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Asgar Mahmoudi
PhD in ELT
PhD in ELT

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I wonder how carelessly we teach our students. for example, in a grammar class, a teacher teaching question formation, would only explain that subjects and auxiliary verbs must be inverted or that X and Y principles apply to "wh" questions, but almost no teacher tells his or her students about the functions of questioning. 

Questioning is a powerful means of controlling communications and I think telling our students about the purposes for which questions are used would encourage them more to learn and use them than only explaining forms. take as few examples the functions of questioning for detail, reasons, feelings, clarification, checking understanding, confirmation, stalling time, disturbing, showing strength or weakness of someone's argument, etc. 

terms for basic colors range from two to eleven in different languages. but the interesting thing is that the existence or non-existence of one color implies the existence or non-existence of others. the arrangements of color terms are follows:
two: white, black
three: white, black, red
four: white, black, red, green
four: white, black, red, yellow
five: white, black, red, green, yellow
six: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue
seven: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue, brown
eight: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue, brown, +purple, +pink, +orange, +grey

systems 3 and 4 show that either green or yellow can be the fourth color and if any language has all the seven basic colors in the hierarchy, they will have the remaining four colors with no set order. the hierarchy implies that if a language has a term for, say yellow, it will have terms for the colors that precede it but not necessarily for the colors that follow it. the question you might ask is how people with two or three color terms express their conception of other colors. it is revealed that these people use paraphrases or circumlocutions like the color of mud, the color of sky, etc. for this purpose.

What concepts are may be difficult to explain in plain language let alone classifying them. but my simple definition is that they are mental representations and are of three types as follows:

1. concepts with specific references that can be captured in photos like the concept of my new pair of shoes, my brothers' cat, our neighbor's car
2. concepts only a part of which can be captured in photos, for example, animal, food, house, and finally,
3.  concepts that cannot be captured in photos such as love, retirement, justice, and democracy. 

the importance of this classification is that as the concepts become more illusive they become more important and more susceptible to contention. 

Do we inherit everything from our parents? The answer that one of the philosophical approaches, known as causal theory, gives to this question is NO. this theory is based on the idea that some aspects of our personality are socially inherited. for example, a name that a person is given, perhaps in a formal ceremony, is socially determined according to the culture, religion, socio-economic status of the family, etc. and depending on the fate of the named person, the name may be passed on to other generations or not. 

languages influence the conventional ways of viewing situations. compare the translations of five ways of saying that someone has a cold:

English: I have a cold. (possession)
Turkish: A cold has hit me. (accident)
Somali: A cold has me. (occupying)
Persian: I've eaten a cold. (eating)
Irish: A cold is on me. (location)

the borderline between hypocrisy and sincerity is very fine. for example, if you congratulate your friend on passing a particular test and at the same time believe that he only got through the test by bribing the examiner, you are not a sincere person. you are a hypocrite because the sincerity condition on congratulating is that the speaker believes the thing on which he congratulates the hearer is praiseworthy in some way. 

having said that, recently in Iran MA and PhD dissertations are sold openly everywhere. and since working on a thesis is a requirement to be able to finish your post-graduate studies, and many unqualified students admitted to universities do not have the potential to carry out this responsibility, they turn to the market in a snap if they can afford it. it's amazing that, although this ugly phenomenon has been reported many times in news programs, and i've seen notices posted on the university walls advertising different types of theses, no one in the ministry of higher education undertakes the responsibility of fighting against stealing other people's intellectual properties.

and this is where i consider many people, including myself, as hypocrites because in many cases i have been aware that the person has bought his or her thesis or has got someone else to do it for him or her and still i have congratulated them on their graduation. i don't know how i can avoid congratulating people when they tell me that they have succeeded in completing their studies!

Paul Grice's cooperative principle was one of the revolutionary theories in philosophy at its own time. the theory, although trite at the first glance, put the foundations of conversation analysis. Grice's fundamental insight was that conversation can work only because people are trying to be cooperative by making their contribution appropriate to the conversation at hand.

although Grice's original formulation of cooperative principle is rather complicated, the gist of it can be presented in following four maxims:

1. say enough, but don't say too much.
2. say only what you have reason to believe is true.
3. say only what is relevant.
4. be brief, clear, and unambiguous.

today is the international day of friendship. i'd like to extend my best wishes to you on this occasion. 

a new judge came to a city decided to straighten everything his own way. then the first man, accused of stealing petty things from a shop, arrived. the judge put a few questions to the man and sentenced him to tolerating 1000 lashes. the man in charge of performing lashing thought that the judge might have made a mistake because the punishment was very harsh and unusual. so, he turned to the judge and asked "how many lashes did you order his excellency?" "1000," replied the judge. the man, not believing such a severe penalty, although fearing that the judge might get angry, repeated his question one more time. but the same response bounced back and this time with an angry tone. the lash-man, knowing that 1000 lashes would kill the convict, plucked up the courage and told the judge, "his excellency, either you don't know calculus, or your buttocks have not experienced the pain of lashes."

it's for three months now that i'm running around the small lake on the suburbs of my hometown twice a week. The length of the road amounts to seven or eight kilometers. at the beginning it was pretty difficult to run the whole distance and my muscles were very sore after each round of exercise so that i couldn't sleep well at nights.

 i was thinking that my body will get adapted to the strain over time but after three months still my muscles ache and today i came to the conclusion that i'm not the strong man i used to be in the past. i was like a flat battery without any energy halfway through the route and my legs were almost giving away and hardly supporting my body. although i managed to run the whole distance nonstop,  i think it was my suborn inner side that goaded me beyond my endurance. with this state of affairs, i think i should think of another less strenuous sport and kiss jogging goodbye.
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