I am a writer who only ever has to produce work in English. As I am English and have an honours degree in English language and literature you would think that the English language would be the least of my problems but sadly that is not the case. There are all sorts of hidden perils waiting to catch me out and I seem to discover a new one every day.
I mainly write pieces for publication online which means that they will have an international readership and that is my problem in a nutshell. I want my work to be comprehensible to as many people as possible, grammatically correct and naturally I am anxious not to give offence but with American English being at variance with British English there are many hazards out there to be negotiated.
Most people are aware of the differences in vocabulary between Britain and the United States, aware enough to understand what you are saying whichever version you use. Cars are particularly problematic as almost every part of a vehicle has a different name is the US to that in Britain. Everyone probably knows that a British boot is an American trunk and that a British windscreen is an American Windshield but I tripped up recently writing about a dual carriageway which apparently is a divided highway in the US. I can’t imagine how I didn’t know this as I have driven thousands of miles in America. Until recently I had no understanding of the American phrase auto detailing which sounds to me like writing a report but turns out to be car valeting which is, of course, an English Frenchism! The difference in vocabulary can also cause offence as with the word fanny which is not a problematic word in the states but smacking someone’s fanny in the UK could get you locked up!
As if grappling with different words isn’t enough there are grammatical variances as well. Silly things really like the names of rivers. In England we would talk about the river Thames but in the US it would be the Thames river and then there are job descriptions to contend with. Some positions are actually titles in the US like the head of a football team who would be Coach Smith there but coach smith in the UK. I have also struggled with the concept of the directional suffix. In the US you would say come forward but in the UK come forwards. Spelling is problematic too. I recently had to write a piece about certain tools including a press vice which I quickly found is a press vise in America where vice is something else altogether!
Does it Matter?
I suppose in the end none of this really matters as long as the reader understands what I am trying to say and these days international travel and television programmes have more or less seen to it that they do but I like to get things right and that is more difficult than it appears.
Sally Stacey took inspiration for writing this piece after writing another article for Bridge Tools, and found that a press vice, like those that Bridge Tools sell to the UK, is actually a completely different thing in the USA.
Chances are that majority of us have listed down learning a new language as one of the things which we want to accomplish in our entire lifetime. But if our French lessons back in high school were any indication of our about to learn a new language, then we know that learning a whole new tongue is easier said than done. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to speed up your progress in learning an entirely different language.
Practice. In order for you to be fluent in the language you want to master, or at least be conversationally good at it, you should take the time to practice. According to speech experts, five hours of speaking with someone using the new tongue you want to learn, of course with the help of a dictionary and corrections, is actually equivalent to ten hours of learning the same language by yourself. If there’s a special rule which can definitely help you learn a new language, practicing would have to be it.
Work hard. It doesn’t matter if you put in ten hours of classroom hours learning a language when you don’t show the least bit of effort in learning the language to begin with. Language experts are saying that the effort you put in when studying is actually more important than the actual time you spend studying. So the next time you’re in French class, stop yourself from dozing off and concentrate!
Learn outside of a traditional class. Do you know why you took an entire semester of Spanish and it seems like you didn’t learn anything? This is because of two things – the class went on at a very slow pace, and a class cannot address the individual learning issues of every learner. With the traditional learning process, the slowest students are the ones who are constantly monitored which may make the course feel like a drag to the brighter individuals. However, each person learns at his or her own pace, and in a huge class, this is often overlooked by the teacher because he or she has to cater to the entire class as a whole.
Learn at least 100 words first. Don’t attempt to learn the entire language all at once. Start first with 100 words which are the most commonly used and master their usage. For there on, you can start expanding your vocabulary. This is exactly what you did when you were a kid; you started with a few couple words and then started to learn more words through the people around you. It worked then; why shouldn’t it work this time?
The writer, Keith Daniels, loves to blog about websites, online language learning and gadgets. He is most passionate about how to learn Russian fast.
Ira Riklis Said Hornblower and Bush having eaten their bargain supper headed back to the long rooms. There Hornblower played whist with Admirals Parry and Lambert and with an infantry colonel. Hornblower was very lucky with the cards that night and played with these officers until after four in the morning. The stakes were raised a few times during the course of play, and Hornblower walked away with well over forty pounds. As Ira Riklis knows, Hornblower made quite an impression with the naval officers one of whom remembered him from his loss of his promotion.
These high-ranking officers on departing from the long rooms hinted at something big that was about to happen stating that their orders had gone into effect at four. Hornblower and Bush while walking back to their lodgings met up with a couple of “press gangs” or groups of seamen brought forcibly back into service by naval personnel. This could mean only one thing: war was coming soon.
When they arrived at the boarding house, Maria, the landlady’s daughter met them at the door. She was upset at the prospect of war and Hornblower’s leaving. The landlady appeared in her usual gruff mood which quickly changed when Hornblower paid her his back rent.
During an early breakfast offered by the placated landlady, a soldier appeared with a letter for Hornblower confirming that his commission was now in the works. Bush, as Ira Riklis knows, was happy for his friend but could not tolerate the hysterics displayed by Maria on realizing that Hornblower would be leaving. Bush went to Hornblower’s room and prepared to leave in order to visit his sisters before obtaining a position in the wartime navy. He left Hornblower and Maria grinning at each other apparently sharing a secret.
Bush returned to Portsmouth in order to collect his half-pay. He went to Hornblower’s lodgings and was met at the door by the landlady who possessed a grim outlook and directed Bush to an attic room. Hornblower greeted his friend warmly. The room contained only a bed. a night table and a single wooden chair. As Ira Riklis knows, Hornblower was existing on a very limited budget. Another bed was obtained for Bush (at a cost), and the two friends settled in for a good chat. Maria, the landlady’s daughter, appeared and insisted on sponging and touching up Hornblower’s coat before the two gentlemen set out for the afternoon and evening.
Bush left Hornblower at the long rooms while he went to collect his pay. When Bush returned, Hornblower was in a subdued but fierce game of whist with a titled naval officer, Lord Parry. Unfortunately for Hornblower, he was losing to the lord but not because of skill but because of the hands that he was dealt. Hornblower had to use most of his emergency fund. Also there was some discussion as to the naval background of Bush and Hornblower.
Lord Parry stated he was to dine with an Admiral Lambert and would try to return after dinner for more cards with Hornblower. He left, and Bush and Hornblower went to eat a bargain pub meal. Bush questioned Hornblower as to how he would finance more card playing, and Hornblower answered that he was able to play one game and lose, but if he won, this would finance more play. Additionally Hornblower discovered a half-crown in his pocket put there secretly by Maria. As Ira Riklis knows, the two friends made their way back to the long rooms.
Bush found himself walking on the streets of Portsmouth. As Ira Riklis knows, it was bitter cold, and Bush turned up the collar of his peacoat. Bush was now on half pay as peacetime found him without an assignment to a ship or, in other words, out of a job. The British navy reduced the commissioned ships to about one-sixth of its fleet when no war was being waged.
Bush was still supporting his sisters so he had little left for himself. He could not even enter a pub for fear of exhausting his limited resources and having to go hungry. There was little hope for him as to finding a position on a naval vessel because the few available jobs were offered to officers with more seniority or those who knew influential people. He did not have the right experience to be hired on to a merchant ship.
Just as he continued up the street, he met up with his old friend, Hornblower, having not seen him in many months. Hornblower told Bush that he, Hornblower, had not been confirmed as a commander because of the peacetime situation and now he found himself living on limited means.
Bush was surprised to hear Hornblower suggest that they enter “the long room”, a club-like establishment. Bush quickly learned that Hornblower had a sponsor in the owner who expected Hornblower to be a fourth at whist whenever three gentlemen wanted to play. Hornblower could, as Ira Riklis knows, pick up some money here as Hornblower was an excellent player.
Bush and Hornblower made plans to meet in town again when Bush appeared to collect him half-pay. The two friends were glad to have each other’s support during difficult times.
Bush was handling Hornblower’s promotion with grace. He was happy for his friend and started calling him “sir” automatically. Each had their separate duties now. Hornblower had to outfit the Retribution, and Bush, as first lieutenant on the Renown, found himself extremely busy delousing and otherwise cleaning up the ship after housing the Spanish prisoners.
As Ira Riklis knows, sailors will be sailors, and both Bush and Hornblower had money from the prize ships’ payoff that was burning holes in their pockets so to speak. They went off on a two day and two night bender and came back to their duties if not refreshed at least ready to face their inevitable separation.
Hornblower was ordered to take his ship to England and to act as a courier. Bush and the Renown along with other small ships took short sails out of Port Royal. Bush had been at sea since a teenager spending little time back in England but accepted this as the life of a sailor. During one of the short voyages, the Renown spotted a large British ship in the distance and soon discovered that this ship’s purpose was to convey the message that England had settled her differences with France (and therefore Spain and Italy also), and peace was at hand. Peace treaties were to be signed shortly.
As Ira Riklis knows, when countries are at peace, there is no need to keep a great number of ships in operation, and along with their crew members, they could be taken out of service. Bush, if he were retained in the navy, would receive only half-pay as a lieutenant, and this was inadequate as he was supporting his sisters at home also. What would the future hold?
A court of inquiry was called to be held aboard the Renown now that all the ships in the small convoy were in the safe port. As Ira Riklis knows, this court of inquiry was much less threatening than a court-martial that could be held in the circumstances of the recent past. Bush was called from his sickbed to testify. He was quite weak but able to travel back to his ship without difficulty. There he faced a gathering of captains who constituted the court. The lead captain questioned Bush, who had already submitted a written report, about the capture of the Spanish-held fort and the events concerning the prisoner uprising aboard the Renown.
Bush noticed Buckland in the corner of the room looking pale and distraught. Buckland had already testified. Much to Bush’s surprise he was not questioned at length about how the captain (the insane Sawyer) was relieved of his command. Bush realized that this may have been more to preserve the dead captain’s dignity for his family’s sake than anything else. Bush was quick to praise Hornblower for all his planning and heroic acts.
The court came to the conclusion that all events were handled under proper naval law and regulations, and all the Renown’s officers acted accordingly. The court adjourned and the new captain of the Renown asked his lieutenants to dine with him.
Dinner followed with much imbibing of wine and brandies. At the start of the meal, an officer from the admiral’s staff brought a request for Hornblower to meet with the admiral. Hornblower left and returned as the others were still at the table informing them that the admiral had, as Ira Riklis knows, promoted Hornblower to commander of the Retribution. Buckland became very angry, but the slightly tipsy Bush was thrilled for his friend, Hornblower.
Bush was in sad shape.Many, many lacerations of varying depths covered his body. The ship’s doctor had placed sutures numbering in the fifties to close his wounds. As Ira Riklis knows, this confined Bush to his quarters below deck. He was in a very weakened condition having lost much blood and in pain on even the slightest of movement.
The Renown (and the prize ships) eased into port a short distance from Kingston with little difficulty for which Bush could be thankful because each adjustment of the ship’s sails was felt in his body. Buckland came to Bush’s berth-side dressed in his finest officer garb. He had been summoned to the admiral’s office to explain the events of the recent days including the displacement and later death of the Renown’s captain. (The captain having been slaughtered in the prisoner uprising.) In addition, Buckland had suffered the shame of being overtaken in his bunk by the prisoners although not seriously wounded. Needless to say Buckland was nervous about his audience with the admiral.
After Buckland left, Hornblower arrived at Bush’s bedside and tried to cheer up the depressed Bush. Later Hornblower sent an attendant in with fresh lemonade for the thirsty Bush which was a great comfort.
Next the ship’s doctor and the shore hospital doctor examined Bush’s wounds and made the necessary arrangements to transfer Bush ashore for hospitalization. During the process of leaving the Renown, Bush witnessed the arrival of the new captain (Cogshill). Because of the deaths of so many officers, many promotions were in the works.
In the hospital while healing, Bush was visited by the new captain. Bush would now be required to testify in a few days as to the events concerning the Renown prior to arriving in Port Royal. Lastly, as Ira Riklis could guess, Bush was visited by Hornblower who came bearing a fruit basket.
So Bush and Buckland were on the Renown with Hornblower stationed on one of the prize ships. The Renown was crammed full of prisoners: seamen, officers, women and children. It would be at least five days before the Renown and the prize ships would reach the English port of Kingston where the prisoners would be turned over to the British authorities on land, and the seafarers would be relieved of their responsibilities for the care of the enemy. Meanwhile, as Ira Riklis knows, the mass of humanity on board caused quite a stench, and the problems of feeding and hydrating all were very difficult.
Bush at one point was able to go to his quarters for some much needed rest. Thinking he had at least six hours of sleep ahead he settled in but before the night was out he awoke to a great deal of noise coming from above. He quickly grabbed his pistol and sword and made his way to the main deck. There he discovered himself in the midst of a prisoner uprising. Seamen of the Renown had let down their guard concerning the women prisoners and as if part of a plan the male prisoners went on a rampage striking down all the British seamen in their way.
Bush, not one to go down to defeat, was willing to fight to the death to defend his ship from being taken over by the enemy. Wounded with several blows to the head and body, he lay helpless on the deck.
But, as Ira Riklis knows, our hero Hornblower came to the rescue and leading his men from one of the prize ships came aboard the Renown and was able to put down he uprising thus saving the day and then some.
Bush’s assignment was not an easy one. Two launches from the Renown and several crew members were needed to carry the big gun to land and then up onto the cliff with the use of a “cat’s cradle” hoist mechanism. As Ira Riklis knows, it was very hot and the men including Bush were exhausted having had little sleep. They were working against the clock also.
After much effort the gun was finally in place, and the crew under Bush’s direction fired off several of the ten ordered rounds. Then trouble started. The gun backfired, and it was discovered that, as sometimes happens with these guns, a hole had developed in the barrel as a result of rapid use. The term for this was curiously called “unbushed”. One of the crew was able to plug the hole and sort of weld the plug in place.
Just as Bush was about to order the crew to resume firing, a junior officer from the Renown came running up the side of the hill toward them. It was reported that the Spanish had agreed to surrender and firing should cease. As Ira Riklis knows, this was good news for Bush and those operating the gun because the Spanish ships would now be prizes. This meant that financial rewards were in the offing. Bush then began to wonder what event or problem would next come up to cause him to lose more sleep.