Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Semantics of Verbal Complements: Gerund and Infinitive


          This work is dedicated exclusively to the student, who wanted to know if there is any difference in meaning between,

“I'm pleased to meet you”.
“I'm pleased meeting you”.

         It is also dedicated to all among learners who try hard seeking for authenticity in expression despite the prevailing Internet acronyms, text message jargon, abbreviations, initialisms, cyberslang, leetspeak, SMS code, txtspk, textese, smileys and so on.


         When the learners trigger the teaching process, effective learning takes place for both the teacher and the learner. Certainly, most learners have questions in mind. Those questions sometimes are the needed missing stimulus for the teacher to go further and deeper with the subject matter. Taciturn students do not really help with the teaching and learning processes. They should speak out their doubts about every shakily learned issue. They should question their acquired knowledge, and check for perfect understanding.

         The ignorance or the misuse of grammatical rules results in poor or distorted meaning. Take the gerund and the infinitive for instance, they cause a lot of trouble when they are not assimilated and used accurately. Both verb forms are rivals on delivering messages meaningfully. They both compete but also collaborate at times to facilitate communication. They make it either easy or hard for the listener to understand discourse.

       Generally, the gerund and the infinitive cooperate and take each other’s places without any change in meaning; however, there are instances where the gerund and the infinitive do completely different jobs vis-à-vis the meaning intended. Actually this is not a moody issue; it is controlled by grammatical rules. The learners not able to master each case separately may fall in complete disorientation and ambiguity.

      Thanks to the student’s inquiry, this paper will try to find out the secret behind these two somehow antagonist verbal complements’ collaboration and competition over meaning especially after specific verbs, prepositions and other expressions. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Enigmatic Optative Mood with "If only"

If only closed minds came with closed mouths!


         This paper aims at questioning “wish constructions” and the amount of ambiguity “if only” brings about when an optative mood is expressed discretely. It also aims at seeking the possibility of the if-clause unreal types to resolve the potential ambiguity created by the exclamatory wish-clause, to eventually see to what extent the fundamental communicative needs are provided in interlocution.

         “If only” or “wish” utterances can be measured in terms of epistemic scale. So, the consequence is generally unpredictable because it abides by the speaker’s logic and intentions. In other words, this paper can be viewed as a simplified linguistic outlook over conditionality for interested students who “wish” to take up studying the English language.

         For EFL students, the diglossia and the instability of grammar makes simplifying linguistics a tough task because this branch of scientific studies of language already uses lots of terms that have no equivalent in current speech. Therefore, taming linguistics for the main stream grammar learners to grasp is full of risks, I admit it.

         The volitive construction with “if only” is very often unstable itself especially in the dominion of acculturation for it could easily be understood but wrongly; hence the ambiguity and the enigma of most isolated pronounced wish constructions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why do most high school students start writing poorly?


Until very recently, most high school students could easily engage in writing quite comfortably and relatively well. They had to write stories, letters, articles, essays and reports, but they didn't seem to have any problem with the writing skills although they were short of resources and references. Yet, now that information and resources are abundant, available and easily accessible, the majority of students today have difficulty handling a normal basic one-paragraph composition. Most teachers report that technology has damaged a lot of the learners’ writing skills and it has suffocated any willingness in them to even hear about formal writing.

       Is technology alone the real reason why most students today shun writing the maximum? No doubt, writing is a true scary experience for most learners; the proof is that they don’t like to hear about it, and when they have to do it, they do it very poorly; and this is due to several other diverse causes apart from the familiar complex nature of writing. There is unmistakable evidence that technological devices have a lot to do with this decline. In fact, they contribute greatly in transforming the teens’ communication means and styles. Let’s say simply that it is maybe a warped ramp in the culture of this generation.

This paper will try to make it clear that this deterioration in writing skills is not only the students’ fault, neither is it connected to technology alone. There are other exterior factors behind this awkward situation. The paper will also try to explore, objectively, the causes behind this frightening mediocrity of the learners’ writings. It will also try to suggest remedies to help students cease producing those “junk” writings believing that what they write is good enough as far as there are piles of words and signs on the paper as most of them could no longer hand in a legible paper.

Thinking of remedial classes as a solution is absolutely a good idea; however, we have first to fetch for the pests behind this attitude towards writing, and then manage an efficacious curative process to root those pests out, and pave the way for the learners to get aware of the importance of these crucial skills for their future life. I bet this idea would almost be absurd in the information and communication technology era in which computers and smart phones have deeply distorted our students’ views of writing.

Key Words
Writing, skills, genres, reading, textbook, lingo, topical, essays, code switching, technology, curricula, jargon, texting, chatting, slang, abbreviations, acronyms,  emoticon, smiley, copy-paste, copyright, 

Sunday, April 27, 2014


The passive voice and the irksome Agent

From the diary of an E.F.L. teacher

I dedicate this paper to the student who asked a curious question about the passive voice totally alien in our high schools today. While the majority of this generation of digitally oriented students still struggle to understand what the passive voice is, and why we should use it, this student goes beyond the simple usual questions the learners frequently ask. She crosses the limits of understanding this voice to raise a tough issue that only grammarians are concerned with.

The question
 “Teacher, in a passive voice construction, shall we always use the “by + agent” phrase whenever the doer or the agent is known or identified?

         At first, I got speechlessly surprised because I didn’t expect this kind of question from a hard working student like her. I am sure she knew all about the rules related to the use of the phrase “by + agent” in a passive voice construction. If anyone else had enquired about this issue, it would have been quite normal because luckily some students still ask questions. There’s surely something else behind that question.

         In general, a matter like this is very so often raised by the learners, in class and on the Internet. Apparently, it looked so common a query that its answer would unthinkably be, ........