Wednesday, April 27, 2016


In passives the subject of active voice becomes the agent and the object of active voice becomes the subject. In addition, the verb phrase has an extra be-verb. The agent of passive voice is often deleted. Let's look at a few examples:

Mrs. White scolded Mrs. Black.

In this example the subject is Mrs. White and the object is Mrs. Black. Let's passivize the sentence:

Mrs. Black was scolded by Mrs. White.

Now the object of the first sentence is the subject and the subject of the first sentence is the agent. The agent is found in a prepositional phrase with the word by.

We can say that the subject of active voice is demoted to agent in passive voice. Likewise, we can say that the object of active voice is promoted to subject in passive voice.

Here's another example:

William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare.

Here William Shakespeare is the subject of active voice and the agent of passive voice. Romeo and Juliet is the object of active voice and the subject of passive voice.

This is our last example:

He is painting the house brown.
The house is being painted brown.

In this case the agent of passive voice isn't expressed. We see the object of active voice (the house), which is the subject of passive voice. In active voice we have a present continuous verb, and in passive voice we have a present continuous passive which adds a be-verb to the verb phrase.

Passives have a subject and agent, but the agent is often deleted. In passives the subject of active voice assumes object position and the object of active voice assumes subject position. With respect to verbs, passives have one more be-verb.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cauliflower Soup

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

2 cups water
1 cauliflower, separated
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup cream or milk

Heat the water until it boils. Add the cauliflower and onion. Cook until soft. Put in a blender and blend until smooth.

Heat the butter in a pan and add the flour, salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and cauliflower mixture. Heat to a boil and slowly add the cream.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Great Math Trick

There's a great math trick for multiplying numbers. For this trick to work the numbers must start with the same digit and the last digits must add up to ten.

Let's look at an example. The first example is 44x46. Here the two numbers start with the same digit, which is 4. Their last two digits, 4 and 6, add up to 10. What we must first do is add a 1 to 4 and multiply. 5x4=20, so the first number that we write is 20. Next we have to multiply the last two digits, 4 and 6. 4x6=24, so we write 24. Now we have our answer. 44x46=2024.

Let's look at another equation. We can add 88x82. These two numbers also start with the same digits and the last digits add up to 10. 9x8=72 and 8x2=16. This gives us our answer. 88x82=7216.

With 21x29, we first write 6 because 3x2=6. 9x1=9, but we need two digits so we write 09. 21x29=609.

This math trick also works with numbers greater than two digits. Let's use the example of 103x107. 10x11=110, so we write this down. 3x7=21, so we write this down also. Now we have our answer. 103x107=11021.

When two numbers start with the same digit and their last two digits add up to ten, there's a math trick we can use to quickly multiply the two numbers. We simply add one to the first digit and multiply. We write this down and then multiply the last digits of each number and write this down as well. Knowledge of this math trick is very useful for multiplying numbers quickly in our heads.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Victory with a Rook Sacrifice

In a game of speed chess vs. 5k1991 of Poland, I won with a rook sacrifice. My opponent played white. Here are the moves of the game with my analysis:

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. d4 cxd
4. Nd4 e5

Here I usually play e6 or d6, but this time I decide to play a different move.

5. Nb3 Bb4+
6. Bd2 Bxd2+
7. Qxd2 Nf6
8. Nc3 0-0
9. f3 a5
10. a4 Nb4

My knight has a nice square on b4.

11. h4 b6
12. h5 d5
13. exd Nfxd5
14. 0-0-0 Bb7
15. h6 g6
16. Nxd5 Bxd5
17. Na1 Qe8

White doesn't want to allow Bxb3 because this weakens the pawn shield around his king.

18. Bb5 Qe6
19. Qg5 f6
20. Qe3 Rfc8
21. c3 Rc5

White attacks my knight, but my knight is safe because the white pawn cannot capture due to the pin on the white king by my rook.

22. Rxd5 Nxd5

White makes a mistake. He wants me to play Rx5 so he can eliminate my knight with cxb4. He overlooks the capture with my knight.

23. Qe4 Rac8
24. c4 Nb4
25. Nb3 Rxc4+

White makes another mistake. He fails to see that I can sacrifice my rook to win his queen. A better move is b3.

26. Bxc4 Rxc4+

White resigns because I win his queen. In this exciting game white overlooks my knight capture on move 22 and my rook sacrifice on move 26. These two moves are the keys to victory in the game.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

English Nouns With Identical Singular and Plural Forms

Most English nouns have the plural suffix -s or -es. Some plurals such as children, men and women are irregular. However, there are a few which are identical in both singular and plural. Here is a list of such nouns:

aircraft antelope bass bison carp
cod deer elk fish grapefruit
moose offspring salmon sheep series
shrimp trout tuna won yen

For the noun fish the plural fishes is also possible, but this form isn't so common and can be considered archaic. In the case of shrimp, many British English speakers use the form shrimps.

Many of these invariable nouns are types of fish, i.e., carp, salmon, tuna and names of animals, i.e., deer, moose, sheep. They can also be the names of currencies such as won and yen. The word fruit has the plural fruits, but in the compound grapefruit the noun is invariable in number.

A few English nouns are invariable in singular and plural. Many of these nouns are names of animals, fish and currencies. These nouns with identical singular and plural forms are known as invariable nouns.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Initial Stress-Derived Nouns

A number of English nouns are derived from verbs. Though these nouns have the same spelling, they are stressed differently from their verbs. The nouns are stressed on the initial syllable, but the verbs are not. Here's a list of initial stress-derived nouns:

combat compound conflict contrast decrease
discount export extract import increase
insult perfect permit rebel refill
refund transplant update upgrade upset

In a few of these words, stress isn't the only difference between the noun and the verb. In combat, compound, conflict, contrast, perfect, and rebel, there's also a difference in pronunciation. For example, the first syllable of combat has a reduced vowel when the word is a verb. When combat is a noun, the first syllable has a full vowel. In compound, many speakers pronounce the first syllable with a reduced vowel when this word is a verb. This reduced vowel is also audible in the first syllables of the verbs conflict, contrast, perfect and rebel.

The words abuse, excuse and use are similar in the sense that they are both nouns and verbs. However, they are stressed the same. The difference is in the pronunciation of the final consonant. The nouns are pronounced with a word-final /s/ and the verbs with a word-final /z/.

English has many nouns which are derived from verbs and share the same spelling. However, they are stressed differently. The nouns are stressed on the initial syllable and the verbs on the final. Another category concerns nouns and verbs which share the same stress and spelling but differ in the pronunciation of the final consonant.   

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CV Analysis of English Numbers

The English numbers from one to ten can be analyzed with respect to their consonant and vowel sequences. With the exception of seven, they're all monosyllabic. Let's examine their CV sequences.

Here are the numbers with their respective CV sequences:

one CVC
two CV
three CCV
four CVC (CV for non-rhotic speakers)
five CVC
six CVCC
seven CV.CVC
eight VC
nine CVC
ten CVC

In an analysis of the English numbers from one to ten, we can make a few observations. We have eleven syllables because the number seven is disyllabic. Of these eleven syllables, we have the following CV sequences:

CVC (6)
CV (2)
CCV (1)
VC (1)
CVCC (1)

The most common CV sequence is CVC. The other CV sequences are far less common. We have a complex onset in only one word, three, and a complex coda in six.

90% of the numbers from one to ten are monosyllabic. Most have simple onsets and simple codas. The CVC sequence occurs in more than half of the syllables. It appears that the CVC sequence is very common in English syllables.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Middle English Verbs

Middle English was spoken from 1150 to 1500. Unlike in contemporary English, the verbs of Middle English were highly conjugated. The conjugation of Middle English verbs was similar to that of German and Dutch.

Here is the present tense conjugation of the verb sing. It is important to note that the plural forms varied according to dialect.  The following is a southern dialect:

I singe (I sing)
thou singest (you sing)  
he/she singeth (he/she sings)
we singen (we sing)      
ye singen (you sing)      
they singen (they sing)    

The Middle English verbs for first and third person plural are the same as in German. In Middle English we see four different verb conjugations, but in contemporary English we see only two.

Now let's look at the verb have.

I have (I have)        
thou hast (you have)    
he/she hath (he/she has)
we haven (we have)    
ye haven (you have)    
they haven (they have)  

The Middle English verb for second person singular is the same as in German. Again we notice that Middle English has four different verb conjugations, but contemporary English has only two.

The verbs of Middle English were more highly conjugated than those of modern English. It is clear that modern English has simplified the conjugation of verbs. This isn't surprising because simplification is a common trend in all languages.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Canonical and Non-Canonical Clauses

All English sentences can be classified as canonical and non-canonical clauses. Canonical clauses are the most basic sentences we can construct. They are also the most common. Here are examples of canonical and non-canonical clauses:

Canonical: Oliver has finished his report.
Non-Canonical: Oliver hasn't finished his report.

Canonical: Alexandra is coming for lunch.
Non-Canonical: Is Alexandra coming for lunch?

Canonical: The workers knew the truth.
Non-Canonical: He said that the workers knew the truth.

Canonical: She missed her last bus.
Non-Canonical: Either she missed her last bus or it was late.

Canonical: The maid stole the vase.
Non-Canonical: The vase was stolen by the maid.

From the examples, we see that canonical clauses are affirmative. Negatives clauses are non-canonical.

Canonical clauses are declarative. Interrogatives are non-canonical. This is also true of imperatives (Please come now!) and exclamatives (What a beautiful day!).

Main clauses are canonical. If we add a subordinate clause (that the workers knew the truth), we have a non-canonical clause.

Canonical clauses are simple sentences. If we have a compound sentence with a correlative conjunction such as either or, we have a non-canonical clause.

Canonical clauses are in active voice. If we use passive voice, we have a non-canonical clause.

Canonical clauses are the most elementary of English syntax. They are in active voice and are main clauses, simple clauses, affirmatives and declaratives. Other types of clauses are classified as non-canonical.

Friday, April 8, 2016

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

Emily Dickinson wrote the beautiful poem If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking. Here it is:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

The poem If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking has seven verses. It's an optimistic poem which says that if the writer can prevent one person from feeling sad, her life will have meaning. Emily Dickinson tells us that by helping those in need, we make our lives rewarding. We can really make a difference in the lives of others.

The poem is organized into two stanzas. The first is a rhyming quatrain with the rhyme scheme a,b,a,b. The second stanza is a tercet with an irregular rhyme scheme.

Emily Dickinson, one of the most famous American poets, often wrote about death. In this poem, however, she writes about service to others. It's one of her most inspiring poems.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Stress-timed and Syllable-timed Languages

Languages can be classified as stress-timed and syllable-timed. The idea was first expressed by Kenneth Pike in 1945. In stress-timed languages, the amount of time used for a stressed syllable is greater than for an unstressed syllable. With syllable-timed languages, however, each syllable is spoken in approximately the same length of time.

Examples of stress-timed languages include Swedish, English, German, Russian, Thai and Arabic. Many stress-timed languages such as English have reduced vowels in unstressed syllables. Arabic, a language with no reduced vowels, is an exception to this rule.

Syllable-timed languages include French, Italian, Spanish, Cantonese, Icelandic and Welsh. Most syllable-timed languages lack reduced vowels. French is an exception.

The concept of stress-timed and syllable-timed languages has many supporters. The reality, though, is that the languages of the world don't fit so precisely into these two categories. It may in fact be better to state that all languages display characteristics of both syllable-timed and stress-timed languages.

Monday, April 4, 2016

English Agentive Suffix

The English agentive suffix is -er or -or. The majority of words are formed with -er, but there are also many formed with -or. The suffix -er is used with words of Germanic origin, and -or is used with words derived from Latin.

Many words are formed with the suffix -er. They include baker, shoemaker, teacher, painter and farmer. In German, these words are Bacher, Schuhmacher, Lehrer, Mahler and Bauer. Notice that they have the same suffix.

With words of Latin origin, -or is used. Examples include professor, actor, director, conductor and narrator. To compare, these words in Spanish are profesor, actor, director, conductor and narrador. They are words of Latin origin.

A few words can combine with either -er or -or. Examples of such words are counseller/counsellor and adviser/advisor.

Many English words are formed with the agentive suffix -er or -or. Though most of these words are combined with -er, a significant number are formed with -or. The words formed with -er are of Germanic origin. This is not only the case in English but also in the Germanic languages of German, Dutch, Danish and Norwegian. A few words can be formed with either -er or -or.