Category Archives: Homework

Adventures in Connected Speech – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Adventures in Connected Speech – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Adventures in Connected Speech – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

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Before reading why not find out more about connected speech here.

Woduvaigada

If I came up to you and said ‘Woduvaigada?’, would you know what I meant?
What about if I added a main verb – an infinitive – afterwards: ‘Woduvaigada do?’
I’m guessing if you are a native speaker – if you have grown up listening to English your whole life – you will understand this phrase with a main verb:

‘Woduvaigada do?’

‘Woduvaigada say?’

However, if you are a learner of English – if you haven’t grown up with English as your main language – this lesson could help you. We’re talking about connected speech. The way that English speakers combine words in a sentence.

‘Woduvaigada do?’ = ‘What have I got to do?’ which becomes ‘What’ve I got to do?’

But how do we get a coherent sentence in English from a seemingly gibberish word? And why is it that a native speaker understands it – instinctively – while a non-native speaker may not?

The phrase ‘Woduvaigada do?’ comes from the first line of the original recording of the famous song by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word (1976), above. (Super Tip: hear the syllables in more detail by playing the video at half speed or lower; just click the gear and select: Speed > 0.5.)

Let’s break it down into syllables:

In the top line we see the actual words of the lyrics and in the bottom line the sounds made. I have written the sounds phonetically using Clear Alphabet[Click here for more about Clear Alphabet.]

When analysing a sentence we must:

i. separate the words into content words (important words) and function words (grammatical words): here ‘What’ and ‘do’ are content words

ii. make any possible contractions: ‘What’ and ‘have’ make the contraction ‘What’ve’

iii. identify the stressed syllable in each content word: each content word has only one syllable, so it is stressed

iv. identify the stressed vowel sound in the stressed syllables: ‘What’ has the short o sound, while ‘do’ has the long oo sound

v. reduce the function words to make them weaker and less obvious: this is where we end up with the unusual ‘word’ ‘woduvaigada’

(We should note that it is also possible to read the sentence as ‘What do I got to do’, which is not standard English grammar but rather a mix of: ‘What do I have to do?’ and ‘What have I got to do?’ We sometimes hear ‘What do I got to do’ as a slang form, particularly in American English.)

The sentence has four weak syllables, marked in grey below:

The aim for the speaker (or singer) is to go from ‘What’ to ‘do’ as quickly as possible. The last thing we should do is put an accent (stress) on every syllable: ‘What. Do. I. Got. To. Do?’ This sounds awful and makes the sentence very difficult for a native speaker to understand, since we are relying on the stressed vowel sounds to give us most of the meaning of the sentence:

What – do?

If I said simply ‘What – do?’ while pointing at myself (‘I’) the listener could probably understand what I meant. The message is ‘What do?’ or ‘What I do?’ From this we may understand ‘What must I do?’ The problem is that ‘What do?’ has to be expressed correctly in English grammar, either via present simple – ‘What do I have to do?’ – or via present perfect: ‘What have I got to do?’ Native speakers are so familiar with the forms of these tenses that we can skate over them very quickly, barely referencing them:

Learners of English have to study connected speech to be able to understand it and then use it as spoken English. The process is fairly simple and is laid out in detail here. I always tell students that it’s not rocket science. Now that would be hard! Remember that the goal in connected speech is to achieve vc or friendly sound connections between all syllables. In short, the sentence breaks down as follows:

Connection 1:

In this cv connection the consonant sound  t  moves forward to join the schwa sound at the beginning of the contraction ‘ve’. t  changes to d  (assimilation), because of the mid-Atlantic accent adopted by the singer

Connection 2:

In this cv connection the consonant sound  v  moves forward to join  ai  and form:  vai

Connection 3:

A vc connection is what we want, so we leave it

Connection 4:

Two of the same sounds meet:  t  and  t. The first sound –  t  – disappears (elision), and the second  t  changes to its matching sound  d. This is due to the mid-Atlantic accent adopted by the singer

Connection 5:   A vc connection is what we want, so we leave it

We further reduce weak syllables by substituting a schwa sound – the weak vowel sound in English – for any strong sounds. We do this here with the  a  of ‘have’ (changed to ‘ve’) and the  oo  of ‘to’. The  o  of ‘got’ becomes an  a, again because of the mid-Atlantic accent adopted by the singer.

So we end up with:

 

A. Wo – we clearly understand this as the question word ‘what’ – despite the missing ‘t’, because of the  w  sound, the strong vowel sound  o, and the fact it has one syllable. No other one-syllable question word has the strong vowel sound  o. The others all have different vowel sounds: ‘where’ has  eir, ‘when’ has  e, ‘why’ has  ai, and so on.

B. The second syllable contains the moved-forward t  from ‘What’ changed to  d, plus an             embedded schwa sound from the beginning of ‘ve’

C. ‘I’ remains a full ai  sound, with the  v  sound which moved forward in front

D. ‘got’ loses its ending sound, but it doesn’t matter because a similar sound d  follows (t  and  d  are matching sounds – the former unvoiced and the latter voiced). o  has changed to  a, as noted, above.

E. The vowel sound in ‘to’ is reduced to a schwa sound; t  changes to  d  due to a personal choice about accent (mid Atlantic) made by the singer

F. The second content word ‘do’ has a long full vowel sound and is accordingly stressed by the singer

What makes this sentence unusual is not ‘What’ + four weak syllables together but the way the artist sings them so fast to make them all fit into one beat of the song:

‘What’ve I got to’ has to fit into the same length beat as ‘do’, which ends up producing the unusual word ‘woduvaigada’, which is understood by native speakers, but may come across as babble – or just ‘too hard’ for non-native speakers. Further emphasis is added by each of the six syllables having the same note.

What are the takeaways from this lesson:

  1. Connected speech is a thing in English: we get most of the meaning of a sentence from the stressed vowel sounds: Wo – do. Learners of English have to actively learn about connected speech if they want to sound more natural and be less difficult to listen to. [You can learn about connected speech here.]
  2. Schwa sounds are real – and really common. If you don’t use them then you will be stressing far too many syllables in the sentence, making function words too prominent and losing much of the meaning (see 1. above).
  3. The point about this sentence is that the only two words that are important are: ‘What’ and ‘do’. You could put a variety of different function words in between them and the meaning wouldn’t change too much. The listener understands ‘What’ and ‘do’ and the rest could just as well be: ‘blah, blah, blah, blah’:

and so on. The main purpose of the middle bit is to make clear the subject – the ‘who’ of the question – ‘I’. The singer retains the full form of I – ai – rather than changing it to a schwa sound – perhaps as a way of stressing who the subject is amidst the muddle of syllables.

4. As well as the phrase ‘What have I got to…’ there are other similar structures to learn, which have multiple reduced function words. We use these unusual ‘words’ every day, so if you don’t know them, you could be missing out. If you can learn them it will be easier to listen to and understand people speaking English, for example:

and so on.

5. It’s also important to know common slang phrases (contractions) in English which represent function word phrases, because you will hear them a lot in spoken English. For example:

Not forgetting this truly epic sentence featuring no fewer than eight syllables with function words:


How other artists have treated the line:

Blue featuring Elton John (2002): ‘What I gotta do…?’:

Joe Cocker live (1992): ‘What’ve I got to…?’  then  ‘What do I got to…?’:

Nataly Dawn (2011): ‘What do I gotta do…?’:

Elton John live at the Royal Albert Hall (2002): ‘What’ve I got to do’, but very fast, almost staccato:


Image used by permission: By yabosidFlickr: Elton John, Live at Liseberg 8/7 1971, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Idiom of the Day: Full of the joys of spring

Idiom of the Day: Full of the joys of spring

Idiom of the Day: To be full of the joys of spring

Literal meaning:

To be unexpectedly happy.

Example:

‘You’re full of the joys of spring. What happened?’

When to use it:

Two work colleagues meet; one of them is unusually cheerful.

  • Hi Jack. You’re full of the joys of spring.
  • Oh – my granddaughter was born last night.
  • Oh, great! Wow – congratulations!

Other use:

It could also be used sarcastically, e.g. you get home from work to find your partner moaning about your credit card bill:

  • I thought you told me you were going to get rid of this card!
  • You’re full of the joys of spring!
  • I’m serious. We can’t go on like this any more, Brian.

Image: https://pixabay.com

Discussion Questions about Books - for World Book Day 2019

Discussion Questions about Books – for World Book Day 2019

Discussion Questions about Books – for World Book Day 2019

Talk about books and reading with a partner or small group!

Find out more at the World Book Day website!

This worksheet is free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share it widely!

If you like it, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/books-discussion-questions.pdf

Discussion Questions about Books – for World Book Day 2019

Image: https://www.worldbookday.com/

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

Improve your grammar skills in English with our helpful FREE printable worksheet on the topic of relative clauses – taking the Twelve Disciples as our subject.

This worksheet is free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share it widely!

If you like it, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/30-Q-the-twelve-disciples-relative-clauses-1.pdf

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1

Answers:

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/64-A-the-twelve-disciples-relative-clauses-1.pdf

The Twelve Disciples – Using Relative Clauses 1 – Answers

Image: the Sea of Galilee  https://pixabay.com/photos/mt-arbel-sea-of-galilee-holy-land-3273356/

Using Conjunctions - Free Worksheets

Using Conjunctions – Free Worksheets

Using Conjunctions – Free Worksheets

Improve your grammar skills in English with our helpful FREE printable worksheets (with answers) on the topic of using conjunctions.

These worksheets are free and in the public domain, so please feel free to share them widely!

If you like this material, please share it with your friends on social media – and join us on Facebook!

Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/using-conjunctions-1-eg31.pdf

Using Conjunctions 1 Free Worksheet


Direct download: https://purlandtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/using-conjunctions-2-eg32.pdf

Using Conjunctions 2 – Free Worksheet
Top Ten Types of Plagiarism (Infographic)

Top Ten Types of Plagiarism (Infographic)

Top Ten Types of Plagiarism (Infographic)

  • Having problems with plagiarism?
  • Are you a teacher whose students seem to be more gifted at copying and pasting online texts than actually thinking  for themselves?
  • Do you feel suspicious when you read your students’ homework and it appears that they have gained native speaker-level writing skills overnight?
  • Are you concerned that your students think you are a fool who won’t be able to spot their blatant cheating?
  • Do you need to learn about or brush up on the most common types of plagiarism?

This really helpful infographic from elearninginfographics via blog.plagiarismsearch.com is here to help! Discover the top ten types of plagiarism, including the classic ‘Mashup’ – where a student brings together words from a variety of sources, and passes this hybrid off as their own work – without the relevant citation.

Top Ten Types of Plagiarism Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Fast Food and the Environment - Discussion Questions

Fast Food and the Environment – Discussion Questions (Part 2)

Discuss these questions with a partner or small group, or write down your answers:

1. Which option do you prefer and why?

a. restaurant food vs. home-cooked food?
b. supermarket vs. farmers’ market?
c. farmers’ market vs. home-grown food?
d. thermos flask vs. plastic drink cup?
e. new fast food place opening in your town vs. new library / school?
f. to do something yourself vs. to have it done for you?
g. to cook for yourself vs. to have food cooked for you

2. What does the phrase carbon neutral mean? What is the cost of recycling? Is it carbon neutral?

3. What is a carbon footprint? Do you know yours? If yes, how did you found out? If not, why not? Do you think it is necessary to know? Why do some businesses have bigger carbon footprints?

4. Which companies consume the most resources in the world? Why do they do it? Do we need them to do so?

5. What is the connection between fast food and deforestation? What is the solution?

6. In the future, will we be able to grow meat in a lab? Will this solve the problem of cutting down trees in order to make farmland for animals that are destined to be eaten as fast food?

7. Why are some people apathetic when it comes to the environment?

8. Are wind turbines effective in generating enough green power – or are they rather a blot on the landscape?

9. What effect does fast food have on… a) our societies, b) our town centres, c) our waistlines, d) our health, e) our wallets, f) the weather?

10. Is fast food harmful? Why is it legal to buy products that are bad for you? Should it be illegal to sell harmful products? Why do fast food companies target children in particular?

11. Does fast food need to be the same (uniform) all over the world? Is it?

12. What’s the point of eating a healthy meal / salad at a fast food chain? Do you do that? Why?

13. Does fast food tell us anything about the decline in Western culture in the 21st century? What?

14. What would happen if half of the fast food restaurants in the world closed down voluntarily?

15. Agree or disagree? ‘Why should I separate my rubbish at a fast food restaurant? I don’t want to feel like a member of staff. That’s their job! They should do it. I paid for my food.’

16. Why do people leave their used fast food wrappers in places of natural beauty, e.g. forests?

17. What are the dangers of consuming too much… a) salt, b) sugar, c) fat, d) meat, e) caffeine?

18. Agree or disagree? ‘You should never take more than you give.’ – Tim Rice, ‘Circle of Life’.

19. Agree or disagree? ‘When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money.’ – Native American saying.

Fast Food and the Environment - Discussion Questions

Fast Food and the Environment – Discussion Questions (Part 1)

Discuss these questions with a partner or small group, or write down your answers:

1. What is fast food? Do you like fast food? Does fast food satisfy you? Why? / Why not?
What are the pros and cons of fast food? Is pizza fast food? Why? / Why not?

2. Do you live near a fast food restaurant? How often do you use it? What’s the difference between a fast food restaurant and a normal restaurant? Was there fast food 100 years ago? How did people manage without it?

3. Do we need fast food? What does it offer that other kinds of food cannot?

4. How do fast food chains impact on the environment? Consider:

a. land
b. agriculture
c. animals
d. transport
e. warehousing
f. energy
g. water
h. pollution

What is their carbon footprint, compared to other kinds of business? What are fast food chains doing to reduce their carbon footprint / impact on the environment?

5. How many fast food restaurants are there… a) in your town, b) in your country, c) in the world?

6. Why does the human body crave sugar and fat? Is it possible to be addicted to fast food?
What happens if we avoid junk food?

7. How many solar panels does it take to power one fast food restaurant?

8. Do you think the world would be a better place with more people and fewer trees? Why? / Why not? Is it a good thing that hot food is always freely available in our society? Has it always been that way? Is that true in every society?

9. Should there be stricter rules for corporations when it comes to impacting on the environment?

10. Which is better: localism or globalism? Why? What are the pros and cons of each?

11. Do humans need to eat meat… a) more than once a day, b) every day, c) every week, d) at all? Why?

12. Have vegetarians or vegans got it right when it comes to the environment? Why? / Why not? Have you ever seen a fast food outlet selling only healthy food? Would it be possible?

13. Would you like to work for a fast food chain? Why? What kind of salary would you receive?

14. Is deforestation ever a positive thing? Why? / Why not?

15. What is the difference between fast food and junk food?

16. When you eat at a fast food chain, do you segregate your rubbish after your meal? Should customers have to work or should an employee do this? Should we be able to take our own crockery and cutlery to fast food restaurants, to dramatically cut down on waste paper, card, and plastic – or should dishwashers be used? What would be the added cost of that?

17. Do fast food restaurants cause a litter problem? What can be done about it?

18. Do you believe that recycling makes a difference to the environment? Why? / Why not?
Why do we give our household recycling for free to companies which sell it to make a profit?