Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Buying spiced pies

See? That's how you do it. Four syllables, one idea, three plosives. (I'm talking about my title.)

It (the title) is a rewritten version of  Buy a pie for the spy – an interesting post that points out some interesting stuff about plosives voiced unvoiced and aspirated but  misses a couple of tricks. The first is in the title, which in contrast to my 4/1/3 count (syllables/idea/plosives) has a count of 6/2/3 and introduces a needless arbitariness (Why should a SPY want a PIE?) and an  irrelevant specificity (Why THE spy?).

I sense, though, that the writer teaches in the Far East, so that six simple monosyllables (avoiding the tricky /st p/ cluster) do the job better. And the very arbitrariness of the spy/pie thing may make it more memorable for a student; I'm not sure. Anyway, I prefer my more elegant version.

We come now to the second missed trick – a more serious one. It is summed up in this sentence:
In IPA, the three words buy, pie and spy are represented as [baɪ], [pʰaɪ] and [spaɪ] respectively.
Let's try a rewrite of that sentence:

In IPAUsing the symbols recognized by the IPA, the three words buy, pie and spy are can be represented as [baɪ], [pʰaɪ] and [spaɪ] respectively.
The notation I (and many other EFL/ESOL teachers) prefer for teaching purposes is phonemic (what I used earlier to refer to 'the /st p/ cluster [where spiced meets pie]'). But this post doesn't begin to intruduce the concept of the phoneme; well, it does use the word 'phonological' once, which is in the right ballpark. It suggests that the writer knows so much about phonetics that s/he has made a conscious decision to avoid phoneme.

I think this is a mistake, particularly as every IPA chart that I've ever seen – among those that are likely to be referred to by an EFL/ESOL student – is called something like a phonemic chart of the the sounds of English.

But the post is interesting and illuminating, and well worth a read. I will, however, make up for the lack of phonemes by republishing a passage from #WVGTbook:
The International Phonetics Association specifies a number of symbols and diacritics that can be used to transcribe any speech sound in any natural language, to a greater or lesser degree of precision. Learning the whole system would be a huge undertaking, and is unnecessary for any practical purpose.  A precise transcription is conventionally presented within square brackets [...]; this could be used to represent how a particular speaker makes a particular utterance. It is phonetic.
Many teachers of English as a Foreign Language need to do something different. They don't need to represent how one speaker speaks; there is no one model speaker. What these teachers want to do is to model how speakers of English distinguish bad from bed, bid, bod, bud, bode, bide, bard, bawd, bead, bayed, bowed, beard... and so on. Between such words ('minimal pairs') there is a phonemic distinction in the vowel. The consonants on either side of the vowel are more or less the same (there are slight differences to do with the neighbouring vowel, but they are phonemically identical): phonemic script is conventionally presented between slashes – /.../ . The /b/ phoneme that begins badbed, bid, bod,.... etc. is distinct from the  /l/ in lad, led, lid, lead, lard,  lewd, load, lied and so on. The fact that the first consonant sound in leek and the last consonant sound in keel are phonetically distinct  does not signify; they are both representatives of the /l/ phoneme. Similarly, the consonant sounds at the onsets of keel and call are phonetically distinct, but they can both be represented by the /k/ phoneme.


Different experts have specified various different characters for a broad transcription of English. For example, I have used /e/ for the vowel in 'led'. Others prefer /ɛ/. But neither is 'right'. The sound that I, and many other teachers,  transcribe as /e/ is more open (that is, the mouth of the speaker is opened more widely) than the IPA's cardinal [e] but more close than [ɛ], and more central than either. The phonemes necessary for an unambiguous transcription of British English are generally agreed to number somewhere in the mid-forties. The system used in the  Macmillan English Dictionary is the one used by the British Council, among many other influential participants in the EFL/ESOL world. It uses as a basis the phonemes encapsulated in Adrian Underhill's phonemic chart. (Some of the examples given in this book use a different selection from the IPA; for example, Collins English Dictionary uses /ɛ/ rather than /e/. 
Neither is right and neither is wrong; they simply choose to use different IPA symbols to represent the same speech sound phonemically.)


When a dictionary gives a phonemic transcription (as all worthwhile modern teaching/learning dictionaries do) it is not implying 'This is how to pronounce this word'. It is implying 'native speakers of standard English typically use these phonemes'. When, as on several occasions in this work, this book says 'the dictionary's transcription doesn't match the audio sample', it is not saying 'They goofed'; an actual speech event rarely matches its phonemic transcription. Indeed, when it seems to, it just means that on this occasion the phonemic characters look the same as the phonetic characters that might be used for a narrower transcription (as is usually the case in, for example, Spanish).
b – signing off for the year. My [ahem] aspiration is that you should ʰave a ... whatever, possibly buying spiced pies before the event.


Update 2013.12.31.16.35 – Added afterthought in red.
Update 2014.01.01.14:20 – Added afterthought in blue, and this PS
PS I touched on this issue here (about halfway down).
Update 2014.01.01.16:30 – And another, in brown.
Update 2014.01.0216:30 – Added this PS:
We were talking about this a while ago at UsingEnglish.com, at which I brought up my accustomed example, Audrey Hepburn:
Quote Originally Posted by yangmuye View Post...
I'm interesting if English speakers are able to tell the difference between aspirated and dis-aspirated p (like in Chinese), or full voiced b and dis-aspirated p (like in Spanish).
I think native English speakers may be aware of it, without giving it much (if any) thought. For example, few people would say 'Audrey Hepburn sounds foreign'. In fact, I'm not sure myself. But her Dutch-speaking background gives her voiced plosives enough aspiration* to make me wonder.

I'm sure the Hollywood executives who first hired her had no idea about her aspiration, but it probably influenced their thinking that 'the kid had something special about her'.

b

PS You're interested, though it is an interesting question.

pps Her mistake was the reverse - not aspirating initial voiceless consonants




 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 36,000 views  and  5,000 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1806 views/840 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

The check[sic]'s in the post

Report from the word face

I've taken the liberty of using check to mean 'that which is to be checked' – alias 'proofs'. And they are –  in the post, that is:


The time-scales don't inspire confidence. The cheapo-cheapo service gave an Estimated Delivery Date nearly a month later than that (early Feb); I chose the 'Expedited Service': $7.99. I could have splashed out an arm and a leg on the 'Priority Service', but  it stuck in my craw
I'm not sure what the drill is when they arrive, but I suspect it may involve carrier pigeons. So I don't expect it to be  available much before the end of March. But in the meantime I can get back to the Kindle version, which will be something of a relief.

Tha'sall for now, except for this parting crossword clue (which has a suitably festive theme):

Spooner's challenge to the over-indulgent – just the thing for the following morning. (1,4,2,3,3)
b

PS That's the good news (the proofs); the bad news is that the book wasn't long-listed for the ELTons. Well, the submission was a bit of a rush, and my hopes weren't that high anyway – as V1.0 was more-or-less unchanged from the Dictionary of Vowels and their Sounds (which was shortlisted back in 2012). Paciencia, y barajar to use a quotation I used in a post in the first days of this blog.

Update 2014.01.19.16.45  – Added PPS:

PPS – OK, that's time enough. The answer is 'a hair of the dog'.




 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 36,000 views  and  5,000 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1806 views/840 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Waiting around

<biographical_note theme="ho-ho-ho">
Last night I sang in my choir's carol service (and the ad at that link may have been superseded by next term's concert – in which case click on Past Concerts). And as usual, I regretted the line break before 'All in white...' at the end of Once in Royal David's City. In my (painfully RC) schools the line was unbending: the 'children' (the souls of the righteous) in the carol are 'crowned all in white'. In other words, they are sainted – and marked with haloes; which makes them look, from a distance, 'like stars' (Geddit?).

So when I sang carols anywhere but school, I insisted on joining the end of the penultimate line to the 'All in white', with a breath before 'shall wait around'; and found I was alone (when all my fellow singers with a schooling in the 'One True Church' had done the same). And the waiting around needn't detain us. In any case, the unfortunate vision – of juvenile delinquents hanging about on street corners – applies to both readings. The position of the breath (after 'crowned' or after 'white') affects only the colour of their hoodies. While 'wait around' is a phrasal verb in current English, it probably wasn't when the carol was written towards the end of the 19th century. I suspect the 'wait' has the sense of 'being available to serve'; and the 'around' is a simple preposition of place.

But this did not affect my enjoyment of the service, which was great fun to participate in and to listen to. And to rehearse. My favourite moment during rehearsals involved a private joke – private, that is, to people who have a bit of Latin.

We were singing an arrangement of In Dulci Jubilo that involved only half the choir singing the second verse and the other half joining in at the words Trahe me post te. As often happens when more people sing, there was a tendency to slow down. Our conductor said 'I feel as if I'm having to drag‡ you along after me.' This was my moment of private hilarity [little things...], as the words mean 'Drag me after you' (think of tractor on the one [Latin] hand and draught [animals] on the other [English].)

</biographical_note>

But my main object in writing is to 'fess up' to a few days' delay in the appearance of proofs of #WVGTbook. I spent last week proving the first law of software maintenance – the Law of Conservation of Bugs. This states that

In any development process, the fixing of one bug will generate at least one more, either by a bug in the fix itself or (more likely in these days of 'buddies', who keep an eye on this sort of thing) by exposing an underlying bug that was previously cloaked by the original bug.
In an earlier post, I rejoiced in the fact that Amazon's CreateSpace now accepts .doc files, which spared me the chore of getting to grips with Word 2010 (which supports .PDF as an output). Poor fool (or O me miserum as they used to say in Rome). I  might have guessed that the submission process still needed .PDF as an input, so their new acceptance of other formats meant that they would do the conversion behind my back.

So I submit a 'perfect' .doc file and they introduce a few dozen errors.† Then, working from their PDF file, I have to mutilate my .DOC file so as to produce something that, while looking a mess, will (one hopes) look OK after they've messed with it. So I fix a bad page-break and the fix itself causes several new mistakes further downstream. After my first submission, there were three notebook pages of errors. I fixed them, and after a second submission, there were three notebook pages of errors. I fixed them, and after a third submission, there were three notebook pages of errors. I fixed them, and after a fourth submission, there were (you've probably guessed it – I suspect you're beginning to detect a pattern here) three notebook pages of errors....  It seems to be a Sisyphean task.

I'll try once more with Word, but if that fails I'll have to find some way of producing a PDF directly. And that'll be after Christmas. Have a good one.

b


Update: 2013.12.24.17:10 – Added PS

PS Whenever I submit a new file I get an automated mail with the subject line

The automated print check for your file is complete

They tend to accumulate, in a way that is not Sisyphean but rather Augean. Having just got the innards of the book to pass muster, I've now cleared them (that is, the mails) out. There were TWENTY. Now I just have to do the cover. But later in the week. Festivities are in progress. Hokum all ye faithful! (not original, but mine.)


Update: 2013.12.27.11:00 – Added red bits for clarity (and resisted a manus joke [that's a Latin hand –  there, I did it.])

Update: 2013.12.28.14:40  Added link to old blog. And another one, just then.

Update: 2014.01.06.12:40  Added blue clarifications in last para.

Update: 2014.02.01.13:45  Added this aha note:

† EUREKA:

Tale from the word-face

When the proofs arrived, the first thing I noticed about them was an extra-wide line-space (leading [with an /e/] as they say in the trade, although a strip of lead is no longer involved) above and below a line with an IPA symbol in it which was just a bit ugly when it happened once or twice on a page, but when 5 or 6 lines with IPA symbols in them come together, the extra space adds up with itself and starts to look seriously deformed. (I attempted to explain this in a phone call to @life_academic, who has enough on his plate without worrying about his father's vanity project. [And speaking of vanity, #WVGTbook is now listed with other publications credited on the BNC site.])

But yesterday I put 2 and 2 together: the extra space causes the rogue page-breaks that hampered the submission process. It seems to result from CreateSpace's conversion from WinWord. When I create the PDF file (which I can do with a trial version of Acrobat Pro that I have use of until mid-Feb.) both the line-space and the page-breaks behave sensibly.

I hope when I submit PDF the problem will disappear (although it's possible that there's some conversion process downstream of the PDF,  which I'm ignorant of). But in that case there's nothing I can sensibly do about it anyway, and I'll have to like it or lump it.

Update: 2014.03.06.12:15  Added this note:
‡ It's happened again - the conductor talking about us 'dragging him after him' at a linguistically appropriate place. A different conductor this time, at a choral workshop (that link works at the time of writing, but will disappear quite soon possibly later today, as far as the workshop is concerned) that centred on a medley of songs from Victor Hugo's The Glums [OK, Les Misérables ]. And the language in question was not Latin this time, but the Italic dialect used in the libretto for Verdi's Nabucco (we were singing a few choruses from works that were rather more to my taste). The current Italian for 'drag' is dragare, but here it is traggere. The words are traggi un suono di crudo lamento 'drags/evokes/brings with it... the sound of <whatever-you-choose-to-translate-crudo-lamento>' ; [and the singing 'translation' doesn't mention dragging or pulling of any kind, so the coincidence is more striking to me at least].

Update: 2014.03.06.15:15  Added translaton of 'The Glums', and updated TES stats in footer.



 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 39,500  views  nearly and 5,550 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with over 2,000 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.



Tuesday, 17 December 2013

GoCo and chocolate teapots

With eery foresight, and at an age when infants might be expected to have no interest in government arms contracts, a baby-word of my own invention got there first. It is meaningless to discuss how it was written, because I couldn't write; it was pronounced /gɒkǝʊ/.   People writing about it to probably bored friends spelt it 'gocco'. The affricate /ʧ/ is one of the last to be acquired by the budding native speaker of British English. M. Aldridge, writing in English Today in 1991, put it like this:

To master English phonology the child must acquire many different [phonemes], and one salient characteristic of child phonology is that different phonemes are acquired at different rates. By the age of three children tend to have mastered the vowels, and certain consonants such as plosives (e.g. /p,b/) and nasals (e.g. /m,n/) but they may be in their seventh year before a few troublesome consonants such as the 'th' (/θ/) in 'thing' and 'ch' (/ʧ/) 'church' are acquired.
I've taken this quote from a secondary source that brought Aldridge's transcription into line with that used by a particular OU course. They don't say precisely how they changed it.
For me, the chief stumbling [ahem!] block was chocolate rather than church; hence gocco.

But GoCo is the latest sexy acronym for a new way of 'saving' money, which, like 'PSI' and the other kinds of fiscal snake-oil peddled by chancellors of the exchequer since time immoral [sic], probably won't work. In fact, the word 'Federal' in that document suggests to me that, in common with several other Tory policies, it was 'born in the USA'.

'Shouldn't' the first 'Go' be pronounced /gʌ/ though, as it's derived from 'government'? This is the main argument against my /gɒkǝʊ/ as a valid (and not entirely fanciful) digression; it's not /gǝʊkǝʊ/. By that standard a 'RO/RO' ferry sounds as though it should stand for the rather macabre 'Roll On/Roll Over' (rather than 'Roll-on/Roll-off').

In acronyms, vowels rarely have the sounds they had in the original words; often their new vowel sound suggests a political spin: the Go  in 'GoCo' sounds vibrant and active. Vibrancy and activeness are necessary qualities for vendors of snake-oil and for salespeople of all kinds. The Vauxhall Nova. it is said, had to be renamed for the Spanish market because no vá means 'It doesn't go'.

<health_warning>
I'm not sure I buy this one. Stress matters more than people realize, and a stressed o in the development of Spanish became 'ue'; hence the word for new – nuevo. So the marketing story smacks of Urban Myth in this case. In the case of the Pajero I'm less inclined to be sceptical. Hacerse la paja is a taboo subject (though, in the words of  'Hair', it 'can be fun').
</health_warning>
But this isn't getting the #WVGTbook proofs any nearer submission. Byee.

b

Update: 2013.12.20.09.:40 – Added this PS

PS The guest on today's Desert Island Discs has just given an example of toddler-speech that neatly confirms Aldridge's 'vowels, and certain consonants such as plosives (e.g. /p,b/) and nasals (e.g. /m,n/)'. The word was 'pandemonium' – impressively long and apparently complex, but nothing but vowels, stops, and nasals. I bet she didn't at that age appreciate the full Miltonic meaning of the word: the noise made by all demons

Update: 2013.12.28.22.:40 – Added this PPS

PPS It was more than a century after Donne's death that the word acquired the cacophonous meaning that the guest's father had meant when he said it loudly enough and often enough to impress itself on her memory.

Update: 2014.12.14.18.:10 – Added this P³S

PPPS Another example has occurred to me  –  but this time the word in question was not apparently complex, but simplified. I'm sure the speaker, my daughter, was much younger than that guest on Desert Island Discs. When she was a very young toddler, needing to hang on to adults' legs to move around (and of course often being stymied by inconsiderate obstacles) my daughter – mimicking the rhythm of 'scuse me but avoiding the as yet unlearnt speech sounds /sk/ and /z/ – coined the word mimi. (afterthought: 'mimicking' was strangely apt. )


 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  
nearly 48,600 views  and nearly 6,550 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with over 2,400 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.










Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Nowheresville

Hmm. This, new-to-me, wonderful word looks to me as though it should mean 'being in no place', not existing ANYWHERE rather than just 'non-existence'. But far be it from me to question the OED's authority. I should  at least look it up.

It seems to belong to a 'family' of words that refer to places in Latin:
  • ibi = there/in that place
  • ubi = where/in what place?
  • alibi = somewhere else/in some other place (or, pleasingly if archaically, otherwhere)
I was tempted to suggest an Early Latin particle meaning 'place' that could be tacked on to a word. But I was misled by English's readiness to do this; if you want a new word, take one and tack another one on: egs. 'placeholder', 'weekend', 'good-for-nothing', 'sick-making', 'live-in lover'..... Latin, per contra, had case endings, and if you wanted a special ...errm, case of a word you changed the ending. Good old etymonline makes it clear in the reference to 'the alibi defence' (the accused was somewhere else) that alibi is the locative of alius [=(an)other]. Just for the heck of it I'll quote this piece of gentle understatement:
The weakened sense of "excuse" is attested since 1912, but technically any proof of innocence that doesn't involve being "elsewhere" is an excuse, not an alibi.
<digression theme="This is the way the world ends, not with a banger but with a wimpy"
A similar weakening of a clear sense is happening to amnesty – the temporary suspension [or forgetting – think of 'mnemonic'] of a prohibition. This precise meaning works for 'gun amnesty', 'knife amnesty'... and so on - when people can hand in a weapon without admitting to illegal possession. But once a year, with a grating regularity that always seems to me to be quickening ('Time's wingéd chariot', I guess), Radio 5 Live participates in a Football Shirt Amnesty which when I first met it conjured up an image of shame-faced middle-aged men queuing up outside a Police Station to hand in a shirt: 'A friend wore it once, it wasn't me, honest... oh all right, it was me, but I was a lot younger then....'
</digression>

My Latin Dictionary doesn't have a separate headword nullibi (well, it wouldn't have), but I assume it's the locative of nullus. So here's a fourth for my list of place-words:
  • nullibi = in no place
Returning to the marvellous (if rather arch) 'nullibiety', of which Onelook finds only nine dictionary listings, one of which is called Worthless Word For The Day, I have to admit that 'not existing' and 'not existing in a place' are often synonymous; it's useful though, on occasion, to be able to refer to 'the nullibiety of  comodo dragons in the wild in the UK' – not terribly useful, I grant.

But the hardcopy #WVGTbook calls. I should be getting proofs next week (or at least seeing them – I'm not sure of the actual nuts and bolts of the CreateSpace process).

b

It reminds me of flocci-nauci-nihili-pilification, a nonce word with legs, coined from a schoolboy mnemonic about a common clutch of Latin prepositions.
With thanks to Frank Muir on My Word.

Update 2013.12.12.12:12 Added this PS (actually at about a quarter past, but the timestamp  was just too tempting)

PS Native speakers  will know this already, because of anxiety, piety, satiety, sobriety, society, variety... and so on, but language students may not have this lexical background: it's /nʌlɪ'baɪǝti:/.

Update 2013.12.14.12:50 Added purple passage.

Update 2013.12.15.16:00 –  updated footer


 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 35,0300 views**  and  5,000 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1796 views/838 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.





 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Enother old favorite

I was struck (more in sadness than in anger) by a blogpost, which signed off, with unbecoming self-satisfaction:

We hope you will never be confused about “affect” and “effect” again.

Now I wouldn't normally mind this sort of otherwise insufferable smugness if it'd been preceded by a halfway decent explanation. But instead of anything useful in the way of sound/accurate expression it tried to get away with BIG text and bad examples hiding behind sexy graphics.

The first major flaw in this piece has now been silently updated; someone must have noticed its inaccuracy. It said something like '99% of the time, effect is a noun... The other 1% of the time, it's a verb'. Close, but no cigar, as I gather they say in some circles. Well, not very close. In my own post, which referred tangentially to this issue last May, I wrote
The noun effect is just much more common than the verb [the British National Corpus has 22,887 case of effect, of which a  mere 137 are verbal.] Similarly, the verb affect is commoner than the noun – much more so).
That would be, by my calculation, just under .6%, rather than 1%. In the larger COCA (which is perhaps more relevant to the writers at YUNiversity) the figures are 66,151 and 2966 – a higher percentage than in the British corpus (well over 4 %).
<interesting_observation qualification="but does it really matter?">
Present tense  forms of the verb outnumber the past 2353:613 – almost 4 to 1.
</interesting_observation>

But I can't point the finger too hard, as the offending text has disappeared. (I've just thought – maybe it was in a covering tweet†.) The first obvious error was this:


Ermm, up to a point. When I've heard it used in real life
<digression theme="crossword_clue">
I'm a cold prat,
mixed up and shunning daughter – suitable treatment for Lear? (10)
OK, this one calls for knowledge of a trade-name, so I'm giving the answer in a footnote.‡
</digression>

it has meant the ability to feel 'emotion or desire', or – as COD puts it – 'emotion or desire as influencing behaviour'
<note_for_language_learners>
Beware of one-word 'synonyms'; they're often misleading or over-simplifying – and sometimes they're plain wrong.
</note_for_language_learners>
I've never had cause to use the word, but in  my experience it's not infrequently used by doctors. The picture that 'illuminates' this text, which you'll see I've cropped (rather than go cap in hand asking permission) is totally irrelevant. I think it shows someone texting and pulling a face. Perhaps he's displaying affectation (which is by no means the same thing as affect). It might have been more useful, to an audience of language students (which I suspect it is), to point out that when affect is a verb the first syllable is usually /ǝ/; when it is a noun the first syllable is always /æ/ because that syllable is stressed.

(My 'audience of language students' supposition is based on a gut-feel about the site in general, added to which is the fact that screensful of readers have either Liked the page [to show the teacher they've read it...?] or reblogged it. One of the latter understandably added:


lastweek-monday has my sympathy.)

OK; moving on to strike 2:

So far, so good. But hang on, look at the example:


What language does the writer speak? You can effect a policy; you can't effect grammar. Aha, perhaps this is the clue; when the writer says 'grammar' s/he is talking about a bunch of prescriptions, which – like a policy – can be 'effected', I suppose. So if you're so lacking in confidence about your use of English that you want a bunch of prescriptions, follow @The_YUNiversity. Personally, I wouldn't bother. (I'd find myself disagreeing and arguing and blogging so much that I wouldn't have time for anything else.)

b


† Found it! Here:
Another lousy/strained example. Just for clarity, the effect of your writing may be affected by ignorance of certain grammatical prescriptions. Grammar itself doesn't affect anything/

‡ Citalopram – a commonly prescribed anti-depressant.

Update 2013.12.08.19:25( and PPS 2013.12.09.11:00 in the cold light of morning) – Added PSs:

PS Before anyone actually goes to BNC to check my figures, I must 'fess up' to a peccadillo: I took the figures from my May 2013 post on trust. I hadn't at the time of writing got to grips with the search syntax, so while my overall figure was right ( '22,887 case[s] of effect '), I'm really not sure where my 'of which a  mere 137 are verbal' came from! I thought maybe that I had guessed that any verbal case of effect would be followed by a noun. But no: in that case, I would have searched for effect [n]and got the number 199. Perhaps I started with those 199, trawled through the results – and found 62 exceptions. I don't know; it was a long time ago.

PPS Using the right search syntax for this case   – [effect].[v]–  you get a figure of over 6% for verbal uses of effect in BNC; again, a far cry from the alleged '1%'. In fact, the difference is an order of magnitude greater that I first thought – 6x versus 0.6x. The verbal use of  effect  is A GOOD DEAL more common than Grammar YUNiversity claims. As Einstein  [I think it was him] said, explanations should be made as simple as possible and no simpler.


 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 35,000 views**  and  5,000 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1762 views/827 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.





Saturday, 30 November 2013

Bobby Shaftoe's gettin' a barn

Borgen last week (and this week too, probably) reminded me of a setting of Bobby Shaftoe that we sang on the Wokingham Choral Society's tour of the West Country earlier this year, reported here.
<digression theme="all men are false">
And on the subject of Bobby Shaftoe, I don't see why it's always presented as such an upbeat song.
 "He'll come back and marry me"...?                  Who are you trying to kid, sister?
"Bobby Shaftoe's gettin a bairn"...?                   oh yeah? You are  Take it from me    kiddo, you've seen the last of the aptly-initialled BS.
<meta_digression subject="All men are false">
The song Silver Dagger includes the verse
"'All men are false'
Says my mother,
'They'll tell you wicked loving lies.
And the very next evening
He'll court another
Leave you alone to pine and sigh.'"
At least, that's the way I know it, from a Joan Baez EP (Remember them?). In a play on Radio 4 last week (still catchable if you're quick) a character sang "All men are fools"; OK, that's the folk process. Words change from singer to singer. But 'my mother' didn't mean that men are fools: 'They'll tell you wicked loving lies" You wouldn't catch her singing "He'll come back and marry me".
<meta_digression>
</digression>
Where was I...? Borgen. Katrine was talking to Kasper about 'min barn' (Google Translate says the min becomes mit in that context, but I'm not convinced. I suspect a typo. I'm pretty sure I heard an [n].) Anyway, Danish barn means English 'child'.

In preparation for our tour, I downloaded a recording of  an American choir singing Bobby Shaftoe, and I was greatly amused by the words 'Bobby Shaftoe's gettin' a barn [sic]' The next line is 'For to dandle on his arm', and I thought the singers were just trying to 'repair' the rhyme (not knowing the Scottish pronunciation of 'arm').

Album containing
The Road t Dundee
The song The Road to Dundee includes the line '...she gave me her ar-m'. And the tune is a match for the strangely similar-sounding Streets of Laredo (totally different, and modal where Streets of Laredo† is in the major, but the rhythms are the same [Streets of Laredo=Gave me her ar-m] and the tunes are an inexact mirror image of each other). Arm is [eʀm]. (Other similarities include reference to the season in the first line, in a way relevant to the mode [Cauld winter was howlin' o'er moor and o'er mountain versus I left my hometown one warm summer evenin' in the warmer-sounding major tune, and a first-person narrative.])

So in Bobby Shaftoe, the 'bairn/arm' rhyme doesn't need repairing. Silly Yanks I thought (being a bit of a Chauvinist; apologies for the intemperate slur, which I'm about to retract, if you'll be so good as to read on); Fancy not knowing that.

But Borgen made me think again. The printed text in the musical score is '...bairn/...arm'; and a non-British speaker might not recognize the word bairn. But if one of the singers had Danish ancestry (as a good few North Americans do) they might have recognized it as barn. There was Danish influence on Scots and English. So my imagined Dane might well assume it was a plain typo. Not so silly.

b
PS
A while ago I noted this snippet somewhere, which seems vaguely relevant:

A linguistics professor at the University of Oslo has been making headlines with a controversial claim. He believes that English is, in fact, a Scandinavian language, placing it in the North Germanic language family rather [ed: 'than'] the West Germanic family, where it has traditionally been placed. Is English a Scandinavian Language? he asks in a K International blog.

But I must be getting on before the next episode starts and fills my head with more 'wild surmise'.

Update 2013.12.01.11:35 – Added links
† Johnny Cash's version doesn't have the 'warm summer evening'.  That's the folk process for you.

Update 2013.12.01.17:15 – Added this PS:

PS

Report from the word face

When  I last reported on #WVGTbook I was having trouble with conversion to hardcopy, partly because the only format Amazon would take was PDF, so I was forced off the WinWord I know (Word 2003) onto a new one (a beta test kit) that lets me choose .pdf as an output format.

Suddenly – though I suspect that if I read the right blogs I'd've known it was coming – they're accepting .doc, docx, and even .rtf as well. So I'm retracing my (very tentative) steps with Word 2013 and working on a plain .doc file. I should be done before Christmas. Stay tuned ....

Update 2014.05.06.12:15 – Updated footer

Update 2014.06.06.21:45 – And again.

Update 2015.06.22.10:05 – And again, and added picture.




Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  
Over 49,100 views  and nearly 8,000 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with nearly 2,700 views and nearly 1,100 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.








Thursday, 28 November 2013

Look what I did

Guest writer today is, as usual, me - giving a summary of the ELTchat at midday (UTC) on Wednesday  28 Nov. (And, while I think of it, Happy Thanksgiving )

Student-Generated Content


There were twelve contributors, of whom five contributed a single tweet – so I’ve known livelier discussions. Perhaps lurkers could at least make themselves known (as those five did).

We spent a while deciding what SGC was, and decided not to count ephemeral scraps of language produced in class; bouncing off those is what teachers do

. Many ideas were floated, and experiences discussed, notably:

  • Learner- generated coursebook
  • Learner- generated tests
  • Learner- generated lesson-plan
  • Recordings (audio and/or video) for discussion and comment
  • Ss suggest better image/layout/structure for coursebook

In any case, what was agreed to be essential was a vehicle (blog or wiki) for storing/organizing SGC. And whatever they had produced, students were more interested and motivated (and therefore learned more) if they were involved.

Not many links were posted, normally a feature of these chats, and these two books were mentioned:

      Books
      

Links
 (These bys are sometimes vias and sometimes authors; which is which should be obvious.) 

b





 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 34,400 views**  and  4,800 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1637 views/740 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.



Monday, 25 November 2013

Abbreviator

My theme today is not just a sophomoric joke: an early edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary glossed abbreviator as 'Vatican official who draws up the Pope's briefs'. Oh how we larfed! (The Thought Police at OUP have now fixed this, but my copy preserves it. People decrying the longevity of images posted on Facebook tend to say things like 'Once it's there you can never shake it off.' But that's been true since the days of William Caxton. The Internet is just more trivially searchable, but print media area are just as long-lived. In fact, given problems of interoperability, things stored on computers are arguably more ephemeral. (My children's novel is a case in point; the sources are on a floppy disk from an old Amstrad PCW.)

This week's Book of the Week  on Radio 4 is a political biography that deals with Mitterand. In it, I caught' the phrase 'the romanesque side of Mitterand's nature' (his tendency to fantasize); and my translator's ears pricked up. I though it was Sarkozy who had high arches... [Think about it.... Arches....] Mitterand wasn't anything to do with architectural history. I thought the book must have been a translation  whose translator had misunderstood roman-esque – 'like a story (un roman)'. I started to listen more closely, meaning to note who the translator was.

But there was none. It was by Philip Short, former BBC Foreign Correspondent: Mitterrand: A Study in Ambiguity. Surely his mastery of French was unquestionable. I would have to reconsider my 'duff translation' diagnosis. But what I had forgotten was the credit at the end of the programme: '...abridged and produced for Jane Marshall Productions'. So there was a 'translator' of sorts; someone who takes an original text and rejigs it in a different format.

Hidden away about 20 seconds before 'romanesque', there was mention of Mitterand's brother. The first few words that followed that attribution were delivered in a 'Allo 'Allo accent that signalled 'These are the words of a Frenchman'. The cod accent had lapsed several seconds before the word romanesque. I checked in the full text:


So the man who had used the word romanesque had been André Rousslet, and it was a mistranslation (or possibly a pun). My old Larousse Pour Tous, bought from Heffer's secondhand bookshop (which I bet* is no longer there in Trinity Street [on the other side from the main shop, and nearer Caius], glosses romanesque as qui tient du roman. Perhaps the French romanesque has nothing to do with our 'Romanesque' (my dictionary doesn't mention architecture, but it's what used to be called 'a vest-pocket book' –  another source of mistranslation: 'But vests don't have pockets...?', I remember thinking when I first met this reference to an American English 'vest' –  so is far from authoritative). Or maybe Rousselet had met the architectural meaning (maybe in French, maybe in English) and was making a joke about Mitterand's height (only about 3" taller than Sarkozy: that link takes you to a Google table of world leaders' heights).

It's not clear from the full text whether it was Mitterand frère or Short who was quoting Rousselet. But the radio abridgement suppressed the very existence of a third person or of a quote from a Frenchman.

But I must get back in the saddle  – turning #WVGTbook into a hardcopy book. This will reduce its networked features, but makes it more useable in an unwired classroom (as many EFL classrooms are).

b

Update 2016.01.31.12:00 – Fixed a few typos and deleted footer (as I will do in other posts when I get 'a round tuit'. The latest info.  is on my other blog.)

Update 2016.04.07.14:40 – Added footnote

* It's certainly not there now. And it only  became Heffer's  secondhand bookshop in the mid-'70s. When I bought my dictionary there, it was Bowes & Bowes's  secondhand bookshop; it was subsequently  engulfed by Heffer's.

I once heard this round (sung to the tune of Frère Jacques by undergraduates of a certain vintage [preceding mine]), that referred to past booksellers in Cambridge:

Heffer's Bookshop, Heffer's Bookshop,
Bowes & Bowes, Bowes & Bowes,
Galloway & Porter, Galloway & Porter,
Deighton Bell,  Deighton Bell.

The last two of those had gone before I arrived, though I think one of them had a (slightly) extended life as Heffer's Art Books shop, or something like that. Being acquired by Heffer's seems to be an occupational hazard in Cambridge's world of bookshops.





Saturday, 23 November 2013

The pulveropause

Last month, in my first anniversary posting I wrote this (about visits to this blog):
Birthday posts often include reams of statistics, but I'm afraid the schedule doesn't allow me to collect them. So here's just one: in the first 3 months of the blog (roughly BPS [Before Publication of the Schedule]) the site had under 1,900 visits – about 600 a month. In the 9 months since, the site had 6,700 – about 750 a month. This isn't a huge improvement (I reckon something like 25%), but given that it's been achieved in spite of (or because of?) less regular posts, and more work on #WVGTbook it's quite satisfying
Now that the dust surrounding the ELTons deadline has settled (I submitted it on the 21st, and dealt with a rather disturbing query first thing on the 22nd [they couldn't download it from the Kindle Store] and was told that afternoon that everything was OK [ or "παντα καλωϚ εχει", which I gather is Classical Greek for 'Everything's hunky dory']), I can look more carefully at the HD stats.

In the first full three months – Nov. 2012 to Jan. 2013 – the blog registered just under 1,450 visits (I don't know where the higher figure I reported before came from – I had other things to think of at the time); that's under 500 per month. In the most recent three months (well, 2¾) it's had nearly  over 3,200 (more like 3,500 by the end of the month). This suggests that interest has more than doubled. That sounds a bit better.

Here's a picture:

b

Pulveropause, geddit?
Update: 2013.11.24.16:45 – new picture and updated footer.
Update: 2013.11.29.11:05 – another new picture
Updated picture.
† Update: 2015.08.28.10:15 – and another:more recent months this time:

In the first, only 3 months exceeded 800 visits pcm.
But for the last year monthly visits have
always exceeded this number




 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 34,400 views**  and  4,800 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1637 views/740 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.