Whom is Stupid

English is changing. Constantly morphing. Whether you want it to or not.

I was telling my college composition class today that I firmly believe that the word “whom” will be completely gone from standard American English within 50 years. Grammar rules are in place, because of how we talk- not the other way around. The rules were written to explain how we speak. If we stop speaking in a certain way or words fall out of use, the rule will be defunct. I want to start a Kickstarter to defunt (yes, I just made that adjective a verb, because I do what I want!)  the word “whom”. Is that possible? Will you donate 5 bucks to that cause? If so, go to www.whomisstupid.com. Just kidding. Don’t click on that link; it’ll probably give you a virus.

Let’s talk about verb tenses, such as the verb “to help”. The tenses actually used to be help , holp, holpen. For realz. They have know become regular- help, helped, helped. I think some other irregular verbs are moving that way as well, such as drunk and swum. Have you ever heard someone say, “I have swum in the ocean many times.”? Uh, no. They say swumpt. Just kidding. But swum sounds just as silly to me. What about brung or thunk? The less often a word is said, the more likely it is to change. That’s why go, went, and gone are probably around to stay I’m afraid.

Next on my list is the word “well”.

“How are you doing today?”

“I’m well. How about you?”

No. All kinds of no. Yes, I am an English teacher, but I feel so stuffy when I say I am well. I feel like a 19th century woman carrying a parasol when I say it. This is another rule that I give a good 20 years before it falls to the way side. Everyone always says, “I’m good.” “Things are good.” Except me, because I only reply with, “Things are poppin!” Mostly to my boss. Just kidding. He gets a “well” since he has a PhD in English. And he’s my boss. But really, things are poppin!

There are even some capitalization and punctuation rules that are changing. People argue over the oxford comma all the time for example. Did you know that the Chicago Manual now says not to write U.S. when talking about the United States of America. It is now just US with no periods. The word “website” and other technological words used to require capitalization and now don’t.

Some grammar gurus get angry for what they view as grammar infractions, but really, they just need to accept that English grammar is fluid and ever-changing, and it always will be. And, in my opinion, they also need to think about incorporating the word swumpt into their vocabulary. I better hurry and go get a copyright on that.

 

funny grammar

Image from onehorseshy.com

 

Helping ELLs in the Mainstream College Classroom

Let’s face it. Most college professors have no  training in working with English language learners. So in order to help my colleagues better support the ELLs in their classroom, I sent an e-mail to all the faculty and adjuncts with the just a few ways in which they can help these students.

Give extra time to take a quiz or a test.

>For these students, it takes much longer for them to read and comprehend what the questions are asking. If you feel comfortable, please give them extra time.

Do not write in cursive.

> I have had several international students come in and ask me to read the feedback from their teachers at the end of their papers. Most people who learn English only learn print letters, not cursive, so cursive is usually unreadable to them.

Use visual aids, gestures, and write on the board as often as possible.

>Writing key words and even homework assignments on the board is so helpful for these students. Showing instead of only telling can really assist these students as well.

Simplify your language and slow your speed.

>This does not mean you have to “dumb down” your language. Try to use less slang and idioms, which hinder comprehension for these students. Try to watch the speed of your speech. I know I am guilty of speed talking sometimes when I get going in a lecture!

Offer supplementary materials.

>This might be offering an outline of the lecture of a copy of the PowerPoint. Listening comprehension is often most difficult for these students, so they may have trouble catching all the details of your lectures. Introduce them to a top student in the class who would be willing to share their class notes.

Get to know your international students.

>Take a minute to talk one-on-one with these students, so you can gauge their English ability and their comprehension of class material. You may think they are understanding and keeping up, but most of the time, to be polite, they will just nod and pretend to understand. Did you know that in some cultures, especially Asian cultures, it’s rude to tell the teacher you don’t understand, because you are basically accusing the teacher of not teaching well?

These were just a few quick and dirty tips I wanted the faculty to know. I hope you can make use of a few of them too if you have ELLs in your mainstream classroom. Are there any you would add? Please share with others that might find this helpful.

 

Foreign Students, ESL

Russian Police Officers Are Trying to “Get Lucky”

Like many people, I was interested to watch the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The opening ceremony for the winter Olympics is usually not as grand as the one for the summer Olympics, but Russia really wanted to try and outdo its buddy, China. I think they put on a high-quality performance, which highlighted Russia’s contribution to dance, literature, and music. It was strange at times, but I think, overall, it stayed pretty classy with the ballet and the opera. However, they didn’t show one very, um, interesting performance on television here in the US. There was a choir of Russian police officers who sang Daft Punk featuring Pharrell’s hit from the summer “Get Lucky”. Not only is the performance very awkward, but the song choice is very awkward, in my opinion. And as an ESL teacher, I have a theory on it. They chose an upbeat song to try and show Russia’s fun, carefree side. However, they really have no idea what the song is about! Most non-native English speakers know the word “lucky”. In fact, luck is often talked more about in countries outside the US, because people strongly believe in luck.So, perhaps the Russians were thinking this was a fun song about luck. Maybe they thought this song would bring luck to their Olympic athletes. Here are the lyrics to the chorus of the song:

We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun
We’re up all night to get lucky

This song is talking about a hook-up, about sex! I am almost completely sure that the Russians don’t realize this. They don’t know that “getting some” and “getting lucky” are synonymous with casual sex. How could you know these idioms unless you’ve learned them before? I highly doubt that the Russians would want their country to be known for police officers singing about having sex as they present themselves to the world during the opening ceremony. It also surprised me because the Russians are so conservative about many things, sex and homosexuality being just a few of them. Maybe this is something only an ESL teacher would think of; I don’t know.

Here is the video:

It’s strange to watch. Some members of the choir look like they were forced at gunpoint to sing this song. And there are some parts that I can’t quite understand what they’re saying. What are your thoughts on the performance? Are you a non-native English speaker who didn’t know what “get lucky” or “get some” really meant? If you’re an ESL teacher, do you think your students would know?I don’t think most of mine would. Oh well, I hope those police officers get lucky from being so famous for their performance! Share this post with those who you’d like to see this fun performance!

The Great Language Game

A travel site I follow on Facebook shared a link to a great game. It plays someone speaking in a certain language, and you choose what language it is from 3 or 4 choices. While I wouldn’t say I’m good at learning languages, I definitely have an ear for languages. I can usually tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean. I can tell if a language is from Eastern rather than Western Europe. I can figure out that a language being spoken is Middle Eastern. It’s actually kind of strange. Anyway, if you like languages, culture, or travel, give this game a try by

clicking here.

I got a score of 900 on my first try! I’m kinda proud of myself if I do say so. Play the game, and comment with your score. Share this post with others who you want to challenge to this game.

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I Love You, My Little Elephant

Do you like when your significant other calls you “sweetheart”? What about when you mom calls you “baby”? Do you mind when a waitress calls you “sugar”?

A term of endearment is more commonly known as a pet name. They are used to refer to those for whom you have a great affection for- your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, your children, and even your friends. For example, my mom will still call me baby when I’m using a walker and placing my teeth beside my bed each night. And my boyfriends always end up with some funny, but cute, pet name, such as monkey or Pancho.

Calling those people pet names makes sense to me, but what about using terms of endearment for complete strangers? Waitresses are notorious for calling us sweetie-honey-baby-pumpkin-sugar, aren’t they? Just today, the lady who was checking me out at the store called me baby doll. Do older people tend to use terms of endearment more than younger people? Do people in the South use them more than people in the North? Are pet names different around the world?

Every time I visit the South, I hear pet names used more frequently and also more frequently by strangers. I also feel that older people use these names more often than us younger folk.

Have you ever been offended by being called a pet name? The owner of the garage I take my car to get fixed always calls me honey. Never fails. From the first time I met him, to every time I take my car there, he calls me honey. At first I thought he was being a smart-aleck, telling me I don’t know anything about cars (I don’t. But, I know my car is gray. Boom! I’m doing good!).  After taking my car there several times, I discovered that that’s just how he talks to everyone. I am no longer offended.

Sometimes I feel like I have to be a little defensive about my age. I feel that some people don’t take me seriously, because I’m a young professor. So when a stranger calls me sweetie or baby, I automatically want to start defending myself- “Hey! I am not a baby! I’m a big girl. I make my own money. I have a career. I pay my own bills. I’m I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T.” Then it trails off into that  song featuring some rapper named Little Boosie. But….I digress.

Sweet foods are often used as pet names in the US- sugar, honey,   And food in general is used quite a bit, such as pumpkin, cupcake, sweetie pie. What about in other countries? What are common pet names there?

Would you appreciate being called an egg with eyes or tamago gata no kao. That’s what women are sometimes called in Japan since having an egg or oval shaped face is considered beautiful.

France has a few strange ones- you might get called a little cabbage (petit chou)  or a flea (ma puce).

Since elephants are considered lucky in Thailand, the term chang noi, or little elephant, might be whispered in your ear by your significant other.

I love that in the romance languages (Spanish, Italian, French, etc.,  speakers used diminutives to show affection. A diminutive is when a word is made smaller, to show endearment. For example, in Spanish, mi abuelita, means my dear grandmother. Amorito literally means little love but is something like honey. It is usually done by adding the “ita” or “ito” to the end of a word.  I wish it was more common to do this in English, because I think it’s charming!

Let me know your thoughts on pet names.  It seems to be pretty divisive!  As always, please share on your social media if you thought this was interesting. Until next time, my little flea!

If the World Were a Village of 100 People…

I found an interesting site today by Toby Ng with an intriguing project called “The World of 100.” The direct words from the website explain it better than I could:

“If the world were a village of 100 people, what would its composition be? This set of 20 posters is built on statistics about the spread of population around the world under various classifications. The numbers are turned into graphics to give another sense a touch – Look, this is the world we are living in.”

These “postcards” have won many graphic design awards, and I think the content is truly fascinating.

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There are many more that I didn’t include, so take a look at the site that I retrieved the images from. The posters really made me think, and I’m sure they’ll do the same to you!

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