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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I ain’t standing for that! What is wrong with ‘ain’t’? By Charlotte Buxton (From Oxford Dictionaries Blog)

👉By Charlotte Buxton, an Associate Editor for Oxford Dictionaries.

The language we use every day is littered with contractions. Shortened words like I’m, I’ve, I’ll, don’t, won’t, and we’ve have become an accepted part of standard English […].

Contractions are as old as the English language itself. When speaking quickly, it is natural to run a group of words that are commonly used together into one word: a form of verbal shorthand that is in turn adopted into written language. Most contractions have become so commonplace that we barely even notice we’re using them, while excluding them can actually make language sound stilted and unnatural.

One contraction in particular remains out in the cold, however. Ain’t has never been accepted into standard English […].

Even the origin of ain’t is murky […]. Unlike most of its cousin contractions, the words it is formed from are not immediately clear. […] It may have originally come from am not or are not, but it could also have derived from isn’t, with the s being dropped to make in’t, which was in turn lengthened to ain’t. When used to mean ‘has not’ or ‘have not’, as in they still ain’t been found or I ain’t been there myself, it derives from the dialect form haint or hain’t – a somewhat more obvious contraction of have not. This irregular formation is part of the reason for the widespread condemnation of the word, but it ain’t the whole story (so to speak). We accept other irregular contractions, such as won’t (which formed from the archaic form woll not), so why can’t we allow ain’t?

[…] Though undoubtedly used earlier in speech, it first appears in writing in the 18th century (though the form an’t is found earlier). It was initially used to imitate Cockney speech, with Dickens using it to mean both ‘are not’ and ‘have not’:

She ain’t one to blab. Are you Nancy? (Oliver Twist)

I ain’t took so many year to make a gentleman, not without knowing what’s due to him. (Great Expectations)

The use of ain’t in Victorian literature carries a moral judgement, usually signalling that the speaker is a part of the ‘criminal class’, to be feared and avoided. These associations cling to the word to this day, with ain’t still strongly associated in many people’s minds with a lack of education and low social status. (GO TO FULL BLOG POST)

🎬 You may also want to watch this:
What does AIN'T mean? | Real English Vocabulary (4:08 minutes)

Friday, January 18, 2019

What the earliest fragments of English reveal, by Cameron Laux (From BBC CULTURE)

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: What the earliest fragments of English reveal
👉 By Cameron Laux
The earliest fragments of English reveal how interconnected Europe has been for centuries. As an exhibition in London brings together treasures from Anglo-Saxon England, Cameron Laux traces a history of the language through 10 objects and manuscripts – including a burial urn, a buckle with bling, and the first letter in English.

The interconnectedness of Europe has a long history, as we’re reminded when we explore the roots of the English language – roots that stretch back to the 5th Century. Anglo-Saxon England “was connected to the world beyond its shores through a lively exchange of books, goods, ideas,” argues the Medieval historian Mary Wellesley, describing a new exhibition at the British Library in London – Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War – that charts the genesis of England.

Something like 80% of all surviving Old English verse survives in four physical books… for the first time in recorded history they are all together [in this exhibition],” she tells BBC Culture. “The period that is represented by Old English is about 600 years, which is like between us and back to Chaucer… imagine if there were only four physical books that survived from that period, what would that say about our literature?”

What we understand as English has its roots in 5th-Century Germany and Denmark, from where the Anglian, Saxon and Jute tribes came. As the Roman legions withdrew around 410 AD, so the Saxon war bands (what Rome called ‘the barbarians’) landed and an era of migration from the Continent and the formation of Anglo-Saxon England began. The word “English” derives from the homeland of the Angles, the Anglian peninsula in Germany. Early English was written in runes, combinations of vertical and diagonal lines that lent themselves to being carved into wood and were used by other closely related Germanic languages, such as Old Norse, Old Saxon and Old High German.

“The earliest fragments of the English language are likely to be a group of runic inscriptions on three 5th-Century cremation urns from Spong Hill in Norfolk,” Wellesley has written. “The inscriptions simply read alu, which probably means ‘ale’. Perhaps the early speakers of Old English longed for ale in death as well as life.”

The exhibition gathers together an array of documents, books and archaeological evidence to form a dense picture of the Anglo-Saxon period, including a burial urn with runic inscriptions in early English from Loveden Hill, Lincolnshire, England.

Anglo-Saxons cremated their dead and interred their remains in earthenware vessels. About 20 objects with runic inscriptions from before 650 AD are known from England, making this vessel – which seems to feature a woman’s name and the word for tomb – one of the earliest examples of English. (Continue reading)

Where did English come from? - Claire Bowern (4:53 minutes)

How did English evolve? - Kate Gardoqui (5:04 minutes)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

WEEKLY PICKS - 25

This is a weekly selection of reading articles, free online exercises, YouTube videos, games, quizzes and resources for you to further improve your English language skills and have fun – ENJOY!

📜READING PICKS – Articles, blog posts, quizzes and more:

From BBC FUTURE: Pork fat is rated as healthier than kale
In a list of the top 100 nutritious foods, pork fat came in eighth place – higher than peas, cabbage and kale. Apparently, pork fat is a good source of B vitamins and minerals.
The world’s most nutritious foods – After analysing more than 1,000 raw foods, researchers ranked the ingredients that provide the best balance of your daily nutritional requirements – and they found a few surprises. (Continue reading)

From BBC FUTURE: January is the best time of year to apply for a job, by Amanda Ruggeri and Miriam Quick. Google searches for "jobs" peak in January, but few people actually apply. Companies usually get their new hiring budgets for the year, and annual bonuses often pay out in December, so a lot of people wait until then to change jobs.
When it comes to life events like applying for a job, buying a house or even getting married, certain months are more advantageous than others. Want to ‘hack your year’? Here’s how. (Continue reading)


BBC Reel: A hairdresser created a substance that could withstand 75 nuclear blasts. Reported by Lee Johnson, produced, filmed and directed by Adam Proctor.
Maurice Ward invented a world-changing fire-resistant plastic called Starlite, refused to sell it or have it patented in fear of someone stealing the recipe, and died in 2011, taking the material’s secrets to his grave. 
(Continue reading)

🎧 LISTEN & READ the TRANSCRIPTS:

  • Budgeting Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at budgeting. They look at how to make a money plan, and how to know where your money goes.
  • The History of Money How did modern money develop? What are the earliest kinds of money? Christy Van Arragon and Katy Blake look at money.
🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:
LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How to... be vague (6:00 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
Silent Letters: When NOT to pronounce B, D, and L in English (13:06 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
Learners' questions: 'How are you' and 'how do you do'? (2:28 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

How Resilient Are You? (From Mind Tools)

Find Out How to Bounce Back From Problems
From: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-quotes/
Imagine that you've been working on a report for several weeks. You're pleased with what you've produced, and you can't wait to hear what your boss thinks. However, the next day she meets with you to discuss your work, and she asks you to rewrite your report.

You're disappointed, of course, but do you sit down and despair, or do you start drafting the next version?

Resilience is our ability to bounce back when things don't go as planned. It's a quality that we all possess to some degree, but some of us can draw on it more easily than others can. Resilience is important because it keeps us on track until we reach our goals, it allows us to deal with difficult situations, and it helps us to grow by encouraging us to look at the positives and to manage stress.
From: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-quotes/
However, it's not about trying to carry on regardless of how we feel, and it's not about being superhuman! Instead, it's about understanding why we feel the way we do and developing strategies to help us deal with situations more effectively.

This quiz will help you to understand and assess how resilient you are, and it provides advice and guidance that you can use to become even more resilient.

QUIZ ⇒ How Resilient Are You?
From: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-quotes/
💡 You may also be interested in the quizzes below:

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