We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Random Review » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:06 pm

CompImp wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
I have a life and right now, I don't like it much. The book is red is an awesome distraction from it. Yeah, I shouldn't procrastinate, I know. For further lecturing me on it, please stand at the end of the loooong line. ;-)

Btw welcome to the forum. It has a wonderful feature: you can get out of a thread without finishing it, whenever you feel like it :-)

I'm trying....but i keep getting quoted by people :lol: :mrgreen: I think someone in particular fancies me.

Dammit, have I been coming on too strong again. :(
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Cavesa » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:10 pm

Random Review wrote:
CompImp wrote:
Cavesa wrote:Btw welcome to the forum. It has a wonderful feature: you can get out of a thread without finishing it, whenever you feel like it :-)

I'm trying....but i keep getting quoted by people :lol: :mrgreen: I think someone in particular fancies me.

Dammit, have I been coming on too strong again. :(

I thought they meant Cainntear... But who knows.

CompImp wrote:Get a REDACTED life !

Get rid of it and learn a language! :-D Or five!
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Random Review » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:20 pm

Cavesa wrote: I thought they meant Cainntear... But who knows.


I only see what I want to see. :( :( :( :(
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Cainntear » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:28 pm

Hashimi wrote:We can start from more useful simple sentences on DEF + NOUN + VERB TO BE + ADJECTIVE like:

"The weather is nice."

or

"The manager is absent."


Cavesa wrote:I was speaking more about the principle than this one sentence. A lot of examples would fit this purpose. But I still don't know what is so wrong about a sentence making people practice the words red and book. It is not as if this one sentence was somehow pushing other sentences out of the class or brain. I just don't find it that shocking or horrible. (and truth be told less boring than The weather is nice, but that is subjective. Every learner will prefer some sentences to others, that's normal)

Well, there's the other side of the coin -- sentences being boring because they're pointless and/or mundane.

But if you look at Hashimi's second example -- the manager is absent -- it manages to evoke its own context. Even if the wording is slightly odd (why "absent"?) as soon as you say "the manager is..." then we're presumably in the situation where a customer is complaining -- and that's even if this sentence stands entirely on its own, absent any other context. That makes it a very meaningful sentence indeed.
Cavesa wrote:That is the problem. Sticking to this for 3-4 years.

Approximately two eternities ago, I started learning French from the classical sentences too. But it worked well, because we were progressing from that stuff quite fast.

That is the problem. Teachers, who spend six months on the first unit of a coursebook, and there are many of those. Or three years without really giving people any explanations.

Not even the stupidest sentence on the planet is a huge problem, if it is one of many you spend time on. But any small set of sentences is likely to be considered stupid by a part of the public exposed to it.

"That is the problem" is a reductionist sentence. Why can't there be more than one problem?

My issue with what I call "expository" sentences (sentences that exist to teach a particular concept, and don't closely model natural utterances) is that they recur in the context of various different teaching methodologies, and every time they are criticised, it's as a criticism of the teaching method, rather than on their own merits as teaching examples. The first big criticism that I'm aware of was Otto Jespersen, writing the century before last, and propounding the direct/natural method. Yet fast forward to today and direct/natural teachers use weird expository sentences too -- for example in some early Lingq lessons you'll find monologues like this:
"Listen and repeat: What is your name? My name is Ana. What is his name? His name is Juan. What is her name? Her name is Maria. What age are you? I am 25 years old. What age is Juan? He is 22 years old. How old is Maria? She is 19 years old."

It's not natural, right? You can see pretty easily why the writer structured it that way and what she/he intends you to notice.


aaleks wrote:but just "The book is red" is doing me a huge disservice because it inadvertently teaches me that the article is not important. The article in this sentence standing alone looks more like an accessory to me rather than a meaningful part of the sentence.
Thank you. I wish I had been able to put it so succintly.
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Cavesa » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:42 pm

Cainntear wrote:Well, there's the other side of the coin -- sentences being boring because they're pointless and/or mundane.

But if you look at Hashimi's second example -- the manager is absent -- it manages to evoke its own context. Even if the wording is slightly odd (why "absent"?) as soon as you say "the manager is..." then we're presumably in the situation where a customer is complaining -- and that's even if this sentence stands entirely on its own, absent any other context. That makes it a very meaningful sentence indeed.


And now you've taken an example, that vast majority of high schoolers will consider boring and pointless. And the very first post starting this discussion is about language class content not being relevant to a high schooler.

You see, the individual phrases' usefulness is very subjective. That's why I am convinced the too small subset of phrases and dwelling on them too much is more of a problem than "The book is red"

Truth be told, I think the language courses should start completely differently, based on my observations. I think lots of learners would appreciate starting from a detective story (the detective gets introduced, you describe suspects, you describe objects in the room, people talk about their alibi, about their motivations,.... you know, an Agatha Christie styled language course. And you would actually have a real motivation not to give up in the middle), or a fairy tale or encyclopedia styled book (kids excited about fairy tales, dinosaurs, animals, are all forced to "The book is red" or "How many rooms does your home have" (a real example thirty minutes were spent on in a class of ten year olds) or supposedly conversational phrases about nothing). There would definitely be space on the market for stuff like that.



"That is the problem" is a reductionist sentence. Why can't there be more than one problem?

My issue with what I call "expository" sentences (sentences that exist to teach a particular concept, and don't closely model natural utterances) is that they recur in the context of various different teaching methodologies, and every time they are criticised, it's as a criticism of the teaching method, rather than on their own merits as teaching examples. The first big criticism that I'm aware of was Otto Jespersen, writing the century before last, and propounding the direct/natural method. Yet fast forward to today and direct/natural teachers use weird expository sentences too -- for example in some early Lingq lessons you'll find monologues like this:
"Listen and repeat: What is your name? My name is Ana. What is his name? His name is Juan. What is her name? Her name is Maria. What age are you? I am 25 years old. What age is Juan? He is 22 years old. How old is Maria? She is 19 years old."

It's not natural, right? You can see pretty easily why the writer structured it that way and what she/he intends you to notice.

And now I agree and think you may have named a huge part of the problem.
The problem with "What is your name" parroting in the first sentences is how ever double: first is the weirdness of those sentences. Second: they are more boring than The book is red. As the other one is a pattern you can turn into many other sentences with substitution. The "He is 22 years old" allows just changing one tiny and boring variable.


aaleks wrote:but just "The book is red" is doing me a huge disservice because it inadvertently teaches me that the article is not important. The article in this sentence standing alone looks more like an accessory to me rather than a meaningful part of the sentence.
Thank you. I wish I had been able to put it so succintly.


As someone who had struggled a lot with the English articles at first, I cannot see how is this sentence harmful. In a context of several various sentences with use of articles, it is a very good example, in my opinion. Trust me, differenctiating between "I see a book." "The book is red.", was a huge problem for me. So, I cannot see how such a helpful sentence could be harmful to anyone struggling with the same problem. It is perhaps about the individual differences between the learners. But trust me, I would have loved to practice the definite article on "The book is red" instead of writing the official and full name of the UK a million times. :-D
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Cainntear » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:15 pm

Cavesa wrote:
Cainntear wrote:Well, there's the other side of the coin -- sentences being boring because they're pointless and/or mundane.

But if you look at Hashimi's second example -- the manager is absent -- it manages to evoke its own context. Even if the wording is slightly odd (why "absent"?) as soon as you say "the manager is..." then we're presumably in the situation where a customer is complaining -- and that's even if this sentence stands entirely on its own, absent any other context. That makes it a very meaningful sentence indeed.


And now you've taken an example, that vast majority of high schoolers will consider boring and pointless. And the very first post starting this discussion is about language class content not being relevant to a high schooler.

You see, the individual phrases' usefulness is very subjective.

True.
However, naturalness is not. There will be differences between what kids and adults find natural, of course, and you need to pick based on that. I wasn't suggesting "the manager is absent" is a universally good sentence, but that it demonstrates what I mean about a sentence being meaningful.

My point is that "the manager is absent" evokes a complex set of associations, whereas "the book is red" doesn't. It's those associations that make language meaningful.
And now I agree and think you may have named a huge part of the problem.
The problem with "What is your name" parroting in the first sentences is how ever double: first is the weirdness of those sentences. Second: they are more boring than The book is red. As the other one is a pattern you can turn into many other sentences with substitution. The "He is 22 years old" allows just changing one tiny and boring variable.

Boringness is an issue, but it's a separate issue from meaninglessness -- we need to consider both when looking for the ideal teaching examples.


aaleks wrote:but just "The book is red" is doing me a huge disservice because it inadvertently teaches me that the article is not important. The article in this sentence standing alone looks more like an accessory to me rather than a meaningful part of the sentence.
Thank you. I wish I had been able to put it so succintly.


As someone who had struggled a lot with the English articles at first, I cannot see how is this sentence harmful. In a context of several various sentences with use of articles, it is a very good example, in my opinion. Trust me, differenctiating between "I see a book." "The book is red.", was a huge problem for me. So, I cannot see how such a helpful sentence could be harmful to anyone struggling with the same problem. It is perhaps about the individual differences between the learners. But trust me, I would have loved to practice the definite article on "The book is red" instead of writing the official and full name of the UK a million times. :-D

It is not a good example, because it does not model the meaning of the definite article. It does not model natural use of the definite article. If it does not show the meaning or the use, how can it teach you what it means or how to use it?

Equally unnatural and equally pointless would be "a book is red". Contrasting "a book is red" and "the book is red" wouldn't teach us anything about articles except where they go in a sentence and how you spell them.

"The book is red" is entirely misleading, because the definite article denotes a shared point of reference between speaker and listener, but the fact that you have to describe it means that we don't have a shared concept of "the book".
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Random Review » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:25 pm

Cainntear wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
Cainntear wrote:Well, there's the other side of the coin -- sentences being boring because they're pointless and/or mundane.

But if you look at Hashimi's second example -- the manager is absent -- it manages to evoke its own context. Even if the wording is slightly odd (why "absent"?) as soon as you say "the manager is..." then we're presumably in the situation where a customer is complaining -- and that's even if this sentence stands entirely on its own, absent any other context. That makes it a very meaningful sentence indeed.


And now you've taken an example, that vast majority of high schoolers will consider boring and pointless. And the very first post starting this discussion is about language class content not being relevant to a high schooler.

You see, the individual phrases' usefulness is very subjective.

True.
However, naturalness is not. There will be differences between what kids and adults find natural, of course, and you need to pick based on that. I wasn't suggesting "the manager is absent" is a universally good sentence, but that it demonstrates what I mean about a sentence being meaningful.

My point is that "the manager is absent" evokes a complex set of associations, whereas "the book is red" doesn't. It's those associations that make language meaningful.
And now I agree and think you may have named a huge part of the problem.
The problem with "What is your name" parroting in the first sentences is how ever double: first is the weirdness of those sentences. Second: they are more boring than The book is red. As the other one is a pattern you can turn into many other sentences with substitution. The "He is 22 years old" allows just changing one tiny and boring variable.

Boringness is an issue, but it's a separate issue from meaninglessness -- we need to consider both when looking for the ideal teaching examples.


aaleks wrote:but just "The book is red" is doing me a huge disservice because it inadvertently teaches me that the article is not important. The article in this sentence standing alone looks more like an accessory to me rather than a meaningful part of the sentence.
Thank you. I wish I had been able to put it so succintly.


As someone who had struggled a lot with the English articles at first, I cannot see how is this sentence harmful. In a context of several various sentences with use of articles, it is a very good example, in my opinion. Trust me, differenctiating between "I see a book." "The book is red.", was a huge problem for me. So, I cannot see how such a helpful sentence could be harmful to anyone struggling with the same problem. It is perhaps about the individual differences between the learners. But trust me, I would have loved to practice the definite article on "The book is red" instead of writing the official and full name of the UK a million times. :-D

It is not a good example, because it does not model the meaning of the definite article. It does not model natural use of the definite article. If it does not show the meaning or the use, how can it teach you what it means or how to use it?

Equally unnatural and equally pointless would be "a book is red". Contrasting "a book is red" and "the book is red" wouldn't teach us anything about articles except where they go in a sentence and how you spell them.

"The book is red" is entirely misleading, because the definite article denotes a shared point of reference between speaker and listener, but the fact that you have to describe it means that we don't have a shared concept of "the book".


I don't think it needs a shared concept in that sense for the definite article to be correct. It is enough that it has been mentioned before and you know what book I mean, even if you know literally nothing else about it other than that I mentioned it before.

Example:

In the park playing football:

Random Review: Iversen bought me a book yesterday.
Cainntear: oh really?
Cainntear's mum: Cainntear, time for dinner!
Cainntear: sorry, I gotta go. Talk later.

That night on WhatsApp:

Random Review: so anyway, the book is red.
Cainntear: But you hate red!
Random Review: I know, right?
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Cavesa » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:42 pm

Random Review wrote:
It is not a good example, because it does not model the meaning of the definite article. It does not model natural use of the definite article. If it does not show the meaning or the use, how can it teach you what it means or how to use it?

Equally unnatural and equally pointless would be "a book is red". Contrasting "a book is red" and "the book is red" wouldn't teach us anything about articles except where they go in a sentence and how you spell them.

"The book is red" is entirely misleading, because the definite article denotes a shared point of reference between speaker and listener, but the fact that you have to describe it means that we don't have a shared concept of "the book".


I don't think it needs a shared concept in that sense for the definite article to be correct. It is enough that it has been mentioned before and you know what book I mean, even if you know literally nothing else about it other than that I mentioned it before.

Example:

In the park playing football:

Random Review: Iversen bought me a book yesterday.
Cainntear: oh really?
Cainntear's mum: Cainntear, time for dinner!
Cainntear: sorry, I gotta go. Talk later.

That night on WhatsApp:

Random Review: so anyway, the book is red.
Cainntear: But you hate red!
Random Review: I know, right?


Exactly, I cannot see what is the problem here? Of course that such a sentence always gets introduced like that! Unless we assume the teacher is even much worse than the normal bad teachers, ok. But normally, such a sentence is introduced in a way making it absolutely clear that there is a shared point of reference!

Really, if we are looking for perfect phrases working in vacuum without any context, we are never gonna find any. Of course that a simple sentence with a definite article always gets introduced in a way creating a shared point of view. Or are we talking about a situation with a silent classroom, where no explanations or other sentences than this one are forbidden?

Sorry to say that, but I think you are creating a problem, where there is none. The sentence is not to be used in isolation from any other sentence or explanation. Like no other sentence at all.

Really, I think we are getting to artificial problems now. If we are going into "but what if the teacher doesn't explain there is a shared point of view", then we can end it here. If the teacher is so stupid (and given all my experience, I have no problem imagining such a situation), then even the best sentence on the planet cannot save it.

And I think we are getting really far from the original topic too.
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Iversen » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:45 pm

We have written so much about that book that we now can refer to it as the book we have been speaking about. And it has also become shared knowledge that the book is red. It doesn't have to exist to be associated with a colour, it's enough that we have talked so much about it. Besides Google now has 1140 hits on "The book is red". That should be proof enough that there are situations where this sentence can be uttered, and that things may become more common while we talk about them.

In the meantime I have become so fed up with the idea that any sentence in a textbook must have an immediate relevance that I would accept just about anything, including sentences like "the book is colourless with red spots, and it will be green tomorrow". I just want a machine that can produce sentences and words that can be used as input to that machine, and I can live with rarely seen phenomena in the sentences as long as I learn valid grammatical patterns and and a slew of useful words from them.

After all I have been painting surrealistic paintings for decades so a red book can't scare me.

PS: I had originally written that the polar bear would be green with red spots, but then I feared that this sentence would be accepted as a variant of "the polar bear is white", which definitely would be possible since it refers to a certain species of bear as opposed to other bear species with other colours. "The book" in the original sentence would be understood as one book among many, which changes the meaning of the word "the".

EDIT;: as mentioned in my log there actually are white black bears, so it could actually be more fun to discuss the sentence: "the black bear is white".
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Re: We haven't got up to 'yes" yet!

Postby Hashimi » Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:03 pm

Iversen wrote:We have written so much about that book that it now has became shared knowledge not only that there is a book somewhere in the cyperspace, but also what color it is: the book is red.


We also know that you bought it and gave it to Random Review.
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