Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snobbish



0:03
Thank you Glade.
...............
...............
0:18
No ... It's French ... from France
French, huh.
What? You've never heard of Gladé ...(Buuwwha ha ha ha)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flu or Cold?

(Massachusetts Department of Public Health)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

First snow



First snow

我的背英文單字經驗

      我在讀國中的時候很早就會用"發音"來記單字。也沒老師教,反正從眾多單字裡頭的音韻和拼法之間很容易發現有個"pattern"在。我也很早就知道單字音節的發音和拼法之間的對應不是永遠固定"只有一種",所以碰到這情況我得另外花心力再記一下。所幸國中單字說起來沒有特別的難字,因此背英文單字在那時對我來說不是什麼難事。

      高中之後就牛羊豬狗小兔子大章魚變色了。不但是單字多,難字也冒出一大堆,國中時候很輕鬆的背單字,變成我到了第三天還"記得"我就偷笑了。我說的"記得"指的是--記得意思,記得拼法。畢竟英文考卷上的英文字全部都印出來了,所以我需要的主要是能"看懂"。需要憑空寫出單字的情況是有,但是我實在沒有多餘的心力去擔心這。我高中時候的英文成績也不好。

      上大學後英文壓力頓時減輕。大一的時候是有英文課,但是和高中比起來簡直是...。這時候我開始全部只讀原文書。理由說穿了沒什麼,因為中文版翻得太爛。我是在打算買中文版之前先跟同學借來看,不看還好,看了後實在是不知所云,因為翻譯的人簡直是把書當成"古文"來翻。後來我拿本來就需要買的原文書來看。同樣的也是不看還好,一看之下驚為天人,因為裡頭的書寫方式很平鋪直述,沒什麼難的文法(工科方面的書一般是這情況),單字的話除了會一直重複之外,很多專業術語光看字面也很好懂(不像中文翻譯,翻得像天書一樣...),這之後我就只看原文書。

      大二時我參加學校的英文會話社。升大四前的暑假我到位於台北市的美國文化中心附設的語言學校(多年前已經停辦了)上會話課。細節我不說,單字方面我是發現在上課時有實際用到和"聽到"的單字我比較容易記住。這之後一直到我到了美國後我都儘量用這方式來記單字,因為這算是我的"sweet spot".

*      *      *
      我來美國後曾參加個教會活動。有次牧師老婆打電話來邀約去一個地方玩。要出去玩當然好,但是我想先知道我們要去的是什麼地方(我怕會太遠),於是我問她"How do you spell xxx?" 她稍微停頓了一下接著拼了出來: P-L-I-M-A-T-H,我寫下後跟她說了聲謝謝。接著我翻出麻州地圖找那地名.....找不到。那次的活動我也沒有參加。這之後隔了好一陣子我才知道原來這地方是"Plymouth"。

      另一個是我碰過,我哥也碰過的,那就是Dedham。我拿我哥的例子來說好了。他認識了某個留學生,在某次出遊的路上經過這地方。我哥念的是我們當地的念法,但是那位留學生馬上"糾正"他說應該是念"DED-HAM"(HAM音同ham)。隔了幾天後那人跟我哥道歉,說呢,他在看電視新聞時聽到記者念地名,確實是我哥念的那個發音沒錯。想知道我提到的兩個字的發音的人可以查: www.dictionary.com 或是 www.m-w.com

*      *      *
      前一陣子我在網路上讀到一篇貼文,發問的人是個英文家教。她說呢她正在教一對姊弟用讀音方式記單字。弟弟比較沒什麼問題,倒是姊姊她不知道該怎麼辦。因為呢,姊姊一直是用一個字母一個字母的方式來背單字,而且成績也都不錯,只是一直排斥她教的新的背單字方法(她的語氣比較像是"這才是正確的/好的背單字方法"),於是她上網問大家該怎麼辦。

      我是回答她既然姊姊背單字的成效不錯,那麼就讓她去吧,因為硬要改變背單字的方式很有可能會造成反效果,再說教了所謂的"正確"方式不代表日後單字就背得"又多又好"(我是用我自己的國中和高中經驗來舉例)。我還另外舉了我國中時同班同學的例子。他也是那種一個字母一個字母背單字的人,只是和那位姊姊不一樣的是他的英文成績不好,也常被老師叫到前頭"定",但是他日後卻是應屆考上清華大學。另外我在當兵時也有碰到一個五專生"神人",他會很多奇奇怪怪的單字, 他也是用一個字母一個字母的方式來背單字,所以很多事情其實很難說。

*      *      *
      一般我在寫這類學習文時我都是把對象設定為至少是大學程度的人。國高中生的話一般我是另外說明"聽你學校老師的話,至於我的文章看看就好,不需要太認真"。一個主要原因是國高中學生要應付的科目不是只有英文一科,沒那麼多時間在那裡這個方法試試,那個方法摸摸,況且要是因為學習方式改變造成步調紊亂成績退步,我可是負不了這個責。如果你的成績本來就很好了,那麼用哪個方式背單字其實沒差。成績好就是好。成績普通或是不好的人(像我當時那樣),說老實話我不知道該怎麼說,像我的話我當時是習慣那樣子背單字,就算有人說要一個字母一個字母背單字效果才會又快又好我也不會因此照做,因為我已經有我自己固定的步調了。

      總之單字要背得又多又好是需要很多環節相互配合,絕不是單獨某個方法就能百分之百保證。不過可以肯定的是如果你只想坐在那等著單字跑進你腦子裡頭......... (還等? 等什麼?)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Know when to stop


      It's not like I don't appreciate a friendly chat, but when a person won't shut his yap....
*              *              *              *              *
      My microwave oven's light burned out, so I went to a hardware store to get a new light bulb.
      The store is one of those big chain stores, and for those who don't know, they usually enforce a policy that the employees must greet their customers. Another thing they do is if a register's queue is empty, the clerk would step out, walk to the front of the register, stand there and wait for customers to come to them and check out.
      So, after I picked up my light bulb, I walked to the registers and saw a clerk standing in front of one. He waved me over, greeted me, and led me to his station.

      "What did you get there?" said the clerk after I gave him the merchandise.
      "It's a halogen light bulb." I guess he had a vision problem or something, or it could be that the light bulb was small and he couldn't tell right away.
      "Halogen light bulb? Who's using halogen light bulbs nowadays?" He looked really close at the package and it seemed like he was studying it.
      "It's for my microwave oven. It burned out."
      "It burned out? May I ask how long before it burned out?" he said while he was scanning the bar code.
      "Just a bit more than a year." At this point, I'd done swiping my credit card at the reader and put my card in my wallet. He asked to see my credit card, so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him. The conversation still carried on.
      "They don't make things last anymore," he said while finishing the transaction on his machine.
      "That's right," I answered and signed my signature on the electronic reader machine.
      While the receipt was printing, he said, "You know, these incandescent light bulbs should last a long time."
      "Yeah, they're supposed to," I replied.

      Then he continued to talk more about the light bulb while he handed my card, receipt, and my light bulb to me. I wasn't pressed for time or anything, and I wasn't sure if it was because of his company's policy that he had to talk to me, but still I wanted to end the conversation and leave, so I said "Thanks" to him and started walking away, and he was still talking, but it was more like mumbling right now because I couldn't really hear what he was saying. (I think I gave him a nod, a wordless way of saying "Uh-huh, yeah, I heard you.")
*              *              *              *              *
      My girlfriend's cousin grew up and lives in Queens, NY. During one of his visits to Boston, he made a comment about the clerks in our local supermarkets--"They actually talk to you!"

      "Does it mean clerks there (and in Manhattan) don't talk to their customers?" I asked my girlfriend.
      "I guess not," she said.

      I'm glad to hear people in Massachusetts are friendly, and it's true that some of the check-out clerks would carry a short conversation with their customers, but when it turns to be a long one.... I don't know, I guess I'm just not used to it (and trust me, it WAS rare).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turkey

  

Pop-up thermometer:
images.google.com : 輸入: pop-up thermometer

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Literature and Language; 美國學生上的文法

〈以前在別的網站發佈的舊文〉

前一陣子我去逛一家二手書店時看到一小區是標"TEXTBOOK",好奇之下我稍微看了一下,其中有幾本是如下方的英文教科書(*1):
http://www.amazon.com/McDougal-Littell-Literature-Language-Grade/dp/0812380436
McDougal Littell Literature and Language Grade 7

擺出來的好像有Grade 6,7,8這幾本。另外還有幾本別家出版社的英文教科書,他們則是用顏色碼來區分。本來我是想用手機拍幾個照片,但是一來麻煩,二來我想Google總能找到,說不定內容都已經掃描好了,所以我只是翻看了內容而已。事後我才發現怎麼Google Web/Books都找不到,連Amazon也找不到個邊。我後來也試了圖書館,也是沒有。這幾天吧,我又試了一次,這次在Amazon上找到了,不過看這樣子應該是屬於"托賣",因為只有封面照片和書名等的基本資料,其它的像是內容介紹和說明都沒有。(頁面在書賣掉後有可能會被撤掉)

總之我要說的是這一陣子我們這網站上討論得很熱絡的"文法",討論內容有提到美國中小學所教授的文法。我的基礎教育不是在美國接受的,所以在看到這邊學生實際使用的教科書之前一些細節我無法說。現在看到了,那麼單以這幾本二手英文教科書來說,即使這是額外用的教材(換句話說是有可能不是每個學童都要上的),書裡頭還是有"文法規則"這章節,只是這本書是用"Language Focus"來稱呼。美國這邊還是"有"在教文法,不是完全沒有教。至於是不是所有英文課堂都像我們學校那樣"一定都有"教文法(稍微提一提也算),這我就不知道了。

本來我以為Grade數目愈高,那麼文法內容會教得更多更廣,結果我發現以大項目來說幾乎都一樣: 從基本的詞性(Verb, Pronoun, etc)介紹,到Relative Pronoun/Clause, Subject-Verb Agreement 乃至於Run-on Sentence等等,該有的都有了。差別只是級數低的書裡頭的文法內容較少也較淺,而級數高的書文法部份同章節名稱的內容較多也較深,但是相較於整本厚厚的一大堆各類文章來說,"Language Focus"的部份只是放在書後的薄薄的十數頁而已,而級數低的書裡頭的Language Focus似乎是散在各處。我還特別記下這個關於關係代名詞的"文法規則":

"The relative pronoun must agree with its antecedent in gender and number"

----------------------
結論是一些東西美國這邊該教的還是有教,只是內容和程度上沒有像我們這樣子走火入魔而已,有時候甚至入魔到出現了莫須有的文法規則,然後就看到一堆人在遇到違反"這規則"的(尋常/普遍)用法時在網路上到處問"怎麼會這樣呢?"......


(*1) 我是有點想買,厚厚一本精裝本,蠻新的,賣不到美金四塊的樣子

======================================
延伸資料:
http://dunchee.blogspot.com/2010/08/grammar-taught-in-schools.html

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jack O'Lantern

      With Halloween getting scarily close, I guess it's time to write something about this holiday. Before I came to the US, I'd never seen kids in costumes and go trick-or-treating. I mean I did see them on TV or in the movies, but never live. So, after I got here, when Halloween arrived, I set sail at 8 pm(*1) and headed to Boston; I figured it had to be where all the actions were. I took the subway and noticed, during my trip, there weren't many passengers on the train; however, I did see three young people dressed in customs, but that was it.
      Downtown Boston turned out to be boring, too. It was dark, cold and very quiet on the streets. I could go to a mall, but that wasn't my objective and there was no point in seeing ordinary shoppers on Halloween night.
      A few years later, while in the office, I asked a colleague about it. She took her two little kids to work that day, and it was our pizza day, so we were chowing down our pizza and she said, “Of course we don't go on the streets. Who knows what kind of men my kids would run into?” Still, I wanted to know the place, so I asked her where she brought her kids to go trick-or-treating. “The mall, of course. It's much safer there.” Well, it made sense.
      So, for years I thought the mall was the place to see kids dressed in customs and asking for candies on Halloween, and still, I didn't go. I don't know. Now to think of it, I guess the image of little fairies, witches, ghosts, monsters, and whatever-they-were walking in a brightly lit mall simply lost its appeal, and with a lack of the mystique, it just wasn't enticing enough for me to drive 30 minutes to get to the mall.
      In 2007, the US rolled out the new daylight saving schedule. What it means was that, in the past, when kids went out doing their trick-or-treating at 5pm, the sky was dark(*2); and now, for the first time, it was still bright. The funny thing was I wasn't aware of it at first. That day, a small group of us were headed to a restaurant around 5pm. We took side streets to avoid the congested highway I-95. On our way through the town of Lexington, while driving, I spotted a little girl dressed like a fairy with two little silk wings on her back walking toward the town center. I saw her, but I didn't pay attention. Then two more fairies. (I said to myself, “Interesting. They must be having some sort of play at their school.”) Then three more, five more, and flocks of them when we were closer to the town center.  Suddenly I realized what it was and what they were. “Ah, a Spiderman there,” I said to my friends in the car, “there too, and there.” Just for the fun of it, I started to count how many of them were Spidermen, but I lost track when the number hit seven. There were just too many of them. Other than Spidermen, I also saw loads of little Hulks, Supermen, fairies of course, and many-other-I-can't-remember-what-they-were characters.
      I didn't know if it was always like this in Lexington on Halloween, but I bet parents there must have noticed the difference the extended daylight saving time brought them and considered the bright streets a safer environment for their kids to go trick-or-treating. Still, I'd rather see them in a darker setting.
      This year, if time permits, I'll remember to snap some pictures when I see those cute little munchkins.

(*1) Yeah, some of you may have spotted the problem right there, so, bite me. (People have to work, you know.)
(*2) In Massachusetts anyway.
(Yes, Salem would be the ultimate town to see it all, but I didn't go and don't plan to, so, like I said, bite me.)


*                      *                      *                      *                      *

Some fun facts about Halloween:
(source: http://www.masterpiecepumpkins.com/abouthalloween.html )
(I'll just pick a few that I think are relevant.)

Fact Two:  In the United States, 86% of Americans decorate their homes for Halloween.
(I don't know about 86%, but it's true that many decorate their homes.)(Maybe I'll take some pictures of these.)
Fact Six:
It is believed that the Irish began the tradition of Trick or Treating. In preparation for All Hallow's Eve, Irish townsfolk would visit neighbours and ask for contributions of food for a feast in the town.
Fact Eight:
Vampires think Halloween is tacky and don't bother going out that night.
(I throw this in for kicks.)
Fact Ten: People have believed for centuries that light keeps away ghosts and ghouls. Making a pumpkin lantern with a candle inside may keep you safe from all the spooky spirits flying around on Halloween.

Friday, October 2, 2009

hypothetical<->all past tenses?

all past tenses

------
Another interesting read:
English or not?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

creative writing and formal prose

From: CyberCypher
Newsgroups: alt.usage.english
Subject: Re: more money than her

On Feb 10, 3:25 am, "The Grammer Genious" wrote:
> > "CyberCypher" wrote
> >
>>> > >> "John" wrote in message
> >
>>>> > >> > "At the time, Obama was raising and spending more money than her
>>>> > >> > heading into the round of presidential primaries ...."
>> > > <...>
>> > > Not all of us are willing to approve of poor usage, and not all of us
>> > > find such stuff acceptable in the lines penned by those who claim to
>> > > be both educated and professional writers.<...>
> >
> > Ok, but since "than" has been used as a preposition by Faulkner, Scott,
> > Swift, Johnson, and Shakespeare, whose camp are you placing yourself in when
> > you label it "poor usage"?

I don't think that the creative writing usage standards of 400, 300,
200, 100, or even 50 years ago are relevant for writers of formal
American in 2008. In fact, Shakespeare had no standards other than his
own to work with. Swift and Johnson wrote when there were only
incipient standards, Scott was a Brit and irrelevant to the
discussion, and Faulkner was as much a linguistic innovator as was
James Joyce. I don't consider creative writing "formal prose". In a
novel or a play or a poem or a short story it either works or it
doesn't work. That doesn't mean that certain stylistic choices and
usages don't annoy my eyes and ears from time to time, however. I'm
reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's _Little House_ series to my son every
night, and I find it interesting to see how she used American English
almost 100 years ago. I have no problems with sentences like "they took
the potatoes down cellar" or "I be hungry" (both found in _Farmer
Boy_), but I can't bear her usage of "must" as a past tense, so I
always change it when I read it aloud. Apparently, the linguistic
standards in American English have changed since 1927. Very few
American-speakers use "must" as a past tense these days. And, as
Marchette Chute (_Stories from Shakespeare_) says, "In _Hamlet_, for
instance, the word 'rivals' is used in the sense of 'partners', and
when Hamlet's mother accuses him of 'ecstasy' she means temporary
insanity". Would you suggest that we point to these changed usages and
assert that just because Shakespeare used them thus, we too are
entitled to use them in precisely the same way? I doubt it. But people
such as you are very quick to point to history when it's convenient
for your arguments about what should be acceptable usages today. You
don't seem to appreciate that your opinions are merely your opinions
(just as my opinions are merely my opinions) and not some god-given
judgment of right and wrong. And some of us are more concerned than
others with consistency in formal prose: inconsistencies too often
cause ambiguities and are aesthetically annoying to us.

> > Are your "standards" higher than theirs? Wonderful you!

As I said, they had no standards but their own and didn't use whatever
standards there might have been for formal prose in their creative
writing. This remark of yours is typically red-herringish and straw-
mannish. It's irrelevant. In fact, it's downright stupid and logically
fallacious to say such things.

> > On the other hand, I doubt if Faulkner, Scott, Swift, Johnson, or
> > Shakespeare ever made any overt claim to being educated and professional
> > writers, so maybe you're right.

You don't seem to understand the difference between creative writing
and formal prose. What novelists and playwrights and poets write and
used to write (back in the good old days before dictionaries and
grammar books) in their creative works has nothing to do with the
standards of formal prose. If you would use your brain instead of your
bum to think, you'd not produce so many brain farts when venting from
your gluteal mouth.


"between you and I"? ; the way how

And this is how it happens ....

有些字典在hypercorrection的解釋裡頭會有相關的例子

-------------------------
the way how