Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Beef Jerky!

One of my students, Johana, has added another word to my "made-in-the-USA" list: jerky!  She sees this snack a lot and was not so familiar with the product until coming here.

Ancient cultures around the world developed various methods of drying meat to preserve it.  A Google search reveals that although the first people to use the "jerky" method, were the Incas in South America, today the companies creating and packaging jerky are all located in the US.

Per Wikipedia, this preserved meat "originated in the Andes mountains in what is modern day Peru and the word "jerky" derives from the Quechua word ch'arki which means "dried, salted meat".  Of course were eating alpacas, llamas and similar animals rather than beef.

The Spanish conquistadores took the process back to Europe with them, spreading the creation of similar products.

When settlers came to North America, they found Native Americans eating a similar product, called pemmican, made from  berries, fat, and ground meat mixed. They formed it into disks and bars.  The pictures online remind me of granola trail mix bars.

So now you know one word in both English and the ancient Inca language.

Friday, April 14, 2023

The "Very US Vocabulary" Warmup

Finally --

Here's the "Very US Vocabulary" Color Vowel® warmup -- the current version of it, anyway.

Yes, I know pretzels are technically a German snack.  But our crispy, small version of them is ubiquitous in the US.

Monday, April 10, 2023

More... In Search of a Unique Item or Product

On March 31 I summarized my quest for English words and phrases representing items unique to the US.  I need this vocabulary to create effective warmups: Vowel Charts and Dialogs that would switch students' brains into English.

So far I have the following terms: drive thru, doggie bag, to go, on the go, tailgate party, super-size, baseball, popcorn, cheeseburger, hot dog, baby shower, small talk, miles, inches, yards, feet, quarts, gallons, free refill, trick or treat, cheerleader, ice water, peanut butter, garbage disposal, mailbox, root beer, pretzels, maple syrup, same-day delivery, Ziploc bags, jukebox, speak up, trade-off, awkward.

The problem is, this represents only 11 of the 16 color vowels.  I still need something representing PURPLE SHIRT, TURQUOISE TOY, a CUP of MUSTARD, BROWN COW and WOODEN HOOK.

I'm thinking of "Boy Scout" for TURQUOISE TOY and "Girl Scout" for PURPLE SHIRT.  Similar organizations exist in other countries but I think the "scout" term and the connotation of "explorer" is unique to the US.

Sundae could be used for a CUP of MUSTARD, although other countries do have something similar, such as  the parfait in France.

For BROWN COW I may use "pow wow" (noun) or "pow-wow" verb.  This is supposed to be a Native American term for a get-together and ceremony, though I don't know if that's historically accurate.  In any case, it's used in the US to describe an informal, though often important, discussion meeting.

That leaves WOODEN HOOK, a vowel used in relatively few words. However, when those words are modal verbs, they're important.  I may use the popular expression "Coulda, woulda, shoulda!"

There must be more. 

Sunday, April 9, 2023

It's Spring!

We're just past the Equinox.  It's also Easter, Passover and the middle of Ramadan.  Ramadan happens to be in the early springtime this year but begins on various dates, moving earlier on the calendar by about 11 days annually.

This got me thinking about how best to teach vocabulary centered around not just spring, but renewal. In English, we take for granted all the vernal idioms to symbolize rebirth, renewal, revival and so on.  Greening, budding, springing up, sprouting, flowering, the sowing of seeds and so on can be applied to ideas as well as to plants.  

But not all countries have the four seasons we're used to.  Some tropical locations close to the equator have a rainy season and a dry season, instead, caused not just by the earth's tilt but by the annual shifting of the winds in response to the rotation and pitch.  

I'm sure those indigenous languages have terms for those, two seasons rather than our four.  And I'm sure they have different but equally colorful idioms relating the two seasons to human endeavors.