Posts

What are loanwords?

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The number of loanwords in the English language is unusually large. English vocabulary borrows heavily from other languages, particularly Latin, Greek and French. See below for how this reliance on foreign words evolved. Loanwords are an important feature of English. They do not, however, affect the structure of the language. An English speaker may use the word ballet but he will not say a dancer of ballet ‚ as you would in French. A few imported terms retain their original syntax. The United Nations has a secretary general while the chief officer of the English legal system is the attorney general . But these are rare exceptions. Worksheets on the use of loanwords in English are included in the  English FAQ Teaching Pack   Use coupon code CQDWKF0 to download English FAQ Teaching Pack  for only £1.99

What is Game Theory? How did Jane Austen use it?

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Game theory is an approach to predicting the likely outcome of an action when interests conflict (e.g. in sport, business or military strategy. Associated with the prisoner's dilemna (see image above). It origins are complex but the publication of John von Neuemann's minimax theory in 1928  is a key development. This discussion from the Freakonomics podcast  makes the surprising claim that the Regency Eighteenth Century novelist was a pioneering game theorist.

Best way to teach a language? Guide to ELT methods

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An interesting a overview of the different approaches here: With thanks to the excellent Slideshare   100 English Language FAQ    Teaching Pack - only£0.99/$1.50 Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching  How To Teach English (with DVD) How to Teach English Language Learners

What is a pundit? Where does the word come from?

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The word pundit comes from the Hindi/Sanskrit word 'pandit'. It originally meant someone knowledgeable in (Hindu) religion. Now it generally refers to anyone using specialist expertise to provide commentary or analysis in the media. Examples include football pundits, political pundit etc. A version of this post is included in the new ebook:  100 English Language FAQ   - only £0.99/$1.50

Where does the word diaspora come from?

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di·as·po·ra    /dīˈaspərə/ Noun Jews living outside Israel. The dispersion of the Jews beyond Israel. The main diaspora began in the 8th–6th centuries bc, and even before the sack of Jerusalem... Though living in different countries across the world the diaspora expressed a shared culture and a belief that one day all Jews would be reunited (in the Biblical Promised Land). In modern times the term is sometimes used more generically to describe all communities of immigrants  with a shared sense of 'home'.  A recent article in The Economist, The Magic of Diasporas , suggests that these diaspora are playing an increasingly important role in the world economy There are now 215m first-generation migrants around the world: that’s 3% of the world’s population. If they were a nation, it would be a little larger than Brazil. There are more Chinese people living outside China than there are French people in France. Some 22m Indians are scattered all over t

What is the longest word in English?

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Surely it's the 'longest word you ever heard' - all together now:    The word was invented by the Sherman brothers for the musical. According to some  learned sources, the word has some very fancy linguistic roots: super- "above", cali- "beauty", fragilistic- "delicate", expiali- "to atone", and docious- "educable", with the sum of these parts signifying roughly "Atoning for educability through delicate beauty." Although the word contains recognizable English  morphemes , it does not follow the rules of English  morphology  as a whole .... More fun to know is that the working relationship of the Sherman brothers was not 'practically perfect'. When Disney Studio drafted them in to save the score of Mary Poppins 'creative differences' ended with them throwing typewriters at each other. A version of this post is included in  50 FAQ about English    ($1.75)