Baby Sophie’s christening
I hope you all had a good weekend. The weather here in the UK was glorious, so it was just perfect for the christening of my niece, Sophie. I promised I’d tell you a little bit about the christening and my role as godmother. Yesterday morning, all of Sophie’s friends and relatives met at her local church. There, she was welcomed by the vicar, given her name and blessed. The vicar also poured holy water on her forehead to baptise her. She really didn’t like this very much and started to bawl. But you can’t blame her – I’d probably cry too if a stranger poured cold water all over my head when I was dressed in my best frock!
As godmother, I had to promise to give Sophie encouragement to live a good life, and to try to set an example for her. I assume this means I have to set a good example rather than a bad one! After the ceremony, we all went to the local pub for food, cutting of the christening cake and a chitchat. It was a good chance for friends and family to catch up and to celebrate the arrival of a new member of our clan.
You can see a picture of me holding little Sophie on this page. She’s wearing her special christening gown, and next to me is the font. I’m the first to admit I’m not really very good with babies, but at least Sophie didn’t cry when I held her, and I made sure not to drop her!
I wonder, what do you all do in your countries to celebrate the arrival of a new baby?
Naheed, many thanks for your kind wishes for Sophie. I’ve been enjoying reading more about mangoes – you really are something of an expert! Now let’s focus on English for a bit. You talk about some of the countries that buy mangoes and say: ‘The main importers are Middle East and European countries’. I just wanted to pick you up on a couple of small language points here.
· European is an adjective
· The Middle East is a noun
First, note that it’s always the Middle East – we always include ‘the’ – not just Middle East. However, you could also use the adjectival form, Middle Eastern. In this case, you would not need to put ‘the’ before it (we only use ‘the’ with the noun form). In terms of style, it’s best to have either all noun forms or all adjective forms in one sentence. So you could rewrite your sentence in two ways:
1) The main importers are Middle Eastern and European countries.
2) The main importers are the Middle East and Europe.
In English, adjectives that describe nationalities commonly end in ‘-an’.
However, this is another area of the English language where there are lots of irregular forms that I’m afraid just have to be learned one by one. For example, I come from England, and I am English. Naheed, you come from Pakistan, and you are Pakistani. I wonder if you can tell me the adjectives that relate to the following nouns:
I should also put you out of your misery regarding the meaning of those phrases coined by Shakespeare. You’ll hear these phrases in everyday English, and most people won’t even be aware that they were invented by Shakespeare. Here goes:
· it smells to high heaven means something is really smelly, e.g.
Tom hadn’t changed his socks for a whole week. They smelled to high heaven.
· If something comes full circle, it returns to the starting point, e.g.
Sarah lost three stone on her mango diet, but then she went on holiday and put all the weight back on again. Her weight went full circle.
· one fell swoop means all at once, e.g.
Yesterday I got offered my dream job. It means I can earn more money, move to the capital and further my career, all in one fell swoop.
· strange bedfellows are things that you wouldn’t think would go well together, e.g.
Mangoes and vinegar might seem like strange bedfellows, but the combination of sweet and sour works well in some recipes.
· the world’s my oyster – you mostly got the meaning of this right, Naheed. It means you can do anything and go anywhere, e.g.
After I finish my studies I’m free to go travelling for a whole year. The world will be my oyster.
Naheed, I look forward to hearing more about your life in Pakistan, and thanks for the mouth-watering descriptions of mangoes. Our traditional summer fruit in Britain is probably the strawberry. Strawberries are coming into season right now, and they go really well with cream. Yum! When you bite into a sweet, juicy strawberry, you know that summer has arrived in the UK. Maybe I’ll buy some later for my dinner.
Bye for now,
If the weather is glorious, you can expect blue skies, warm temperatures and lots of sunshine.
baptise means to welcome into the church, by sprinkling holy water on the head.
Babies bawl a lot – they scream loudly.
A frock is a slightly old-fashioned word for a dress.
When you have a chitchat, you have a friendly, light-hearted talk.
In this context, if you catch up with someone, you find out about all their news and what has been happening to them.
A clan is a family group.
A gown is a dress for a special occasion. You can also talk about a wedding gown and a ball gown.
A font is a receptacle in a church where the holy water sits. Sophie was held over the font when she was baptised.
to put someone out of their misery means to give someone the information they’ve been waiting for.
something that is coming into season is ripe, plentiful and ready to be harvested.
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