Linguistics!

The way, like, I finished off, like, last week’s blog, like, could have been, like, really annoying, like, to some people, like. It’s so, like, unnecessary, Do you know what I mean, like?

I thought I’d share with you what the legendary linguist David Crystal says in his interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59GMlpAdVok&feature=push-fr&attr_tag=5UO4QhsPk_fzs1d7%3A6

He says that in linguistics, ‘like’ has a very important role in narrative, and guess what…it has a name! It’s called ‘quotative like’. And, you can find examples of it being used in this way as far back as the eighteenth century!

He asserts that ‘like’ replaces the quotation marks in an utterance like “I said, like, wow!”, so someone who uses ‘like’ is really doing something really good, making the story they’re telling more interesting! He says it’s ‘a very important feature of natural narrative’ and is often followed by a facial expression or gesture which can’t be introduced by any other word. He says many people have seen its use as a deterioration in the language, but he doesn’t. On the contrary, he sees it rather as a sign of increasing expressive richness. He does warn however, that over-use can distract from the meaning of the message, like! Oh, what’s he like, eh? Now that’s an expression I’m going to stay well away from!

ETC has a British Council inspection taking place at the moment and this gives us the opportunity to show them what we are about!

Unfortunately there will be no blog for a couple of weeks now, as I’m going on annual leave! So, farewell from the ETC blog and enjoy the rest of August!  I’ll try to pick up where we left off on my return! (Like!)

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It’s like, wet!

Last week I left you saying we’d consider language terminology more closely and the problem of learning a language too prescriptively. It may suit some people, but quite often puts more people off. (Here at ETC we are very ‘Descriptive Grammar’ oriented by the way.)  Having last week considered the “first-person inclusive let-imperative.”!!! I’d like to remind you about the famous ’tense’ noted by the late, great Douglas Adams in his book ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’, the follow up to ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’.

On the subject of time travel, he says:

“Most readers get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term “Future Perfect” has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be.”

Next week, like, as we roll into August, like, I’m sure I’ll find something, like, to thrill you with! Until then, like, keep, like, enjoying the weather. It’s like, wet!

We looooove language!

Of course I had lots of people trying to help me out with last week’s teaser and I can now reveal that those super people at the Cambridge Grammar of English Language have a name for this! The ‘let us go’ example is referred to as ‘an ordinary imperative’, whereas the ‘let’s go’ example is referred to as…wait for it…

“the first-person inclusive let-imperative.” Love it!

 

Maybe I’m still in a minority of people who think the apostrophe stands for ‘us’. Here at ETC however, we are very open minded! We looooove language!

In the past, use of terminology like this tended to put me off, but now I find it fascinating! Not at all ‘useful’, just fascinating. If you return to the ee cummings poem of two weeks ago, when he say’s ‘Let’s go’, I bet he didn’t know he was using “the first-person inclusive let-imperative.”!!!

Hope you’re enjoying the summer sunshine. Things are hotting up here in sunny Bournemouth. Why did my computer just underline ‘hotting’ in red? There! It’s done it again!

Next week we’ll consider ‘language terminology’ in more detail. Remember to apply lots of sun cream!

Let’s

Last week I left you by saying, “let’s see what we can focus on next week”. Well, it’s now ‘next week’ and the answer was staring me in the face; it was ‘let’s’.

If you ask a lot of people what the apostrophe stands for in ‘let’s’, they usually say ‘us’. I bought this, because having been a choirboy as a kid, I heard this regularly in ‘Let us pray’. Even at the time I thought it a bit funny and wanted the vicar to say ‘Let’s pray’ (which he never did, by the way!) As a person interested in language I became less certain that ‘s was ‘us’. In the same way that I was not sure the ‘ll was the contracted form of ‘will/shall’, I began to think ‘let’s’ should just exist in its own right, as ‘let’s’. Why? Because if you say ‘let’s go’ it’s pretty clear that you want to begin something, or leave, and you’re usually saying it to someone else, (although I often say it to myself!)

‘Let’s go’ is your suggestion and in your hands. However, if you and your colleagues are being held captive by someone, you couldn’t say ‘let’s go’ because you are in no position to make suggestions; it may even prompt your captors to do something you didn’t ask for! In this case you would have to say ‘let us go’ meaning, ‘please release us’. Once again, this reminded me of my days in the front benches and what me and the other choirboys were often praying for!

If you want to know more, let’s know. (Sounds weird yeah?). But ‘let us know’, sounds OK. Hope this has got you thinking! More next week!

Cold.

If anyone is interested, the wedding was amazing! I now have a Daughter in Law and the happy couple have just landed in The Maldives! Anyway, back to business. Adjectives, eh? ‘describing words’. Fantastic! said I. Good, said the teacher. Miss, what’s the difference between ‘good’ and ‘fantastic’? said I. Good question, said she. Fantastic question, said I. (Before it descends into an e.e. cummings homage, we’ll stop there). Well, said Miss, ‘fantastic’ is very, very, very, very good. Aha! So very fantastic is even more fantastic! Well yes…but fantastic is as good as it gets, so deserves a grander word. And that’s when I learned about gradable and non-gradable adjectives, although I didn’t know these terms until much later!

Let’s take ‘cold’ said the teacher. You can state degrees of ‘cold’ by sticking other words in front of it, like; not in the least bit cold, a bit cold, slightly cold, rather cold, very cold. You can place these on a line with ‘not in the least’ at one end and ‘very’ at the other, all the others in between. OK, they might mean different things to different people, but they all ‘work’. Now take the word ‘freezing’ and place it on the line. Obviously, I placed it after ‘very cold’ at that end of the scale. So there, said the teacher, you can’t really ‘grade’ it as such, but you can emphasize it. How? Said I. Well, said she, the adverb usually selected is ‘absolutely’. Why? Said I. Well it’s just the way it is, said she. Absolutely fantastic, said I. J Let’s see what we can focus on next week.

By the way, if you don’t know the ee cummings poem I referred to earlier, you can find it here:

http://www.whispersandwonderings.com/blog/2016/4/2/poetry-e-e-cummings-may-i-feel-said-he

It’s getting hot in here…

“It’s hot in here.” Hi everyone! At the end of last week’s blog I asked you to think about what ‘it’s hot in here’ could mean. Well… It could mean, ‘please open the window’, or ‘turn down the heating’, or ‘this place is really rocking!’, or ‘Thank goodness!’ You probably thought of a few others. Anyway, it’s hot here in Bournemouth! Really?

Yesterday it was absolutely hot here. Does that sound strange? It’s meant to. Here at ETC, it’s absolutely boiling! ‘Absolutely boiling’ sounds much better than absolutely hot, doesn’t it. And ‘very boiling’ sounds a bit weird too. Why? Well many people think it’s just because it sounds better.

It’s got a much nicer rhythm to it! Ab so lUTEly bOIling,  Dum De Dum De Dum De.

OK, like ‘chips and fish’, and ‘white and black’, we understand what ‘absolutely hot’ and ‘very boiling’ mean, but they just don’t sound right! It’s not really expressive enough!  Remember though, it’s all subjective. What someone in Bournemouth might consider ‘absolutely boiling’ might be considered ‘quite hot’ by someone from Saudi Arabia. Have a hot week.

On a personal note, my eldest son, Alex, is getting married on Friday, so let’s hope it’s a hot day! I’ll let you know next Monday. Byee.

It’s getting hot in here…

“It’s hot in here.” Hi everyone! At the end of last week’s blog I asked you to think about what ‘it’s hot in here’ could mean. Well… It could mean, ‘please open the window’, or ‘turn down the heating’, or ‘this place is really rocking!’, or ‘Thank goodness!’ You probably thought of a few others. Anyway, it’s hot here in Bournemouth! Really?

Yesterday it was absolutely hot here. Does that sound strange? It’s meant to. Here at ETC, it’s absolutely boiling! ‘Absolutely boiling’ sounds much better than absolutely hot, doesn’t it. And ‘very boiling’ sounds a bit weird too. Why? Well many people think it’s just because it sounds better.

It’s got a much nicer rhythm to it! Ab so lUTEly bOIling,  Dum De Dum De Dum De. J

OK, like ‘chips and fish’, and ‘white and black’, we understand what ‘absolutely hot’ and ‘very boiling’ mean, but they just don’t sound right! It’s not really expressive enough!  Remember though, it’s all subjective. What someone in Bournemouth might consider ‘absolutely boiling’ might be considered ‘quite hot’ by someone from Saudi Arabia. Have a hot week.

On a personal note, my eldest son, Alex, is getting married on Friday, so let’s hope it’s a hot day! I’ll let you know next Monday. Byee.