Friday, March 23, 2012

Learning English from a Dutch book?

So recently I finished reading a book called Voertaal: English. Then it also says on the cover. The sticky world of Dunglish and how to avoid it. It's a book written by an American who came to the Netherlands (his parents were dutch), thinking that all dutch people speak perfect English, which he goes on to say is not the case. They do speak pretty good English, but his goal is to help them speak even better English, by explaining some cultural meanings of phrases and things like that. But it's a collection of columns he wrote about English, for in a newspaper for Dutch people. This is the second of his books about English for Dutch people, and this one is geared towards Dutch professionals in a globalizing world. I really actually liked this book, I learned a few things about Dutch, but actually also some things about English! So I'm writing them down in my blog because if I write it down on a piece of paper it will clearly get lost. So I'm writing my favorite parts from the books (in mostly my own words) here on my blog. That's allowed, right? haha

I don't know if anyone has ever heard of Britain's wonderful invention of Cockney Rhyming slang, but I had truly never heard of it. Here are some sentences with Cockney English.
"Be careful on the apples and pears" and "She brought us some lovely April showers"
So in the first sentence you are expected to guess that apples and pears rhymes with stairs, therefore meaning be careful on the stairs. The second one is a bit more difficult, because you are then expected to know, April Showers bring may flowers, so this sentence is saying she brought a lovely bouquet of flowers. Now you try. What about, "How's the plates and dishes?" got it? Dishes= missus, so how's the wife? There are a few others listed in the book, but I think you get the point.

This one is about words, that we actually use incorrectly! Flammable is actually the correct term for things that can catch fire. Because inflammable actually means something can not catch fire. Another one is irregardless, which is not actually a proper word at all, because it has two negative parts, the prefix and the suffix, so the correct word is actually regardless. Then another article is kind of the same thing, but with malapropisms. Such as, to mess up 'for all intents and purposes'. People tend to say, 'for all intents of purposes' or 'for all intensive purposes'. I know I've done that before! Here are some more:
Something is patently obvious, not blatantly obvious
you touch base with someone, not basis or bases
problems are deep-seated not deep-seeded. (anyone know that one?!)
something strikes a chord not accord (knew that one haha)
if your assistant is required to be ready and waiting to be of service at all times, he or she is at your beck and call not beckoned all
Then this one I think you know, a business tycoon not typhoon.

Now this one made me really think. This one is about phrases that have been corrupted through time. He gives the corrupted phrase, and then also gives where it originated from. Here are some examples he gives. Spitting Image, that was the title of a TV program in Britain, which everyone knows means 'perfect likeness'. This phrase is a corruption, it originates in the 15th century, as spit and image. He goes on to say that hundreds of years ago if a boy looked just like his father, people would say he was 'the spit and image' of his father. Another good one is 'for all intensive purposes', the thing you are trying to say is 'for all intents and purposes'. He goes on to give others, but the other ones are very obvious I believe.

Well, I don't think there's any thing else I found funny in this book because the rest is basically grammar for Dutch people and things like I said in the beginning. I'm really bad at finishing blogs, and this one has been sitting here for a few weeks. But I'm finally done with it! But now I have to start on my Germany trip blog! Which I don't really feel like... :/ Bye!

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