An Electronic Magazine by Omar Villarreal and Marina Kirac ©


Year 4                    Number 94               December 29th  2002


           4400 SHARERS are reading this issue of SHARE this week


Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being SHARED





Today we are sending you our last issue of 2002. No doubt this year was for us and for everybody in our country a very hard one. I have always thought that it is precisely in these hardest of times, when your strength is really challenged and tested, that we can really see who our real friends are, how much a good family is worth and where people around us place their priorities. I am not very good at political analysis (Omar´s much better at this, I think) but I can tell you how happy I am as a mother that we have gone through the first anniversary of 20th December 2001 without major or minor conflicts in the streets, that nobody was hurt, that everybody could express their opinion freely. I was scared, as many other people in our country were, that the worst might happen. It didn´t and now I´m relieved. I said I was no political analyst but I´m no fool either. I know problems are far from solved and that it will take us all many years of sweat and tears to repair the damage that a whole generation of  corrupt administrators have inflicted on our people.

At home we think we have a very effective recipe to face a time of misery and crisis : To keep your head up and as Robert Fulghum would say : “It´s best to hold hands and stick together”

If you are willing to, you will always find Omar and I ready to stick together with you.


May God give us all a wonderful 2003

Omar and Marina







1.-    Metacognition and its development.

2.-    Piaget and Vygotsky in Heaven. 

3.-    Happy New Year! Nothing to Fear.

4.-    El Origen del Lenguaje.

5.-    Position Vacant.

6.-    26th of December: Boxing Day.

7.-    Segundo Encuentro de Gramática Generativa.     

8.-    Summer Course at T.S.Eliot Institute.  

9.-    The Ig Nobel Prizes (second round).     

10.-   Welcome 2003 with Bluesberry Jam.







Our dear SHARER and friend Professor Douglas Town has sent us this article that we are honoured to SHARE with you. Professor Town halds a BSc in Psychology and an MA in English Language Teaching as well as a postgraduate Diploma in English and Spanish translation. Douglas Town holds workshops and private classes in Paper and Thesis Writing, Research Methods,The Psychology of Learning (Multiple Intelligences, Cognitive Approaches to Language Learning etc.)  Teaching and Language Upgrades. Tel. 4328-5285.




Metacognition and its development



Being aware of our thinking as we perform a specific task and then using this awareness to control what we are doing is commonly known in thinking skills literature as "metacognition". More recently, the term "metacognitive approach" has been applied to strategy training aimed at teaching EFL students consciously to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning and to analyse the different stages of a task in order to choose appropriate problem-solving strategies (see Robbins 2002). The purpose of this article is to provide some theoretical insights into the nature of metacognition and to outline additional ways of supporting students' metacognitive development.


Metacognitive skills and metacognitive knowledge


A clear distinction is generally made between metacognitive skills and metacognitive knowledge. Metacognitive skills develop initially out of self-correcting activities in domain-specific learning (Bruner 1986 quoted in Von Wright 1992; 64) as children gradually learn to anticipate chains of events and compare alternative procedures or mentally correct an action plan before acting. Although these actions are often intentional - i.e. purposeful and directed towards conscious goals - (Von Wright 1992:61), most children nevertheless have difficulty in reflecting on their own intentions and seeing their goals as choices that exist among a number of alternative goals. Metacognitive skills improve task performance, but the choice of task remains largely predetermined by unconscious (or external) factors. Voluntary action depends on metacognitive knowledge, which results from introspection or self-reflection.



The emergence of conscious control


In order to understand how people come to gain control over their actions, we need to understand how self-knowledge and the ability to reflect on one's own behaviour emerge. It is here that computer-based models of cognition, which support much work on cognitive strategies, break down (since computers cannot be said to be 'conscious" of what they do) and that we must turn to social constructivist accounts of cognitive and emotional development for a theoretical explanation. Social constructivism starts from the notion that individual minds are constructed out of social interactions and social meanings. We shall return to the practical implications of this point later.


Vygotsky's (1978) theory of cognitive development is well known. Briefly, it states that the L1 linguistic system is at the root of all higher cognitive functions. Firstly, language frees the child from the stimulus-bound stage of natural perception. By using verbal labelling, the child singles out separate elements and forms "new (artificially introduced and dynamic) structural centres" which can be re-synthesised into new concepts (1978:32). Later, language acts as a cognitive barrier in problem solving, mediating between the presentation of the task and the child's final response. (By contrast, children with so-called 'attention deficit disorder', or ADD, seem to possess little ability to delay their responses). In short, problem solving is first effected through "ego-centric speech" (the child talks to himself or herself) and later, around the age of five, this is replaced by inner speech (reflections) (1986:30). Once egocentric speech has become thus internalised, the child is able to focus consciously on cognitive processes such as memory and to bring them under increasingly greater conscious control (1986:170).


However, as Von Wright (1992:61) points out, a crucial step towards greater expertise in self-reflection is the development of the concept of self. The concept of self is a social construct that we acquire by being treated as a self by others. In G H Mead's (1934) words: "self-consciousness involves the individual's becoming an object to himself by taking the attitudes of other individuals towards himself within an organised setting of social relationships, and ... unless the individual had thus become an object to himself, he would not be self-conscious or have a self at all" (quoted in Von Wright 1992:61). This suggests that individuals with a poorly developed or confused self-concept will lack insight into their own intentions, motives and intellectual functions, and that development of metacognitive awareness in later life may ultimately depend on early social conditioning. My own (unpublished) replication study based on Rosenberg (1979) found that self-esteem, rather than age, determined teenagers' and young adults' ability to focus on their psychological "inner worlds", set realistic goals outside the classroom, follow them through, evaluate the results and learn from their mistakes.


The fallibility of metacognitive knowledge


Conventional analyses usually divide metacognitive knowledge into knowledge concerning person, task and strategy variables (Von Wright 1992:64). Thus, Marzano et al (1988) list the various types of knowledge that are important to metacognition as: (a) executive control, which evaluates current state of knowledge; (b) declarative knowledge, which is being conscious of the facts surrounding a situation; (c) conditional knowledge which describes why a strategy works; (d) procedural knowledge, which has to do with various actions performed in a task. However, knowing when, how and why to use a particular strategy in an objective, factual sense does not guarantee that it will be used. This knowledge only counts as metacognitive knowledge when it is spontaneously integrated with awareness of our thinking on a specific task and when we use this awareness to control what we are doing (cited in Harrison 1991:37).


The value of Von Wright's emphasis on self-knowledge, I believe, is that it emphasises the subjective basis of metacognitive knowledge. Metacognitive knowledge includes conscious knowledge of one's actions, intentions and motives, and also of one's intellectual functions. The latter "creates conditions for a wider application of specific competences and learned rules" (Von Wright 1992:62) by integrating information which previously belonged to separate cognitive systems (transfer of learning). But, like any other type of self-knowledge, it is fallible.



Metacognitive strategies


How, then, do metacognitive strategies such as planning, monitoring and evaluating one's own learning evolve? According to Vygotsky (1968:168) " in order to subject a function to intellectual and volitional control, we must first possess it". In other words, self-reflection will develop first as a skill before it can be used as a series of consciously controlled strategies. We have already noted the role played by language and social relationships in the emergence of these processes. The emphasis on social interaction as a condition for the training of reflective skills is today shared by most approaches to instruction (Von Wright 1991:66). Reciprocal (peer) teaching, for example, forces the "teacher" to use a whole series of metacognitive processes such as determining what the learner already knows, deciding what is to be taught/learnt and how; monitoring comprehension and evaluating the outcome in terms of increased comprehension, which in turn encourage the "teacher" to reflect upon his or her own thinking processes (ibid). In social constructivist terms, metacognitive processes begin as social processes and gradually become "internalised".


Some practical implications


The effective use of metacognitive strategies is one of the primary differences between more and less able learners and students need to be taught such strategies through direct instruction, modelling, and practice. Robbins has already provided an excellent bibliography for the CALLA approach to strategy training in SHARE 90. Perhaps the main implication of this article is that instruction is more likely to produce permanent results in students with (1) high self-esteem (the basis of accurate metacognitive knowledge) and (2) extensive experience of peer teaching and assessment (resulting in a broader range of metacognitive skills).


Assessing students' self-esteem


Recent empirical research in developmental and educational psychology strongly supports a multifaceted view of self-concept, which distinguishes academic self-concept from physical self-concept, and so on. The clearest example of measures based on this view is Marsh's (1992) "Self-Description Questionnaire I, II, or III" for ages seven to young adult. Other widely used measures, such as Fitts' (1991) "Tennessee Self Concept Scale", stress the distinctiveness of various self-concept facets but place global self-concept at the top of the hierarchy. Unfortunately, such instruments are expensive and generally available only to trained psychologists. However, interested readers can find a test of global self-concept at: This contains (1) a self and tutor rating scale, (2) a checklist for identifying difficult daily living situations and (3) a tutor observation checklist. Please note, however, that teachers without training in counselling should not try to offer therapy and that these scales are not designed for children.


Enhancing students' self-esteem


One effective way of enhancing students' self-esteem and academic achievement is adventure education. In a meta-analysis of ninety-six studies of adventure education, Hattie, et al. (1997) categorized the benefits of adventure studies into six broad outcomes: leadership, self-concept, academic achievement, personality, interpersonal relations and adventuresomeness. All of the outcomes except adventuresomeness maintained effects over time. Positive change is thought to take place because participation in problem-solving tasks challenges self-imposed limits, leading to improvements in relationships with others and self-concept.

On a day-to-day basis, variations on Circle Time have been used at most levels of education for enhancing students' general and academic self-esteem by challenging limiting beliefs and fostering awareness of multiple options. Hillyard (2002), a firm proponent of the metacognitive approach in bilingual education in Argentina, claims that not only children but also adolescents find whole-class discussions of this type highly rewarding.


Peer teaching and peer assessment


Peer teaching may involve learners of different ages or of the same age. Although not exclusively an experiment in peer teaching, the University of Dundee's paired reading project has shown the value of support from more able readers (teachers, parents, other adults or older children) in developing reading and thinking skills among primary school children. Interestingly, it was the least able children (both tutors and tutees) that benefited most from this activity. The corresponding web page also contains links to other articles on peer teaching.


Group projects are another obvious activity for promoting planning, monitoring and evaluation through peer teaching, especially among older children. Books such as "Project Work" by Diana L. Fried-Booth (O.U.P.) - which also contains a project in which adult EFL students teach primary school children - provide valuable advice and worksheets for teacher, group and individual reviews.


Self-evaluation is a difficult strategy to acquire, partly because it often comes at the end of a project or task when learners have run out of time, interest or both, partly because it often involves comparing oneself with others, a strategy recommended by Oxford (1990: 163) but which is potentially threatening to learners with low self-esteem. Nevertheless, many ELT textbooks contain reading and writing activities (e.g. jigsaw reading; assessing other students' drafts) in which learners teach one another and receive peer feedback on their understanding or performance. A non-threatening and on-going method of peer assessment and awareness raising in oral skills, which comes with a rationale and materials, can be found at Finally, games can also include informal peer teaching and evaluation. One of my own can be found at  




Metacognitive strategy training enhances learning inside and outside the classroom but many students have difficulty in using this approach once there is no longer a reminder to do so. Within a social-constructivist perspective, metacognitive skills and metacognitive knowledge, including a realistic self-concept, develop through social interaction and are then internalised. The key to more effective metacognitive strategy training would seem to be through simultaneous training in social strategies together with social learning tasks. The latter may serve to reduce or eliminate negative aspects of an individual's self-concept such as learned helplessness, negative self-labels, competitiveness, perfectionism etc., which prevent realistic and effective goal-setting, planning, attending, monitoring or evaluating in real life contexts.





Fried-Booth, D. L. (1986). Project Work. Oxford: O.U.P.

Harrison, C.J. (1991). 'Metacognition and motivation'. Reading Improvement. Vol. 28. No. 1 35-38.

Hattie, J.; Marsh, H. W.; Neill, J. T. & Richards, G. E. (1997). Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of-class experiences that make a lasting difference. Review of Educational Research, 67, 43-87.

Hillyard, S. (2002). Personal Communication (interview regarding on-going investigation at Wellspring School, Buenos Aires).

Oxford, R. (1990). Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know. Boston MA.: Heinle and Heinle Publishers.

Robbins, J.A. (2002). (visited Dec.13 2002)

Von Wright, J. (1992). 'Reflections on reflection'. Learning and Instruction. Vol. 2. 59-68

Vygotsky, L.S. (1975). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge MA.: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge MA.: MIT Press.



Professor Town has worked for many years as an academic consultant and ESP teacher in Spain. He has also taught English for Academic Purposes at Manchester University and is currently living in Buenos Aires where he has recently given seminars on Academic Writing and Contrastive Linguistics at the University of Belgrano.






Our dear SHARER Cristina Mullet has sent us this “dialogue” between Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. The scene is set in Heaven were Vygotsky and Piaget meet to discuss their two different kinds of Constructivism.

The dialogue was written by Cristina Mullet, Nylia Monté, Mónica Vizzolini and Viviana Carbajal at Instituto Nacional del Profsorado de la Universidad Tecnológica Nacional.




Piaget: Lev, look down there... all those people are talking about us.

Vygostsky: Oh, those good old days of intellectual debate. You know? My friends used to call me " little professor" when I was 15, because I always generated intellectual discussions among my friends. By the way... I still think that learning leads development.

Piaget: I must say that I don't see eye to eye with you in that issue. From my point of view it is development what leads learning.

Vygostsky: But my dear Jean, what about my concepts of zone of proximal development and mediation? They are social in essence!

Piaget: I'm afraid I am not acquainted with those concepts.

Vygostsky: Oh, it will be my pleasure to enlighten you with them... Let me see ... where shall I begin? Ah! By the zone of proximal development, a key concept in my theory. Each child, in any domain, has an actual developmental level and an immediate potential for development within that domain. I labeled this difference between the two levels the zone of proximal development... that is to say that the zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual developmental level, as determined by independent problem solving, and the level of potential development, as determined through problem  solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with move capable peers.

Piaget: Very interesting, my dear friend. And what about the concept of... how did you call it? Mediation?

Vygostsky: Well... this concept is in close connection with the previous one. How can I put it? The concept of zone of proximal development integrates key elements of my theory: the emphasis I gave to social activity and cultural practice as sources of thinking, the importance of mediation in human psychological functioning, the centrality of pedagogy in development and the inseparability of the individual from the social. We humans use cultural signs and tools such as speech, literacy, mathematics, etc, etc, etc.... to mediate our interactions with each other and our surroundings. I have always been interested in how knowledge is transmitted from the culture to the child. You see? In the end, everything is social.

Piaget: How dare you say that? What about maturation and heredity? No, my dear friend! There is no direct transmission, it is the learner who constructs knowledge...Ok...Ok... I agree with you in the fact that social factors are important... but only to influence individual disequilibration through cognitive conflict... I remind you development leads learning!

Vygostsky: Disequilibration? What are you talking about?

Piaget: "Disequilibrium is a state of cognitive conflict that takes place when someone expects something to happen in a certain way and it does not.

Vygostsky: And how do you solve this disequilibrium?

Piaget: Well... there are two more concepts that I have to mention in connection to this: assimilation and accommodation. Disequilibrium is a state of imbalance between assimilation and accommodation that activates the process of equilibration. You see? The organism constantly strives for equilibrium.

Equilibration is the regulator that allows new experience to be successfully incorporated into schemata.

Vygostsky: Incorporated into what?

Piaget: Into schemata. Schemata can be simply thought of as concepts or categories. They are intellectual  structures that organize events as they are perceived and classified into groups according to common characteristics . And, you know? Schemata never stop changing or becoming more refined. You see? From my point of view, knowledge is a construction resulting from the child's actions. I believe there is no direct transmission of knowledge from adult to child, my friend.

Vygostsky: friend, I take your point when you say that the child is active when he constructs knowledge, but I must say that I do believe in direct transmission from the culture to the child. In fact; that is one of the axes of my theory. For me, humans are internalized culture. The construction of knowledge is always mediated by external social factors. Actually, the social environment is the source of models of what constructions should look like. What is more, even the acquisition of language depends on the social environment. And this acquisition of language results in intellectual development.

Piaget: Well, again I disagree with you. In my humble opinion language does not produce intellectual development; it reflects it. Language is one of the manifestations of the symbolic function. You see? We don't agree on everything, but after this interesting intellectual debate I must say that I have come to the conclusion that there are some issues in which both of our points of view coincide. Don't you think so?

Vygostsky: Oh, yes! It's been so enriching to discuss these things with you! But, you know? After all this chatter I'm starting to  get hungry.

Piaget: Me too. Shall we go to Heaven's pub? It's over there, on cloud number nine.

Vygostsky: Great idea, my friend! Let's go.








Our dear friend and SHARER Bethina Viale sends us this story with “ Lots of Love” and her best wishes for a Happy New Year.





When I think about New Year's Eve, I think about pots and pans. Not for cooking.  For banging and clanging and raising a ruckus. It was a tradition at our house, as much a part of our annual New Year's Eve celebration as the non-alcoholic "champagne" we drank to toast the New Year (in plastic champagne glasses, of course) and watching on TV while that big ball came down over Times Square in New York. Dick Clark would count down the last seconds of the old year, we would all shout "Happy New Year!" at the appropriate moment, Mom would make her way around

the room kissing everybody and then we would go outside and pound on pots and pans and make all kinds of noise.

To be honest, I never cared for non-alcoholic champagne -- my taste always ran more toward Dr Pepper.  The magic of the big ball coming down on Times Square evaporated as soon as I figured out it had actually happened two hours earlier.  Mom's kisses were... well... Mom's kisses.  But going outside in the middle of the night to pound on pots and pans and make noise... now, that was something.

Pot-pounding was generally frowned upon, even in the middle of the day.  And doing it outside for all the world to hear... well, it simply wasn't done.  Except on New Year's Eve.

And that made New Year's Eve special, although I wasn't exactly sure why.

"I don't get it," I said to Mom one New Year's Day.  "We don't go outside and pound on pots and pans on Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving.  We don't do it on Easter or on birthdays.  The only time we do anything like it is when we set off fireworks on the Fourth of July, and I know why we do that.  But I don't know why we pound on pans on New Year's Eve."

Mom gave me that why-didn't-I-stop-after-seven-children look.  As a parent myself, I finally understand where that look comes from: not having any idea of the answer to the question.  But as anyone who ever played cards with her knows, Mom was a master bluffer.

"It's an ancient... Indian... tradition," she said, forgetting for a moment that early Native Americans probably didn't have many pots or pans upon which to bang.  "They believed that every year has its own spirit, and if you wanted the year to be good you needed to frighten it into submission from the beginning.  So every New Year the Indians would gather to make all

of the noise they could in order to frighten away evil spirits and motivate good spirits to action."

That seemed at least as reasonable to me as flying reindeer, or a rabbit that lays colored chicken eggs.  "So when we're out there banging on pots and pans, we're actually chasing away evil spirits," I said, sucking it all in like the huge, pre-adolescent sponge that I was.

"Well, yes," she said.  "But mostly, we're trying to let the new year know who's in charge."

And that isn't such a bad idea, when you stop and think about it.  New years can be a little scary, filled as they are with hidden traps and unknown obstacles.  Maybe if we set out anxiety aside and enter the New Year boldly, aggressively, noisily, we'll convince ourselves that there's

nothing to fear.  And that we're in charge -- at least for ourselves.

So don't go gently into 2001.  Pound on some pans.  Bang on a bucket. Raise a ruckus.  The way I see it, even if we don't scare away evil spirits, at least we'll let the new year know who's the boss.

And who knows?  Maybe we'll remind ourselves, as well.


Joseph Walker  






The following is a reproduction of an article published in La Nación last week:

Título: El origen del lenguaje
Por Antonio M. Battro – La Nación 22-12-02

A veces la ciencia da un salto. Se produce algo importante, un cambio de perspectiva. Eso ha sucedido en un artículo que publicó la revista Science el 22 de noviembre último, escrito por Marc D. Hauser, y W. Tecumseh Fitch, de la Universidad de Harvard, y Noam Chomsky, del MIT.
El título es: "La facultad del lenguaje, ¿qué es? ¿quién la posee? ¿cómo fue evolucionando?" Los autores plantean algunas cuestiones.
Para empezar, es necesaria una mayor colaboración entre lingüistas y biólogos. Muchas aves, por ejemplo, aprenden a cantar imitando el canto de sus compañeros; si se crían aisladas, sin un modelo de canto, lo harán en forma aberrante. En cambio, en los primates no humanos, las vocalizaciones, gritos, llamados de alarma, son innatos en su mayoría. Pero los primates no pueden imitar una nueva expresión vocal. El habla humana y el canto de los pájaros tienen, en este aspecto, una mayor analogía entre sí que con el lenguaje de los primates.
Los autores distinguen entre una facultad de lenguaje en el sentido amplio de "comunicación" (FLA) y otra en sentido estricto (FLE). Muchos aspectos de FLA son compartidos entre las diversas especies animales (en la expresión de emociones, alertas, comida, territorio, acoplamiento).
En cambio, FLE parece estar restringido al ser humano. Se basa en la "recursividad", la capacidad de generar infinitas secuencias de palabras o frases con sentido, a partir de un número finito de expresiones.
Este es el enorme poder de la recursividad que, aparentemente, ningún animal posee. La recuperación del lenguaje tras una lesión cerebral, el desarrollo del cerebro de un niño bilingüe y otros ejemplos ya nos enseñan mucho.
El artículo afirma que no hay "fósiles lingüísticos". El lenguaje hablado no ha dejado trazas materiales de su evolución, pero sabemos que desde su tronco común con los chimpancés, hace unos 6 millones de años, la especie humana tuvo tiempo para poner en marcha un sistema recursivo propio. Además, ciertas características del lenguaje humano son compartidas con algunas especies.
Por ejemplo, tanto el infante humano de pocos meses como algunos monos pueden distinguir perfectamente entre sonidos del holandés y del japonés. Pero el mono no puede aprender una regla lingüística basada en la recursividad, a diferencia del humano. Los delfines y los loros tienen sistemas de imitación de sonidos pero, sorprendentemente, los monos y los chimpancés no son capaces de imitar vocalizaciones. En cambio, los humanos aprendemos a hablar porque sabemos imitar.
No existe un código universal de comunicación entre las especies. El único código que todos compartimos es el genético, que tiene cuatro "letras". Con el chimpancé compartimos más del 95% del genoma, pero los primates son incapaces de hablar. Sólo el Homo Sapiens tiene algo que decir. Pero aún nos sabemos por qué hablamos.





Our dear SHARER Aldana Biodi from Rio Gallegos sends us this annoucement:


Instituto Salesiano de Estudios Superiores  (Río Gallegos – Santa Cruz) needs a teacher of English for Práctica Pedagógica II. The subject includes practice lessons in kindergarten. For further details please contact / send CV to:


As a visiting lecturer I taught courses for graduate teachers of English at Casa Salesiana in Rio Gallegos for 4 years from 1996 to 1999 and I have only words of praise for the warm hospitality I enjoyed in each one of my visits. To my dear friends in Rio Gallegos an enormous hug. [Omar]






Our dear SHARER Maria Luisa Jaramillo from Córdoba sends us this article. She says: “maybe you have always wondered about the origin of the term "Boxing Day. I found this very sensible explanation on the Web”

Let me first explain that in Britain Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day, 26 December, a public holiday. (Strictly, the public holiday is the first working day after Christmas Day, but the name Boxing Day is always reserved for the 26th.)

We have to go back to the early seventeenth century to find the basis for the name. The term "Christmas box" appeared about then for an earthenware box, something like a piggy bank, which
apprentices took around at Christmas to collect money. When it was full, or the round complete, the box was broken and the money distributed among the company. By the eighteenth century,
"Christmas box" had become a figurative term for any seasonal gratuity. I cannot resist quoting the First Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which has a splendid lip-curling, drawing-away- of-skirts, how-awful-these-lower-orders-are description of this sense that suggests James Murray, who compiled the entry, had been importuned once too often:

  A present or gratuity given at Christmas: in Great Britain,
  usually confined to gratuities given to those who are supposed
  to have a vague claim upon the donor for services rendered to
  him as one of the general public by whom they are employed and
  paid, or as a customer of their legal employer; the undefined
  theory being that as they have done offices for this person,
  for which he has not directly paid them, some direct
  acknowledgement is becoming at Christmas. These gratuities have
  traditionally been asked from householders by letter-carriers,
  policemen, lamp-lighters, scavengers, butchers' and bakers'
  boys, tradesmen's carmen, etc, and from tradesmen by the
  servants of households that deal with them, etc. They are thus
  practically identical with the Christmas-box collected by
  apprentices from their masters' customers, except that the name
  is now given to the individual donation; and hence, vulgarly and
  in dialect use it is often equivalent to "Christmas present".

Some time after the beginning of the nineteenth century, the word "box" of "Christmas box" shifted to refer to the day after Christmas day, on which such gratuities were often requested and on which the original Christmas box was taken round. The first recorded use of Boxing Day for the 26th December is in 1833. By  1853 at the latest it had become a scourge that justified Murray's later acerbic comments, at least to judge from these comments by
Charles Manby Smith in his Curiosities of London Life:

  We can hardly close these desultory sketches of Christmas-time
  without some brief allusion to the day after Christmas, which,
  through every nook and cranny of the great Babel, is known and
  recognised as "Boxing Day," - the day consecrated to baksheesh,
  when nobody, it would almost seem, is too proud to beg, and
  when everybody who does not beg is expected to play the almoner.
  "Tie up the knocker - say you're sick, you are dead," is the
  best advice perhaps that could be given in such cases to any
  man who has a street-door and a knocker upon it.

This custom, seasonal visitors to Britain may be assured, has now died out, though solicitations for Christmas tips continue to some extent, especially from the deliverers of newspapers. Instead, on Boxing Day people now rush to the first post-Christmas sales.







07-Aug-2003 - 09-Aug-2003 - Buenos Aires, Argentina 


Meeting Description:

Linguistic Subfield(s): General Linguistics


Sponsored by ALFA (Formal Linguistics Association of Argentina) and Master in Linguistics (Universidad Nacional del Comahue).


Contact Person: Patricia Jacob - Meeting Email:


1st CALL FOR PAPERS - Call Deadline: 01-Apr-2003


The II Encuentro de Gramatica Generativa will be organized by the Instituto en Lenguas Vivas Juan Ramon Fernandez on August 7-9, 2003. Submissions are invited for papers in any field related to the formal study of grammar (syntax, morphology, phonology, semantics,lexical theory, interfaces, language acquisition, philosophy of language). Talks will be organized around major topics, depending on the content of the submissions.




The abstracts should be sent by e-mail as a Word or RTF file to the following address: Abstracts should be no longer than two pages, including references and examples, with margins of at least 1-inch, letter size 12. At the beginning of your email, in

the plain text part of it, please supply the following information:

- name,

- affiliation,

- title of the paper,

- email address,

- snail mail address.


The format of the conference is 30 min for presentation + 10 min for discussion. The official languages of the conference are Spanish, Portuguese and English.



Notification of acceptance will be no later than April 30th, 2003.


CONFERENCE FEES (estimated):

- Regular: $ 30

- Student: free



Cristina Banfi (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba)

Eduardo Bibiloni (Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco)

Heles Contreras (University of Washington)

Marcela Depiante (Universidad Nacional del Comahue)

Angela Di Tullio (Universidad Nacional del Comahue)

Celia Jakubowicz (Universite de Paris V CNRS)

Pascual Masullo (University of Pittsburgh)

Nora Mógica (Universidad Nacional del Rosario)

Jairo Nunes (Universidade de Campinas)


Organizing Committee: Patricia Jacob (IES en Lenguas Vivas), Marcela Depiante (U.N. del Comahue), Laura Kornfeld (CONICET/ Universidad de Buenos Aires), Silvia Iummato (IES en Lenguas Vivas), Moira Alvarez (CONICET/ Universidad de Buenos Aires), Julieta Barba (IES en Lenguas Vivas/ Universidad de Buenos Aires), Lucía Brandani (CONICET/ Universidad de Buenos Aires), Carolina Fraga (IES en Lenguas Vivas),Mercedes Valerga (ISP Joaquín V. González), Elena Ganazzoli (Universidad de La Plata) y Cecilia Pfister (ISP Joaquín V. Gonzá¡lez)


For further information:






Our dear SHARER Laura Renart sends us all this invitation:


TS Eliot Bilingual Studies - Summer courses for teachers and advanced students


Course for Teachers and Advanced Students of English

Advanced language practice based on videos, songs, poems and other authentic materials.


Dynamic sessions to brush up your English, extend your vocabulary load and  improve your fluency. Small groups. Time-table to be agreed on with the group.



One meeting per week: $ 60 (4 classes in January and / or February)

Two meetings per week: $ 100 (8 classes in January and / or February)


Personalised training for students willing to start teacher training college or translation courses at tertiary level. Personalised intensive writing sessions



Claudia Ferradas Moi

Master of Arts in Education and Professional Development, University of East Anglia - PhD candidate, University of Nottingham

Teacher trainer at the Instituto de Enseñanza Superior en Lenguas Vivas "J.R. Fernández", Universidad Virtual de Quilmes and NILE (Norwich Institute for Language Education), UK

Literature consultant for the British Council

Co-director of the T.S.ELIOT Bilingual Studies Centre


Laura Renart

Master of Arts in Education and Professional Development, University of East Anglia

Teacher trainer at the Instituto Superior del Profesorado "Pbro. Dr Antonio Sáenz",  Universidad Virtual de Quilmes, UADE and NILE (Norwich Institute for Language Education), UK

Co-director of the T.S.ELIOT Bilingual Studies Centre


Please phone or e-mail for further information.

Alem 1380 - (1828) Banfield - Buenos Aires - Tel./fax (54) (11) 4202 - 3672

e-mail:  -  

Página web:






Last week we published the list of recipients of the Ignoble Prizes. Today our dear SHARER Joyce Spencer from North Carolina contributes the names and citations of the 2001 and 2000 winners.


What are the Ig Nobel Prizes?


The Igs are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology. The Prizes are awarded at a gala ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre. 1200 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes. The Prizes are physically handed to the winners by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates. The Igs are inflicted on you by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR),and co-sponsored by: the Harvard Computer Society;

the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students;



The 2001 Ig Nobel Prize Winners



Peter Barss of McGill University, for his impactful medical report "Injuries Due to Falling Coconuts." [Published in: The Journal of Trauma, vol. 21, no. 11, 1984, pp. 990-1.]



David Schmidt of the University of Massachusetts for his partial solution to the question of why shower curtains billow inwards.



Buck Weimer of Pueblo, Colorado for inventing Under-Ease, airtight underwear with a replaceable charcoal filter that removes bad-smelling gases before they escape.



Joel Slemrod, of the University of Michigan Business School, and Wojciech Kopczuk, of University of British Columbia, for their conclusion that people find a way to postpone their deaths if that that would qualify them for a lower rate on the inheritance tax. [reference:"Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity," National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. W8158, March 2001.]



John Richards of Boston, England, founder of The Apostrophe Protection Society, for his efforts to protect, promote, and defend the differences between plural and possessive.



Lawrence W. Sherman of Miami University, Ohio, for his influential research report "An Ecological Study of Glee in Small Groups of Preschool Children." [PUBLISHED IN: Child Development, vol. 46, no. 1, March 1975, pp. 53-61.]



Dr. Jack and Rexella Van Impe of Jack Van Impe Ministries, Rochester Hills, Michigan, for their discovery that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell. [Reference: The March 31, 2001 television and Internet broadcast of the "Jack Van Impe Presents" program. (at about the 12 minute mark).]



Viliumas Malinauskus of Grutas, Lithuania, for creating the amusement park known as "Stalin World"



Awarded jointly to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, for patenting the wheel in the year 2001, and to the Australian Patent Office for granting him Innovation Patent #2001100012.



Chittaranjan Andrade and B.S. Srihari of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, for their probing medical discovery that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents. [REFERENCE: "A Preliminary Survey of Rhinotillexomania in an Adolescent Sample," Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 62, no. 6, June 2001, pp. 426-31.]



The 2000 Ig Nobel Prize Winners



David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kreuger of the University of Illinois, for their modest report, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments." [Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 77, no. 6, December 1999, pp. 1121-34.]



Jasmuheen (formerly known as Ellen Greve) of Australia, first lady of Breatharianism, for her book "Living on Light," which explains that although some people do eat food, they don't ever really need to.



Richard Wassersug of Dalhousie University, for his first-hand report, "On the Comparative Palatability of Some Dry-Season Tadpoles from Costa Rica." [Published in The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 86, no. 1, July 1971, pp. 101-9.]



Andre Geim of the University of Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and Sir Michael Berry of Bristol University (UK), for using magnets to levitate a frog and a sumo wrestler. [REFERENCE: "Of Flying Frogs and Levitrons" by M.V. Berry and A.K. Geim, European Journal of Physics, v. 18, 1997, p. 307-13.]



Donatella Marazziti, Alessandra Rossi, and Giovanni B. Cassano of the University of Pisa, and Hagop S. Akiskal of the University of California (San Diego), for their discovery that, biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from having severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. [REFERENCE: "Alteration of the platelet serotonin transporter in romantic love," Marazziti D, Akiskal HS, Rossi A, Cassano GB, Psychological Medicine, 1999 May;29(3):741-5.]



The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, for bringing efficiency and steady growth to the mass-marriage industry, with, according to his reports, a 36-couple wedding in 1960, a 430-couple wedding in 1968, an 1800-couple wedding in 1975, a 6000-couple wedding in 1982, a 30,000-couple wedding in 1992, a 360,000-couple wedding in 1995, and a 36,000,000-couple wedding in 1997.



Willibrord Weijmar Schultz, Pek van Andel, and Eduard Mooyaart of Groningen, The Netherlands, and Ida Sabelis of Amsterdam, for their illuminating report, "Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Male and Female Genitals During Coitus and Female Sexual Arousal." [Published in British Medical Journal, vol. 319, 1999, pp 1596-1600.]



Chris Niswander of Tucson, Arizona, for inventing PawSense, software that detects when a cat is walking across your computer keyboard.



The British Royal Navy, for ordering its sailors to stop using live cannon shells, and to instead just shout "Bang!"



Jonathan Wyatt, Gordon McNaughton, and William Tullet of Glasgow, for their alarming report, "The Collapse of Toilets in Glasgow." [Published in the Scottish Medical Journal, vol. 38, 1993, p. 185.]






Our dear friend and SHARER Susan Hillyard sends us this invitation:  


Wednesday 1st January - 11.30 p.m.

Bluesberry Jam

Featuring Mick Hillyard  singing rock 'n roll in English

At Kilkenny

Reconquista and Alvear - Downtown




Today we will say goodbye with a story our dear friend and SHARER Susana Bosso sent us:


Queridos Omar y Marina:

                                  Como todo lo que hago con el corazón lo hago utilizando mi propio idioma. Al leer esta historia he pensado en Ustedes que nos brindan su mensaje semanal y su tiempo para mantenernos comunicados.









Existían millones de estrellas en el Cielo. Estrellas de todos los colores: blancas, plateadas,

verdes, doradas, rojas y azules. Un día, inquietas, ellas se acercaron a Dios y le dijeron:

-"Señor Dios, nos gustaría vivir en la Tierra entre los hombres".

-"Así será hecho", respondió el Señor. “Pueden bajar a la Tierra".

Cuéntase que, en aquella noche, hubo una linda lluvia de estrellas. Algunas se acurrucaron en las torres de las Iglesias, otras fueron a jugar y a correr junto con las luciérnagas por los campos, otras se mezclaron con los juguetes de los niños...y la Tierra quedó maravillosamente iluminada.

Pero con el pasar del tiempo, las estrellas resolvieron abandonar a los hombres y volver para el Cielo, dejando la Tierra obscura y triste.

-"¿Por qué volvieron?", preguntó Dios,a medida que ellas iban llegando al Cielo.

-"Señor, no nos fue posible permanecer en la Tierra. Allá existe mucha miseria y violencia, mucha maldad, mucha injusticia...

"Y el Señor les dijo: -"¡Claro!, el lugar de ustedes es aquí en el Cielo, la Tierra es el lugar de lo transitorio, de aquello que pasa, de aquel que cae, de aquel que yerra, de aquel que muere... nada es perfecto".

-El Cielo es el lugar de la perfección, de lo inmutable, de lo eterno, donde nada perece.

Después que llegaron todas las estrellas y verificando su número,Dios habló de nuevo:

-"Nos está faltando una estrella... ¿será que se perdió en el camino?".

Un ángel que estaba cerca replicó: -"No Señor, una estrella resolvió quedarse entre los hombres, ella descubrió que su lugar es exactamente donde existe la imperfección, donde hay límite, donde las cosas no van bien, donde hay lucha y dolor".

-"¿Mas qué estrella es ésa?",volvió Dios a  preguntar.

-"Es la esperanza, Señor, la estrella verde... la única estrella de ese color".


Y cuando miraron para la Tierra, la estrella no estaba sola. La Tierra estaba nuevamente iluminada porque había una estrella verde en el corazón de cada persona. Porque el único sentimiento que el hombre tiene y Dios no necesita tener, es la esperanza. Dios ya conoce el futuro y la esperanza es propia de la persona humana, propia de aquel que yerra, de aquel que no es perfecto, de aquel que no sabe como será el futuro.

Recibe en este momento, esta estrellita en tu corazón: "la esperanza"... tu estrella verde.

No dejes que ella huya y no permitas que se apague. Ten certeza que ella iluminará tu camino... se siempre positivo y agradece a Dios por todo. Se siempre feliz y contagia con tu corazón iluminando a otras personas.




Omar and Marina.


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