Language Articles

The English language.

Double click on any word to listen to the pronunciation.

 

 

We can be frightened for all kinds of reasons; some are logical, such as a fear of snakes which might bite you, but people can be frightened of all sorts of  things, many of them harmless: clowns, butterflies, clocks, moonlight. We call them phobias, and there are long lists of these phobias, most of them seemingly totally irrational.  However, not all fears can be classed as phobias, and we have lots of different words to describe fear, and even ways to describe the people who experience these feelings.

Thanks to the wonders of Facebook I have recently linked up with a friend I used to play with when I was about eight years old. The phrase ‘scaredy cat’ was often used as a playground jibe when I was very young. Bigger and older children might dare someone to do something  - such as climbing up on the bicycle shed and then jumping off into the coke pile – a really foolish thing to do as you would probably end up covered with coal dust and many scratches, and at worst you could break a leg.  So the sensible thing to do was to take no notice of such jibes, but not everyone felt able to stand up to the teasing.

Picture this: It's 6 pm, approaching the end of a long and tiring day at work. You're hungry, stressed out and ready to get into your comfortable clothes, ready to chill out.

 

online English classes for kids

As you're straining to concentrate on that last hour of work you suddenly remember the English class you booked for your child this evening.

 

The thought of rushing back, being stuck in a traffic jam and arriving late for their class (again) fills you with dread. Not to mention the cries of protests as your child refuses to get ready and repeatedly tells you that they don’t want to go to the class.

 

You snap out of the daydream and begin to think about the very real amount of money you are paying for your child’s English classes. And for what? Rushing around with an unhappy child quite obviously not in the right mindset to learn?

 

Surely there must be an easier way for your children to learn English?

 

Here’s the good news – there is a solution to your problem!

Studying English

It’s a dream for many people to spend a summer break in an exotic foreign country, hanging out with the locals, making a friend or two (or even a summer romance!) and returning home refreshed and fluent in a foreign language.

 

But can someone just pick up a language simply by being in the country in which it is spoken? Many companies that organize immersion exchange programmes, summer camps or English language courses in an English-speaking country would have you believe that it’s so much easier than with traditional English academies or online English classes. Even the word immersion itself sounds so, well, easy. Just immerse yourself in the language, like standing under a waterfall, and everything will just seep into your skin.

 

I’m afraid to say that in my case this just did not happen. Before I spent four months travelling around South America, everyone had told me I would ‘pick up’ Spanish as easy as ‘uno, dos, tres’. I took an Ipod full of Spanish songs, somehow hoping that the language flowing through my ears would end up stuck in my brain. But after a month or two, I couldn’t do much more than order a beer and have a basic conversation. So why was I ‘failing’?

 

More Slang

Sir Winston Churchill once observed that Americans and the British are ‘a common people divided by a common language’ …

Never was that as true as when describing the Cockneys.

You’ve probably heard their accent, made famous in everything from movies based on Dickens and George Bernard Shaw novels, to computer-generated gekkos telling real gekkos how to go forth and sell car insurance. Linguists say that the Australian accent has its roots in Cockney culture, as they comprised a large percentage of prisoners, shipped there by the British when they viewed the Land Down Under as an ideal penal colony. Cockneys are the crafty characters from east London who admire those among their lot who can make a living simply by ‘ducking and diving, mate,’ which is their version of wheeling and dealing on a working-class level.

 Old cinema

From time to time I watch old films, classics from the 1950s or even earlier, and I am often surprised at the accents – the norm for the time presumably, but often the actors sound rather more middle or upper class than nowadays. Even the Queen seems to be speaking in a rather stilted way to the way she sounds in more recent years. Listen to a speech she made as a teenager during war time. Then listen to younger members of the royal family nowadays, such as princes Harry and William. Their accents seem very neutral and ordinary in comparison.

 What is a hashtag

#What?

Unless you've never been on the internet (impossible if you are reading this), you have probably seen the symbol # popping up in messages and in posts online.

It used to be used to show a number, and was often known as the number sign, or hash. In North America it was also known as the pound sign, but not any more. The internet has changed all that.

 Spice of life

Variety is the spice of life, and because many words of modern English come from lots of different sources, French, German, Nordic languages, Latin, Spanish and even Hindi and Eskimo, speakers and writers have lots of choice when it comes to which words to use.

 

For example:-

Is this bed hard or solid?

Is he clever / intelligent / bright / smart ...?

This all makes English a rich language, but it can be frustrating.

 

According to American linguistic researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago, the language  that we speak has an affect upon  at least half of what we see. Among the examples they give are the many distinctions made in English, between colours,  which do not necessarily appear in other languages, and vice versa.

 writing

Natural Sales Copywriting

When it comes to writing in order to persuade other people to believe you know what you are writing about, and to persuade them to buy into what you have written, you need to get it right, but you don’t have be perfect when you are starting out, it takes time to develop your own writing style, so when you start out, keep it simple.

Think about when you tell a friend about a fantastic meal you had at a local restaurant. Do you follow a formula to make sure you’ve told them just the right things? No – I bet you don’t: You just let the conversation flow naturally.

 Fool or Nice

Nice is one of those words which have changed in meaning over time. 

Start 

 Yesterday I was a sent a picture of my young great niece running at her first school sports day. Her mum said, ‘She was going like a train.’ That is with full power, very fast.