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February 08, 2009


If you are learning English American-style, you are likely to run into words like this.

This particular word just came to me but....

....I think it sums up the language learning experience - especially English.

A thicket is of course, a mass of vegetation. In my part of the world a thicket is likely to be a tangle of bushes and branches that blocks one's way. Sometimes when you might be studying a language, the immensity hits you and you realize that you have taken on a seeming infinity of words with multiple complications, connections, contradictions, variant meanings and shifting tenses. And then you want to give up. In English we call this "hitting a wall". We have hit an obstacle that we can't pass. Or at least so it seems.

Back to "twigglethicket". Every thicket is in fact composed of hundreds - perhaps thousands - of twigs - tied, tangled and cobbled together - much like any language where the words - some ancient - some new - some literal - some rich in imagery - are all tangled and thrown together.

It has been said by language scholars that English is perhaps the only language where it is quite common to speak a sentence that has literally never been spoken before. Even a short one: welcome to my thicket.

We'll look at and juggle some word roots and prefixes and suffixes later, but for now, don't give up, no matter how impassable your thicket might seem.

About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf spent about six years working for a Native American Tribal College, a few years teaching various humanities, English, writing and ESL courses with the community college system in Washington State (including one year as part of a faculty exchange program with The Beijing Foreign Language University). While in China, Morf was briefly a radio host for CRI (China Radio International) and did recordings for the "English can be enjoyable" book and tape series. Morf currently teaches English and writing for a local technical/vocational college with many international students. Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else likes and unlikely and ridiculous situations.

Morf is also quietly anticipating that unexpected, but lucrative job offer.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

Posted by mmorf at February 8, 2009 12:50 PM

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