Marijampolės marijonų gimnazija
Marijampolės marijonų gimnazija

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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2013

U.S. Marines visit local school in Marijampolė!

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Sergeant Deondrick Fleming and Corporal Erik Haj

Recently, two marines from the U.S. Embassy Vilnius visited a school in Marijampolė, Lithuania, to

discuss the history, development, and significance of the English language.

Corporal Erik Haj and Sergeant Deondrick Fleming arrived to an auditorium full of applauding

middle school students and faculty. They began their presentation with a brief overview of the English

language’s genesis story, dating back to the fifth century, and proceeded to document its progression

from Old English (the language of Beowulf), to Middle English (that of Geoffrey Chaucer’sThe

Canterbury Tales), to Early Modern English (such as the plays of William Shakespeare), and finally

to Contemporary English and its many variations. “The great thing about English is that it is always

changing. There is no such thing as ‘standard English,’” Sgt. Fleming told the students. It is interesting

to note here that, quite contrarily, the Lithuanian language is extremely conservative, retaining many

linguistic features found only in ancient languages like Sanskrit and Ancient Greek.

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The marines next demonstrated term and spelling differences between American English and British or

European English, and the misunderstandings that can result. For instance, during a meeting of the

Allied Forces, William Churchill once used the verb “to table” which, in British English, means to open

an item for discussion. In American English, however, “to table” means to remove something from

discussion, or to suspend talks until further notice.

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Following their lecture, Haj and Fleming

encouraged questions from the audience. These ranged from dialectical inquiries about Sgt. Fleming’s

personal dialect (New Orleans Yat, if you were wondering) to comparative questions about lifestyle

difference between Lithuania and the United States. “For one thing,” Fleming responded, “the U.S. is a

young country. We don’t have the same amount of history as Lithuania. It’s nice to be in a place where

practically everything has value because, at some point in history, maybe even six hundred years ago,

it meant something.” He went on to discuss his role in the Marine Corps, the grueling bootcamp process,

and the benefits associated with the job. "I get to come to Lithuania!"

After the informal Q and A session, Corporal Haj and Sergeant Fleming posed for group photographs,

and received a series of thanks from students and faculty alike. It was a successful intercultural

exchange, one that both parties would like to continue in the future!

Posted by Travis Gunn at 1:00 PM

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Labels: Marijampole, Marines, people-to-people diplomacy, school visit, US Embassy

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