Monday, 25 June 2012

Kasabian- "Man of Simple Pleasures"

What concept do you have of  the simple life? In "Man of Simple Pleasures" Kasabian express the point of view of a plain and simple man, often excluded from our own society. This is a pleasant song rich in idioms and phrasal verbs which we are going to analyse together.

Level: pre-intermediate, intermediate

Grammar focus on: prepositions

Activity: fill-in-the gap

Man of Simple Pleasures

Lyrics taken from: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kasabian/manofsimplepleasures.html

Video:


Linguistic aspects: as said above, there are many interesting expressions to focus on. To start with, a measure  is the amount of alcohol served by a bar or pub; in this case 'Give me me whisky measures'  means 'Try out me! '.

Absolutely new is the figurative 'You throw stick and bones'  (Does it come from the idiom 'Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me)' ?)meaning perhaps that all humans are wasting their time hurting the feelings of other people.


Reassuring (but also disapproving) is the proverb 'Every dog will have its day', i.e. that everyone, although mediocre,  can become famous/rich/ successful once in his/her lifetime at least for one day.


In conclusion  let's consider the idiom take sb. for a ride which means 'to fool sb.' or 'to cheat sb.'.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Emeli Sandé- "My kind of love"

As you already know, I always post the youtube videos that go together with my lyrics but I seldom comment on them. This time I am going to make an exception, since "My kind of love"  explores a rather delicate feeling, i.e. taking care of a friend who suffers from cancer. I particularly value these videos that go beyond the simple cliché-ridden happy romantic love affair and I hope you share my enthusiasm in proposing committed and sensitive artists like Emeli Sandé, a true raising star of international music.


Level: intermediate


Grammar focus on: prepositions (place prepositions + phrasal verbs)


Activity: My kind of love

Lyrics taken from: http://www.directlyrics.com/emeli-sande-my-kind-of-love-lyrics.html


Video:




Linguistic aspects: commonly  you promise sb. the Earth/ the moon  when you say  that you will do much greater things than you will ever be able to achieve (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/promise-sb-the-earth-moon?q=promise+earth#promise-sb-the-earth-moon__1), but in the lyrics you find  promise sb. the stars. 


In addition to this, you hear that  sb. keeps one's heart protected, far away from his/her sleeve, meaning the opposite of wearing/having your heart on your sleeve, i.e. you make your feelings obvious to other people (http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/heart#wear-have-your-heart-on-your-sleeve)


To conclude "Don't ever question if..."  is a strong recommendation that warns your addressee not to have or express doubts about st. you are saying or feeling.



Monday, 18 June 2012

Alanis Morissette- "Guardian"

It's always a great pleasure to me whenever I can propose artists, whose lyrics have inspired me so much throughout my life. This time we are working on "Guardian", a lovely song by one of my favorite singers, Alanis Morissette. This song is interesting not only for its grammar content, but also for its vocabulary that offers me the opportunity to launch a new section of my blog, i.e. Linguistic Aspects. Here you will find some explanations about the new words, idioms and synonyms/contraries introduced by the lyrics. I am sure you will enjoy it!

Level: intermediate/ upper intermediate

Grammar focus on: interrogative pronouns, relative pronouns

Activity: fill- in- the gap exercise (no pool of clues suggested)

Guardian

Lyrics taken from: //www.directlyrics.com/alanis-morissette-guardian-lyrics.html


Video:




Linguistic aspects: The comparison as solid as a fog is not mentioned anywhere. You know perhaps as solid as a rock , but in the lyrics it has the meaning of confusing, difficult to understand (look up at FOG in http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/fog). 


The adjective crestfall may stand for crestfallen, i.e. sad and disappointed. 


Equal meaning for on call, on demand in the sense of on request.
To conclude, the song introduces three words with almost similar meanings, but be careful:

  • a watchman/watchwoman (especially night watchman) guards a building especially at night;
  • a guardian is a person or organisation that protects something or someone (e.g. guardian angel) or someone who looks after children with no parents;
  • a warden is a person who checks that the rules of a precise building are respected (the head of a school, college or prison, etc.).

Sunday, 10 June 2012

John Legend- "Tonight"

Colloquial language plays an important role in lyrics and quite common students get familiar faster with forms, like ain't, gotta, wanna, rather than those of plain standard English. It's part of the dilemma of many ESL teachers: shall I teach informal English or let my students find out on their own?Nice question, let me know what you usually do!

Level: intermediate

Grammar focus on: colloquial English


Activity:  Tonight


Lyrics taken from: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1L-di1hVV_T9d2fDTSxTwJFdxGCpXJoztoFTInBRlVcE/edit?pli=1


Video: