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English Detective #29, Two Aspects of Language: Dec.31,2013
December 30, 2013
Your First Clue: Vocabulary Emphasized in this Issue
Review vocabulary: clause, guidelines, prohibited, sole, stress.
A few notes about the new vocabulary:
A clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb. Independent clauses can be complete sentences, but dependent clauses cannot. Examples of dependent clauses: “Although the cat ran fast,” “Even if she wins,” “Students who read a lot,” or “When your family leaves.” All of these thoughts are incomplete, and leave the reader wondering. (What? or what happened, or might happen?)
They need an independent clause to finish the thought: “Although the cat ran fast, the dog caught it.” “Even if she wins, she will not be happy.” “Students who read a lot learn more vocabulary.” “When your family leaves, we are going to bed!”
Clauses are thought groups, so we naturally pause at the end of each of them.
Guidelines are suggestions for the best way to do things. They are the best practices in most circumstances. However, they are not mandatory like rules or regulations. Rules usually have a penalty if they are violated, but guidelines do not.
Prohibited means forbidden. (It’s much stronger than a guideline!) Some religions prohibit eating pork; all prohibit murder. In the U.S., there was a period in the 1920s when drinking alcohol was forbidden. The period is called Prohibition (though the word does not always apply to drinking.)
We use ‘prohibitive’ of something so expensive or difficult that it is “out of the question”—it might just as well be forbidden, because it’s not a realistic option.
Sole means alone; one thing (or person) with no others. Solely is a synonym for ‘only’— for only one purpose.
To ‘stress’ means to put emphasis or pressure on something. (“That test really stressed me out!” “Maybe it would have been less stressful if you had started to study earlier!”)
Stress can also be a noun meaning tension or pressure. (“Stress can cause or aggravate many health problems. Health providers need to teach patients how to handle pressure and limit the stresses in their lives.”)
“In English sentences we stress the more important words— usually nouns and verbs, but also adjectives if they are important to the meaning.”
In the preceding sentence, we would probably stress (emphasize) ‘stress,’ ‘important,’ ‘nouns,’ ‘verbs,’ ‘adjectives,’ ‘important,’ and ‘meaning.’ However, if we were comparing English with other languages, ‘English’ would get the heaviest stress.) ‘The,’ ‘a’ or ‘an,’ are usually unstressed.
Getting the whole story: reading/listening practice:
Patricia Ryan’s short talk on the value of languages.
Click here for hints and practice on English sentence stress.
Follow the Clues (More on Language—and Language Resolutions for the New Year):
Click here for some background on Nelson Mandela.
Start the new year off right!
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Coming in the next issue: How computers understand language (or don’t!)
In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with all 570 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced each issue here.
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