Posts Tagged ‘Duke University’

One quirky aspect of English is the pronunciation of its “ed” endings. For each group of words below, consider: Does “ed” form its own separate syllable?  And what is its sound?
Group 1:  Walked, laughed, danced, faked  ed

Group 2:  Waved, learned, dubbed, fused

Group 3:  Weighed, lied, delayed, followed

Group 4:  Wanted, loaded, dated, faded

What patterns do you notice about the “ed” endings for each group? In typical U.S. pronunciation, “ed” creates a syllable in the group 4 words, but not in the others. The sounds of the various endings? For group 1, the “ed” has a “t” sound. For groups 2 and 3, a “d” sound. And for group 4, “id” as in “hid.”

What determines that ending sound? The sound just before “ed.” The roots of group 1 words end in the voiceless sounds of “k,” “f,” and “s” as in danced. But the roots of the Group 2 and 3 words end in sounds that are voiced (vocal cords/folds vibrate). And the Group 4 roots end in “d” or “t” sounds, which lead to an “id” ending.

Those are the basic guidelines. Exceptions? Yes, of course! Some “ed” adjectives can be pronounced in two ways. Think of blessed, beloved, cursed. When you say these words, you can pronounce “ed” as a separate syllable or not. Using a separate syllable sounds more poetic, perhaps even Shakespearean.

Other exceptions? You can have a learned (one syllable) behavior or a learned (educated, two syllables) woman. We say well-aged (one syllable) wine and cheese, but aged (two syllables) citizens. And some adjectives, including naked, ragged, rugged, sacred, wicked, and wretched, have “ed” pronounced as a syllable even though it seems the guidelines above might apply. No corresponding verb (nake, rug, wick) seems to exist today for some of these, but etymology sites show that nake was once a verb. Who knew?!

Rene D. Caputo
Duke University Lecturing fellow and ESL specialist
Thompson Writing Program




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Relationships took center stage in our conversation group this Thursday, prompted by an IndyWeek article about local restaurants to consider for dates. Participants decided that on a first date they would opt for a quiet place without messy hamburgers. Top criteria for choosing a restaurant for the occasion were: atmosphere, cost, music, noise level, and type of food.
IndyDish 2018Jan.png

In our group, we learned:
~ Blind dates are popular in South Korea, as is inviting single people to a dinner gathering in case they might like each other

~ A few couples we knew around the world who met on WeChat or online dating services ended up getting married

~ Some women in China might look for attractive, rich partners who have a house, car, and high education, a few participants opined. Where else in the world might that be true?! Might men want the same in a partner?

 Zero or one?
~ In some countries, including India and the U. S., you are considered to be zero years old when you are born

~ In South Korea and China, you might be considered to be one year old at birth (this tradition might be fading, though)

~ United Nations’ data (2015) finds the mean age to marry is:
30.8 Brazil     25.3 China     22.8 India     27.9 United States

Interested in talking about life, culture, and current events with us? Join us from 12:30 to 1:30 on Thursday afternoons. We’ll meet in West Union 216 on February 8 and in Griffith Boardroom (Bryan Center main level) on February 15 and 22.

See you soon!
Rene D. Caputo

Duke University Lecturing fellow and ESL Specialist





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Snowy NC

(photo by Rene D. Caputo)

So much snow…for North Carolina, at least!  Durham had about 8 to 10 inches this past week and even more snow fell in western Chapel Hill. Enough snow to shut down the universities and other area schools for a few days. We’ve had snow twice already and it feels likely that we’ll see more this winter. Here’s a bit of vocabulary to arm you for the next snowfall.

Snowplow or plow ~ The vehicle that removes snow from the roads and parking lots. If you don’t live on or near a major road, you might wish North Carolina would buy more plows! *Note: Plow can be either a noun or a verb.

Power outage ~ When your electricity goes out. Some homes just had their power flicker (flash briefly on and off), but others had a power outage that lasted over 24 hours. I hope your power stayed on! The minute my power goes out, I notify the electric company.

Slush ~ Partially melted snow. Most dangerous after re-freezing, often overnight.

Black ice ~ Ice atop the road or other surface that can seem invisible. You might hear weather forecasters warning you to stay off the roads because of black ice.

To be snowed in ~ When you stay at home (or elsewhere) because there is too much snow to go anywhere.

To be snowed out ~ When an event is cancelled due to snow: The concert was snowed out.

Since snow will be out of sight this week, our International Conversation group will gather again at 12:30 on Thursday.  Join us in Griffith Boardroom, main level of the Bryan Center. Share your snowstorm adventures, catch up on current events & more, and enjoy the company of other members of the Duke community.

See you soon!
Rene D. Caputo

Duke University Lecturing fellow and ESL Specialist

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daffodils photo

(photo credit:  Rene D. Caputo)

March Madness is in the air around the country ~ and definitely here in North Carolina. Many fans are watching collegiate basketball as teams compete to be national champion. Just around the bend, the men’s and women’s tournaments will hold games featuring their Final Four teams on April 1, 2, and 3.

Another sure sign that spring has arrived in our corner of the word? Pollen’s in the air, on trees, cars, our hair, and everywhere. Clouds of yellow dust are floating through the air. The rain thankfully knocks that yellow to the ground now and then.

In addition to basketball and pollen, March and April bring the New Year to some cultures. If you are celebrating in this season, we wish you the best in your new year.

And April Fool’s Day is just around the corner. Be ready for some silly pranks on the first of April. In France, the day is known as Poission d’avril, or April Fish. Children there apparently sometimes tape a paper fish to the back of their friends’ clothes…a bit of lightheartedness in the midst of other seriousness.

Join in our international conversation gathering this Thursday. We tend to cover the spectrum from silly to serious as the hour goes by. We’ll be in the Bryan Center’s Griffith Board room starting at 12:30. See you there!

~ Rene D. Caputo, Duke University ESL Specialist

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(photo credit:  Rene D. Caputo)

Happy solar and lunar New Year to all!

Our International Conversation Café is back in full swing for the semester. In our two opening gatherings, topics discussed included the election, the inauguration, other current events, and New Year’s celebrations.

The tradition in the United States is to celebrate the New Year’s arrival on January 1, but for many cultures here and around the world, the year begins on other dates. Celebrants of lunar New Year (sometimes called Chinese New Year) ushered in the year of the Fire Rooster this weekend.

Duke University has some belated celebrations of the Lunar New Year in February.

Other New Year’s festivities around the world include a Sri Lankan solar festival in April, Rosh Hashanah in September/October, and Diwali in October/November.

Wishing you and yours well no matter when you celebrate.  Join us this Thursday at 12:30 in the Bryan Center’s Griffith Boardroom for our next discussion group.

~ Rene D. Caputo, Duke University ESL Specialist

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      (photo credit:  Rene D. Caputo)

On the heels of the presidential election debate, our International Conversation Café participants were curious about voting issues, asking: When can someone vote in the U.S.?

We learned that the voting age is 18 in France, Japan, and the United States, but is 19 in South Korea. I asked participants if Koreans are still considered one year old on the day they are born. And the answer was yes! Thus, the Korean age of nineteen closely aligns with the eighteen of some countries.

On what day do French and (most) Japanese citizens vote? Sunday. And in France there are no political ads on television, we heard. Just slightly different from in the U.S.

Can you name a state with many electoral votes? Our participants correctly identified California and New York as states having a large number of electoral votes. This site shows how many electoral votes (of the 538 total) each state has and forecasts who will win where.  Other predictions are here ~ click on a state for details.

And what’s a swing state? The majority of voters in a swing state might vote for a Democrat in one presidential election and a Republican in the next. That’s what happened in North Carolina in the past two presidential elections. In the maps linked above, swing states are those not in dark blue or red. More on North Carolina’s voting history.

That’s a snippet from today’s conversation.  But when might you travel to the NC mountains to see beautiful autumn leaves before they? That came up last week. Look at this forecast on where to visit when for seeing peak fall leaf colors.

And come join our conversation next Thursday. Griffith Board Room, on the main floor of the Bryan Center, 12:30 to 1:30.

Rene D. Caputo, Duke University ESL Specialist
Thompson Writing Program and Writing Studio

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In our International Conversation Café gathering today, we talked about everyone’s spring break, the basketball craze, and upcoming holidays.

March Madness…Yes, the craziness surrounding the basketball tournaments of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is back! If you want to play with brackets for the games, below are links for you.

ESPN bracket website for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament: http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/2015/en/game  You likely need to create an ESPN account to participate.

Men’s basketball bracket to print:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/15/march-madness-2015-bracket_n_6874646.html

Women’s bracket for you: http://fansided.com/2015/03/16/printable-2015-ncaa-womens-tournament-bracket/

After discussing why Duke University’s team was in a group that did not include the University of Carolina, among other things, we moved on to answer questions about our springtime holidays. Below are links to local events that you might want to attend.

If you’re in the mood to check out an egg hunt (suitable for children), here’s one in Hillsborough, March 28 or March 29, depending on the weather: http://www.townofchapelhill.org/town-hall/departments-services/parks-recreation/festivals-events/children-s-egg-hunt

Easter sunrise service, Duke Gardens:

Duke Chapel events: https://chapel.duke.edu/events

Passover events at Duke: http://bestevents.us/durham-passover-at-duke-2015/320460

Our conversation group will be back in two weeks, on April 2!   Next week, I will be busy giving a presentation at the TESOL International Conference with a colleague.

All the best,
Rene Caputo
ESL Specialist, Thompson Writing Program
Instructor, Duke Graduate School

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