Saturday, March 23, 2013

90. Nothing New under the Sun

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The title of this post is far from being a newly-created phrase; it must have been reproduced hundreds of times by now, precisely because it is attested in one of the variants of the biblical text (Ecclesiastes 1:8-10):

‘8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”?’

At this point it’s absolutely necessary to say that I chose it because it is suggestive for the post, and not because I intend to start a religious commentary – a saying that has been adopted by innumerable peoples, and offering a philosophical view of life. Indeed, rather than something new, it is the human being who registers that thing as new. But how can this be? Well, I suppose that it’s a matter of generations: growing up and learning more and more makes each and every one of us a part of the Big Architecture, the evolution of the human race.    
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The World Wide Web is saturated with blogs and videos, games and exercises, you name it. What I saw as necessary for an audience starts losing momentum, and this goes hand in hand with the need for a suggestive post number. So, there’s very little that hasn’t been said about, say, modal verbs, and they are indispensable for you to develop text (understanding text as spoken or written), which is what we’re about to do.   

As I’m sure I mentioned once, it is absolutely surprising that, of all the modal verbs in English, can should be the most frequently used and, at the same time, the one whose patterns of use should be most complex and deceiving. Most pre-intermediate and intermediate students of English know that it is useful to express possibility in the Present; and, since quite a few textbooks – while trying to simplify “the bloody grammar” – call it <the present form>, as they do with any notional verb of the language, the verb with all its idiosyncratic properties is finally understood as a kind of Infinitive e.g., to play - I play; therefore *to can- I can follows naturally. Furthermore, if I play has the Simple Past tense I played, then I could [DO] cannot be but the Simple Past tense of can. Well, yes, it is: but only in one of its meanings.


First, some explanations: http://db.tt/qyqWRpUa
Then, a bit of practice: http://db.tt/vCYKDRg2

Of course I'll be waiting for questions, because I'm sure there are some - albeit without a voice.
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