how to move about in the language without seeming to flail.

forgoodorill

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, everyone!
I read a book named The Glamour of Grammar recently. I don't understand about this sentence in it:

The reality I care about most is that some people will want to use the language well. They want to write effectively; they want to speak effectively. They want their language to be graceful at times and powerful at times. They want to understand how to use words well, how to manipulate sentences, and how to move about in the language without seeming to flail.

I want to ask you guys what's the meaning of 'move about'? And the meaning of this sentence in bold.

PS: 'in the language' is in italics in this book. But I don't know why.

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Jims-Rc

    Member
    Sinhala
    move about means move on...... it simply means "how to continue in the language without clearly struggling"
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    and how to move about in the language without seeming to flail.
    It does not necessarily mean 'make progress'. It has the idea of moving around from one place to another, and not be restricted to one particular place. By 'place', we understand 'situation'. They want to be able to do more than, for example, just talk about themselves or discuss the weather.
     

    forgoodorill

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It does not necessarily mean 'make progress'. It has the idea of moving around from one place to another, and not be restricted to one particular place. By 'place', we understand 'situation'. They want to be able to do more than, for example, just talk about themselves or discuss the weather.
    Thanks, tunaafi!
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    The phrase 'to move about in a language' is eye-catching because it's unusual. Ordinarily, if you said "I've been learning English for three years, and I can move about in it pretty well now" people would think you meant either that you can use public transportation without getting lost or that you can follow the directions in an exercise class when the teacher says "Stand so that your right foot is two feet behind our left foot."

    In the context of this book, there is a clever metaphor half-hidden in "how to move about in the language without seeming to flail" that echoes the words 'graceful' and 'powerful' in the previous sentence. Speaking a language well is like dancing.
     

    forgoodorill

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The phrase 'to move about in a language' is eye-catching because it's unusual. Ordinarily, if you said "I've been learning English for three years, and I can move about in it pretty well now" people would think you meant either that you can use public transportation without getting lost or that you can follow the directions in an exercise class when the teacher says "Stand so that your right foot is two feet behind our left foot."

    In the context of this book, there is a clever metaphor half-hidden in "how to move about in the language without seeming to flail" that echoes the words 'graceful' and 'powerful' in the previous sentence. Speaking a language well is like dancing.
    Thanks, Roxxxannne!:)
    And may I ask you two more questions about your reply related to this thread:
    1. You said there're two feelings after you said this: The sentence below just for you to look more easily, it completely copied from your post.
    Ordinarily, if you said "I've been learning English for three years, and I can move about in it pretty well now" people would think you meant either that you can use public transportation without getting lost or that you can follow the directions in an exercise class when the teacher says "Stand so that your right foot is two feet behind our left foot."
    So these two feelings( Sorry I don't know how to say this), they're just shows the man's level is high or medium, could pass this 'exam'? I think the man could past it.
    2. In the context of this book, there is a clever metaphor half-hidden in "how to move about in the language without seeming to flail" that echoes the words 'graceful' and 'powerful' in the previous sentence. Speaking a language well is like dancing.

    Where could see this 'speaking', I think it just said using language, Am I wrong?

    Thanks in advance!
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I'll answer 2) first:
    You're right. 'Using a language well is like dancing' is a better way of putting it than 'speaking a language' well, because using a language includes reading, writing, and listening.

    What I meant by 1) is that in ordinary conversation, people would understand 'move about in' literally. They would think you meant that you can get from one place to another in a city, or that you can follow directions to move parts of your body into different positions.

    I'm not sure what you mean by a person's level of English being high or medium in this context.
     

    forgoodorill

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I'll answer 2) first:
    You're right. 'Using a language well is like dancing' is a better way of putting it than 'speaking a language' well, because using a language includes reading, writing, and listening.

    What I meant by 1) is that in ordinary conversation, people would understand 'move about in' literally. They would think you meant that you can get from one place to another in a city, or that you can follow directions to move parts of your body into different positions.

    I'm not sure what you mean by a person's level of English being high or medium in this context.
    Thanks, Roxxxannne! I don't know how to express my gratitude to you! I understand it now. And the person's level means the person's English level in this context. Just the word I said. Sorry it confused you.:)
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I understood what you meant by 'level of English.' I didn't understand whether you meant 'What level of English does a person have who says sentences like "I've been learning English for three years, and I can move about in it pretty well now"' or
    "What level of English does a person have who can understand and use English well enough to follow directions in traveling or in an exercise class?"
    I'll continue this in a separate conversation, since my answer will take us far from your original question in this thread.
     

    forgoodorill

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I understood what you meant by 'level of English.' I didn't understand whether you meant 'What level of English does a person have who says sentences like "I've been learning English for three years, and I can move about in it pretty well now"' or
    "What level of English does a person have who can understand and use English well enough to follow directions in traveling or in an exercise class?"
    I'll continue this in a separate conversation, since my answer will take us far from your original question in this thread.
    :) :thumbsup: Thanks, RoxxxAnnne! You're so nice!
     
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