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Hit-Parade > The Case of the President's Portrait
"Live" 4ème LV1   Editions Didier

Dans cette leçon, Mr Wimble est victime d'un vol, un portrait de George Washington.  Quelle est la question que l'on pose pour savoir qui figure sur le tableau ? "Whose portrait is it ?"   ou alors, "Who is it a portrait of ?"
              Si c'est la deuxième , n'aurait-on pas dû dire, "The Portrait of thePresident" dans le titre ? Peut-être, mais cela aurait fait une répétition peu élégante "The Case of the Portrait of the President"... "Who is it a portrait of ?"  - les puristes diront qu'il ne faut pas terminer la phrase avec une préposition.  On avait fait le même reproche à Sir Winston Churchill, qui avait répondu , "Sir ! That is an insult, up with which I will not put !"
       Winston Churchill, un homme d'état qui n'était pas toujours galant envers ses consoeurs à la Chambre des Communes.
Après un déjeuner très arrosé,  il a prononcé un discours à la Chambre mais à cause de son état, a eu du mal pour prononcer certains mots, à un tel point qu'une dame s'est levée et a crié:"Mr Churchill !!  You are drunk !!"    Churchill a répondu: "I may be drunk today Madame, just as you are ugly... however tomorrow, I shall be sober."

 "Wings" Livre de 3ème, éditions Belin

(Part 5, Lesson 2, page 90)
Est-ce correct de dire "I used to live at the hotel, and I still do." ?

En disant "I used to smoke." cela veut dire surtout, que je ne fume plus, non ?  What do you think ?
Aucun livre d'anglais n'est parfait, mais faut-il enseigner certaines structures de phrases discutables, parceque la langue évolue ? et que maintenant "ça se dit" ?

Envoyez-moi un mail si vous rencontrez des choses qui vous gênent dans votre livre de classe.

Jean Pierre,  Bordeaux - "Wings" 3ème
Part4 Lesson 3 "The lost village"

                        "... their words broke the silence like a knife."

I found this to be a strange image, knives don't usually break anything ... I would have said "cut the silence"


 ... encore un exemple de "ce qui se dit"
                           (en français comme en anglais)

                                     I miss you !

 Avant, je te voyais tous les jours, et maintenant je ne te vois plus... et je te dis que cela me manque de ne pas te voir tous les jours, mais n'est-ce pas un contresens ? (C'est de te voir qui me manque)
         ... et on retrouve en anglais  "I miss not seeing you every day" mais ne devrait-on pas dire "I miss seeing you every day" ?

Lawrence W. McAllister <lwmca@IBM.NET> writes "More than a characteristic of grammar, this inconsistency represents a major challenge for ELT.  How is spoken English to be evaluated in terms of grammatical correctness?"
Dear Netters:

Yep.  It does represent a major challenge.  I will never forget the arguments I had with a fellow teacher several years ago over whether or not to teach "gonna" in the classroom.  She was for it, I was against it.  The fundamental argument came down to what do we teach: what is "correct" or what people actually say?  Slowly, over the course of weeks, she changed my mind.  First she convinced me that "gonna" is what people, even highly educated people, actually say.  I had to listen with my own ears closely to my friends and yes, as I discovered, they do say "gonna."  Then she proved to me that what we needed to teach was what people actually said, not some standard of correctness.  If the point of language is communication of facts, ideas, and meaning in general, then the most important thing is to be understood.  Do people understand "gonna?"  Yes they do.  She rested her case.  Native speakers commonly say "gonna" and they understand the meaning of "gonna" so why should we not teach "gonna?"  Because it doesn't fit some person's idea of what is correct? Nonsense.
The real problem is that in English the way we speak has changed much faster than the way we write.  This is not a crime.  All languages evolve.  The real problem, in my opinion, lies with those who say that English grammar should never change.  They are fooling themselves.  English grammar has changed and will continue to change.  I think it is important for EFL teachers to stress to their advanced students that English is a living language and that it even varies from country to country.
How is speech to be evaluated in terms of grammatical correctness?  It is not to be evaluated in those terms.  Speech is to be evaluated in terms of communicating meaning.  If oral speech communicates meaning, it has done its job.  Grammar exists to assist in the communication of meaning.  If some point of grammar interferes with the communication of meaning, get rid of it.

Daniel Thomas
Freelancer, Spain

                      Re: "Correct" English
                      Wed, 15 Jul 1998 22:31:06 EDT
                      Michael Robertson <thprop@HOTMAIL.COM>

D Thomas’  post gave a clear explanation of the role of spoken vis-à-vis written language, and of the apparent prescriptivist/descriptivist impasse.
Despite the clarity with which the points were made I can’t see how the gap between formal written and informal spoken English represents a major challenge for ELT.
Many users of English (including some teachers) are aware that the English language is really two separate languages: the spoken and the written.
The need to append an explanation that  “going to”  is often spoken/pronounced  “gonna”  in normal spoken English really doesn’t strike me as controversial or challenging.
A bit of a storm in a teacup - and not the first of which the English language has seen off without being any the worse for it (see G B Shaw and spelling). Is  “plow”  any better than  “plough” ? How can the learner tell whether it’s like  “how”  or  “know” ?
The adjectives
In response to D Thomas  posting I’d be interested to know:
a) Who are the people who say that English grammar should never change?
b) What are the changes that have taken place in English grammar (apart from the gradual development of a full set of verb paradigms)?

Michael Robertson
Freelance, Sinnee (Sydney),  Straya (Australia)

Adjectives in order !

    The adjectives "little" and "old" are usually placed in contact with the noun, however "little" preceeds "old", and both preceed adjectives of colour, nationality, and matter.
The first seven wonderful large round old black American earthen flower pots

The first seven ... (Numéral/ [ordinal/cardinal] )
wonderful  (description)
large  (size)
round  (form)
old  (age)
black  (colour)
American  (nationality)
earthen    (matter)
flower  (type or qualifying functional noun)
pots   (qualified noun)

Have you noticed that in English, a question can be negative or not, the answer is always the same!

Don't you like cheese?  - No, I don't
Do you like cheese? -   No, I don't

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