Thursday, May 3, 2007

In English and war there are no rules

As one of my resolutions stated I wanted to improve my English. That's why I was very happy to find an English course offered by UCSF to foreign postdocs, which aimed at improving our writing skills. The first class of this course took place last Monday and its subject was "Articles". As all of you know (or noticed in this blog) concept of articles does not exist in Polish language, that's why we (I) insert them semi-randomly wherever we think they might make sense. So I hoped that this class would help me to understand the rules of articles usage. I couldn't have been more wrong.
It seems that even native speakers have no idea which article should be placed where. We had three teachers and, therefore, three different opinions on this subject. (BTW: It would have been much smarter to have four teachers as there are only 3 options: no article, the or a/an; so with four teachers we would have had at least one of these options supported by two people.) At certain moment our teachers started shouting at each other (!?!) and I was almost sure that soon they would start using their fists too.
Here you can see a sample text that we had during the class. Our task was to fill in the blanks with the appropriate articles.

(1).... Sequence comparison between (2).... falcipain-2 and (3).... falcipain-3 showed (4).... 68% similarity. (5).... C-Terminal insert near (6).... C-terminus in (7).... mature domain mediates (8)..... binding to (9)..... hemoglobin. (10)..... Inhibition of (11).... cysteine proteases causes (12).... accumulation of (13).... undegraded hemoglobin and blocks (14).... parasite development. (15).... Falcipain-2 and (16)..... falcipain-3 were validated as (17)..... good drug target for (18).... malarial infection. Here, we report (19).... three-dimensional crystal structure of (20).... falcipain-2 with (21).... small molecule inhibitor E-64. (22).... Structure of (23).... falcipain-2 with (24).... E-64 reveals (25) .... details of (26).... interaction at (27).... active site. In addition, (28).... structure of (29).... falcipain-2 with (30).... E-64 will help to design and improve (31).... potential drug against (32).... malarial infection.