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The Language (and travel) Thread


Carol the Dabbler
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On 8/29/2021 at 11:21 AM, J.P. said:

I think there are two, actually different, developements here. One is the (also lingwistically) acknowledging non binary people, the second is a male/female emancipation of the language.

I'm sure you're right, if the history of "singular they" in English is anything to go by.

That usage (and just to forestall any possible misunderstanding of what Tobe said, it's always used with a plural verb) has been around in casual English for decades at least.  Back in the late 70's there was a magazine article berating the usage as "Wrong!" -- so of course I had to respond (they may even have printed it in their lettercol, I don't recall.  I pointed out that historically, the word "you" was plural (singular was "thou"), but that people would address a higher-ranking person in the plural (akin to the "royal we").    But then that usage became more inclusive, presumably in an effort to be polite to everybody.  Which is roughly where we are now with "they."

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have to be honest that your explanations gave me more headache 😁

With this, and the style I see in social media (I know very little in direct and see compilation of social media posts instead), do you guys think, one day, these proper grammar stuffs will disappear? 

Not only in English language, in every language. The usage of improper/informal words are sometimes more recognizable than proper ones. When I moved around, even a couple of years is enough to make me look very dumb when I don't understand many popular terms for everyday thing.

And even as non speaker and grammatically challenged, I actually see so many grammatical and vocabulary errors in (I know, internet). Some mistakes are so very ridiculous but the posters don't care and although some readers complain about it, others are okay. I am sure proper ones in professional settings are still required, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's moving to much more casual and away from classic grammar.

What do you think?

For me, of course it drives me nutter. How if I learn from the wrong?? The right version is nutty enough!

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6 hours ago, Van Buren Supernova said:

I wouldn't be surprised if it's moving to much more casual and away from classic grammar.

I suspect you're right.  BUT -- I seriously doubt that'll make things any easier, because the old casual will presumably just become the new correct.  The grammar police are generally about a generation behind actual usage.

7 hours ago, Van Buren Supernova said:

When I moved around, even a couple of years is enough to make me look very dumb when I don't understand many popular terms for everyday thing.

Vocabulary isn't the same thing as grammar.  There will always be new words needed for new things, of course.  But new words also come from slang terms for old things.  All of that is bound to change even faster than the grammar.  And in addition to changing over time, vocabulary (at least in English) also varies from place to place.  Even native speakers are often confused.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, J.P. said:

Maybe people are using too much of those littel typing helpers or even say their textes and post them without checking?

Goodness knows I've posted a few lulus myself due to not keeping an eye on my spell checker!

12 minutes ago, J.P. said:

Bad grammar seems also to be a feature of bots.

I hadn't heard that -- wonder why that would be?  Well, I assume that bots are created by tech- savvy individuals, and engineers do have a reputation for  being poor spellers and such -- that could be one reason.  Also, anyone who creates a bot can be assumed to be anti-social, and might therefore not give a damn about "proper" usage.  Oh, and I'm willing to be that most bot makers, like stereotypical hackers in general, are teenage boys.  So OK, I'm willing to believe that it could be true.

In any case, the average bot presumably posts far more than the average non-bot poster.

 

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I imagine someone is trying to make a machine write in a foreign language (without naming the potential suspects). Some might be good at programming but not so good at spelling. Plus - it doesn't matter. They want people to engage in any way, if it's bashing the writing style, it's as good as anything else.

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On 9/13/2021 at 8:41 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

Vocabulary isn't the same thing as grammar.  There will always be new words needed for new things, of course.  But new words also come from slang terms for old things.  All of that is bound to change even faster than the grammar.  And in addition to changing over time, vocabulary (at least in English) also varies from place to place.  Even native speakers are often confused.

Yes, it's driving me half nuts to be honest.

Is it disturbing to you if you read something written in different English? Like British and American, sometimes z is s, sometimes neighbour has u, sort of things. I imagine for some, it's okay when it's consistent.

But for me, I wouldn't know which is which unless I'm very familiar with all words and differences. Beside the one I mentioned above, which at least have some method in its madness, apparently there are words spelled differently as well, like l and double ll, traveler and traveller, check and cheque, manoeuvre and maneuver. So I could write a sentence using both English and American version without knowing, and some poor nazi grammarists out there are shaking in their boots with rage of this disrespectful and ignorant non speaker. It's terrifying!

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I am currently cross with two of my colleagues who are teachers...

just read their facebook comments and apparently neither of them can use a capital letter!

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3 hours ago, Van Buren Supernova said:

So I could write a sentence using both English and American version without knowing, and some poor nazi grammarists out there are shaking in their boots with rage of this disrespectful and ignorant non speaker. It's terrifying!

I'm sure you're losing sleep over that!  English speakers seem to be becoming more familiar with other versions than used to be the case, and some seem to be using words and spellings from various dialects, as the spirit moves them.  I do a bit of that myself, sometimes preferring the British double-L version of words like cancelling.

So I'd say that you don't really need to worry about the grammar police.  I doubt that most people are paying them any attention.

2 hours ago, besleybean said:

I am currently cross with two of my colleagues who are teachers...

just read their facebook comments and apparently neither of them can use a capital letter!

There seems to be a lot of that going around!  My guess is that it comes from people posting from their phones, where it's a bit more work to capitalize.

 

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3 hours ago, besleybean said:

I always try to be nice to those who are not native English speakers...and I actually prefer American spellings and even some of the vocab!

Unlike a few decades ago (during what I suppose could be called the post-British-colonial period) when British English was the de facto international standard, recent world usage (due I suppose to Hollywood influence) seems to have swung to American English.  So yeah, I guess that makes sense.  That, plus American spelling tends to be a bit simpler.

 

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Except when you get things wrong!

Like not knowing the difference between a tortoise and a turtle.

Then again, Scots don't know the difference between a swede and a turnip!

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I wouldn't call either of those wrong -- simply that the same word in some dialects may cover more territory (or less) than in others.

(Besides, it's not a swede, it's a rutabaga!!!)

 

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I can accept the latter.

A tortoise has feet with claws and is largely land based.

A turtle has flippers and is largely aquatic.

Biological facts!

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44 minutes ago, besleybean said:

A tortoise has feet with claws and is largely land based.

A turtle has flippers and is largely aquatic.

Biological facts!

I'm not denying that there's a difference.  But a swallow gets around by flying (and a bit of walking), while a penguin gets around by swimming (and a bit of walking) -- yet we call both of them birds.  Language is based on tradition, and unless you're a specialist, terminology is rarely precise.

 

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Typical from a duck!  

Maybe I will ask Chris Packham or Richard Dawkins, but I think you are wrong.

Turtles and tortoises are distinct animals.

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4 hours ago, besleybean said:

Turtles and tortoises are distinct animals.

You mean they're basically unrelated animals that just happen to look similar?  I'm pretty sure they're closely related, but let's find out.

OK, I've had a look around, and this (from the Encyclopaedia Britannica site) is pretty typical:

Quote

All tortoises are in fact turtles—that is, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell—but not all turtles are tortoises. If tortoises are turtles, why not just call all turtlelike creatures “turtle”? Because if the animal you’re referring to is a tortoise, some wise guy is going to correct you every time.

So basically, a tortoise is a type of turtle, meaning that "turtle" is the generic term, and can therefore be used for any such creature.  Unless, of course, there's a wise guy around.   ;)

 

 

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On 9/16/2021 at 2:05 PM, besleybean said:

A tortoise has feet with claws and is largely land based.

A turtle has flippers and is largely aquatic.

Biological facts!

 

On 9/17/2021 at 3:57 AM, Carol the Dabbler said:

You mean they're basically unrelated animals that just happen to look similar?  I'm pretty sure they're closely related, but let's find out.

OK, I've had a look around, and this (from the Encyclopaedia Britannica site) is pretty typical:

Quote

All tortoises are in fact turtles—that is, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell—but not all turtles are tortoises. If tortoises are turtles, why not just call all turtlelike creatures “turtle”? Because if the animal you’re referring to is a tortoise, some wise guy is going to correct you every time.

So basically, a tortoise is a type of turtle, meaning that "turtle" is the generic term, and can therefore be used for any such creature.  Unless, of course, there's a wise guy around.

No.. NOOOOO

It matters if they are turtles that are turtles or tortoises that are turtles, because.. because!

There are so many 'rescue' stories out there when the 'wannabe internet famous' 'rescue' a tortoise by tossing them into deep water. IT'S MURDER!

It's life and death difference, not the same. 

 

On 9/16/2021 at 2:48 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

But a swallow gets around by flying (and a bit of walking), while a penguin gets around by swimming (and a bit of walking) -- yet we call both of them birds. 

There are way more biological explanations about how animals are categorized, and sometimes it seems weird, but the method to the madness is clear. For example, bats, dolphins and humans are mammals. Bats fly but they are not bird, dolphins swim but they are not fish, and human are tiny bit useless physically but we are mammal too, because the category are more about those weird stuffs like milk glands, red blood cell nucleolus, jaw skull hinges blablabla.

 

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11 hours ago, Van Buren Supernova said:

It matters if they are turtles that are turtles or tortoises that are turtles

Of course it does.  I've already said I am not denying that there's a difference (and I've heard some of those unfortunate "rescue" accounts myself).

I've merely been attempting to make the point that calling a tortoise a turtle is not incorrect, it's merely imprecise.  It's not the terminology that's wrong, it's the assumption that all animals within a given category are alike in all details.

So the important thing is to educate people that not all turtles are water dwellers.  When rescuing a turtle that's been sunning itself on a roadway, I do look for water (for all I know, even land dwellers need a drink now and then), but I leave the turtle on land at the very edge of the water, so it can make its own choice.  If there's no water handy, though, I just leave it in a more-or-less wild area well away from roads.

 

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1 minute ago, besleybean said:

What I do like is the American 'Mom'...

makes mores sense than our 'Mum'.

Really?  Do you mean because it's spelled with an "o" as in "mother"?  Or something else?

I've always thought they were simply two different forms of the same basic word.

 

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Oddly enough. I suspect that the word "mom" is more closely connected with "mama" than with "mother.".  Spelling a shortened form of mama as "mam* would make it look like it should be pronounced like ma'am. But as you may have noticed, the typical American short-o (as in hot or mom) is pronounced exactly like a broad-a (as in ah or mama).   So it may not be quite as logical as you'd think!

 

 

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If I remember correctly, Mycroft said Mummy? 

I don't really remember hearing mummy other than those found in Egyptian tombs, but I will forever enjoy Mycroft competing with Sherlock for Mummy affection or exasperatedly complaining about potato to Mummy.

 

In topic, silent H!!!

What is the method of that madness??

Well, I don't really need explanation, I'm just saying that English drives me nuts for a lot of reasons. The more I try to understand it, the more I understand that I haven't understood way too many things.

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