Lessons in the "English" Category

Office Stationery and Equipment

Today let’s talk about office stationery and office equipment. Here is a selection… Things that hold pieces of paper together include: staples that are in a stapler, Sellotape, a bulldog clip and a paperclip. The latter can be kept in a paperclip holder. To remove the staple in the paper we use a staple remover! Rubber bands can be used to bundle paper documents together.

A ‘Pritt’ stick, a form of glue, can sometimes be useful to glue things together. ‘Blue-Tak’ or drawing pins are used to pin pieces of paper on a notice board. A hole-punch makes two holes in paper to allow paper to be joined together.

Category: Business / Office stationery / Office equipment

Would you have an English lesson at 7.00am?

Would you have an English lesson at 7.00am? Well, would you? It’s an interesting question, and as I discovered it has multiple answers…

There is the student’s point of view and also the teacher’s point of view. You could be a morning person or perhaps an evening person? We are all different. Another thing to consider is: are we talking about having an English lesson at work or at school? The latter could be in a language school or at High School or University. You could be studying at High School now or could be looking back at your time when there.

Category: Lifestyle / Living / English Lessons

Why you need to speak more than one language!

Today, let’s focus on why you need to speak more than one language in the world today. The first part of the discussion focuses on the negative attitude and ignorance of many British people in Britain when it comes to speaking a second or third language. Frankly, most can’t communicate in another language. Most Brits can only speak English, as ‘English is the business language of the world so we don’t need to speak any other language except English!’

Category: Education / Languages / Business

Cockney cash

Next time you go down to your ATM machine consider the language you will choose when you get your cash. Will it be in your language, or in English, French, German or something else? What about Cockney? If you are in London, especially around the East End of London, those people going to the London Olympics this year might just be surprised to see the choice of Cockney as a language choice when withdrawing cash from an ATM (Cashpoint, Bancomat, hole in the wall, cash) machine.

Category: Business / Banking / Economic

The origins of the word ‘OK’

There are many thoughts as to the origin of the word OK. It is likely to have had African origins. The first written use of the word OK was in Tennessee, America, in 1790. An Andrew Jackson wrote: "Proved a bill of sale from Hugh McGary to Gasper Mansker, for a Negro man, which was O.K.”

However, in the American Choctaw Indian language, there is a word okeh, which means "it is so". It is likely this word was used in some American communities in the early 19th century.

In 1815, a William Richardson who had travelled from New Orleans wrote in his diary: ‘We travelled to NY we arrived OK.’ The Boston Morning Post is credited with introducing the word ‘OK’ (all correct) on 23rd March 1839 in the midst of a long paragraph. In 1840, one presidential candidate Martin van Buren was nicknamed ‘Old Kinderhook’ (OK), as he was a native from Kinderhook, NY.

During the 1830s & 1840s comical abbreviations flourished in the American press, thus helping spread the word. In the 1860s, British people were taught not to use this ‘American word’, as one wouldn’t be speaking ‘correct’ English.

Category: USA / Origin of Words / OK

Patients die in Britain as foreign doctors can’t speak English properly

Patients have died in Britain because British MPs failed to ensure foreign doctors working out-of-hours shifts can speak English properly. The matter hit the headlines recently in the British press. Alarm bells were sounded by some senior British MPs who stressed: “The next government must ‘as a matter of extreme urgency’ demand changes to a 2005 EU directive governing the free movement of labour in an effort to prevent more deaths at the hands of incompetent foreign GPs.”

The report criticised NHS bodies for failing to use other vetting powers. MPs said it was wrong that Britain was sticking rigidly to EU rules, which outlaw checks on overseas GPs’ language skills – while France openly flouted them. The Commons Health select committee also poured scorn on the Government for agreeing to GPs’ demands for a lucrative contract which makes it too easy for them to opt out of responsibility for out-of-hours care. This has forced the NHS to bring in doctors from abroad.

Diplomatic English - Flip Flop Diplomacy

How many diplomats wear flip flops at work? Not many I hear you say! Certainly few would meet the American president at the White House in Washington wearing them. Least of all in the middle of a harsh freezing winter in February! So who in the diplomatic world might wear them then? The answer was the Dalai Lama. Naturally, he was no ordinary visitor. His mere presence or impending presence was enough to send the Chinese government into a diplomatic overdrive of threats and retaliation. The question was would the Obama government listen to any of it? The visit would certainly test the administration’s commitment to human rights and for its willingness to stand up to China. Before his arrival nothing was left to chance by the White House that minutely choreographed the diplomatic visit. It was as important how the Dalai Lama was to be received as what was to be discussed behind closed doors with him.

Grammar - Revise your symbols

Today, I thought it would be useful to revise some symbols. We sometimes use symbols in our writing e.g. we use @ for at in our e- mail addresses somewhere. On our keyboards we can use € for euro, ₤ for pound, and $ for dollar. We might even squeeze in a number (i.e. #) or shorten and to &. We also use % for percent and = for equals, also > for greater than and < for less than.

A star (asterisk) (i.e.*) is a reference mark used to indicate an explanatory sentence or paragraph at the bottom of a page. A * is also used to replace a letter or letters left out in swear words to avoid them becoming objectionable, yet conveying the same force meant by the speaker e.g. He replied, “Don't be such a b***** fool!” We can also use a * for example when talking about a 3* hotel. An asterisk is often used to mean multiply in programming languages.

Revise your punctuation - 2

Today we’ll look at some more English language punctuation marks.

Don’t confuse a dash (i.e.–) with a hyphen! (i.e.-) A dash is used to denote a sudden change in the construction or sentiment: e.g. “The heroes of the Great War – how we cherish them.” A dash is also used to replace the words: (that is, namely) e.g. He excelled in three sports – football, rugby, and cricket.

Revise your punctuation! - 1

Many students are good at reading articles in English but when it comes to punctuation in dictation (a listening, writing and spelling exercise) they sometimes run into problems.

While we use punctuation marks in written form we don’t often say them aloud. It is of course just a question of remembering them after learning them. The question is though how good are you at remembering them?

Even native English people forget their punctuation! So where should we start? We all hopefully know where a full stop (point, dot or period) (i.e. .) goes - at the end of a sentence! Probably a comma (i.e. ,), but let’s double-check everything.