Thursday, July 31, 2008

A wave from Oz

Hi everyone

Well, I'm back from my trip and ready to get the ball rolling with Brady and the Owlies from Purdue.

Thanks, gang, for your first post on subordinating conjunctions and dependent markers.

I'd like to do something just a little bit different and talk about differences in language between Australians and our friends in the US.

One thing which endears us to our US friends is the Australian penchant to put 'ie' or 'y' on lots of words:
  • Footy (football)

  • Breakie (breakfast)

  • Owlie (Owl - there was a telly programme a long time ago called 'Owlie School' It's true!)

  • Sickie (a sick day taken from work when one is not really sick)

  • Barbie (as in 'put another shrimp on the barbie' or barbecue)

These are just a few of our idiomatic language quirks! Maybe my Possum pals at UniSA can think of some others.

All of this is kind of cute, but it does make life difficult for our international and ESL students at first. Knowing the idiom (or the lingo) gives you a social badge. You fit into a culture better if you can both understand and use some of this quirky and wonderful language.

One of our best tips to our new international students is to go out of the way to speak to Aussies - on the bus, in the shops, at uni, in study groups.

Here's a great fun quiz that my friend and co-possum Helen found. You might like to give it a try.

You know, I didn't pick up many language quirks when I visited the US recently - are there any? Did I miss something blindingly obvious?


Friday, July 18, 2008

subordinating conjunctions and dependent markers

Recently, the OWL received an inquiry regarding the difference between "subordinating conjunctions" and "dependent markers" and whether one is favored over another. For a little context, the OWL favors "dependent marker word" over "subordinating conjunction." Here is my response to the inquiry. Please feel free to comment, criticize, or add.

There really is no reason to favor one name for this class of words over another. I think the general trend is toward"dependent markers" just for the sake of clarity. "Dependent markers" create dependent clauses, just as independent markers lead to independent clauses. Though probably more technically correct, calling these two classes of words"subordinating conjunctions" and "conjunctive adverbs" (respectively) does not express their function in a sentence as concretely. Though I can't pinpoint the source of the terms "independent and dependent markers," I imagine they were implemented as a teaching tool and have since caught on.