wish … quit … directed

I love a good digression, and I certainly got one last night. The main grammar point was ‘I wish I was/had/could …’, ‘I wish you/[people/things] were/had/would …’ and ‘I wish [a person/thing] was/had/would …’. While the students were completing a grammar worksheet, I typed ‘I wish I’ into a Major Search Engine to see how it would complete that. One of the suggestions was ‘I wish I knew how to quit you’, which seemed a random idea. Further investigation showed that it is a line from Brokeback Mountain, which I have never seen, but which I know the basic story of. I showed them the video of that character saying that. Most of the students knew about the movie. A Taiwanese student said ‘That was directed by Ang Lee’, then ‘I’m confused about that word directed. Is that the same as direct flight?’. My gut feeling was that it is, but I had to check. Yes, those words, and others, are derived from Latin dērēctus, the past participle of dērigere to align, straighten, guide.

Wordfind.com reports that there are 25 words beginning with direct:
noun: director, directors, directrix, directrixes, directrice, directrices, directress; direction, directions; directory, directories; directive, directives; directness; directorate; directivity
verb: direct, directs, directing, directed
adjective: direct, directer, directest; directorial; directional
adverb: directly

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love, like, don’t like, hate

In some ways, the quartet of words love, like, don’t like and hate runs in parallel to the quartet of hot, warm, cool and cold. Love, like and hate have been part of English for over a thousand years, and have recognisable cognates in the other West Germanic languages. Hot, warm, cool and cold can be modified by very, so and too; love, like and hate can be modified by really, so much and too much to describe a continuum of human emotions.

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‘Food is more useful than pencils’

A few days before Christmas 2006, I was discussing ‘holidays’ with one of my classes in Daejeon, South Korea, starting with Christmas, continuing with New Year(s) (international/solar and traditional/lunar) and so on through the year. People also mentioned national observances which are not public holidays (like Teachers Day) and social observances (like Valentines Day and White Day). Toward the end of the lesson, a student mentioned Pepero Day. 빼빼로 (transliterated in many different ways) is a cookie stick, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed nuts, manufactured by Lotte Confectionery. As a marketing exercise, Lotte plugs 11 November (11/11) as ‘Pepero Day’; people buy the product and give it to their significant others. The student explained “11/11 looks like sticks, and so does pepero”. I asked ‘What about giving pencils? They look like sticks.” The student replied “Food is more useful than pencils”.

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