Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Conversation gambits

These are words or phrases that help us to express what we are trying to say e.g. actually, in other words, right, etc. They carry little to no meaning on their own but without them our language can appear abrupt, direct and even rude. I have a number of these gambits that I have started to introduce to our chit-chats which I hope to add to over the next few sessions. Here is an example of the first batch.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Lovely weather we're having for this time of the year!

A cliché if ever there was one, but the topic of weather always comes up in our conversation sessions. Last time it led to a discussion on nature and the effects of a mild winter on our gardens or potted plants on our balconies/terraces. The words 'to bud' 'to bloom' 'to water' 'to prune' 'to have green fingers' 'to grow' cropped up. And then the difference between 'to grow' and 'to grow up' which led to a topic on children and 'to bring up'. So small talk serves its purpose in leading us onto other topics. What other topics of small talk do you come across regularly?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Eat up!

There is no equivalent to the civilised 'Bon appetit' in English! As a waiter in a restaurant you might say 'Enjoy your meal' but that is the only situation. It's a shame. I wonder if there are any other cultures in the world that ignore this pleasantry too? 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled

I often find myself singing songs in my head when teaching a language point! Today was a good example when I tried to explain the infinitely difficult sentence starting with, 'It's been a long time since.....' I found the track by Led Zeppelin (1971) running through my head and consequently I'm still humming it at the end of the day. 

What tune is in your head today?

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A gnome delving into his subconscious

This will only make sense to today's chit-chatters! Apparently the garden gnome did originate from Germany, and the oldest surviving English one, 'Lampy' goes back to the 1840s. It's insured at £1m. Now that's an expensive birthday present!

Monday, 3 February 2014

City dweller or country bumpkin?

During our conversation on Sunday we struggled to find a single word to describe a person who lives in the countryside. Most terms we came up with were slightly pejorative, harking back to the times when most people who lived there often worked off the land too and did not have a formal education. The Guardian newspaper refers to rural residents as opposed to urban residents which doesn't sound very cosy! Shall we invent a word? What do you propose?