The "Proximity and Distance" files.

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The "Proximity and Distance" files.

Post by metal56 » Wed Jul 21, 2004 4:03 pm

For teachers and students interested in multicutural views on perception and language:

The English language:

I want to start up a collection of links to, and poster's examples of, the way the perception of what is close to us and what is far from us subjectively and objectively effects our choice of language.

Please join in.

I'll begin with verb choice and what is commonly known as the Past Simple tense.

One of the main reasons for using that tense in English is to express things as distant from the speaker. Three things are involved here:

Distance in TIME



Examples of each:

I went to the cinema last night/month/year.(DISTANCE IN TIME)

I could swim when I was five. (Time involved but possibility is the main focus.

I COULD come tomorrow if you like? (Time involved but possibility is the main focus.)

Would you help me with my bags? (SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP)

Did you want to try that sweater, sir? (SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP)

Some students get confused when trying to understand why the Past Simple is used to express more than just past time. The above can be used to give them an idea of why.

More later, or please feel free to contribute other examples of proximity and distance in this and other areas of language use.

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