Learning ABOUT English
The Glorious Messiness of English
Learning About Languages
Table of Contents
I. Background Information
Language Families (More Than Ten)
World Map of Languages
The Indo-European Family
A. Indo-European Language
Some Experts’ Opinion
The most widely studied language
family in the world is the Indo-European.
There are a number of reasons for this:
Many of the most important languages of the
world are Indo-European. These languages are
official or co-official in many countries and are
important in academic, technical and world
Examples: English, Spanish,
French, German, Russian.
Indeed, more than half the world's
population speak one or more of
these languages either as a mother
tongue or as a business language.
Languages that are essential in
multinational contexts or with large
numbers of speakers.
Examples: Portuguese, Hindi, German,
Some of the great classical
languages of religion, culture and
philosophy were Indo-European.
Examples: Latin, Greek, Persian,
Languages that are scattered around
the world as their speakers are part of
Examples: Greek, Yiddish, Polish,
Armenian, Romany, Kurdish, Italian,
B. Historical events which made
great influence on the English
Julius Casesar in 55 BC (Photos)
The Anglo Saxon (Photos)
Vikings from Scandinavian (Photos)
Norman from France (Photos)
Julius Caesar in 55 BC
The Anglo Saxon
Norman from France
Battle in Hastings
C. Development of English
Old English—Anglo Saxon
1. Identity--- I, me, you…
2. Possession--- mine, yours, hers…
3. Body --- eyes, nose, mouth…
4. Size--- tall, short, large…
5. Necessity--- food, water, drink…
Words & Origins
Indo-European Parent Language:
snow, bee, wolf…
sheep, ox, earth, wood, field, kingly…
angel, disciples, martyr…
raise, wish, want, craft, skill, royal…
capsule, habitual, cyberspace…
Old Spelling Form
D. Sino-Tibetan Family
The Sino-Tibetan Family is an important
Asian family of languages. It contains
the world's most spoken language,
Mandarin, the official language of
The languages in this family are
monosyllabic tonal languages.
Words are made up of single
Mandarin not Cantonese
abacus (Chinese Pinyin)
Old Spelling & Modern Spelling Forms
This means that the voice can be
high, low, rising, falling, etc, just
like singing. It is like the way
many people raise the voice at
the end of a question.
Chinese Dialects &
The languages in the Sinitic Branch
are the various languages of China
(Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, Amoy,
Gan, Min, Hakka, Xiang, Yue).
They are all written in Chinese
characters. Each syllable has a
different character so that the writing
is not alphabetic.
A Map of Chinese Dialects
A Map of Chinese Dialects
There are over 50,000 characters,
6,000 of which are needed to read a
newspaper. Even though the different
languages have different
pronunciations, the meanings of
characters are the same
Mandarin has over 1,600
words in daily life
The most frequently used
1) Fu - Blessing, Good Fortune,
Fu is one of the most popular Chinese
characters used in Chinese New Year. It is
often posted upside down on the front door
of a house or an apartment. The upside
down fu means good luck came since the
character for upside down in Chinese
sounds the same as the character for came.
2) Lu - Prosperity
It used to mean official's salary in
feudal China. Fengshui is believed to
be the Chinese way to health, wealth
and happiness. If you are interested in
Fengshui, you may check out the book
'The Feng Shui Kit.'
3) Shou - Longevity
Shou also means life, age or birthday.
4) Xi --- Happiness
Double happiness is usually posted
everywhere on Chinese weddings.
5) Cai - wealth, money
Chinese often say money can make a
ghost turn a millstone. It is to say
money really can do a lot of things.
6) He - harmonious
'People harmony' is an important
part of Chinese culture. When you
have harmonious relations with
others, things will be a lot easier for
7) Ai - love, affection
Don't need to say any more about
this one. Just want to point out ai is
often used with 'mianzi' together.
Aimianzi means 'be concerned about
8) Mei - beautiful, pretty
The United States of American is
called Mei Guo in the short form.
Guo means country so Meiguo is a
9) Ji --- lucky, auspicious,
Hope all is well.
10) De - virtue, moral
De means virtue, moral, heart, mind,
and kindness, etc. It is also used in
the name for Germany, i.e., De Guo.
II. Reading Comprehension
1. Which parent language does
English derive from directly ?
2. Why does English have a large
It has borrowed a lot of foreign
3. How large is the English
Over one million words.
4. What influences the English
language in history?
Some historical events and…
5. What is the glorious messiness
A lot of words borrowed from other
6. What is the function & features of Old
English or Anglo-Saxon English?
It is the core of the language we use
The words are short and direct, such as
sheep, ox, earth, wood, field, work…
7. What happened in 1066 in
The Normans conquered England.
8. What were the three languages in
England afterwards (in 1066)
French for the nobles
Latin for the churches
English for the common people
9. What are the most popular terms
in Chinese, coming from foreign
Daily necessity, chemicals or drugs.
10. What influences the development
of a language?
Economy, religions, war…
III. Multiple-Choice Questions
1. Young prisoners are being ______ by
the older, long-term offenders(罪犯).
A. corrupted B. aroused
C. influenced D. established
2. The apartment is really too small, but it
is ______ for the time being.
A. tolerant B. tolerable
C. frustrating D. disturbing
3. Does love give anybody an excuse to
______ other people’s privacy(隐私)?
A. affect B. invade
C. corrupt D. expose
4. All the children in the family ______
the father, and Mike is no exception.
A. attract B. necessitate
C. corrupt D. resemble
5. The present law needs to be slightly
______ to meet new situations.
A. modified B. modeled
C. molded D. shaped
6. He made a ______ of what he talked so
much so that the audience doubted
A. mystery B. vagueness
C. supplement D. image
7. When alcohol was placed under ______
in America, some made big fortunes
by smuggling it from abroad.
A. ban B. restriction
C. limit D. prohibition
8. You have got to hold in control your
fearing ego before you can ______
A. fail B. enrich
C. contain D. conquer
9. Life is getting better in the ______ of
growing racial tolerance.
A. weather B. occasion
C. climate D. era
10. Solar energy might be a/an ______
source as the present sources are
A. alternative B. massive
C. replacing D. imaginative
1. massive a. large in scale, amount,
The ancient temple’s massive stone pillars had
begun to crumble.
The scale of the problem is so massive that it
will require all our resources to deal with it.
mass n. the masses
mess n. in mess
2. snack n. a small meal
I usually have a snack of a hamburger
and a glass of coke at lunchtime.
The children in the kindergarten have a
midmorning snack of milk and
3. corrupt v. 1) cause errors to
The Academy ruled that such foreign
expressions were not permitted, as they
corrupted the language.
Has Japanese been corrupted by the
introduction of foreign words?
These jargons merely corrupt your good
2) cause to act dishonestly in return for
We believe films of violence would corrupt
To our great surprise, the former mayor turned
out to have been corrupted by the desire for
money and power.
To gain more profits, the businessman tried
every means to corrupt the officials in the
4. ban v. forbid (sth.) officially
(used in the pattern: ban sth.; ban sb. from
sth./doing sth.) by the government
The local government will ban smoking in
all offices later this year.
Scientists from many countries called on
the international community to create an
international convention to ban human
cloning as soon as possible.
Tom was banned from driving for six months
after being caught speeding again.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned when it
was first published.
Prohibit [passive] to officially forbid
something: Motor vehicles are prohibited from
driving in the town center.
Forbid especially officially, The law forbids the sale of
cigarettes to people under the age of 16.
He is forbidden from leaving the country.
n. ban (followed by on)
The government is considering a total
ban on cigarette advertising.
The ban on underground nuclear tests is
a vital step toward disarmament.
5. invent v.
1) make or design (sth. that has not
existed); create (sth.)
James Watt invented the steam engine.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the
2) give (a name, reason, etc. that
doesn’t exist or is not true)
All the characters in the novel are invented.
Standing still in the teacher’s office, the boy
tried to invent a plausible excuse for this
absence from class.
Cf: invent, discover
If somebody invents something, he is the first
person to think of it or make it.
Walter Hunt and Elias Hone invented the sewing
If somebody discovers something, they find out
about something which exists but which was
not previously known.
The planet Pluto was discovered in 1930.
6. fascinating a. of great interest
The story of his adventures in the Arctic
was fascinating to listen to.
I found the discussion about cloning
It is fascinating to imagine what might
have happened if the US had not
declared war against Japan in World
7. tolerance n.
1) the quality of allowing other people to say
and do as they like, even if you don’t agree of
approve of it (followed by of/for)
School teachers have to have a great deal of
tolerance in order to deal with difficult
I think tolerance between students is extremely
necessary since they live and study together.
2) the ability to bear sth. painful or
unpleasant (followed by of/for)
Human beings have limited tolerance of
The patient had no tolerance for pain.
Whenever he was injected he would cry.
Tolerate v. I won't tolerate lying.
8. necessity n. 1) sth. you must have
in order to live properly or do sth.
Water is a basic necessity of life.
A lot of people would consider a TV as more of
a necessity than a luxury item
The workers’ wages were so low that they
hardly had enough money to buy the bare
necessities of life.
2) circumstances that force one to do sth.; the
state of being necessary; the need for sth.
(followed by of/for)
There is absolutely no necessity for you to be
involved in the project.
They reached an agreement on the necessity of
9. arouse v. provoke (a particular
feeling or attitude)
These educational toys give children a feeling of
self-worth by arousing their interest in
The man’s strange behavior aroused the
arouse vt.--- arise vi.
1) to cause someone to have a particular
It's a subject which has aroused a lot of
Our suspicions were first aroused when we
heard a muffled scream.
See also rouse.
arise (HAPPEN) vi. arose, arisen FORMAL
Should the opportunity arise, I'd love to go to
Could you work on Saturday, should the need
arise (= if it were to be necessary)?
Are there any matters arising from (= caused
by) the last meeting?
10. invade v. enter with armed forces
In July 1937 the Japanese army invaded
The Germans invaded Poland in 1939,
leading to the start of World War II.
11. resemble v. be like or similar to
I’d say he resembles his mother more
than his father.
In his childhood, Stevie Wonder loved
music and would pound spoons or
forks on any surface that resembled a
hit or beat repeatedly with a lot of force,
12. descend v. come down (from a
source), go down (followed by from)
These ideas descend from those of the
The Japanese are thought to be
descended from tribes from the north
ascend --- descend
ascend (HEIGHT) vt & vi (FORMAL)
to move up or climb something:
They slowly ascended the steep path up the
The divers have begun to ascend to the
surface of the water.
There's a long flight of steps ascending (=
leading up) to the cathedral doors.
13. climate n. (an area or a region with) a
regular pattern of weather conditions
Brought up in the south of China, she wouldn’t
enjoy living in such a cold climate.
Due to the greenhouse effect, changes in the
earth’s climate have taken place.
14. conquer v. take possession and
control of (a country, city, etc.) by force;
Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance conquered
Kabul a month ago.
She has conquered the hearts of many men.
The Spanish once conquered most of South
15. alternative a. one of two or more
possibilities (followed by to)
Check out the alternatives before deciding
whether to go to a nearby college.
What was the alternative to going home?
an alternative to coffee
16. modify v. change slightly
The school authorities plan to modify the
The computer programmers tried to modify
the design of the software to make it
suitable for commercial production.
modify (CHANGE) verb [T] to change something
such as a plan, opinion, law or way of behaviour slightly,
usually to improve it or make it more acceptable:
Instead of simply punishing them, the system
encourages offenders to modify their
The proposals were unpopular and were only
accepted in a modified form.
17. modification n. [C or U]
Modification of the engine to run on lead-
free fuel is fairly simple.
A couple of modifications and the speech
will be perfect.
18. nourish verb [T]
1) to provide people or living things with food
in order to make them grow and keep
Children need plenty of good fresh food to
She looks happy and well nourished.
This cream is supposed to help nourish your
2) FORMAL If you nourish a feeling, belief
or plan, you think about it a lot and
Lisa has long nourished the hope of
becoming a famous writer.
nourishing adjective A nourishing drink or
food makes you healthy and strong:
Sweets aren't very nourishing.
nourishment noun [U]
Young babies obtain all the nourishment (=
food to make them healthy) they need from
their mother's milk.
19. position v.t put something or
someone in a particular place
The army had been positioned to the
north and east of the city.
When it came to seating people for
dinner, I positioned myself as far away
from him as possible.
position (PLACE) n. 1) [C] the place where
something or someone is, often in relation to
Well, I've found our position on the map if you
want to see where we are.
You've moved the furniture around - the sofa is
in a different position.
I didn't know you played hockey - what position
(= place or job in the team) do you play?
2) [C or U] the place where people are sent in
order to carry out a course of action:
The troops took up their battle positions
at the front line.
As soon as his officers were in position
(had moved into position), the police
commander walked up the path
towards the house.
20. elite 1) group noun [C] the richest, most
powerful, best educated or most highly trained
group in a society
the country's educated elite
a member of the elite
A powerful and corrupt elite has bled this
The West is bleeding poorer countries dry through
interest payments on their debts.
elite 2) adjective [before noun]
Elite troops were airlifted to the
(= A group of excellent)