Thursday, 15 November 2012

Words in Advertising

Advertising language Often, the words of an advertising slogan can be confusing, even for native speakers. Consider this, for instance: It will have your tongue and belly dancing. (McDonalds burger advertisement, seen on the back of a bus ). But what does it mean? Not what I thought it meant! Put a comma in the logical place, and you get “It will have your tongue and belly, dancing” ) yes, that's what it means. But as Belly Dancing is a particular type of dancing, when I first saw it, I was very confused. I did not realise that 'dancing' as used in this slogan, is actually a verb, and not an adjectival noun! “'We make the people who make it “ (UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland) What does this mean? I had a student ask me about this some time ago, and it's a good question! It uses the verb 'make' in two senses – the literal, and the idiomatic. We make (or form, teach and develop) students who achieve things. This is what their advertising agency said about the spot. “The campaign, created by Special Group with media strategy from Naked Communications, focuses on 'heroing' the Unitec graduates who helped build Auckland into the city it is today. The TVC, with a distinctly urban feel, shot by director Andy Morton of 8com, (who also directed last year's 'Change Starts Here' documentary campaign for Unitec)marks the cornerstone of the campaign and establishes the feel for a host of other elements that will roll out over the coming months” and “The directive of the campaign is to drive awareness and interest in Unitec's Faculty of Technology and Built Environment with a creative approach which continues to break the tertiary education marketing sector norm. This faculty encompasses courses including the traditional 'trades' such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical engineering, drainlaying, automotive mechanics and boatbuilding as well as civil engineering,construction management, surveying and property development” Here we can see that the verb 'make', makes another appearance – in the literal sense again, because it's about people who make things. What do you think of the noun hero being made into a verb? Does that happen in your language? Is it right, or does it, to use another idiom, 'set your teeth on edge'? There is a story, (one of many), that I believe, sadly, is not true, about General Motors, who had an advertisement for their Chevrolet Nova cars, which was spectacularly unsuccessful in Spanish speaking countries – because of the meaning of Nova, which was thought to be No va. Can you think of any spectacularly unsuccessful advertisements from your own countries?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Serious advice

I want to add some advice about schools in New Zealand where you should (or should not) study. I strongly advise students wanting to come to New Zealand to study to avoid the school now known as Sheffield Canterbury. When it was Sheffield, it was a great school (although a small one), with caring teachers, and a great atmosphere! But unfortunately a new owner has destroyed all of that. Teachers have left, and are leaving, because the new owner has no care or concern for the needs of students, and the new teachers he has employed are very young and inexperienced. However, I am glad to say that I can recommend Taylors College, Whitireia and heaps of others in Auckland. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Irregular Verbs (at last!)

Irregular Verbs
Verbs come in two flavours, regular and irregular. If a verb is regular the past simple and the past
participle end in 'ed' - for example:
Infinitive: Clean finish use paint stop carry
Past simple: Cleaned finished used painted stopped carried
Past participle: Cleaned finished used painted stopped carried
we use the past participle to make the perfect tenses and for all passive forms.
Perfect tenses: (have/has/had cleaned)
I have cleaned the windows (pres perfect.)
They were still working. They hadn't finished. (past perfect).
Passive: (is cleaned/was cleaned etc.)
He was carried out of the room (past simple passive)
This gate has just been painted. (pres perfect passive.)
Irregular verbs.
When the past simple/past part do not end in 'ed', (for example: I saw/I have seen) then the verb is
With some irregular verbs all three forms - infinitive, past simple and past participle are the same - example, hit
With others the past simple is the same as the past participle but different from the infinitive: example, tell/told.
Last, with some others, all three forms are different: example, wake/woke, woken.
Some verbs can be both regular and irregular. There are 8 of them: burn, dream, lean, learn, smell, spell, spill and spoil. They can be stated thus: burn: burned or burnt. In British English, the irregular form is more usual.
Do not be afraid of irregular verbs. There are far fewer of them than you might think, given the enormous number of words in the English language. In fact I have a list, and there are only 116 of them. That means they are easy to learn - at first you will have to consult a reference book, after that, you will find that you have learned them. There are some native speakers who get them wrong, sadly, so reading cannot always be your guide. Also as usual, there are differences
between American English (Am. E) and British English (B.E). An example is lighted/lit. Americans don't use lit as “Daria lit the lamp” but always say lighted. “She lighted the lamp”. If you want to learn British English, and I presume that you do, or you would not be reading my blog, then be aware of what you read. Otherwise, my advice is as usual - read and listen, every chance you get.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Some basics

I made this cheat sheet up, for a recent student who needed some help with the basics, even though she is a native English speaker!
It is likely to be a bit too simple for many of my readers, but it may nevertheless be useful. I hope so!
The first section, the rhyme about parts of speech comes from the book, 'I before e, except after c', a book of mnemonics, by Judy Parkinson.
Parts of speech - a way to remember...

Three little words you often see
Are articles: a, an and the

A noun's the name of anything,
As school or garden, toy or swing.

Adjectives tell the type of noun,
As: great, small, pretty, white or brown.

Verbs tell of something being done,
To read, write, count, sing, jump or run

How things are done, the adverbs tell
As: slowly, quickly, badly, well

Conjunctions join the words together
As: men or women, wind and weather.

The preposition stands before
a noun, as in or through a door.

The interjection shows surprise
As: “Oh how pretty!” “Ah, how wise!”

The whole are called the parts of speech
Which reading, writing, speaking teach.

What is a conjunction?
Conjunctions are words used to join together two independent clauses (parts of a sentence.) This FANBOYS memory hint helps if you want to remember them, the most important of which are 'and', 'or' and 'but':
For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So
Commonly confused words with examples.
Part 1.

A. Aloud/Allowed.
Sarah decided that she would read the poem aloud so that she could hear the rhythm.
No skate-boarding allowed here!
“I can't accept that necklace as a gift! It's lovely but it's too expensive.
No skate-boarding allowed here except between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.
“His loud humming was affecting my ability to concentrate.”
“The sound of the falling rain had a calming effect, nearly putting me to sleep.”
B. Bought/brought.
Leon went to the supermarket today after work, and he bought eggs and butter so that he could make a chocolate cake.
When Sarah went to her sister's house-warming party, she brought a bottle of wine.
When you write an essay you have to cite the books you have used for information.
This is the site where the new offices will be built.
Sarah pays rates to the Auckland City Council.
Mrs Abernathy won the election, and is now a city councillor
When I counsel a student, I give her advice about her exams.
Fiona wanted to work as a therapist, a sex abuse counsellor.
E. Elicit/Illicit
To elicit, means to draw out information from someone. "Nora elicited examples of peoples' revolutions from her history atudents".
Illicit, means something is unlawful. "Mr Dawes was convicted of the illicit use of financial documents, by which he had stolen $60 0000".
F. Few/Less
Few is an adjective that means a small number, and is used about countable things: “This department has few employees”.
Less is used about uncountable objects. “If you eat less butter, and instead put hummus on your sandwiches, you will probably lose weight."
I. It's/its
“It's a shame that we cannot talk about its size”.
It's is short for it is, and its means something that belongs to it!
The storm was very loud and very close, I could tell because the lightning was folllowed almost immediately by a clap of thunder.
After the storm passed, the sky was lightening and I welcomed the sun.

There is of course, a Part 2 of the easily confused words list, as there are so many of these.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Language of Weather

The language of weather.
“Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it”
This is a quote that Americans attribute to Mark Twain, although of course he was not the person who said it and I cannot discover who did. However that is less important than a few other idioms and sayings that English uses about weather.
For instance, right now outside my house, “It's raining cats and dogs”. (Meanwhile any actual cats and dogs who live in the neighbourhood, are inside given half a chance!)
“Nice weather for ducks” people often say, although I am not really sure that real ducks like rain. I have never asked one, (who has?) but they never seem very happy to me.
We have various ways of expressing that we are (or that the weather is) cold, and here are some of them:
“It's brass monkeys out there!” (that expression originated from “it would freeze the balls off a brass monkey”, which may or not actually refer in turn, to a rack used to hold cannonballs on a sailing ship.)
“It's 'colder than a witch's tit”, or simply “it's freezing” show that we say 'it is' to refer to the weather.
What is the 'it' we mean? It's just the climate in which we are at the time. “it” can be sunny, cold, wet or cool.
We say “ the heavens open ” to talk about sudden, heavy rain - and my English cousin used to say “it's raining stair-rods” to say the same thing. There are those “cats and dogs' again!
Then there are the expressions that use different types of weather as metaphors or similes. Some
examples are:
(There is a ) cloud on the horizon - although at the moment, all is well, a problem or difficulty lies ahead and is becoming evident.
Face like thunder - someone with a 'face like thunder' looks extremely angry.
(To) keep one's head above water - means to have just enough money to live.
The lull before the storm - a period of calm before an expected flurry of activity or danger.
Rainy day - If you save something, especially money, for a rainy day, you save it for some possible problem or trouble in the future.
To be under the weather - means that someone is ill.
A storm is brewing - this refers to tensions between people or nations, and the belief of the speaker that something unpleasant is about to happen.
A storm in a teacup - someone is making much more of a situation than is necessary.
Make hay while the sun shines - take advantage of a favourable situation while you can.
I am snowed under - I have too much to do!
Sunny - someone who is sunny, has a very happy and pleasant manner.
(To) weather the storm - to survive a difficult situation.
There's more of course. Please ask about any weather-related idioms you come across, and as
always, add them to your vocabulary notebook.