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Topics - Mwita Chacha

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Member Introductions / Hello
« on: August 16, 2018, 03:05:10 PM »
Hello to Forum members! But most specially to Mr Carillo. I might be not as actively involved in the Forum as I was sometime back, but truth is I still highly appreciate the contribution this place has made upon changing my grammar. I remain grateful forever.

Mwita Chacha

Member Introductions / Hello
« on: August 12, 2015, 01:02:16 AM »
I am not a stranger here but I feel like saying hello to fellow Forum members and of course to Jose Carillo especially after having not posted in the Forum for quite a long time now.

You Asked Me This Question / Love and like: Do they carry equal weight?
« on: October 07, 2014, 04:47:06 PM »
Does 'I love you' mean the same thing as 'I like you'?

You Asked Me This Question / (Which, what) is the poorest bank in the world?
« on: September 29, 2014, 06:39:56 PM »
(Which, what) is the poorest bank in the world?

You Asked Me This Question / I've lost my English confidence
« on: August 23, 2014, 01:11:11 PM »
I don't think I can now write as confidently as I used to when I was a regular visitor to the Forum. Poor me.

You Asked Me This Question / XX is different (than, from) YY?
« on: August 27, 2013, 07:25:08 AM »
This sentence I saw in an online US newspaper's commentary puzzled me: ''I chose this dress because it's different than the traditional wedding gown you see at every wedding.'' It presumably might perplex anyone whose knowledge about the word ''than'' is that it is a conjunction used after a comparative adjective or adverb to introduce the second element or clause of an unequal comparison as in ''Maria is taller than her sister,'' ''He paints more beautifully than his friend,'' and ''Their neighborhood is more dangerous to walk at nights than ours.''

The commonly given advice to folks fighting their poor spoken English is speak, speak, speak. Such a suggestion makes a great deal of sense if the learner lives in an English-speaking country. It becomes unrealistic, however, for someone in a country like Tanzania, where English speaking is restricted to a very small number of people. Extremely tough is to encounter a person on the streets of Dar es Salaam, our capital, talking English to another person--let alone perfect English.

I am fortunate to have been sent to an elementary school in neighboring Kenya. Kenya is a former colony of Britain like our country. But unlike our country's first president, its didn't abolish the use of English as a teaching language in primary schools. It's during the course of my time there that I became somewhat capable of speaking the language confidently. That happened between 1996 and 2002, but the benefits are unfolding today at the university and they certainly will further reveal themselves in the future.

I managed to be enrolled there because my parents were happy to pay for my school fee. Both of them can be described as belonging to what one can call a class of educated citizens, so they may not need to be lectured about the importance of English speaking skills in the integrated globe. An itinerary biology lecturer, my father spends much of his time traveling around the world delivering his lessons in different universities. He also has taken part in several academic conferences, being involved as a speaker or a moderator. A spokesperson at a government institution, my mother issues press releases and holds meetings with reporters to explain issues related to her office almost every single day. She is now preparing to open an evening class that will be dedicated to helping the wannable information officers to become familiar with the kind of job they're about to do. In short, they thought nothing of expending a total of USD 4,000 (it was quite a huge sum then) on the school fee for my seven years at the Kenyan school.

My parents are sort of privileged. Not all parents are having the similar level of education or exposure as them, with the number being more than 20 million of adult people without a college degree in a country of just over 40 million people. To such people, knowing English language is not more important than having a good command of any other local language.

But for those who realize that the usefulness of a good grasp of English language can't be underestimated, the challenge is always there. Foreign English-medium schools charge so high amounts of fees that many parents literary can't afford and dismiss all hopes that their children can be enrolled. For instance, the school I attended now wants parents to pay USD 2,000 per one year of studies, and it isn't even close to the country's first-rate schools. So the amount might be twice as much in comparatively better schools. In a country where the minimum wage is less than USD 130, telling parents to make such exorbitant payments comes close to saying to them that their children are not needed in those schools.

But these children certainly have to become fluent in spoken English in order to survive the forces of modern world. Everywhere English is growing an increasingly demanded language. US and European colleges don't register students who are not conversant in spoken English. Foreign multinational companies operating in our country make it as a criterion that their potential employees must be familiar with spoken English. Ironically, even local employers also demand that job seekers be at home with spoken English. Surely, a precise understanding of the King's language is a must in today's highly competitive society. And to achieve that, one has to speak, speak, speak. But how if he or she is surrounded by people who can't speak?

As part of my campaign to get the hang of good English, I listen to the BBC World Service as well as reading the BBC official news website on daily basis. The tangible outcome is appreciated. But that doesn't prevent me from quoting a BBC sentence and asking for clarification on its grammar if I happen to be doubtful about it. This is the reason I now and then do that on the Forum.
There is a trial in progress in China against Mr. Bo Xilai, a disgraced political leader charged with embezzlement, corruption, and abuse of power. I don't have much interest in the hearing, but certainly I would like to know the grounds for the use of preposition ''in'' in this sentence by a BBC China correspondent in his radio report of the case: ''Bo Xilai has never been seen in public in 18 months.''
If I were the correspondent, I would have used preposition ''for'' instead. I speculate you certainly would have done the same thing.

In your appraisal (“Too much focus on grammar indeed can hamper learning how to speak in English”), why do you think it is relatively easier to become a fluent English speaker than a perfect writer in English language? That at least is the experience I am myself getting in my quest for perfect English. I always don't have any difficulty making conversations with my lecturers coming from English-speaking countries in our daily communications, and they even are surprised at how 'good' my English is in comparison to that of others. But troubles begin when I am asked to whip up even a small official letter or write just a brief account about my education life. I will spend a very long time wrestling with my mind over the correctness of a word, the proper preposition to apply, whether or not to use an adjective or adverb, or how long the sentences should be. A sentence that I usually make in a matter of seconds during conversation takes me almost 15  minutes to put it down on a piece of paper.
And that appears to be not a problem restricted to nonnative speakers only: I spend a few minutes every day visiting various global Internet fora run in English, and I shouldn't at all sound ostentatious if I boast myself of having remarkable English-writing skills compared to many contributors there. In straightforward terms, most native speakers whose sentences I come across surely need not ignore signing up for a grammar school to learn how to write well in the language they might be speaking terribly fantastically.

I saw this piece of advice being given somewhere and I want to be sure if at all it is credible: People keen to improve their speaking skills shouldn't put much focus on learning the basics of grammar. They just ought to spend much of their time talking with those believed to have a good command of English. Becoming proficient in grammar has an effect of making ourselves excessively careful about always coming up with grammatically unassailable sentences, which in turn will tend to slow down our talking speed and raise our level of self consciousness.

Different writers writing about writing well in English have different perspectives over how long sentences should be constructed to effectively deliver the ideas carried in them. Some advocate for short sentences, arguing long ones tend to confuse and put off readers. Others recommend making sentences as lengthy as they might require to accomodate information being delivered. They go as far as to say short sentences are most preferrable for making headlines of stories. Still, there are those who campaign for a combination of both by pointing out that the logic of doing so is to prevent a sense of monotony that might be brought about by the prose that contains sentences of the same length throughout. Your stating your position on this will definitely put an end to my lingering confusion.

I hate to be a spoilsport, but I think there's a serious parallelism flaw in the sentence ''Your colleague is either kidding you, or he or she is a superwriter from another planet.'' A parallelism rule governing the usage of correlative conjunctions demands that the elements being connected be similar both in their length and in their grammatical form (as I have connected two well-balanced prepositional phrases using 'both...and' here). It's a fact that ''kidding'' is not only obviously very short in comparison to ''he or she is a superwriter from another planet'' but also entirely different in grammatical form from it. I'd have written the sentence as ''Either your colleague is kidding you or he or she is a superwriter from another planet. Here 'either...or' has perfectly connected two balanced clauses.

Another disturbing thing: The comma next to proper noun ''Mwita Chacha'' in this first sentence of this week's column topic has rendered the construction subjectless: ''A Tanzania-based member of Jose Carillo's English Forum, Mwita Chacha, recently related this very curious incident about...'' In this sentence, ''Mwita Chacha'' has been made to act as an appositive renaming ''A Tanzania-based member of Jose Carillo's English Forum,'' which shouldn't have been the case. My proposed revision: ''A Tanzania-based member of Jose Carillo's English Forum, Mwita Chacha recently related this very curious incident about...'' or ''Mwita Chacha, a Tanzania-based member of Jose Carillo's English Forum, recently related this very curious incident about...'' Now our sentence has its subject in the right place.

You Asked Me This Question / Have+had+infinitive
« on: July 10, 2013, 04:21:16 PM »
A BBC correspondent in South Sudan made this statement in a documentary highlighting the progress that has been achieved in the two-year-old African nation since its independence: ''In a recent past, patients have had to walk for very long distances to seek medical services. But now that...''
I found her combination of ''have'' and ''had'' not only awkward but also strange. The only such combination I am used to can be represented by the sentence ''I have had an accident,'' a present perfect construction that uses ''have'' as a helping verb and ''had'' as an action verb.
Do you approve of the grammar of that correspondent's sentence?

You Asked Me This Question / Should we capitalize all job titles?
« on: July 04, 2013, 10:28:13 PM »
I'd like to know what grammar rules are saying about capitalizing job titles.
I the other day had a 'fierce' argument with my Australian professor, who apparently felt demeaned that I wrote her title as 'dean of faculty' rather than as 'Dean of Faculty' in one line of my letter asking for permission to attend the wedding ceremony of a relative in a distant town. She refused to approve the letter unless I modified the phrase. But confident I hadn't committed any grammar mistake, I wasn't comfortable about making the change she wanted, challenging her to show me one grammar rule demanding all job titles be capitalized. Reddened and shaking with rage, she crumpled the letter in her hand and tossed it in a dustbin, forcing me out of her office while shouting ''I am not available to disputant students.''
Do we really have to capitalize every job title in sight as the professor suggested?

I've found myself increasingly developing an interest in the journalism field despite the fact I'm a medicine student. Coming across such jounalism terms as 'lede,' 'byline,' 'inverted pyramid' has really been fascinating.
As I was yesterday Thursday browsing the Internet editions of newapapers published in Senegal, where President Obama has just completed his visit, I bumped into a caption explaining a photo of him and his family arriving at an airport that read ''U.S. President, along with his wife and daughters, gets off his plane at Dakar international airport on Wednesday.''
It has struck me as abnormal that the sentence applied a present-tense verb (get off) along with a past-tense time element (Wednesday), and I've wondered if that is the appropriate way journalists have to do in writing photo captions.

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