Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Almost Halfway There...

Well, we're almost halfway through the semester... I think. And things are crazy. In fact, I really don't have time to post anything interesting. I need to get some homework done before the mad rush of ESL students starts up again. I am seeing so many students that by the end of the week I can no longer speak English. I actually spent five minutes last weekend trying to figure out if I needed to use an article (a) before a word or not. (I finally decided that, based on meaning, the word needed an article). Sheesh.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Recipe for "A Nice Cup of Tea"

"borrowed" from wikibooks.com

A nice cup of tea is the usual answer in Britain and Ireland to any everyday problem. Nothing is so bad that a nice cup of tea with a friend or family member can't make it better.

Here's a traditionalist view on how to make it, which shares much with an essay of the same name by George Orwell.

Use freshly drawn water and bring it to a boil in a kettle. Meanwhile, prepare your teapot. It's prefered to use an earthenware pot, while others use stainless steel. The pot should be warmed: add some hot water and let the warmth pervade the pot. Drain off the hot water, then add the tea. Whatever tea you use (and for proper emotional rescue you should use a strong Indian or Kenyan-based blend), do not use teabags. You need to let the tealeaves swim free and with teabags there will inevitably be a papery tinge to the taste.

Measure tea according to the size of the teapot and the strength of tea you prefer. (Some advice says use one spoon per person and "one for the pot". This is obviously nonsense.) In a large teapot (serving four cups), two teaspoons will give a fairly weak tea, perhaps enough to console one for a lost umbrella on a rainy day, and four should be strong enough for being stood up on a Friday night. A broken heart may need six. Add the water as soon as it boils, and leave it to stand for five minutes before serving. Use a mug if you must, but a cup and saucer are far more civilised.

Traditionally you should add full-cream milk, but semi-skimmed will do. If you are familiar with the strength of tea you make and the size of the cups, you can follow the 'milk in first' technique. Otherwise, add milk to the tea, to ensure you get the right colour. Add sugar according to taste and the extent of the emotional crisis you are trying to overcome.

Serve with a biscuit or two, and prepare to feel much better.

English Pronunciation Test

English pronunciation test

While most of you non-native speakers of English speak English quite well, there is always room for improvement (of course, the same could be said for every person for any subject, but that is another matter). To that end, I'd like to offer you a poem. Once you've learned to correctly pronounce every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

If you find it tough going, do not despair, you are not alone: Multi-national personnel at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters near Paris found English to be an easy language ... until they tried to pronounce it. To help them discard an array of accents, the verses below were devised. After trying them, a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months at hard labor to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.

English is tough stuff
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.So shall I!
Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,S
cript, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

(Apparently excerpted from The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Shake me up, Judy!

If anyone has been watching Bleak House, then you will be familiar with the ever-so-catchy new phrase: "Shake me up, Judy!"

Copied from http://www.wildbard.com/2005/12/shake-me-up-judy.html:
the astonishingly vile Mr Smallweed (magnificently played by Phil Davis) did not come to a grisly end as do most of Dickens' malefactors: a lonely painful diseased death, suicide or the gallows being the usual desserts for such characters. Still, his entry into every scene, borne on a chair carried by two long suffering, regularly beaten porters and accompanied by his hard-faced grasping daughter Judy resulted in a phrase which should come into every day use.
'Shake me up, Judy.'

Really, you have to see it to understand. I wonder if the phrase exists in the original Dickens or if a screenwriter was inspired by late-night viewings of Arrested Development (remember the bullet? "Shoot me!" And he contributed a "shake me" if memory serves me.)

So this goes in with my list of very awesome lines. SOme other are:

"It was arson. Someone arsin' about." (Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Warerabbit)

"Steve Holt!" (Arrested Development)

"We're not bad people, Mac... just underachievers who have to make up for lost time. " (Scotland, PA)

And the classic "That rug really tied the room together." (Do I really need to tell you?)

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I have to design a "Global Book Club" for one of my classes this semester, and I figured that, because I have such an intelligent and well-read group of friends, I'd ask you guys for suggestions. I have to pick two books from each of the following regions (that is, the author must come from and write about the region):

North America
Central America
South America
Pacific Islands
Islands of the Atlantic Ocean
Islands of the Indian Ocean
Western Europe
Eastern Europe & Russia
Middle East

Because the main focus is reading, I can also use movies which have sub-titles in English. I can also use comic books/graphic novels. My overall theme for my selections is the individual's relationship with his or her government OR worlds in change. So, for example, one of my possible selections for the Middle East region will be Persepholis, written by a woman who grew up during the revolution. Another one of my possible selections is a murder mystery set in China in the early 1990s.

So, any suggestions?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Postal Kitty

This is Mom's going-to-go-postal-any-day-now kitty (who is named Romeo). I feel that this picture captures him pretty well.