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The Grammar Thread

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IanB

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Tom and Harry were both taking an English test at school on the use of had or had had and went to look at the results. Harry beat Tom, because in the answer to question 4, Harry, where Tom had had had, had had had had, had had had had the teacher's approval, so he scored full marks. ;)
You need a semi-colon after the 7th "had". Or a full stop if it doesn't have to be a single sentence.
 

schnapps95

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Have a look/search for English dialect from places such as in Lancashire and Yorkshire... 😉
Or you could read the book titled Teisdal' en how twas spok'n (Teesdale and how it was spoken). I live in Teesdale on the Yorkshire side of the river which was origanly the boundry of the North Riding of Yorshire and County Durham when i read the book i was amazed how many dialect words are still used by older people like me (80yrs). I believe the author Kathleen Teward was a school teacher
 

PhilipL

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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.
At least you don't have to learn the (sometimes multiple for a single item) genders associated with nouns.
 

heimlaga

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At least you don't have to learn the (sometimes multiple for a single item) genders associated with nouns.
For me speaking a dialect of Swedish which retains the old three gender system that is just the normal way of thinking and speaking.
In my dialect as well as in the dialects of Norwegian that retain the three gender system and in Faroeese and Icelandic which both retain the tree gender system most things have the same gender. If you know the gender of a thing in one language it is usually the same in another. Of cause this rule of thumb does not hold true 100% but it is close enough for a carpenter in everyday talk.
However.....and this is the tricky part...... this rule of thumb does apparently not apply to German.
I wonder if it would apply to old English? Never thought of that.

Standard Swedish is based on the Stockholm dialect which lost it's three gender system in the middle ages influenced by Danish and Low German. The Stockholm dialect is in many ways more Danish than Swedish to this day.
Therefore we still call it to "dänsk" when somebody speaks standard Swedish. To "danish" that is.
 
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Cozzer

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I suspect a lot of 'bad grammar' can be put down to laziness, but something which has always intrigued me is how certain people use 'was' and 'were' the wrong way round!
"We was walking down the road" and "I were standing at the corner" being examples.
Laziness can't explain it, as surely only one of 'em would be used!
 

Sporky McGuffin

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I suspect a lot of 'bad grammar' can be put down to laziness
There's an academic argument (with considerable merit) that natural/"bad" grammar is more grammatical than (for example) standard English, because it conforms to simpler, more consistent rules. IIRC much of standard English was a middle class conceit to enable the belittling if those not sufficiently middle class (and I say that as a jolly middle class chap).
 

Cozzer

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There's an academic argument (with considerable merit) that natural/"bad" grammar is more grammatical than (for example) standard English, because it conforms to simpler, more consistent rules. IIRC much of standard English was a middle class conceit to enable the belittling if those not sufficiently middle class (and I say that as a jolly middle class chap).
As a mere underling, I touch forelock and bow to your superior knowledge, squire! :giggle:
 

Daniel2

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There's an academic argument (with considerable merit) that natural/"bad" grammar is more grammatical than (for example) standard English, because it conforms to simpler, more consistent rules. IIRC much of standard English was a middle class conceit to enable the belittling if those not sufficiently middle class (and I say that as a jolly middle class chap).
It looks like it probably still is. :unsure: 😂
 

Cirks

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As a mere underling, I touch forelock and bow to your superior knowledge, squire! :giggle:
Part of grammar is about making readability and understanding better. However, I still read the end of that as you complementing a clever common garden/tree rodent. 😂
 

Cozzer

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Part of grammar is about making readability and understanding better. However, I still read the end of that as you complementing a clever common garden/tree rodent. 😂
Specsavers, mate! :LOL:

(Almost Mattel, a toy maker of note from the days of my youth)
 

Fergie 307

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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.
I have to agree with you on the text speak. My daughter derives great enjoyment from sending me messages full of these abbreviations, which I then have to ask her to translate because I have no idea what they mean!
 

Fergie 307

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PhilTilson

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I have many pet grammar hates! Over time, I will probably list most of them, but one which has just come up again is the use of 'purposefully' when the speaker means 'purposely'. Do people think that 'purposefully' sounds more 'correct' or 'posh' when they use it? Or is it just ignorance?
 

Yojevol

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A saying that people often get wrong involves under/overestimate. This is a recent example regarding the closure of Hunterston B Power Station:-

'Station director Paul Forrest said the economic contribution made by the plant, which is run by EDF Energy, could not be underestimated'

He should have used 'over'. 'Overstated' would have been even better. In fact it has been very easy to understate the output as the station has never achieved its full potential.
The one that really annoys me is the use of 'basis'. Everything has to be done on a 'daily basis'. Why not just 'daily'?

Another one, which now seems to be hard wired into our language, is the misuse of 'I' and 'me' when combined with another person. The problem has been around a long time. My wife refers to the advice given by her English teacher - if in doubt remove the other person and the correct I/me will be obvious. This error is usually compounded by the speaker putting him/she/theyself first, eg 'me and my mate went....' instead of 'My mate and I went....'
Brian
 
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