Friday 10 February 2012

Slang & Speaking: Speaking Valentine's

Article 2 on Singtao Student Page:

Walking on the streets of Hong Kong as Valentine’s Day draws near, I have some observations to make and advice to offer.
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Valentine's Day is just around the corner!  A time for the lovers' creativity to materialise and have your wallets emptied! Before you can even notice it, shops and malls are fully decorated to draw customers in the mood of mega-spending. Love is all around! Young couples hug and kiss every step of the way, presents wielded firmly. Pink hearts, white bears and red roses appear at every angle of eyesight even when your eyes are closed, not having any of these in a girlfriend's hands seemingly indicates a stingy or incapable boyfriend... or otherwise

To some, maybe gifts do not matter at all! 

"Having calm and staying a logical mind is what makes a man a man!" (Notice the wrong use of words!)

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Inside that logical mind of this man, he thinks, "Gifts don't matter! Since a real heart is in fact not pink in colour nor is it the shape of two lobeless ears adhered together, polar bears are not cuddly nor naturally friendly to human and their fur is not exactly white, and red roses symbolise nothing but thoughtless, uncaring, and unoriginal as anyone would purchase the same flower for their beloved mother. Gifts are just for showing off! How practical can they be?"

Red Roses
Image from Flowers Photoblog
"It is the thought that counts!" is a cliché some keep in their armoury since their first empty-handed Valentine's Day.

And there is more than just one cliché. 

Take Hong Kong for example, according to my survey through years of observation, boys in Hong Kong overuse the word "baby", and abuse the word "cute". The former confuses me whenever I am near 11th floor of Langham Place in Mongkok, the latter irritates my ears because of the absence of the consonant "t" in its pronunciation.

"Baby! You are so Q!" is what I often heard in English, if any.

Why would any girls still buy this kind of compliment? He's saying you are a stick!!

What about "sweetie", "honey", "darling", "my angel", "my love", "cutie"and "cutiepie"? I understand the goosebumps issue and I am hearing some readers are shouting "Do you mind?" but let's put that aside for now. Where is the variety in the choice of vocabulary?

This might sound nothing related to English speaking or oral examinations but I must say, it is related. Consonant "t" at the end of words is a sound often omitted by students, often unaware of the error. Although arguably perfectly acceptable in some occasions, the absence of consonant "t" such as "cute" transforms the word entirely into a different one. It is crucial to pay special attention to such words when practising your speaking.

Another point is the lack of variety in the vocabulary. The most popular words students conveniently use in the secondary school level are "fine",  "okay", "do", "see", "play", "nice", "good", "happy", "sad", "hot", "cold", "painful", "easy" and "not easy".

Basic vocabulary is for survival English. If you are aiming for better grades in speaking and listening, you will need to start working on the variety.

This is no sweet little lie.
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By the way, if you are the recipient of the compliment, "Baby! You are so Q! I Lub U!" Tell the boy, "Practice your pronunciation at home before ever speaking to me again!" Because how hard he tries to correct his pronunciations is a measurement of how much he means the words he says.

Fun Tasks For You:
  1. Which words have the same pronunciation as "Q"?
  2. Find a total of 10 different terms which have the word "sweet" and "sugar" in it.
  3. Try pronounce "sea" and "seat", "her" and "hurt" and note the difference.
  4. Pick any selected adjectives in the vocabulary section and find words with similar meanings.
  5. Search online for a list of sweet quotes and then ask the boys and girls in your class how sweet these quotes are to them.
  6. Carry out a survey in your class for the list of presents your classmates hope to receive on Valentine's Day.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What are some of the Valentine's Day marketing strategies you have come across?
  2. What does Valentine's Day mean to you / to the society / to other cultures?
  3. What did the past generations do on Valentine's Day?
  4. Are we over-materialistic?
  5. Is materialism gender-specific? Discuss.
  6. How to enjoy a low-budget Valentine's Day?

materialize -- (vb) [I] (UK usually materialiseIf an idea or hope materializes, it becomes real
stingy -- (adj) informal disapproving unwilling to spend money
incapable -- (adj) unable to do something
or otherwise -- used to refer to the opposite of the word which comes before it
lobeless ear -- (n) [C] a ear with no lobe 
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adhere -- (vb) [I] formal to stick firmly
cuddly -- (adj) approving liking to cuddle, or making you want to cuddle
symbolize (UK usually symbolise) to represent something
thoughtless -- (adj) not considering how your actions or words may upset someone
uncaring -- (adj) disapproving not worrying about other people's troubles or doing anything to help them
unoriginal -- (adj) the same as a lot of other things and therefore not interesting or special
cliché -- (n)[C or U] a comment that is very often made and is therefore not original and not interesting
armoury -- (n) (US armory[C] a place where weapons and other military equipment are stored
abuse -- (vb) [T] to use or treat someone or something wrongly or badly, especially in a way that is to your own advantage
the former -- (n)[S] the first of two people, things or groups previously mentioned
the latter -- (n)[S] the second of two people, things or groups previously mentioned
irritate -- (vb)[T] to make angry or annoyed
cutie -- (n) [C] (also cutiepiemainly US informal a woman or girl who you consider attractive or like a lot
goosebumps -- (n) plural noun (UK also goose pimplessmall raised areas that appear on the skin because of cold, fear or excitement
Do you mind? said to someone when you feel annoyed with them for what they have just done or said
put sth aside phrasal verb to save something, usually time or money, for a special purpose
unaware -- (adj) [after verbnot understanding or realising something
conveniently -- (adv) humorous  suitable for your purposes and needs and causing the least difficulty
survival -- (adj) continuing to exist or wanting to continue to exist
recipient --(vb)  [C] formal a person who receives something

cliché /ˈkliː.ʃeɪ/ /-ˈ-/

The stress for the UK pronunciation is on the 1st syllable while the stress for the US pronunciation is on the 2nd syllable.

Do you mind? 
When pronouncing "Do you mind?", the word "mind" carries the strongest sentence stress, thus it should be the loudest, also, "mind" should take a high-low-high (up-down-up) tone to enhance the level of annoyance.

not... nor
When nor is used as an adverb, it mean "also not", which is why it should be preceded by a negative not.
  1. Jason isn't online, nor is John.
  2. Janet didn't speak, nor did Florence.
  3. I am not clever, nor am I stupid.
  4. A real heart is in fact not pink in colour nor is it the shape of two lobeless ears adhered together.
Notice the position of the auxiliary verbs "is", "did", "am" and "is" in the above examples. They are immediately after "nor".

Interview: Angelababy opens cafe inspired by travels @