relax myself??

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relax myself??

Post by pengyou » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:07 pm

My Chinese university sophomores...and about 1/3 of all English speaking Chinese people I have met all use the phrase "relax myself". One of the origins of this phrase is the Chinese language. It is Chinglish, a direct translation from Chinese into English. It is certainly redundant. I am looking for a simple but detailed webpage that describes how and when to use the reflexive pronouns.

Any suggestions - links?

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Post by fluffyhamster » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:14 pm

Probably the most detailed resource you're going to find online (or anywhere, for that matter!) for this is the Collins COBUILD Grammar Patterns 1: Verbs:

Unfortunately in the online freebie "reprint" they haven't provided the indexes from the book, making it less easy to find (think of) more beyond the Ch 1 sec 4 V pron-refl string, so I'll type up the Pattern Finder index's relevant entries for you. :wink:

They are:
Verb patterns

V pron-refl 62-68
V pron-refl about n/-ing/wh 341
V pron-refl adj 282
V pron-refl after n 448
V pron-refl against n 344, 345
V pron-refl among pl-n 362
V pron-refl amount about n 342
V pron-refl as n/-ing 351
V pron-refl as to wh/n 356
V pron-refl at n 359
V pron-refl between pl-n 362
V pron-refl -ed 308, 309
V pron-refl for n 369, 370, 371
V pron-refl for n/-ing 370
V pron-refl from n 376-379
V pron-refl inf 298
V pron-refl -ing 288, 290
V pron-refl in n 383, 384, 386
V pron-refl into -ing 397
V pron-refl into n 390, 394
V pron-refl n 274, 275, 276, 277
V pron-refl of n 400
V pron-refl on n 405-410
V pron-refl out of n 415
V pron-refl prep 321
V pron-refl prep/adv 313-324
V pron-refl that 300
V pron-refl to amount 426
V pron-refl to-inf 291-296
V pron-refl to n 420, 422, 427-432
V pron-refl to n/-ing 425
V pron-refl with n 438, 441-447
V pron-refl with quote 303

Phrasal verb patterns

V P pron-refl 62-68
V pron-refl P as n/-ing 351
V pron-refl P from n 376, 377
V pron-refl P into n 394
V pron-refl P prep/adv 316, 323
V pron-refl P to n 429, 430, 432
V pron-refl P with n/-ing 443
Here also are the more student-friendly breakdowns and exercises from the accompanying Collins COBUILD Verbs: Patterns and Practice book:

But doubtless you could find at least some sort of detail in more widely-available grammar exercise books like Murphy (or indeed the Collins COBUILD Student's Grammar, though even this may, like the grammar pattern stuff, be out of print and therefore harder to get nowadays).

By the way, I could if you like also post the info and lists from the relevant entries of the original COBUILD English Grammar (which I have on CD-ROM).

Regarding the translation of 'relax' in Chinese, I wasn't aware that it necessarily involved the Chinese equivalents of reflexives, but I suppose that your student's English usage could certainly be due to certain aspects of Chinese usage generally (that, or studying incorrect English materials previously). There's no chance they mean 'relax BY myself', is there?

Anyway, stuff like COBUILD should help make the facts clear (to you the teacher at least - might need to boil things down a bit for the students though, doo luck with that!), so there hopefully shouldn't be any need to talk too generally, decontextually or "theoretically" about the "how" and "when".
Last edited by fluffyhamster on Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:55 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by fluffyhamster » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:33 pm

Actually, there's an interesting example on that first page I posted on Imagshack: Sheppard excelled herself, breaking her own 50m time and setting a new British record.

I (myself :) ) find that a bit hard to process (i.e. it sounds a bit strange, like 'relax myself') without imagining it is "contrastive" e.g. in a context of not only another previously-mentioned British competitor but now also Sheppard herself (=too) simply excelling; certainly, with the addition of some 'too-y' business, the sentence starts sounding a bit better (though personally I'd prefer to use 'outdid'): Sheppard too also excelled/outdid herself, breaking her own 50m time and setting a new British record.

Then, one could change the word order: ...Sheppard herself excelled... .

At the least, the book's printed underline might influence the spoken stress to go implicitly on the verb, even though it might make more sense going on the reflexive pronoun instead (the way I'm reading the meaning).

Any thoughts?

Edit: The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (online versions) both mark 'excel: ~ yourself' as British English, so maybe I've just become less British over the years (especially with quite a few spent overseas), or wasn't that much in the first place! But then, I also guess that from e.g. the Cambridge Advanced, and Macmillan dictionary's not marking this usage as specifically BrE, they are claiming wider usage for it (not that I recall hearing or seeing it much elsewhere than the UK either)! :o :?

:lol: :wink: 8)

Anyway, I'll leave this post here, purely for interest's/discussion's sake. :)

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excel one's self

Post by ronqgentry » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:01 am

I think that Fluffyhamster is giving a lot of great references here. The use of the reflexives is very complex. The use of "excel" is, I think, very British. I know most North Americans would say "The president outdid himself in his last speech." or "The world record holder plans to outdo herself in this year's Olympics." For any group of students that needs to work on this, that list has enough activies so that they can almost teach themselves. ( :lol: I couldn't resist one more example!)

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Post by fluffyhamster » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:46 am

Hi R, and welcome to the forums! Yup, the COBUILD Grammar Patterns especially are great resources; let's hope that the University of Birmingham gets around to supplying the second volume also (on nouns and adjectives) free online, because it too has been out of print a while now. Unfortunately they didn't write a practice book for this second volume though, IIRC.

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