E Zine of KV Pattom published by the Library

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Know Your English

In Know your English on January 31, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Know Your English


“What’s the matter with you? Why do you look so sad?”“My friend isn’t willing to listen to any of my suggestions.”

“You have suggestions? Is this regarding the surprise party you’ve planned for Aruna?”

“That’s right! I’ve some interesting…”

“Well, you know what they say. He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

“The piper? What are you talking about?”

“The idiom means that the person who provides the money for something has the right to decide how things should be done. The man who pays can call the shots.”

“In other words, since my friend is hosting the party, and he is paying for everything, he has the right to make all the decisions.”

“That’s right! Here’s an example. I don’t agree with Jai at all, but he’s funding the project. He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

“How about this example? The owner has the right to decide who will play in the next match. He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

“That’s a good example. So, what do you plan on…”

“Before we change the subject, tell me about the origin of this idiom.”

“I’d be happy to. In the old days, it was the job of the piper to provide music at the various ceremonies. Normally, he…”

“He played whatever people wanted him to.”

“Not always. The kind of music depended on who was paying him.”

“I see. So, if I were paying him, he would play my kind of music.”

“Yes, that’s right!”

“That makes sense. Please the guy with the money.”

“Exactly! Now tell me, are you sad because…”

“I’m pretty upset because Federer lost in the semi finals of the Australian Open.”

“Oh come on! The rest of the country is happy because our cricket team is doing so well in Australia. You, on the other hand, are…”

“You know I prefer tennis than cricket.”

“To cricket.”


‘You prefer something ‘to’ something. Not ‘than’ something.”

“I see. How about this example? The children prefer ice cream to biscuits.”

“They always do, don’t they? The stress in ‘prefer’ is on the second syllable. Not the first.”

“I see. So it’s pronounced ‘preFER’?”

“That’s right. My mother prefers music to books.”

“I prefer his old movies to his new ones.”

“Who are you talking about?”

“No one in particular. Tell me, how do you pronounce a..c..a..d..e..m..i..c?”

“The first ‘a’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘ants’, ‘pants’, and ‘hands’; the second is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The ‘e’ like the ‘e’ in ‘set’, ‘bet’, and ‘pet’, and the final ‘ic’ is like…”

“It’s probably like the ‘ick’ in ‘pick’, ‘click’, and ‘stick’.

“Exactly! The stress is on the third syllable ‘dem’. The word is pronounced ‘akeDEMik’.”

“Most people I know put the stress on the second syllable.”

“I know. Do you want to be an academic when you grow up?”

“You know I’m allergic to books. I’d prefer to be a tennis player.”

“It’s too late for that now.”

“I know.”

“I have opinions of my own – strong opinions – but I don’t always agree with them.” — George Bush

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