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English "Non-Errors"

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violetriga
301009.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:41 pm Reply with quote

Interesting read...

http://www.wsu.edu/%7Ebrians/errors/nonerrors.html

 
suze
301014.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:15 pm Reply with quote

Excellent stuff there, v/r - I've known people who get hot under the collar about just about every one of those.

I am not such a person, by and large, although I'd have to admit that referring to the fact of a person being male or female as the person's gender grates on me. Referring to the act of coitus as "having gender" grates even more; I think the one person I've heard say it was joking ...

My father in law has a problem with Ms, a title which I used before my husband and I were married (I don't use Dr as my title outside the academic environment). I've tried not to hold it against him.

One which isn't there, but easily could have been. Should we stand by the dictionary definitions, or are we spitting in the wind if we tsk every time someone uses "jealous" when it ought to be "envious"?

 
Jenny
301020.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:28 pm Reply with quote

I cannot accept the article's assertion that 'momentarily' in the sense of 'any moment now' is standard usage in the UK as well as the US. I've never heard a British speaker of English use 'momentarily' to mean anything but 'for a moment', and I've never heard an American speaker of English use it to mean anything but 'in a moment.'

 
suze
301036.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:14 pm Reply with quote

I think the "American" sense of the word does see some use in Britain - I reckon I've heard things like "I'll be with you momentarily" this side of the pond.

I'd agree that the "British" sense is largely unknown in North America.

 
Jenny
301040.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:20 pm Reply with quote

I think it would be more normal for a British person to say 'I'll be with you in a moment' than 'I'll be with you momentarily.'

 
Muffins^
301050.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:32 pm Reply with quote

Or... 'Two ticks...' (where the heck does that come from btw?)

 
suze
301051.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:33 pm Reply with quote

Oh, undoubtedly. But - as with so many American usages - the influence of TV, movies, and all the rest of it has caused the American sense of the word to creep into British usage to some extent. Some bemoan this; I'd hardly be in a position to do so even if I wanted to.

Mind you, as I prepare for being a proper English teacher come September, I'm going to make a conscious attempt to use English rather than American from here on. This is something I've been thinking I ought to do for a little while, and now seems like a suitable opportunity to declare it. Therefore, anyone who catches me spelling in American or using words in ways that British English doesn't is at liberty to call me on it.

There are two exceptions - I will never get used to saying "film" instead of "movie", and everyone in Britain understands the latter anyways. And the human posterior will never be anything other than the "ass" to me; since this isn't a word I'd expect to use in the classroom in any case, that one shouldn't cause any confusion.

Oh yea, and "anyways". It's a personal foible, and I don't know that it's specifically an Americanism. In any case, it's staying.

 
Jenny
301055.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:40 pm Reply with quote

I think people in Britain tend to say 'going to the movies' as much as 'going to the cinema' or 'going to see a film' nowadays though. You're right I think suze that anybody in Britain would probably realise that if somebody with an American accent said something would happen momentarily they would mean any moment now, but I think if somebody said that in an English accent with that meaning an English listener would be confused.

 
ali
301065.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:21 pm Reply with quote

I still say 'going to the pictures'.

 
Lexeme
301106.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 2:16 am Reply with quote

There is no such thing as a "correct" grammar for speaking English.

Every dialect has its own rules: Cockney is a valid dialect, AAVE (Ebonics) is as well.

As a linguist, it seems silly that people try to correct others' speech. If, you are a native speaker of any language, and the sentence you've uttered, in your native language, sounds grammatical, then its grammatical! However,
standarisation of a written language is useful, for clarity's sake.

On a side-note, many of these rules, such as split-infitives, were made up by crackpots who loved latin too much.

If it sounds right to you, then use it!

 
Lexeme
301107.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 2:19 am Reply with quote

There is no such thing as a "correct" grammar for speaking English.

Every dialect has its own rules: Cockney is a valid dialect, AAVE (Ebonics) is as well.

As a linguist, it seems silly that people try to correct others' speech. If, you are a native speaker of any language, and the sentence you've uttered, in your native language, sounds grammatical, then its grammatical! However,
standarisation of a written language is useful, for clarity's sake.

On a side-note, many of these rules, such as split-infitives, were made up by crackpots who loved latin too much.

If it sounds right to you, then use it!

 
Hypnobabe
301149.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:41 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I cannot accept the article's assertion that 'momentarily' in the sense of 'any moment now' is standard usage in the UK as well as the US. I've never heard a British speaker of English use 'momentarily' to mean anything but 'for a moment', and I've never heard an American speaker of English use it to mean anything but 'in a moment.'


I always loved Terry Pratchett's attribution of it to Lord Vetinari, when he told people he would deal with their problem momentarily, and left them confused about whether he would deal with it immediately or just for a second or two....

 
violetriga
301237.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:13 am Reply with quote

Lexeme wrote:
There is no such thing as a "correct" grammar for speaking English.

...

If it sounds right to you, then use it!


I wouldn't say that's wholly correct really. The general rules of grammar apply but many specifics can, as you say, be ignored. Of course it's also very important to adapt your speaking to those you are with as the usual intention is to be understood and if you only care about what it sounds like to you personally then you can easily fail in that.

 
suze
301302.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:02 am Reply with quote

I guess that what lexeme is saying is that Linguistics should be descriptive rather than prescriptive - in which case I agree with him to a large extent.

And in fact, non-standard* grammar doesn't usually make an utterance in English impossible to understand - if I were to say "amn't snowing here in Kent" you'd know what I meant. It's more often non-standard syntax that makes it unclear what is meant.

This is not the case in all languages - in Polish, a sentence in which the words were in non-standard order but all the inflexions were standard would be entirely comprehensible; the converse would be ambiguous. A Polish sentence equivalent to "suze ate cat" could mean that I ate the cat, or that the cat ate me - and it's the inflexions that make it clear which.


* I use this term here so as to avoid the word "incorrect".

 
Lexeme
301414.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:11 am Reply with quote

Yes, that's what I was trying to say.

I do apologise for missing an apostrophe for one of my it's.

That's the benfits of inflected languages. Some days I wish that English retained its cases. I do so love the genetive, and, speaking of obsolete grammars the subjunctive is my favourite mood!

 

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