Various

Language tip 16 (2014-15)

Using expressions from other languages is risky and fine and replete with an “I don’t know what.”

A well-placed French or Latin or Slovenian expression can contribute to the impression of a well-educated writer.

However, there are other dangers.

First, you might sound pretentious (like you’re lording your knowledge of Ancient Greek over your reader).

Second, you might sound hackneyed. Phrases such as carpe diem, je ne sais quoi and crème de la crème are overused to the point of cliché.

Third, italics. When to use them? According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “Italics are used for isolated words and phrases in a foreign language if they are likely to be unfamiliar to readers.”

Fourth, it can be obvious that we simply can’t think of an English word…

Fifth, you need to be careful to write the word correctly, including accents. “garcon” [sic] is best avoided if you can’t find the cedilla on your keyboard.

Sixth, plurals can get messy. For example, if you order a “panini” (rather than a “panino”), you will not go hungry. If you speak of “tempos” after going to the opera, the chattering classes might wrinkle their collective noses. When it doubt, check the dictionary!

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Various

Language Tip 15 (2014-15)

Patterns with consider…

The verb “consider” is normally transitive, but the usage depends on the meaning:

1) “He considers me stupid” means “He thinks that I am stupid.”
2) “Please consider me as a partner” means “Please think about making me a partner.”

As you can see, mixing up the two can easily result in misunderstandings.

In terms of non-finite complementation, the usual pattern would be to say something is considered (i.e. believed) to have a healing effect (“…but you might consider having another child, for instance”).

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Various

Language Tip 14 (2014-15)

The best of … construction: It’s perfectly ok to say “under the best circumstances” or “under the best conditions,” but this is not the best possible way of expressing this idea.

In these particular cases, you can up the level a bit by using an of-phrase: under the (very) best of circumstances.

The challenge, of course, is how to think of such catchy phrases; one possible and surprisingly productive way of doing that is googling e.g. “under the best”.

Three examples

“We were working under the best of conditions.”

“We parted under the best of terms.”

“I studied under the best of tutors.”

(N.B. the overwhelming majority of hits will be for “the best of conditions” or “the best of circumstances”)

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

ELOPE

Language Tip 13 (2014-15)

Media as a plural noun – Originally, the Latin singular used in English is “medium,” and the plural is “media.”

Nowadays common usage prefers “media” as a singular noun, although it is still recommended to use it as a plural noun in educated written style. After all, your work may be graded by a stickler, so don’t take a chance.

One of us predicts that “the media are” will soon die out (even in academic circles), at least if these searches mean anything:

“social media are” – c. 1 million hits
“social media is” – c. 27 million hits

In any case, the form “medias” is not normally used by normal people.

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Tips

Language Tip 12 (2014-15)

Holidays are a linguistic pain. This is because so much time passes between Good Fridays and All Hallows’ Eves and Victoria Days for you to forget what you said and spelled last time.

The Chicago Manual or Style says, “The names of secular and religious holidays or officially designated days or seasons are capitalized,” and provides a few examples – Christmas Day, Hanukkah, etc.

One problem solved. But that’s only part of the story.

Apostrophes are a problem. Remember, it’s New Year’s Eve, followed by New Year’s Day (see 6).

Other tips (use them at your own peril):
1) In the UK, say, “Happy Christmas.” In North America, say, “Merry Christmas.” Elsewhere, mumble. (Actually, this is a dodgy rule of thumb: the British National Corpus has 78 hits for “Happy Christmas” and 68 for “Merry Christmas” – and the latter may be gaining ground).

2) “Christmass” (sic) is a howler.

3) If in doubt about religion, etc., belt out “Happy Holidays!”

4) If you don’t really like the greetee, say “Season’s Greetings.” It’s the “have a nice day” of the Christmas season.

5) If you are very, very old, speak of “Yuletide.”

6) “Boxing Day” is the day after Christmas. Nobody knows what it is, but because it’s a day off in many countries, nobody complains.

7) “Happy New Year!” is the correct pre-snog (i.e. pre-midnight-kiss) greeting.
But if you slur “Happy New Year’s” and someone nit-picks, just argue that you meant it elliptically (i.e. short for “Happy New Year’s EVE”).
“Happy New Years” is wrong, unless you are wishing for future years as well.

8) You do not have to shake hands when you wish somebody “Happy New Year.” In fact, if they don’t know you well, they might find you weird. Oh, and that mistletoe stuff only happens in movies.

9) Sylvester is a Puddy Tat in English.

10) James Joyce’s “The Dead” never actually mentions that the aunts’ party is on the “Feast of the Epiphany” (January 6). This was news to one of us.

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Tips

Language Tip 11 (2014-15)

Do not start sentences with “This + verb” (e.g. “This is a massive generalization…” “This sounds glib…”; “This runs counter to…”; “This is troublesome…”).

This tip is a massive generalization. This advice sounds glib, but it’s an easy way to make sure that the reader knows what “this” refers to.

Follow “This” with a full noun.

“While we were watching The Muppet Show, Barry burst into the room and showed us his new sombrero. This was distracting.”

What does “This” refer to?
a) bursting into the room?
b) the sombrero?

Solutions:
a) “This intrusion/interruption/bothersome burst was distracting.”
b) “This sombrero/hat was distracting.”

This is easy to fix – sorry! This ERROR/POTENTIALLY AMBIGUOUS STRUCTURE is easy to fix. Just search through your essay for sentences that begin with “This…” and see whether you can add a noun and clarity.

This tip is, of course, not limited to Slovenians writing in English.

Two things to keep in mind:
1) Slovenian and other languages with grammatical gender are clearer in terms of reference
2) Slovenians tend to overuse “that” at the expense of “this” – what’s up with this (sic)?
Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

ELOPE Events

ELOPE Vol. XI – Autumn (Journal Eds. Smiljana Komar and Uroš Mozetič, Volume Ed. Andrej Stopar)

We are proud to announce the new issue of the academic journal ELOPE (English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries).

ELOPE Vol. XI – Autumn (Journal Eds. Smiljana Komar and Uroš Mozetič, Volume Ed. Andrej Stopar) is already available on-line (http://www.sdas.edus.si/vol11-2.html) and includes articles by:

– Dušan Gabrovšek (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts),
– Uroš Martinčič (Slovenia),
– Lidija Štrmelj (University of Zadar),
– Vesna Ukić Košta (University of Zadar),
Lisa Botshon (University of Maine at Augusta),
– Nataša Gajšt (University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business),
– Gabrijela Petra Nagode, Karmen Pizorn, and Mojca Juriševič (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education), and
– Uroš Mozetič (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts).

You are also invited to explore other volumes of ELOPE here: http://www.sdas.edus.si/elope.html.

ELOPE XI - Autumn
ELOPE XI – Autumn
Various

Blagajnik SDAŠ in članarina 2014

Spoštovane članice in spoštovani člani društva SDAŠ,

obveščamo vas, da je blagajniško funkcijo v SDAŠ 12. 12. 2014 prevzela dr. Franja Lipovšek.

Hkrati vam sporočamo, da se je v preteklem tednu začela distribucija jesenske številke revije ELOPE, ki ji je priložena položnica za članarino 2014. Če ste dobili več kot eno položnico, društvu dolgujete še pretekle članarine. Opozorili bi vas radi, da smo se na skupščini društva zaradi stroškov z mednarodno članarino (del vaše članarine, ki ga redno nakazujemo krovni organizaciji ESSE), odločili, da bomo večkratne neplačnike ob naslednjem posodabljanju evidenc izključili iz društva.

Za tiste, ki ste vajeni elektronskega poslovanja, pošiljamo tudi podatke društva, ki jih potrebujete za nakazilo:

– Slovensko društvo za angleške študije, Aškerčeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana
– IBAN SI56 0201 0002 0047 247 (Nova Ljubljanska banka d.d., Ljubljana)
– znesek: €20 za redne člane in €10 za študente in upokojence
– za referenco/sklic lahko uporabite svoj rojstni datum

Če vam članarino plačuje vaš delodajalec in rabite račun, o tem obvestite dr. Franjo Lipovšek (franciska.lipovsek@guest.arnes.si).

Še enkrat vas vabimo k oddaji prispevkov za naslednjo številko revije ELOPE, ki bo tematska: http://sdas.splet.arnes.si/…/call-for-papers-elope-xii-spr…/. Društvenim dogodkom lahko sledite tudi na Facebooku (https://www.facebook.com/sdas.elope) in na društvenem blogu (http://sdas.splet.arnes.si/).

Tips

Language Tip 10 (2014-15)

“bare” vs. “bear”

Both of these words have several meanings, but “bear” is the one that means “to carry”; “bare” is normally used when referring to someone or something devoid of clothes, plants, etc.

A few examples:

Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bare Mountain” (or “Night on Bald Mountain”)

Barenaked Ladies (the rock band that composed the music for “The Big Bang Theory”)

“I can’t bear it!” (I’ve had enough!)

“Bear with me…” (Put up with me…”)

“Grin and bear it” means something very different from “grin and bare it.”

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

Tips

Language Tip 9 (2014-15)

One of us was taught in high school that “like” should not precede an example:

“I saw many fruits like oranges and apples and pears” supposedly meant “I saw many fruits THAT HAD A DISTINCT RESEMBLANCE TO oranges and apples and pears (but I didn’t actually see any oranges and apples and pears.”

“I saw many fruits, SUCH AS oranges and apples and pears” was correct.

Nobody listened to this rule back in high school, and few care about it today – though “such as” sounds slightly more formal and some style guides still do not admit “like” in place of “such as.”

Slovenian students often ignore “such as” altogether and instead write “like” all the time, which is, like, annoying.
Next time you write an essay, search through for “like” and see if you can use “such as” to add some variety.

 

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir