Red Cross: Humanitarian support for Ukraine

Red Cross: Humanitarian support for Ukraine

Dear All,
If you would like to do something to support Ukrainians, you can donate to Red Cross, their humanitarian program for Ukraine. This program helps people to get the basics of life, such as medications, food, shelter, etc. Below is the link to the Canadian Red Cross as an example, but you can use the Ukrainian program of your local Red Cross:


About the Canadian “eh”

One of the distinctive features of Canadian English is “eh”.

Dear All,
This post focuses on one of the features of Canadian English, namely the use of “eh”. This two-letter word is pronounced as [ei] and is used for a number of purposes, including:
1) confirmation (e.g. So, you want to move there, eh?);
2) narration – “eh” used as a filler while the teller is looking for the word or to draw the listener’s attention (e.g. He is a great gentleman and likes linguistics, eh. He enjoys applied linguistics in particular, eh…);
3) converting a statement into a question (e.g. You like cheese, eh?);
4) signaling the end of a communicative turn in a conversation (e.g. A: You like organic food and healthy life style; you also enjoy drinking a lot of fresh water, eh? B: Yes, indeed.).

The alternatives to “eh” include: “huh”, “right”, “hey” and “like” all of which can be used for one or more of the communicative purposes above. Any of these, including “eh”, can be used to imitative the Canadian accent or the conversational style. When used as fillers, these words are commonly used in conversational contexts, but not in all registers, for example, it is acceptable to use “eh” in communing with a friend, but not a professor.

Interestingly, “eh” is used by Canadians in an organic way and using it even slightly out of the way may lead to a Canadian recognizing a “strange accent”. Moreover, inapt use of “eh” or overusing it can result in a humourous effect. It is also worth noting that it is perfectly normal to speak with a Canadian for hours and not to hear “eh” a single time; or, on the contrary, it is possible to hear “eh” (in a perfectly natural way) from a native speaker of other varieties of English. Thus, using of “eh” alone does not determine whether a person is a native Canadian English speaker or not.

There are a number of other features that distinguish Canadian English from the other varieties of the language. Some of these are going to be discussed in future posts. In the meanwhile, feel free to share your ideas about / experience with “eh” and other Canadianisms in the comment section below. The brief video below is about “eh”. To learn more about Canadian culture, including by using Canadian culture calculator, visit the “All Things Canada” page.

Video credit: CBC News, “Why do Canadians say ‘eh’?” January 30, 2021, via YouTube.

Related posts:
Canadian Culture Calculator (external)
CELPIP:Canadian English Language Test
All Things Canada
Canada Day – Fête du Canada
Canadian Ukrainian (Ukrainian in Canada)


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