Value, respect, liking, and acceptance

For unless the teacher values, respects, likes, and accepts him/herself, he or she cannot reach out to value, respect, like, and accept the students; unless the teacher has a high opinion of him/herself, he or she cannot have a high opinion of the students; unless a teacher is sensitive to him/herself, he or she cannot be sensitive to the students (Schmier, 2016, l. 1637).

Dear All,
We are often told (by our colleagues during seminars and conferences or read in books) that we ought to value, respect, like, and accept students. However, how often are we reminded also to value, respect, like, and accept ourselves as instructors and educators (i.e. the people who provide education)? The quote above by Louis Schmier, an educator with dozens of years of experience, above is just such a reminder. Indeed, if the instructor who does not show a good example it is hard to educate students that when they go to the job market, they should respect and value themselves.

This reminds me of Jesus Christ’s teaching: “…how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Mt. 7:4-5, KJV). While this quote is taken from a broader sociocultural context, I believe that it is applicable to education. If an instructor does not want her/his students to be ignorant, the instructor her/himself should not be ignorant. Similarly, all the things an instructor wants to educate her/his students about to help them in their future professional or academic life should be practised by this instructor, just as the proverb says, “practise what you preach.”

Several more quotes come to mind as I am writing this post. These quotes come from different cultures and even different epochs, but all of them seem to be related to the topic. I am going to list these quotes below without discussion and if you would like to discuss any of them, please post your thoughts in the comment section of this post:

  • Be the change you want to see in people” (Ghandi).
  • Γνῶθι σεαυτόν” (Gr. for ‘know yourself’) (Ancient Greece, Egypt).
  • Once you’ve found your centre – you are sure to win” (‘Mulan’).
  • Master Shifu: “Find your inner peace“. Po: “Inner piece of what?” (‘Kung Fu Panda 2’).

Schmier, L. (2016). Faith, Hope, Love: The Spirit of Teaching. New River, AZ:

Shortening – contraction – clipping – blending – abbreviation

Dear All,
One can hear people using a variety of terms to refer to “shortened words” such as ‘shortenings’, ‘abbreviations’, etc. This post looks at these terms from the linguistic perspective to explain and help use them correctly. This post focuses on the lexical layer of the language.

Let’s start with the most generic term:
Shortening – any form of a word that is “shrunk”.
e.g. don’t (do + not), YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), etc.

Contraction (= fusion) – another generic term – two words which are combined together and are pronounced as one new word (typically functional words such as auxiliary verbs, articles, and prepositions).
e.g. don’t (do + not), shouldn’t (should + not), wanna (want + to), au (Fr. à + le), etc.

Clipping – dropping (clipping) of a part of a word:
a) initial (= fore = apheresis) – the front part of the word is dropped
e.g. (tele)phone, (air)plane

b) medial (= syncope) – the middle part of the word is dropped
e.g. math(ematic)s, spec(ification)s

c) final (= back = apocope) – the hinder part of the word is dropped
e.g. info(rmation), gas(oline)

d) complex (= mixed) – two or more instances (one or more types) of clipping used together to form a new word
e.g. (re)frige(rator) – initial and final clipping, sci(ence)-fi(ction) – final clipping used twice

Blending* – formation of a new word with a distinctive meaning out of two or more other words
e.g. smog (smoke + fog), hangry (hungry + angry)

Abbreviation – creation of new words based on another word or words that are shortened to its or their initial letter(s) only
a) acronym – the abbreviated word is pronounced as a whole new word rather than letter by letter
e.g. UNESCO (pronounced [juːˈnɛskəʊ])

b) initialism (= alphabetism) – the abbreviated word is pronounced letter by letter
e.g. OCR** (pronounced [əʊ siː ˈaːr])

Abbreviation in more detail as it is of particular interest from the perspective of modern language use. Abbreviation is a highly productive way of forming new words in English. Below are just a few examples that I have come across recently doing my routine work such as reading a book on post-secondary education and communicating with my colleagues via instant messaging:
hru*** – how are you
diy – do it yourself
np – no problem
eom – end of message
eod – end of day
ty – thank you
ttyl – talk to you later
lol – laughing out loudly
asap – as soon as possible
btw – by the way

It is interesting to reflect on why this is such a productive way of forming new lexical units. While professional terminology always tended to use abbreviations, in modern English it is quite a common phenomenon to see even commonly used words and phrases abbreviated. It is possible to distinguish two major contributing factors:

  1. The development of instant message communication (e.g. SMS, Skype, etc.) and social media (e.g. Twitter – the whole message must be within 140-character limit)
  2. English is an analytic language – i.e. grammatical forms in English tend to be expressed with the help of separate words (e.g. the verb “to be” can be used to show the grammatical categories of the number, the person and the tense: I am (1st pers. sing., present) playing the guitar). Therefore, words tend to be short generally and in order to shorten them even further – abbreviation is used.

In brief, this post has addressed the question of the variety of terms used to refer to shortened forms: shortening, contraction, clipping, blending, and abbreviation. Abbreviation has been discussed in more detail as one of the most productive ways of shortening words and phrases.

Have you come across an interesting way of shortening words? Do you have any ideas regarding shortened words in English and other languages? Please share in the comments to this post.

*Sometimes it may be difficult to distinguish between complex clipping and blending – Bauer (1983) suggests that a particular type of shortening can be distinguished based on the stress of the word – if two (or more) stresses are preserved or found in each shortened part, then it is a case of complex clipping (e.g. sitcom, hi-fi); if only one stress is preserved or found in the new word, then it is a case of blending (e.g. spork).

** An IT term meaning “optical character recognition”.

*** This is one of the funniest abbreviations because in Ukrainian “hru” means ‘oink’ and it is funny when somebody greets another person with an “oink”.

Bauer, L. (1983). English Word-Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Daylight saving time (DST)


Image credit: National Research Council of Canada, “Time zones & daylight saving time” October 22, 2016.

Dear All,
This post discusses what DST is and where to get more information on the topic.

DST is the practice of advancing the clock by one hour during spring, summer and autumn which allows extending the day by one extra hour of light in the afternoon.

Specifically some time around spring season (e.g. 2nd Sunday of March in Canada) – the clock advances one hour (also known as the “summer time“). Then some time around autumn season (e.g. 1st Sunday in November in Canada) – the clock goes back one hour (also known as the “winter time“). This practice is observed in Europe (e.g. France, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, etc.), North America (Canada, the United States), and some other areas. Interestingly, one part of a country (e.g. Australian Capital Territory) may observe DST while another part (e.g. Northern Territory) doesn’t.

Why is this done? Well, the most important reason is to get advantage of an extra hour of light in the afternoon which helps to save on electricity (or other sources of energy) used to keep residencies lighted and heated.

How does it affect you? If you live in an area that observes DST, make sure that you know when this happens – otherwise you may find yourself one hour ahead of time or one hour late when you go to a meeting. If you plan to visit or phone a different country it may be a good idea to check what DST practices are common there:

  • Does this country or area (e.g. only a part of Australia does it) observe DST?
  • What day of the year they start doing it?
  • What time of the morning they switch the time?
  • Do they still practice it this year?

All these questions should help you determine the exact time in the area you are interested in. Importantly, just knowing the time zone of your area of destination (or intended communication) may be insufficient because your area and the target area may switch the time on a different date (e.g. till October 29, 2016 the difference between time in France and Canada is 8 hours; then on October 30 it is going to be 9 hours, then again 8 hours on November 8; then on March 12, 2017 – the difference is going to be only 7 hours due to the commencement of DST in Canada).

In order to determine, what DST practices are common in the area you are going to, below is a resource that can be of help – this is a link to the website that specializes on the topic:

In brief, this post has focused on DST – what it is, why it is important. The importance of being aware of DST practices in the area or residence or intended destination has been discussed in connection with timely meetings. A resource on the topic has been provided for further research and practical use.

Bottle drive

145px-earth_recycle-svgDear All,
Have you ever supported a charitable cause? One of the ways to do so is to run a bottle drive. This post discusses what a “bottle drive” is.

So, what is a “bottle drive”? A “bottle drive” is organized collection of bottles (plastic or glass), pop (soda) cans, and milk/juice cartons for a particular cause.

How does it work? To begin with the group of people who organize a bottle drive attach a notice to the door handle of the houses in a neighbourhood. In this notice, they name the cause for which they are running the bottle drive and when they are going to pick up the bottles. When people who come home find this notice, they prepare a bag with bottles, cans, and cartons and put the bag outside the door on the date and time specified in the notice. Sometimes, such notices may also ask to attach the given notice to the bag – this allows people who collect bags with bottles to avoid grabbing a wrong bag. Once bottles are collected, people who run a bottle drive may leave another notice thanking for contributing to the cause in support of which the bottle drive is organized.

What are some of the causes that a bottle drive can be run for? Well, it can be any worthy cause that people care for. For instance, bottle drives can be organized in support of a graduation event, a local Food Bank, a scout organization and so on. In Canada, bottle drives are sometimes run in support of a school hockey team as this kind of sport is popular in Canada; a bottle drive for a school hockey team can be run by children themselves who wear hockey jerseys – children are accompanied by adults to ensure safety.

Is a bottle drive a worthwhile enterprise? In my opinion, yes. It has at least three benefits:
1) It helps to raise funds for a good cause.
2) People clean their houses of empty bottles, cans, and cartons.
3) The environment gets more protection because bottles, cans, and cartons get recycled.

Have you ever run a bottle drive? For what cause? Please share in the comments.

Thanksgiving in academia

Dear All,
The Latin proverb (pronounced as [ˈɡraː.ti.a   ˈɡraː   ˈpa.rit]) above can be translated as “grace gives birth to grace” or “kindness begets kindness”.

Today is the second Monday of October which means that some people celebrate Thanksgiving. In this connection it is interesting to reflect on Thanksgiving in academia. Is there place for thanksgiving in academia? How to do it?

Well, it is for a purpose that this blog starts with this Latin proverb. There should always be room for grace/kindness anywhere. Why? Because this is how the like attitude is solicited. Academia is no exception; in fact academia may be the place where it is needed even more than in some other places since this is the place where learning happens and students who are taught kindness will hand over this same thing to other people whom they meet on their professional and academic way. Moreover, academia should not be the place where a particular discipline or X number of disciplines are taught only, but rather a place where people obtain classical higher education which includes the ability to interact with others in a variety of contexts including professional environment and academia. Therefore, yes, there is place for thanksgiving in academia.

How to do it? Thanksgiving was born as a sincere desire of people to thank God for what they have (indeed, each of us has something to be thankful for). Therefore, the most natural thing on this day can be a prayer. If you attend a Christian institution, you probably do not need to worry as to how to organize this since it is likely already included in the list of the events planned at your institution for this day.

Another thing that comes to mind in connection with Thanksgiving in academia is thanking your prof or your students: your professor for preparing interesting materials for classes and for caring for each individual student; your students for taking interest in your class and working hard to succeed in the discipline.

How about family? Yes, our family and friends are usually our greatest support on our academic way and they definitely deserve a word of gratitude.

Have you been (or still are) a student or a professor – what do you do for Thanksgiving? How would you like to celebrate it in the academic context? Is it a good idea to celebrate Thanksgiving in academia? Why?

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank your for reading this blog and sharing your ideas!

What is language

Dear All,
There exist dozens of definitions of “language” (L.). This post focuses on what a good definition of L. should cover and formulates a new definition of the notion.

To begin with, what is the most important objective of L. from the linguistic perspective? Most objective of L. from the linguistic perspective is communication. L. is used to transmit, receive, and store (e.g. over time) information.

Another interesting thing about L. is that we communicate not only verbally, but also nonverbally – both verbal and nonverbal means (see the post on Types of nonverbal communication) contribute to the overall communicative message – sometimes nonverbal means contribute more, sometimes less (see the post on The importance of nonverbal communication). Therefore, a good definition of L. should include the nonverbal element or at least admit its potential contribution to communication.

One more important feature about L. is that it is a combination of symbols (e.g. letters, sounds, gestures, etc.) – in order to code (communicate/speak/write) and decode (get, hear, read) a message – it must consist of a certain system of symbols. For communication to be effective both parties (the sender and the recipient) should be familiar with this system (language).

Finally, what makes L. truly unique is that its symbols are optional. For example, an ‘apple’ is called an apple not because there is something in it that makes it be called that way, but rather because people who use this language have decided that this object should be called this way. An ‘apple’ in Ukrainian is ‘iabluko‘, in French it is ‘pomme‘ and the only reason why people who speak these languages know what is meant by ‘apple’, ‘iabluko‘ or ‘pomme‘ is because there is a convention that in this language this object should be referred to this way.

It is worth mentioning that certain words in a L. are indeed prompted by the nature of a given object or phenomenon. For example, dog’s “speech” can be referred to as ‘bow-bow’ in English because the combination of the sounds (resulting from reading these letters) resembles the actual sound that dogs produce. However, even here we talk about a convention. The same dog’s “speech” is described as ‘hav-hav‘ in Ukrainian. Again – this is based on the resemblance between the combination of the sounds resulting from reading these letters and the actual sound that dogs produce. The only difference is that according to the convention (tradition) in English – it should be ‘bow-bow’ and in Ukrainian, it is “hav-hav“. Another example, also related to the animal “speech” is ‘oink’ (pig “speech”) in English and ‘hru‘ in Ukrainian. These examples point to the fact that even though some words are created based on the resemblance to a certain object or phenomenon in the real world, L. still uses a certain convention (a voluntary/optional definition) to record it. This convention is different across languages.

An interesting definition that seems to cover the points above is the one suggested by Sapir:

 Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols (E. Sapir).

This definition covers the communicative objective of L., its verbal and nonverbal nature, the fact that L. is based on symbols which are optional. In addition to this, the definition above underlines that L. is purely human and non-instinctive. While it is possible to agree that animals are unable to use L. in the same way that people do (see, for example, the post on whether animals can speak), animals do use their own system of symbols (e.g. singing of birds to attract other birds) which is sometimes referred to as “animal language”.

Moreover, in certain situations some words are used without a conscious effort – similar to an instinct. For instance, if a person touches a hot surface, s/he can pronounce “ouch”. The corresponding word in Ukrainian is “ai“. This example shows that L. can be used unconsciously. How we know that in the situation above, for instance, we are dealing with a L.? We know this because the words above can only be fully understood within the given languages – English and Ukrainian. Therefore, a more accurate definition of L. can be formulated in the following way:

L. is a system of voluntary symbols, both verbal and nonverbal, used for the purpose of communication.

In brief, this post has focused on the key features of L. that should be considered in defining the notion and suggested a new definition based on this discussion.

More similar posts:
What is linguistics?
Structure of linguistics
Applied linguistics
Theoretical linguistics
Descriptive linguistics
Comparative linguistics


Faith, hope, love

faithhopeloveDear All,
In academia, it is acceptable to pursue three goals at the same time: teaching, research, and career. Teaching, in my view, is one of the key components since this is where a lot of learning happens – professor transfers his/her knowledge to his/her students and students also work through a course acquiring new knowledge and skills. But are knowledge and skills where it all ends? Should a professor’s goal be to “weed out” those students who do not study up to certain expectations struggling through acquiring certain knowledge or a skill ?

I have recently got acquainted with Louis Schmier, a professor who is now retired, but contributes to academic life actively through posting messages to a prestigious academic mailing list on education and through publishing blog posts and kindle books. One of his recent series of posts and the book are entitled “Faith, Hope, Love”. In these posts and in this book (the full name of the book is “Faith, Hope, Love: The Spirit of Teaching”) he explains and exemplifies vividly how faith, hope, and love contribute to better teaching and learning experience and why they are important in academia.

We are often told that success lies beyond our comfort zone. There is something to it. If you are an instructor or consider becoming one and believe that teaching and learning are more than just a transfer of knowledge and acquisition of skills, more life experience than anything else, then you may find this book by L. Schmier and his posts of interest as I did.

Gossip – Rumour


Dear All,
If you are learning or teaching English, it may be interesting to compare the following two words: “gossip” and “rumour”.

According the Oxford Dictionary, gossip (Ukr. “плітки“) is
1. “Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true” (OD, 2016):

  •  He is a nice guy why is there so much gossip about him?
  • Love affairs are often a subject to gossip.

2. “A conversation about other people; an instance of gossiping” (OD, 2016):

  • She used to start her day with a cup of tea and a gossip.
  • I like having a gossip about what’s new in the space industry.

3. “A person who likes talking about other people’s private lives” (OD, 2016):

  • Remove a gossip from your company and tales will disappear too.
  • Gossips are people who like to speak about other people’s private lives.

Rumour (Ukr. “чутки“) according to the same source is
A currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth” (OD, 2016):

  • And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about (Lk.7:17).
  • Rumours on her Olympic achievements have already circulated in the neighbourhood.
  • I have heard many rumours regarding the new city project to improve the area.
  • This story is a rumour, don’t trust it.

The biggest difference between these words is that the word “gossip” has something to do with a private life of a person (often a celebrity) and has a negative connotation. The word “rumour”, in turn, is not necessarily about somebody’s private life and can have a neutral connotation.

Interestingly, when I was searching for examples, I searched King James Version of the Bible and found 0 instances of the word “gossip” and only 9 instances of the word “rumour” there.

Oxford Dictionaries (OD) (2016). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from

Churchill, MB


Image credit: Ansgar Walk, “Bärenmutter & Junges 3 2004-11-17” November 17, 2004, via Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Question mark


Did you know that people who live in Churchill, MB, Canada leave their vehicles and homes unlocked?


Dear All,
People who live in the province of Manitoba, in the town called “Churchill” often leave their vehicles and homes unlocked. The reason is that in autumn a lot of polar bears move closer to the shore where the town is situated and residents try to provide a safe refuge for a passer-by who may encounter a polar bear.


Dear All,
Water is one of the resources that is often overlooked in western mass culture simply due to its … cheapness. However, unlike other more costly resources,  water is the resource which has a direct impact on our ability to learn, to teach, to conduct research, and to be healthy.

The video below brings to attention some of the fascinating facts about water and how it can influence our health and therefore our ability to study. I have listed these facts and put in italics the ones which are of particular interest to me:

25) Insufficient water is the primary reason for fatigue.

24) Percentage of water (in relation to the overall body weight) is higher in men than in women.

23) Some “food” craving can be eliminated by a glass of water when our body really needs some hydration rather than food.

22) We lose over a cup of water through breathing every day.

21) We lose about 6 glasses of water in a flight that lasts 3 hours.

20) Water takes toxins out of body which helps to prevent heart disease and cancer.

19) Water helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities.

18) Even a two-percent dehydration can lead to the decrease in efficiency of short-term memory, ability to solve mathematical problems, and ability to concentrate.

17) Water serves as a protective layer in different parts of the body such as eyes, spinal cord, and amniotic sac.

16) Too much water within a short period of time can cause serious health issues and even death.

15) Water is important in moving blood plasma, which in turn, move antibodies in the body.

14) Bones in our bodies consist of about 22% of water. Muscles consist of approximately 75% of water.

13) Adults lose about 10-13 cups of water daily. Exercising and other conditions cause us to lose even more water.

12) A human body consists of about 70% of water (this depends on the age – the younger a person is, the higher is the percentage of water in the body).

11) Sufficient water consumption can prevent or lessen pain from arthritis.

10) Pregnant women gain as much baby weight as water weight.

9) Nursing mothers require up to 3 cups of water per day more.

8) When cells in the body are under-hydrated, they are more susceptible to disease and chemical imbalances.

7) Consuming 5 glasses of water a day has been found to reduce chances of cancer up to 79%.

6) Drinking water can help to maintain brain health and can relieve a headache.

5) Drinking water can help to burn more calories by increasing metabolism.

4) Water can help to avoid constipation and helps to take harmful substances out of the body through defecation, urination, and perspiration.

3) Beverages and alcohol make us lose water rather than supply water.

2) Sufficient hydration of the body helps to keep sufficient levels of oxygen which can lead to efficient fat burning and higher energy levels.

1) Higher protein or higher fibre diets can require more water consumption.

Video credit: list25, “25 Facts About Water In The Body That May Have An Impact On Your Health” January 5, 2016, via YouTube.

Related posts:
1) Competence, health, and decisions
2) GMOs and health concerns
3) Irradiation and learning
4) Good food for good studies

Mother tongue

Mother-tongueDear All,
If you write a paper on teaching/learning foreign languages, sometimes it is desirable to find an appropriate synonym that fits the context best and corresponds well to the given context. Below are the forms which are synonymous to “mother tongue”:

  • native language
  • native tongue
  • first language
  • father tongue
  • arterial language
  • L1 (the use of this term is mostly restricted to [second] language acquisition studies)

This post can be of help to researchers who focus on [second] language acquisition and pedagogy, to journalists writing about this field, and to students who learn English and want to enrich their vocabulary.

It takes a village

It takes a village to raise a child.

Dear All,
The proverb above concerns upbringing of a child and means that in order to raise a child properly, it is necessary to apply efforts of many people. This proverb is also applicable to research, particularly to writing a dissertation.

In order to write a proper dissertation, it is necessary to consult several people (e.g. family and supervisors), to address to multiple departments (e.g. IT, Advanced Education, Graduate Studies, etc.), to search more than one library, and, often, to use various research methodologies to highlight the research topic profoundly. Above all, it takes a lot of patience, just as it takes to raise a child. In other words, writing a dissertation is like raising a child and involves communicating with multiple people and using numerous resources.

Therefore, the proverb above can be turned into “It takes a university to write a dissertation”.


Letter “E”

Question mark


Did you know that the letter “e” is the most frequently used letter in English?


Dear All,
One of the interesting facts about English is that the most frequently used letter in this language is “e”. How does it help to know this? Well, first of all it is interesting not only to know what is helpful in speaking English, but also what makes it what it is; this helps to satisfy our linguistic curiosity.

Besides stirring our (our students’) interest, knowing such facts about a language may be of use to linguists who decode languages. For example, if an archeologist finds a text in a language which is lost, a linguist who relies on this and other techniques can help to translate this text. Also if parts of an ancient text are lost, a linguist can help to reconstruct some parts knowing the structure and the way in which this language functions.

See a similar post on “ough“.

Economic – economical


Dear All,
When we learn a foreign language, sometimes it is a small difference that can confuse us. This post discusses the differences in meaning between the words “economic” and “economical” to help learners of English to differentiate easily between these words and to use them correctly.

Economic means related to the financial industry or science studying financial processes.

Here are several sentences in which this word is used:
Helen, would you like to listen to recent economic news on the radio with me?
Economic analysis of the budget for this year has revealed that the economy of this country is steadily growing.
The auditing of this company has shown that the company is well managed financially and is in an excellent economic state.

Economical means thrifty; spending little money or other resources (e.g. gasoline).

Below are several sentences in which this word is used:
Ben, you are so lucky, your wife is an excellent hostess and is also economical.
This worker is very economical with materials and yet produces 10 beautiful vases a day.
This car is very economical – it only consumes 4.5L/100km on a highway.
Modern washing machines are very economical – they consume relatively little electricity.

I hope this this post may be of help to learners of English and to ESL instructors as an aid to help their students to differentiate and use correctly the words “economic” and “economical”.

See similar posts: Historic – Historical and Little – Small.

How to be a better orator

Dear All,
An orator is a person who speaks publicly and can convey his/her ideas clearly and convincingly. Would you like to improve your oratory skills for a school, work, or even TedTalk presentation? If so, you may find this post of interest.

Gestures, gestures, and gestures (Demosthenes in Pease & Pease, 2006, p. 156).

Demosthenes was one of the best known and most skillful orators of ancient Greece. When asked what makes a good orator, he simply answered, “Gestures, gestures, and gestures.” It is notable that he attributed so much importance to nonverbal means of communication for successful speeches and, to extend it a little more, for communication in general.

Although the importance of nonverbal means of communication was noticed long ago, the scholarly interest in nonverbal component of communication was documented much later, in the 20th century with the development of ethology (animal behaviour studies), psychology, and linguistics.

The video below explains what kind of nonverbal communication in particular can contribute to a better public presentation. Specifically, it discusses the following three elements:

1) hand gestures – purposeful hand gestures contribute to charisma and likability;
2) vocal charisma (vocalics) – is the ability to be energetic/enthusiastic about the topic you are discussing; this shows itself in using variations in tone, appropriate pauses, and the pitch of voice;
3) smile – a sincere smile during a speech can further contribute to the success of a presentation.

Another interesting point that is raised in this video is that it is nonverbal means of communication that contribute considerably to the overall impression about a given presentation (people who were shown a muted video were able to identify successful speeches), at times even more than the words. Moreover, the initial impression that lasts for the first 7 seconds, may be a determining factor in how a speech is evaluated by listeners/viewers.

Interestingly, although gestures and other nonverbal means of communication are so important people rarely pay attention to them. By paying more attention to gestures one can become not only a better orator, but also a better listener by following the presenter’s train of thought more carefully.

In summary, this post has briefly discussed how nonverbal means of communication can contribute to better presentations. In particular hand gestures, vocal charisma, and smile have been discussed.

Have you ever tried using nonverbal means of communication purposefully when you are presenting? What was your experience?

Have you noticed how a skillful presenter (e.g. your professor or a colleague) uses nonverbal means of communication? What exactly have you noticed?

Please share your ideas in the comment section of this post.

Video credit: Vanessa Van Edwards, “How to Be Instantly Irresistible” February 19, 2016, via YouTube.

Pease, A., & Pease, B. (2006). The definite book of body language. New York: A Division of Random House Inc.

Work joyfully and peacefully

Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results (James Allen).

Dear All,
Taking a course at a university or doing research rarely yields anticipated results straight away. This may lead to disappointment and even cessation of work. The quote above by James Allen is right encouragement in such a situation. Indeed, the task of a learner or a researcher is not to lament, but rather to work joyfully and peacefully believing strongly that right efforts will surely bring about right results.


Dear All,
What do we know about salt from the linguistic perspective and in general?

According to Oxford Dictionary the origin of the word “salt” can be traced to:
“Old English sealt (noun), sealtan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zout and German Salz (nouns), from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sal, Greek hals ‘salt'” (OD, 2016).

Different words have been derived from this word: salad, sauce, salami, etc. Interestingly, the word “salary” is also derived from the word “salt” – it came to English through Old French from the Latin word “salarium“. A salarium was Roman soldiers’ allowance to buy salt.

Salt is also used in numerous phraseology units such as “salt of the earth“. This particular phraseological unit comes from the Bible:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house (Matt. 5:13-15, NKJV).

Originally this was said by Jesus Christ about His disciples. Now the expression “salt of the earth” is used to describe people who have “flavour”, i.e. who have such qualities as sincere kindness, humility, ability and willingness to support, respect, positive attitude, faith, hope, and love.

The word “salt” can be used in different expressions in different languages.In French, for example, the colour of hair can be “salt and pepper” (sel et poivre) meaning grey/white-haired.

What do people do with salt across cultures? Well, a lot of things, there are hundreds of uses of this product. It can be used to improve taste of products, as a natural preservative to keep food fresh longer, or as a treatment against illnesses for cattle. Did you know that salt in combination with water can also be used as a source of energy? The video below speaks about this and other uses of salt and its importance:

Video credit: Documentary Hd, “How Stuff Works Salt Discovery Channel BBC Documentary Full Documentary” September 25, 2014, via YouTube.

How is the word “salt” used in your language? How is salt used in your culture? Please share in the comment section below.

Oxford Dictionaries (OD) (2016). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from

Historic – historical


Learners of English sometimes find it difficult to differentiate between the words “historic” and “historical”. This post briefly discusses the semantic differences between them.

Historic means “important, outstanding, famous in history”.

Historical means “related to history, concerning the past”.

Therefore, if we want to say that a scholar has just made an important discovery, we should say:
Dr. Rolland has just made a historic discovery! The herb that he has discovered is now going to help people fight cancer.

If we are speaking about something that has to do with the past (belongs to history, a part of the past), then we should use “historical” as in the example below:
Although little Tommy is just in grade one, he already knows such historical events as the first celebration of Canada Day, and establishment of first European Canadian settlements in Canada.

Sometimes, it is possible to use wither “historic” or “historical” in the same phrase; however, the meaning is not identical. For example, “historic event is one that was very important, whereas a historical event is something that happened in the past” (OD, 2016).

E.g. Professor, now I see that your today’s discovery is a historic event for all humanity.

The first celebration of Canada Day (Dominion Day) happened about 150 years ago and is now a historical event.

See also a similar post on little – small.

Oxford Dictionaries (OD) (2016). Retrieved July 3, 2016, from


Canada Day – Fête du Canada

Barrie_Canada_Day_Fireworks.pngDear All,
July 1 is Canada Day (Fête du Canada). This posts discusses briefly the history of this day, its importance, and associated traditions.

On July 1, 1867 “The British North America Act (today known as the Constitution Act, 1867) created Canada” (Canada Day, 2016). Following this, on June 20, 1868 the Governor General signed a proclamation that requested people across Canada to celebrate July 1, however, this was not yet a holiday. Only in 1879 a federal law made July 1 a statutory holiday known then as the “anniversary of Confederation.” This name was later changed to “Dominion Day.” Finally, on October 27, 1982 “Dominion Day” became known as “Canada Day”.

The importance of this day together with Constitution Act, 1982 for Canadians and Canada is great. While the former (July 1) united the nation, the latter established its independence.

Today people across Canada and Canadians abroad celebrate the day with different kinds of festivities such as special events in parks, barbecues, family reunions, fireworks, and free musical concerts. Canada Day is a statuary holiday in Canada meaning that people have a day off. If this day falls on Sunday (or Saturday in most cases), next Monday is a day off instead.

If you ever chance to be in Canada on July 1, do consider visiting the capital to enjoy various events, to meet people, and to enjoy beautiful fireworks.

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day (2014). Retrieved July 3, 2016, from


Video credit: Vanessa Van Edwards, “The Three Types of Eye Gazing” August 4, 2014, via YouTube.

Dear All,
Have you ever heard the proverb, “Eyes are the mirror of soul”? This proverb means that eyes can communicate a lot of information, probably, even something beyond words. Indeed, eyes can communicate in different ways. This post focuses on how eyes communicate with respect to position at which eye gaze is directed.

The video above discusses three types of eye gazing:

  1. Power gazing – eye gaze shifts between the two eyes of the collocutor and his/her forehead. This type of eye gazing is characteristic of a business conversation.
  2. Social gazing – eye gaze shifts between the two eyes of the collocutor and his/her mouth. This type of eye gazing is characteristic of a friendly chat.
  3. Intimate gazing – eye gaze shifts between the two eyes of the collocutor and his/her chest. This type of eye gazing is characteristic of close communication.

What are some of the implications of this nonverbal behaviour? The implications are two-fold: first,we can understand better what our collocutor is trying to communicate and second, we can be more effective communicators trying to be consistent in what we are communicating verbally and following this up by a certain type of gaze that is appropriate for the given situation.

For example, if we communicate with a friend and notice his/her gaze following the eye-eye-forehead pattern, this can signal that our friend is serious and is trying to communicate business (rather than just chatting).

Another example is if we, for instance, speak with business colleagues and want to be taken seriously, then it may be a good idea to follow up our words by the eye-eye-forehead pattern of eye gazing.

In brief, this post has discussed three types of eye gazing: power gazing, social gazing, and intimate gazing. Being aware of these types of nonverbal behaviour can help to facilitate communication through better decoding of a nonverbal message sent by our collocutor and through adjusting our nonverbal behaviour in accordance with the message we want to communicate verbally.

Similar post: Proxemics: Personal space


Google Translate

Dear All,
Have you ever thought that it would nice to speak X language? Indeed, it would be. All it takes is to start and little by little to pursue the goal. While you are doing this, there is a tool that can help you to communicate in a different language in the meanwhile. The tool is called “Google Translate”:

This is a free online application that helps to translate separate words and texts from over 100 languages. As a linguist I should admit that the tool is far from being ideal. For instance, it can translate a word out of its context and put back that way. As a result, the translation tends to be inaccurate. However, this should prevent from taking advantage of this tool. For example, it can be used to communicate with a friend in his/her native language; to say “hi” or “thank you” to a colleague in their native language; or conduct linguistic research across multiple languages.

Thus, although imperfect, the given linguistic tool can be used to advantage of those who study a language or want to communicate in different languages more efficiently.

Little – Small

Dear All,
What is the difference between “little” and “small”? This post compares these two words and points at some of the differences in use.

Before we start the discussion about the differences, let’s look at what is in common. Both words are semantically close, they both mean “tiny, not big”. In this sense, it is correct to say either: “Ann has corrected a little typo” or “Ann has corrected a small typo”.

However, there are cases when only one of these words can be used. The table below helps to understand the differences between the words:



Means: young, inexperienced:
e.g. Ann is a little girl.
Means: short, tiny in size:
e.g. Ann is small for her age.
Tends to be subjective, involving feelings, emotions:
e.g. I have a little brother.
Tends to be objective, involving knowledge, facts:
e.g. This vase is small.
Often used with adjectives expressing a subjective opinion such as cool, nice, poor, pretty, tiny, etc.:
e.g. He has a cool, little dog.
Can be used with uncountable nouns to indicate that something is not in big quantity:
e.g. I have little water (opposite to “much”).
I have a little water (just some, not much).
Can only be used with the word “amount” to indicate a modest quantity (uncountable):
e.g. I have a small amount of water.Can only be used with the word “number” to indicate a modest quantity (countable):
e.g. A small number of students can afford their own apartment.
Does not have comparative or superlative forms.
Has comparative and superlative forms:
e.g. Your cup is smaller than mine. Your cup is smallest of all.
Can be used in front of an adjective in a comparative form:
e.g. Ann, you can try a little harder.
Used in a number of set expressions:
little doubt
little she can do about it
a little bit
little by little
little to say
Used in a number of set expressions:
small town
small scale manufacturing
small quantities
small business
small world
small talk

In summary, this post has addressed the question of differences between the use of the words “little” and “small”.  Understanding these differences can help learners of English to use the aforementioned words correctly in their speech.

The biggest luxury

The biggest luxury is the luxury of human communication.

Dear All:
Have you ever dialed a phone number trying to reach a particular service and instead of a person you heard a recorded voice asking you to make a selection as to what you would like to do next? Most of us have, probably, had this experience. How did you feel about it?

According to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “La grandeur d’un métier est peut-être, avant tout, d’unir des hommes: il n’est qu’un luxe véritable, et c’est celui des relations humaines” (The greatness of a profession is, probably, above all to unite people: the biggest luxury is the luxury of human relationships). This quote underlines the importance of relationship-building between people. The basis of any relationship is communication.

Are you working on a group project for a university course, conducting research with a team of researchers, organizing a conference? In any of these cases communication is the key, the better it is, the more successful the outcomes are likely going to be. Certainly, we know this, but how easy it is to neglect this.

Yes, communication is a luxury, but whether you are a student taking a  university course or a professor (particularly) offering a course, let communication be abundant. Importantly, choose a better kind of communication. Face-to-face communication can be better than a phone call. A phone call, can be better than an email. An email can be better than an SMS (Short Message Service – a text message over phone). Why so? The reason for this is the ability (or its absence) to use nonverbal means of communication. The importance of nonverbal means of communication is great and compared to words, nonverbal means of communication can communicate 93% of information as compared to 7% of information communicated by words.

When we speak face-to-face, we not only hear words, but also see the facial expressions, the expression of the eyes, the gestures, the body posture, the smile, etc. Thus, for example, when a student approaches a professor, the professor can get a better feedback concerning whether the student has understood the explanations or needs more help. In turn, nonverbal means of communication also help the professor to be a better instructor by offering information in more expressive way and, therefore, in a more lasting way too. This role of nonverbal means of communication is supported by abundant research that is consistent in that nonverbal means of communication work in two ways: they help to understand the information that is being communicated better (1) and also help to communicate information in a more efficient and effective way (2) (see e.g. Pankovskyi, 2011).

The discussion in this post started by asking the question concerning experiences with “communicating”with a recorded voice message. As for me, the answer to this question is – it depends. If the choices are as simple as to select language in which the communication is going to take place and at any time I can press “0” to be connected with an operator it may be a good use of technology to facilitate communication, but if one has to go through numerous choices which one is unable to skip and pressing “0” terminates the call, well the company that has such practice may lose a customer. In an ideal world where all other conditions are the same except the chance of speaking with a person versus going through a chain of numerous selections, the first choice is more preferable for me. How about you?

Lastly, yes, communication is a luxury because it can help to achieve goals and to make a project a success, but communication does not have to be scarce, it has to be abundant. With the development of modern technology one has more choices with respect to communication and it is up to each person to make a better choice in every given situation. Communication does not have to be long, it has to be effective and as long as is necessary to communicate an idea in a respectful and meaningful way.

Pankovskyi, I. (2011). Call for nonverbal means of communication in SLA. AATSEEL Newsletter: Psychology of language learning: San Juan Bautista, CA, USA. 14-15.

Studying/teaching Ukrainian: Conjugations

ConjugationImage credit: the image above is a screenshot of the website discussed in this post. Accessed May 19, 2016 from

Dear All:
This post provides a link to a valuable free online resource for learners, teachers, and speakers of Ukrainian who want to improve learning/teaching and speaking.

Grammar is one of the most difficult aspects of the Ukrainian language. In fact, one can learn how to read in Ukrainian just in 45 minutes (without any prior knowledge of Ukrainian), but using grammar to speak and write in Ukrainian requires more effort. This is explicated by the fact that Ukrainian has relatively complex system of grammatical cases: there are seven cases, the category of number (singular/ plural), and gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter). Combined together these grammatical categories yield about 42 (7 cases * 2 numbers * 3 genders) possible endings of a noun.

To help learners, instructors, and users of the language to speak more correctly in grammatical terms, the following website has been created:

This website allows users to enter a dictionary form of a word (e.g. мама) and get all the possible forms of this word (i.e. its conjugation). Besides nouns, this website also provides similar help with verbs and other parts of speech. Verbs, for instance, are conjugated according to the tense, the person, the mood (active, imperative) and other forms.

In addition to conjugations, each word (including the conjugated forms) contains accents, a feature which is of use to both beginner learners and speakers of Ukrainian to improve their language skills.

In brief, this post has provided a link to a website which helps to conjugate words and to check the correct accents in words and can be of help to learners, teachers, and speakers of Ukrainian.


SVG-to-PNGDear All:
Have you ever had to convert a file from one format to another for your studies or research?

I often need to convert files to different formats for my research. Most recently I came across an image in public domain which I wanted to convert from SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format to PNG (Portable Network Graphics). I have found two Web resources which can do this online. One of these resources that worked considerably better by preserving better quality of the image is:

I have not seen their policies concerning privacy (except the following statement on the bottom of the page: “All data submitted/uploaded is deleted after 1 hour.”). Therefore, it is hard to say if this particular resource can meet particular objectives, but for images in public domain, this free Web resources can be helpful in research and studies.