Friday, November 27, 2015

A2 Translating Possessives and Plurals

Rules of the Possessive ‘s / s’
When the possessor is singular, add ‘s: The girl’s father.
When the possessor is a regular plural, add an apostrophe: The students’ books.
When the possessor is an irregular plural, add ‘s (as in the singular): The women’s bags.
Please note: John and Sarah’s car. My friend’s mother’s bag. Charles’ wife OR Charles’s wife.

Translate these sentences into English:

1. ¿Conoces a los abuelos de Carlos?
2. No me gusta el uniforme de los niños.
3. Quiere conocer a la familia de su novia.
4. El piso de María y Ana está en el centro de la cuidad.
5. ¿Cuál es el nombre de la profesora de tu sobrina?
6. Pedro conduce el coche de sus padres.
7. Ana no quiere trabajar en la empresa de su suegro.

Key to Translations:

1. Do you know Carlos’ grandparents? OR Carlos’s
2. I don’t like the children’s uniform.
3. He/she wants to meet his/her girlfriend’s family.
4. María and Ana’s flat is in the centre/center of town. OR in the town centre.
5. What’s your niece’s teacher’s name?
6. Pedro drives his parents’ car.
7. Ana doesn’t want to work for her father-in-law’s company.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Happiness of Reading_survey

The Happiness of Reading

In celebration of its ten-year anniversary last October, the editorial group GeMS presented at Bookcity Milan a significant new research study conducted by Cesmer/Roma3 University on a sample of the Italian population, and centered on the relationship between reading books and individual happiness.  The study shows that readers are on average happier than non-readers, in addition to being better at making the most of their free time, and more psychologically prepared for confronting negative emotions. Through scientific research, the study adds a concrete dimension to this cultural discussion.

Are people who read books (either on paper or digitally) happier than those who don’t read? Does reading increase one’s well-being? These are not easy questions, so much so that no study in Italy until now has tried to answer them. In fact, the periodic surveys on reading tend to leave out these aspects, focusing above all on the number of readers in Italy – which is historically lower than in most western countries – and on its different variations. Meanwhile, the value of reading on a cognitive and emotional level has gone unknown, until today. This study wants to fill the gap, following the belief that reading could be better promoted among non-readers if its benefits were quantified. 


1. Readers in Italy are overall happier than non-readers

  • The happiness of readers rates higher than that of non-readers (measured using the 1 to 10 scale suggested by Veenhoven). In fact, Italian readers of printed or digital books register a happiness index of 7.44, while non.readers had an index of 7.21, a statistically significant difference. 
  • Using a different measurement, known as Subjective Well-being – cognitive dimension, (the Cantril scale, from 0 to 10), Italian readers once again averaged a higher level of well-being than non-readers (7.12 vs. 6.29 respectively, still statistically significant). 
2. Readers in Italy feel positive emotions more often than non-readers 
According to the scale of Diener and Biswas-Diener, which measures how frequently (from 6 to 30) people experience six positive emotions (positive, good, pleasant, happy, joyful, contented) readers have a higher index than non-readers: 21.69 vs. 20.93 respectively (a statistically significant difference). In particular, readers feel “positive” more frequently than non-readers. 

3. Readers in Italy feel negative emotions less often than non-readers 
Readers also fared better on another dimension of the same scale by Diener and Biswas-Diener. This part measures how frequently (from 6 to 30) people recently experienced six negative emotions (negative, bad, unpleasant, sad, afraid, angry). Readers feel negative emotions less frequently than non-readers, with an average score of 16.48, while non-readers have an average of 17.47 (a statistically significant difference). In particular, readers experience anger less often than non-readers, confirming that reading offers valuable cognitive tools for facing difficult situations. 

4. Readers are more satisfied with how they use their free time compared to non-readers 
Following the scale of Van Boven and Gilovich (2003), which measures the happiness generated from people’s employment of their free time (from 1 to 9), readers score higher than non-readers (7.59 vs. 7.35 respectively, a statistically significant difference). 

5. For readers in Italy, reading is the most important use of their free time

  • The survey studied reading’s importance in relation to the other cultural activities that people perform in their free time. 
  • Reading is the most important free time activity for Italian readers (on a scale from 1 to 9, it rates at 7.88); in second place ranks listening to music (7.31); in third, staying informed and keeping up with current events through newspapers and news sites (7.23); and in fourth, physical exercise and sports (7.02). At the bottom of the list ranks playing videogames (3.23). 

6. For readers in Italy, reading comes fourth among free-time activities for the amount of happiness gained 
While reading, as was just noted, is considered the most important free time activity for readers, it is not first in terms of the notion of generated happiness. On the 1 to 9 scale developed by Van Boven and Gilovich, readers ranked physical exercise and sports first (7.80), followed by listening to music (7.74) and cultural activities and outings (exhibitions, theater, concerts…), which had a score of 7.52. In fourth place, and still with a high score, comes reading (7.24), followed by informing oneself through newspapers and news sites, playing videogames, going to the movies, and surfing the internet or using social media. At the bottom of the list ranks watching TV.  

These are not surprising results: the survey confirms the ability of readers to appreciate their free time, taking advantage of it in manifold ways. 

On average, readers in Italy face life with a more positive outlook in comparison to non-readers, and they know how to enjoy their free time in a richer and more purposeful manner. 

Vocabulary Bank Plus: Families

1. Rafael Ramos is a Mexican doctor from a little village in the north of the country. He’s married to María Sánchez. They got married in a Catholic church. They have two children. His wife is a nurse. She’s 35. They both speak English because they use it at work with their foreign patients.

2. Yasmina Kamal is an Egyptian girl from Cairo. She is an engineering student at Cairo University. She’s 19 and she’s single. She's a Muslim. She has one sister and two brothers. Her parents were born in Cairo, too. She wants to learn English because it’s an international language.

3. Angela, Anne´s mother, isn’t married; she is a single mother. They live in a lovely house on the beach. They love the sea. Angela has an exciting job; she’s a fashion model. She travels all over the world. She wants her daughter to learn English because she wants to give her a cosmopolitan education.

4. Kevin and Lucy married in 1985. Their marriage was very unhappy, so they divorced in 2000. In 2003, Kevin met Julia and remarried. They have twins, John and Peter. His first wife, Lucy, moved to a different city after their separation. She now works at the Town Hall. She’s a civil servant.

5. Alejandro met his boyfriend Juan at a friend’s party. They married last summer. All their friends and relatives were at the wedding. They are planning to adopt two children. Alejandro is a very famous film director and Juan is a doctor. They own one flat in Madrid and another in Seville. They both speak French and English fluently.

6. Emma and Virginia are another same-sex couple. They are businesswomen and they live together in Barcelona. They want to get married next year. Emma has two sons, Julian and Oscar, from her previous relationship. Her mother-in-law is called Susan. She’s 60 and she loves her grandchildren very much. She doesn’t speak English at all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Daesh, You Can't Win!

Michel Hazanavicius, the helmer of Oscar-winning “The Artist,” “OSS 117” and “The Search,” is a leading figure of the French film industry, as well as an outspoken advocate for social/political issues and civic liberties. Hazanavicius, who has a taste for burlesque comedy and provocative satire,  penned the following razor-sharp open letter to ISIS explaining it can’t defeat France’s epicurean lifestyle and values. Here is the English translation:

Daechois, Daechoises (Daech is a word for ISIS):

So that’s it, it’s official, you are at war against us. What’s frustrating is that you wear no uniform or distinctive sign so we don’t know how to identify you, and we therefore have no one to fight against. Frustration which I hope won’t lead to wrong accusations.

Even if every death represents for you a victory, you must know that you will not win any time soon. In reality, it’s even impossible. Because no matter what you do, you will not win. Here in France, what we love is Life. And all the pleasures that go with it.

For us, between being born and dying the oldest as possible, the idea is mainly to have sex, laugh, eat, play, have sex, drink, nap, have sex, discuss, eat, argue, paint, have sex, walk, garden, read, have sex, offer, argue, sleep, watch movies, scratch our balls, fart to make friends laugh, but more than anything have sex. We are the country of pleasure more than morale.

We like doing what we want. We try not to disturb others, that’s the idea, but we don’t like it very much when we’re told too loud what we must or must not do. That’s called freedom. Remember this word because deep inside that’s what you don’t like about us. It’s not about being French, caricaturists, Jewish, clients of cafes or fans of rock and soccer, it’s the freedom.

The second thing is that by killing that way, blindly, you run into the risk of killing French folks who are increasingly more representative of France. At least by killing only Jews or cartoonists, the non-Jews who didn’t how to draw could always find you excuses or feel like strangers in this war, but now it’s going to be more and more difficult. Because by hurting a sample which is so representative of France, you’re going to hit the core of who we really are. So who are we, really? Well, that’s the beauty of it. We are many things. Of course there are some French French French. But there are also French Italians, French Spanish, French Arabs, French Polish, French Chinese, French Rwandais, French Senegalese, French Algerians, French Berbers, French Ukrainians … French Catholics, French Jews, French Muslims, French Taoists; French buddhists, French atheists … left-wing French, right-wing French, Far-Right-wing French, there might even be French jihadists or even future French terrorists who you might killed.

The list could go on and on indefinitely. There are even people who are not French because since France is so beautiful, there are always and constantly a portion of our population that’s made up of tourists. That without counting the clandestines, who may not be officially French but who live here so technically you could kill them too. That’s what’s called equality.

When it comes to death, you can target whatever you want, you will hurt all of us. And we understand what you’re attacking. Our values. Simple. The ones that make life here the way it is. Imperfect, granted, with its injustices, that’s true, but there are the values that allow us to live here in the most dignified way as possible.

It’s the country that our fathers, the fathers of our fathers, and the fathers before them chose to live in and for which many before them fought for. And what’s going to happen, at one point or another, is that we’re going to act in solidarity, thanks to you. We’re going to understand that these values are in danger. And we’re going to cherish them even more. Together. That’s called fraternity.

That’s why you can’t win. You will cause deaths, yes. But in the eye of history, you will be nothing but the abject symptoms of a sick ideology. Of course we won’t win either. People will die, for no reason. Others will vote for Le Pen (s), Assad (s) or Putin (s) to get rid of you, and we might lose twice. But you will not win. And the ones who will remain alive will continue to have sex, drink, have dinner together, remember those who die, and have sex again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why do so many Spanish youngsters smoke?

A 15-year-old girl smokes alongside her 17-year-old friend in Madrid. / SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ
It’s 8.15am outside the Santa Bárbara high school in central Madrid and bitingly cold. A teenage boy and girl sit chatting and smoking as they wait for classes to begin. “We smoke a cigarette every morning when we get here, it helps with the stress of the first couple of hours,” says the girl, who prefers to use the fictitious name of Ana Pérez. She is aged 15, and says she tried her first cigarette when she was 13. Spanish Health Ministry figures from 2013 show that 12.5 percent of 14- to 18-year-olds smoke on a daily basis, a fall of just 0.02 percent since 2011, despite continued awareness campaigns about the dangers.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and smoking is a first step toward contracting the disease. The Spanish Association for Lung Cancer Victims (AECaP) says that smoking is the number one cause of the illness, which affects 21,000 people each year in Spain. And that first step tends to be taken early: figures from 2010 collected by the National Statistics Institute (INE) show that young people generally start smoking between the ages of 13 and 14.
“You see all your friends smoking and so I decided to try it, and that’s how I started,” says the teenager huddled against the cold outside school. “It was pretty stupid really, just something that was fashionable,” adds her friend, who also prefers to remain anonymous, giving the name José Ramírez. He is aged 17, and started smoking when he was 13.
Both say their friends also smoke: more than 90 percent of school students say they know that smoking can damage their health, according to the Health Ministry. Aside from helping deal with stress, among the other reasons smoking continues to attract young people, says health psychologist José Elías, is that it “makes them feel older” and that they are “breaking the rules.”
The young man calling himself José Ramírez explains that his mother smoked for many years, and only gave up when she was told she would soon have to use a respirator. “I used to smoke a packet a day. I started to cut down because I realized I was smoking too much, and now I buy a packet every three days,” he says, adding that the rising cost of tobacco has helped decrease his consumption.“Smoking rates among young people in our country, and particularly among females, are very worrying,” says Dr Rosario García Campelo, a cancer specialist and member of SEOM, the Spanish Society for Medical Oncology. AECaP warns that the number of deaths in Europe from lung cancer this year will outnumber those from breast tumors for the first time.
There’s no hard evidence that younger lungs are more susceptible to cancer, but risk of the disease is certainly increased by the amount of time someone smokes over their lifetime. “The younger you start to smoke, the greater the likelihood” of contracting the disease, says Dr Bartomeu Massuti, head of the oncology department at Alicante’s main hospital.
Luis Fernández – another fictitious name – also knows something about the risks of smoking. At the age of 16 he is already an ex-smoker. He admits to having smoked around three cigarettes a day. “Especially at parties and during recess, although I had it pretty much under control,” he says. “I liked it, but this year I have felt bad physically, so I’ve stopped. I no longer cough, and have no pains, I’m much better.” He says his girlfriend introduced him to smoking.
Figures show that more than 43 percent of school students have smoked at least once in their lives, and this despite a ban on smoking in public places since 2006 and extensive media campaigns focused on discouraging young people from taking up the habit.
Ana Pérez and José Ramírez say they smoke around six cigarettes each a day. They both put out their first of the morning. It’s now 8.30am and their classes are about to begin and they make their way into school. Aside from the “obligatory” puff as soon as they leave their homes in the morning, they will light up at morning recess, have another at lunch time, and a final one before heading home for the day. 
By , El País English Edition, November 18th 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Monday, November 09, 2015


A meditative film with grace and sensitivity.
In contemporary London, a Cambodian Chinese mother mourns the untimely death of her son. Her world is further disrupted by the presence of a stranger. We observe their difficulties in trying to connect with one another without a common language, as through a translator they begin to piece together memories of a man they both loved. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Todo lo que era sólido

Recientemente he terminado de leer Todo lo que era sólido, un ensayo lúcido y sobrecogedor de Antonio Muñoz Molina sobre lo que él llama los años del delirio y que han llevado a nuestro país a la dolorosa depresión social y moral que estamos padeciendo, una radiografía sin concesiones de nuestra adolescente democracia y de todo lo bueno que se ha quedado en el camino. Como ciudadano os recomiendo su lectura, pues hallaréis las claves de por qué hemos caído en esta regresión por el precipicio de la codicia, la corrupción, la falta de respeto, la superstición, los nacionalismos y localismos, las administraciones anquilosadas... Tras tirar de hemeroteca durante dos años, el autor (Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras en 2013), desde la independencia de su posición de ilustrado comprometido con la modernización de España, documenta las causas de este fiasco nacional que está marcando a toda una generación de jóvenes. Tengo mi copia del libro subrayada de principio a fin y no sabría qué parrafo elegir para teclearlo aquí como botón de muestra. Al poco de escribirlo, le concedieron el Premio Nacional de Ensayo por esta obra. Os lo recomiendo a vosotros, a vuestros padres y madres o a vuestros hijos/as adolescentes pues es un libro que logra formar ciudadanos, fortalecer nuestra endeble democracia y hacer país. Y porque os ayudará a comprender lo que ha ocurrido (y lo que estamos padeciendo). Os advierto también que hay que tener estómago para terminarlo, ¡pero yo no cambiaría ni una sola coma! Lectura imprescindible para cualquier lector/a.

Writer Antonio Muñoz Molina was awarded with the Príncipe de Asturias Prize for Literature 2013. Todo lo que era sólido is his latest essay, which I highly recommend. It is a must-read to understand how the current Spanish social, moral and economic crisis originated.•cmg

Artículo relacionado: Lo que fuimos, lo que somos