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Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-04-11, 18:47
by Antea
linguoboy wrote:"holidays" vs "break" is a UK vs US distinction, in case you didn't


I didn’t know about this distinction. All this information you provided about Easter is very interesting.

In Catalonia, Good Friday and Easter Monday are official holidays, but schools and education centres usually have the whole week off, plus Monday.

In Spanish regions, they usually have holiday on “Good Thursday” (or Holy Thursday :hmm: ) and “Good Friday”, but not on Easter Monday.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-04-11, 18:52
by linguoboy
Antea wrote:In Catalonia, Good Friday and Easter Monday are official holidays, but schools and education centres usually have the whole week off, plus Monday.

I think that's true in most historically Catholic areas of Europe. It is in Germany, for instance.

Antea wrote:In Spanish regions, they usually have holiday ondays off for “Good Thursday” (or Holy Thursday :hmm: ) and “Good Friday”, but not on Easter Monday.

I've never heard "Good Thursday" in English. It's "Holy Thursday" or (especially in UK and Episcopal usage) "Maundy Thursday". ("Maundy" is cognate with mandate and historically refers to the Last Supper or the foot-washing ceremony associated with it.)

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-04-14, 15:44
by Antea
If the question is,

“Are you wearing a tracksuit today?”

what would be the correct answer?

- No, I don’t

Or

- No, I am not :hmm:

(The verb is confusing me)

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-04-14, 16:35
by Linguaphile
Antea wrote:If the question is,

“Are you wearing a tracksuit today?”

what would be the correct answer?

- No, I don’t

Or

- No, I am not :hmm:

(The verb is confusing me)


No, I am not.
(or: No, I'm not.)

Think of it this way: In the question, you are asked "Are you wearing a tracksuit today?" You answer it the same way (with the same verb): "No, I am not wearing a tracksuit today." It is not necessary to repeat the entire content of the question in the answer, so it is shortened to "No, I am not."

If you were asked "Do you wear tracksuits often?" you would use the verb "do" in your answer, just as it is used in the question: "No, I don't wear tracksuits often" and this would normally be shortened to "No, I don't."

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-04-14, 16:41
by Antea
Linguaphile wrote:Think of it this way: In the question, you are asked "Are you wearing a tracksuit today?" You answer it the same way (with the same verb): "No, I am not wearing a tracksuit today." It is not necessary to repeat the entire content of the question in the answer, so it is shortened to "No, I am not."

If you were asked "Do you wear tracksuits often?" you would use the verb "do" in your answer, just as it is used in the question: "No, I don't wear tracksuits often" and this would normally be shortened to "No, I don't."


Ok, thanks, I understand :yep:

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-04-14, 16:52
by Linguaphile
linguoboy wrote:
Antea wrote:In Catalonia, Good Friday and Easter Monday are official holidays, but schools and education centres usually have the whole week off, plus Monday.

I think that's true in most historically Catholic areas of Europe. It is in Germany, for instance.

The part about having a week off is true in parts of the western U.S. too. Nearly all schools here get a week off (I'm not going to say "all", but technically I don't know of any that don't). There are three variations: some schools have the week before Easter Sunday (Holy Week) off, some schools have the week after Easter off (with or without Good Friday as well), and some schools have moved the week off to a more fixed date in late March or early April in order to make it a less religiously-based "Spring Break" that occurs at the same time each year. Regardless of when the week off occurs and whether or not it is considered "religious," nearly all schools have a week off near Easter. Even in the schools where it occurs on a fixed date, it's a date that will coincide with Easter in some years and it's basically an "Easter Break" that morphed into a non-religious "Spring Break" over time. In my experience the second variation (the week following Easter Sunday) is the most common, but I know of local schools that are following all three of those variations this year.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-07-20, 17:41
by LifeDeath
Hello people! It's been long time no see. I had my last year at the university so I was working on my graduation project but now that I'm done I'll have more time for English and obviously I have new questions which I want to ask now.
They are pretty typical and most of them are similar to what I've asked here already but in each case there's something that's not completely clear to me and that's why I'm asking. Here are some of them:


1. I thought that I knew everything about English tenses, as least I thought I had seen and more or less thoroughly examined every usage. But it was a couple of days ago that I stumbled across this example in the English-question topic: "Here's some really nice cheese that I don't think you will have tasted before". It claims to be a grammatical sentence, as stated by the person who posted it, but it has a really weird structure. I'd expect "...that I don't think you have tasted before" because this "will" sounds very strange and unusual to me here, especially when used with "before" which is usually a past tense marker. And indeed, the second part of the sentence would sound very fine if it was used in the simple past or perfect tense. Again, if we could drop off the word "before", it would also make more sense to me. So why is it used in that way? Why not just say "Here's some really nice cheese that I don't think you have ever tasted before"?


2. There was another question there about this sentence: "If she’d stop looking in the mirror I think she’d stop being so depressed". I guess this is a Donald Trump's tweet and it has some bigger context to it but now I want to look at this sentence individually. So some guys (who are not native speakers) said that 'd here is a contraction for "could" and they also said that this part is incorrect because 'd is always either "would" or "had". But what interested me was [can't find a word] whether "would" could be used in this sentence. I know that future is not usually used in this type of sentences, but can "would" work as a substitute for "was willing"? Like if we said "If she were willing to stop looking in the mirror I think she’d stop being so depressed". Would that be correct?


3. Is the sentence "...and "familia" stands Latin for "family" correct? I suppose that "is Latin for" would work instead of "stand". But I'm curious about this particular usage.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-07-22, 16:11
by linguoboy
LifeDeath wrote:Hello people! It's been long time no see.

"It's been a long time" or "Long time no see". (These are both fixed phrases; combining them sounds odd.)

Welcome back! You must have been using your English a lot while you were away because I hardly had to make any corrections to your post.

LifeDeath wrote:1. I thought that I knew everything about English tenses, at least I thought I had seen and more or less thoroughly examined every usage. But it was a couple of days ago that I stumbled across this example in the English-question topic: "Here's some really nice cheese that I don't think you will have tasted before". It claims to be a grammatical sentence, as stated by the person who posted it, but it has a really weird structure. I'd expect "...that I don't think you have tasted before" because this "will" sounds very strange and unusual to me here, especially when used with "before" which is usually a past tense marker. And indeed, the second part of the sentence would sound very fine if it was used in the simple past or perfect tense. Again, if we could drop off the word "before", it would also make more sense to me. So why is it used in that way? Why not just say "Here's some really nice cheese that I don't think you have ever tasted before"?

This is more of the epistemic use of modals, which we've talked about already. It's usage #5 in this list. The only function of will here is to make the speaker's assumption sound a little more tentative. Dropping it from the sentence changes the meaning less than dropping "before" (which emphasises that the period of time the speaker has in mind extends beyond the present situation).

LifeDeath wrote:2. There was another question there about this sentence: "If she’d stop looking in the mirror I think she’d stop being so depressed". I guess this is a Donald Trump's tweet and it has some bigger context to it but now I want to look at this sentence individually. So some guys (who are not native speakers) said that 'd here is a contraction for "could" and they also said that this part is incorrect because 'd is always either "would" or "had". But what interested me was [can't find a word] whether "would" could be used in this sentence. I know that future tense is not usually used in this type of sentences, but can "would" work as a substitute for "was willing"? Like if we said "If she were willing to stop looking in the mirror I think she’d stop being so depressed". Would that be correct?

They're dead wrong about 'd being a contraction of "could". I don't know where they got that notion.

This is a very straightforward use of would + verb. This construction is called "the conditional" for a reason: It expresses what would happen if a particular condition were to be fulfilled. We use would like this all the time. (Again, see the examples here.)

Your example with irrealis were works fine, too. The important thing is to use a tense/mood combination which makes it clear that this is something the speaker things will not happen.

LifeDeath wrote:3. Is the sentence "...and "familia" stands Latin for "family" correct? I suppose that "is Latin for" would work instead of "stand". But I'm curious about this particular usage.

"Stand" is only transitive in a few very specific usages; this isn't one of them. So it's incorrect to put "Latin" there all by itself, as if it were a direct object. Another possibility (if you wanted to keep the verb) would be to say:

"...and "familia" stands for "family" in Latin"

But this is kind of an unusual use of "stand" and I think you'd be better off with "is Latin for" or "means...in Latin".

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-07-26, 18:19
by LifeDeath
Thanks for the answers.
linguoboy wrote:"It's been a long time" or "Long time no see". (These are both fixed phrases; combining them sounds odd.)

Oh, I thought it meant "it's been a long time without seeing (posting) here".

linguoboy wrote:Welcome back! You must have been using your English a lot while you were away because I hardly had to make any corrections to your post.

I have been watching some American TV shows but without close analysis of word usage, grammar, etc. I also found a friend on the internet, a woman from Las Vegas and we have talked for about 50 hours overall for the last 4 months. Considering that she was usually doing about 90% of talking I can't say that I got much experience from it, but listening must have been helpful, too.

linguoboy wrote:They're dead wrong about 'd being a contraction of "could". I don't know where they got that notion.
This is a very straightforward use of would + verb. This construction is called "the conditional" for a reason: It expresses what would happen if a particular condition were to be fulfilled. We use would like this all the time.

I answered this in the topic and some guy appeared he said that
We don't put "would" in the conditional clause. It is grammatically incorrect!

and that the only possible option here is "if she stopped looking..." (which is called a conditional 2 and this is how it's taught in textbooks).
I suppose that has something to do with the fact that most learners are taught that "will" is never used in a conditional clause. I tried to think how they were different from each other and I supposed that "if she stopped" is a standard phrasing while "if she would stop" has some connotation of volition to it, as if it's up to her whether she wants to stop it or not and has enough will for it. That's why I suggested an alternative option "If whe were willing to stop".
But I'm not sure about this. I know that that guy has lived in England for about 10 - 15 years, so maybe this usage of would is a feature of American English?


I also have some other questions for today:

In Eminem song "8 Mile" the first sentence is "Sometimes I just feel like quitting I still might". I suppose it's a fronted version of "I still might quitting". In this case it sounds very strange because we don't use participles after modals verbs. So the sentence should be "Quit I still might (I still might quit)", right? I understand that this might be sort of slang, but even slang has some unwritten rules, and I've never seen an infinitive used instead of a participle and vice-versa. Maybe that's why it sound incorrect to me.

I was reading this article about types of English modality where everything is explained in simple words. The third type of modality is Dynamic modality, and here's what(how?) they define it: "Dynamic modality does not express the speaker's opinion, nor does the speaker affect the situation. It describes a factual situation". And as an example they provide "He can speak perfect French".
The reason I'm asking this question is because I don't really understand why this sentence doesn't represent the epistemic modality. Really, what I suppose a person can or can't do is merely my estimation, isn't it? I think that he can speak perfect French, but someone else might say that he can't. What is the difference between the epistemic and dynamic modality here? Or can I say, in simple words, that if a statement is about ability or volition, then it's the dynamic modality, and everything else is either epistemic or deontic?

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-07-26, 20:12
by linguoboy
LifeDeath wrote:
linguoboy wrote:"It's been a long time" or "Long time no see". (These are both fixed phrases; combining them sounds odd.)

Oh, I thought it meant "it's been a long time without seeing (posting) here".

"Long time no see" is an idiom; it violates all ordinary rules of English syntax, so you can't extend it into a longer sentence.

LifeDeath wrote:I also found a friend on the internet, a woman from Las Vegas and we have talked for about 50 hours overall forover/during the last 4 months.


LifeDeath wrote:I answered this in the topic and some guy appeared hewho said that:
We don't put "would" in the conditional clause. It is grammatically incorrect!

and that the only possible option here is "if she stopped looking..." (which is called a conditional 2 and this is how it's taught in textbooks).

He's simply wrong, and so are the textbooks he's quoting. A descriptive grammar of English (like the Cambridge) would explain all that.

LifeDeath wrote:I suppose that has something to do with the fact that most learners are taught that "will" is never used in a conditional clause. I tried to think how they were different from each other and I supposed that "if she stopped" is a standard phrasing while "if she would stop" has some connotation of volition to it, as if it's up to her whether she wants to stop it or not and has enough will for it. That's why I suggested an alternative option "If whe were willing to stop".
But I'm not sure about this. I know that that guy has lived in England for about 10 - 15 years, so maybe this usage of would is a feature of American English?

I think it's less common in British English, but it exists there, too.

Would behaves quite differently to will. They are historically related and would is used as a past tense form of will in the very specific circumstance of future-in-the-past, but otherwise they really are distinct verbs with distinct uses.

LifeDeath wrote:I also have some other questions for today:

In the Eminem song "8 Mile" the first sentence is "Sometimes I just feel like quitting I still might". I suppose it's a fronted version of "I still might quitting".

No, it's two independent clauses. "Sometimes I just feel like quitting. I still might [quit]."

(I don't know if that's your own transcription or not, but if you're using a transcription you found on some lyrics site, you should know that these often ignore standard English punctuation conventions and often spelling conventions as well.)

LifeDeath wrote:I was reading this article about types of English modality where everything is explained in simple words. The third type of modality is Dynamic modality, and here's what(how?) they define it: "Dynamic modality does not express the speaker's opinion, nor does the speaker affect the situation. It describes a factual situation". And as an example they provide "He can speak perfect French".
The reason I'm asking this question is because I don't really understand why this sentence doesn't represent the epistemic modality. Really, what I suppose a person can or can't do is merely my estimation, isn't it?

Is it? If a professor of French tells you, "He can speak perfect French" and you simply repeat this judgment to someone else, you're not giving your estimation. You're just reporting what was told to you as objective fact. Compare this to:

LifeDeath wrote:What is the difference between the epistemic and dynamic modality here?

Here are some examples:

1. "He should speak perfect French."
2. "He must speak perfect French."
3. "He's supposed to speak perfect French."

All of these can be deontic or epistemic, depending on the context; none of them are dynamic. They don't express his ability to speak French as an objective fact, they either state an obligation on his part or give the the speaker's evaluation of how likely the fact is to be true.

(The epistemic use of "should" is rather literary and rare; most often, this is a simple statement of obligation. "Must" is probably more often used epistemically than deontically. It depends whether the speaker is, say, stating the requirements of a position ["Applicant must speak perfect French"] or making a conjecture ["Well, he lived in France until he was 20 so he must speak perfect French"]. For "supposed to", the epistemic usage represents hearsay, i.e. "He's supposed to speak perfect French. At least, that's what his roommates have been saying.")

LifeDeath wrote:Or can I say, in simple words, that if a statement is about ability or volition, then it's the dynamic modality, and everything else is either epistemic or deontic?

There are modalities which are neither epistemic nor deontic nor dynamic.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-08-03, 17:12
by LifeDeath
linguoboy wrote:He's simply wrong, and so are the textbooks he's quoting. A descriptive grammar of English (like the Cambridge) would explain all that.

I have one last question about it. Is this usage informal? A guy who has a friend from the USA said that he was told that this is a colloquial use of would and isn't normally used in writing.


I also have one more question about "would". In the TV show "Friends" there's an episode where a table with a paperball on it is shown. Then a woman asks "Whose little ball of paper is this?" and a guy replies "Oh, that would be mine!".
Here at 0:20
Again, I don't understand why he wouldn't simply say "That's mine!" using half as little words. So I suppose, maybe it's used here to express doubts? Like the guy is not sure, but with a certain probability he makes a supposition that the ball is actually his. Is this right? (But as it seemed to me, his intonation wasn't that of a doubtful man).
Really, what would change if he said "Oh that's mine!"? There should have been a reason to use more words than could do, and (in my opinion) use a less common phrasing.
I also want to know is I could say "That will be mine" in this context. Would it express more certainty? But as we recently discussed - "will" itself can be used to express probability. Maybe the difference here is only based on context and intonation?
Shortly, what do you think is the difference between
"That is mine".
"That would be mine".
"That will be mine".

in the given context?

It's also strange that the woman referred to the ball as "this" and the guy said "that", though they were at about the same distance from it.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-08-05, 3:41
by Dormouse559
LifeDeath wrote:I also have one more question about "would". In the TV show "Friends" there's an episode where a table with a paperball on it is shown. Then a woman asks "Whose little ball of paper is this?" and a guy replies "Oh, that would be mine!".
Here at 0:20
Again, I don't understand why he wouldn't simply say "That's mine!" using half as little words. So I suppose, maybe it's used here to express doubts? Like the guy is not sure, but with a certain probability he makes a supposition that the ball is actually his. Is this right? (But as it seemed to me, his intonation wasn't that of a doubtful man).
Really, what would change if he said "Oh that's mine!"? There should have been a reason to use more words than could do, and (in my opinion) use a less common phrasing.

You're overstating the importance of conciseness. Just because there's a shorter way of saying the same thing doesn't mean people will always use it. In the "Friends" episode, "That would be mine" serves related purposes; it does allow for a bit of doubt, in that it implies he's deduced that fact from evidence, e.g. he made a ball of paper earlier. In this case, it's also more of that Anglophone politeness I've told you about. More polite statements tend to be more indirect. It wouldn't have been rude exactly if he'd just said "That's mine", but depending on his intonation, it might have come across as a bit too strong, a little possessive.

LifeDeath wrote:I also want to know is I could say "That will be mine" in this context. Would it express more certainty? But as we recently discussed - "will" itself can be used to express probability. Maybe the difference here is only based on context and intonation?

You could say "That will be mine". It feels about the same to me as "That would be mine".

LifeDeath wrote:It's also strange that the woman referred to the ball as "this" and the guy said "that", though they were at about the same distance from it.

Not especially strange. The boundary between "this" vs. "that" can be a little fuzzy sometimes. It's also important to remember that "Friends" is scripted. The actors are just saying what the writers wrote, and it's always possible for their performance to not line up exactly with what the lines imply.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2019-08-05, 14:28
by linguoboy
Dormouse559 wrote:More polite statements tend to be more indirect. It wouldn't have been rude exactly if he'd just said "That's mine", but depending on his intonation, it might have come across as a bit too strong, a little possessive.

That was exactly my reaction. Saying "That's mine" often carries the implication that the other person was expressing some kind of claim and you feel the need to reassert your rights to it, e.g. "That's mine [and you can't have it]", "That's mine [so don't throw it out]".

Dormouse559 wrote:
LifeDeath wrote:I also want to know is I could say "That will be mine" in this context. Would it express more certainty? But as we recently discussed - "will" itself can be used to express probability. Maybe the difference here is only based on context and intonation?

You could say "That will be mine". It feels about the same to me as "That would be mine".

Slightly disagree. I find the epistemic use of will here somewhat stuffy.

Dormouse559 wrote:
LifeDeath wrote:It's also strange that the woman referred to the ball as "this" and the guy said "that", though they were at about the same distance from it.

Not especially strange. The boundary between "this" vs. "that" can be a little fuzzy sometimes. It's also important to remember that "Friends" is scripted. The actors are just saying what the writers wrote, and it's always possible for their performance to not line up exactly with what the lines imply.

This coincides with what I would say in real life though.

By saying "this", the first speaker is asserting that the ball is closer to her than to the other speaker (metaphorically, if not literally). If the second speaker also says "this", it can sound like he's creating a contrast. That is:

"Whose little ball of paper is this?"
"Oh, this would be mine!"

makes it sound to me like there are two balls of paper and he's claiming the one nearer to him, i.e. "This would be mine [and I don't know or don't care about that other one]". If the exchange had been:

"Whose little ball of paper is that?"
"Oh, this would be mine!"

it would sound equally natural to me. Interestingly, this version:

"Whose little ball of paper is that?"
"Oh, that would be mine!"

also sounds natural to me. That's because English no longer has a demonstrative for "away from both of us" (yon used to function this way, at least in some contexts, but it's obsolete now), so we use "that" for anything we regard from any sort of distance.

Keep in mind, though, that distance can be psychological as well as physical. So to go back to our hypothetical situation, imagine that the woman is much closer to the object than the man. Then they have this exchange:

"What is that?"
"Oh, this would be mine."

In this case, I understand the demonstratives as expressing metaphorical or psychological distance. By using "that" the woman is expressing that she doesn't recognise the object or feel any particular connexion to it. It can even be used to express distaste. I think most of us grew up having exchanges like this:

"What is THAT?"
"Oh, that's a X."
I know what it is, what's it doing in here?"

In this case--despite the form of the question--the person with more authority (usually a parent) is not asking for an identification of the item. They are making a statement about the inappropriateness of such an item being where it is. Again, they could be quite close to it, but they are using "that" to express a feeling of disassociation.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2020-05-10, 14:58
by LifeDeath
Hello everyone! I'm glad to finally be back here. After almost a year of lab work I'm finally here and able to get back to learning English due to the quarantine. I've had many questions to ask throughout this long period and unfortunately none of them would come to mind now. It was about a month ago that it turned out to me that jotting things down would never be a bad idea especially if one needs to memorize something.
So I'll start by asking a couple of simple questions, as usual:

1. On my English class back in October I had an argument with my English teacher so now I want you to resolve it. I was asked to comment on a table with some technical numbers in it using one of the words that helps describe things as graphs, tables, histograms. You know, a typical task for an English textbook. Now I won't remember what was in the table, but it doesn't matter. The thing is that I said "This data represents that the firs item is better than the other" or something like this. She instantly rebuked at me saying that "data" is not a mass noun so if I want to use its singular form I should say "datum". I tried to argue with her, which was pointless. She said that some words of Latin origin have completely different singular and plural forms. Indeed, I know words like "phenomenon", "criterion" and I had even heard "datum" so it was familiar to me. I browsed the internet then and found examples where "data" was used as a singular noun. So, even now, half a year later, I haven't seen examples with "datum" either because they have been magically eluding me or because they belong to utterly specific contexts, such as science or engineering. What is your opinion on it?

2. What is the difference between "go down in flames" and "go up in smoke"? I guess they mean kind of the same thing: "to burn", "to be set afire", but technically "go up" and "go down" are perfect antonyms, which makes it interesting.

3. Are there situations or contexts or usages where you would more likely use "to" after "help" than in any other situation or just used it at all?

4. I have recorded me reading a short part from "The Picture Of Dorian Gray" and posted it on reddit to have people say what they think about my accent. In other posts of mine people usually said that I had some kind of a Russian accent that they couldn't pinpoint exactly. At first I thought it was because of palatalization or veralization so I worked these things through. I want you to listen to it and share your opinion on what I should improve. I know it can be really challenging to make out what exactly sounds wrong, but maybe you'll get it. I know that my intonation is terrible, but now I'm focusing on phonetics. Here's the link:
https://www.reddit.com/r/JudgeMyAccent/ ... o_i_sound/

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2020-05-10, 15:44
by linguoboy
Welcome back! I was beginning to think we'd never see you again!

I'll get to the rest of your questions later, but for now I just wanted to tackle one quick one:
LifeDeath wrote:2. What is the difference between "go down in flames" and "go up in smoke"? I guess they mean kind of the same thing: "to burn", "to be set afire", but technically "go up" and "go down" are perfect antonyms, which makes it interesting.

My father was fond of saying, "A house burns up and a house burns down and a 'slim chance' and a 'fat chance' mean the same thing!" It's really just a question of focus: when fire burns something, some of what remains will rise as smoke ("burn up") and some will remain as ash ("burn down"). One metaphoric extension focuses on the rising smoke, the other on the falling ashes.

But go down in flames and go up in smoke aren't synonyms. Both are used metaphorically to talk about losses, but not the same kinds. "Go up in smoke" can be used not only for the loss of concrete things but also abstract things, e.g. "$50,000, up in smoke, with nothing to show for it!" "When he told me that, my hopes went up in smoke".

But "go down in flames" is a reference to a fighter pilot being shot down in aerial combat. Speakers are still aware of the metaphor--when we used to use it in college, we'd often elabourate it, e.g. "I went down in flames, spinning, and flipping over and over". It's roughly equivalent to "crash and burn" (a metaphor drawn from auto racing). The meaning is that you've screwed something up terribly. With "go down in flames", there's also often an implication that you were "shot down" by somebody. (We often used it when talking about approaching others romantically.)

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2020-05-10, 18:56
by LifeDeath
Those examples are indeed interesting! Looking forward to reading other answers!

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2020-05-11, 16:34
by Gormur
Linguaphile wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Antea wrote:In Catalonia, Good Friday and Easter Monday are official holidays, but schools and education centres usually have the whole week off, plus Monday.

I think that's true in most historically Catholic areas of Europe. It is in Germany, for instance.

The part about having a week off is true in parts of the western U.S. too. Nearly all schools here get a week off (I'm not going to say "all", but technically I don't know of any that don't). There are three variations: some schools have the week before Easter Sunday (Holy Week) off, some schools have the week after Easter off (with or without Good Friday as well), and some schools have moved the week off to a more fixed date in late March or early April in order to make it a less religiously-based "Spring Break" that occurs at the same time each year. Regardless of when the week off occurs and whether or not it is considered "religious," nearly all schools have a week off near Easter. Even in the schools where it occurs on a fixed date, it's a date that will coincide with Easter in some years and it's basically an "Easter Break" that morphed into a non-religious "Spring Break" over time. In my experience the second variation (the week following Easter Sunday) is the most common, but I know of local schools that are following all three of those variations this year.
When I was in school we only had 3 days off including the weekend, so Friday~Sunday. That was private school though. The more you know :)

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2020-05-11, 17:18
by linguoboy
LifeDeath wrote:1. In my English class back in October I had an argument with my English teacher so now I want you to resolve it. I was asked to comment on a table with some technical numbers in it using one of the words that helps describe things as graphs, tables, histograms. You know, a typical task for an English textbook. Now I won't remember what was in the table, but it doesn't matter. The thing is that I said "This data represents that the first item is better than the other" or something like this. She instantly rebuked at me saying that "data" is not a mass noun so if I want to use its singular form I should say "datum". I tried to argue with her, which was pointless. She said that some words of Latin origin have completely different singular and plural forms. Indeed, I know words like "phenomenon", "criterion" and I had even heard "datum" so it was familiar to me. I browsed the internet then and found examples where "data" was used as a singular noun. So, even now, half a year later, I haven't seen examples with "datum" either because they have been magically eluding me or because they belong to utterly specific contexts, such as science or engineering. What is your opinion on it?

Ah, this old shibboleth! Her understanding of English usage is at least 20 years out of date. To quote the AHD:
In our 2005 survey, 66 percent of the Usage Panel accepted the use of data with a singular verb and pronoun in the sentence Once the data is in, we can begin to analyze it. Fully 92 percent accepted the sentence We have very little data on the efficacy of such programs, the same percentage that accepted the use of data as a plural noun. (Note that the quantifier very little, like much in the last quotation given above, is not used with plural nouns such as facts or results.) The percentages in the 2005 survey represent significant increases over those of our 1988 survey, making it safe to say that singular data has become a standard usage.

The use of datum is very restricted these days. Wiktionary claims that it's so common in geodetic contexts it's even developed the analogical plural "datums" but it provides no citations and I know nothing about that field.

LifeDeath wrote:3. Are there situations or contexts or usages where you would more likely use "to" after "help" than in any other situations or just used it at all?

Do you mean "help" the verb ("Let me help you to search that") or "help" the noun ("This guide may be of some help to you")? And do you mean when followed by a verb (as in the first example) or by a noun or pronoun (as in the second example)?

LifeDeath wrote:4. I have recorded me reading a short part from "The Picture Of Dorian Gray" and posted it on reddit to have people say what they think about my accent. In other posts of mine people usually said that I had some kind of a Russian accent that they couldn't pinpoint exactly. At first I thought it was because of palatalization or veralization so I worked these things through. I want you to listen to it and share your opinion on what I should improve. I know it can be really challenging to make out what exactly sounds wrong, but maybe you'll get it. I know that my intonation is terrible, but now I'm focusing on phonetics. Here's the link:
https://www.reddit.com/r/JudgeMyAccent/ ... o_i_sound/

Okay, I'll give it a listen. I can tell you that one think I've noticed from a lot of nonnative speakers is the quality and duration of their vowels. The latter is particularly tricky, since it's not noted in the orthography or most phonetic transcriptions and rarely mentioned outside of specialist contexts, but it's really obvious when listening to someone.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2020-05-11, 20:05
by LifeDeath
linguoboy wrote:Do you mean "help" the verb ("Let me help you to search that") or "help" the noun ("This guide may be of some help to you")? And do you mean when followed by a verb (as in the first example) or by a noun or pronoun (as in the second example)?

I'm talking about "help" used as a verb and followed by a verb. When I was beginning studying English I often came across examples where "to" was used after "help". I think this is intrinsic to the British English. But then I started learning mostly from American sources where, as I've noticed, "help" is typically used without "to". For example: "Can you help me understand this?", "I helped her repair her car". But I wondered, maybe there can be contexts where "to" is used (in AmE)? And if it is, it certainly adds to some connotation which is hard to pinpoint verbally, but otherwise, why would you use it if it didn't change anything?

linguoboy wrote:Okay, I'll give it a listen. I can tell you that one think I've noticed from a lot of nonnative speakers is the quality and duration of their vowels. The latter is particularly tricky, since it's not noted in the orthography or most phonetic transcriptions and rarely mentioned outside of specialist contexts, but it's really obvious when listening to someone.

Okay, I'm really interested to know your opinion.

Re: I have some questions

Posted: 2020-05-11, 21:21
by linguoboy
LifeDeath wrote:But I wondered, maybe there can be contexts where "to" is used (in AmE)? And if it is, it certainly adds to some connotation which is hard to pinpoint verbally, but otherwise, why would you use it if it didn't change anything?

Because natural variation is a thing?

Offhand, I can't think of any difference in connotation between, say, "He helped me fix it" and "He helped me to fix it". I'll have to give it more thought, go through some examples, maybe I'll find something.

LifeDeath wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Okay, I'll give it a listen. I can tell you that one think I've noticed from a lot of nonnative speakers is the quality and duration of their vowels. The latter is particularly tricky, since it's not noted in the orthography or most phonetic transcriptions and rarely mentioned outside of specialist contexts, but it's really obvious when listening to someone.

Okay, I'm really interested to know your opinion.

One thing off the bat: the stressed vowel of innumerable is /uː/, not /ʌ/. This is the case for all words with the learned root numer- rather than the (partially) inherited form number.

But speaking of /ʌ/, it's a dead giveaway. Just like most Germans, most Slavic speakers use a quality that is too low, either [ɐ] or [a]. We used to tease one of our German friends by saying "Facking shit!" It's really noticeable in how you say "honey" in the clip (so much so I didn't recognise the word at first). You need to aim for something just a bit closer to <ы> (though of course not quite that high). Interestingly, you're much better at getting it right before /r/.

Another very noticeable feature is how you pronounce /r/. It sounds fully retroflexed instead of just postalveolar, as it is in most varieties of English. There are native varieties of English with [ɻ], but these are chiefly found in Ireland. If you had other features of Irish English in your speech, it wouldn't stand out as much.

Some other striking pronunciations:

* In "pink", the vowel sounds too low, almost [æ].
* In "whose", it's too fronted. There is widespread fronting of /uː/ in US English, but the pronunciation here sounds almost Swedish.
* In "organ", the second syllable is unstressed and reduced; you gave the full /æ/ of organic.
* "Dorian" has a long /oː/ as in door; the way you pronounce it, is sounds like "Darien".
* "Unmown" was unparsable at first. The prefix un- takes secondary stress; the primary stress remains on the root word. Putting primary stress on un- ends up making the /oː/ of mown much too short.

Actually, shortened vowels are a problem throughout. Rhotic varieties of English have at least five different degrees of phonemic vowel length. From longest to shortest:

* stressed diphthongs/"long" vowels: he, mown, came, whose, roar, smoking
* unstressed diphthongs: studio, window, woodbine
* stressed open vowels before voiced segments: divan, shadows, sullen
* stressed open vowels before unvoiced segments: catch, fantastic, dusty, distant
* reduced vowels: tremulous, immobile, pallid

There's overlap here--some stressed "short" vowels are probably as long as some unstressed "long" vowels--but the distinctions are quite noticeable to native speakers even if they don't know what they're noticing. For Scottish English, the vowel length rules are markedly different than for other varieties and this--as much as the different vowel qualities--make it one of the most difficult accents for speakers of other English to understand.

One word in the passage where I really noticed this was monotonous. Every vowel sounded the same length to me. But they aren't; the stressed /ɔ/ should sound noticeably longer than all the unstressed /ə/'s. Indeed, it's one of the ways we can tell where the primary stress is. By contrast, the vowel after it is so much shorter, it sometimes drops out completely, i.e. monot'nous. Another one was odour; the /oː/ is much too short. It should last for twice as long as the unstress /ɚ/ in the second syllable.

I hope this isn't too much to absorb! Overall I think you did a very respectable job. There are some words in that passage even I had to look up!