Ok, so...

We start statements with Ok, so... when we want to refer to a situation and make it sound less grave than someone is making it out to be. This is usually followed up with a reaction, a solution, a suggestion, a piece of advice, etc.. In this blog, I use this phrase to trivialize what was done with the girl's name, and then I react to it dismissively by saying Big deal!"Ok, so you burned the cupcakes. It's not the end of the world. We'll just pick some up at the bakery on the way to the party."

to strike

When something really stands out or makes a significant impression on you, it's safe to say that it somehow struck you — in a good or bad way. Consider it a more emphatic form of to notice."I'd always heard you were a good painter, but when I finally saw your work, what struck me the most was the incredible detail."

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I recently came across this article online about a woman in New Zealand who has a little girl named Mahinarangi (and I know I’m saying it correctly because I actually googled the pronunciation). At any rate, the article was about the fact that this woman was livid because the people at her daughter’s daycare had “shortened her name without her permission.” Apparently, it was too hard to pronounce.  Well, this article struck me on a lot of different levels, which I’d like to share with you here.


Ok, so they shortened her name. Big deal! I find the mother extremely naive. For starters, no matter how long or short your name is, the other kids are always going to shorten it or give you a different nickname altogether. I can’t imagine this girl's classmates running around calling her by a five-syllable name: “Mahinarangi, would you like some of my ice-cream?” By the time they get the whole name out, the ice-cream’s melted. And imagine the poor teachers! They have to deal with a bunch of kids running around, screaming, fighting, and well… being kids. Do you honestly think they have time to yell out such a long and complicated name? Frankly, I’m surprised the mother hasn’t shortened it! 


However, as I read on, I realized there were cultural factors at play that I hadn't taken into account. Apparently, the Maori people have been subjected to discrimination in the past, and the mother took the reduction of her daughter’s name as a racist move on the teachers’ part. That may very well be true, in which case I can’t blame her for her outrage. Sometimes change requires that people be outspoken when they feel marginalized. But at the same time, in a world that’s so easily offended, it’s hard to gauge the mother’s true motives. 


However, in the end, the thing that struck me the most about this article was the fact that with everything going on in the world… the war in the Ukraine, extreme weather conditions, global warming, a pandemic, etc., somebody actually took the time to write an article about the fact that a woman in New Zealand was mad at her daughter’s teachers for shortening her name. It just seemed so trivial in the grand scheme of things


Read the original article

New Words and Phrases

for starters...

This phrase is used when you're going to list two or more arguments, and this is the first one. However, note that this expression can sound a bit snippy or preachy — as if you're pointing out things that you assume others have missed or overlooked... often with a hint of self-righteousness or frustration."Dad, why won't you let me borrow the car this weekend?— For starters, you're not on my insurance. Second of all, the last time you borrowed it, you brought it back empty. And third of all, it has a flat tire!"

Big deal!

This is something we say when we feel that someone is making too much of something. It basically means who cares! For instance, in this blog, I use it to express that shortening the girl's name just doesn't seem like such a bad thing to me. I feel the mother's overreacting."When I was leaving for work this morning, I saw a raccoon in the garbage can, looking for food!"— Big deal. I see at least twenty of them in my backyard every night."You may also hear big whoop.

to come across

We basically use this phrasal verb in the sense of finding or discovering something by chance — when we're not looking for it. For instance, in this case, I was just scrolling through Facebook one day and I found this article on one of my friends' posts by chance. I've seen English learners use meet in this sense, which is incorrect. We only meet people for the most part. "Your mother and I were cleaning out the attic the other day and we came across one of your baby pictures.  I'd forgotten how blue your eyes were when you were a baby." 

in the end 

This expression basically means «after taking everything into account». In other words, after I had considered all the factors surrounding the issue of this girl's name, what struck me the most, was that someone had taken the time to write a whole article about it.


A move is another word for an action performed by someone in a particular situation. Very often, it refers to an action that we consider strategic, done with a purpose, as in this story, for example, where the teachers may have shortened Mahinarangi's name in order to serve their racist agenda.


This word, when used in front of a statement, has the force of «I can't confirm this with any certainty, but according to others...» We usually use it when we don't want to be quoted, or be responsible for the accuracy of the statement. Apparently makes it clear that other people are saying this and you've only heard or read it "through the grapevine" so to speak."Did you hear? Natasha and Gene are getting a divorce. Apparently, he cheated on her." 

may very well

We use the phrase very well with forms of can, might, may when we concede that something is absolutely possible. It's another way of saying «I admit it's possible» or «I'm not saying it's impossible»."My brother wants to borrow $2000 from me, and he swears he can pay me back over six months. He may very well do that, but I have my doubts. So I'm going to have him sign an agreement; you never know with him."
in the grand scheme of thingsThis phrase is used to put things in perspective. In this story, I use it to express that compared to other, more significant things going on in the world, shortening a little girl's name seems really trivial. 

Study Notes

Paragraph 1this article online | The adverb online is the  most common — and shortest way to refer to things you do, see, read on the internet. Although there's nothing wrong with the phrase on the internet, it's not as succinct or natural in conversation as online.At any rate | Notice that I kind of deviate from the story to mention that I found the pronunciation of the name Mahinarangi online, then used the phrase at any rate to let you know that I'm resuming the story. I'd like to | I oftentimes see non-natives use the phrase I want when they state their intentions at the beginning of essays and posts, etc. This sounds kind of brusque. The conditional I'd like to always sounds much "nicer" in these contexts... and in life in general.Paragraph 2altogether | This adverb expresses taking an action to the maximum — doing it completely, in every sense of its meaning, as opposed to partially. "When your ex saw you arrive at the party, did he at least say hi or did he ignore you altogether?"running around | This doesn't literally refer to running around; we use this phrase often when we refer to things people do — especially things we disapprove of. "It's good to be honest, but you can't run around telling people what you think all the time; one has to be tactful."get the whole name out | We speak of getting something out when we refer to things that are difficult to express, both in terms of their pronunciation and because of an emotional barrier. "She wanted to tell me what happened, but she was crying so hard that she couldn't get it out."the ice-cream's melted | Here, the interpretation of 's could be has or is, since melted can be both a participle and an adjective. Funny enough, in the context of this story, they both make sense. (See 's)well... being kids | Here again, I used well with a pause to sum up the situation as succinctly as possible. (See well [2])hasn't shortened it herself | One of the functions of the present perfect is to express not yet, as in this example. (See the present perfect [2b])

Paragraph 3

in which case | This is just a fancy way of saying «and if that's the case...». And although it looks kind of formal, it's actually quite common in conversation."I was thinking since it's Friday, I'd take you to my favorite restaurant and then a movie. But you sound like you're exhausted and would rather stay in tonight, in which case I'll order us a pizza and we can watch something on Netflix."that people be | This is an example of the subjunctive mood in English. It's not used as often today as it was in the past, and only with certain verbs — in this case require. Here's an excellent article on the subject, written by my friend, Linda.It just seemed so trivial | Here, I use the past tense seemed to refer to my reaction (in the past) when I read the article. I could also have used the present tense seems to refer to my impression now. We often refer to things we've read or heard in the past with a past tense verb to refer to how we felt the moment we came across them."I just read the email you wrote your boss and I thought it was a little too rushed. If you're resigning, you should be more expressive and thankful. After all, he's been good to you." Here, alternatively, you could refer to the letter in the present and say ...and I think it's a little too rushed.