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>> No. 5202 Anonymous
23rd March 2014
Sunday 9:42 pm
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I've been dealing with English for quite a time, amassing knowledge and vocabulary. Though I still screw up with the tenses, I've run into another problem recently. The problem is… well, my language knowledge is rather bland.

I suppose it's a vocabulary volume problem, thus the solution becomes a little more obvious: read. Well, read what? The internet is a so-so, varying greatly. Classics? That may be, but what exactly? I'm not particularly familiar with English classic literature. And aside from classics — what else could help?

What do you reckon, lads?

Not sure altogether where to post this, but since it's about learning, let it be here, in /uni/.
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>> No. 5203 Anonymous
23rd March 2014
Sunday 10:28 pm
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If you're after slightly unconventional uses of language and things like colloquialisms and slang, you're better off looking at more modern literature than the classics. They may broaden your knowledge and understanding of the language, but it's unlikely to help your vocabulary in a utilitarian sense. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't read them by any means, just probably don't prioritise reading them if that's your goal.

It may sound stupid, but reading Harry Potter in my teens is probably the single best thing I ever did to improve my understanding of French. Reading Baudelaire, Camus and Sartre, while rewarding in a different sense, didn't do all that much.
>> No. 5204 Anonymous
23rd March 2014
Sunday 10:37 pm
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I took it to mean that he wanted to extend his language beyond the utilitarian, adding flair and flourish of the kind that Stephen Fry advocates. The problem is most native speakers only scratch the surface of the vast English lexicon, so where do you look if you want to add that richness other than the classics?

You could start by reading books by Stephen Fry.
>> No. 5207 Anonymous
23rd March 2014
Sunday 10:41 pm
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Well, what genres of books/films/TV/games do you enjoy? If you're into sci-fi I can recommend you plenty of books. If not, go on goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com ­); look up, and read any that take your fancy.

I think that reading the classics wll perhaps equip you with more vocabulary but it could be antequated.
>> No. 5208 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 3:13 am
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Stephen Fry's books are probably a good place to start, but other enjoyable, accessible writing that actually has a great handle on English vernacular and attitude I could recommend would be Bill Bryson. He's lived here long enough that it seems to have rubbed off on him. You might also enjoy Sue Townsend - I'm thinking particularly any of the Adrian Mole books and The Queen And I. I think you'd also do well to read editorials and reviews, or long articles of the kind that tend to appear in the weekend papers/magazines.

But really, just read everything you can get your hands on. Read Harry Potter or read James Joyce, but read. Here I've made suggestions for British authors or writing; if you start reading things written by American authors you'll get an entirely different flavour of the language. But read.

And for future reference, we do have a literature board: http://britfa.gs/lit/
>> No. 5210 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 12:28 pm
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Wilt? It's an interesting question, I'll post again if I have a better idea.
>> No. 5212 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 2:47 pm
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> I took it to mean that he wanted to extend his language beyond the utilitarian, adding flair and flourish
You are correct.
> If you're into sci-fi I can recommend you plenty of books.
I'd be grateful. It's difficult to pinpoint some specific genres, though. I've been reading Stephenson's Cryptonomicon lately.
I might just to that. Thanks.
>> No. 5213 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 2:48 pm
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Something has mangled my post. The last line was written to >>5208 and >>5203
>> No. 5214 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 2:50 pm
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Is flair and flourish the best thing to prioritise if you're still having trouble with tenses though? Not trying to be a dick.
>> No. 5217 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 4:13 pm
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In my experience, there is a certain logic to this. Even if your tenses are a bit flaky, you're still likely to be able to interpret that aspect of a text to a degree which will suffice for most intents and purposes. Making the transition from textbook to spoken / written language, however, is a real pain. To read a book rather than doing grammar exercises might slow down the process of honing in on those tenses, but no end of grammar exercises are going to prepare you for what you actually have to cope with from native speakers.

And the logical conclusion is: read Trainspotting.
>> No. 5218 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 5:10 pm
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I see your point. It is indeed not a top priority. I'm working on tenses, but I think I could improve some other aspects too.
>> No. 5219 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 5:34 pm
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>adding flair and flourish of the kind that Stephen Fry advocates
I don't know if Stephen Fry is an ideal model in this case. His vocabulary and manner of speaking seem natural coming from a 56 year old upper-class Oxbridge graduate, but that's not necessarily something everyone should aspire to emulate.
>> No. 5221 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 8:07 pm
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Stephen Fry is not someone anyone should attempt emulate in any way, unless they plan to be more competent at suicide than he was.
>> No. 5222 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 8:10 pm
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It's also worth noting that Will Self uses an amazing range of obscure vocabulary in his books, and has a wonderful narrative voice and turn of phrase to boot.
>> No. 5223 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 8:24 pm
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Today at work I received a change document stating that the justification was to avoid "several hours' nugatory work". It's almost like someone was sat there with the thesaurus thinking it would make them sound clever, when in actual fact half of us had to resort to the dictionary and wondered why they didn't just say "wasted effort" instead.
>> No. 5224 Anonymous
24th March 2014
Monday 8:52 pm
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I see where you're coming from, mate. My struggle is not for nagging people and pretending to be clever but rather a way to master the language a little further.

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