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On the Vagaries of American English Johanna E. Katchen (柯安娜) National Tsing Hua University On the Vagaries of American English Johanna E. Katchen (柯安娜) National Tsing Hua University (國立清華大學外語系) [email protected] nthu. edu. tw http: //mx. nthu. edu. tw/~katchen/ November 22, 2007 Seminar and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP

The Teacher’s Role We teach General American English, but we cannot teach everything • The Teacher’s Role We teach General American English, but we cannot teach everything • We teach grammar but speakers sometimes speak ungrammatically • New vocabulary comes into a language every day • Best we can do is teach strategies for coping • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

New Concepts, New Words English has more than three times as many words as New Concepts, New Words English has more than three times as many words as most other languages • Synonyms for many shades of meaning • Prostitute is a general term for the occupation. What about call girl (high class, expensive), hooker (Neg. low class, solicits publicly or in red light district), whore (Neg. sex with many, maybe for money) • Male prostitute, gigolo for males • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Sources of Vocabulary Our most common words are from Germanic: family members, numbers, body Sources of Vocabulary Our most common words are from Germanic: family members, numbers, body parts, ordinary nouns (e. g. , door, water) and verbs (e. g. , eat, drink, sleep) • The grammar of English is also Germanic • Almost all functions words (pronouns, auxiliaries, conjunctions, adverbs) are Germanic • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

English has borrowed from the Scandinavian languages (the Viking Age) common words like window, English has borrowed from the Scandinavian languages (the Viking Age) common words like window, sky, skin, anger, take, give • As a result of the Norman Conquest, English borrowed from French words from many fields, from law (e. g. , arson, adultery, coroner) through fashion (e. g. , blue, sapphire, veil) • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Blame the French for giving us totally different words for the meat on the Blame the French for giving us totally different words for the meat on the table compared with the live animal, e. g. , Germanic cow, swine, sheep, deer but from French beef, pork, mutton, venison • Baugh and Cable claim that as many as 10, 000 words entered English between 1066 and 1500, and about threequarters of the words remain. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

English has used Latin as a source al through its history, especially for more English has used Latin as a source al through its history, especially for more abstract terms. • Greek has been the basis for much scientific terminology (e. g. , pneumonia, thermometer). • Other words from all over the world have become English words, among them in recent decades: apartheid (Afrikaans, South Africa) and tsunami (Japanese). • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

When explorers going to new lands found new plants and animals and geographical features When explorers going to new lands found new plants and animals and geographical features • Often they took the word the local people used and changed it to fit their own language, e. g. , guava, banana, kangaroo. • New cultural artifacts, such as American Indian wigwam, papoose. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

The Christianization of England brought in hundreds of words from Latin, both for concrete The Christianization of England brought in hundreds of words from Latin, both for concrete (e. g. , candle, chalice) and abstract (e. g. , creed) nouns and verbs such as pray • Also the formation of new words on native Germanic roots (e. g. , gospel, Easter, Holy Ghost). • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

During the Renaissance, English borrowed Italian words for aspects of art, architecture and music. During the Renaissance, English borrowed Italian words for aspects of art, architecture and music. • More recently, wars and conflict have caused English to borrow words (e. g. , burqa/burkha, an outer garment worn by Muslim women to cover the body completely) or make new words from native sources, (e. g. , ethnic cleansing). • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Peaks of technology contribute to growth of vocabulary, current computer and digital age, e. Peaks of technology contribute to growth of vocabulary, current computer and digital age, e. g. , digit has been around for some time, but digital has just come into general use in the past few years with digital cameras • New words: wi-fi, sim card, You. Tube • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

When new names are created, ordinary spaces between words may be eliminated: Power. Point, When new names are created, ordinary spaces between words may be eliminated: Power. Point, Front. Page, You. Tube. • Change the category of a word: the company Google, now the verb to google, meaning to use Google to search for a person or thing. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Additional Meanings Words like cell and mobile have been in English with other meanings Additional Meanings Words like cell and mobile have been in English with other meanings (e. g. , skin cell, prison cell, upwardly mobile) for a long time, but now they also refer to phones. • Words like windows and mouse have become more common in their computer contexts than in their household contexts. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

An Example of Additional Meanings • You have just arrived in the USA and An Example of Additional Meanings • You have just arrived in the USA and are having a great time with your host family. The mother asks you to stop off on your way home to pick up two pounds of hamburger. Where would you go to complete this errand? Would you go to Mc. Donalds or to a supermarket? November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

To many people hamburgers are sandwiches—meat with bread • To many housewives hamburgers mean To many people hamburgers are sandwiches—meat with bread • To many housewives hamburgers mean just the cooked meat patties, and this is why supermarkets also sell hamburger buns—the bread that goes around a hamburger. • Hamburger as a mass noun, as in two pounds of hamburger, refers to ground beef (in some varieties minced beef) • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

We usually tell students that dry and wet are antonyms • What about dry We usually tell students that dry and wet are antonyms • What about dry wine, dry toast, dry wit, and the idiom cut and dried? • One can have instead (as antonyms) sweet wine and buttered toast • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

A synonym for dry wit might be sardonic wit • Cut and dried may A synonym for dry wit might be sardonic wit • Cut and dried may have described a stage in tobacco production (opposite of wet), but the total idiom means decided beforehand • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Jargon All languages have jargon specific to certain contexts. • English teachers talk about Jargon All languages have jargon specific to certain contexts. • English teachers talk about communicative competence, task-based instruction, the affective filter, i + 1 • Most of us are not familiar with specialized vocabulary outside our own professions and interests even in our first language, • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

We might pick up jargon of other fields through spouses and friends—or editing scientific We might pick up jargon of other fields through spouses and friends—or editing scientific English and teaching ESP. • We expand our vocabulary into these fields when we need it, and even just a basic foundation in a language allows us to add and use new vocabulary. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Examples of Jargon— Household Items • • • Do you know all these English Examples of Jargon— Household Items • • • Do you know all these English words? Screwdriver Wrench Pliers Plunger Wheelbarrow November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

What’s the difference between dough and batter? • What’s the difference between a spice What’s the difference between dough and batter? • What’s the difference between a spice and an herb? • When might you need to use a snake (it’s not the animal)? • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Match the words with the food with which they are most usually associated. Colander Match the words with the food with which they are most usually associated. Colander • Strainer • Spatula • • Wisk • Sifter November 22, 2007 and Workshop a. cake batter b. noodles c. adding flour to dough or batter d. adding flour or corn starch to hot liquid or beating eggs e. lemons or oranges to make juice 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Kitchen Utensils November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar Kitchen Utensils November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

How do we learn these words in L 1? Boys learn from fathers, girls How do we learn these words in L 1? Boys learn from fathers, girls from mothers. • We learn these words in the old apprentice way—we watch and observe. • Eventually, we may be given some simple task and, if we show promise and have interest, we may become masters. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

How do we learn these words in L 2? If one goes to France How do we learn these words in L 2? If one goes to France to study cooking, one works in the kitchen and hears the French of the kitchen. • Talk and interact with L 2 speakers, cook together, talk about motorcycles, etc. • For the rest of us, specialized ELT dictionaries, often with pictures. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Acronyms Do you have ESP? To most Americans this means extra sensory perception, the Acronyms Do you have ESP? To most Americans this means extra sensory perception, the ability to see or sense what is unseen to most people. • It is our acronym jargon that has ELT, ESL, EFL, EAP, GEPT, TOEIC and organizations like ETA, PALT, MELTA, FEELTA • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

The English language is full of acronyms, with more coming in every day. • The English language is full of acronyms, with more coming in every day. • In Taiwan even those with minimal English know USA, IBM, MIT, and TSMC. • If they have an interest in politics or business, they may belong to the KMT or DPP and have discussions on the WTO, UN, and WHO, and may even aspire to become a CEO and own a BMW. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

If they have cable TV, Papa may watch an NBA game on ESPN, followed If they have cable TV, Papa may watch an NBA game on ESPN, followed by the news on CNN • Junior watches CSI on AXN and then MTV • Mama likes to watch movies on HBO • If all that is boring, they can watch a DVD. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Computer users worry about the cost of ADSL and whether they have enough CPU. Computer users worry about the cost of ADSL and whether they have enough CPU. • Teachers worry about the latest decision of the MOE while their students have sleepless nights over the TOEFL. • What is a CD? If you listen to music, it is a compact disk, but if you are an investor, it is a certificate of deposit. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Acronym Jargon As with jargon, each profession or area of interest has its acronyms. Acronym Jargon As with jargon, each profession or area of interest has its acronyms. • We may know IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) • Many of the general guidelines it follows were formulated by IRPA (the International Radiation Protection Association) • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Most of us are not familiar with the acronym IRPA or other from the Most of us are not familiar with the acronym IRPA or other from the field • When new nuclear facilities are built, in order to minimize the potential danger to the public, they calculate radiation dose rates following the ALARA principle (as low as reasonably achievable). • As with other jargon, we learn it when we need it. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Words from Immigrant Groups— Food Words What kind of cheese goes on pizza? • Words from Immigrant Groups— Food Words What kind of cheese goes on pizza? • What kind goes on pasta dishes (spaghetti)? • What’s the difference among these kinds of pasta: spaghetti, fettucini, macaroni, penne, and rotini? • You go to the market or a restaurant, see something new, try it and find out. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Italian food has been popular in the USA, so many food terms are used, Italian food has been popular in the USA, so many food terms are used, such as words for many kinds of cheeses, pasta, salami—and coffee. • Thanks to the marketing of Starbucks and their competitors, terms like expresso, capucchino, and latte have spread around the world. And we all know pizza and lasagne. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Often food words are also regional. • For example, in the US South one Often food words are also regional. • For example, in the US South one is more likely to find various sorts of Mexican food on offer, as well as more Spanish words for all sorts of things. • The greater the number of people who speak a language in a region, the more likely their words will come into more general use. • Mexican restaurants (many not all that authentic) can be found all over the US, and virtually all Americans know what burritos, tacos, nachos, and enchiladas are. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

In Pennsylvania nearly everyone is familiar with halupkies (ground beef/pork with rice and spices In Pennsylvania nearly everyone is familiar with halupkies (ground beef/pork with rice and spices wrapped in cabbage leaves and steamed in tomato sauce) • We also know pierogies (similar to Chinese dumplings but filled most often with mashed potatoes or grated cabbage and then heated with butter and fried onions) • We even have pierogi/pirohy sales at the local church on Fridays. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

In other regions of the USA as well as in other parts of the In other regions of the USA as well as in other parts of the world, one would find different combinations of foods, both indigenous and from immigrant groups. • You might find sushi, tiramisu, tofu, moussaka, baklava, feta, hommus, tabbouli, kolbasa, knockwurst, sauerkraut, jambalaya • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Levels of Formality All languages can express ranges of formality. • In Chinese, saying去洗手間is Levels of Formality All languages can express ranges of formality. • In Chinese, saying去洗手間is more polite that saying 上廁所. • English has a rest room where one doesn’t rest, a bathroom where one does not always take a bath, and the more direct but slightly less polite toilet, which can also refer to the fixture itself. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

There additional terms appropriate for medical usage; to the doctor or in polite company There additional terms appropriate for medical usage; to the doctor or in polite company one talks about a bowel movement • The toddler makes poo or kaka; in primary school the process may be called Number Two • The working class man takes a shit • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Taboo and Euphemism All languages have their taboo words. • For English one must Taboo and Euphemism All languages have their taboo words. • For English one must be careful with words for sexual activities, toilet activities, and aspects of religion. • The most vulgar words in the language, those used for cursing, or swearing oaths in the case of religion, come from these three areas. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Death is another area which, though not actually being taboo, often requires politeness to Death is another area which, though not actually being taboo, often requires politeness to grieving relatives. • Ordinarily, we might mention that someone died, but in newspaper obituaries we read that Mrs. Smith passed away and is referred to as the deceased. • Instead of bury, we may read laid to rest. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Coffin, a simple box, is replaced by casket, a more elegant and more expensive Coffin, a simple box, is replaced by casket, a more elegant and more expensive box. • Perhaps in order to mock death, people have made up all sorts of idioms for to die (e. g. , kick the bucket, bite the dust) or be dead (e. g. , pushing up daisies, six feet under). • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Idiomatic Expressions Idiomatic expressions have more uses than just euphemism. • Some may be Idiomatic Expressions Idiomatic expressions have more uses than just euphemism. • Some may be proverbs or famous quotations: Let sleeping dogs lie; A fool and his money are soon parted. • There are so many possibilities and so many books explaining idioms already written. • These expressions are also among the most creative and amusing aspects of a language. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Example: describing someone not very intelligent At the beginning of the first Shrek movie, Example: describing someone not very intelligent At the beginning of the first Shrek movie, there is a song, and within the song we hear ain’t the brightest light on the Christmas tree, ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. • Both bright and sharp can mean intelligent, and the idioms work on the double meanings. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Other idioms refer to something lacking: two sandwiches short of a picnic; nobody home Other idioms refer to something lacking: two sandwiches short of a picnic; nobody home upstairs • A crazy person might be described as nuts, not all there, got a screw loose. • Someone who is drunk might be described thus: he’s three sheets to the wind, he tied one on, he got a snoot full. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Variation in Pronunciation Taiwan students have difficulty understanding spoken English because they learn how Variation in Pronunciation Taiwan students have difficulty understanding spoken English because they learn how to pronounce individual words • They have little practice listening to how ordinary people—not the careful speakers making ELT materials—elide their speech in ordinary conversation. • Elision often happens with auxiliary words, which are often contracted even in more careful speech. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

dincha ‘didn't you’ Dincha ever hear that one before? • hafta ‘have to’ I dincha ‘didn't you’ Dincha ever hear that one before? • hafta ‘have to’ I hafta get up town ta play da number before 7 o'clock! • gonna ‘going to’ You’re gonna get it! • We also hear amina ‘I am going to’; kupula ‘a couple of’; and even some more idiosyncratic elisions like gradz ‘garage’. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Many speakers of English who use nonstandard varieties may not pronounce “th” but instead Many speakers of English who use nonstandard varieties may not pronounce “th” but instead use “t” and “d” and in I tink so, dis an’ dat. • Final consonants or consonant clusters may be eliminated or reduced, fast becoming fas’. • Regional accents can, of course, cause difficulties, especially if the person’s accent is rather strong. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Most educated speakers switch their regional accent to something closer to Standard English when Most educated speakers switch their regional accent to something closer to Standard English when speaking to people from outside their region or when speaking in contexts where their regional accent would be less appropriate. • Our students are more likely to encounter speakers who speak in a more standard way • An exchange student may hear more Standard English from his teachers but hear something incomprehensible from cafeteria staff. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Stress and intonation can also contribute to comprehension problems. • In the American South Stress and intonation can also contribute to comprehension problems. • In the American South the stress on the word police may be put on the first syllable. • We are taught that the tone of a declarative sentence should drop at the end, and yet the feature of rising intonation continues to spread. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

In some areas, pitch range is narrower, giving an almost monotone effect, while in In some areas, pitch range is narrower, giving an almost monotone effect, while in other areas pitch range is broader and sounds more musical. • Example from Eastern Pennsylvania • Notice the non-standard pronunciation, intonation, acronyms, idiomatic expressions, etc. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Non-standard Grammar While we so not want to teach students to use nonstandard grammar, Non-standard Grammar While we so not want to teach students to use nonstandard grammar, they will encounter it and should recognize it. • Some common nonstandard features include the use of the participial form for the past tense: I seen it; He done it • The use of double negatives: I don’t want none. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

 • • • What is the plural form of you? a. You b. • • • What is the plural form of you? a. You b. Yuns c. Youz d. Y’all e. You lot November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Not all use of nonstandard grammar is a mistake of a mark of an Not all use of nonstandard grammar is a mistake of a mark of an uneducated speaker. • A wise salesman speaks like his customers, like “one of us”. • Standard language is not always appropriate when one is with classmates or family. • November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

 • However, if one speaks only a nonstandard variety, he may have trouble • However, if one speaks only a nonstandard variety, he may have trouble communicating outside his groups of nonstandard speakers November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar

Language Learning is Messy! • • • Lots of vocabulary from historical and cultural Language Learning is Messy! • • • Lots of vocabulary from historical and cultural sources. Lots of variation in vocabulary usage, multiple meanings of words and phrases Use of nonstandard forms It is not possible to teach everything Students will have to learn on their own to fulfill their needs November 22, 2007 and Workshop 2007 Hsing-Wu ESP Seminar