Monday, December 7, 2015

Types of Requests

Requests are speech acts that allow for the possibility of refusal. They can be granted or refused by the hearer. Requests can be direct and indirect. In fact, there are many types of requests. Let's examine a few.

Some requests concern the hearer's ability to perform a task. For example, "Can you pass me the salt?" asks a yes/no question. However, this is not truly a yes/no question because the speaker doesn't expect a yes/no answer. This is a request.

Requests can be expressed as a desire. An example is "I would like you to do this now." This is a statement with the polite expression "would like" that functions as a request. If we change "would like" to "want," the request becomes stronger.

Requests can also be expressed in future tense. Consider "From today officers will wear ties at dinner." Though this is a future declarative, it is also a request. However, it is clear that in this case the hearer is not expected to deny the request. In this case the request can be analyzed as an imperative.

In certain cases, requests concern the willingness of the hearer to perform a task. For example, "Do you want to hand me that hammer?" is a yes/no question, and is also an indirect request. 

Requests sometimes offer advice. For example, "You should be more polite to your mother" can be analyzed as a request. It is the speaker's desire that the hearer will be more polite to his/her mother in the future.

Sometimes requests are expressed as embedded sentences. Consider "Could I ask you to take off your shoes?" This is expressed as a yes/no question and "take off your shoes" is a clause inside the question.

A direct request is an imperative such as "Lend me a pen." To make this more polite, we can add "please." This can be changed into a question by asking "Could you please lend me a pen?"

Requests can also be expressed as permission. For example, "May I borrow your pen?" requests permission and is structured as a yes/no question.

Requests can be expressed in many different ways. They can be direct or indirect. Other types of requests offer advice, express desire, ask permission and concern ability. Requests can be categorized into many different types. 

Accents of Canadian English

Canadian English is very uniform. It exhibits far less variety than many other varieties of English. Nevertheless, there are regional differences.

The diphthong in words such as about tends to be pronounced differently in western Canada and the Toronto area. In western Canada the diphthong is usually pronounced with a more advanced articulation than in the Toronto area.

The vowel in moose is a back vowel in the Atlantic provinces but is pronounced with a more advanced articulation in the rest of the country. It tends to be especially advanced in the western part of the country.

In words such as car, heart and park the vowel is a central vowel in the Atlantic provinces and a back vowel in the rest of the country. This is the opposite of the vowel in moose, a vowel which is more retracted in the Atlantic provinces.

In words such as case and face, the vowel is often a monophthong, a pure vowel, in the prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and a diphthong in the rest of the country. The pronunciation of face as a monophthong is typical of Scottish and Irish English.

Though Canadian English is usually spoken very similarly across the country, regional differences do exist. Many of these differences are reflected in the pronunciation of certain vowels. These differences can be heard in the English of the west, the prairie provinces, the Toronto area and the Atlantic provinces.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Suffix -ish in Spanish

The English suffix -ish is a diminutive. When added to a root, it gives an approximate meaning. For example, the word "eightish" means around eight and "yellowish" means close to yellow. In Spanish, approximate colours aren't formed with an invariable suffix as in English.

Here are ten approximate colours in Spanish:

red reddish rojo rojizo
blue bluish azul azulejo
yellow yellowish amarillo amarillento
black blackish negro negruzco
white whitish blanco blancuzco
pink pinkish rosa rosáceo  
green greenish verde verdoso
orange orangish naranja anaranjado
brown brownish pardo pardusco
grey greyish gris grisáceo  

Compared to English, we notice that approximate colours in Spanish aren't formed with a single suffix form. With the colours black and white, the word final -o becomes a -u and the suffix -zco is added. In the case of brown, the suffix is spelt -sco. The colours grey and pink add the suffix variant -áceo. The other colours are formed with different variants.

To form approximate colours in English, the rule is simple. The suffix -ish is added to the root. In Spanish, however, approximate colours are formed with a single suffix, but this suffix has many variants.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

English Strong and Weak Forms

Many English words have both a strong and weak pronunciation. They are known as strong and weak forms. The strong forms are used in isolation and in careful speech. In casual speech, the weak forms are common.

The word or has a strong and weak form. The strong form rhymes with for, but the weak form has the pronunciation of the final syllable of elevator. In the question "Soup or salad?" the weak pronunciation of the word sounds the same as "Super salad?" Other words which have strong and weak forms are and, for, to, he, her and him.

The strong pronunciaton of and rhymes with sand, but the weak pronunciation has a different vowel sound and lacks the final consonant. In the phrases black and white, fish and chips and salt and pepper, the weak pronunciation is normally used. For this reason, fish and chips is often spelt fish 'n chips.

The weak forms are usually accompanied by little stress. In the sentence, "This is for you," the word for is usually unstressed-this results in a weak pronunciation. The weak form of for has the pronunciation of the final syllable of elevator. 

The strong pronunciation of to rhymes with two, but the weak pronunciation has a much shorter vowel, the same vowel that is heard in the weak pronunciations of and and for.

In the words he, her and him, the h is pronounced in the strong forms but dropped in the weak forms. Some dialects of English never pronounce the letter h. One such dialect is Cockney, which is spoken in London. In these dialects he, her and him only have one form.

A number of English words have strong and weak forms. These words are often very common words such as and, for and two. The strong forms are common in formal speech, and the weak forms are common in casual speech.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup is delicious and easy to make. Here is the recipe:

500 grams mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream or milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan.  Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the onion is soft. Slowly blend two tablespoons of flour and stir. Transfer to a pot and add chicken broth. While stirring frequently, heat until it has thickened. Add cream or milk to the soup and gradually add one tablespoon of flour while stirring. Heat and stir until the soup thickens. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Russian Family Names

Many Russian family names have different forms for men and women. In fact, this is also true of other Slavic languages such as Polish, Czech and Slovak. Most Russian family names have a masculine and a feminine form.

In many cases, an -a is added to a name to make it feminine. For example, the feminine versions of the family names Alexeyev, Denisov, Kuznetsov, Safin and Semenov are Alexeyeva, Denisova, Kuznetsova, Safina and Semenova. Many Russian family names end with -ov and -ova.

Names which end in -ski change to -skaya. For example, the female version of Krasinski is Krasinskaya. In other cases, there is no change. For example, the names Chernykh, Pavliv and Petrenko are the same for both men and women. This is also true for foreign names.

Many Russian family names have different forms for men and women. To make a name feminine, an -a is usually added. With family names which end in -ski, the suffix becomes -skaya. However, some Russian family names are invariable.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Indefinite Article

The indefinite article in English is a/an. Before words that begin with a consonant sound, we use a and before words with a vowel sound, we use an. The word university begins with a consonant sound, so we say a university. Hour begins with a vowel sound, so we say an hour.

Many people believe that a is the underlying form, the form from which an is derived. The reason is that more words begin with consonant sounds than vowel sounds. Thus we can say that a has wider distribution.

However, this is incorrect. The indefinite article a/an always comes before a singular noun. When we say an orange, we refer to one orange. There is a close relationship between the indefinite article and the number one.

In German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, the indefinite article is the same as the word for one. In German, ein Haus means a house and also one house. If it is important to emphasize number, the speaker can add more information to make this clear from the context or can add stress to the word ein to specify number.

Since we know that a/an is derived from one, we can conclude that the underlying form of the indefinite article is an. The phrase an house became a house because the nasal deleted before a consonant. In a phrase such as an orange, deletion was blocked.

The underlying form of the indefinite article is an, a word derived from one. The nasal deleted before a consonant, a common process in the languages of the world. This deletion of the nasal can be analyzed as both ease of articulation and simplification.

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