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Welcome to the second in our series of posts on Real World English by Ed Pegg. In this series of videos and blog posts we will be looking at how words are used in context around the world and how differences in usage in different countries and cultural contexts can cause misunderstanding. We look at differences between US and British English, some common expressions in other English speaking countries and also give you an understanding of the complex topic of pragmatics – how language is used in context.
‘Quite’ is quite a frequent word in English and it’s quite important to understand what it means. However, it can be quite difficult to understand the exact meaning as it can mean different things in different contexts and when it’s used by different people.
Things you need to think about when using quite are:
Is it being used with a gradable or ungradable adjective?
Is it being used with a verb?
Is a British or American person using it?
All of the factors can affect the meaning, let’s look at each of them.
We use quite before an ungradable adjective (an adjective that cannot have different levels of strength) to emphasize the adjective. For example, if I said the report was quite amazing, I’m making amazing stronger by using quite.
To check whether the adjective is gradable, ask yourself if you would put the word very before it. If you wouldn’t, it’s not gradable. This means quite is probably emphasizing it.
So, if your boss told you your report was quite amazing, you should be quite happy. Or should that be very happy?
Happy is a gradable adjective. This means you can have different levels of happy. To work out what quite means with gradable adjectives, you need to think about who said it.
In British English, quite happy usually means ‘fairly happy’ as quite is used to soften the adjective after it.
In American English, quite happy is more likely to mean ‘really happy’. In the States, quite normally intensifies or strengthens the adjective.
So to work out how happy your boss is, you need to think about whether they are speaking British or American English. If your British boss is ‘quite happy’, he’s not actually that happy, but if she’s American, she’s really happy.
And what about verbs? You’ll be pleased to hear that this is more straightforward. When quite comes before a verb, it emphasizes it. If I say, I quite understand, it means I ‘fully understand’. Here, quite tells us that some state or process is complete.
So, although quite can be quite a tricky word, if you follow these simple rules you’ll be able to use it quite effectively.
I hope you are enjoying learning about English in the real world and I look forward to seeing you next time. You can catch up on the previous video and post, and you can follow my series of monthly blog posts on this topic using the tag realworldenglish.
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20 Beautiful Japanese Words We Really Need In English
Wabi-Sabi (WAH-bi SAH-bi)
Wabi-sabi is the most quintessential of Japanese aesthetics, but also one of the hardest to express in English. Whereas Western ideas of beauty are often rooted in the concept of the “perfect” form, the Japanese concept of beauty lies in appreciating the imperfections found in nature as all things of the natural world are impermanent and thus beautiful. Ginkaku-ji temple in Kyoto is one of the most famous examples of wabi-sabi with its natural, unfinished appearance.
Shibui is a term used to describe objects that are attractive in their austerity and restraint. If you’re a person who prefers unadorned or understated designs, then you may have a shibui sense of style.
The concept of yugen says that beauty is not just about the seen, but the unseen. One famous example is the image of “subtle shadows of bamboo on bamboo” as described by the playwright Zeami.
Mono-no-aware says that beauty is subjective, and it’s our sensitivity to the world around us that makes it beautiful. In particular, the transience of the physical world and our awareness that beauty is impermanent makes us appreciate it more. The epitome of mono-no-aware is the sight of cherry blossom petals falling in the springtime.
Komorebi, the Japanese expression for the sunlight as it filters through the trees, is made up of the kanji characters for tree (木), shine through (漏れ), and sun (日).
Wa refers to the natural order when members of a group are in harmony. In a country that views itself as a homogeneous society, conformity is highly prioritized in order to not upset the natural order of things.
Often translated as “hospitality”, omotenashi is the Japanese quality of being thoughtful and considerate of others so that you can anticipate their needs and adjust your actions accordingly. It arose in ancient times out of the tea ceremony, when the host took painstaking care to brew a beautiful cup of tea for each guest. Small, considerate acts like offering a hot towel to customers are rooted in omotenashi and are the reason for Japan’s world-famous level of customer service.
Often translated as “face”, mentsu is a concept that came to Japan via China and is closely connected to one’s honor, pride, and dignity. In an otherwise embarrassing or shameful situation, people around them may overlook – or pretend to overlook – the situation in order to help that person preserve their dignity.
Giri refers to a person’s obligations to their various social circles, including their friends, family, and even their employer. It’s tied to many social customs in Japan such as women being expected to give chocolate, known as ” giri-choco”, to their male coworkers and acquaintances on Valentine’s Day.
Nemawashi is best epitomized as several rounds of “pre-meetings” held ahead of the official meeting where a decision is announced rather than made. The term is based on a practice from gardening, where a plant’s roots are prepped before the plant is transferred or re-potted.
Whether it’s putting up with an unpleasant situation to avoid disturbing the wa, or enduring the pain of a broken bone with no more than a normal dose of ibuprofen, people in Japan are often asked to gaman, or grit it out, as a matter of character building.
The Japanese concept of enryo is a form of reserve that’s demonstrated for the sake of other people. Whether it’s refraining from talking on the phone while on the train, or refusing to take the last bite of food off a communal platter, it’s a big part of Japanese social behavior.
Mottainai is the idea of not being wasteful, which has its roots in Japan being a small island nation with limited resources. Mottainai is demonstrated in various facets of life, from using all parts of an animal’s body for cooking, to re-purposing old possessions rather than throwing them away and salvaging fruit and vegetable peels.
Furusato is another word for one’s hometown, but it’s not simply about the place where you’re from but the place your heart longs for.
Often translated directly as a sort of frustrated “yearning”, “desire”, or “longing”, akogare is not necessarily romantic or sexual in nature. Rather, it’s a deep feeling of respect and admiration that one may feel for someone they greatly look up to, usually someone who is extremely talented. This feeling of akogare is often tinged with the understanding of one’s own shortcomings and the knowledge that that same level of talent is unattainable – which is where those feelings of yearning or longing come in.
Something of a cross between being a bookworm and a hoarder, tsundoku refers to the charming tendency of some book lovers to purchase and collect so many books that they pile up unread.
A subtle emotion of bittersweet and seemingly endless pain, setsunai requires a sensitive nature to feel and is often associated with heartache and disappointment.
This four character idiom originated from the traditional tea ceremony, where every meeting was an occasion to be treasured. Today, people use it as a reminder to slow down and savor each moment, because every encounter in life occurs only once.
Literally translating to “the devotion of one’s life to the accomplishment of a task”, this phrase is often followed by ” Ganbarimasu” (頑張ります) or “I’ll do my best.”
Using the kanji characters for the four trees that flower in the springtime, cherry, plum, peach, and apricot, this four character idiom means that people shouldn’t live their lives comparing themselves to others, but instead value their own unique traits.
2019 World Video Game Hall Of Fame Inductees Announced
2019 World Video Game Hall of Fame Inductees Announced:Colossal Cave Adventure, Microsoft Solitaire,Mortal Kombat, and Super Mario Kart
Note: Downloadable images are available in the full press kit. Ceremony photos will be added after the event.
ROCHESTER, New York-The games in the 2019 class of The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame traversed dark tunnels, played their cards right, fended off mighty foes, and sped across the finish line to win their esteemed places in the hall. Colossal Cave Adventure, Microsoft Windows Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, and Super Mario Kart have been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. They emerged from a field of 12 finalists that also included Candy Crush Saga, Centipede, Dance Dance Revolution, Half-Life, Myst, NBA 2K, Sid Meier’s Civilization, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. The four inductees span multiple decades, countries of origin, and gaming platforms, but all have significantly affected the video game industry, popular culture, and society in general:
About Microsoft Solitaire: Based on a centuries-old card game, Microsoft Solitaire debuted in 1990 on the Windows 3.0 computing platform and became ubiquitous around the world. Since then, Microsoft Solitaire has been distributed on over a billion computers and is now played 35 billion games per year in over 200 markets around the world and is localized into 65 languages. “The game proved that sometimes analog games can be even more popular in the digital world and demonstrated that a market existed for games that appeal to people of all types,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for electronic games and interpretation. “In many ways, it helped pave the way for the growth of the casual gaming market that remains so popular today.”
About Mortal Kombat: Mortal Kombat brought cutting-edge graphics and unique fighting styles to the arcade when it launched in 1992. The game’s over-the-top depictions of violence also spurred international debate, including Congressional hearings in the United States that spurred the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in 1994, and provided that games weren’t just for kids. By pushing the boundaries in terms of content and what players could do with their in-game characters, Mortal Kombat spawned an entire franchise-including games, music albums, action figures, a theatrical stage show, and Hollywood movies. Says Digital Games Curator Andrew Borman, “Beyond its controversial content and role in triggering debate about the role of violent video games in society, Mortal Kombat ‘s compelling gameplay, iconic characters, and many sequels have kept players coming back again and again.”
Nintendo’s Super Mario Kart combined the thrill of racing games with the beloved characters of its Super Mario Bros. franchise. Released in 1992, the game built on previous racing games and popularized the go-kart subgenre. Super Mario Kart has sold millions of copies on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and generated a dozen other titles across consoles, handhelds, and arcade games that have sold more than 100 million units. ” Super Mario Kart truly excelled as a social game that appealed to players of all skill levels, especially with its engaging multi-player settings,” says Julia Novakovic, archivist. “It invited friends, family, and gaming fans of all ages along for an unforgettable ride that has made it the longest-running racing series in gaming history.”
About The Strong
The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is one of the largest history museums in the United States and one of the leading museums serving families. The Strong houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to video games and play.
English Words Used In French: Your Complete Guide To “Anglicismes”
Warning: This is not your parents’ French!
No, what we’re dealing with today is an altogether different, highly-evolved, complex creature.
Maybe your teachers haven’t told you, but recent French borrows lots of English words.
And this notable phenomenon isn’t just limited to tech words or online pop culture.
Hundreds, maybe thousands of English words and expressions, or anglicismes, have recently crept into the vast French lexicon.
Love it or hate it, learning modern French as it’s spoken involves appropriate use of the Frankenstein-esque hybrid derided as .
So unless you want to sound like a 19th-century professor, get comfortable and get ready to learn about the borrowed English words that power modern French speech.
English and French: A History of Exchange
If contemporary discussions on franglais generally refer to the introduction of English words in the 20th century, French and English have a significant history of interaction before that to consider, too.
English and French have been swapping words for a long time
When William the Conqueror invaded England, he installed his cronies as England’s new nobility. For centuries, you had a French-speaking elite being served by the indigenous English-speaking population. Hence, English items like “cow,” “sheep” and “pig” became “beef,” “mutton” and “pork” when served to their French overlords. Many such examples of two words meaning the same thing can be found in English. In fact, something like 45% of English words are borrowed from French. Talk about franglais!
French has experienced an “English onslaught” starting in the 20th century
There are several theories as to why anglicismes are entering French. In offices or other professional settings, for example, many such words are new concepts in French, like brainstorming or burn-out. They may be left as is since there’s no alternative. Plus, these words are often less cumbersome than proposed alternatives.
Similarly, in the tech field, or l’informatique, English words abound. In an Anglo-Saxon dominated industry, words like , cloud computing and open-source are adopted so quickly that language authorities barely have time to react.
Perhaps the legacy of the British Empire or current American cultural dominance has also given prestige to English among some French people, but that’s only speculation.
French Resistance to Anglicismes
A language that doesn’t evolve is a dead language, so adopting foreign words should be a sign of the French language’s vitality.
Given how much French has influenced English, you wouldn’t think that some words going the other way would be newsworthy. And it might be easier to accept if French were adopting an equal amount of words from several languages. What rubs some people the wrong way is that most new foreign words are of English origin, and this transfer is one-sided. Indeed, French language purists have not taken this sitting down.
Let’s take a look at some key issues, institutions and events in this debate.
Loi Toubon (Toubon Law)
Dubbing vs. subtitles
French in Quebec has been called the most regulated language in the world. The Quebecois have resisted assimilation in a sea of Anglophones for centuries. That they still exist as a viable Francophone community is amazing.
Bill 101, or the Charter of the French Language, makes French the official language in Quebec. It guarantees every Quebec citizen the right to receive government services in French, mandates business communication to the public in French and establishes the Quebec Office of the French Language and the Superior Council of the French Language, among other things.
By most metrics, the law has been successful. Francophones represent the vast majority of the population, and Quebec is one of the few places in the world where English is declining.
More controversially, Law 101 requires all immigrants, even Anglophones, to send their children to French-speaking schools, promotes francisation (think “Stop” signs becoming Arrêt, a step not taken in France) in the public sphere and imposes stiff penalties on businesses that don’t communicate adequately in French.
Examples of Anglicisms and Proposed Alternatives
I could compose a dictionary of anglicismes, but certain words are used more commonly than others. Many are so widespread that they’ve entered into “correct” usage.
Anglicismes that have the same meaning in English
You won’t be misunderstood using certain common English words in French, such as:
As would be expected, many of these words deal with modern (Americanized) lifestyles. These words have not been adopted without confrontation, and if you feel uncomfortable using them, nobody will be offended if you use these alternatives:
Although some alternatives, like remue-méninges, are unwieldy, others have been adopted into common usage. If you’re learning Quebec French, for example, take note that email and week-end have been replaced with and fin de semaine.
This page provides an exhaustive list of anglicismes with proposed alternatives.
Anglicisms that have different meanings in English or don’t even exist in English
The French use certain anglicisms that either mean something totally different in English, or aren’t even actually words in English.
Some of my favorites are:
Others to look out for include:
Here is a very good list of “false” anglicisms to look out for.
How Should You Approach Anglicisms in Your Own French Speaking?
This is a touchy subject. Language teachers tend to avoid anglicisms, but in practice, that’s how French is spoken by many people, especially the young. Knowing the most popular anglicisms and when it’s appropriate to use them will make you a more nuanced French speaker.
Learn the “proper” language first
Teachers have a point. You’ll always have time to learn not only anglicisms, but how French is spoken colloquially. Start out with what you know is correct, and when you’re confident in this, you can move on to “street” French.
Know that in informal settings, English words are acceptable and common
Among friends, you’ll often hear very creative use of anglicismes and other forms of slang.
I have personally heard phrases like:
Je vais checker mon e-mail. (I’m going to check my email.)
Je l’ai liké sur Facebook. (I “liked” it on Facebook.)
Check out French Internet forums (and brush up your French on Facebook while you’re at it) for more. Many examples of franglais are pure works of art!
Avoid anglicisms in business settings, except for “common” English words
Obviously, you wouldn’t speak in formal or professional settings like you would to your friends. Especially in written correspondence, it’s best to avoid franglais, too. Certain words, however, like week-end and marketing, are accepted by the business community either because they don’t have equivalents in French or because they’ve entered into “adult” usage.
Languages evolve, and English has influenced French in a large way.
There are many sides to the issue, but franglais is real.
If you want to understand modern French, you’ll have to know how English words are used in the language.
Whether you’re a language purist or an SMS fanatic, it’s up to you to form your own opinion on and manner of dealing with English use in the French language.
And One More Thing…
To get familiar with anglicisms, slang and all the types of French used by natives today, try FluentU.
FluentU lets you learn French from real-world content like music videos, commercials, news broadcasts, cartoons and inspiring talks.
Since this video content is stuff that native French speakers actually watch on the regular, you’ll get the opportunity to learn real French-the way it’s spoken in modern life.
One quick look will give you an idea of the diverse content found on FluentU:
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.
Experience French immersion online!
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