Tag Archives: foreign languages

Guaranteed Death—Avoid 14

Fourteen is a number to avoid in any context in China and most of the Far East, for its tones sound like ‘guaranteed death.’ Do do not bother looking for a 14th floor in an apartment block, number 14 in a row of houses, or the use or ‘14’ in a number plate or telephone number. Other Chinese numbers to avoid, to a lesser extent, include 4 (which sounds like ‘death’), 5 (which sounds like ‘not’), and 6 (which sounds like ‘decline’). And, as if to bear this out, in our world lives and teaches the fourteenth Dalai Lama, a spiritual hero fated to witness the slow death of his Tibetan homeland.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Word Root Exercise: Anthrop/o

Here is a worksheet on the Greek word root anthrop/o. It means man and human; I always teach it as meaning simply human, just as I avoid locutions like “mankind” in the interest of avoiding sexism in language.

You can probably already perceive that this is very productive root in English. It gives us, of course, anthropology, anthropocentric, philanthropy, and misanthrope among a number of other commonly used words in the high school curriculum. And it you are interested in teaching students about global warming and environmental degradation in this, the Anthropocene Era, this is worksheet leads the way in building the necessary vocabulary for such an endeavor.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Insouciance (noun)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the noun insouciance. While it is an infrequently used word in the English language (it means “lighthearted unconcern,” incidentally), it does turn up occasionally, as does its adjective, insouciant, in common discourse from time to time. Both words have a rich etymology, originating, apparently, in the Latin verb sollicitare–“to agitate,” should you or your students be interested.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, June 4, 2021: A Lesson Plan on the Crime and Puzzlement Case “The Cheater”

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on the Crime and Puzzlement case “The Cheater.” I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Latinism mea culpa, which means, of course, “through my fault.” You see the root of the noun culpability there, I’m confident, which means “responsibility for for wrongdoing or failure” and “the quality or state of being culpable.” Translated into adolescent-speak, it means “my bad.” You and I might say it translates to “my fault.” Enough said.

To conduct your investigation into the case of “The Cheater,” you’ll need this scan of the illustration that presents the evidence in the case, which is attended by short narrative and questions to guide your inquiry. Finally, here is the typescript of the answers to help you conclude your investigation.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Word Root Exercise: Aero

Here is a worksheet on the Greek word root aero. It means, as you probably know, air, and is an extremely productive root in English, yielding such staples of the lexicon as the verb aerate, the adjective aerial, and the noun aerodynamics. In other words, like many Greek roots, it forms the basis of many words across the parts of speech that we use in the hard sciences.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Durable (adj)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective durable. Like many of its relatives, such as endure, duration, and duress, this word springs from the Latin word root dur, meaning hard. These are some frequently used words in English, so this is a good word for students to know and use.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Cultural Literacy: Brahmins

OK, on a rainy morning, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Brahmin caste in India.

I don’t know how your school or district handles global studies, or world history, or whatever it calls a social studies survey course on world history, but in New York City we took a thorough, two-year excursion through the seven continents, the four oceans, and the seven seas. One social studies teacher with whom I co-taught did a very nice job of exposing and examining the caste system in India–and by implication, in the United States.

In any case, as the short reading on this half-page worksheets explains, the proper noun Brahmin has entered the English language as a descriptor of a wealthy and/or eminent person. If nothing else, the three questions on this document will lead students toward that understanding, thereby building their vocabularies.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Gennady Nikolaevich Aigi

“Gennady Nikolaevich Aigi: (1934-2006) Chuvash poet and translator. Aigi published six collections of poetry in his native Chuvash language in the period 1958-1988, and several translations into Russian. Later, however, he was only able to publish poems in Russian abroad, in Stikhi, 1954-71 (Poems, 1975) and the two-volume Otmechannaia zima (The Naked Winter, 1982). Aigi worked on various translation projects from the mid-1960s until the early 1980s. His best-known anthologies of translations into Chuvash include works of the French poets (1968) and the poets of Hungary (1974). In 1992, an English-language edition of Chuvash poems selected by Aigi—An Anthology of Chuvash Poetry—appeared in the West. Since the onset of Perestroika, Aigi’s poetry in Russian has once again been officially published in Russia—Zdes (Here, 1991) and Teper vsegda snega (Now There Is Always Snow, 1991). Aigi writes in free verse and searches for new means of expression to embody his vision; he sees the world as broken apart and composed of isolated images, and his metaphors are often abstract. Because his work can be obscure, he sometimes provides his own commentary.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Aryan Language

“Aryan Language: (Fr Sans, arya, ‘noble’) The Indo-European family of languages, from the name which the Hindus and Iranians used to distinguish themselves from the nations they conquered. The place of origin of these languages is not definitely known, authorities differing so widely as between a locality enclosed by the river Oxus and the Hindu-Kush Mountains, at one extreme, and the shores of the Baltic Sea at the other. The Aryan family of languages includes the Persian, Indic (Hindi, Sanskrit, etc.), Latin, Greek, and Celtic, with all the European except Basque, Turkish, Hungarian, and Finnic. It is sometimes called the Indo-European, sometimes the Indo-Germanic, and sometimes the Japhetic.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Term of Art: Calque

“Calque [kalk] (noun): An imitative borrowing in language, or a word modeled on an aspect of range of meaning of a particular word in another language, e.g. the English measurement ‘foot’ from the Latin ‘pes.’ Also LOAN-TRANSLATION

‘The chapter is full of loanwords, calques, neologisms, as well as curious learning; it we are a as far away from the down-to-earthy broodings of Blok as it is possible to imagine.’” Anthony Burgess, Joysprick

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.