<wonders_of_computicles>... of run in – a (suitably) devilish number – and devilish it is, for students of ESOL at least.
(just click on that link and watch while the search unfolds)
I've written before (here) about phrasal verbs:
...I hadn't realized, until I started to teach ESOL, what a big hurdle phrasal verbs were. Try Googling English Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. You get (or at least I get – Heaven alone knows what customized search algorithms are at play) over 500,000 hits. That's a world of pain for ESOL students; who have to remember not only apparently-paradoxical meanings but a range of syntactic oddities. And to make things worse, we English-speakers keep inventing new ones....Phrasal verbs are a huge problem, even if you consider only the ones that are listed in the thousands of dictionaries and web-pages and other lists of all kinds, but as I said in that excerpt we English-speakers keep inventing new ones. And a mis-reading on the news just now alerted me to a new one.
(If you're new to this blog, you might want to have a read [and on the subject of problems for ESOL students, what about "have a read"?]
Intonation was the tell-tale slip (as it often is). The newsreader said [of a rugby player, voicing over a bit of VT] "Here he is, running in a try". But run in, except in the context of internal combustion engines isn't usually a phrasal verb. It is very commonly (in most if not all of those BNC hits I mentioned earlier – here's one of the first of those 666: "...if we allow it to run in the way the government have in mind...") a prepositional usage; the verb run and the preposition in just happen to fall together.
So the voice said (or, to give him his due, he bailed out as soon as realized that the words in a try were not a meaning-bearing unit [or semanteme, as I regret some linguists feel it necessary to say]):
... as he would have said if the words had been
Here he is, running in his Nth race.
The correct intonation would be one introductory phrase of three words, and then running in his Nth try in a separate and continuous rising and falling curve:
In a phrasal verb, both the main verb and the preposition (often, for clarity, called a particle in this context) usually (if not always – though I'll have to think about that) belong in the same intonational curve; by starting a new intonational curve at the onset of the preposition the speaker disrupts the meaning of the phrasal verb. But you can't get the intonation right if you don't understand the context. And phrasal verbs are readily created in specific contexts.
<autobiographical_note date_range="early 1971">Anyway, the point is this: phrasal verbs are, in the case I have looked at, just the prompt for the recognition of a problem with intonation. (Or vice versa. Often, in language teaching, a problem in one sphere points to a problem in another. So there's a lesson for teachers here: if you hear a problem, don't be satisfied with just "fixing" it – when you think about it, you might find that it's a symptom of another problem.)
This puts me in mind of my days down and out in Barcelona. I didn't speak Spanish and hadn't done it at school; I had an O-level grammar book (not aimed at self-study), and was reading it. My daily budget extended to a copy of La Vanguardia (so not that down and out), which I scanned diligently. Articles in the sections dealing with international affairs, current events, politics and so on were not too difficult to make sense of: the vocabulary – with, on the face of it, "harder" vocabulary – was often guessable on the basis of cognates in other modern languages and/or Greek or Latin-based etymology.
Not so the sports pages – and not just in sports I knew nothing about, such as handball, pelota, or (though the word sport is questionable in this case) bull-fighting. Even, say, reports about football (aka soccer) were a closed book to me. The words and the syntax associated with them was just not the same as you get from books.
Enough for now...
PS: A crossword clue:
- Weight of the Holocaust – he doesn't believe it. (6)
PPS And another:
- Leaders of other teams interrupt scrum – for keeping balls in? (7)
Added a clarification, in the main text, in blue, and yet another clue:
- Average quantity? Much more important than that! (9)