Pot Pourri (3) Suggested Answers


The following is an extract from Brotton, J. (2012) A History of the World in Twelve Maps, Penguin, pp, 218-219

Ever since the Habsburg emperor Charles V had inherited the Low Countries from his Burgundian ancestors in 1519, this fiercely independent patchwork of cities and municipalities had refused to accept what it regarded as the centralization of government and taxation by a foreign power, which ruled through governors-general based in Brussels. Four years before the arrests of 1544, Ghent refused to contribute to the Habsburg war effort against neighbouring France. The subsequent revolt was ruthlessly suppressed by Charles and his sister, Queen Maria of Hungary, governor and regent of the Low Countries.



If the answers contain any terms you are not familiar with, you can look them up in the ELT Glossary, where you will find an explanation and further examples.

1. Comment on the form, meaning and use of the two adverbs highlighted in the text – fiercely and ruthlessly. Transcribe them into phonemic script.

Fiercely: Adverb composed of adjective fierce plus adverb suffix  -ly. Meaning: strongly. Used here to intensify the following adjective independent. Transcription : /fɪəsli:/

Ruthlessly: Adverb of manner (used to express how something was done) composed of adjective ruthless plus adverb suffix –ly. Meaning: without pity. Here premodifies the main verb in the clause – suppress. Transcription :  /ru:θləsli:/


2. Define apposition, and identify and comment on its use in the extract. The extract shows that it is a common genre feature of expository text. But in what other genre would you expect to see it used frequently?

Definition: The use of two or more adjacent phrases, often (though not always, as in the first example below) separated by commas or parentheses, and each describing the same person, place, thing etc. Used to give extra information as concisely as possible. Examples:

  • the Habsburg emperor Charles V
  • his sister, Queen Maria of Hungary, governor and regent of the Low Countries.

 Apposition is also frequently found in press articles.


3. Comment on the form and use of the two occurrences of the word by in the text. Identify two other uses of uses of by. What problems might these cause for learners?

Form: preposition

Use in the text:  Indicates the agent of an action. In taxation by a foreign power the action is nominalised, but the same use is often found after passive verbs as in the second example : The subsequent revolt was suppressed by Charles and his sister.

Other uses

  • indicates how something is done, ie the means: eg We didn’t drive – we went by train.
  • indicates nearness or adjacency to a place: eg We had lunch by the river; There’s a lamp by the side of the bed
  • indicates a time or deadline, meaning “then or before”: It must be done by next Tuesday.

Problems for Learners

a) 'By' could be confused with 'with' . This can change the meaning  eg The man was hit by a brick / The man was hit with a brick. In the first, the action is done by the brick but in the second, there is the implication that the action is done by someone holding a brick and using it to hit the man.

b) German speakers may confuse 'by' with 'at’ as ‘bei’ in German is a false cognate. Because of L1 interference they might therefore say eg *I was by my aunt's house  (translating from Ich war bei meiner Tante) instead of at my aunt's house.

c) When describing means of transport/communication etc Ls might erroneously add a definite article *We went by the car / *I spoke to him by the telephone overgeneralising from other expressions with the same meaning but a different preposition – We went in the car / I spoke to him on the telephone


4. Comment on the form of the following words in the text : independent, centralization, neighbouring. Identify one problem each word might pose for learners.

Independent -  Form: negative adjective composed of positive adjective dependent plus negative prefix in-Problems: a) confusion over which negative prefix to use. Ls might produce eg *undependent; b) Spelling – tendency to substitute “a” for the final “e” - *independent.

Centralization – Form: singular uncountable noun formed from the verb centralize and noun suffix –ation. Problem: spelling – here the American spelling is used. learners might also see the UK spelling centralise/centralisation and become confused about whether one was right and the other wrong; when each should be used etc.

NeighbouringForm: adjective, used only attributively. Problems: a) Colligation - Ls might try to use it predicatively * France was neighbouring; b) Spelling – the US spelling is neighboring. The same confusion as with centralization might arise, or Ls who did recognise the difference between the two varieties might be confused as to why the US spelling is used for centralization, but the UK spelling for neighbouring; c) Pronunciation – the word contains a number of silent letters – “gh” and (in non-rhotic accents) the final “r”- Learners who first met the word in its written form  might try to pronounce these letters.


5. Identify the form and use of the cohesive ties of the italicised words in the first sentence.

his – 3rd person singular, masculine possessive determiner. Anaphoric reference to Charles V.

this – singular proximal demonstrative determiner. Anaphoric reference to the Low Countries.

it – 3rd person singular subject pronoun. Here, anaphoric reference to this fiercely independent patchwork of cities and municipalities

which – relative pronoun. Here anaphoric reference to foreign power


6. Identify the features of connected speech that might occur in the following phrases from the text

a) …refused to contribute to the Habsburg war effort

  • possible elision of final /d/ in refused.
  • probable vowel weakening in both instances of “to” from /u:/ to schwa /ə/
  • possible gemination of the final /t/ in contribute and following initial /t/ in to
  • possible use of intrusive /r/ to link the final vowel in war and initial vowel in effort

resulting in /rɪfju:z tə kəntrɪbju:tə ðə hæbzbəg wɔ:refət/

b)  … and his sister, Queen Maria of..

  • and: probable vowel weakening of /æ/ to schwa /ə/ and elision of /d
  • his: possible elision of /h/ and consonant vowel catenation of the final consonant    (whether /n/ or /d/) in “and” and the /ɪ/ in “is”
  • Queen Maria: regressive assimilation of place – final alveolar /n/ in Queen becomes a bilabial /m/ in front of the initial /m/ in “Maria”. The two adjacent /m/ sounds then geminate.
  • of: probable vowel weakening of /ɒ/ to schwa /ə/
  • Maria of: probable liaison – intrusive /r/ used to link the syllable final and initial vowels.

Resulting in /ənɪz sɪstə kwi:məri:jərəv/


c) …governor and regent of..

  • governor:  possible elision of second syllable
  • governor and: probable liaison – intrusive /r/ used to link the syllable final and   initial vowels.
  • and: probable vowel weakening of /æ/ to schwa /ə/ and possible elision of /d/
  • regent of: probable consonant vowel catenation of the syllable final /t/ and         following vowel.
  • of: probable vowel weakening of /ɒ/ to schwa /ə/

Resulting in: /gʌvnərən ri:ʤəntəv/