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Joined: August 12, 2010
Comments posted: 733
Votes received: 92

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Five eggs is too many

July 1, 2013

Recent Comments

@WW I just use plain SV[OPT} 95% of the time. Romance and Germanic languages are usually Time-Manner-Place TMP as opposed to English often MPT, and VO unsplittable.
Slav languages tend to put old info first, new info last. Verb comes at the end in Korean
and uses post-positions and no separate relative clauses so that's why we need to addess word order:
(In English) I go to the shops in-order -to buy bread
(in Korean) I (optional) bread buy - in-order to shops to go

The Konglish for this sentence in Korean would be na-do ppang sa-ro kayo (I-do bread buy-in order-to go).
Horses for courses.

jayles the greedy March 11, 2014, 6:27pm

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@WW all a bit too academic for me; in teaching I just use SV[OPT] to represent a clause, as in "Although SV[OPT], SV[OPT]."; and with add-ins as needed like:
QxSV[OPT]? or SVOMPT or SxMpp[OPT] - for "She had quickly walked her dog down the street the night before." where P=place T=time x=auxiliary M=manner Q=question-word. Indeed I pronounce it "svopt" so sts remember it, so I don't need to explain or use "clause".
It is my Vergeltungswaffe.

jayles the greedy March 10, 2014, 9:08pm

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English has been described as a residual verb-comes-second (V2) tongue. Thus we can say:
a. Most sought are upper-income people, who tend to keep large balances wth the bank. (from Birner 1995: 239)
b. They have a great big tank in the kitchen, and in the tank are sitting all of these pots
. (from Birner 1995: 241).

Using neither (in front of the first verb) .... nor , usually triggers a V2 structure.

jayles the greedy March 9, 2014, 6:29pm

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If one wishes to teach "grammar" a little more directly, one can set a task like:
"A friend of mine says there are thirteen meaningful ways to join together the two sentences "Roses are red' and 'Violets are blue' : what are they and explain the differences in nuance". Good practical stuff not boring analysis and terminology.

jayles the greedy March 6, 2014, 6:28pm

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Often one does not need to teach grammar as such; just select a befitting topic to elicit it. For instance, to elicit "third" conditionals, topics like:-
"What effect did the British occupation have on India?"
"How has the Japanese occupation influence Korean education since WWII?"
or more directly:
"If the USA had successfully supported Chiang Dae Shur (ie chang kai shek) and the GuoMingTang, how would China be different today?"
It's not about learn grammar per se, it's about being able to use it.

jayles the greedy March 6, 2014, 6:12pm

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@WW no offence intended, Geordie or Glaswegian both incomprehensible to me, but good English nevertheless.
In truth one's the grammar of one's natural English dialect is the one that makes most sense. If one is north-country saying "we was" and "she were", that's your natural grammar, and "standard" Englsh grammar is something you learn at school for writing.
However, ESOL is a different kettle of fish. For many ESOL students present perfect is a strange concept, just as the "definite/indefinite" conjugation in Hungarian is for me, and no amount of grammar exercises can make it automatic.
Again, in Korea (and Japan) they learn English grammar, grammar, grammar at school with very little practical result.
Equally in my experience, most students who reach an advanced level have worked through something like Murphy; and equally just working through Murphy does not per se make a student advanced: so grammar, grammar, grammar alone is not enough. I guess you know that already. Perhaps the real point is that it is quite rare for a Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Thai or Korean speaker to get to a CAE level. The gulf in concepts is just so wide. Ban Ki Moon is exceptional - Korean has tenses and so on but lacks "f", "v" and has the l/r issue and is SOV, and like Slav tongues lacks articles; moreover (as in Hungarian) generalizations are made in the singular even for countable nouns. It is the same for us trying to learn a tonal language like Thai, Vietnamese, Mandarin, or Cantonese. The gulf is huge.

jayles the greedy March 5, 2014, 7:07am

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De grammaticae eruditione: The first thing we would need to establish is what is the purpose of learning grammar; what are the aims, goals, and objectives? We can hardly determine this without discussing exactly who is doing the learning and why they need to, and what they need.
I would suggest that those least of all in need are native speakers - group one. There are some perhaps whose at home dialect (perhaps deeply Scottish or AAVE) is so far removed from what is the acceptable norm in business and at university that some work toward more standard writing is needed - group two. And my third group would be those who speak very little English at home - it is a second language. This would apply to perhaps 200 million "English speakers" in India and other erstwhile colonies including USA where my understanding is that perhaps a third of the pop is Hispanic speaking at home.
Plainly the first group (who already speak RP etc) have little need beyond punctuation. The second group may need more work. The third group and the rest of the world plainly need grammar as a crutch to get the word order, tenses and so on right. Even so I avoid grammar terminology as much as possible, as the purpose is to put together good English not to know the difference between a "voice" and a "mood", or indeed "indicative","imperative", subjunctive, optative, and all the other moods, unless that terminology is sine qua non for understanding. For example they don't need to know that "ago" is a postposition not a preposition, just put it after the noun not before.
That said, some grammar terminology is needed: Subject, Verb, Object, Past Present Future, Modal, auxiliary, Continuous - I have to teach them all, as they are all in the books and I need them anyway. One needs to remember that in languages such as Mandarin there are no tenses so they cannot learn them at school and have no awareness.
As to the usefulness of Latin grammar, well consider the sentence: I was given the book.
English is a quirky language and somehow we manage to have an object in a passive sentence, which is absolutely impossible in Latin and indeed other European languages. So how does Latin grammar help here? Again Slav languages do not have a past perfect, nor do they distinguish praeteritum irrealis and futurum irrealis. Should they learn latin grammar first or just get on with English?
Incidentally modals in English are, in terms of word roots, already a preterite - that is why there is no final 's', why 'must' is seemingly inconjugable.
What all this means is that there are no cast-iron grammar rules chiselled in stone. The whole thing is but a crutch, means to an end, and whatever means is justified if the end output is normal acceptable English. So in this case "was" or "were" or whatever will do.

jayles the greedy March 4, 2014, 9:40pm

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If you look on wikipedia possessive apostrophe it gives the historical background and says that the convention did not become established until the nineteenth yearhundred.
What I think is happening these days is that people can't be bothered to find the punctuation on the keyboard, so apostrophes and commas are withering away.
I am not at all sure I would bother myself, esp for the plural possessive. Quite what I would do if I were writing formally by hand - well who does that these days outside an Enlgish Exam. I would hope that IELTS examiners would not get all picky about it as the meaning is usually quite clear and unambiguous, and there are far more weighty criteria to consider. On the other hand I might expect a proof-reader to correct it as per style guide. Basically dying yet not by any means dead yet IMHO.

jayles the greedy March 3, 2014, 4:07am

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timor tui incomprehensionis ironiae meae conturbat me

jayles the greedy March 1, 2014, 7:04pm

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cum essem parvulus loquebar ut parvulus sapiebam ut parvulus cogitabam ut parvulus tuncque didici linguam populi Romae factusque sum vir

jayles the greedy March 1, 2014, 6:12pm

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Lingua populi Romae lingua deorum semper non oblita atque non oblitanda saluatio omnibus ominbusque problemis humanis...

jayles the greedy March 1, 2014, 6:05pm

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Fortisan si omnes illi incolii...

jayles the greedy March 1, 2014, 5:56pm

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Fortisan si toti illi incolii olim apsumebent sui dies grammatica linguae latinis eruditione, omnibus minor tempora esset in vicis alii populi necare. An fortasse nos seniores in irreale praeterito habitant.

jayles the greedy March 1, 2014, 5:54pm

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@WW after an intial spike 1800-1820, it just wanders along till 2000 where it suddenly rises back to the initial levels. Works in Firefox

jayles the greedy February 27, 2014, 5:58pm

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The map is on Wikipedia under "treaty of trianon"

Note the area covered is "Greater Hungary" and includes parts of modern Slovakia as north as the Tatra mts, most of Romania, hunks of Croatia, Serbia, and a good slither of SW Ukraine. The red areas indicate Hungarian speaking places, and so on. Widely touted by Hungarian Nationalists - think the current PM, as well as the Rightists (Jobbik) - and still taught in Hungarian schools so the gripe lives on.

jayles the greedy February 27, 2014, 5:45pm

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@WW yes Polish is like Russian (apart from the script) ; your examples sound almost the same: ходить / входить / выходить / приходить; and the prefixes are inseparable - same in Latin/French/Spanish. However in Hungarian the particle is sometimes separable: "feladtam" = I gave up; "nem adtam fel" = I didn't give up.
(And maddeningly "elado" = for sale; "kiado" = for rent - so confusing! - and thus "eladtam" = I sold it; "nem adtam el" = I didn't sell it.

AFAIK only English can form the noun in two different ways with different meanings like "the lookout", "the outlook"; "an outbreak", "a breakout".

jayles the greedy February 27, 2014, 5:34pm

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Hungarian itself has phrasal verbs - "meg" or "el" often correspond to "up" in English, giving a perfective, or sense of completion. Unfortunately, "put on clothes" in Hungarian is more like "dress up", and "dress up" more like "dress out", while "undress" is more like "take down" rather than "take off". The one that used to bug me was "post" a letter, in Hungarian is like "give up", but "Don't give up" translates word for word..
So try learning some Hungarian if you would understand the learner's plight. As for teaching phrasal verbs, with a monolingual class it's a good idea to mark up your own copy of the teaching materials with the translation and prick up ears when they start whispering Hungarian. My success rate for phrasal verbs was abysmally low but "ne adj fel!" "Making Sense of Phrasal Verbs" (Martin Shovel) is still my favorite.

jayles the greedy February 26, 2014, 9:20pm

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@Jasper Parts of western Ukraine were at one time part of Poland =- Lviv (or Lvow) for example was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. Other bits were part of the (Austro) Hungarian Empire until the Treaty of Trianon around 1921.
Linguistically, "Ukrainian" used to slide off toward Polish/Slovak in the west, village by village. There was a survey of language use in Eastern Europe carrried out around 1920, which was supposedly used to determine the current borders, creating Romania, Czechoslovakia and so on.
Out in the Ukrainian countryside things stil tend to look like they did in 1950.....

jayles the greedy February 26, 2014, 8:47pm

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@WW "for_CONJ_" on Ngram shows a marked resurgence over the past decade, which threw me. However, I have just realized this might be skewed by republication of old books.
The real reason for my asking was I was asked whether it would be a good idea to include "for" as a conjunction in academic writing (ie IELTS). ??
[I often ban sts from using "and/but/so/because/however/on the other hand" to force practicing alternatives like "as/since/although/in case/in sofar as..." ].

jales the greedy February 26, 2014, 5:23pm

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Perhaps I could raise the matter of "for" as a conjunction.
"Wow I am glad and happy too; for I was late for this discussion."
Or is "for" as a conjunction now deprecated.

jayles the greedy February 25, 2014, 5:41pm

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