Diplomacy and working out conflicts

Posted on 15. Apr, 2014 by in English Language, News

From: www.dailymail.co.uk

From: www.dailymail.co.uk

Diplomatic affairs have been in the news a lot lately, particularly related to the United States, Europe, and Russia, which makes it a great time to review some vocabulary related to international diplomacy, as well as words related to speaking in a diplomatic way.

First let’s take a look at some vocabulary related to international diplomacy:

diplomat: A diplomat is any individual who represents their country abroad. Diplomats help to negotiate treaties, attend formal dinners, arrange for visas, and attend meetings and negotiations.

ambassador: An ambassador is the President, Prime Minster, or King/Queen’s highest-ranking representative in a foreign country. Ambassadors are usually appointed by the leader of the country they represent.

embassy: An embassy is the office building for a country’s diplomatic mission abroad. Sometimes an embassy is also the residence of the ambassador, but other times the ambassador lives in another home. When inside an embassy building you are technically on foreign soil.

Secretary of State: In America this is the title for the person who is the head of the State Department and top most person responsible for foreign affairs, other than the President. The President appoints this person to work for him/her. The Secretary of State often travels abroad on behalf of the President. This person lives in the United States, unlike an ambassador who lives in the country they are working.

State Department: In America this is the federal department that sets and maintains foreign policies for the country. Many people work within the United States State Department, those people who work outside of America are called diplomats, those that work within the United States generally are not.

When there are international crisis or simply negotiations, it is important to use a particular kind of language, often what we call in ‘diplomatic language’ in English. One must say exactly what they mean to say and be very careful with what they say. You have to be quite proficient in a language to be a diplomat, ambassador, or embassy employee, and you also have to use certain language skills, which are listed below.

tactfulness – to be full of sensitivity toward others in what you say
honesty – to tell the truth and be sincere
encouraging – to give support and confidence
respect – to have admiration for another person’s opinions and abilities
directness – to aim in a certain direction and move toward it in the shortest way possible
persuasive – to be able to change another person’s ideas or help them see something in a new way

What other qualities or way of speaking do you think diplomats need?

Yoda speak

Posted on 10. Apr, 2014 by in English Grammar

My last post was about aliens in general, and today I have a post about one alien in particular, Yoda, a short green pointy-eared alien who is from the ‘Star Wars’ movies.  Here is a picture of Yoda, with a quote of his, in case you don’t know who I am talking about.


Yoda has many of the characteristics aliens are often thought to have: green skin, a bald head, and he is short. Yoda also has a very interesting way of speaking English, which I want to introduce you to today.

Here is a video clip of Yoda in the ‘Star Wars’ movies. Listen and see if you can understand him.

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Yoda speaks English, but he speaks it with a different grammar than proper English. He has his own grammar rules – like many ESL speakers do! Yoda’s grammar is pretty easy to learn though.

Here are Yoda’s grammar rules, see if you can follow them:
1. Take the first two words of a normal English sentence (with a subject-verb-object construction), and put them at the end of the sentence instead of the beginning.
For example:
English: ‘You will find what you are looking for.’
Yoda: ‘Find what you are looking for, you will.’

2. To make a negative statement, take the negative word out of where it belongs in the sentence and put it at the end of the sentence instead.
For example:
English: ‘I will not help you.’
Yoda: ‘I will help you not.’
Hint: Yoda does not use contractions (i.e. don’t) because this will work not with his grammar.

3. Add the word ‘yes’ to positive statements.
For example:
English: ‘You are here for my help.’
Yoda: ‘Here for my help, you are, yes.’ (This sentence uses rules 1 and 3.)

4. Add ‘hmmmm…’ to the end of questions.
For example:
English: ‘Do you know what I am talking about?’
Yoda: ‘Know what I am talking about, do you, hmmm…?’ (This sentence uses rules 1 and 4.)

If you are still having trouble keeping proper English grammar straight then learning “Yoda grammar” might not be the best thing for you to do right now; maybe wait a year or two and then come back and re-read this post. But for all you ‘Star Wars’ fans and advanced students out there this might be a fun way for you to practice your English (you will really have to think about English grammar to get Yoda grammar right!).

English words from another world!

Posted on 08. Apr, 2014 by in English Vocabulary

alien and ship

Whether you believe in life on other planets or not, today’s vocabulary is going to help you talk about this subject, understand movies about outer space, or read a science fiction story.

So, let’s take a look at some “out of this world” vocabulary:

science fiction (n) – this is make believe scientific ideas, often futuristic ideas, or make believe worlds; science fiction is often related to space travel (this word is abbreviated as “sci-fi”)

alien (n) – a creature (animal or being) from a planet other than Earth
synonyms: extra terrestrial or ET

spaceship (n) – a vehicle used to travel in space
synonyms: spacecraft, flying saucer, unidentified flying object or UFO

abduct (v) – to capture or kidnap a person against his/her will; aliens are often accused of abducting people

teleport (v) – to move from one place to another instantly; often aliens are believed to move by teleporting

Area 51 – a place in the United States where aliens are reported to have landed, but their landing is suspected by some to have been covered up (or hidden) by the US government

Crop circles – elaborate pictures made in crops (like corn or wheat); these are often found in England and are believed by some people to be caused by alien spaceships

People generally imagine aliens to look very different from people.  Often aliens are thought to be green, small or short, with big heads, and big eyes.  Of course no one knows what aliens really look like or if there even are aliens at all.  What do you think aliens look like? Describe your idea of an alien in the comment box below for some English writing practice and I’ll give you some feedback.

Lastly take a look at this movie clip from the movie ‘ET: The Extra Terrestrial.’ In this video you’ll see an alien and his UFO as imagined by the famous director Steven Spielberg.  Oh, and you will also hear what an alien ESL speaker sounds like! Enjoy.

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