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In love with….

…with life, with love… with the English language.

It’s Sunday, the end of my week of English lessons – I hope not the end of everything…. I saved this day for something special, for something that I love so much – a lesson on love, on poetry, on literature, on Shakespeare – the best that the English language has to offer. There has never been a better motivation to learn English than to be able to read Shakespeare in original.

For me, English is the language of love and I always seem to express myself better in English when it comes to loving. English poetry has a way of touching my soul as no other kind of poetry. I can say I am in love with …this language and with…the rightful owner of this blog. 🙂

SONNET 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved

Shakespeare was right: love’s not time’s fool, it does not disappear when our beloved is not around but it last until the end if it is real love. Though it may sound idealistic and unreal in a world always on the run with people who don’t have the time to love each other and who mostly love themselves, at the end of our days we find ourselves wishing we had the chance to love more. Love should be our priority and the reason for all our actions.

People who still think like that don’t belong to this world, to this time…. If  I had to choose a certain moment in time when to live this would be the late Middle Ages – the time of knights, of troubadours, of courtly love, of pure emotions, the time when love poetry was born in Britain which influenced all the poets that were to come.

For some the principles of courtly love might be difficult to understand but this video will cast a light on this dusty medieval concept.

There has never been a more wonderful way of praising love than in Shakespeare’s sonnets. This one is a gift for you my love. I could have written a poem myself, as I have before (and you know they were all for you) but I could never lift up to Shakespeare and you only deserve the best. Never underestimate yourself, never believe that you’re not worth it! You are a wonderful man with a very big heart that I have grown to love. I am proud that I have your love and I would never want to give it up. We were meant to be, meant to love each other, meant to last forever and we both know that. I love you forever, no matter what the future holds and how many mistakes will there be….you are unforgettable to me…

Neither marble nor the gold-plated monuments of princes will outlive this powerful poetry. You will shine more brightly in these poems than those stones that crumble to dust, blackened by time. When devastating war overturns statues, with its battles uprooting buildings, neither the god of war nor his quick-burning fires shall destroy this record of you. Despite death and ignorant enmity, you shall continue on. All those generations to come, down to the weary end of time, will devote space to praising you. So until Judgment Day, when you are raised up, you will live in this poetry, and in the eyes of lovers who read this.


English humour or…not? :D

It’s weekend, we’re happy and free… No more lessons, no more homework, no more stuffy teachers, NO more GRAMMAR!!! 😀 I know you’re happy about that. That is why I chose to write about another thing that the English are famous for: their weird sense of humour or, in some cases, the lack of it, since not many people seem to get it.

First of all there are the puns – the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound. A pun is a figure of speech which consists of a deliberate confusion of similar words or phrases for rhetorical effect, whether humorous or serious.

I’m going to tell you something about puns, and I hope you won’t be sorry. Puns are considered by some to be the ‘lowest form of humour’. Other people, however, consider the pun to be an art form, and believe it to be a highly intelligent form of humour, because it relies on word play. But it was Edgar Allen Poe who said:
„Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.”
You can decide.

The pun is a very old form of humour, and there are many kinds of puns. New kinds of puns are still being invented.

In early 18th century England a common practice when speaking was to answer in a single syllable, made from a larger word. People did it for fun. The word ‘pundigrion’ was coined to describe this kind of word-play. It’s believed that this was the origin of our word ‘pun’.

Here are some nice examples of puns. I hope you get them. 😀

– What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

– A guy walks into the psychiatrist’s office wearing only Glad Wrap shorts. The shrink says, „Well, I can clearly see you’re nuts.”

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False friends and a „false” colony – a penal one – AUSTRALIA

False friends are pairs of words in two languages or dialects (or letters in two alphabets) that look or sound similar, but differ in meaning. False cognates, by contrast, are similar words in different languages that appear to have a common historical linguistic origin (whatever their current meaning) but actually do not.

Both false friends and false cognates can cause difficulty for students learning a foreign language, particularly one that is related to their native language, because students are likely to identify the words wrongly due to linguistic interference. As false friends are a common problem for language learners, many teachers sometimes compile lists of false friends as an aid for their students.

For exemple, the words preservative (English), préservatif (French),  prezervativ (Romanian) are all derived from the Latin word præservativum. However, in all of these languages except English, the predominant meaning of the word is now condom.

Here is a short list with the most common false friends that are common to English and Romanian. I bet many of you have been tricked by them… 😀

English word Wrong translation in

Romanian

Correct translation in

Romanian

actual actual real, adevǎrat
actually actual de fapt
advertisement avertisement reclamă, anunţ publicitar
apology apologie scuză
arm armă braţ
ballot balot vot
bucket buchet găleată
chef chef bucătar şef
curve curve curbă
cutie cutie drăguţică
eventually eventual în cele din urmă
excited excitat agitat, emoţionat
fabric fabrică stofă, ţesătură
far far departe
gymnasium gimnaziu sală de gimnastică
infatuation infatuare pasiune, dragoste nebună, zăpăcire
library librărie bibliotecă
magazine magazine revistă
mare mare iapă
novel nuvelă roman
pregnant pregnant gravidă
prize prize premiu
preservative prezervativ conservant
slut slută curvă

…. and I bet this could happen if you watch too many American movies without subtitles. 🙂

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THAN or THEN…compare or join? Most like WALES…and its DRAGON

Some words are satisfied spending an evening at home, alone, eating ice-cream right out of the box, watching Seinfeld re-runs on TV, or reading a good book. Others aren’t happy unless they’re out on the town, mixing it up with other words; they’re joiners and they just can’t help themselves. A conjunction is a joiner, a word that connects (conjoins) parts of a sentence.

Out of all the conjunctions of the English language I’ve chosen two that are often confused and used wrongly because they are so much alike; kind of like twinsJ.

The Case of Then and Than

In some parts of the United States, we are told, then and than not only look alike, they sound alike. Like a teacher with twins in her classroom, you need to be able to distinguish between these two words; otherwise, they’ll become mischievous. They are often used and they should be used for the right purposes.

Than is used to make comparisons. In the sentence „Piggy would rather be rescued then stay on the island,” we have employed the wrong word because a comparison is being made between Piggy’s two choices; we need than instead. In the sentence, „Other than Pincher Martin, Golding did not write another popular novel,” the adverbial construction „other than” helps us make an implied comparison; this usage is perfectly acceptable in the United States but careful writers in the UK try to avoid it.

Generally, the only question about than arises when we have to decide whether the word is being used as a conjunction or as a preposition. If it’s a preposition, then the word that follows it should be in the object form.

  • He’s taller and somewhat more handsome than me.
  • Just because you look like him doesn’t mean you can play better than him.

In formal, academic text, you should probably use than as a conjunction and follow it with the subject form of a pronoun (where a pronoun is appropriate).

Then is a conjunction, but it is not one of the little conjunctions, not a coordinating one. Too many students think that then works the same way:

„Caesar invaded Gaul, then he turned his attention to England.”

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It’s NOT grammar again, just EXCEPTIONS…including Ireland :)

Here is the most important English rule: Almost every rule is about 90% valid!

What?!
Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. It is certainly one of the most frustrating things about learning English. All that hard work to learn the correct grammar and then you read or hear something like this:

Peter does want to come this summer. It’s just that he can’t get off work.

As an excellent student the first thought that comes into your mind is; wait a minute, that first sentence is a positive sentence. Does want can’t be correct. It should be; Peter wants to come this summer. Of course, according to what you have learned you are correct. However, in certain instances you can use both the auxiliary and principal verb together to form a positive sentence. We allow this exception to add extra emphasis. In other words:

Peter really wants to come this summer.

You all have plenty of great class, grammar, exercise, and work books that provide all the information necessary concerning the rules of English. I would therefore like to focus on the exceptions to those rules in my grammar features.
This feature will concern the various uses of and exceptions to the SIMPLE PRESENT.
You all know that we usually use the simple present to express:

  1. Habitual actions
  2. Opinions and preferences
  3. Truths and facts

You also know that the standard construction is the following:

  1. Positive: Tom goes to the beach on Saturdays
  2. Negative: Mary doesn’t like to eat fish on Fridays.
  3. Interrogative: Do they work in New York?

Here are some simple present exceptions/extra possibilities

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Time 4 GRAMMAR…or is it TENSE?…with a touch of Scotland

Weather you like it or not, there comes a time when you really need to study it, learn its rules and exceptions, do boring exercises and, maybe, end up thinking about it while using the language. Yes, it’s true; I’m talking about GRAMMAR and, particularly, TENSES – my personal favourites but many students’ nightmare. English has one of the easiest grammar structures of all languages and it is pretty accessible to learn if you grasp the main rules.

ENGLISH TENSES. Characteristics. Time and tense do not usually coincide in English grammar. Time mostly refers to the abstract notion of time, interpreted in philosophical terms, while tense is a purely grammatical category. That is why in some circumstances there are ‘unreal tenses’; this means that although the reference is in the present, the tense of the verb is past.

I wish I had a BMW. (‘Aş vrea să am un BMW’). Who wouldn’t?? 😀

Verbs in English are divided according to many criteria. One of them is in terms of their function: lexical verbs (or full verbs): play, go, ask; modal verbs: can, may, must, etc., auxiliaries: have, be, and semi-modals: used to, be bound to, be to, and others.

In English verbs have different forms for present and past only, but not for future. Maybe future has been considered too uncertain. Thus some verbs have three forms (cut, cuts, and cutting), four (play, plays, played, and playing), five (write, writes, wrote, written, and writing;) or eight forms (be, am, is, are, was, were, been, and being). They are used to form tenses: simple, perfect and progressive. Simple tenses refer to actions that are in general habitual or repeated.

Present simple: I get up at seven every morning.

Past simple: He walked to school.

Future simple: She will come to the party.

Perfect tenses refer to actions done before other present, past or future actions: Subject + HAVE + Verb3 (past participle)

Present perfect: She doesn’t know what has happened.

Past perfect: I had no idea that he had been here.

Future perfect: He will have finished his paper by 5 o’clock tomorrow.

Progressive tenses are usually used to express actions in progress at a certain time in present, past or future: S + BE + V-ing.

Present progressive: I’m reading this grammar exercise now.

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ENGLISH…is it ONE or are there MORE?

This is quite a challenge, even for an English teacher, to think of 7 English lessons that could fit into a blog and also help the readers improve their skills. I don’t really trust those books entitled “Learn English in 10 Lessons” or “Become a proficient speaker in less than a month”. Learning takes time, especially when it comes to learning a foreign language.

Anyway, I should consider myself lucky because English has a real advantage: we are being bombarded, on a daily basis, with this language in the form of music, movies, Internet pages, software programmes and, thus, with almost no effort at all, we become familiar with the language, begin to understand it and, if it comes to it and if we’re brave enough, we start even speaking it.

The focus of these lessons is to make you, the readers, become aware of how much English you really know, to boost your confidence and encourage you to use it more and more. To put it in a nutshell: ENGLISH IS FUN, DON’T BE AFRAID OF IT!

But, is ENGLISH just ONE, or are there more “ENGLISHES” 😀 in the world?

This is the topic of today’s lesson: VARIETIES OF ENGLISH.

The English language is one of the few ones that are spoken in a great number of countries. In the case of English, those countries tend to be quite distant from one another. Some of them have enjoyed long times of independent development, as the United States, others saw their national language being replaced by English because of the lack of independent development, as e.g. Ireland. It may not be confusing that the way the language of England is used nowadays in all those different countries is not the same as in the mother country, whose Standard is taught in most countries, where English functions as a second language in school. Some differences may come from speech habits that got out of fashion in England, but remained in those regions far from the cultural centre of London. Others can be based on the substratum of the former language of the country.

Since this is not an academic survey I won’t bore you with uninteresting linguistic facts but I’ll try to stick to the fun part of these various types of English.

1. British English, Standard English, or RP (Received Pronunciation), or the language of the Queen

Received Pronunciation is all about jaw muscle power and tongue control. The speaker must contort his or, in the Queen’s case, her mouth into un-natural positions so that the required vowel sounds can be produced.

This type of English is nowadays considered old, stuffy and even snobbish and most English speakers (from our country at least) have difficulties in understanding the spoken part being so much used to the American accent from movies.

Let’s see how many of you understand what this girl says. 😀

2. American English, or the type of English that is most familiar to us because of the movies and which is generally considered a standard with English speakers – usually young people – in our country.

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