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Explaining these terms

 
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Manny3



Joined: 22 Jan 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:20 pm    Post subject: Explaining these terms Reply with quote

I'm in the middle of planning lessons about words and phrase explanation. I would like some ideas about explaining:

a ransom

smell something fishy

clever

I'm going to the cinema with Jane at the weekend.

Would you mind answering the phone?

I wish I had done my homework.

Any ideas would definitely help.

Thanks! Very Happy
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3003
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Manny! The definitions in advanced learner dictionaries are usually pretty serviceable if and when you're unsure of how to define words yourself. The main (and free!) online ones are listed in the first post of the following thread:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=65876

I think you should be able to define 'ransom' and 'clever' without too much difficulty. As for fishy, adjectives describing smell, taste etc can be formed from quite a few nouns by adding -y. You might like to start with something like smoke (mime or draw lighting a cigarette, then indicate the clouds of smoke, then show somebody else coming in and exclaiming 'Urgh, it's/it smells smoky in here!' [Note the e has been dropped/changed in the spelling]), then move on to fish (a picture of some tuna say on a hot day/in a hot room...would soon smell fishy), then simply explain (translate into the learner's native language to help them be sure) that the meaning 'be fishy' or 'smell (something) fishy' is a figurative (non-literal) analogy/meaning extension that means 'dubious, questionable; (sthg that makes you) suspicious; seeming dishonest and false' etc* (and I guess the meaning extension can be understood from the sort of face you'd pull when confronted with a fishy room being similar to the face you'd pull when confronted with a fishy situation).

'I'm going to the cinema with Jane at the weekend': Not sure why this would be a problem - I mean, this (be V-ing + adverb of "time-when later") is one of the most frequent uses of the Present progressive construction. A time-honoured way of presenting stuff like this is with diary appointments - it shouldn't be too difficult to create a picture that shows one person asking if somebody is free one day and fancies doing something on it, and the other person checking their diary, seeing a simple note (e.g. 'Sat: Dinner with relatives' or whatever), imagining that scene in a subpictured thought bubble and therefore replying, Sorry, but unfortunately he or she is "having dinner with the relatives!".

'Would you mind...' can be understood if not explained with the concept of "remoteness" (championed by Michael Lewis, and oft-discussed on the AL forum), or if you prefer, "indirectness" or simply "politeness" i.e. as being "more polite" (in other words, there is an at least implicit contrast between 'would' and 'do').

Is the stuff in the last paragraph and particularly the second footnote here http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=42235#42235 a genuine and consistent difference between British and American English? (I'm assuming that it is - and for those who might not know, I'm a Brit by the way).

'I wish I had (done)...': We can also use the concept of remoteness here too. Provided you have already established with your students that examples like 'I wish I had a million dollars (to spend)' are "remote from general, present reality" (i.e. the "Simple past" form 'had' is used instead of Simple present 'have' (NB: the actual word 'wish' is Simple present because that is where the speech act/moment of speaking itself is located)), it should be relatively easy to then introduce the parallel idea that example-forms like 'I wish I had done my homework' are "remote from past reality". (Remember that perfect aspect is the only way really to "get remote" in talking about the past - compared to the availability of the simple past aspect versus the simple present aspect seen in the above 'I wish I had a million dollars' sort of example). Further tools might be a consideration of the obviously incorrect *I wish I have a million dollars, and the different meaning that 'I wish I did my homework e.g. well i.e. to genuinely teach myself something rather than simply to satisfy others - parents, teachers etc'* (< > 'I wish I could do my homework (...)')) i.e. what the lack or non-use of the perfect aspect would convey, which echoes what I just said about "getting remote". The last thing I want to mention is don't worry about how this apparent "Past perfect" form compares to 'real' Past perfect (the latter of which is just to do with "past in the past" i.e. a temporally-generally remoter past, rather than with any "remote from past reality" - the latter sense only enters when additional words are added such as 'if' or, as we are discussing here, 'wish' >), because the meaning of wish clues us in right from the start that we are dealing with an unreal and counterfactual utterance (i.e. the 'I wish...' sentence stem/beginning is obvious extra co-text and context compared to just 'I had done/finished my homework...(by the time my friends called and invited me out)'. But if all that's a bit too brain-bending you could simply present those slightly dodgy "transformations" (perhaps with small superscript translations of "remote" and/or "unreal" or somesuch above the Simple Present > Simple past, and Simple Past > Past perfect transformed verb phrases respectively): 'I have a million dollars' > 'I wish I had a million dollars', and 'I did my homework' > 'I wish I had done my homework'. Anyway, Iíll perhaps hit my grammar books and see if they explain this better than I seem (un)able to Ė if so, Iíll try to get back to you with what they have to say! (Edit: They don't really add much to what I've already said! Cool Smile Wink ).


*Note however that the results produced from a Google search for "I wish I did my homework" are often in the sense of 'I wish I had done' i.e. the writers seem to be Americans who have gone for Simple past rather than Past perfect! (Me, I'm British, and a fair number of the Google examples don't sit too well with my ear). There are however some examples that are sort of in-between and ambiguous (JallyJayyzus ó Cursebird: What the f#@! is everyone swearing about?RT @caoimhechelon: I wish I did my homework earlier on in the holidays. Now I have to rush to get It all done before Monday. F*cking procrastination... cursebird.com/JallyJayyzus - Cached) or show a Past perfect (a reformulation almost?) rapidly following on from the Simple past (Surrey woman sues over laser facial-hair removal - VANCOUVER..."I wish I did my homework then," she said. "I really wish I had looked into it, or got a second opinion or went to a doctor." ... seecosmetics.com/.../surrey-woman-sues-over-laser-facial-hair-removal.html - Cached - Similar), but like I say, quite a few of the examples contain words or phrases like 'yesterday' or '...before...' (a subsequent implicitly if not explicitly past action, especially if there is a grammatically definite object involved: '...I bought this one' > Final thought: Doubling up of perfect would seem possible: 'I wish I'd done my homework before I'd bought this one').


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:00 pm; edited 3 times in total
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3003
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, I've started a separate thread over on the AL forum regarding that possible difference (introduced in the second footnote of my above post) between American and British English:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=42239
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3003
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and then there's this! Wink Smile
http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=42248#42248
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