martes, 19 de septiembre de 2017

How Americanisms are killing the English language

A book released this year claims that Americanisms will have completely absorbed the English language by 2120. Hephzibah Anderson takes a look.
So it turns out I can no longer speak English. This was the alarming realisation foisted upon me by Matthew Engel’s witty, cantankerous yet nonetheless persuasive polemic That’s the Way it Crumbles: The American Conquest of English. Because by English, I mean British English.
Despite having been born, raised and educated on British shores, it seems my mother tongue has been irreparably corrupted by the linguistic equivalent of the grey squirrel. And I’m not alone. Whether you’re a lover or a loather of phrases like “Can I get a decaf soy latte to go?”, chances are your vocabulary has been similarly colonised.
Speaking on the wireless in 1935, Alistair Cooke declared that “Every Englishman listening to me now unconsciously uses 30 or 40 Americanisms a day”. In 2017, that number is likely closer to three or four hundred, Engel hazards – more for a teenager, “if they use that many words in a day”.
But how did this happen and why should we care? After all, as a nation we’ve been both invaded and invader, and our language is all the richer for it. Words like bungalow, bazaar, even Blighty, have their roots elsewhere. Heck, go far enough back and isn’t it pretty much all just distorted Latin, French or German?
The first American words to make it across the pond were largely utilitarian – signifiers for flora and fauna that didn’t exist back in Merrie England. Moose, maize and tobacco were among them. But there were others, too, that in retrospect might seem laden with significance – words like plentifulness, monstrosity and conflagration.
With no means of swift communication or easeful passage between the two countries, American English merely trickled back into its source to begin with. But as the balance of power between Britain and her former colonies shifted, as America ascended to military, economic, cultural and technological dominance, that trickle swelled to a torrent, washing away any kind of quality control.
Cookies and closets
Throughout the 19th Century, Engel contends, “the Americanisms that permeated the British language did so largely on merit, because they were more expressive, more euphonious, sharper and cleverer than their British counterparts”. What word-lover could resist the likes of ‘ornery’, ‘boondoggle’ or ‘scuttlebutt’? That long ago ceased to be the case, leaving us with words and phrases that reek of euphemism – ‘passing’ instead of dying – or that mock their user with meaninglessness, like the non-existent Rose Garden that political reporters decided No 10 had to have, just because the White House has one (it doesn’t exactly have one either, not in the strictest sense, but that’s a whole other story).
Call me a snob, but there’s also the fact that some American neologisms are just plain ungainly. I recently picked up a promising new American thriller to find ‘elevator’ used as a verb in the opening chapter. As in, Ahmed was ‘elevatoring’ towards the top of his profession in Manhattan.
Nowadays, no sphere of expression remains untouched. Students talk of campus and semesters. Magistrates, brainwashed by endless CSI reruns, ask barristers “Will counsel please approach the bench?” We uncheck boxes in a vain effort to avoid being inundated with junk mail that, when it arrives regardless, we move to trash.
It’s understandable, of course. Sometimes, American words just seem more glamorous. Who wants to live in a flat, a word redolent of damp problems and unidentifiable carpet stains, a word that just sounds – well, flat – when they could make their home in an apartment instead? Sometimes that glamour is overlain with bracing egalitarianism – it’s a glamour untainted by our perennial national hang-up, class.
Take ‘movie’. The word has all the glitz of Hollywood and none of the intellectual pretensions (or so it might be argued) of the word ‘film’, which increasingly suggests subtitles (‘foreign-language film’ is one of the few instances in which the f-word doesn’t seem interchangeable with its American counterpart – ‘foreign-language movie’ just sounds odd). Other times they fill a gap, naming something that British English speakers have been unable to decide on, as is increasingly the case with ATM, a boring but brief alternative to cash point, cash machine, hole in the wall. Also to be factored in is what Engel dubs “Britain’s cultural cringe”, which predisposes us to embrace the foreign.
If you want to real the whole article written by Hephzibah Anderson
(6 September 2017), click here:  BBC News

lunes, 18 de septiembre de 2017

Talking about teenagers

What do you think about this?

Chinese teenagers sentenced to hard labour for bullying

Teenage bullies - most of us know one, but is hard labour an appropriate punishment for offenders? Some social media users in China think so.

Resultado de imagen de bullying face
Young people in Beijing convicted of bullying can now be given sentences involving hard labour, in a move that has raised eyebrows on popular microblog Sina Weibo.

Fourteen girls aged 15 to 17 are currently involved in the five-to-seven day trial programme which began on Monday, and is run by the Tongzhou District People's Court with local schools, according to local paper The Mirror. One student was given a sentence of one year and 10 months.
During the programme, young offenders take part in a gruelling course involving military training, after which schools assess whether they are fit to return to their studies or they should be expelled.
Over 5,000 social media users have commented about the scheme.
Many applauded it as a way to tackle bullying, which one said has become "a social cancer".
"This sentence is too light," said 'qianyuqianxun520', an opinion that was widely echoed by others.
Another user added, "It is not enough to make them learn their lesson."
'DuiWoShi ParkChangJi' said: "It is not as good as Yang Yongxin's electro-convulsive therapy," referring to one controversial Chinese psychiatrist's methods used to treat antisocial behaviour in teenagers.
But one user insisted that the authorities are "doing a good job. These bullies are not being educated by their families and don't have a good home education."
The training is conducted under the supervision of the teenager's parents, and offenders also take part in other activities, "such as listening to lectures and receiving psychological support," Wei Dan from the Tongzhou District People's Court told The Mirror.
"We arrange for them to undergo special military training on the first day, so that in future, they will be able to consciously abide by the school rules." she added.
Some Weibo users warned that being forced to undergo military training might simply cause offenders to bully more.
One suggested offenders' "bodies will be better" after the course, while another remarked, "after military training, they will only bully more."
But some feel the new scheme is too harsh.
"Speaking as a student, I think military training will be a really painful thing," said one, while another commented, "How do kids nowadays see this? I feel sorry for them."
A number of highly publicised incidents in China in recent years have contributed to a growing dissatisfaction about how it is tackled.
Social behaviour website What's On Weibo noted a trend of extreme bullying videos appearing on social media in March 2016. One showed a number of students beating up people with steel pipes.
BBCNEWS 6/9/2017

jueves, 14 de septiembre de 2017

Christian Dior and Gucci owners drop super-skinny models

Really good news! Let's see real women.

The fashion houses behind brands including Christian Dior and Gucci have said they will stop using underweight models for their catwalk shows.
LVMH and Kering, two of the biggest fashion firms in the world, made the move amid criticism the industry encourages eating disorders.
Models must be bigger than a French size 32, which typically equates to a UK size six or US size zero, LVMH said.
The firms will also not use models under the age of 16 for adult clothes.
Kering's billionaire chairman Francois-Henri Pinault said the firms hoped to "inspire the entire industry to follow suit".
The two French companies' brands also include Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Thomas Pink, Fendi and Stella McCartney.
One of the other brands covered is LVMH's Louis Vuitton, which was criticised by a model in May over her treatment.
Danish model Ulrikke Hoyer said she had been asked to starve herself in the run-up to a show. The casting director denied the claim.
Critics argue catwalk models promote an unhealthy and unrealistic body image, whereas fashion industry insiders have said clothes hang better on tall, thin women.
Denise Hatton, chief executive for YMCA England & Wales, a founding partner of the Be Real Campaign for body confidence, said LVMH and Kering's plan was a "step in the right direction".
But she added: "While some people are naturally slim, the average woman in the UK wears a size 16 and we'd like to see more diversity on our catwalk that truthfully reflects our society, with all its shapes, sizes, ethnicities and more."

Why are they making this change?

The move by the two French firms comes after a law banning ultra-thin models came into effect in the country in May.
Those who break the French law face fines of up to 75,000 euros (£69,000) or jail sentences of up to six months.
Models must also be able to present a valid medical certificate that they are fit to work.
Kering and LVMH said their worldwide charter would go further, adding that models would be given a psychologist or therapist while at work.
LVMH director Antoine Arnault said: "I am deeply committed to ensuring that the working relationship between LVMH Group brands, agencies and models goes beyond simply complying with the legal requirements."
Mr Pinault said the companies wanted to make "a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models".
"Respecting the dignity of all women has always been both a personal commitment for me and a priority for Kering as a group," the group's chairman added.
The companies' changes will come into effect before Paris Fashion Week this month.

How does fashion influence body image?

Eating disorder charity Beat said it "oversimplifies the issue" to suggest the fashion industry was the main cause of body image problems.
"But we do know the ideals presented within the fashion industry can exacerbate and prolong the illness, and we encourage the promotion of healthy body image and ideals in this area," Beat said.
Last week, the former editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, told the BBC that "skinny as a rake" was no longer seen by many women as the ideal body type.
She also said the choice of catwalk models was not to do with how most people wanted to dress.
"That's to do with the way fashion designers want their clothes to look," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
BBC NEWS 6 Sep 2017

lunes, 4 de septiembre de 2017

September results

The students who took their NA1 WR/LIST/RD exams last Friday can already check their results on our webpage. You can click here for access:    EOI Las Rozas

Remember that the evaluation system you had in June applies now exactly the same, but with the new marks you have obtained now.

Next Friday 8th, oral exams will be held.

REVISION OF EXAMS:  TUESDAY 5TH    18:00 - 18:30    Classroom A1

domingo, 3 de septiembre de 2017

Disturbed sleep patterns may be key to ADHD, study finds

A very interesting article.

Struggling to concentrate, having too much energy and being unable to control behaviour – the main manifestations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – have been linked to disruptions in sleep, researchers will reveal on Sunday.
The findings underline a growing awareness among doctors that disturbed sleep is associated with many major health hazards. Other ailments linked to the problem include obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The work opens up the possibility of developing treatments for ADHD without drugs, the researchers say.
Speaking at a pharmacology conference in Paris, Professor Sandra Kooij, of VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, will outline research which shows poor sleep is a sign that the timings of many physiological processes are not properly synchronised.
The onset of ADHD is one of the clear signs that this is taking place. “Our research is making clear that sleep disruption and ADHD are intertwined. Essentially, they are two sides of the same physiological and mental coin,” said Kooij, speaking before her presentation.
Symptoms of ADHD, which also include mood swings and impulsiveness, are generally noticed at a fairly early age, often when a child is being sent to school for the first time, although cases are sometimes not recognised until adulthood. It is estimated that between 2% and 5% of people are affected by ADHD at some time. According to Kooij, the condition is very often inherited and usually has a pronounced neurological background.
In addition, about 80% of cases are associated with profound sleep disturbances. This is most frequently manifested as delays in the onset of sleep, Kooij will tell delegates at the annual congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Paris.
“People simply cannot go to bed and fall sleep at the end of the day like others,” she said. “And that has consequences. Affected individuals sometimes cannot get to sleep until around 3am but they still have to get up to go to work or school. The result is a drastic loss of sleep.”
This problem is linked, in turn, to disturbances in levels of the neurological transmitters dopamine and melatonin in the brain, she said. These chemicals control when we fall asleep and when we wake up by directing the brain’s circadian system, the internal biological clock which keeps us in sync with the 24-hour day.
Other conditions linked to disturbed dopamine and melatonin levels include restless leg syndrome – an irresistible urge to move your legs – and sleep apnoea, in which breathing is disturbed during sleep. These disorders are also linked to ADHD, said Kooij.
This claim is backed by Professor Andreas Reif, of University Hospital, Frankfurt. “A disturbance of the circadian system may indeed be a core mechanism in ADHD but beyond these considerations, sleep abnormalities are a huge problem for many patients, heavily impacting on their social life. More research is very relevant to improve patients’ lives.” The crucial point is that a cascade of health disorders, including ADHD, appear to be triggered by disruptions to circadian rhythms, offering some routes to counter these conditions by attempting to restore a patient’s body clock. Kooij said her team was now looking for biomarkers, such as vitamin D levels, blood glucose, cortisol levels, 24-hour blood pressure, and heart-rate variability that are associated with sleeplessness.
“Once we can do that, we may be able to treat some ADHD by non-pharmacological methods, such as changing light or sleep patterns. We may also be able to prevent the negative impact of chronic sleep loss on health in general.”

The Guardian, 3/9/2017

jueves, 31 de agosto de 2017

Trying to save South Africa's first language

Read this very interesting article about how a very few people are trying to save South Africa's first language. It'll make us think about the importance of our mother tongue, language and communication.

"We would get beaten up by the white man if we were caught speaking our language", says Katrina Esau.

Katrina Esau is working hard to save the language of her childhood from dying out.
At 84, Ms Esau is one of the last three fluent speakers of N|uu, one of the languages spoken by South Africa's San community, also known as Bushmen.
N|uu is considered the original language of southern Africa.
With no other fluent speakers in the world apart from this family, the language is recognised by the UN as "critically endangered".

Read the whole article clicking here: Trying to save South Africa's first language

Katrina Esau teaching a class in Upington, Northern Cape