Friday, September 28, 2012

English Changes over Time

Everything in this universe is perpetually in a state of change, a fact commented on by philosophers and poets through the changes. Language, like everything else, joins in this flux.

English is a rich language spoken all over the world by natives and non-natives alike. As such, it is in a constant change of evolution. English continues to alter and develop with hundreds of new words arriving every year. Generation by generation, pronunciations evolve, new words are borrowed and invented, the meaning of old words drifts, and morphology develops or decays.

The English language has changed momentously over the last 1000 years and would appear odd as given to a speaker of Modern English who reads or hears an Old English being read for the first time. In fact, if the reader was not told that it was English, he or she might not be able to identify it as a form of English.

Look at the following passage in Old English and try to read it:
‘Fæder ure þuþe eart on heofonum
si þin nama gehalgod tobecume þin rice gewurþe þin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dæg
and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soþlice.’

Do you recognize it? If not, try this one:

‘Oure fadir þat art in heuenes halwid be þi name;
þi reume or kyngdom come to be.
 Be þi wille don in herþe as it is dounin heuene.
yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred.And foryeue to us oure dettis þat is oure synnys as we foryeuen to oure dettouris þat is to men þat han synned in us.And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl.’ 

Perhaps you recogniZe it now. Look at the next one:

‘Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread.And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debters.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’

You have just seen a long evolution of the English language. The first is Old English and the extract is taken from the Bible and is part of the Lord’s Prayer. The second passage is from the Wyclif Bible (1348) and it is written in what is called Middle English. The third is from the King James Authorized Bible. You have no difficulty with that extract because it is written in Modern English.

Languages change for a variety of reasons. According to research, the needs of speakers drive language change. New technologies, industries, products, and experiences simply require new words. Plastic, cell phones, and the Internet did not exist in Shakespeare’s time, for example. By using new and emerging terms, we all drive language change. Moreover, the unique way that individuals speak also fuels language change. The vocabulary and phrases people use depend on where they live, their age, education level, social status, and other factors. Through our interactions, we pick up new words and sayings and integrate them into our speech. Teens and young adults for example, often use different words and phrases. Some of them spread through the population and slowly change the language.

English, clearly, is alive and thriving, and it continues to change in ways that were never thought possible. Language will never stop changing; it will continue to respond to the needs of the people who use it. Therefore, the next time you hear a new phrase that grates on your ears, remember that like everything else in nature, the English language is a work in progress.



Are you a certified Belieber or a fan of Bruno Mars? How about a Lady Gaga fanatic? Well, if that’s so, then I’m sure you do memorize their hits. Let’s check some of their songs with these lines:

“Grenade” by Bruno Mars
Easy come, easy go
That's just how you live, oh
Take, take, take it all
But you never give
Should've known you was trouble
From the first kiss
Had your eyes wide open
Why were they open?

“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
I want your love, and I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance
I want your love, and all your love is revenge
You and me could write a bad romance

“Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber
If I was your boyfriend, I'd never let you go
I can take you places you ain't never been before
Baby take a chance or you'll never ever ever know
I got money in my hands that I'd really like to blow

Most of the songs today contain incorrect grammar on their lyrics. Though most of the time, songwriters omit some words, listeners still manage to understand what does the song mean, but the point is, even a simple subject-verb agreement is not being followed, which is considered as a fatal error in the English language. Listed below are the corrections for the given examples:
·         From the first example, “You was trouble” should be “You were trouble” because “you” takes a plural verb.
·         The next stanza has a line, “You and me caught in a bad romance.” In this line, you will notice the incorrect usage of “me” and the lack of helping verb. Therefore, the correct line should be “You and I were caught in a bad romance.”
·         However, the last stanza contains two flaws- the first line and the second. The first line should be “If I were your boyfriend, I'd never let you go” because the guy supposes something, which is untrue. The second should be “I can take you places you’ve never been before,” and it is simply because of the use of double negative, ain’t and never.
With what has discussed, for sure, we are now certain and aware on what will this lead to. Most of us tend to memorize the lyrics of songs and adopt these incorrect grammar and usage since these songs are considered hits. In this observation, we noticed that songwriters commit grammar lapses because those lapses sound good and correct especially if it’s an upbeat song. They also tend to just base it to the rhythm and melody. Despite of this fact, we should always be careful and mindful in using the language appropriately.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

English proficiency: to write or to speak?

                There are various ways to learn the English language, yet many of us are still clueless on picking a technique that would propel us to master this morphing language. There are two common methods that we use in order to learn the confusing rules of English sprinkled with rigorous restrictions.

                The two methods I am talking about are: learning by reading or writing something and by speaking in English on a day to day basis. These two creatures seem to confuse us because of their different approaches on teaching us the complexities of the English language. 

                First of all, the use of any reading material provides us with the power to understand and interpret words that were once a stranger to us. Reading helps develop our skills mainly in the areas of comprehension, vocabulary, and creativity. These aspects when developed tend to create the persona of the “writer” in us since we learn various techniques that we can apply once we begin writing. Therefore, reading is a great way to establish not only the basic skills but also the art of writing wherein we could put our experiences or ideas into words.

         Moving on, speaking in English provides us control over our expanding social life not only with our countrymen but also with other foreigners. Speaking brings upon skills that we may use such as pronunciation, enunciation, and listening. Through speaking we learn to put together pieces of our incoherent thoughts into intricate passages that people may appreciate; as a result, we unlock the art of public speaking wherein our thoughts is being shared to everyone.

              We could see now that these two ways of learning English are way different from each other, so using it simultaneously would surely be difficult. To prove my point, it is evident that most of us are more comfortable in either being a speaker or a writer in English, but it is seldom that some people excel in both categories.  I am not saying that we could not attain mastery of both these techniques; instead, I think with proper motivation and discipline we could then master these two methods, which eventually would help us improve in our use of the English language. To end this post I would like to ask you my dear classmates. What do you think is the best way to master the English language, is it through speaking or the other way around that is reading and writing?


Friday, September 14, 2012

Word Games

 Our current generation, exposed to games with realistic graphics, has developed little interest regarding classic word games.

Only a few teens now feel the excitement and fun in playing word games such as Word Factory, Scrabble, and Super Text Twist.

Perhaps they feel that these games are old school and not of this generation's, that such games are part of the adults and parents' growing years and are hardly part of the "now". However, we cannot blame the technological advancements that has been (and still is) happening in our world.

These word games have been replaced by cognitive-driven games like Tetris and Bejeweled which, too, are classic games;

nonetheless, word games are of more use when it comes to practicality since words are used in our everyday lives and are means of communicating and expressing one’s ideas and feelings. These types of games may be considered boring since they just involve words unlike games that have captivating characters and plot and/or story lines.

Teens of today must not forget that the word games came first and have been helpful in our development. Yes, games like Plants Versus Zombies, too, help in reading, learning new words and as well as in developing cognitive skills… but it doesn’t have the fun and excitement that some players get from word games. Discovering new words is something helpful since it widens our vocabulary. Learning that the words you sometimes make up are actually real words, gives you the feeling of serendipity. The time limit that is often given adds to pressure and makes the players think faster and be more imaginative in processing and thinking of possible, existing and rare words.

Post by: Ernest Benjamin D. Arbado


Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Power of Grammar over the Media’s Credibility

It is quite amusing how fast we can receive information today. With the help of the mass media, we are easily updated on recent happenings around our society. Undeniably, the media has a huge influence over their audience. Though sometimes, the people we rely on for information commit simple grammatical errors.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with Kuya Kim. We know him as the “The Weatherman” who obviously reports weather forecasts. In his reports, we usually hear this line:

“Ang pinaka- latest sa ating weather report ngayon ay…”

Something seems wrong in this sentence. The Tagalog word “pinaka” means “most” in English, so “pinaka- latest” equates to “most latest” which is a double superlative.

Let me share something that I’ve read from Jose Carillo’s English forum.

"There's a total brownout." 

(This one was said by Karen Davila [of the ABS-CBN TV network]. As she kept on saying it, I felt compelled to call the station. Luckily, I was able to get through. Within minutes she was saying "total blackout"—but in an embarrassed tone.)     

Karen Davila, another highly respected mass media personality, is guilty of idiomatic error.

Sadly, grammatical errors occur in my favorite newspaper as well.

It is quite disappointing how careless the media can be on their grammar.  As the cliché goes, “Nobody’s perfect.” For these people however, a simple mistake becomes a very big deal because it may question their reliability and professionalism. Moreover, they are expected to be more careful since they serve as the source of public information. The simplest grammatical error can cause vagueness and confusion to the information that they want to convey.


English as a Queer Language

We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox is oxen, not "oxes"
Then one fowl is a goose and two are geese,
Yet the plural of moose would never be "meese,"

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not "hice."
If the plural of man is always men,
Why shouldn‘t the plural of pan be "pen"?

-English is a Queer Language, Unknown Author

For those who are not familiar with the word queer, these are the answers of Mr. Webster and the Google: It means strange, unusual, odd, or unique. From the meaning of queer, is there somebody who would agree with the title of the poem written above?

In my perception, English is a queer language because of its unique and unusual characteristics. Some of us may wonder why English is confusing, considering that it is practically the world's most common language. For instance, one cannot simply go on a business or talk to corporate people if he or she could not speak fluently in English. The same goes with travelers who go to different countries that they must speak in English to be able to communicate with various nationalities. 

We Filipinos are very fond of English and it somehow becomes our secondary language. Everybody knows a little English regardless of the age, gender, and educational attainment. However, does everyone realizes how strange English is? For example, we have he, his, and him for the masculine, so why not she, shis, and shim for the feminine?

Take a look at these pictures: 


See? That’s how odd English is.

Indeed, English is far from plain and ordinary. It is a complex language when it comes to pronunciation, intonation, word formation, figures of speech, and functions. In order to speak and write in English effectively, one must know the rules. However, more often than not, we get confused because most of us have different approaches to this particular language. We tend to do things that for us are right, but truly are wrong. One more other reason of our confusion is because of its broadness; unlike in Arithmetic that when you understand a certain formula, you can always get the correct answer from there. It differs from English language wherein you put your thoughts into words, thus must be in proper English form.  

We must conform with the rules for us to achieve accepted English writing. Moreover, one should use this language outside of a formal classroom setting to develop one’s proficiency in English. 



The sizes of some photos that I have taken from the Internet are too large, for you readers to see them clearly. :) 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

“It is the gap between thought and word which one must learn to bridge.”

That’s exactly my problem: putting my thoughts and ideas into words. If “words” meant actual talking, then I guess that wouldn’t be so hard for me. But, if it meant writing them down, now that’s probably going to be a bit of a problem. See, sometimes because there are so many ideas flipping around in my mind, I don’t know how to express them all into a decent paragraph. The minute I take a pen and try to write something down, my mind goes blank. Even if I do manage to come up with something, I doubt it would barely make any sense. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who experiences that though. Surely it happens to even the best writers.

Why, then, is it so hard to write?

According to a certain website (the link is down there), writing demands the integration of diverse cognitive, memory, linguistic, motor, and affective systems, each of which makes its own unique contribution to the writing process and the text that gets written. Writers must juggle all of these systems simultaneously. Basically, it requires one to think, be creative, think, get your thoughts together, think, and think, AND THINK, AND REALLY THINK ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

How do I bridge that gap?
The answer is, obviously, obvious: PRACTICE, PRATICE, PRACTICE! Contrary to what some people think, writing, like any other skill, is not something you’re just born with. It's an art that must be learned. Genes weren’t responsible for making great writers, practice is. Even news writers get their articles rejected. Even authors get writer’s block. But after all that, they pick up their pens, and get the story going. A writer cannot simply make do with a rushed article. They have to edit, fix, and proofread it again, and again. Get your stream of consciousness together, take out a pen, and start expressing your ideas into words. The next thing you know, BOOM, thy gap has been bridged.

I got the title from an article in one of my English journals back in high school. The name of the writer, and the journal, slipped my mind though. But I'll be sure to add it up soon. Wouldn't want to be accused of plagiarizing. :) THANKS FOR READING! :))