LINGUIST List 7.680

Fri May 10 1996

Misc: The millenium, ESL

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Lee Hartman, The millenium
  2. Marina & Anthony Green, ESL

Message 1: The millenium

Date: Wed, 08 May 1996 11:08:51 CDT
From: Lee Hartman <>
Subject: The millenium

 For Dag Gundersen and others interested in the first decade of
the century -- how about calling it "the aughts"? The
two-thousand-aughts or the twenty-aughts.
 For some English-speakers there was (or is?) a pattern of
using "aught" for the zero in a date, as in "nineteen aught five".
 This "aught" for zero, says my dictionary, comes from a
"false" division of "a naught" into "an aught" -- not to be confused
with the Scottish "aught", which means "eight"!
 Didn't someone recently use this List to survey our intuitions
about these expressions? And did I merely miss the summary of
results, or is that summary still forthcoming?

- ------------------------------------------------------------------
Lee Hartman
Dept. of Foreign Languages
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4521
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Message 2: ESL

Date: Wed, 08 May 1996 01:38:39 +0200
From: Marina & Anthony Green <>
Subject: ESL

>	Many schools and teachers teach English as a Second Language
>(ESL) students formal grammar before engaging in reading and writing
>activities. What role can grammar play in the instruction of language
>minority students who are learning the English language? Should the
>emphasis on English language development be on listening, speaking,
>reading, and creative writing before introducing grammar?

There has been considerable discussion on this point in the LINGUIST
list, and I would invite people to look at the correspondence on that
list for the end of March this year. Without wishing to confuse the
general consensus with my personal opinions, I felt that the overall
notion was that this question very much has to be student-oriented
rather than erring on the side of seeking the ultimate methodology.
My job is to ensure that Italian pharmacists do not kill people
through their ignorance of English syntax (yes, I'm afraid it is
possible), and so their degree course requires them to do an exam. My
experience is that training them to acquire an understanding of
English syntax (as opposed to inculcating grammar rules) empowers them
to make their own progress with increasing confidence. They can
certainly do nothing approaching creative writing, nor even listening
or reading without that understanding, and their speaking would risk
becoming merely an exercise in saying what they already knew how to

There seems to be a lot of unwarranted fear of grammar on the part of
teachers. In my lessons I never allow my students to lose sight of the
way in which grammar/syntax alone is able to convey meaning, and I
think the courses are very stimulating : ) , but maybe for a more
objective view you ought to ask my customers!

Anthony Green
Pharmacy Faculty
Bari University, Italy
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