Friday, February 25, 2011

A short history of Britain. Part 4.

Christianity and writing come to Britain .

St. Augustine was sent to Britain in 597 A.D by Pope Gregory.He quickly converted king Aethelbert, who was married to a Frankish Christian princess called Bertha, and built a monastery at Canterbury.Augustine was consecrated bishop (obispo) and from that day to the present there has been an unbroken (ininterrumpida) succession of Archbishops of Canterbury.The conversion of the English to Christianity took about a century to complete and it was carried out (llevada a cabo) from two directions, the Celtic Church penetrating from the Northwest and the Roman Church penetrating from the Southeast.

With Christianity came writing.The English had already a form of writing : runes but they were suitable (apropiadas) only for short inscriptions not for texts. The word "rune" also meant "mystery , secret" and the inscriptions were thought to have magical powers.

The language of the Church was Latin so it is not surprising that many of the new words derived from Latin refer to religion, such as altar, mass (misa), school,monk (monje) and nun (monja) .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Unpack Your Adjectives

I’m still feeling nostalgic about my Saturday-morning cartoon hours. So here’s another School House Rock video about adjectives. This one uses a camping theme. After this, you’ll long for (echar de menos) those summer days in the woods!

Got home from camping last spring.
Saw people, places and things.
We barely had arrived,
Friends asked us to describe
The people, places and every last thing.
So we unpacked our adjectives.

I unpacked "frustrating" first.
Reached in and found the word "worst".
Then I picked "soggy" and
Next I picked "foggy" and
Then I was ready to tell them my tale.
'Cause I'd unpacked my adjectives.

Adjectives are words you use to really describe things,
Handy words to carry around.
Days are sunny or they're rainy
Boys are dumb or else they're brainy
Adjectives can show you which way.

Adjectives are often used to help us compare things,
To say how thin, how fat, how short, how tall.
Girls who are tall can get taller,
Boys who are small can get smaller,
Till one is the tallest
And the other's the smallest of all.

We hiked along without care.
Then we ran into a bear.
He was a hairy bear,
He was a scary bear,
We beat a hasty retreat from his lair.
And described him with adjectives.

Whoah! Boy! That was one big, ugly bear!

You can even make adjectives out of the other parts of speech, like verbs or nouns. All you have to do is tack on an ending like "-ic" or "-ish" or "-ary". For example, this boy can grow up to be a huge man – but still have a boyish face. "Boy" is a noun, but the ending "-ish" makes it an adjective - boyish. That describes the huge man's face, get it?

Next time you go on a trip,
Remember this little tip:
The minute you get back,
They'll ask you this and that,
You can describe people, places and things...
Simply unpack your adjectives.
You can do it with adjectives.
Tell them 'bout it with adjectives.
You can shout it with adjectives.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A short history of Britain. Part 3.

The Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain

Saxon pirates were a threat (amenaza)to Britain as early as the third century AD.(S.III D.C).The Romans built a system of defence against them around the southern and eastern coasts of England , called the Forts. However,the main Germanic settlements (poblados) were made after the Roman legions had withdrawn (retirado)from Britain in AD 410.
These Germanic tribes were described by Tacitus in his "Germania" as a tribal society that hated cities and built their wooden houses far apart.(separadas entre si) They disliked peace and were brave in battle. They had blue eyes, fair hair and huge (enormes)bodies.
The struggle (lucha) with the Romano-Celtic population was long , this was the age of King Arthur and other legends . But by about 700 , the Anglo -Saxon had occupied the whole of England except Cornwall, parts of the Scottish lowlands and Wales. Quite a number of Britons lived among the Anglo- Saxons but they were a defeated people whose language had no prestige. An example that illustrates their low status is that the Old English word "wealh" which originally meant "foreigner"(que originalmente significaba"extranjero")came to mean both "Welshman" ( galés) and "slave"(esclavo).

The days of the week in English .
Several days of the week in English are derived from Anglo-Saxon words for the Gods they worshiped.

Tuesday comes from Tiw the god of war. Tiw's -day .
Wednesday comes from Woden (Odin) father of the gods and mortals. Wodin's day.
Thursday comes from Thor , god of thunder. Thor's-day
Friday comes from Frigg (wife of Odin). Frigg's-day.

The days assigned by the Romans to the Sun, Moon and Saturn were retained :

Saturday , Saturn's-day
Sunday, Sun's -day
Monday , Moon's -day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

What is the origin of Valentine's Day? Valentine was a Christian priest who lived in Rome in the third century. The emperor, Claudius II, believed that single soldiers would be better than married soldiers so he did not allow(1) his soldiers to marry. Valentine celebrated marriages in secret but, one day, he was caught(2) and sent to prison. In prison, he became friends with the jailer’s(3) daughter and, before his execution, sent her a farewell note(4) signed “From Your Valentine”. Cards still say this today.

So how did the “Day of Love” start? There are two main theories. The first is that it was connected with the Roman feast of Lupercalia. This was a fertility celebration in honour of Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage. The day before the festival, each woman wrote a love letter and left it in a large urn(5). Then each man took one of the letters... and the woman who wrote the letter became his companion for a year. The other theory dates back to(6) the Middle Ages, when people realised(7) that birds started to mate(8) on the 14th of February.

The custom of sending cards on the 14th February started in 1415 with a Frenchman, Charles Duke of Orleans. He was in prison in the Tower of London and sent a love letter to his wife on that day. Nowadays, Valentine’s Day cards (or “Valentines”), which are often marked with an X instead of the sender’s name. The X represents a kiss. Many years ago, when people could not write, they signed documents with an X and then kissed the X symbol, in front of witnesses,(9) to show sincerity. In the past, people also used to write SWAK on the outside of their letters to their lovers. It meant “Sealed With A Kiss”.

Now you know everything you need to know to send an English Valentine to your sweetheart.(10) Don’t miss your chance;(11) it’ll be a nice touch!(12).

Here’s a typical Valentine rhyme:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

(1) permitir, (2) ser pillado con las manos en la masa, (3) carcelero, (4) carta de despedida, (5) urna, (6) remontarse, (7) darse cuenta, (8) aparearse, (9) testigo, (10) enamorado, (11) perder la oportunidad, (12) todo un detalle

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Haka Dance

February 6th was Waitangi Day, otherwise known as New Zealand Day. And what better way to celebrate than watching a video of this country’s most emblematic tradition, the Haka Dance! Rugby is considered the national sport of New Zealand. Perhaps, the most recognizable icon of New Zealand is its rugby team, the All Blacks, arguably the best national rugby team in the world. It is the only team to have a winning record against all other rugby-playing nations. Not surprisingly, the All Blacks receive their name from their all-black uniform. Even if you don't understand the game or have never seen it played, you probably know who the All Blacks are, because you have seen the Haka war dance. A Haka is a traditional dance of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, that involves slapping hands[1], stamping feet[2] and chanting. The Haka war dance is performed by the All Blacks before the rugby match[3] starts in order to challenge and intimidate their opponent[4].

The video below has subtitles in English describing the Haka with a translation of the Maori chants.

[1] pegar una palmada, [2] dar una patada, [3] partido, [4] contrincante

Monday, February 7, 2011

A short history of Britain .Part 2.

Warrior Queen Boudicca.

When the Romans conquered southern England in AD 43, they allowed (permitieron) Prastagus the chief of the Iceni tribe and her wife Boudicca to continue to rule. However, when Prastagus died the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and confiscated the property of the leading tribesmen. They also flogged (azotaron) ,Boudicca and raped (violaron) her two daughters.

The warrior Queen then led her tribe and other Celtic allies in a bloody(sangrienta) revolt against the occupying Roman forces. Camulodunum (Colchester) was destroyed and the temple burned, then they attacked Londinium (London) which they also burned to the ground.(to completely destroy by fire) Boudicca was finally defeated by the Roman army in AD 62.Legend has it that Boudica and her daughters commited suicide and that the fiery Queen is now buried ( enterrada) underneath platform 10 at London's King's Cross station.

Very few Celtic words have survived in the English language. But many river names and places have a Celtic origin: Kent, Thames, York, Severn, Avon ( "Afon" is actually the Welsh word for "river" ) .

The massive bronze statue of the legendary Queen Boudicca in her chariot near Westminster Bridge.

Watch this exciting documentary film about the life of the warrior Queen !

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A short history of Britain .Part 1.

In 55 and 54 BC Julius Caesar invaded Britain but on both occasions was defeated by the Britons . Almost a hundred years later ( 43 AD ) Emperor Claudius turned up (appeared ) with four legions and some war elephants !!! and conquered Britain. The emperor stayed in Britain for only 16 days but his men succesfully made Britain part of the Roman Empire.This event united Britain and influenced the language , culture and architecture.

Colchester , the oldest recorded town in Britain and formerly known as Camulodunum, became the capital of Roman Britain.Most towns founded by the Romans in Britain are still towns today. You can usually spot (recognize) an English town of Roman origin by its name which will have 'chester' 'caster' or 'cester' in it. These words derive from the Latin word castra meaning a camp which was used by the Anglo-Saxons for any Roman settlement.(A place where people come to live) Some examples are Colchester, Lancaster, Leicester, and Winchester.
There are a lot of English words of Latin origin.Here are a few:
Caesar (pronounced /siːze/ ), emperor, legion , calendar, candle,school and street.
Click on the link to watch an interesting six minute video about the Romans and the town of Colchester.