"So long as we continue to have such trouble telling each other what we really feel, there'll be room for literature."

The title of this blog entry is taken from a tweet by an acclaimed writer, Alain de Botton ‏(@alaindebotton) posted a few days ago. In fact I haven't regarded myself as a person who needs literature for such an objective. Or more candidly speaking, I've been trying hard to convince myself that it'd be just like "opening Pandra's box" for me to dive into the oceans of great literature. There's always this feeling, anticipation, or even "hope" that I'd be spending most of my time reading literature once I retire and have an abundance of dispensable time on my own with some pretty cat on my lap.

I'm saying this rather shamefully. I finally started reading a novel that I had obtained more than half a year ago. It's a collection of short stories written by an extraordinarily talented American writer who no longer is able to produce his masterpieces. The story I chose to read first turns out to be amazingly interesting, making me regret that I should've read this gem decades ago, particularly while I was muddling through my dark-of-the-darkest twenties. Here's my favorite part of what I read just now;

"... because I couldn't be as good as I eventually wanted to be, how frustrating it was to get just good enough to know what getting really good at it would be like but not being able to get that good, etc."

That succinctly depicts the chaotic mixture of unreasonableness, unfairness, inferiority complex, pride, regrets, sorrow, and everything that constantly occupied my mind when I was surrounded by returnees from English speaking countries who sounded extremely proficient in English to my ear back then. Here's, again, what Alain de Botton ‏just tweeted: Writing: if I've properly studied what's going on in me, there's a good chance it'll read as if it's about you.





Substantially, Modereately, or Slightly Edited DT Reviews

I'm happy to let you know that several reviews have been edited lately:
DOKKAI 4 p.110 & p.118 & p.126 - Substantially Edited
DOKKAI 4 p.134 & p.142 - Moderately Edited
DOKKAI 4 p.150 & p.158 - Slightly Edited
DOKKAI 4 p.166 & p.174 - Moderately Edited

Those fabulously written reviews won't need my unsolicited comments and reviews. Just let the pieces do the talking.

Then I'd like to seize this opportunity to formulate my views on a comment, a tweet to be more specific, that I read a few days ago. The tweeter says that it is unnatural, unnecessary, and undesirable for English learners who share a native language to interact online in English. He particularly mentioned occasions where some people respond to his Japanese tweets in English as a case that they are inconsiderate and disrespectful to choose English as a medium of communication with someone who's speaking in Japanese, which is the first language both parties actually share. His statement may seem irrefutable on the surface, or it really is. Or did he simply want to say those people should respect his choice to speak in Japanese, and thus they are very rude? I don't have any clear answer here. I don't have any clear explanation for what made me so sad upon reading his tweet.

Personally I regard Twitter as a venue to say whatever you'd like in any languages in whatever ways you'd choose. If you're not happy with the way other people respond or react to what you've just said in whatever languages, it's not their fault. They may deserve your criticisms, but they also are eligible to say anything. He argued that there're always blogs and private journals where English learners practice writing in English to NOBODY. Well, there is no doubt about it. I simply think to myself that it's such a massive waste of opportunities that English learners avoid using their target language with someone who's fluent in English whether online or offline.

Also, if my understanding is correct, the tweeter teaches English to Japanese people. It makes me feel regretful if an English teacher discourages English learners to practice speaking/writing English with other learners of English on the very account that it's unnatural and unnecessary. It makes me wonder how many people in Japan are ALWAYS provided with an abundance of opportunities to interact with native speakers of English in real settings, not classroom settings to be able to speak fluently. I must admit that it's not best for language learners to practice using their target language with each other in order to improve their speaking ability, but won't be so bad as to discourage learners to do so. Oh, that reminds me. He's a teacher of English, not just a learner of English.




A List of Edited DT Reviews 20130112

A few hours ago, I happened to find a list of recently edited Must-Read Dokkai reviews; DT4 REVIEWS -- EDITED

It's very kind and convenient for readers, new and old, who are to have an overview of which review is edited, and which is not. What a reader/learner friendly reviewer.

In his, quote, "slightly to moderately edited" page-102 review, the phrase "Our shipment" is discussed, which reads very interesting to me. My guess is that if you read the phrase "Our shipment" alone without any context, most of you will consider that Our, i.e. We is the subject of the action "ship" (= send, transport, or deliver). In other words, you will infer that "We" ship something. Here, however, "Our" represents the receiver of the shipment, not the sender.

A suggestion from the reviewer is to replace Our with The. I agree that "The June 22 shipment will be the last." are less confusing to readers in terms of who sends to whom. If you want to keep the noun "shipment", I believe it's the best option. For other possibilities, if you want to keep the pronoun "Our", what would be the revision? What I've come up with after thorough deliberation and contemplation of 90 seconds is the following:

Our [eatery/restaurant] will receive your [final/last] [shipment/delivery] on June 22.

Unfortunately, the above revision has completely lost its original vibe of "Our June 22 ***". It'd be so much better to say "We will receive your final/last..." to begin with. Moreover, the two pronouns "Our" and "your" in a sentence sound a little stiff and awkward to my ear.




Must Reread DOKKAI 4 p.54 & p.62 -- EDITED (読解特急4ビジネス文書編)

It just amazes me that the reviewer keeps refining his already-superbly-written pieces. It reminds me of the quote: perfection doesn't have limits. Here's the substantially edited version: DOKKAI 4 p.54 & p.62 Edited

What attracted me most while rereading this very educative review is "while". In my understanding, "while" expounded here in the p.54 passage is regarded literally as "during the time", but I seem to have had a slightly different interpretation. Now, let me compare two clauses in the sentence, the main clause and the subordinate clause, to predicate my view.

In the subordinate clause starting with "While", it says that the passage writer enjoys his job, as in "I enjoy my current job", which may imply that he doesn't seem to be going to change or quit his job anytime soon. The main clause, however, says that he is now looking for any good job, as in " I am seeking a position...". My assumption was that the conjunction "While" here is supposed to mean both "during the time" and "although" to connect these two clauses logically. I interpreted "While" as more like "although" upon reading this part, to be precise.

In fact, the conjunction "while" has multiple meanings. What I want to consider here is the fourth one: 4 (used at the beginning of a sentence) although; despite the fact that…
e.g.) While I am willing to help, I do not have much time available.
So, my bottom line is that "While" in question can cover different meanings simultaneously, or those meanings are interwoven somehow. I could be wrong, though.

By the way, there's a formal version of "while"; whilst. I haven't used this conjunction for speaking or writing myself. Please check its pronunciation because I kind of know that English learners, me included, tend to mispronounce it.




GMAT Sentence Correction 25-30

I solved the Sentence Correction questions 25 to 30; 6 correct.
Reference: The Official Guide for GMAT® Verbal Review, 2nd Edition

25 and 26 seemed more puzzling than others to me. Try 25 first.

Like Auden, the language of James Merrill is chatty, arch, and conversational -- given to complex syntactic flights as well as to prosaic free-verse strolls.

Did you realize the violation of paralellism? The sentence tries to compare the languages used by the two authors, Auden and James Merrill. The use of the phrase like "Auden's" to begin the comparison is needed, creating a parallel construction of "Auden's (language) and Merrill's (language)". So the correct answer for 25 is "Like Auden's, James Merrill's language".

26 forced me to spend so much more time than the other five questions.

The Baldrick Manufacturing Company has for several years followed a policy aimed at decreasing operating costs and improving the efficiency of iyts distribution system.

I swayed and swayed between these two;
(A) aimed at decreasing operating costs and improving
(E) with the aim to decrease operating costs and to improve

Which looks better to you?

Finally I chose (A), which was in fact the correct answer. Nontheless (E) didn't seem so bad to me. I thought there might be an idiomatic phrase like "with the aim to do", but the book says there isn't: the correct idiom is "with the aim of ~ing". Then I wondered if it was really so because it sounded kind okay to me.

Then I googled some variations;
■ "with the aim of increasing" 3,750,000 hits
□ "with the aim to increase" 2,660,000 hits

■ "with the aim of developing" 5,460,000 hits
□ "with the aim to develop" 2,520,000 hits

As far as the above results go, "with the aim of ~ing" is more common than "with the aim to do", but it may go too far to say that "with the aim to do" is an incorrect idiom. Well, so be it.



English learner


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