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The Grammar Thread

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Cozzer

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...and don't - don't! - even think about getting me started on the increasing number of people who think that the shortened version of "etcetera" is "ect."

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Cooper

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Standard English is an artificial construction to start with.
I'm sure you are right. When a child my grandmother and father drilled into us the "correct" way to pronounce words, though as I grew up in Saaff London there were lots of other influences.
When I started teaching I worked in Brixton, where there was a very local mixture of South London "cockney" and West Indian patois, used by most of the children. I couldn't come near to imitating it and reverted to how I was forced to speak as a child. I had the most brilliant put down from one lad, which still makes me smile 45 years later. He turned to me, while I was trying to explain something complicated and said "Sir, are your people wealthy" in a really comic posh accent. He had everyone, including me, in stitches.
 

Cozzer

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I'm sure you are right. When a child my grandmother and father drilled into us the "correct" way to pronounce words, though as I grew up in Saaff London there were lots of other influences.
When I started teaching I worked in Brixton, where there was a very local mixture of South London "cockney" and West Indian patois, used by most of the children. I couldn't come near to imitating it and reverted to how I was forced to speak as a child. I had the most brilliant put down from one lad, which still makes me smile 45 years later. He turned to me, while I was trying to explain something complicated and said "Sir, are your people wealthy" in a really comic posh accent. He had everyone, including me, in stitches.
Irie man...
 

Cozzer

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I didn't have to look very far for this fine specimen - it appeared on a local forum a few hours ago. I'm sorry, but if this is an example of the way things are going.....well, I despair.

"Had to break in (emergency council home ) smashed glass top panel door but with it been a upvc door it’s cracked the welded joints so basically the door is now useless ,will not open so reported by police for us ,the same day it was boarded up to make safe temp fix ,fine,2 days later one bloke out to measure up thought he was measuring up for new door ,few days later ,now they are sending glazers to replace the glass only in a clapped out door explained but say they are firstly replacing glass ,? so up to now one bloke to board one bloke to measure and 2 blokes with glass and still require a door ,seriously I see why this council waste so much money embarrassing and still wants a new door"

Amusingly - ?! - it had already been edited by the poster because of "a mistake"....
 

Yorkieguy

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There are two assertions that are often made, neither of which hold any validity.

Firstly: That there is only one 'correct' version of the English language - namely, British English. Fine of you're in Britain, but not so otherwise. There are at least 17 mainstream versions of English in use, all perfectly valid. Not just me saying that - I'm happy to defer to linguists such as Professor David Crystal - a foremost linguist and writer of more than 100 books. Here are a few of his many videos on 'Englishes':

David Crystal - World Englishes - Bing video
Full Circle & David Crystal: The Future of Englishes - Bing video
David Crystal - Will English Always Be the Global Language? - Bing video

This too 'Cambridge English':

Varieties of English | English Language Learning Tips | Cambridge English - Bing video

As to spelling and grammar, some American English words make more sense than British English. For example, 'pencilling' in Br. English gains a redundant 'l' on the end of 'pencil' . American English does not.
And why - when we combine 'beauty' and 'full' - does the word lose an 'l' at the end to become 'beautiful'?

In my view, to deride American English or any other version as not valid is not only out of step with linguists, it's rude and pompous. Australians have two colloquialisms which nicely describe those who exhibit such traits: 'Tall Poppies' and 'Roost Rulers'.

The population of the UK is around 66 million. An estimated 400 million people speak one or another version of English as a first language, another 600 million are estimated to speak it competently as a second language, and an estimated 1 billion other people have a working knowledge of English if only a smattering, so that's 2 billion in all. Hence, the 66 million of us who speak British English represents just 3.3% of the total. So anyone who thinks that we have any influence at all on how English continues to evolve is tilting at windmills. Like t or not, More people in the world write 'color' than colour, and 'center' than centre.

Unlike France, where he Académie française (established in 1635 to act as the official authority on the usages, has impoverished rather than enriched the language by trying (but failing) to prevent the 'Anglicisation' of French, the British have always been content to allow the language to accept 'loan words' 'borrowed' from other languages including French.

Even between England and Scotland word usage differs. In England , if we ask someone if they've had the Covid-19 vaccine, we'd say 'have you had your jabs', or 'have you been jabbed?' In Scotland they say 'jags' or jagged'. In England we might say 'that's outside my responsibility or 'outside my area', in Scotland, instead of saying 'outside', they say 'without'.

I admit that there are 'Americanisms' that are creeping into use in England which I'm not keen on. In particular, in hotels and restaurants it's becoming commonplace to see 'Restroom', 'Bathroom' and 'Washroom' instead of 'toilet', 'Lavatory' or W.C. We don't go there for a wash, a bath or a rest - we need the toilet, the most common polite colloquial term for which in England tends to be 'the loo'.

Secondly: There is a view, (debunked almost two decades ago), that 'text speak' is making young people illiterate. Not so. It's a language in its own right and makes perfect sense to abbreviate words when texting and to leave letters out of words you need to know what letters to remove. A couple of videos:

David Crystal on Texting (S1E2 of It's Only a Theory) - Bing video
Text speak makes youngsters' spelling BETTER, David Crystal says | Daily Mail Online

I have three granddaughters - one aged 23 with a first class Hons degree in English, and twins aged 21 in their second year at Oxford. They all gained A star grades in English at 'O' and 'A' level. They text extensively using 'text speak'. If I took them to task for that, they'd laugh me off the face of the planet and rightly so. It's me - not they - who lacks literacy as despite having a smartphone for ten years, I've not acquired the language of 'text speak' because I send few texts. (Some abbreviations have been around in written English for a very long time - ASAP for example, and rather ironically, the rather stuffy 'RSVP' - an abbreviation of the French term 'répondez s'il vous plaît'.

Incidentally, one development of the use of computer databases of addresses is the dropping of apostrophes at the end of street names, such as St Jame's or St James's'. (Now St James'). Had they not been dropped, it could literally cost lives by creating delays in the emergency services locating place names in the database to despatch police officers, firefighters or paramedics.

Just my wordy take on things - I'm quite content if others don't concur.
 

Jacob

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There are two assertions that are often made, neither of............ More people in the world write 'color' than colour, and 'center' than centre.

.........
Worldwide more english speaking people pronounce a short A; "grass" rhyming with "ass", rather than the other thing. Not sure which is standard english but it's 'posh' even though basically a very local SE British pronunciation.
I has a posh girlfriend once, into ponies and talking of saddling up with things pronounced "barth mats" . I thought it was another word until she explained that "barth" meant "bath" . Didn't last long.
 
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jcassidy

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Germany also has a statutory commission which determines what German is. Of course, they have many Germanic languages, so there can only be one version of the language taught in schools. Fie example they got rid of the heissen since I learnt German; no more funny B, it's always two 's' now. "Ich heisse John" rather than "Ich heiBe John".

The Italians took another approach and decided that the language spoken in Tuscany would be the official lingo, and every other language spoken was just a 'dialect'. Officially because Dante wrote in Tuscan, doesn't harm that the first prime minister was Tuscan neither. Never mind that the Sicilian spoken by my father in law has about as much in common with the dialect in for e.g. Treviso, as Spanish has to French.
 

D_W

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A fellow who I know well worked at Williamsburg in public view for about 16 years (and then managed to get a job that was mostly out of sight).

One of the interesting things that he relays (and I couldn't do accurately for most european countries other than france and germany) is the typical kind of tone that comes across when someone would go past his context (musical instruments when he was working publicly).

Germans have a well-earned reputation (not all, this is sort of an average thing) for being particular in wanting to know what's correct and if it's something they don't know that much about, being very curious from a "gathering the facts" kind of perspective.

(Americans, if you're wondering, are across the board, but often one of the things in the US since there's no craft economy here is to have someone say "if I had the same tools you do, I could make the same thing just as easily. You're just hiding behind having all of those tools).

I don't remember what he said about the English.
 

D_W

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Germany also has a statutory commission
This triggered my thought above (about the Germans) - to not only know that you're technically right about language usage, but to have a commission with actual published rules to prove it.
 

paulrbarnard

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There are two assertions that are often made, neither of which hold any validity.

Firstly: That there is only one 'correct' version of the English language - namely, British English. Fine of you're in Britain, but not so otherwise. There are at least 17 mainstream versions of English in use, all perfectly valid. Not just me saying that - I'm happy to defer to linguists such as Professor David Crystal - a foremost linguist and writer of more than 100 books. Here are a few of his many videos on 'Englishes':

David Crystal - World Englishes - Bing video
Full Circle & David Crystal: The Future of Englishes - Bing video
David Crystal - Will English Always Be the Global Language? - Bing video

This too 'Cambridge English':

Varieties of English | English Language Learning Tips | Cambridge English - Bing video

As to spelling and grammar, some American English words make more sense than British English. For example, 'pencilling' in Br. English gains a redundant 'l' on the end of 'pencil' . American English does not.
And why - when we combine 'beauty' and 'full' - does the word lose an 'l' at the end to become 'beautiful'?

In my view, to deride American English or any other version as not valid is not only out of step with linguists, it's rude and pompous. Australians have two colloquialisms which nicely describe those who exhibit such traits: 'Tall Poppies' and 'Roost Rulers'.

The population of the UK is around 66 million. An estimated 400 million people speak one or another version of English as a first language, another 600 million are estimated to speak it competently as a second language, and an estimated 1 billion other people have a working knowledge of English if only a smattering, so that's 2 billion in all. Hence, the 66 million of us who speak British English represents just 3.3% of the total. So anyone who thinks that we have any influence at all on how English continues to evolve is tilting at windmills. Like t or not, More people in the world write 'color' than colour, and 'center' than centre.

Unlike France, where he Académie française (established in 1635 to act as the official authority on the usages, has impoverished rather than enriched the language by trying (but failing) to prevent the 'Anglicisation' of French, the British have always been content to allow the language to accept 'loan words' 'borrowed' from other languages including French.

Even between England and Scotland word usage differs. In England , if we ask someone if they've had the Covid-19 vaccine, we'd say 'have you had your jabs', or 'have you been jabbed?' In Scotland they say 'jags' or jagged'. In England we might say 'that's outside my responsibility or 'outside my area', in Scotland, instead of saying 'outside', they say 'without'.

I admit that there are 'Americanisms' that are creeping into use in England which I'm not keen on. In particular, in hotels and restaurants it's becoming commonplace to see 'Restroom', 'Bathroom' and 'Washroom' instead of 'toilet', 'Lavatory' or W.C. We don't go there for a wash, a bath or a rest - we need the toilet, the most common polite colloquial term for which in England tends to be 'the loo'.

Secondly: There is a view, (debunked almost two decades ago), that 'text speak' is making young people illiterate. Not so. It's a language in its own right and makes perfect sense to abbreviate words when texting and to leave letters out of words you need to know what letters to remove. A couple of videos:

David Crystal on Texting (S1E2 of It's Only a Theory) - Bing video
Text speak makes youngsters' spelling BETTER, David Crystal says | Daily Mail Online

I have three granddaughters - one aged 23 with a first class Hons degree in English, and twins aged 21 in their second year at Oxford. They all gained A star grades in English at 'O' and 'A' level. They text extensively using 'text speak'. If I took them to task for that, they'd laugh me off the face of the planet and rightly so. It's me - not they - who lacks literacy as despite having a smartphone for ten years, I've not acquired the language of 'text speak' because I send few texts. (Some abbreviations have been around in written English for a very long time - ASAP for example, and rather ironically, the rather stuffy 'RSVP' - an abbreviation of the French term 'répondez s'il vous plaît'.

Incidentally, one development of the use of computer databases of addresses is the dropping of apostrophes at the end of street names, such as St Jame's or St James's'. (Now St James'). Had they not been dropped, it could literally cost lives by creating delays in the emergency services locating place names in the database to despatch police officers, firefighters or paramedics.

Just my wordy take on things - I'm quite content if others don't concur.
David Crystal seems pretty prolific. He is undoubtedly a cunning linguist.
 

Cozzer

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Americans...
Why do they "sodder" electrical components?
And why do they measure the "heighth" of things?
 

Trainee neophyte

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My mother has an issue with everyone now pronouncing all the vowels in "temporarily" (it ought to be "temprally", apparently) and "ordinarily" ("ord'nraly" or some such, rather than the cumbersome ord-in-AR-ril-ee). I keep telling her that when she was a gal there was a war on, so people had to economise. All those wartime propaganda films with clipped vowels and frightfully awkward goodbye scenes. And inappropriately named dogs, obviously.
 

PhilipL

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Language is political (as well as relevant to class war). The Protestant northern Irish (they don't like that latter word usage) started up the Ulster-Scots language in opposition to Gaelic. Their main text book is called An Ulster Scots Grammar. Unfortunately the intro tells you that they have not yet found the rules of its grammar.

It is screamingly funny.

"Taepitinfir"? To apply for.
 

heimlaga

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West Country English - Wikipedia

As Lt-Col. J. A. Garton observed in 1971,[10] traditional Somerset English has a venerable and respectable origin, and is not a mere "debasement" of Standard English:
'If I'd a-know'd I 'ooden never a-went
That scentence has paralells in Swedish and Norwegian. If standard English had kept that sort of grammar it would be far easier for us who speak other Germanic languages to learn English.
 

accipiter

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'If I'd a-know'd I 'ooden never a-went
That scentence has paralells in Swedish and Norwegian. If standard English had kept that sort of grammar it would be far easier for us who speak other Germanic languages to learn English.
Have a look/search for English dialect from places such as in Lancashire and Yorkshire... 😉
 

heimlaga

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Have a look/search for English dialect from places such as in Lancashire and Yorkshire... 😉
I have heard yorkshiremen speak their dialect and recognized plenty of words. Probably loan words brought there by the Vikings.
Lowland Scotish has a pronounciation which is a lot easier for me to speak than standard English. Fewer of those impossible sounds that get more plentiful the futher south one goes in England and even more plentiful in America,

If you all spoke oldfashioned Shetland dialect one would hardly have to go to school to learn English.
The Shetlanders are only a few generations away from speking Norn which was essentially a dialect of Norwegian. The dialect of Swedish that I speak is a sort of halfways point between Swedish and Norwegian. Some Norwegian dialects are closer to my dialect than standard Swedish is. Hence I would probably understand Shetland Norn if there was anyone still speaking it.
 

Digger58

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What annoys me no end is the all too common use of "like". Its a filler word used with absolutely no thought and doesn't add anything to any conversation.
 

Cozzer

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'If I'd a-know'd I 'ooden never a-went
That scentence has paralells in Swedish and Norwegian. If standard English had kept that sort of grammar it would be far easier for us who speak other Germanic languages to learn English.
Many years ago I knew a girl from the Faroe Islands, and she tried to teach me a few words in Faroese.
I have to confess that the only one I remember - and I've no idea how to spell it correctly! - sounded like "pupperlingerhout".

She cheerfully told me it meant "richardhead" (or as near as damn it).

She also filled me in on the local culinary art* of catching a shark, urinating on it, and burying it for a few weeks before digging it up again "as a delicacy".

We didn't last.

* As far as I recall!

(Fearing that part of the above might get censored, read "Richard head" as opposed to whatever nonsense has been inserted!)

Edit : Amazing! It was actually censored to "Richard head"!
 
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