Adjusting Strength and Focus

Reflections on Language for Interacting With Others (Chapter 4) from Adjusting strength and focus (pp.125-142) by Beverly Derewianka

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This part of chapter 4 evolves around adjusting the strength or focus of meaning and/or feelings. First of, we will look at intensifiers. An intensifier increase or decrease the force of a message by using:

  • Adverbs
    “I’m somewhat hungry”
    “You look extremely tired”
  • Adjectives
    “You are a complete fool.”
  • Nouns
    “What a stink!”
  • Verbs
    “I adore you.”

(p.125)

These words can either change intensity e.g., I am quite angry > I’m very angry > I’m extremely angry. Or change the force of the vocabulary item itself e.g. (From mild>medium>high)  I’m anxious > I’m nervous > I’m petrified. The force of a message can also be made less or more powerful by repeating, listing, quantifying or by changing/adding in terms of extend.

The chapter is also concerned with opening up spaces in the language, this is to avoid bare assertions and straightforward statements when interacting with others. We can do this by engaging the listener or reader in various ways:

  • inviting them to consider other perspectives
  • introducing other voices into the discourse
  • opening up (our closing down) spaces for negotiation
  • entertaining other possibilities

(p.127)

To introduce other perspectives and voices into the discourse, is to explicitly refer to what something else has to say about this topic. This attribution ranges from very vague to very specific:

  • Some say…
  • Derewianka states, that…
  • According to research…
  • The experiment showed…
  • He found that…

 

Modality – Probability

Modal auxiliaries are used to temper statements, as described in Cheat Sheet #1.  However, this function can also be expressed by modal adjuncts rather than the modal auxiliary (p.132): E.g. (High modality > Mid modality > Low modality) “Certainly > in all probability > maybe” or “Undoubtedly > apparently > allegedly”. Additionally, modality can be expressed through other grammatical resources:

  • Nouns
    • Possibility, probability, obligation, necessary, requirement
  • Adjectives
    • Possible, probable, obligatory, necessary, required, determined

(p.133)

Furthermore there are other words, that introduce a sense of indefiniteness, such as: Seems, appears and apparently.

Modality – Usuality

Absolute statements; Always / Never

Tempered: Usually, sometimes, usually

As an English language learner becomes aware of modality’s role, they can work more easily with the tenor of the context, because the use of modality depends on the context, meaning, that the usage of modality resources, can help empathise focus and meaning of the message.

 

Contracting the interaction space

These are some of my favourite and most hated words and phrases, as I am both a lover and I fighter – I guess – I’ve spent a great deal of time on aligning and arguing my statements… And despite the categorisation beneath, the tone of which the phrases are expressed, determines their validity or sarcasm.

Aligning:

  • As you would be aware…
  • We could agree that…
  • Of course…
  • Obviously…
  • Naturally…

Influencing:

  • The facts o the matter are…
  • We can only conclude that
  • It is absolutely clear to me…
  • My firm belief is…

Countering:

  • Contrary to popular opinion…
  • Alternatively, we might consider…

Mounting an argument:

  • While we might agree that…
  • Although there is an argument for…
  • Even though we might concede that…
  • However, it must be recognised that…
  • On the other hand…
  • To no-one’s surprise, he lost the match…
  • Amazingly he got away with it….

 

Literature:

Derewianka, B. (2015): A New Grammar Companion – For Teachers. Reprint. PETAA

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Cheat sheet #1

Reflections on Language for Expressing Ideas (chapter 2) in Beverly Derewianka’s book A New Grammar Companion (2015) and Bruntt & Bryanne’s text Interlanguage Analysis (2013)

This reflection aims to investigate and present the abbreviation used when talking about grammar teaching along with the actual meaning and usages of the different types. My biggest constraint towards becoming a language teacher is, that I never really became familiar with the word groups, nor the meaning of words like sub-clause, post modifier or suffix. THUS I finally decided to get my head around it, thus creating this text (reflection) as a ‘cheat sheet’ for myself to consult in the future.

Word Groups and Abbreviations:

•NG: Nominal/noun group

•VG: Verbal/verb group

•adjG: Adjectival/adjective group

•advG: Adverbial/adverb group

•prepG: Prepositional group

•S: Subject

•Aux: Auxiliary verb (used in forming the tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs. The primary auxiliary verbs in English are bedo, and have, but there are also modal auxiliaries, explained beneath) Auxiliary verbs (aux) + participle (p) (-ed) e.g.: Has (aux) walked (p), Have (aux) walked (p), Had (aux) hoped (p). Auxiliary verb + -ing participle e.g.: Is (aux) studying (p), Were (aux) + discussing (p), Was (aux) teaching (p) (Irregular particles can cause difficulties for English learners)

•Conj: Conjunctions (used to join a word, phrase or clause. The main conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.)

•SC: Subject Complement (typically as nominal sub-clause)

•C: Circumstantial (e.g. circumstantial sub-clauses; sub-ordinating conjunctions; if, because, as, although, where, while, until, since, when, in order to)

•PoM: Post-modifier (PoM inside an NG or AdjG as a relative sub-clause/pronoun e.g., who, which, whosethatwherewhen, why and how)

•PrM: Pre-modifier (a word, especially an adjective or a noun, that is placed before a noun and describes it or restricts its meaning in some way e.g., a loud noise)

•DO: Direct object (a noun, noun phrase or pronoun that refers to a person or thing that is directly affected by the action of a verb)

•IO: Indirect object (a noun, noun phrase or pronoun in a sentence, used after some verbs, that refers to the person or thing that an action is done to or for)

Verbs

The simple present tense is the base form of the word +-s (or -es)-ending for he, she and it. Two of the most common verbs of the English language; be and have, are irregular in the present tense.

The simple past tense is typically formed by adding -ed to the base form. Many verbs, however, are irregular in the past tense. Examples:

Base form:                        Irregular simple past tense:
go                                        went
buy                                     bought
have                                   had

Many of the commonly used verbs are irregular in the past tense, Thus why past tense irregularities cause major problems for English learners.

 

Modal Verbs

Modal verbs (or modal auxiliaries) are auxiliary verbs that expresses necessity or possibility. I.e. Modal verbs  are auxiliaries that function to indicate the degree of certain surroundings or activities e.g. Might (modal auxiliary) enrol (base form), Must (modal auxiliary) read (base form). Modal verbs examples:

• must (permission or future possibility)

• shall (offer or suggestion)

• will (willingness, certain prediction or promise)

• should (advice or uncertain prediction)

• would (request, invitation or making arrangements)

• can (ability or request)

• could (past ability, suggestion or future possibility)

• may (necessity or obligation)

• ought to (what’s right and correct)

• might (present or future possibility)

Other auxiliaries
These are not strictly modals, but perform a similar function:

  • you need to pay
  • they have to leave
  • we had better hurry
  • we didn’t dare speak

Future time

Another auxiliary is “will”, which is generally used to indicate an action in the future as in these sentences from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings (example from Derewianka):

  • He will destroy Gondor.
  • I’ll go with Sam.
  • Elvish forlorn trees will grow there.

We often use multi-word verb groups, sometimes these are small words like prepositions and adverbs, that are added after the verb. E.g.  Wake up, sit down, get out, put up with, settle down, get away with, give up on, catch on, turn up, give in. This type of verb group is typically used in informal spoken contexts (Derewianka, p. 43).

Negatives
Simply add not after the auxiliary. E.g. Could not, had not, is not. Negatives can also be contracted: Haven’t, Don’t, Didn’t, Weren’t, Doesn’t. The simple present and simple fast tense do not have auxiliaries, so we insert an auxiliary; E.g. Did not, does not, do not. The contraction of the negative in the future tense is irregular E.g. She will not eat her dinner becomes she won’t eat her dinner.

Pronouns
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. There are 8 different types of pronouns:

•Personal (Subject): I, You, He, She, It, We, You and They.

•Object: Me, You, Him, Her, It, Us, You, and Them.

•Adjective: My, Your, His, Her, Its, Our, Your, and Their.

•Possessive: Mine, Yours, His, Hers, Its, Ours, Yours, and Theirs.

•Demonstrative: This, That, These and Those.

•Interrogative Relative: Who, Whom, What, Which, Where and When.

•Indefinite: Someone, Somebody, Everyone, Everybody, Anyone, None, Few Many, etc.

•Reflexive Intensive: Myself, Yourself, Himself, Herself, Itself, Ourselves, Yourselves, and Themselves


Suffixes
A suffix is added to the end of a base word. A suffix changes the meaning of the word.

-er ending (a person who):

•teacher

•singer

•dancer

•babysitter

•biker

•sprinter

-er ending (more):

•bigger

•stronger

•faster

•quicker

•slower

•happier

•nicer

•taller

-ful ending (full of):

•cheerful

•helful

•thankful

•joyful

•fearful

•careful

•graceful

-less ending (without):

•fearless

•helpless

•homeless

•careless

•powerless

•spotless

Prefixes

A prefix is added to the beginning of a base word. A prefix also changes the meaning of the word.

re- ending (again):

•remake

•rebuild

•retake

•reheat

un- ending (not):

•unhappy

•undo

•unlikely

•unequal

pre- ending (before):

•precook

•pre-activity

•prepaid

•pretest

•premade

dis- ending (opposite of/not):

•diasgree

•dislike

•disloyal

•disarm

de- ending (opposite):

•detach

•deflate

•defrost

 

Literature:

Bruntt & Bryanne (2013), Handbook for Language Detectives; Interlanguage analysis. SAMFUNDSLITERATUR, ISBN: 978-87-593-1573-6

Derewianka, B. (2015): A New Grammar Companion – For Teachers. Reprint. PETAA