Archive for April, 2011

GRAMMAR NOTES-12

April 30, 2011

THE VERB HAVE.  When I only started learning English over half a century ago I was taught to make questions with have by placing this verb in the beginning of a sentence: Have you a book? Have you a brother (a sister), etc? Nowadays all textbooks of English contain patterns with have got and do/does/did …have and try not to recommend using only have for questions and negatives. Grammarians state that have without got and without do is mostly used in British English as an outdated variant and also in the written form of the official style: Have you an appointment? The company has a reputation for efficiency. Birmingham has not the charm of York or Edinburgh. Only had in questions makes the sentence practically obsolete: Had you the money? Had she any news?

The most widely spread form in colloquial British English is have got (‘ve got). In American and Australian English have may be dropped, which brings forth patterns of the type: I got a problem, I got a brother down in Nova Scotia.

It is interesting that the presence of have got in the meaning “to have, to possess” restricts the meaning of get as “to receive” as this verb is used in the Perfect forms: I have got a letter does not mean I have received a letter.

The form do/does/did …have which originally was popular mainly in AmE has crept over into other territorial variants of English. With the parallel existence in BE of have got and have or have with do  the functions of the two patterns are specialized: have in affirmative questions and have with do in interrogative and negative questions stand for repeated or usual actions while have got is related to the NOW-situation: Cf a “grammar” joke: Have you got any sardines? — No, madam, we haven’t got any.– But do you have them? — Yes, we do, but at the moment we we’ve run short of them. In AmE have with do may relate to both the habitual and momentary occurrence, which is why there may be a kind of misunderstanding between an American and an Englishman, as is observed in another piece of “grammar humour”:  An American: Do you have many children? —  AnEnglishman: Oh, not many. Just one every two years.

Interestingly, the forms with got and with do may be used next to each other in the same conversational framework: I’ve got a new apartment — Oh, do you?

Advertisements

THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

April 26, 2011

The Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe occurred on April 26, 1986. A very brief piece of information about the accident was first published by the news agency TASS two days later – on April 28. In those days, to create an impression that what had taken place was not serious, sports events were being organized in the town of Prypyat (its unofficial name was Atomgrad) where the nuclear station was actually situated. Groups of pop singers were being sent to entertain the inhabitants, and the 1st -of-May civil parade was arranged in the capital of Ukraine (a few dozen miles from Chernobyl), the participation in which was required. During the parade thousands of people, children included, were demonstrating their loyalty and gratitude to the communist party for its “parental care” of the soviet nation. The situation was similar to June 22, 1941, when only the day before the soviet government had been assuring the people that Germany was a friendly country, and after 4 a.m. on June 22 (the time the bombings began) kept broadcasting some trivia until the very afternoon when the Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov spoke on the radio about the “treacherous invasion” of Hitler’s armies.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Kyiv. Incidentally, I think he should have come with apologies: all the nuclear power stations in those days were directly subordinated to Moscow and the order to conduct the experiment, the result of which was the Chernobyl accident, had come from Russia too. However, he chose to speak about the necessity of governments to “tell the truth to the people.” I would have agreed with the President if his government had told the truth about the explosions that had destroyed residential buildings in Moscow some ten years ago (obviously, the explosions had been masterminded by the present-day KGB), or the truth about the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko by a Russian agent in London, or if the Russian side had not re-worded the commemorating plaque honoring the Polish statesmen who had died in an air-crash in Smolensk oblast last year. The same concerns the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill who in the 1970s was known in the KGB circles under the operational name “Mikhailov” (http://vlasti.net/news/36151) and who is now implementing the idea of the “Russian world” on the ex-USSR territory. In the 1990s he imported cigarettes into Russia and at the moment possesses the capital of a few billion dollars. He sheds crocodile tears about the abject plight of people while going to Switzerland, where he owns a property and plays winter sports. Why should journalists, and not he, tell the truth about himself?

VOCABULARY NOTES-12

April 24, 2011

Easter Vocabulary

Eostre – a pagan Anglo-Saxon Goddess
This mythical figure is said to have been the goddess of the sunrise and the spring. She is the Teutonic goddess of the dawn. The direction of the sunrise, East, is named for her. In Norse mythology, the name is spelled Eostare. Another considered the Norse/Saxon goddess of spring is Ostara. Eastre is believed to be an ancient word for spring.

Complete the “Easter Quiz” (pls see the answers at the bottom).

1. The main meal of the day

2. A hat usually held in place by ribbons

3. Named after Eastre, the goddess of spring

4. It’s fun to color these

5. Used in basket to cushion eggs

6. A container used when gathering eggs

7. Trumpet shaped flowers

8. A young rabbit

a/ Grass

b/ Easter

c/ Lily

d/ Eggs

e/ Bonnet

f/ Basket

g/ Dinner

h/ Bunny

LOOK BACK IN HUMBLENESS

April 24, 2011

Today’s Easter. On Christian holidays I think about Christian values. Love only God (don’t pay attention to material things, don’t pursue wealth, power, fame, pleasure, status), respect all people (“Love your neighbor as yourself”), be humble (which is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, vanity), be honest, live a moral life, be generous with time and money, practice what you preach, don’t be self-righteous (“First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye”), don’t hold a grudge, forgive others, remember that the Christian’s body is God’s Temple housing the Holy Spirit…

I see a young lady carrying an Easter basket in one hand and a cigarette in the other. How wonderful our lives would be if every morning we reminded ourselves of the spiritual values and every evening looked back to see how we have been put to the test on the yardstick of these principles!

TWO CITIES

April 22, 2011

Which city do I prefer to live in — big or small? The list of TOEFL written topics suggests that a student should logically present pros and cons each city may have in this respect. At the moment I’m staying in a small town. All day I have been trying to find a shred of paper on its roads and I couldn’t. Some people attribute its cleanliness to the comparative smallness of the town. Others say that the reason is the person responsible for sweeping the whole of the town. The person is a former communist and and with his dictatorial manners he can guarantee that the town will be clean, Incidentally, today’s Lenin’s birthday, which is definitely dear to the dedicated communist’s heart. Or is it because of the approaching Easter? Modern communists cease to be militant atheists.

I compare the immaculate state of a small city and the squalor of a big one. It’s hardly about their size: it’s sooner about the people who live in the cities. The scene  when drinking places are neighbouring a church is unthinkable for a small town.

So, when you ask me which city — big or small –is to my heart, I will answer: the one where the streets are clean of dirt and the people pure of  heart. Where’s the place?

A GREAT LITTLE POEM

April 19, 2011

I haven’t found in the Net any information about the author of this poem , but IMHO the name should be remembered — even if it is the only poem she has written

The Little Black Dog
by Elizabeth Gardner Reynolds

I wonder if Christ had a little black dog,
All curly and woolly like mine;
With two long silky ears and a nose, round and wet,
And two eyes, brown and tender, that shine.

I am sure, if He had, that that little black dog
Knew right from the first, He was God;
That he needed no proof that Christ was Divine,
And just worshipped the ground where He trod.

I’m afraid that He hadn’t, because I have read
How He prayed in the garden, alone;
For all of His friends and disciples had fled –
Even Peter, the one called a stone.

And, oh, I am sure that that little black dog,
With a heart so tender and warm,
Would never have left Him to suffer alone,
But, creeping right under His arm,

Would have licked the dear fingers, in agony clasped,
And, counting all favours, but loss,
When they took Him away, would have trotted behind
And followed Him quite to the Cross.

VOCABULARY NOTES-11

April 17, 2011

Last weak I was translating for our foreign partners who arrived at our company. At the technical service center an engineer was explaining to us that some ten years ago they had to dismantle a functioning product to use its parts for repairing a broken device. “I understand, you had to cannibalize new products”, smiled the partner.

I liked the word for its clear inner form: broken products “eat” their own kind and “survive” thanks to them. The word doesn’t come across very often. However, the next day while watching the BBC news I heard that the British RAF grounded five pilots because there were no spare parts for aircraft. Engineers were forced to CANNIBALIZE other Typhoons to keep the fleet running.

Other meaning and usages of the word:

2. To deprive of vital elements or resources, such as personnel, equipment, or funding, for use elsewhere: “It becomes necessary to cannibalize unsuccessful projects to fund those which can proceed” (Daily Report for Executives).

3. To draw on as a major source: “cannibalizes the lives of his wife and friends for his second-rate novels” (Washington Post).

And, of course:

4. To practice cannibalism  🙂

A STILL CENTRE

April 17, 2011

In my younger years a motto of organized youth groups (“children of Great October”, “young pioneers”, “the komsomols “) was “He who doesn’t burn, will give off fumes.” You were supposed to be very eager (“to burn with readiness, desire, etc”) to do everything you were called to do in a communist society. Taking an active part in socially useful events was an indispensible criterion which could even influence your career. That may be one of the reasons why my generation keeps living in a constant state of noise. The people feel ill at ease if they aren’t busy with something. Even if they stay “home alone”, they can’t do without rushing, watching an entertainment show on television, listening to some music, or hearing the latest news analysis on the radio. I call it “addiction to busy-ness”.

This weekend I was kind of unwell – a slight fever, runny nose, etc. I didn’t feel like doing anything particularly important, I was just lying on the sofa. I was THINKING. I believe I found a “still centre” in me. It is only for such a quiet point that we can listen attentively – to everything and to everybody, including ourselves.

In the past hermits isolated themselves from the noise of life. They needed the quiet that they might listen. It wouldn’t be altogether bad to borrow from hermits’ discipline – in spirit, if not in fact.

DIG FOR VICTORY

April 16, 2011

While answering journalists’ questions about the rocketing prices for food, the Ukrainian Premier Mykola Azarov suggested that people should roll up their sleeves and start growing products in vegetable gardens. A newspaperman Taras Dovhyi came to the Cabinet of Ministers in the center of Kyiv in his attempt to dig a plot of land and plant some vegetables there. This way, Mr. Dovhyi says, he was going to support the Premier’s initiative on achieving self-sufficiency in agricultural produce. He had with him not only a spade, but also a banner which read “SOON WE’LL COME WITH PITCHFORKS”, the implication being that during anti-government uprisings in earlier times peasants used pitchforks and scythes as their weapons.

The police edged the gardener away from his operating area saying he should officially apply to the city council for permission.

A LONG REACH FROM UKRAINE

April 16, 2011

The Chief Editor of the newspaper Kyiv Post, Brian Bonner, has been dismissed by the owner of the newspaper, Mohammad Zahoor. The dismissal is apparently due to Mr Zahoor’s demand that an article be removed. The article is “On the Hot Seat” (http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/102436/)

The Chief Editor refused to remove the article, hence, the decision taken.

A statement released last Friday by the Kyiv Post editorial staff reads:

“Kyiv Post protests against interference in the independent activities of the editorial office.  We view as such interference the decision by the publisher Muhammad Zahoor to dismiss Chief Editor Brian Bonner over his refusal to remove an interview with the Minister of Agriculture, Mykola Prysyazhnyuk.

The Kyiv Post editorial team are beginning a strike with the demand that Bonner by reinstated in his post as Chief Editor. We will continue to write and edit our articles, but will not publish any news or issues of the newspaper”.

At the moment, the editorial staff has no access to the website.

The action was preceded by warnings to Bonner dating back to June, from Zahoor’s representatives in the ISTIL Group, to tone down the news coverage of the Kyiv Post and to adopt a more supportive stance of President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration.

A considerable part of the interview with Prysyazhnyuk is about the influence of Party of the Regions Deputy (Yury Ivanyushchenko), on Ukraine’s agricultural market. 

Yury Ivanyushchenko is a parliamentarian representing the pro-presidential party in it. He’s number 111 on the election list and comes from the same town of Yenakiyevo in Donetsk oblast as President Yanukovych does. In the 1990s Yury Ivanyushchenko (also known by nicknames Yurets Maloy and Yury Yenakiyevskiy) headed the killer wing of the criminal group in Yenakiyevo. At present he mainly resides in Monaco and arrives in Ukraine now and then. In the picture you may see one of such arrivals.

Yury Ivanyushchenko is on very friendly terms with President Yanukovich: he can call him any moment and they talk on everything under the sun, which is unthinkable with any other politician. Ivanyushchenko has bought ALL the quotas for grain exports and now sells them to exporters at $15 a ton (a sixth of the price for a ton of grain bought from the farmers). The Ukrainian government imposed a ban on grain exports till July 1. Since foreign investors had put their money in the Ukrainian wheat production, they naturally expect returns from grain exports, but the exports are stopped – in no small way due to the presence of such President’s cronies in the market as Yury Ivanyushchenko — as it may be inferred from the Agriculture Minister’s interview.

Nowadays, there are no more than three high-quality sources of information about Ukraine (also about the country in the global context): the BBC Ukrainian Service, Radio Liberty and the Kyiv Post. With the BBC to be closed down due to the government cuts in Britain and the likely liquidation of the Kyiv Post (as threatened by Mr. Zahoor), there will be only RL left.  There’s no guarantee that the long arm from Ukraine will not reach that radio station either.


%d bloggers like this: