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English for non-English speakers

Discussion in 'The Breakroom' started by clock, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. Mister Scribble

    Mister Scribble Loaded Pockets

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    Yeah, me too. A heavy French-accented deep Louisiana dialect is challenging
    for me to decipher, as a Northerner.

    But the music, like Buckwheat Zydeco, is great.

    Fortunately music transcends accent. When different English dialect users
    sing, the accent seems to disappear. Interesting.
     
  2. Akilae

    Akilae Loaded Pockets

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    This is when this quote will be very appropriate:

    "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse :censored:. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
    --James D. Nicoll
     
  3. yam350

    yam350 Loaded Pockets

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    I think all the different accents and dialects in English are part of what makes it so interesting. English is a flexible, rich, evolving language and because of it's complexity, able the convey almost any concept with precision. One of the reasons why it is the language of choice for many scientific papers to be published in.

    Cajun music and Cajun cooking, great stuff!
     
  4. photomic

    photomic Loaded Pockets

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    Can someone explain me this:

    God's speed
     
  5. Valerian

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

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    I think it's usually written "godspeed". It's an old saying, with modern spelling you could write it "good speed" (Middle English was still a much more Germanic language than Modern English, and many other Germanic languages still write their version of "good" with a short vowel). Used when wishing someone a speedy journey, safe passage or - in general - a successful endeavour.
     
  6. phill

    phill Loaded Pockets

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    Godspeed, as a word, is a wish for a prosperous journey, success, and good fortune (from Middle English God speed you, meaning "May God help you prosper"). It is also used occasionally in a non-religious manner, intended as a wish for a job to be accomplished quickly.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godspeed

    Wikipedia also has entries for opening a can of worms and wee; belly up can be found in the wiktionary.
     
  7. photomic

    photomic Loaded Pockets

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  8. yam350

    yam350 Loaded Pockets

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    Wikipedia also has entries for opening a can of worms and wee; belly up can be found in the wiktionary.

    Phill's post reminds me, Word web is a free dictionary you can download, it sits in your task tray and has direct links to wiktionary and wikipaedia, I use it constantly, it also has a Thesaurus function. Just Google it!
     
  9. yam350

    yam350 Loaded Pockets

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    Wikipedia also has entries for opening a can of worms and wee; belly up can be found in the wiktionary.

    Phill's post reminds me, Word web is a free dictionary you can download, it sits in your task tray and has direct links to wiktionary and wikipaedia, I use it constantly, it also has a Thesaurus function. Just Google it!
     
  10. Mister Scribble

    Mister Scribble Loaded Pockets

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    I am always amazed at the breadth of knowledge the folks on EDCF have.

    On any topic--whether directly related to EDC or not--you'll most likely find
    one or more members who know a lot about it.

    I wouldn't even be surprised if there are any Chaucer or Shakespeare scholars
    in the audience <not me!>
     
  11. Tripp Hazzard

    Tripp Hazzard Loaded Pockets

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    When I run into a word or phrase I'm not familiar with, I throw Google at it.

    "define [word]" will get you a list of definitions. (The quotes are not needed here.)

    For a phrase, I just put in the phrase with quotes around it. If that doesn't work, I add "define" before the quotes.
     
  12. Akilae

    Akilae Loaded Pockets

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    <Unrelated rant on> "Just Google it!" has been the death of many of my interactions with friends. I ask them how a movie was. "Just Google it!" What albums has their favorite artist released? "Just Google it!" If we had thrown "Just Google it!" when this thread was first established, would we have so many insightful and interesting explanations of the English language? <Unrelated rant off>
     
  13. Mister Scribble

    Mister Scribble Loaded Pockets

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    Here's another problem. Google wants to be able to reproduce sections from
    everything ever written or copyrighted.

    I wrote a book about 10 years ago, with the copyright notice
    in my name. Google sent me a letter that they wanted to reproduce parts of
    it and depending on the copyright status I might not be able to stop them.

    It's nice to be able to read parts of everything published, but what about authors
    with copyrights who rightly deserve royalties when something of theirs is republished?

    It raises some troubling questions.

    Google has also co-operated with oppressive governments abroad to suppress
    information (like Internet censorship in the Peoples' Republic of China).

    It raises some troubling ethical questions.

    <Back on topic> One interesting thing about English is how rapidly
    colloquial English changes. Whenever I use slang from the 1940s,
    1950s or 1960s in my conversation, they're great expressions but sound
    really dated.

    The only thing that has survived intact is..."cool..." In fact, the
    expression is now used in business, which I find somewhat
    dismaying.

    Dig it, time to split, man. Twenty-three skidoo.
     
  14. jeeves3443

    jeeves3443 Loaded Pockets

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    "But, we're Google(the president)."

    "When Google (the president) does it, it's not illegal."



    The slippery slope of convenience.
     
  15. Akilae

    Akilae Loaded Pockets

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    To get things back on track (since I derailed it in the first place).

    One of the most difficult things non-native English speakers have to deal with, especially when speaking with people from the US, is our utter disregard for proper grammar. Our slang is not so bad in that each language/region has its own slang, so English isn't bad in comparison. But we tend to play so fast and loose with our grammar rules that... well... it can get messy.
     
  16. Stutoffee

    Stutoffee Loaded Pockets

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    I really like some of the nonsensical slang used by the British upper classes in the 1920s-30s, you know the sort of stuff that you hear Bertie Wooster coming out with or some of the exclaimations that George ("House's" Hugh Laurie) used in "Blackadder Goes Forth"

    Nonsense like:-

    Tally Ho, pip pip & Bernards your Uncle (Blackadder)

    Tally Ho, Dippetty Dap & Zing zang spillip (Blackadder)

    Spiffing

    Oh, I say.

    Rather!

    etc
     
  17. mirek

    mirek Loaded Pockets

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    A very good source for the explanation of slang words is the Urban Dictionary. I installed it as the IE8 add-on/accelerator from here.

    I really like that it is an up-to-date dictionary created by English speakers (like Wikipedia).
     
  18. Mister Scribble

    Mister Scribble Loaded Pockets

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    I haven't been able to keep up with British TV since they stopped broadcasting Doctor Who
    about 15 or 20 years ago. Public TV used to broadcast that, EastEnders, and a whole lot of
    other shows but then our Great NYC Mayor Giuliani decided to sell public boradcasting stations
    (someone made a pile of money) that belonged to the city.

    If not for British TV I never would have seen....Secret Agent (Danger Man), The Prisoner,
    Keeping Up Appearances, Black Adder, Benny Hill, Man In A Suitcase, The Champions,
    Doctor Who, and of course...Blakes' 7, one of the best but little known SF series ever. It had an edge.
    (And a lot of the trends it depicted resonate with today's developments.)

    In their less than infinite wisdom BBC radio decided to stop broadcasting to the U.S.
    on shortwave also a few years ago. After midnight some FM stations do relay it
    but it's not the same. During its heydey BBC was a great place for non-English speakers
    to learn English <you knew I'd get back on topic, didn't you?> with wonderful
    cultural programs.

    I believe British cultural programs from the BBC did have a "civilizing" influence on the world,
    in the best non-imperialistic sense of that word. Encouraging a move toward kindness,
    thoughtfulness, and entertainment that isn't degrading or cruel.

    Instead here in the USA we get crappy "reality" TV shows and a culture of cruelty. But then again,
    I stopped watching U.S. TV long ago.
     
  19. yam350

    yam350 Loaded Pockets

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    This is where I do my Michael Caine impression! Did you know that the phrase `Tally Ho´originated in British fox hunting? It was shouted out at the first sight of the fox `Tail Ho´is what it is but in the excitement of riding 20 or 30 bloody great horses over some poor sod's turnip field it came out as Tally Ho.Not many people know that!
     
  20. Mister Scribble

    Mister Scribble Loaded Pockets

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    Very interesting!

    Now tell me the origin of the word, "bumbershoot!" It's been raining here and I need one.

    Sometime ago I also heard the origin of the expression, "In for a penny, in for a pound,"
    but I have forgotten it.

    In my youth I was a big admirer of Winston Churchill after reading a Reader's Digest biography of the
    man, and managed to get my hands on a special edition of the National Georgraphic that covered Churchill's
    funeral. Inside the magazine was a vinyl record with his Battle of Britain speech and some
    others.

    Speaking of upper classes, Churchill was upper crust, pro-imperialist and pro-old-British-Empire all the way,
    but you do have to admire him.

    Without Churchill we might all be speaking German.

    I couldn't drink port, paint pictures, build a brick wall, write a multi-volume History of the English-
    Speaking Peoples, or conduct a war the way he did. And inspire everyone to boot.

    Speaking of which, I wonder why you folks call the "trunk" of an automobile the "boot?"

    I don't think many Britishisms make it over here, although British announcers are used a lot
    when the advertiser wants a "bit of class!"

    American slang, on the other hand, has infected the whole world, for better or worse.