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  1. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    a method to do something?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ohmyrichard, Mar 23, 2010.

    Hi,everyone.
    Recently I read in a composition book co-compiled by an American, a Briton and a Chinese the following sentence: There are many different methods to keep in good shape, and one must choose those that are most appropriate for their own lifestyle. But when I read this sentence, my first response was that there might be something wrong with the structure of "method to do something". I went to my dictionaries and they tell me that "method" can only be followed by "of or for (doing) something". Then, while I was explaining that composition to my students in the writing session, I changed the sentence to "There are many different methods of keeping in good shape, and one must choose those that are most appropriate for their own lifestyle." But I now still doubt whether what I did about that sentence was really right or not.Can we also say "a method to do something"? Please give me a helping hand.
    Thanks.
    Richard
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    your correction is correct grammar, richard, though a bit awkward... i'm apalled that a book on composition would contain such an obvious error...

    had the original read 'ways' instead of 'methods' it would have been correct and more simple/clear...
     
  3. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    You mean that "ways to keep in good shape" is the best version, do you?
    And in what sense is "methods of keeping in good shape" awkward? I find it hard to figure out the nuance. Oftentimes I do a lot of "creative" work in expressing myself in English, as I do not know what is the way native speakers express the same idea and may not have time to ask about it.
    Thanks.
     
  4. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    A personal opinion only: for both 'methods' and 'ways' the follow on should be 'of keeping' (the participle) rather than 'to keep' (the verb).

    but

    The other issue creeping in, is the question of when recording spoken words, should we write the dialogue as is actually spoken or as is technically correct according to the rules of grammar.

    Whenever we write, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we are composing for the eye to read, the voice to speak or even the eyes to visualize. When we are writing for a child we should express ourselves in simple language.

    I realize that I personally do not consistently speak with a grammatically correct choice of words. Why should I attempt to write according to the strict rules of prose? If I am writing to amuse the reader then surely the choice of my words should be dominated by the overall readability rather than the grammatical correctness.

    Barry G
     
  5. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Would you please tell me whether you are a native speaker of English? To tell you the truth, in my opinion, your view, if you are a nonnative, may be seen as an excuse for being unwilling to perfect your English. I don't think what is grammatically correct is less readable than what is not. It is unimaginable that what is grammatically unacceptable is always more readable than what is correct in terms of grammar. I am a non-native and so are my students. Many of my students have found that it is not easy to improve their English, so they draw back from what they are expected to do and feel satisfied with whatever they come up with effortlessly, which is full of expressions which they make up but which do not exist in English. I always disapprove of this practice, but I cannot force them to do the right thing. I always persuade them to learn to use English the way native speakers do. I myself also find it hard to achieve this goal, but I will not say yes to speaking or writing English in a careless way. Too many expressions like "a method to do something" in an article will surely ruin the article. Never caring about how to use English in an acceptable way will cause one's English learning to come to nothing in the end.
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The OP says this is a book on composition, Barry, so I'm not sure why you think this is about recording spoken words. A book on composition for students of English as a second language should be a sound model for grammar, ALWAYS.

    The only acceptable way to write this, Richard, without a re-write, is your corrected version:
    "There are many different methods of keeping in good shape, and one must choose those that are most appropriate for their own lifestyle."
    --as Maia and no doubt the grammar souces you have consulted concur.

    A reason Maia may have felt this was 'awkward' could be because the normal collocation is 'ways of keeping in shape', and 'methods of/for keeping fit' (at least for British English). From the point of view of style, the first is slightly more informal IMO.

    So it would be:
    "There are many different ways of keeping in good shape, and one must choose those that are most appropriate for their own lifestyle."
    OR
    "There are many different methods of/for keeping fit, and one must choose those that are most appropriate for their own lifestyle."
     
  7. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    Richard
    I was born in Brixton, which is not far from Charing Cross, the centre of London, a city where supposedly more foreign languages are spoken than any other city in Europe. We residents manage to communicate with each other in English or rather numerous versions of the language. We gave away title to the language to the Americans some decades ago largely because there are five Americans to every one Briton and they make more films.

    Madhoca
    This forum is entitled WritingForums.org My feeling is that we should recognize that the language mutates and that we should incorporate that mutation in how we write. When being provocative I might say that Shakespeare wrote and spoke in Elizabethan English and that both he and Elizabeth 1st are long dead as is the language in which they communicated.

    As a principle I should do everything I can to promote the use of English. Maybe if more of the world's population did speak English, even in a mutated form, then they would stop trying to kill each other. I care not so much about the correct grammar as the reading and the writing.

    If a student speaks to me in English I shall make him feel at ease and nod in reply. If he writes to me then I might offer to rephrase his words but only if he wants me to. My aim is to make it easy for him to speak, understand and write my language.

    When the Martians arrive, it would be best if we Earthlings all spoke English which is a nice simple language as long as we do not make it complicated.
     
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  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know, Barry, there's a wide range of 'writing' represented here on the forum. I think you've misunderstood us--no offence.

    For example, the more academic type of writing covers a range of styles, depending on the discipline and intended readership. Sometimes the work is aimed at people whose first language is not English. It has quite a wide market--journals, even articles for newspapers and so on, not just theses.

    There are other types of non-fiction, e.g. letter writing, copy writing etc which can also be aimed at a particular specialist market--but it is still 'writing'.

    The point is, until the day this forum changes to CREATIVE FICTION writing only, questions about grammar etc for certain work IMO are perfectly valid.

    Since you have the idea that the whole world should speak English, perhaps you should show more support to those of us who are actually striving to realise your vision. 'Mutated' English is not in the least bit conducive to world harmony--take it from an ESL teacher like Richard or myself!

    Surely it is obvious that since we all originate from different places worldwide, the best way to be clear when we use English in written communication--and I must disagree with what you imply, written is NOT exactly the same as spoken communication--is by following certain rules of grammar. English is pretty flexible, so there is no need to regard this as some kind of straitjacket.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    barry...
    as a writing mentor who works with many to whom english is not their native tongue, i must second madhoca's explanation and exceptions to some of the content of your posts...

    though i am sure your intent is to be helpful, i too feel you have missed the point that richard is asking only about written work and instructional writing, at that...
     
  10. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Hi,Barry.
    I did not intend to offend you by asking about your native language. I did that simply because it is hard to find out what the native language of any member of this language forum is. You know, native speakers and nonnatives may have quite different views on how to learn English and what level of proficiency to reach. Knowing your native language will help me to respond to your view more properly.

    English is a very flexible language and its flexibility often adds to the difficulty involved in its learning, especially when the learner's native language is totally different from English. My students and I may be a good example. Our mother tongue Chinese and your first language are poles apart in every sense. I have found something very interesting in the way my foreign colleagues conduct their oral English classes on this campus. When I am allowed to sit in on their lectures and aim to learn something from their teaching, I often find that they are unbearably tolerant of their Chinese students' mistakes and even when their Chinese students are talking nonsense and speaking broken English and these native teachers obviously also find it hard to follow them, still these teachers ridiculously keep nodding. I do not know what they are nodding to! I doubt whether their ultratolerance really helps their Chinese students in their English learning.What I know is that none of them has ever been invited to teach English writing, which usully demands accuracy.

    As for English writing for English majors here in my department, it is not fictional writing or any other kind of creative writing right now. Maybe in the future when I have gained sufficient teaching experience and I myself have acquired the skill of creative writing, I may offer a course in it, but now I am incapable of doing that. I teach my students basic rules regarding how to construct English sentences, how to make sure of grammatical correctness, how to generate ideas for essays, how to seek information by reading extensively and watching video clips, how to think critically before and during acutual writing, and how to go about writing a student essay of about 200 or 400 English words. Here in China, every English major has to take a national standardized test when they are in the second year of college and another, in the fourth year of college. In the former test there is the last section Writing, where test takers are required to write a note of about 50-60 English words based on a given situation and write an essay of about 200 words on a given topic, while in the latter there is also a Writing section where English majors are required to writing an essay of about 400 English words. The essays test takers write will be evaluated according to their content, organization, grammar and appropriateness. So, you see, how can I afford to neglect my students' mistakes in their writing practice all the time? If I always overlook their mistakes, they will fail the tests and fail to get their BA and they may fail to find a job after graduation simply because of this preceding failure. You may not know how fierce the competition in China's job market is.

    Now I realize that we are not talking about the same thing. I instantly think of something which is perhaps interesting to both of us. Supposing that you have a Chinese doctoral student, he never cares about using correct English to convey his ideas properly in writing his doctoral dissertation, and what you see in it is nothing but poor English and confusing ideas, then will you ask him to rewrite it or will you be so tolerant as to say, "OK, you are qualified for the oral exam." ? I am not asking this question to offend you. I am only curious about it, as I hear many nonnative doctoral candidates studying in an English speaking country will ask a native speaker to proofread and polish their dissertations before their oral defense. Please do not feel offended. I am just curious about it.

    Thanks.
    Richard
     
  11. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, madhoca. But my two dictionaries tell me that "way" can also be followed by "to do something". So, is it a better idea to include in your list "There are many different ways to keep in good shape, and one must choose those that are most appropriate for their own lifestyle."? And is "way to do something" also something more informal?
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose the emphasis in that example is on purpose, Richard:
    "There are many different ways (what's the aim of these ways?) to keep in good shape..."
    and that's why an infinitive of purpose is appropriate.

    If you want to draw attention to the manner of something being done, then the other form is better:
    "There are many different ways of keeping in good shape..." (how does one achieve 'good shape?)
    But that's just my interpretation of the nuance, which is very slight.

    The informal/formal language is not a result of the 'to keep/of keeping' construction. IMO, the expression 'keep in good shape' is slightly more informal, as opposed to 'keep fit'. 'Way' is also a more colloquial word than 'method'.
     
  13. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    So you mean both of "way to do something" and "way of doing something" are correct, but the emphasis shifts when using a different structure. Is that right?
     
  14. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's my interpretation of it Richard, yes. A few colleagues I mentioned it to this morning also agreed with this.
     
  15. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for your help.
    Richard
     
  16. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    Richard
     
  17. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    Madhoca

    The OP says this is a book on composition, Barry, so I'm not sure why you think this is about recording spoken words. A book on composition for students of English as a second language should be a sound model for grammar, ALWAYS.
    [COLOR="Red"] For students of English I have no problem with correcting their grammar but neither would I have a problem with their including an episode of spoken English which was grammatically incorrect - if it was a true record of the way in which the words had been expressed.[/COLOR]


    But Madhoca, I am not a teacher of English - I am merely an Old Man who has made use of the language for a long time.
     
  18. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    Madhoca.

    The point is, until the day this forum changes to CREATIVE FICTION writing only, questions about grammar etc for certain work IMO are perfectly valid.
    I hope this forum will not change to Creative Fiction only

    Since you have the idea that the whole world should speak English, perhaps you should show more support to those of us who are actually striving to realise your vision. 'Mutated' English is not in the least bit conducive to world harmony--take it from an ESL teacher like Richard or myself!

    Mutated English is probably inevitable - we British accepted that American English will rule, once Microsoft incorporated spell checkers based on American spelling.
    'Cut and paste' has done enormous harm to British scholars

    Surely it is obvious that since we all originate from different places worldwide, the best way is to be clear.
    Agreed. So with comprehension in mind, the more simple the style the better.

    English is pretty flexible, so there is no need to regard this as some kind of straitjacket. Agreed

    The traditional laws of grammar are presently ignored by much of the British media. Buy a copy of the Mirror newspaper and read for yourself.

    Most of the British population do not speak in a grammatically correct style even if you cancel out the 'hmmss', the 'errs' and 'OKs'. Correctly spoken English is fading away and my point is that our writing must reflect this trend. Even on this thread there are 'LOL's 'IMHO's and other sign language.
    Reluctantly I must be honest and say: Why not?
     
  19. ohmyrichard
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    Thanks a lot for your detailed explanation, Barry.
    I have never been to any foreign country but if everything goes well with my visa application, I may have an opportunity to stay in a US university for six months as a visiting scholar this year or next year.

    When I was in the first year of junior high school, I started to learn English using textbooks compiled by Chinese people, in which you will never fail to find artificial language. When I was in college, I majored in English. After I graduated from that junior college, offering two-year diploma programmes at that time, I worked as a junior high school English teacher and a senior high school English teacher for 9 years and 3 years respectively. During that part of my teaching career, I conducted my English classes mainly in my mother tongue just like every one of my former colleagues did and that was much less challenging than my current teaching job at this college.

    In 2001 I was admitted into School of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Nanjing Normal University in the city I now live in and started doing my MA. In June 2004 I graduated from there becoming a Master degree holder and started working in my current workplace. I now teach English majors English writing and I find this job quite demanding. In 2006 I bought a second-hand apartment and settled down in this city in the real sense. And I applied to China Telecom for the internet service and was determined to make best use of the Internet to help me improve my English. I now mainly use it in three ways for this purpose: writing emails to and receive emails from my foreign friends; online chatting; seeking help with my English problems from other members of this website.

    My goal has always been to learn English more effectively and learn more about English and cultures of English speaking countries and teach my students in a better and still better way. With this always in mind, I sincerely invite you native speakers to criticize me and point out mistakes in my English expression. Your criticism will help me make rapid progress in English. I know it is not so easy to overcome psychological and cultural barriers but if it is possible, I hope you and other native speakers will help me this way.
    Thanks.
    Richard
     
  20. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    Richard
    There is very little to criticise in your written English and in view of your statement that you have never been abroad that is remarkable. Although after reading your career history I now understand why. After first reading your writing I had no reason to think that you were not a native English speaker.

    What would be interesting is to hear you speak.
    One thing to learn is that it is rare for a non native speaker to be able to speak English without giving away clues to the national identity of the speaker. From time to time one meets with a Danish speaker who can speak without any hint of accent but that is rare.
    In addition I think you might be surprised to realize how much non verbal communication there is in spoken English. Facial expression is extremely important. Then there is 'swearing' and of course 'lying' and even 'double talk'.

    When planning to travel to the US my suggestion would be for you to stop over in London for a week or so on the way. I am sure it would be interesting for you especially to pick up on the differences between American English and English English. I can't see why you should have any visa problems in visiting Britain - especially with your scholastic background. Indeed I suspect some of the British colleges specialising in oriental studies might also welcome you. I would suggest you make contact with them over the Internet.

    The mass of British people are only just beginning to see China as a world power. There are twenty of you to every one of us. The landmass of China is 39 times bigger than that of the landmass of the UK. Those ratios are too big for many people to comprehend. There is already a sizeable community of Chinese people in Britain and in virtually every town there will be one or more Chinese restaurants. Most of these people came from Hong Kong. What is surprising is that they tend to keep themselves to themselves even though the children will have been educated in British schools. More recently Chinese companies are buying up British industrial companies and one can only see this trend increasing in the future. Those Chinese organisations will eventually have to staff their British offices with English speaking Chinese. Likewise British companies dealing with China will have to hire Mandarin speaking staff. In previous decades trade with China was largely funnelled through Hong Kong in the XXIst century it must go directly through Beijing.

    The point I am trying to make is that for someone who writes as well as you do, it is a shame you have not yet met the people on their own ground. In the future your skills can only be in greater demand as closer contact with China increases.

    Your role must become to understand 'what we mean, when we say, what we say'. We Brits were not known as 'Perfidious Albion' for nothing.

    Barry

    PS Nice to meet you.
     
  21. ohmyrichard
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    Thanks for your kind words, encouragement and advice on how to learn English. Nice to meet you, too.
    I always try to be a good listener and never want to be biased against anyone. Sometimes you may find that our ways of expressing the same ideas are different and the difference may make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, but that does not necessarily mean that I am an arrogant person, for the difference comes from my inability to express those ideas your idiomatic way due to the barrier of my Chinese thinking. And sometimes, in order to find out everything about a language issue or cultural issue, I appear to be inquisitive, but I bear no evil intentions in doing so. I just want to learn more about this fantastic world and to be a good teacher. I know that life can be meaningless, but I endow it with some meaning, thus making sure I can live it in some meaningful way I have always wished for.

    In writing this post, I express my gratitude to you for helping me and tell you more about myself and nothing else is involved.

    I feel blessed to have met you, a wise man, here. Hope my request for friendship with you will be echoed.
    Thanks again.
    Richard
     
  22. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    Dear Richard

    [QUOTE=ohmyrichard;

    I always try to be a good listener and never want to be biased against anyone. (which intimates that sometimes you are biased)

    Sometimes you may find that our (presumably you mean the Chinese ways?) ways of expressing the same ideas are different and the difference may make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, but that does not necessarily mean that I am an arrogant person, (the word arrogant is to be used carefully - it is derogatory)

    for the difference comes from my inability to express those ideas your idiomatic way due to the barrier of my Chinese thinking.
    (yes, spoken English is filled with Idiom) (My assumption is that Chinese people think differently because of the differences in culture and history
    and intent).

    And sometimes, in order to find out everything about a language issue or cultural issue, I appear to be inquisitive, but I bear no evil intentions in doing so. (Why should you have 'evil intentions' because you are inquisitive?)

    I just want to learn more about this fantastic world and to be a good teacher. I know that life can be meaningless ( life is not meaningless to the individual - so perhaps you should explain why you feel it is meaningless)

    but I endow it with some meaning, thus making sure I can live it in some meaningful way I have always wished for. (to put it simply you wish to feel that your life will be worthwhile and you are hinting that it should be worthwhile to others as well as your self)

    In writing this post, I express my gratitude (no, gratitude I have not yet earned - 'thanks' is more appropriate) to you for helping me and tell you more about myself and nothing else is involved. ('and nothing else is involved?? - here I am perplexed I do not understand what you are hinting at - you must explain)

    I feel blessed to have met you, (too strong - 'you are pleased to have met me' is better)
    'a wise man' - again you do not yet know that so it would be better to say
    ' an intelligent man' .

    Hope my request for friendship with you will be 'echoed' - better 'returned'.
    UNQUOTE

    Richard
    In future I am not going to attempt to correct your grammar or punctuation.

    Instead I am going to try to address issues of comprehension so as to allow you to write what you mean to be saying. Your choice of words suggest that you are a 'humble' man - too humble to my way of thinking because you have no reason to be humble, especially to me. I can neither speak nor write Chinese in any of its forms and I can readily admit that I would never try. You have mastered the language so you are more clever than me.

    As a generalisation you should recognise that the British, the Australians, the Canadians and the Americans lack humility. All four nationalities, who speak the same language see themselves to be 'proud'. Humility does not come easy to them - especially towards a foreigner. So they replace humility by 'politeness' in both the written word and the spoken word. But when expressing 'politeness' sometimes they are being disingenuous - they do not really mean what they say.

    I mentioned in my last post 'Perfidious Albion'. Have you researched the expression? To understand the phrase makes you better able to watch for 'false politeness'.

    Also I am concerned that when you write to me that you write, then re-read,
    then correct, then re read again. You probably correct too often. By all means cast your eye over your reply to correct any glaring errors but do not
    be frightened to leave what came out of your head in the first instance.

    You cannot withdraw what you have spoken after you have said it - so why give yourself the luxury of doing it in written language?

    Barry
     
  23. Barry G
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    Barry G Senior Member

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    Richard Part 2

    Comprehension: ’ Perfidious Albion‘.

    This term has been used as a description of the English - the residents of the Island of Great Britain (Albion) which is by far and away the biggest of the British Isles. Perfidious in theory means ’not to be trusted’ . This is perhaps an unfair judgement. A more exact translation for ‘perfidious’ might be that ‘a Foreigner cannot necessarily believe what a British man has been heard to say‘.

    What is more likely is that the foreigner did not interpret correctly the words he had heard said. He came away from a discussion with the wrong conclusions. English can be an inexact language because non verbal communication plays such a great part in the spoken word. If the foreigner has no knowledge of the techniques of non verbal communication then he will often be misled. It is possible in English to make a positive statement but to express it in terms that the direct opposite of what has been said is actually meant. For you to have a command of the written word leads you to believe that you can correctly understand what has been spoken and for sure, you will not have understood correctly.

    For example one could say the words: “What a great fellow he is” but in such a way as to mean and be interpreted to mean: “He is an awful man”. As a Londoner I have always felt that I can have a conversation with another Londoner in front of a group of English speaking foreigners and yet they would not understand what we were saying to each other. I believe that it is this trait of English which has led to foreigners being misled and to their calling us ‘perfidious’ - a word which is invariably used only in the context of ‘Perfidious Albion‘.

    The root cause of this confusion is ‘politeness‘. Put simply if a man has an ugly face - in British parlance it is not appropriate to refer to it. If a man has poor dress sense then it is not done to criticise his wearing apparel. Indeed one may even compliment the man on such a colourful tie by saying ‘what a pretty tie’ but by using an inflexion in the voice, the phrase ‘what a pretty tie’ means exactly the opposite ie ‘it is a diabolical tie‘. The result is that the foreigner who does not have a knowledge of the ways of spoken English is oblivious of the insult.

    Americans have good cause in history to refer to we Brits as perfidious. American English is a different language from British English largely because the cultural and ethnic bases from which the language derives are fundamentally different. The USA has a significant Native American, Hispanic, Asian and Black population which Britain does not have. This diversity of cultural ethnicity reflects in the language of communication ie: American English. Personally I always try to tread carefully when writing and speaking on an American Forum since from bitter experience I know that it is only too easy for me to offend readers without any intent on my behalf. In a similar vein Germans have to adjust to the German language as used by Austrians or Swiss Germans

    Richard : You may ask how does my diatribe relate to you? Comprehension is everything. In particular to you I am saying that a humble or obsequious approach to an Englishman from a foreigner does not always command the desired result indeed often it has exactly the opposite effect. If you are too polite or humble then the educated Englishman thinks you are weak. Whereas in truth you are strong. Look up the expression: “Flattery gets you nowhere”.

    Incidentally I know I have intentionally used words in this article outside of your normal vocabulary. Normally to a foreigner I would have been more selective in the choice of words used but in being inconsiderate, I am actually paying you a compliment.

    Barry
     
  24. ohmyrichard
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  25. Barry G
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    Location:
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    Dear Richard (All formal written correspondence should open with 'Dear')

    If you wrote, as I suspect you did, your last posting to me without the need to proof and re-proof, then your English writing has no need of correction from me. Even my wife, a speech therapist, who has been looking over my shoulder as I write this note, has been impressed with your expertise in the written language.

    What I can do by exchanging correspondence over this forum is to help you with comprehension and nuance. I can hopefully help you to understand from a post what has not been said in what has been written but which is implied by the writer. I can perhaps be your key into the mind of the native English speaker.

    One question does now arise. Should we continue this dialogue over the open forum? I personally have not worried too much to date but this is a public forum and every subscriber has open access to it. Other foreign nationals may indeed get benefit from it but only so long as their language skills are at a superior level and they have an open mind. If you wish we can correspond over the personal message system. I leave it for you to decide.

    Now to your most recent reply:

    Your bias shows you are proud of your Chinese heritage and background, as well you should be. China was a civilised state before most Western states were born. The USA is only approximately 250 years old and the kingdom of England merely just over a thousand years old. If I were Chinese I would flaunt the history of my country.

    I said take care of the use of the word 'arrogant'. I did not say that you should not use it. Pick your moment.

    You cannot learn to express yourself in an English way because you have not lived amongst us. The confines under which we English live can perhaps be better understood by those Chinese who have lived in the tenaments of Hong Kong. As a 'considerate' Englishman I should make allowances for your lack of experience especially as you have other qualities to offer in return for consideration.

    You cannot hope to absorb the culture of all of the English speaking countries. First take on one culture, then compare the one with the others. The Canadian, the Australian, the New Zealand versions fall into one category. The American multi ethnic culture is unique. Most educated Indians speak English as a second language but they too are in a culture of their own. Indians use English to communicate with each other in the hope of overcoming linguistic, cast and religious differences.

    However English is the mother tongue of the British who feel that the development of the language as a world wide communication medium is their responsibility. After all, we Brits invented the language. An American weilding massive media influence around the world might disagree.

    Importantly for you personally is that by my guess, English will become the second language of all educated Chinese otherwise how else are you going to communicate with each other?

    We have a saying 'curiosity killed the cat', although it is a very old fashioned expression. To be inquisitive does not necessarily suggest evil intent. Everything depends upon what you are being inquisitive about. Always seek the answer to: 'why?' It is no fault to be inquisitive, it is a virtue unless you are inquiring into matters personal but even that example would not be 'evil' it would merely be 'impolite'.
    'Inquisitive' is not a derogatory word in the European mentality but 'arrogant' is.

    If you have a belief, soundly based and strongly held, then stand up and be counted.

    All those Chinese died before their time had come in the earthquakes and floods. To be fair the Western media did report briefly the disasters but sadly the news did not sell newspapers because it was so far away. They did not highlight the horrors of the events.
    Show someone a million dollars packed into a suitcase, then he has some idea of what a million dollars looks like. He still does not have a better idea of the value of $1million by actually seeing a million dollars. The horror of the disasters was not shown because the horror was too much to observe. The viewers were merely glad the disaster did not affect them or their loved ones.

    All I ask is that you do not present yourself as being humble. Your mind has something to offer your students. You have the power to make some of your fellow countrymen think more broadly. Occasionally I get a chance to give cause for my countrymen to think but only rarely. Mea culpa, perhaps I should try harder.

    If I am giving you encouragement to continue with the education of your students in comprehension then I am doing my part. It is a pity we can't sit down in front of eachother and 'chew the cud' (a very crude expression -please disregard) over a pint of beer.

    Barry


    PS I am off tomorrow to visit my brother in France. My computor may not allow me access to the Forum for two weeks. Be patient. I have no intention of losing my contact with you. If you make your students think as much as you have made me, then you are succeeding in your chosen way of life.
     

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