Monthly Archives: July 2009

Important Idioms from Baseball

I was preparing some Baseball idioms and expressions for one of my clients that I will see tomorrow, when I thought that I should at least add a few here, on this blog, for you too! 😉

It is easy to find lots of sites that have baseball idioms and expressions. You can find many with a simple search. However, knowing the idioms does not mean that you understand it. Therefore I suggest you also find a source that explains what the expressions mean as well.

For now, here is an excerpt from one such blog:

Baseball English – Important Idioms
(excerpt from “Kenneth”, a blogger on English Café.com)

Baseball Terminology

to get to first base – There are four bases in baseball. You must get to first base to start.
to come out of left field – to be thrown from the left part of the playing surface. This includes third base and the left outfielder position.
to have two strikes against you – Three strikes and you are out in baseball.
to hit a home run – to hit a ball which can not be fielded and sends the batter around the bases to score a run.
ballpark figure – The ballpark is where baseball is played.
to play hardball – Major league baseball is hardball. A hardball is a small, hard ball. There is also softball which is larger and softer.
to touch base – To touch the base with your foot
to pinch-hit – to bat for someone else
major league – the top professional baseball league
minor league – the secondary professional baseball league
to play the field – to catch, throw and generally play baseball. Playing the field is the defensive position of a team, while batting is the offensive position.

Baseball Idioms

to get to first base – accomplish the first step in a process
to come out of left field – to not be related to the current topic / to seem strange in a given situation
to have two strikes against you – to be in a difficult situation
to hit a home run – to have a large success
ballpark figure – a rough financial estimate, not exact but enough to give an indication
to play hardball – to be extremely competitive often in an unfair manner
to touch base – to contact someone – often someone with whom you haven’t been in contact for a long time
to pinch-hit – to substitute for someone
major league – serious competition or competitor
minor league – competition which is not threatening (opposite of major league)
to play the field – to date several different people

You can follow the title above to get to Kenneth’s full posting, including a quiz!

Why are Mexican and Czech Visas Now Restricted?

Canada now requires a visa for people coming from both Mexico and Czech Republic. Mexico is the biggest source of refugee claimants in Canada, with claims tripling since 2005 to 9,400 last year, or 25 percent of the total. Only 11 percent were accepted. There is a group of ‘Roma’ refugees from the Czech republic that have piled into Canada in that last year as well.
The recent flood of refugee claims, and the suspicions that most were not legitimate, caused the government to re-instate a visa requirement.

E.U. is angry. Tourism takes a big hit.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is defending the decision to impose visa requirements for Czech and Mexican nationals after Canadian businesses and foreign diplomats criticized the move. Click this for a short video explaining it:

For Yahoo! News article click here:

The Worlds Best and Worst Travellers

According to an article on Yahoo! News today, here are some best and worst traveller rankings:
French are the worst, Japanese are the best.
To learn more about this, plus Americans, Canadians, Spaniards and Greeks, please click the above title to this post or click here:

What do you think about these results?

For me, I am reminded that stereotypes are based in truth. Most of these make sense from my experience travelling and from teaching people from all over the world.

Note – this article does support my opinion that I made in a blog posting a couple entries ago, about Canadians being very adaptable. I was happy to see that.

Enjoy the short and interesting article.
Enjoy your weekend too!

Happy Canada Day – Tips About Us

July 1st, 1867, Canada was officially born. At that time of what we called ‘Confederation’, only 4 provinces made up Canada! Now, we have 10 plus 3 territories.

Canadians are proud of their country and culture, and I thought it would be good to share with you a few points on dealing with Canadians (whether business or tourism) so that you can make a good first impression and avoid accidentally insulting someone.

1 – Canadians are not Americans. Just as we are not British or French citizens, we are not Americans. We may look and sound similar to our big brother at first glance, but as you get to know us and this country, you will understand there are lots of differences. Some similarities yes, but lots of differences.

2 – We are open-minded almost to the point of apathy. We believe so much in the ‘live and let live’ axiom, that sometimes we don’t bat an eye to new ideas, cultures and laws. Generally speaking we are happy if you are happy, and we want you to respect our ideas and decisions. We do not appreciate a bully or a preacher. Having said that, we are painfully polite and patient, so you could probably talk our ear off and we will just smile.

3 – We have history. Yes we are a young country, and we realize that Europe and Asia among other regions have a long documented history. However that does not mean that we were created yesterday either. We know our history and are proud of our contributions on the world stage.

4 – We have a military. Canada made significant and memorable impressions on our allies and enemies in WWI and WWII, even being the first soldiers to be called ‘Storm troopers’ in WWI, due to our grit. At the end of WWII we had the 3rd largest navy in the world. We did not focus on military expansion however, and moved into mostly peace-keeping roles which led us to our limited military today. We fought bravely in the Korean war, the Vietnam conflict (yes, some volunteers were there), the earlier Gulf war (to free Kuwait) but stayed out of the recent Iraqi war, because we knew there were no WMD! We are currently serving our NATO and UN partners in Afghanistan on the front lines.

5 – We are highly adaptable. We can tough out most situations and we can adapt to multiple cultures and languages. Because of this we are excellent travelers, hosts and business partners. We are curious to know more about other people and cultures.

These are just a few points, straight from my head, to give you a little clearer sense of who we are and how we view ourselves. Of course there is no blanket truth for any culture, and you will meet individuals who do not agree or who do not follow these points. Surprising even to me, I have met Canadians who do not drink, do not like maple syrup and/or who do not view hockey as the one and only true religion!

If you are curious about this bilingual land of vast nature, free health care, same-sex marriage and subtle patriotism, (with a little bit of smugness thrown in…) the best thing to do is simply ask a Canadian about their country and culture.

Happy Canada Day!

Coach Ric

Canadian English Pronunciation

Today, July 1st, is Canada Day – our birthday. I thought this might be of interest to those who enjoy the sound and study of Canadian English.

Canadian English (CanE, en-CA) is the variety of English used in Canada. More than 26 million Canadians (85% of the population) have some knowledge of English (2006 census). Approximately 17 million speak English as their native language. Outside Quebec, 76% of Canadians speak English natively. Canadian English contains elements of British English in its vocabulary, as well as several distinctive “Canadianisms”. In many areas, speech is influenced by French, and there are notable local variations. However, Canada has very little dialect diversity compared to the United States. The phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon for most of Canada are similar to that of the Western and Midland regions of the United States, while the phonological system of western Canadian English is identical to that of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and the phonetics are similar. As such, Canadian English and American English are sometimes grouped together as North American English. Canadian English spelling is a blend of British and American conventions. (source: Wikipedia)

I would also like to add my two-cents to this. I was born in a small town and now live and work in Toronto. I personally hear different English dialects here in Canada. I hear the standard “mid-west” accent that Hollywood and the media love to use, although it is split up into 2 accents. One is the ‘professional’ accent which you will hear in the big cities and in professional circles. The vowels are tighter, proper grammar rules are adhered to and the vocabulary is richer.

The other accent is the ‘relaxed’ English, which you can hear in small towns and in manual labour or “blue collar” circles. In this dialect, the people do not mind purposefully breaking some grammar rules, have a variety of rich and colourful slang and favourite expressions used, and sound more “American” in their pronunciation of longer, stretched out vowels.

There is also the distinctive French-Canadian or “Quebecois” accent (Think Georges St.Pierre from the UFC) which is quite different from accents from other French speaking countries. There is the distinctive “East-Coaster” accent, due to the previous immigrants from Ireland and Scotland (hence Nova Scotia – New Scotland) and finally there is the native/Inuit/aboriginal accent.

A few resources to study Canadian English Pronunciation:

I apologize that most of these resources are Ontario-based. Please do a local search to see what in-house or online resources are available to you. Find a good teacher, tutor, coach or trainer with experience and references, and for goodness sake – ask if he or she was born in Canada!

Happy Canada Day!