Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Word Crimes" by Weird Al Yankovic

A handy guide to popular sins of English usage. Aren't you glad I'm not using this for a gapfill exercise?


(Background information.)

Everybody shut up, WOO!
Everyone listen up!
Hey, hey, hey, uh
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

[Verse 1:]
If you can't write in the proper way
If you don't know how to conjugate
Maybe you flunked that class
And maybe now you find
That people mock you online

Okay, now here's the deal
I'll try to educate ya
Gonna familiarize
You with the nomenclature
You'll learn the definitions
Of nouns and prepositions
Literacy's your mission
And that's why I think it's a

Good time
To learn some grammar
Now, did I stammer
Work on that grammar
You should know when
It's "less" or it's "fewer"
Like people who were
Never raised in a sewer

I hate these word crimes
Like I could care less
That means you do care
At least a little
Don't be a moron
You'd better slow down
And use the right pronoun
Show the world you're no clown
Everybody wise up!

[Verse 2:]
Say you got an "I","T"
Followed by apostrophe, "s"
Now what does that mean?
You would not use "it's" in this case
As a possessive
It's a contraction
What's a contraction?
Well, it's the shortening of a word, or a group of words
By the omission of a sound or letter

Okay, now here's some notes
Syntax you're always mangling
No "x" in "espresso"
Your participle's danglin'
But I don't want your drama
If you really wanna
Leave out that Oxford comma
Just keep in mind

That "be", "see", "are", "you"
Are words, not letters
Get it together
Use your spellchecker
You should never
Write words using numbers
Unless you're seven
Or your name is Prince

I hate these word crimes
You really need a
Full time proofreader
You dumb mouth-breather
Well, you should hire
Some cunning linguist
To help you distinguish
What is proper English

[Verse 3:]
One thing I ask of you
Time to learn your homophones is past due
Learn to diagram a sentence too
Always say "to whom"
Don't ever say "to who"
And listen up when I tell you this
I hope you never use quotation marks for emphasis
You finished second grade
I hope you can tell
If you're doing good or doing well
About better figure out the difference
Irony is not coincidence
And I thought that you'd gotten it through your skull
What's figurative and what's literal
Oh but, just now, you said
You literally couldn't get out of bed
That really makes me want to literally
Smack a crowbar upside your stupid head

I read your e-mail
It's quite apparent
Your grammar's errant
You're incoherent
Saw your blog post
It's really fantastic
That was sarcastic (Oh, psych!)
'Cause you write like a spastic

I hate these Word Crimes
Your prose is dopey
Think you should only
Write in emoji
Oh, you're a lost cause
Go back to pre-school
Get out of the gene pool
Try your best to not drool

Never mind I give up
Really now I give up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Go Away!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Обман (a post for educators)

Дорогие педагоги!

Помогите мне, пожалуйста--я пишу статью об обмане в контексте тестирования и домашних заданиях. Мне было бы очень полезно включать ваш опыт и ваши предложения в статью. Я организовал свои вопросы в этом вопроснике, но вы можете сообщаться со мной прямо, если удобнее. Не надо отвечать на каждый вопрос; вы можете выбирать самые интересные вам вопросы....

Я очень благодарен Елене Малашенко за перевод вопросов. И я благодарен ВАМ за внимание и любые ответы и предложения.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Group 301-401 (Evening): May test

If you were not able to be in class for the May test, here is the online version.

There are advantages in taking the test in the classroom--for example, if students did not understand something, I was able to answer questions within reason. Here you will not have the same help. On the other hand, you have fewer limits on time. I hope the different circumstances compensate for each other. In any case, please be honorable and take the test as if you were being watched by me and the other students!)) Time limit: 90 minutes.

First, here are the four audio clips for the four sections of the test. After the audio clips you will find the test itself. (Please contact me if you have trouble with any of the clips; I can give you access to the audio some other way.)

Listen to each clip TWICE. Of course you should feel free to take notes while listening.

1. Every Little Step.

2. Reality Is Broken

3. Speaking Proper

4. The Brain in Love

Please finish this test by Monday evening, June 2. We will discuss our answers when we meet for class on June 3. (UPDATE: This is a new time. We will meet on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. See schedule on bulletin board.)

Here is the test form. Be sure to push the "continue" button after part 3, and push the "submit" button when you have finished. Thank you!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hans Theessink Band, "Running Home"

(song by Hans Theessink)

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

When I get a notion
When I'm out across the ocean
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

I want to feel your heartbeat
I want to see you smile
My love for you is so strong
I come running a thousand miles
You is where I belong.

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

I'll travel highways I'll travel byways
Get a ticket on some homebound plane
Ain't nothing now gonna stop me now
Just to hold you in my arms again

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

Heaven opens when you smile
Your voice sounds like music to me
Sweet look in your eyes still gives me butterflies
They drive me crazy after all these years

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

I'll travel highways I'll travel byways
Get a ticket on some homebound plane
Ain't nothing now gonna stop me now
Just to hold you in my arms again

Baby when you call me
Honey when you need me
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home
I come running I come running
Baby I come running home

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Groups 201-204 Tests May 22 and 28

Groups 203 and 204: Your final test in my class will be on Thursday, May 22.
Groups 201 and 202: Your final test in my class will be on Wednesday, May 28.

Are you familiar with the test blanks used for the exam? I will be using them for our tests in case you need some practice using them. (Don't laugh; every year, some students put their answers in the wrong places.) Here are the blanks (at least for now) as shown at the official site:

At the official site, there is also a registration form, but we won't use that; you will write your name and group number at the top of each answer blank.

Best wishes!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Group 301-401 (Evening): Many Tongues Called English ...

. . . One Global Language.

This is part 8 of Melvyn Bragg's "Adventure of English" series. Last Wednesday we reached question no. 17 (see questions below video); we hope to finish this program on May 21.

  1. What "artificial" international language does Bragg speak at the beginning of this program?
  2. What did Otto von Bismarck consider the "decisive fact of modern history"? Why might he have said this?
  3. What are the "two Englishes" that Bragg refers to?
  4. what is the historical development out of which these words and phrases emerged? ...
    big business
    fat cat
    assembly line
    closed shop
  5. What is the difference between "hôtel" in French and "hotel" in American English? Do you know what the more traditional English word is for a hotel (usually rather small)?
  6. Which is British English, and which is American English? ...
    elevator - lift
    closet - wardrobe
    tub with faucet - bath with tap
    bedclothes - covers
    dressing gown - bathrobe
    nightstand - bedside table
    trash can - wastepaper basket
  7. The film notes that the British obsession with proper English was mostly due to concern with three elements: manners, morals, and what else?
  8. What does Bragg mean when he says that Edwardian English "abhorred flamboyance"? As an example, how did Rupert Brooke's mother change the account of her son leaving Cambridge?
  9. The film notes that the British obsession with proper English was mostly due to concern with three elements: manners, morals, and what else?
  10. How did World War I affect the last of these elements?
  11. Are you familiar with these terms that gained currency in World War I? ...
    front line
    gas mask
    the balloon goes up
    zero hour
    over the top
    eleventh hour
  12. About this time, the mass migration of Black Americans to Northern cities enhanced English in many ways. Examples:
    rock 'n roll
  13. This was also a period of massive immigration from Central and Eastern Europe, particularly Germans and Jews. We received ...
    hold on

    ... and such examples of Yiddish humor as

    am I hungry
    I'm telling you
    now he tells me
    could I use a drink
    I should worry
  14. The 1920s were often a wild and criminal period, bringing words and phrases such as these into American English:
    hatchet man
    the rap
    the can
    hot seat
    submachine gun           
    spill the beans
    taken for a ride
    micky finn
    to finger
  15. The vocabulary of films also entered English around this time:  
  16. It was said of Winston Churchill that he mobilized the English language and sent it into war. What are some characteristics of Churchill's English usage?
  17. Who really did "invade" Great Britain during World War II and, in so doing, influenced the language with such terms as ...?
    crew cut
    disk jockey
    GI bride
  18. How did the folklorist Jakob Grimm account for English's strength and vigor? And what contrast did Otto Jesperson make between French and English?
  19. In contrast with the intrinsic qualities of a language (as emphasized by Grimm and Jesperson), David Crystal says that a language's prominence is more a result of what factors?
  20. In postwar Germany, "knowing English gave people an edge...." What is an "edge"?
  21. How many of these words derived from the technology of the "Baby" and its descendants are you familiar with?
    bit (and byte)
    floppy disk
    hard disk
  22. In India, 40 million people speak English at first-language fluency. How many people have at least some acquaintance with English (as of 2003).
  23. What are the three motives expressed by the three young women who are learning English?
  24. What were the two original dominant languages in the European Parliament?
  25. When Bragg, in Germany, says "the smart money is on the import," what does he mean?
  26. "This kind of globalization could become a cemetery for English." What tendency is Bragg referring to? What is good and bad about this sort of English?
  27. Listen to the Singlish conversation. What are some of this dialect's features?
  28. How can you tell if an English-speaker grew up speaking Gaelic? Why do some bilingual (Gaelic and English speakers) speak Gaelic some of the time and English some of the time?
  29. Why do some call centers prefer to locate in Glasgow?
  30. Glaswegian seems to derive from two different streams of English. As a result, there are words that have two distinct pronunciations--one pronunciation is closer to the language of southern England, the other uniquely Glaswegian. We see children demonstrating these differences. Can you give some examples?
  31. What do bilingual students in Bradford, England, mean when they say "kass me" and "awr"? What words are in the borderline area for the Oxford English Dictionary?
  32. What is the rule for deleting words from the OED?
  33. What provision have we made for communicating with intelligent beings beyond earth?