高中英文外師專欄_Beyond Grammar: Sting’ s “She’ s Too Good for Me”

   

        Sting (born Gordon Sumner) is, like Paul McCartney, a highly-regarded and successful song-writer with hits like “Message In a Bottle”, “Every Breath You Take” (with the Police) as well as having written songs for films such as Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove.

        “She’s Too Good for Me” (from his 1993 album, Ten Summoner’s Tales) is an excellent example of a song that uses language and music together in a creative and expressive way. For example, it is understood that the language we use among friends (informal) and the language we use with teachers and coworkers (formal) is different. Consider the following lyrics from the first verse:

She don't like to hear me sing
She don't want no diamond ring
She don't want to drive my car
She won't let me go that far
She don't like the way I look
She don't like the things I cook
She don't like the way I play
She don't like the things I say

But oh the games we play
She's too good for me

        Most English students will notice the incorrect verb tense “don’t” right away. This is for two reasons: 1) The word “don’t” fits better musically than “doesn’t”; and 2) the imperfect grammar implies the imperfection of the man singing the song. Even his grammar is not good enough for her! But then consider the following lyrics from the bridge:

Would she prefer it if I washed myself more often than I do?
Would she prefer it if I took her to an opera or two?
I could distort myself to be the perfect man –
She might prefer me as I am.

        Here, not only is the grammar more formal and correct, but even the music is different – it’s classical in style, which is regarded as high-class and educated, compared to the verse music which is derived from blues music, which originated in the rural American South particularly among black musicians who were generally poor with less access to education.

        When good lyrics are combined with good music, the whole really can be greater than the sum of its parts. Sting is a song-writer worth looking into!

Pic source: David Shankbone @Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6671539

She’s Too Good for Me (with lyrics):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVBud4ri130

Message In a Bottle (with lyrics):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRRSRNDuu98

高中英文外師專欄_Calvin & Hobbes, one of comics’ most brilliant works

 

        Translating humor from one language to another is often difficult, laborious and not very funny at all. It’s a big reason why I didn’t recommend cartoons such as the Simpsons or South Park in my last post. However, it can be a rewarding experience to understand the humor of another culture. A simple way to absorb humor is through comic strips, so today I’d like to introduce you to “the last greatest newspaper comic”of the 20th century, Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson.

        Full of imaginative wit, expressive art, and touching on topics ranging from bullying, commercialism, environmentalism, art and philosophy, it continues to be a source of inspiration for writers, artist and comedians today.

Pic source: Jairus Khan @Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jairus/28367478077/)

To read more Calvin & Hobbes, visit: https://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes

 

 

高中英文外師專欄_Paul McCartney, one of the greatest musician of the 20th century.

  More than 50 years ago, the Beatles went on American TV for the first time. It was the biggest television audience at the time with over 70 million viewers. Paul McCartney has been making music ever since with some of the most popular songs of the 20th century, such as “Yesterday”, “Hey Jude” and “Live & Let Die”. He’s worked with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, as well as Kanye West and Rihanna. He recently published his first children’s book Hey Grandude!

 

The Beatles – Hello, Goodbye (1967)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rblYSKz_VnI

Rihanna, Kanye West, & Paul McCartney – Four Five Seconds (2015)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt0g4dWxEBo

高中英文外師專欄_Classic English Games: Pangrams

 

        Every language has its word games and both English and Chinese are no exception; however, because these two languages work in different ways, the games you can play are very different. Here’s an English one…

 

        "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

 

Notice anything unusual about that sentence? No? Let’s look at another…

 

        “Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.”

 

How about now? Do you see it? Both sentences contain every letter of the English alphabet – from A to Z! – at least once.  This type of sentence is called a pangram, or holoalphabetic, sentence. It’s just one of many games that can be played in English that can’t be played in Chinese. Care to give it a try?

 

A website with several basic pangrams:

https://www.thoughtco.com/pangram-word-play-term-1691561

 

The Wikipedia page explains pangrams in detail:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangram

 

This website includes a listing of perfect pangrams – very advanced!

https://medium.com/@FallingForFallacies/all-perfect-pangrams-of-english-8c8d0f621bee