The Onion Radio: Rules Grammar Change

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Nonsense rules!


10 Responses

  1. the first time i came across The Onion was in a coffee bar in San Francisco trying to read the newspaer of a man across from me and trying to understand its nature/angle/perspective.
    I found it very confusing and eventually leant across and asked “is this newspaper real?”
    The man smiled -“sure”.
    It took me a while to realise he was having me on too.
    I now have a scrapbook of some of the best articles i found during the trip.

  2. Oh, the Onion paper is ace. I didn’t know there was actually a paper version until I went to the States last fall; I’d thought it was all an online spoof! But I just love it, full of funny stuff, some the type of “funny” you could manage if you were in a good mood, other things complete genius and off the wall.What a luxury to have a paper like that. It was the only one I brought back across the Atlantic.

    PS: But isn’t this genius, too? I mean, you can actually understand the word soup based on the intonation. I remember doing a speaking exercise using nonsense syllables, and making them sound like a love story or a thriller. I’m thinking of doing something similar with jumbled words.

  3. Huge fan of the Onion as well. I think it originated in Madison, WI if I’m not mistaken (that was the first place I ever saw it). But now most major American cities publish a weekly version with a section including listings of music clubs, movies, etc.

    I’ve done a couple lessons using news stories from the Onion, and had often wondered if the Onion Radio could be used as well. Your idea about intonation is intriguing, I feel gears turning in my head. Thanks!

  4. I’ve been experimenting with recordings of word soup and find for it to work the structure of the piece has to be very clear and recognizeable. Sentences can be as long as they like, but words should be in the phrase you expect them in. It could be used for any very short news item.
    Here’s the Onion Radio link for anyone who wanted to hear more.

    How about this activity for an upper intermediate English lesson:

    Onion Radio podcast dictogloss

    Part 1
    1. Play any Onion podcast (except this one), for example about depressed people being more depressed than other people. Students take notes
    2. Play again, students take notes again
    3. Students collaborate to reconstruct the feature, concentrating on making real sentences. The discussion about what was said and how to make a good sentence is the key thing here. What I mean is, if they don’t get it verbatim, that’s completely ok.
    4. Feedback. Review typical news chunks , viz “according to” “say that” “are expected to”
    5. Look at the overall structure of the news feature, consider whether the sequence could be switched (I’d be very surprized), look at use of tenses; whatever.
    Part 2
    6. Then listen to “Rules Grammar Change” and ask “What was that all about?”

  6. Hi Mike, very nice idea, will it try out:

    “The panellists take turns to say a word each, the ostensible object being to avoid completing a sentence: each word must leave the possibility of the sentence being completed in a grammatically correct and meaningful manner. When a grammatically correct sentence has been formed, the player who added the final word is eliminated. Play continues with the remaining players starting a new sentence. The last player left is the winner.”

    I suspect this is why the game is called Cheddar Gorge (video of Cheddar Gorge on a bike)

    Thanks for visiting 🙂

  7. “…What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?-”
    “-Instead of what it says here What is the strangest thing you ever saw? …which means..the same bloody thing!”
    Excellent! That gave me a laugh =)
    Cheddar Gorge is endless; I hadn’t actually investigated the place, having gone to the Wikipedia page. Thanks for those videos!

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