QW 022812 “Matchmaking Service for Monks”

Question1: Do you have a problem with using matchmaking services to find “your” future wives (or husbands)?
My answer for Q1: I’d find nothing ethically wrong with resorting to any kinds of matchmaking services to obtain as many opportunities as possible to find your best possible partner.

Question2: Do you have a problem with using matchmaking services to find Monks’ future wives?
My answer for Q2: It’s theoretically possible and ethically okay, but technically unlikely to be successful.

The above questions are what we discussed during tonight’s Skype lesson. As I said earlier, I have no objections, reservation, or hesitation in using matchmaking services if it’s necessary or there are no other options. However, the conditions that single monks seek in their future wives make me wonder how many ladies in the modern world are willing to live with in-laws or be adopted by their husbands’ families. A Skype lesson tutor developed our discussion by asking me whether it is possible for ladies to be attracted by single monks given those difficult requirements. I responded to him out of my sheer imagination as follows; there could be some women who are attracted by the guys who are leading strictly-regulated lives, such as monks, adore their stoicism and fantasize those guys too romantically. Plus, those guys are unlikely to cheat on their wives because they have far less opportunities to socialize with other women, and thus can be more faithful to their wives. I could be completely wrong here. Do you have any thoughts on that?

(30 minutes / 255 words)

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QW 022712 “Sports Subjunctive”

Again, it’s grammar talk from Language Log. Have you heard of the “sports subjunctive”? For me it naturally connotes the conditionals that are used in sports context, such as baseball, soccer, or basketball games, but it doesn’t seem so.
L-Log says “To begin with, the construction has no special connection with sports.” Here is the example of what L-Log explains as the “sports subjunctive”.

“Listen," Renda said, "we get to a phone we're out of the country before morning."

Through this construction, Renda means something like "If we can just get to a phone, we will be out of the country before morning.", having “we get to phone” as an equivalent of if-clause. L-Log explains what happens here as, quote, “Colloquial English has long had paratactic (= of or relating to the placing of clauses or phrases one after another without words to indicate coordination or subordination) conditionals of this sort. They occur in a wide range of contexts that have nothing to do with sport. But they also have nothing to do with the subjunctive, a topic on which virtually all popular grammatical discussion is disastrously confused.”
Then can they be examples of the “sports subjunctive”?
1) We take off now we catch the last train.
2) You do dishes I do the laundry.
3) I quit eating chocolate I go MAD!!

(30 minutes / 224 words)

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QW 022612 “Obfuscation of agency”

I read an interesting article on obfuscation (= making something, unclear, or unintelligible) of agency (the one who does an action) and the use of the passive voice on Language Log. What do you think of the following sentence?

"During his period of service as Foreign Minister there were many achievements.”

How could the sentence be different from “He achieved many things during his period of service as Foreign Minister.” ? Here’s how L-Log explains what is happening here.

The verb achieve is the one that you don't want him to get to be the subject of, so you nominalize it, forming the noun achievement, and pop the result into a bare existential clause, asserting that the achievements exist, but you don't (in that clause, anyway) give him any credit for them.

We all know that the sentence “During his period of service as Foreign Minister there were many achievements.” is not the passive voice. Here’s an additional explanation from L-Log.

English has all sorts of ways of talking about actions without mentioning who undertook them. Sometimes they are quite legitimately used, and sometimes culpable (= deserving blame) muddying of the waters is going on — it varies from case to case. But the passive voice is not the same as concealing who did what. Neither is necessary or sufficient for the other.

I’m quite sure that what we can learn from this article as English learners can be summarized as follows: When you want to obscure agency for some reason, there are more ways than to use the passive voice. One way of doing that is to nominalize of a verb to form the noun, and insert it into a bare existential clause (i.e. “there is” clause).

(40 minutes / 288 words)

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Writing Center Blog Post - Active vs Passive Voice




QW 022412 “Good even when it's bad”

This is an interesting Gawker-ish article; “New Yorkers: Help Us Find New York’s Worst Burger” According to this piece, they’re wondering which the worst burger is in New York if there’re the best ones, which is already a very Gawker-ish line, but I personally think the following part represents what this fun, original, making-us-gawk online news magazine is about; “There's a lot at stake here. We're curious here if the rule for pizza and sex — that it's "good even when it's bad" — holds true for burgers.” Is it, really? Pizza and sex are good even when they’re bad? Yeah, I can say that such rule applies to both of them to “some” extent (I knew both cases empirically!). Is there anything that this theory holds true for? I’ll give it a try.

1) Danish pastries sold in a vending machine on a platform – I sometimes buy one of those Danishes when I am starving to death, but have nothing else in sight to eat.
2) Gummy candy – I eat this chewy stuff not necessarily because it’s yummy but because chewing something keeps me awake during a sleep-inducing (means boring) lecture.
3) McDonald’s Apple Pie- It’s always good although it has almost-zero nutritious value.

(30 minutes / 204 words)

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QW 022312 “A compelling reason”

We walked, walked, walked. We talked, talked, talked. During our conversations, a question was posed. “What’s the compelling reason in doing that?” I wasn’t poised to shoot back and answer the question cogently. I was like, “Well, … ah…we’d like to facilitate people to uh, …” My friend goes like “Facilitate? (Interpretation: Vague, weak, and unappealing. )” The other time, I tried again like, “We’d like to contribute to developing uh,… blah, blah, blah” My friend: “Contribute. It’s getting better. (Interpretation; It’s not good enough.)” In addition to the insufficiency of my language skills to render my thoughts exactly as they were without hesitation (I hate such lame excuses, though), I didn’t have simple, clear and cogent answer to this question to begin with. I’m afraid anyone who reads this QW piece has no clue for guessing what I’m talking about here. Well, I very much appreciate your patience to let me go on a bit further.

I interpreted “a compelling reason to do something” in this context as a powerful and convincing reason why I cannot help doing something. My clear sense of objectives, so to speak. I looked up the adjective “compelling” in the Collins Thesaurus in my SII e-dictionary and learned that its synonyms are convincing, powerful, forceful, cogent, and irrefutable. Yes, IRREFUTABLE. What a cool adjective. Thank you so much, my friend. You left the compelling reason for me to give further thoughts to my compelling reason in doing the project. By the time I meet you over there in a month, I’ll be ready to verbalize THE compelling reason clearly, cogently and irrefutably.
(30 minutes / 268 words)

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