29 October 2011

Friday Double: (10) They might be edifying

Sorry I'm late.  This year's last two World Series games made me care about baseball (beyond the Giants and Athletics) again.  Congratulations to both the Cardinals and the Rangers for two determined, resilient efforts.  Anyway, here's a roundabout way to introduce this week's selections.

I really like soccer commentator Jorge Ramos's* English-language work.  He knows both North American and South American fútbol really well, and ESPN's coverage since August (when he crossed over from ESPN Deportes) has improved as a result.  As an English speaker, he can easily hold conversations, and his diction has improved dramatically, but his phrasing style makes it clear that (a) Spanish is his native language and (b) he didn't grow up in North America.  [He's Uruguayan.]

That little annoyance reminded me that English, especially its American dialects, has a lot of weird rules that don't occur in other languages.  For example, in English, several words can be used as both nouns and verbs.  That rule even applies to really popular brand names, like "Xerox" and "Google."

While I doubt that Pete Townshend ever intended to create a song just for ESL students, "Face the Face" would be a great song to hear for someone who's learning English as an adult.  Besides its snazzy music and lush instrumentation, its lyrics are full of words being used as both nouns and verbs.  Here's part of a verse:
We've got to judge the judge
We got to find the finds
We've got to scheme the schemes
We got to line the lines
We got to fight the fight
We got to fall the falls
We got to light the light
We got to call the calls
Try to place the place
Where we can face the face.
Educational and fun!  Here's the whole of "Face the Face," including the preamble that didn't get much radio play. 

* Not to be confused with Jorge Ramos Ávalos, the Univisión news anchor.

On the other hand, we have They Might Be Giants, who've made whimsical songs about school subjects a habit.  I like their work, too, but "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" is still my favorite from them after all these years.  Something about "nobody's business but the Turks'" just appeals to my inner pedant.  Cheers!


dguzman said...

I just want to forget the Series happened. So close. So effing close!

I don't like anything by TMBG except that very song!

Abu Scooter said...

@dguzman: What killed the Rangers wasn't that Game 6 home run, but the blown call that knocked Feldman out of Game 7 in the 5th. That should've been strike three, not ball four; and Feldman should've been allowed to close out the side.

To me, TMBG isn't ear candy so much as ear hamburgers. Not great, but good enough for my playlists.