Learning and maintaining native English proficiency is very, very difficult. But almost every one of us makes mistakes that give us foreigners headlong before the interlocutor pays attention to errors in pronunciation and flaws in grammatical constructions, writes the author of the blog “Language Link-ug” on Yandex Zen.
The main reason for the annoying shortcomings is that we, like all people in the world, perceive a foreign language through the prism of our native language, and therefore we try to speak English, thinking in Russian.
Often, when choosing words for constructing an English sentence, we rely on the dictionary meaning and do not think about the fact that for an English-speaking person it has its own nuances. For example, we use:
- House in meaning "apartment house", whereas for the English, this word means a single-family home. "Apartment house" - Is apartment building (American version) or blocks of flats (UK version).
- Normal in meaning "Normal, normal"... But for the British "normal" in one of its familiar dictionary meanings - "Ordinary, private" - Is end or okay, normal - it is "not accompanied by adverse deviations from the norm, expected, adequate."
- close the door in meaning "close the door"... The spectrum of meanings of our verb "Close" quite wide and varies from "Pretend" to "Lock it up"... There are separate expressions for these meanings in English: to close the door (literally: "Return the door leaf to the opening") and to lock the door ("Click the lock, push the bolt").
- Dinner in meaning "dinner", while the daily meal has long been lunch and nothing else. Use Dinner in this context is to pay tribute to the 1978 English-Russian dictionary, but not to modern living English, in which Dinner means "dinner" (the last meal of the day, except perhaps evening tea).
- comfortable in meaning "suitable" (convenient time for meeting, convenient route, etc.). In English comfortable - giving a physical or emotional feeling of comfort, and in the meaning "suitable" the word is used convenient: comfortable chairBut convenient time to meet.
Plural and Singular Confusion
Another common category of errors is the use of plural nouns, which have it in Russian but not in English. For instance:
- in Russian there is also "knowledge"and "knowledge", but in English - only Knowledge;
- in Russian they give not only "Advice"but "tips", but in English - only advice;
- in Russian they wear "clock", in English - watch and never watches (the last word is also used, but to denote several watches, that is, a real set of objects);
- another common word, money ("Money") is also a singular noun, that is, to say: Money are ... - wrong.
Calcified, or literal, translation
This is a global problem for all those who study a foreign language: often we try not to speak English, but to translate our own Russian-language phrases, which is fundamentally wrong. As a result, you get erroneous options like:
How is your mood? in meaning "how is your mood?"... There are a lot of well-established correct options for this phrase: How are you? / How's it going? / What's up?
I feel myself (well, fine ...) in meaning "I feel (good, great ...)"... In English "Myself" (myself, myself, myself) completely redundant, it is correct to say: I feel well, I feel fine etc.
Thank you in advance as an analogue of the common in official Russian speech "thanks in advance"... For English speakers, this phrase has a shade of coercion (they say, since you have already been thanked, you are obliged to fulfill the request) and is not welcome.
Type constructions: We with my brother, which literally translate the Russian language: "My brother and I", - whereas in English, such combinations use a completely different word order: My brother and I (as an option: Me and my brother).
I think yes in meaning "I think yes" instead of the correct one: I think so... Sentence: I think yes perhaps as an answer to the question: What answer do you prefer, yes or no?
Transferring the redundancy of the Russian language into English speech
The Russian language is redundant: usually the same lexical or grammatical information is transmitted in it repeatedly.
For example, in the phrase: "A little girl went to the store" information about the subject's field is passed four times: by the word meaning "girl", its ending [a], characteristic of the feminine noun, as well as the endings of the adjective [th] and the verb [a].
Examples of lexical redundancy are the combinations "Moscow city", "Old pensioner", "little puppy", "Young girl"... The English language is laconic and does not require such clarifications, but by inertia we try to add them to speech when we speak English. As a result, we get errors such as:
I study English language (right: I study English);
I'm from Moscow city (right: I'm from Moscow). Word City in similar situations it is used only when it is included in the name of the city itself (Salt Lake City) or when you can confuse city and state (Oklahoma City)but native english speakers will never say London city or Paris city.
Olga shopping went with her girlfriend (right: Olga shopping went with her friend), arising from the unconscious desire to translate the feminine gender of the word in English using improvised means "girlfriend".
There is even such an expression in English: To sound like a textbookMeaning "Speak in abstruse, academic language"... By memorizing and repeating absolutely correct, but dead turns from the textbook, we immediately betray foreigners in ourselves, since usually the native speakers do not speak so fully and competently. In particular, you rarely hear from them:
Hello, how are you? - I'm fine. Thank you! And you? Usually used: Hey, what's goin 'on? / What's up? / What's happenin '? (yes, with the reduction of the ending [ing]). You can answer like this:What's goin 'on? - Nothin 'much / It's goin' good. What's up? - Not much. What's up with you? What's happenin '? - Nothin 'much.
My name is John. Most likely, you will be presented briefly and clearly: I'm John.
I bought a new car / I received a letter / I came home too late. You will most likely hear instead: I got a new car / I got a letter / I got home too late, as spoken English tends to be oversimplified.
The literal translation of individual words in isolation from the general meaning interferes not only with speaking English correctly, but also with correctly understanding English speech. Here are just a few examples of translation curiosities caused by this approach:
watch out! — "Look outside!" (instead: Beware!).
Come on, old boy! — "Come here, old boy!" (instead: "Come on, buddy!").
A girl with pigtails — "Girl with pigtails" (instead: "Girl with pigtails").
fly-fishing — "Fishing on the fly" (instead: "Fishing with a fly").
She is bold today! — "She's bald today!" (instead: "She's cocky today").
It is especially difficult when perceiving spoken language, when it is easy to confuse words that sound similar but different in meaning:
I have been there — "I have beans there" instead: "I've been there" (Been - past participle of the verb to be; bean - "Beans").
By the way — "Buy a road" instead: "By the way" (By - preposition "by"; buy — "buy").
Stop the violence! — "Let the violins be silent!" instead: Stop the Violence! (violence — "Violence, cruelty"; violin — "Violins").
Some tips for English learners
Do not cram separate words - learn them at once as part of combinations, and then make at least 10 different sentences with each word; this will allow you not to forget the newly learned word, and also create the basis for its use in speech. Be sure to check your vocabulary and grammar knowledge for their relevance, best of all - in conversations with native speakers (today it will not be difficult to find an interlocutor on the Internet), but movies, music, chatting on forums, etc. are also suitable.
Do not neglect proven methods of memorizing rules and words, such as nursery rhymes or fun phrases: Excuse me say when they intend to do nasty things, but I'm sorry - when already done. After if and after then, as grammar teaches us, put Present instead of Future. The price of melons is written in chalk, "melon" in English - melon.
Original column published on the blog. "Language Link-ug" on "Yandex.Zen"
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