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Showing posts with label LANGUAGE and CULTURE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LANGUAGE and CULTURE. Show all posts

Sunday, October 21, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 22

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:

F
rom BBC CAPITAL: How similar you are to your partner can affect your happiness, by Christian Jarrett. Researchers have found that how similar you are to your partner can affect your happiness – but it’s complicated.
Among many monogamous species, from cockatiels to cichlid fish, studies have revealed a clear pattern: it helps to be more similar to your mate. When mating pairs are behaviourally similar, their reproductive success tends to be higher.
In human terms, this would imply it’s better to be similar to your partner. Indeed, for a long time psychologists and others have argued that similarity is probably beneficial – after all, then we will be more likely to enjoy the same pursuits, values and outlook on life.
But no matter how intuitive the idea seems, for decades nearly every study has failed to support it.
Now, though, a team of psychologists at the University of Amsterdam think they know why. They have taken a far more sophisticated and nuanced look at the issue than in previous research. (Continue reading)

From BBC REEL: Reel: The oldest coffee in the world. From huts in remote villages to internet cafes in the capital city, coffee ceremonies are the centre of social life and hospitality in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. (Continue reading)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How to show annoyance (4:11 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Salary Negotiation: 6 Tips on How to Negotiate a Higher Salary (9:56 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
HISTORY: CONSUMERISM (10:52 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
VOCABULARY: Words with more than one spelling (6:16 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
Learn English: "last year" OR "in the last year" (8:26 minutes)
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 18

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 while having fun – ENJOY!

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

From BBC NEWS: Body clock scientists win Nobel Prize, by James Gallagher. Health and science reporter, BBC News website. Three scientists who unravelled how our bodies tell time won the 2017 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.
The body clock - or circadian rhythm - is the reason we want to sleep at night, but it also drives huge changes in behaviour and body function.
The US scientists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young will share the prize. The Nobel prize committee said their findings had "vast implications for our health and wellbeing". (Continue reading)

From BBC TRAVEL: The rarest fabric on Earth, by Meg Lukens Noonan & Tom Garmeson. The once-endangered vicuna is thriving in the Peruvian Andes, thanks to a bold plan to sustainably gather and sell its valuable fleece – and give locals a stake in its survival. (Go to full article)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Why do blood types matter? - Natalie S. Hodge (4:41 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How does your body know what time it is? - Marco A. Sotomayor (5:08 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
Biomedical & Industrial Engineering: Crash Course Engineering #6 (10:29 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
'Ensure' or 'insure'? (1:45 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
BBC English Masterclass: Infinitives of purpose (3:44 minutes)
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 17

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 while having fun – ENJOY!

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

From BBC CAPITAL: What would happen if we all took smart drugs?, by Zaria Gorvett. More and more people are turning to drugs to improve their performance at work. Do they really work? And what would happen if we all started taking them?
[...] For centuries, all workers have had to get them through the daily slog is boring old caffeine. But no more. The latest generation has been experimenting with a new range of substances, which they believe will supercharge their mental abilities and help them get ahead. (Continue reading)

From BBC CAPITAL: What's driving the rise of the McVegan burger? (This story is from You & Yours on BBC Radio 4, presented by Winifred Robinson and produced by Kevin Mousley. To listen to more episodes of You & Yours please click here. Adapted by Peter Rubinstein.) The Big Mac is changing in response to growing demand for vegetarian food that looks and tastes like meat. (Continue reading)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
THE BEST HIDDEN LONDON PUBS (3:45 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
BBC 6 Minute English January 14, 2016 - Is modern life making us tired? (6:02 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
Visit New York - 5 Things You Will Love & Hate about New York City, USA (10:11 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
Learners' Questions: The difference between 'what' and 'which' (2:07 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Sunday, September 09, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 16

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 while having fun – ENJOY!

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

From BBC CULTURE: THE REBIRTH OF BRITAIN’S ‘LOST’ LANGUAGES, by Holly Williams. Welsh singer Gwenno’s new album is in Cornish, which is spoken by fewer than 1000 people. It’s one of many ‘lost’ languages being reborn.
“A eus le rag hwedhlow dyffrans?” So goes the first track on Le Kov, the second album by Welsh singer Gwenno Saunders. But it isn’t Welsh: it’s Cornish, a minority language spoken by fewer than a thousand people. The line translates as “is there room for different stories?” – and this is the question at the heart of her record, which celebrates variance in language, culture and identity. (Continue reading)

From BBC TECHNOLOGYSocial media terms 'jargon-busted' for teens, by Alli Shultes. Technology reporter. A set of jargon-busting guides that teach children about their rights on social media sites has been published.
Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield said Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and YouTube had "not done enough" to clarify their policies.
She simplified the websites' terms and conditions with privacy law firm Schillings. But Instagram said the simplified version of its terms contained "a number of inaccuracies".
The slimmed-down guides are a response to the Commissioner's Growing Up Digital report, which found that most children do not understand the agreements they sign when they create social media accounts.
All the sites require children to be over 13 to create an account. (Continue reading)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Learners' Questions: How to use 'be likely to' (2:09 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How to Wake Up Early - And Not be Miserable (7:39 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
RSA ANIMATE: The Paradox of Choice (10:43 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
Learn English - ALL or WHOLE? (9:23 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SINGULAR 'THEY' (From Oxford English Dictionary Blog)

👉 An excerpt from "A brief history of singular they", by Dennis Baron

Singular ‘they’ has become the pronoun of choice to replace ‘he and she’ in cases where the gender of the antecedent – the word the pronoun refers to – is unknown, irrelevant, or nonbinary, or where gender needs to be concealed. It’s the word we use for sentences like ‘Everyone loves his mother’.
Since forms may exist in speech long before they’re written down, it’s likely that singular 'they' was common even before the late fourteenth century. That makes an old form even older.

In the eighteenth century, grammarians began warning that singular 'they' was an error because a plural pronoun can’t take a singular antecedent. They clearly forgot that singular 'you' was a plural pronoun that had become singular as well. You functioned as a polite singular for centuries, but in the seventeenth century singular 'you' replaced 'thou', 'thee', and 'thy', except for some dialect use. That change met with some resistance. […]

Singular 'you' has become normal and unremarkable. […] And singular 'they' is well on its way to being normal and unremarkable as well. Toward the end of the twentieth century, language authorities began to approve the form. The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) not only accepts singular they, they also use the form in their definitions. And the New Oxford American Dictionary (Third Edition, 2010), calls singular 'they' ‘generally accepted’ with indefinites, and ‘now common but less widely accepted’ with definite nouns, especially in formal contexts.

Not everyone is down with singular 'they'. The well-respected Chicago Manual of Style still rejects singular 'they' for formal writing, and just the other day a teacher told me that he still corrects students who use ‘everyone … their’ in their papers, though he probably uses singular 'they' when his students aren’t looking. […]


👉 Dennis Baron – Professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Read Dennis’s blog, The Web of Language, and follow him on Twitter as @DrGrammar.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

ARE AMERICANISMS KILLING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE? by Hephzibah Anderson (From BBC Culture)

A book released in 2017 claims that Americanisms will have completely absorbed the English language by 2120 - Hephzibah Anderson takes a look.
From: BBC Capital
So, it turns out I can no longer speak English. This was the alarming realisation foisted upon me by Matthew Engel’s witty, cantankerous yet nonetheless persuasive polemic That’s the Way it Crumbles: The American Conquest of EnglishBecause by English, I mean British English.

Despite having been born, raised and educated on British shores, it seems my mother tongue has been irreparably corrupted by the linguistic equivalent of the grey squirrel. And I’m not alone. Whether you’re a lover or a loather of phrases like “Can I get a decaf soy latte to go?”, chances are your vocabulary has been similarly colonised.

Speaking on the wireless in 1935, Alistair Cooke declared that “Every Englishman listening to me now unconsciously uses 30 or 40 Americanisms a day”. In 2017, that number is likely closer to three or four hundred, Engel hazards – more for a teenager, “if they use that many words in a day”.

But how did this happen and why should we care? After all, as a nation we’ve been both invaded and invader, and our language is all the richer for it. Words like bungalow, bazaar, even Blighty, have their roots elsewhere. Heck, go far enough back and isn’t it pretty much all just distorted Latin, French or German?

The first American words to make it across the pond were largely utilitarian – signifiers for flora and fauna that didn’t exist back in Merrie England. Moose, maize and tobacco were among them. But there were others, too, that in retrospect might seem laden with significance – words like plentifulness, monstrosity and conflagration.

With no means of swift communication or easeful passage between the two countries, American English merely trickled back into its source to begin with. But as the balance of power between Britain and her former colonies shifted, as America ascended to military, economic, cultural and technological dominance, that trickle swelled to a torrent, washing away any kind of quality control.

COOKIES and CLOSETS

Throughout the 19th Century, Engel contends, “the Americanisms that permeated the British language did so largely on merit, because they were more expressive, more euphonious, sharper and cleverer than their British counterparts”. What word-lover could resist the likes of ‘ornery’, ‘boondoggle’ or ‘scuttlebutt’? That long ago ceased to be the case, leaving us with words and phrases that reek of euphemism – ‘passing’ instead of dying – or that mock their user with meaninglessness, like the non-existent Rose Garden that political reporters decided No 10 had to have, just because the White House has one (it doesn’t exactly have one either, not in the strictest sense, but that’s a whole other story).

Call me a snob, but there’s also the fact that some American neologisms are just plain ungainly. I recently picked up a promising new American thriller to find ‘elevator’ used as a verb in the opening chapter. As in, Ahmed was ‘elevatoring’ towards the top of his profession in Manhattan.

Nowadays, no sphere of expression remains untouched. Students talk of campus and semesters. Magistrates, brainwashed by endless CSI reruns, ask barristers “Will counsel please approach the bench?” We uncheck boxes in a vain effort to avoid being inundated with junk mail that, when it arrives regardless, we move to trash.

It’s understandable, of course. Sometimes, American words just seem more glamorous. Who wants to live in a flat, a word redolent of damp problems and unidentifiable carpet stains, a word that just sounds – well, flat – when they could make their home in an apartment instead? Sometimes that glamour is overlain with bracing egalitarianism – it’s a glamour untainted by our perennial national hang-up, class.

Take ‘movie’. The word has all the glitz of Hollywood and none of the intellectual pretensions (or so it might be argued) of the word ‘film’, which increasingly suggests subtitles (‘foreign-language film’ is one of the few instances in which the f-word doesn’t seem interchangeable with its American counterpart – ‘foreign-language movie’ just sounds odd). Other times they fill a gap, naming something that British English speakers have been unable to decide on, as is increasingly the case with ATM, a boring but brief alternative to cash point, cash machine, hole in the wall. Also to be factored in is what Engel dubs “Britain’s cultural cringe”, which predisposes us to embrace the foreign.

It’s often pointed out that plenty of these Americanisms were British English to begin with – we exported them, then imported them back. A commonly made case in point is ‘I guess’, which crops up in Chaucer. When Dr Johnson compiled his seminal 1755 dictionary, ‘gotten’ was still in use as a past participle of ‘get’. But as Engel points out, good old English is not good new English. Moreover, his beef isn’t really to do with authenticity; it’s more to do with our unthinking complicity. Because it’s not just the cookies and the closets, or even the garbage, it’s the insidiousness of it all. We’ve already reached the point where most of us can no longer tell whether a word is an Americanism or not. By 2120, he suggests, American English will have absorbed the British version entirely. As he puts it, “The child will have eaten its mother, but only because the mother insisted”. (Continue reading)


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