then try to place England alone on the list of economies and you get the picture.

The opposing argument here in Poland goes something like this. England is closer than the U.S. and visas to work in England are no longer required. What they really mean is that visas to work in Ireland are no longer required, since far more Poles land there than in England. So RP does not really blend with the Irish Catholics' politics and ultimately places you on the outside even more than simply being a foreigner. Whereas, speaking the American dialect of English in Ireland is not nearly as offensive.

English Dialects: American and British - part 2

Here in Eastern Poland the middle-aged and older generations speak with quasi-British accents, while the younger generations speak with American accents. This is due mostly to the lowering of the Wall in 1989, before which British forms of English were the most accessible ones. The Cold War with America depprived the people of materials for American English. However, the younger generations, who have grown up since the Wall fell, have been fed steady diets of American music and films.

The battle is not over. In fact, it has just begun. Since Poland has joined the E.U. the older teachers have become emboldened to reassert the supremacy of RP British English, suffering the younger generations to relearn the American accent they have already partially developed through natural means. It's HIGH TIME these teachers recognize the possibility of co-existing variations of accents. Of course that would require them to develop new strategies of teaching such subjects as phonetics and pronunciation. If they did, then my students would not bring up the issue of two different systems of pronunciation for the English they are being taught.

Certainly an alternative solution is for me to speak with a British accent, but if you heard my imitation of British you would scream for me to stop - it's so terrible. I could teach them in my native accent, Southern American, but I am sparing them the pains of laughing so hard in every class from confusion over such words as tire and tar or the ambiguous phrases such as d'ya (meaning did you) or Git y'on outa hir! (meaning Get out of here, now!).

My Top Tags

/*Google Analytics code*/