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The Subjunctive

Discussion in 'English Language' started by DavidUSA, 6 May 2016.

  1. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Stripped content from a huge book that hopes to see a second edition. No pictures of little bears and smiley faces.

    Corrections are appreciated. You can use these materials if you like. Please cite Ajahn David and Khun Ratchadaporn if you use these materials in public.

    All comments are welcome. Specific comments are much appreciated.

     

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  2. GanDoonToonPet

    GanDoonToonPet Well-Known Member

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    I've been reading your posts, mostly in a state of disbelief.

    Are you serious? You think that the problem with Thai education, specifically English language education, is that the students' don't have the 'proper' or correct textbooks???

    You are severely deluded my friend. My belief is reinforced by your posts which sing the praises, to high heaven, like a good Communist should.

    How dare you criticize the Thai education system whilst living in an oppressive, communist state. Do you really know what happens there?

    I think you have 'newbie syndrome', where you experience the superficial good things while ignoring the bad. You should be old enough & experienced enough to realize the idiocy of what your are saying.
     
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  3. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Was it something I said?

    Look, I love Thailand, I have a really positive view of many Thai things. I taught for about 2.5 years at a university there. I see the positive side of Thailand's system of education. Like everything else in Thailand's culture, it is deep and multi-faceted.

    But I did see some appalling teaching materials. Go to your local bookstore and buy a book called "Perfect English Grammar" and tell me what you think. I bet you will agree with me. I saw apathy. I saw corruption--blatant, harsh, and strange. I saw poor performance. The current metrics on English language proficiency for Thailand overall, and for university students in particular, paint a grim picture. Thailand is headed towards Sudan-level proficiency levels--that's nice, just in time for ASEAN. I am not blaming anyone; I am not a crusader. I think I can help people. I know I have helped several Thai students succeed, get scholarships, study abroad, reach a high score on the IELTS, pass the TOEIC. That is enough for me. I know what teaching is really about.

    We have to be very careful in having negative attitudes towards other countries, especially when we live in them. Such attitudes are often self-deceptive. In Thailand, I felt as if I had won the lottery, but I could not close my eyes. That said, Thailand is wonderful to live in, we all know it. But every location that shelters the human critter has problems. I can think of a place with severe problems in the realm of education: the USA. That is a different conversation.

    China is far from being some oppressive Orwellian nightmare. On the contrary, I started to wonder: maybe the fake story about China is to make people back home feel better about becoming #2. I see prosperity and hard work, families where kids are taken care of, people focused on education and the future.

    I can tell you what they don't like, and they are not joking: Japan. They are still pissed off, and I don't blame them. My great-uncle, who I still remember, came back from Saipan and fighting on Okinawa, and he was pissed off too. You may think I put too fine a point upon it, but there is one thing that one does not encounter in China that one encounters in Japan, and that is racism. After going to school in Japan, I learned to like it a lot, but I ran into racism once in a while, and that kills the buzz. Here in China I hear people call the US "older brother." If you look at the Chinese language, their name for the US is "mei guo" and that means "beautiful country." So what is the problem?

    I have been treated so well here, so genuinely welcomed and made to feel comfortable. My boss flew in from Beijing to meet me and take me to dinner on my first day here. We shook hands and he said, "Let's work together." China is about work. It is also about achievement. How refreshing.

    Frankly, I am a little uncomfortable in working so hard to benefit a foreign country. In fact, I just got off the phone with some US GOV folks who want me to teach ESL students in the US for Uncle Sugar (teaching immigrants how to apply for benefits probably). I think I should. So being in China is temporary, but it is extremely educational and it benefits me professionally. Would you like to know where the highest English language test scores in the world are for middle school students? You guessed it. I teach in one of the very best schools on the earth. I can take some things from what I learn here and bring those to the US or Thailand.

    Please don't think of China in a negative light. I know they are not like you, but no one is perfect.

    China is not the boogeyman. It is a good place to work and a normal place to live. They respect teachers so much, and I have been treated $o well that I cannot but $how my gratitude. It is not some paradise, but neither is the USA or Thailand. The problem, as Ajahn Chah said, is that you always have to take yourself wherever you go.

    Sabaii dee.

    grumpy-cat-face.jpg
     
    Last edited: 7 May 2016
  4. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I don't know for sure what happens anywhere. Maybe you can fill me in.

    o-GRUMPY-CAT-APOCALYPSE-facebook.jpg
     
  5. Aj Michael

    Aj Michael Well-Known Member

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    I don't give a hoot about the subjunctive; used by speakers of US English when they want to sound flash, but of little relevance otherwise.
     
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  6. ramses

    ramses Well-Known Member

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    care to source that? the subjunctive is part of all Germanic, Latin, and Romance languages (I think a derivative of the optative mood). I don't know how frequently it is used in everyday conversation, though I suspect it might have something to do with the speaker. Nor would I consider teaching it to a low level English learner.

    Native speakers of English are overwhelmingly speakers of US English - by a margin in excess of 2 to 1 (US born NES vs NES in the next 67 countries combined).
     
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  7. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

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    it's in the o-net/ CMU test and is every year. teach it and be happy we are sending our charges to better places
     
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  8. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    The subjunctive was very common in Old English and Middle English. These days it is more often used in American English.

    See the attached article, The Subjunctive in Old English and Middle English.

     

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  9. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Some random sentences in the subjunctive mood.

    I recommend that you be honest.
    It is important that he follow the rules.
    I had suggested he go to the doctor.
    I would sooner you finished it now.
    I would sooner you finished it tomorrow.
    I would sooner you had finished it yesterday.
    God bless our country!
    Come what may, we will succeed.
    It is necessary that she be ready.
    It is advisable that he buy a car.
    He would rather you came tomorrow.
    Let no one doubt the importance of this vote.
    She would rather you had not eaten so much.
    Suffice it to say that he won the election.
    If she called me tomorrow, I would talk to her.
    Be that as it may, we will continue.
    He spoke quietly, for fear that he wake the baby.
    It is important she tell the truth, lest she be ridiculed later.
    Let each woman decide for herself.
    They spoke to her as if she were a child.
    It is time we bought a car.
    They insist that he stay in Thailand.
    It is requested that all candidates be present. (formal)
    I wish that I were in Japan.
    She hopes that you not be rude at dinner.
     
  10. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Nice adjective!
     
  11. Aj Michael

    Aj Michael Well-Known Member

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    Wow, getting very academic.

    I fail to see how the use of the subjunctive in languages other than English is relevant here.

    To quote Practical English Usage (Swan; Oxford University Press)

    "The subjunctive is a special kind of present tense which has no -s in the third person singular. It is sometimes used with that- clauses in a formal style, especially in American English after word that express something is important to desirable."

    "Older English had more subjunctive forms, and used them in many kinds of 'unreal' sense to talk about possible, desirable or imaginary situations. Many of these forms have diapered from modern English, being replaced by the use of should, would and other modal verbs."

    Hence, nowadays in English, the subjunctive is dying. Its last bastion would seem to be among US speakers of English wanting to sound flash, and the odd academic setting examinations wanting to seem clever.

    I do remember being taught the subjunctive at school, but my experience of several English speaking countries, and several where English is commonly used as a second language, the subjunctive is no longer used, formally or informally.

    As to native speakers of English being overwhelmingly speakers of US English….. a bit of a chauvinistic attitude evident there. Those for whom English is their mother tongue, or as lingua franca where they live, cover a wide variety of forms and dialects, in many parts of the world. US English is but one, and far from overwhelming, though in my experience many who do use/teach it seem somewhat pedantic in their attitude to the language, compared to the majority users of other forms.
     
    Last edited: 29 May 2016
  12. ramses

    ramses Well-Known Member

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    Everything we teach is inherently academic, is it not? So, 'getting very academic' should be what we do, right?

    It throws water on the assertion that it is anomalous to US English, and it gives context to its origins. Whether or not it is used, and who uses it is irrelevant. I'm not sure that I've made a habit of using the subjunctive, but I know I have used it on occasion. Never have I thought I was being 'flash'. The thought was (and has always been and will always be) to communicate in the most effective way possible. I really couldn't give a rat's ass about what linguistic insecurities a fellow NES might have. There are those who are far more eloquent than I am - some of which are stuffed shirts that love using the subjunctive - and that is great. Who cares if they are more intellectual than I am? I don't.

    Oh, sorry. You have no real data, just uncorroborated anecdotes. Par for the course. Nicely done.

    More than two-thirds of NES are speakers of American English. If that is not overwhelming, what is?
     
  13. portnoy58

    portnoy58 Well-Known Member

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    Hey David I just read the opening paragraph of your subjunctive material. I also had a scan of the material. I haven't taught upper Mathayom for a few years but my reaction was that most of the teachers in my school let alone the students would be unable to engage meaningfully with that introductory paragraph; and I think most NES final year secondary school students in the UK would struggle with it too. Personally the only reason I can make sense of it is because of studying Latin & Greek during my own secondary education from which I learned the meaning of technical language like 'mood'.

    My view is your material would be about right for NES undergraduate linguistics' students. This issue of the 'subjunctive' and other more exotic beasts reminds me of an observation the late, great, American educationalist, John Holt, made about spending two weeks of the Mathematics' curriculum learning long division. He posed the question about the appropriateness of devoting so much time to teaching such abstruse algorithmic processes when it was very unlikely that people would ever use this learning in their real lives; this was even before the widespread availability of electronic calculators which is what those of us who would need to do long divisions these days would in all likelihood use. I rather fancy the 'subjunctive' falls into this category and certainly so in terms of such explicit teaching.
     
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  14. SundayJam

    SundayJam Well-Known Member

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    Secondary efl students in Thailand need to focus on basic verb conjugation and modals. The use of subject verb agreement is also extremely foreign to them. They might also consider focusing on the difference between 'thing' and 'think' when expressing an opinion. Are they really tried or just tired? Mai Bpen rai...you should know what they mean...right?
     
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  15. Aj Michael

    Aj Michael Well-Known Member

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    As a mere quasi-academic of agrarian origin, charged with teaching communicative English to students who can quote rules of grammar till the buffalo come home, I can but humbly accept the unsourced wisdom of such obvious academic prowess….. Bound to be great company down at the pub.
     
    Last edited: 30 May 2016

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