Native American Home Styles

Wednesday, January 6, 2021


If you needed to find a new home, what type of dwelling would you look for? A private house, a condominium, an apartment, a castle, a tiny home, a townhouse? Many, many choices. 

Way, way before Europeans arrived in North America, Native American Indians lived in homes suited to their resources, climate, and lifestyles. They didn’t have the luxury of options. 

Some tribes were agricultural and wanted houses that lasted a long time. Others were nomadic, requiring homes that were portable and easy to construct, such as the tepee, which is a conical tent covered with animal skins. I think the tepee is the only type of home people associate with Native Americans, but there are so many others. 

Photo courtesy of oneida-nsn.gov
 For example, the Iroquois and some Algonquian tribes in my state of Wisconsin lived in longhouses. Longhouses were good for people who intended to stay in the same place for a long time. They are large (up to 60 meters long) and take a lot of time to build and decorate. They are made of wooden frames, which are covered with sheets of birchbark, and can house as many as 60 people, usually extended families. 



Adobe houses (also known as pueblos) are Native American house complexes in a modular style that were built by the Pueblo, Zuni and Hopi tribes who lived in the desert climates of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. 

Adobe pueblos are multi-story houses made of adobe (a type of clay) and each adobe unit is home to one family, like a modern apartment. The whole structure, which can contain dozens of units, is often home to an entire extended clan, with its access via a doorway or entryway through the roof by ladder.

Adobe houses are good homes to build in a warm, dry climate where adobe can be easily mixed and dried. These are homes for farming people who have no need to move their village to a new location.

Chickees (also known as chickee huts, stilt houses or platform dwellings) were used primarily in Florida by tribes like the Seminole Indians. Chickee houses consisted of thick posts supporting a thatched roof and a wooden platform raised several feet off the ground. They did not have any walls.

Chickees are good homes for people living in hot, swampy climates. The long stilts keep the house from sinking into marshy earth, and the raised floor keeps swamp animals like snakes and alligators out of the house. Walls are not necessary in a tropical climate because it never gets cold.

North America is a big continent with diverse terrain and weather, to which Native Americans adapted quite well with their dwellings.

Now, most Native Americans live in modern housing like you and me. One exception is the adobe houses; some Pueblo families (such as those in Taos, New Mexico) still live in the same adobes that their ancestors lived in generations ago.  If you go to the Southwest, many modern homes are built in the adobe style in the same adobe clay color. 


As Such

Sunday, December 13, 2020




What do you notice about the use of “as such” in the following sentences?



  • If this is not a genuine antique, it should not be advertised “as such.”
  • Those in steerage on the Titanic were third class passengers and they were treated “as such.”
  • Most independent farmers want to stay “as such” and will try to avoid having to work for someone else. 

What they have in common is that “as such” is used as a pronoun and it refers back to something already mentioned in the sentence, specifically antique, third class passengers, and independent farmers


The single word “such” is used often in English and it means different things. Here are a couple examples: 

1. An adverb = to say that something is great in degree, quality, or number. (ex: such beautiful flowers; such a good movie; He has such a big ego.)

2. An adjective = of a particular or similar type.  (ex: I want a good watch such as the one you’re wearing.)

The focus of this post is on the pronoun phrase “as such” and I encourage you to try using it when referring to something or someone previously mentioned.  I consider it advanced usage, but if you remember that it’s simply a pronoun, it won’t be so challenging. 








The Benefits of Captions

Friday, November 6, 2020

 

Captions are the text that appear on videos, and they are a very powerful learning tool in many ways. (You can make captions appear by clicking the CC button on videos.)  

How can your English improve by using captions? According to elllo.org, there are many ways: 

Listening: When you access the captions, it is easier to see what people are saying. This makes listening more fun and you can catch more words.

Pronunciation: As you read captions, you can see how words are stressed, linked together and reduced.

Reading: Have you ever heard that when parents read to their children, they develop better language skills? It is true for you too. Captions help you develop faster as a language learner.

Speaking: Perhaps the greatest benefit of captions is that you can try to say what you read. For example, read the captions out loud with the volume off. This is a fun way to see if you can speak at the same speed as the speakers in the videos.

Try reading the captions in this video featuring Cheryl, who describes the best things about Guam: https://elllo.org/video/1451/1454-Cheryl-Guam.html

Let’s Get Happy

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Declaration of Independence of the United States proclaims that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So, what makes you happy? Money? Family? Your work? Whatever it is, let’s say it correctly.

We have happy with and happy about, and there is a subtle difference between the two:


“Happy with” means you are satisfied with the quality or standard of something. 

  • The client was happy with their presentation. 
  • The chef was not happy with the flavor of the truffles. 

“Happy about” means you are pleased that something happened, or pleased by something. 

  • The team was happy about winning the championship. 
  • Carlo is not happy about being in debt. 

I often hear English learners say happy about but rarely happy with, and even native speakers seem to use these expressions interchangeably, which is proof that prepositions are a challenge. You will still be understood even if you mix the two up, but knowing the correct uses is always best. 

American Culture: Black and White Cookies

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

 


One naturally thinks of New York City in connection with such well-known sights as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. Would you believe that a cookie is also an iconic symbol of New York City? It’s true, and it’s the black and white cookie

The black and white cookie is extremely light and fluffy, like a little cake, with a top that's decorated on one half with chocolate frosting and vanilla on the other. It’s a New York deli favorite, a staple in every bakery and bagel shop in the city, and there are many theories to its origin: 

Some believe its creation was the result of a dessert trend at the end of the 19th century, which was to combine dark and light elements in one dessert. It was very popular, for example, to spread chocolate frosting on a vanilla cake or have varieties of cakes with dark and light layers. This light-dark theme eventually transferred to cookies. 

There are also theories that the black and white cookie is of German origin; others believe it’s of Italian-American origin. Regardless, if you want a little taste of New York City, try a black and white cookie. Here’s the recipe if you want to make your own: https://www.food.com/recipe/new-york-city-black-and-white-cookies-180805




Blue Comedy

Wednesday, August 5, 2020



French artist Henri Matisse said, “When I paint green, it doesn’t mean grass; when I paint blue, it doesn’t mean sky.”  
In the comedy world, though, blue means something very specific: indecent or vulgar material.

More formally known as ribaldry (which sounds like an outdated word to me), blue comedy is a particular style of humorous entertainment that breaks taboos. It relies on coarse material involving profane language, sexual themes, cursing, bodily functions, or other impolite subjects. 

I personally think blue comics aren’t very clever because it requires work to be creative and funny without being crass. Everyone has their own taste, however, and there are many comedians who only work blue because that’s what their audience likes and expects. 

Do you like blue comedy? 

How long does it take…..?

Friday, July 10, 2020


When talking about the duration of time to do an activity, we say “How long does it take + infinitive…?”

It’s a common way to ask about the time needed to do various things.







Travel from point A to point B. 
- How long does it take to fly from Chicago to Rome? - present tense
(It takes eight hours.)
- How long did it take to get to the office from home? - past tense
(It took 15 minutes.)

Travel somewhere via different modes of transportation. 
- How long does it take to get to the university by bus? - present tense
(It takes 35 minutes to get to the university by bus.)
- How long will it take to arrive in the city center on foot? - future
(It will take 40 minutes on foot.)

Doing anything
How long will it take for the tree to grow fruit? - future
(It will take five years.)
How long did it take to build the Great Pyramid of Giza? - past tense
(It took 20 years.)

You don’t always have to be precise with the time. You can use these phrases: 
- It didn’t take long / It won’t take long (It didn't take long to read that book.)
- It takes a long time / It took a long time /It will take a long time (It took Carlo a long time to finally graduate.)

You can personalize these kinds of sentences too: 
- How long did it take Simona to get to the office from home? - past tense
(It took her 15 minutes.)
- How long will it take you to arrive in the city center on foot? - future
(It will take me 40 minutes on foot.)
- How long did it take slaves to build the Great Pyramid of Giza? - past tense
(It took 20 years and thousands of slaves.)


In conclusion: if we are talking about time, we use the phrase “How long does it take…?”, “How long did it take…?”, “How long will it take…?”