Summary of “How Non-English Speakers Are Taught This Crazy English Grammar Rule You Know But Never Heard Of”

English grammar, beloved by sticklers, is also feared by non-native speakers.
Some of the most binding rules in English are things that native speakers know but don’t know they know, even though they use them every day.
That quote comes from a book called The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase.
Here’s a page from a book, published by Cambridge University Press, used regularly to teach English to non-native speakers.
From English Grammar in Use-a self study reference and practise book for intermediate students by Raymond Murphy, published by Cambridge University Press in 1994.
The book lays out the adjective order in the same way as Forsyth’s surprising illumination.
The fact is, a lot of English grammar rules only come as a surprise to those who know them most intimately.
In a lecture about grammar, he dismantles the commonly held English spelling mantra “I before E except after C.” It’s used to help people remember how to spell words like “Piece,” but, Forsyth says, there are only 44 words that follow the rule, and 923 that don’t.

The orginal article.

Summary of “English Is Not Normal”

Old English is so unlike the modern version that it feels like a stretch to think of them as the same language at all.
Life went on, and pretty soon their bad Old English was real English, and here we are today: the Scandies made English easier.
Starting in the 16th century, educated Anglophones developed a sense of English as a vehicle of sophisticated writing, and so it became fashionable to cherry-pick words from Latin to lend the language a more elevated tone.
The die was cast: English had thousands of new words competing with native English words for the same things.
It is sometimes said that they alone make the vocabulary of English uniquely rich, which is what Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil claim in the classic The Story of English: that the first load of Latin words actually lent Old English speakers the ability to express abstract thought.
What’s more, one way to connote formality is with substitute expressions: English has life as an ordinary word and existence as the fancy one, but in the Native American language Zuni, the fancy way to say life is ‘a breathing into’.
It’s easy to say that comprehend in French gave us a new formal way to say understand – but then, in Old English itself, there were words that, when rendered in Modern English, would look something like ‘forstand’, ‘underget’, and ‘undergrasp’.
The English notion that big words are fancier is due to the fact that French and especially Latin words tend to be longer than Old English ones – end versus conclusion, walk versus ambulate.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How the English Failed to Stamp Out the Scots Language”

What Scots really is is a fascinating centuries-old Germanic language that happens to be one of the most widely spoken minority native languages, by national percentage of speakers, in the world.
There was no differentiation between the language spoken in Scotland and England at the time; the Scots called their language “Inglis” for almost a thousand years.
English had become not only the language of power, but also the language of divinity.
“It’s quite a good move if you’re wanting your language to be considered better,” says Michael Hance, the director of the Scots Language Centre.
The English didn’t police the way the Scottish people spoke; they simply allowed English to be seen as the language of prestige, and offered to help anyone who wanted to better themselves learn how to speak this prestigious, superior language.
English, the ruling language is the most powerful language in the world, the language of commerce and culture.
More than half of the websites on the internet are in English, it is by far the most learned language in the world, is the official language for worldwide maritime and air travel, and is used by a whopping 95 percent of scientific articles-including from countries where it isn’t even a recognized official language.
Pre-email, writing a letter was a time-consuming and formal process, and the dominance of English as a prestige language meant that native Scots speakers would often write letters in English rather than their own language.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How the English Language Is Taking Over the Planet”

Elevating English while denigrating all other languages has been a pillar of English and American nationalism for well over a hundred years.
It’s a strain of linguistic exclusionism heard in Theodore Roosevelt’s 1919 address to the American Defense Society, in which he proclaimed that “We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boardinghouse”.
There is only one: English, which De Swaan calls “The hypercentral language that holds the entire world language system together”.
What a work is English, how copious in its vocabulary, how noble in expression, how sinuous in its constructions, and yet how plain in its basic principles.
Here is the memoirist Eva Hoffman on the experience of learning English in Vancouver while simultaneously feeling cut off from the Polish she had grown up speaking as a teenager in Krak√≥w: “This radical disjointing between word and thing is a desiccating alchemy, draining the world not only of significance but of its colours, striations, nuances – its very existence. It is the loss of a living connection.” The Chinese writer Xiaolu Guo described something similar in her recent memoir, writing about how uncomfortable she felt, at first, with the way the English language encouraged speakers to use the first-person singular, rather than plural.
In his landmark 1986 book Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature, he describes the corrosive effect of English language instruction, comparing it to a form of “Spiritual subjugation”.
As he said in a recent interview: “If I meet an English person, and he says, ‘I write in English,’ I don’t ask him, ‘Why are you writing in English?’ If I meet a French writer, I don’t ask him, ‘Why don’t you write in Vietnamese?’ But I am asked over and over again, ‘Why do you write in Gikuyu?’ For Africans, the view is there is something wrong about writing in an African language.”
The hegemony of English is now such that, in order to be recognised, any opposition to English has to formulated in English in order to be heard.

The orginal article.

Summary of “20 Slang Terms From World War I”

One of the subtlest and most surprising legacies of the First World War-which the United States entered more than 100 years ago, when the country declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917-is its effect on our language.
Not all of these words and phrases have remained in use to this day, but here are 20 words and phrases that are rooted in First World War slang.
Booby-TrapBooby-trap had been in use since the mid-19th century to refer to a fairly harmless prank or practical joke when it was taken up by troops during the First World War to describe an explosive device deliberately disguised as a harmless object.
During the First World War the term came to be used as a nickname for shrapnel or shell-fire.13.
Shell-Shock Although the adjective shell-shocked has been traced back as far as 1898, the first true cases of shell-shock emerged during the First World War.
Spike-BozzledSpike was used during the First World War to mean “To render a gun unusable.” Spike-bozzled, or spike-boozled, came to mean “Completely destroyed,” and was usually used to describe airships and other aircraft rather than weaponry.
Strafe One of the German propagandists’ most famous World War I slogans was “Gott Strafe England!” or “God punish England,” which was printed everywhere in Germany from newspaper advertisements to postage stamps.
ZigzagZigzag has been used in English since the 18th century to describe an angular, meandering line or course but during the First World War came to be used as a euphemism for drunkenness, presumably referring to the zigzagging walk of a soldier who had had one too many.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Language Shapes Our Perception of Reality”

Does an English speaker perceive reality differently from say, a Swahili speaker? Does language shape our thoughts and change the way we think? Maybe.
Some studies say that people don’t actually see color unless there is a word for it, but other studies have found that speakers of the Dani language can see the difference between yellow and red despite only having one word for them.
Because of the vocabulary, English speakers might organize things left to right, whereas a speaker of Guugu Yimithirr might orient them in a mirrored position.
The Hopi language doesn’t require past or present tense, but has validity markers, which requires speakers to think about how they came to know a piece of information.
One study conducted by Stanford researchers found that Spanish and Japanese speakers didn’t remember who is to blame for accidental events as much as those who speak English do.
English speakers get to the point in speech quicker than say, a Chinese speaker would, says Birner.
Tsedal Neeley, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, studied the company for five consecutive years after the mandate and discovered that employees who weren’t native Japanese speakers or English speakers proved to be the most effective workers in the end, even though they had it the roughest in the beginning.
If we believe that language shapes how we think, will learning a new language change the way you think? Probably not, says Birner, but if the newly acquired language is very different than the one you already speak, it might reveal a new way of looking at another culture.

The orginal article.

Summary of “38 Americanisms the British Can’t Bloody Stand”

We may now think of the “Stiff upper lip”-showing fortitude in the face of adversity and self-restraint in place of quivering-upper-lip emotion-as a quintessentially British attribute, but the phrase originated in America in 1815 and became popular thanks to the success of a poem by the American women’s rights activist Phoebe Cary, which featured the lines “And though hard be the task, / Keep a stiff upper lip.”
The reliable, talented, and influential British journalist Matthew Engel, author of the tremendous That’s the Way It Crumbles: The American Conquest of the English Language, is the acknowledged authority on Americanisms that have successfully invaded British English.
The list of them is lengthy-and, as Matthew points out, includes “Lengthy,” as well as “Reliable,” “Talented,” “Influential,” and “Tremendous”: “All of these words we use without a second thought were not normally part of the English language until the establishment of the United States. The Americans imported English wholesale, forged it to meet their own needs, then exported their own words back across the Atlantic to be incorporated in the way we speak over here. Those seemingly innocuous words caused fury at the time. The poet Coleridge denounced”talented” as a barbarous word in 1832, though a few years later it was being used by William Gladstone.
Some modern American imports Matthew can’t stand- among them “Faze”, “Hospitalize,” “Elevator,” “Rookies”, and “Guy,” “Less and less the centerpiece of the ancient British festival of 5 November -or, as it will soon be known, 11/5. Now someone of either gender.” However, sometimes, he concedes, American phrases can have “Vigor and vivacity”: “A relative of mine told me recently he went to a business meeting chaired by a California woman who wanted everyone to speak frankly. It was ‘open kimono.'”.
Here are just 38 of the Americanisms it seems the British public really can’t stand.
The phrase I’ve watched seep into the language is “Two-time” and “Three-time.” Have the words double, triple, etc.
Using “Alternate” for “Alternative” deprives us of a word.
“Reach out to” when the correct word is “Ask.” For example: “I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient.” Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can’t we just ask him?

The orginal article.

Summary of “Towards Chinatown”

Two days after I learn that my mother has cancer, after my sister tearfully tells me over the phone, “This might be mom’s last Christmas,” I go to San Francisco Chinatown.
At home, my mother sings Cantonese songs from her childhood to me.
In Chinatown, my mother got her hair cut by a woman called Pony.
In the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fire, Chinatown merchants hired white architects to rebuild their buildings with pagodas, dragon motifs, and eaves curling skyward, a stage-set Chinatown to attract tourists and to protect the neighborhood against city leaders who had planned to seize its land.
I don’t know that in a Chinatown alley stands a modest building with my mother’s family name on it, home to our family association.
Am I imagining the yearning of my mother, left behind by her parents as a child as they headed towards America one by one? She was raised by a grandmother in a one-room apartment shared with an uncle who smoked indoors.
What do you pack when your mother has cancer and you don’t know how long you’ll stay? An acquaintance suggests sweats, but I only pack one pair.
I’m surprised – at how I mourn the loss of my mother tongue, but my mother does not.

The orginal article.

Summary of “15 Obscure Words for Everyday Feelings and Emotions”

When it comes to describing hard-to-describe feelings and emotions, much is made of the English language’s shortcomings: We either have to turn to foreign languages to describe situations like coming up with a perfect comeback when the moment has passed, or else use resources like the brilliant, but sadly entirely fictitious, Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows or Meaning of Liff.
So vast is the English language that words for feelings and emotions, and to describe the human condition, have actually found their way into the dictionary.
Here are 15 more obscure English words to describe feelings that are otherwise indescribable.
Croochie-Proochles The superb Scots dialect word croochie-proochles means the feeling of discomfort or fidgetiness that comes from sitting in a cramped position.
That’s nikhedonia-the feeling of excitement or elation that comes from anticipating success.
AlysmAlysm is the feeling of restlessness or frustrated boredom that comes from being unwell.
Misslieness The Scots dialect word misslieness means “The feeling of solitariness that comes from missing something or someone you love.”
Euneirophrenia is the feeling of contentment that comes from waking up from a pleasant dream, while malneirophrenia is the feeling of unease or unhappiness that comes from waking up from a nightmare.

The orginal article.

Summary of “15 Obscure Words for Everyday Feelings and Emotions”

When it comes to describing hard-to-describe feelings and emotions, much is made of the English language’s shortcomings: We either have to turn to foreign languages to describe situations like coming up with a perfect comeback when the moment has passed, or else use resources like the brilliant, but sadly entirely fictitious, Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows or Meaning of Liff.
So vast is the English language that words for feelings and emotions, and to describe the human condition, have actually found their way into the dictionary.
Here are 15 more obscure English words to describe feelings that are otherwise indescribable.
Croochie-Proochles The superb Scots dialect word croochie-proochles means the feeling of discomfort or fidgetiness that comes from sitting in a cramped position.
That’s nikhedonia-the feeling of excitement or elation that comes from anticipating success.
AlysmAlysm is the feeling of restlessness or frustrated boredom that comes from being unwell.
Misslieness The Scots dialect word misslieness means “The feeling of solitariness that comes from missing something or someone you love.”
Euneirophrenia is the feeling of contentment that comes from waking up from a pleasant dream, while malneirophrenia is the feeling of unease or unhappiness that comes from waking up from a nightmare.

The orginal article.