Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Which language do you think is more difficult, English or Spanish?

Most native speakers of English don't realize that their language contains roughly twice as many words as most other languages. This not only makes English more difficult to learn but makes it more expressive and exact for transmitting an idea, emotion or thought precisely the way you wanted to.

Whether or not most native speakers actually use their language well is a totally different issue. We tend no to take advantage of the vast vocabulary at our disposal. It ranges from people's overuse of the word "got" to those who can't seem to produce a sentence without one of the many forms of the dreaded "F" word.

You should know that the average English speaker has in his personal vocabulary about 8,000 words, whereas the average speaker of the other European languages only have half as many in their personal vocabularies. That number is not the number of words in the language, but rather the number of words that a person tends to use and fully understands.

There is nothing to be done about this, it is simply a description of what linguists have found when analyzing the make up of these languages. The reason we have double of our counterparts is that English is really two languages in one.

Yes, English is approximately half Germanic and half Latin in composition. You can say the "main" idea or you can say the "principal" idea. The latter is from Latin and the former from Germanic.

So when people ridicule or criticise Americans for not speaking another language, just tell them that you are already practically bilingual. But please go out and learn a second language. It will enrich your life and help to change our image.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Adventure in Spain told in ASL with voice in English

This video deals with a weekend adventure that I had with some friends when I was in college one semester when I lived in Spain. I hope you can figure out some of the sings, because you can hear me telling the story in spoken English too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who or Whom, Who really cares?

Does it really make a difference whether one says who or whom? If so, when should one say who and whom? If you ever wondered what the rule about these words are or if you'd just like to know for the fun of it, then take a look at this video to clear up all your doubts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Eyes Literally Popped Out of My Head When I Read This Article!

How often do you hear someone use the word "literally"? Maybe you like to use this word. Well one should know that "literally" means actually and that it really happened. So in my attempt at humor in the title what I would in fact be saying is that my eyes actually popped out of my skull and fell on the floor.

Most people when they say "literally" the actually mean "figuratively". Now this does not mean that the word "literally" doesn't have a place in our language. We can use this word with greatest effectiveness with expressions or idioms. For example, we all know the expression "it was raining cats and dogs". Well, suppose that for some strange reason you were walking down the street and a real live cat and a real live dog fell out of the sky and landed near your feet due to some odd accident. This would be sad, but you could say "it was literally raining cats and dogs".

Here's another example; if you were driving and you got lost and were very desperate and looking on your map trying to figure out where you were and where you were going when finally you come to a barrier in the road. You are forced to stop your car. You get out of the car and see that the rest of the highway is destroyed and doesn't continue, but rather there is a gaping canyon where the highway once was. Then with complete confidence you could say "I was literally at the end of the road".

In all other situations when it is just an extreme feeling, but not something that is actually happening you should say "figuratively". And who knows, you might literally be the first person to leave a comment to this article. Just so you know that's not actually a picture of me with the eyes popping out. It's just some amazing guy with large loose eye sockets. He must be fun to have at a party.

I hope you figuratively have a blast this week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The importance of facial expression in ASL

If you are learning ASL try to pay special attention to how much facial expression deaf people use. At first you might think they are exaggerating, but they are not. So, when you sign try to use as much facial expression as possible. It is equivalent to our intonation. If you don't use your facial expression it is like having a conversation with a person who is completely monotone.

If you ask most deaf people if you are using enough facial expression they will tell you that you could use more. So, my challenge for all of you hearing signers out there is for the next time that you are signing with a deaf person, try to use so much facial expression so that they have to tell you that it is enough or too much. I bet you have a hard time getting there. Now remember they are the best example for you. So try to follow their lead and do what they do.

Remember to always have fun while learning a new language. Before you know it you'll be signing rather fluently.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Should you learn American Sign Lanuguage ASL? How difficult will it be?

If you want to be able to enter the world of Deaf people, I would say yes, you should learn ASL. It will enrich your life in ways you couldn't even imagine. To have a conversation with someone without using your voice, but your eyes and your whole body is an incredible experience. Little did anyone realize that they could access this culture living within another culture. Deaf people are Americans, but they have their own subculture. They think and react a little differently to some situations.

Learning most languages is a difficult undertaking for most, requiring lots of memorization and study of grammar. ASL is much easier than that in some ways because the grammar is simpler, but still different from that of English. It is more difficult in other ways because you are taking in language through your eyes and that is a strange but exciting sensation at first.

Visual languages have great advantages over spoken languages. For example you can be at a very loud part and if you know how to sign you can easily converse with someone else who knows how to sign and the surrounding noise won't affect you at all. It is also convenient for when you are a little bit far away from someone where normally you would have to shout. If you can see the sign you can understand it. No shouting is necessary. It also comes in handy in the rare cases when you are in two different cars and you are close enough to sign to someone else in the other car like "We need to pull over at the next gas station, we're almost out of gas."

Amo, Amas, Ama, Amamos, Amais, Aman. I've got very good news for those of you who dread conjugations; there is no conjugation in ASL. So you learn one form for the verb and it works for all of the persons and tenses. Now isn't that nice? The signs are iconic and that means that a high percentage of signs look like what they mean, so that makes them very easy to remember because they fit into your memory very conveniently.

You are never too young or too old to learn and you never know who you are going to meet in life who will be a deaf person or another person who signs. So don't just stand there, get out and learn ASL. You'll be glad you did. And some deaf people will get to know you and that will be nice for them. So go have some fun. Learning language is fun and it opens your mind and expands your horizons.

Impact, Affect, Effect

For the past decade or so people have stopped using the verb "affect" and the noun "effect" and and have started substituting for both of them the ever present "impact". "How does it impact you?" The reason for this omission and substitution is that in spoken English we pronounce the two words the same. So people aren't sure if the word starts with an "a" or an "e". I speak Spanish and so this isn't a problem for me because these two cognates are present in that language and they are "afectar" for affect and "efecto" for effect and so it is easy to remember the spelling and the meaning.

There is a simple way to remember which is the verb and which is the noun and the spelling too. The one that starts with an "a" as in "action" as in "verb" is "affect" and it is the verb. The other one is the noun. Using the word "impact" as a verb is seen as substandard use in English, but many people are doing it.

Remember there are two words out there that would love to be used by you. So if you want to have a small effect on the future of spoken English and affect the way people react to you. Improve your use of English by making these small and easy changes.

"Impact" as a noun is accepted, but try not to abuse this word too much.

Are you suppose to say Supposably or Supposedly? Hey wait! isn't it "supposed to"?

ASL Basic Vocabulary

How to Become Fluent in ASL

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