After posting about shall yesterday, I noticed it several times during the church service this morning. Looking at everything again on the train home, it became apparent that the earlier sources (two 19th century hymns and a congregational response based on a bible verse) used shall exclusively and the later sources (a 20th century translation (or two) of the bible – I’m not sure which one(s) we use) used will, regardless of I/we v you/she/he/it/they and simple v strong intention.
The hymns were:
And those who put their trust in thee / Nor death nor hell shall harm
I shall not fear the battle / If thou art by my side
O Jesus thou hast promised … That where thou art in glory / There shall thy servant be
The congregational response is:
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
This is based on Matthew 8:8, where a Roman centurion says:
Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed. (KJV)
Bible Hub has 25 versions; 16 use will and 9 (apparently the more traditionally based ones) use shall.
The textbook’s section on ‘future forms’ introduced [be] Ving, [be] going to V, will V and shall I/we V? Shall used to be used in statements, the traditional explanation being that I/we shall and you/she/he/it/they will showed a simple intention for the future, while the reverse – I/we will and you/she/it/they shall showed a strong intention. This distinction was probably not ever strictly observed, but throughout the 20th century the use of shall in statements declined. The last remaining holdout is the use of shall in questions of offer or suggestion. Even then, there are many contexts in which I would never use it. One example was (something like) ‘A: Let’s go to the cinema tonight. B: Sure. What shall we see?’. I said to the students that I would never say that, and I can’t imagine that anyone I know would. I would probably say ‘What do you want to see?’, even though that’s much longer and goes against my general principle of ‘keep it short and simple’.
I searched my diary for the two and half years of my first stay in Korea. I used shall twice, both in formulaic expressions. The first was about a night out with colleagues. I left early-ish because I had an early class the next morning, but ‘Most of my colleagues stayed and two (who shall remain nameless) and got falling-down drunk (literally).’ (Google Ngrams shows that shall remain nameless has always been more common than will remain nameless, and grew rapidly in the second half of the 20th century, against the general decline in shall.) The second was ‘One of the level 4 students said that his dream vacation would be to Andromeda […] He said that a fortune teller had told him that he had previously lived there. i asked how he got to earth, and he said that he had “borrowed” a human body. All .. right … err, let’s stick to the planet earth, shall we?’. He then nominated Peru, which kind of makes sense; maybe the Nazca Lines were made by Andromedans.
A task in a test was to write an “email” (that is, with pen and paper) to a friend about a recent holiday. One student wrote about his holiday in Continue reading
One of the best language blogs on the interweb is Sentence First, by Stan Carey. Occasionally he posts a list of links to other language-related articles and blog posts. His most recent Link love contains a link to a recent post of mine.
I thought I’d posted about this before, but I can’t find it now, so apparently not. Over the years, I’ve created a number of grammar summary sheets, and started seriously thinking about this when I was in Korea for the second time in 2015-16. Through my time as an ESL teacher, I’ve noticed that some grammar points keep coming up over and over. The challenge, then, is to get these onto one piece of paper in a coherent way.
By any understanding, English grammar is based on nouns and verbs, with nouns starting with people, things, places and times, and verbs starting with being, having and doing. Extra information then covers which one(s), whose, how many, how much, describing, how and why (and more).
So, my first sheet looks like this:
I love digressions, and the textbook’s topic of photography turned into a discussion of cute animal photos on the internet. The page of photos I quickly found had a wide range of animals, which doubled up as a bit of extra vocabulary learning (sloth is not usually included in vocabulary lists). One of the photos was of a baby hippo, so I said ‘It’s full name is hippopotamus‘. Several students tried to pronounce that and generally failed, so I said ‘Don’t worry, you can always say hippo‘. One student from the Philippines then said ‘In Tagalog, we say hippopoTAmus’. I know just enough Greek to know that, by itself poTAmus is closer to the original pronunciation than POtamus. Greek Wikipedia’s page for river is titled Ποταμός and the one for hippopotamus is Ιπποπόταμος (the ‘single accent or tonos (΄) … indicates stress), so Ποταμός is actually potaMOS, but the stress shifts to PO in the compound word. I said to the student ‘In English, we say hippoPOtamus, but you can always say hippo‘.
Many students say PHOtographer and PHOtography, and it is impossible to get them to say phoTOgrapher and phoTOgraphy. When they try, they say phoTOEgrapher and phoTOEgraphy. As far as I know, no native speakers say PHOtographer, but it may come about that in the future, driven by second language speakers, it is recognised as a general alternative pronunciation. I hope not.
Five years ago, I had two students from Greece. As their vocabulary developed and more Greek-derived words crept into lessons, readings and word lists, the more advanced of the two would say ‘ooh, is Greek word’. (But he was stumped by kaleidoscope, which is not a Greek word, but was coined in English from Greek.) (I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned those two – I’ve got many stories about them.)
a pie tastes good x a tastes good
the pies taste good x the taste good
x it pie tastes good it tastes good
x they pie taste good they taste good
English has two tricky little groups of words. One group – including a and the – is usually used in front of a noun to make a basic noun phrase. The other group – including it and they – is usually used to replace a noun phrase.
But there are other groups of words which can be used both ways:
this pie tastes good this tastes good
those pie taste good those taste good
The other main members of this group are that and these.