Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#161  Postby Scot Dutchy » Mar 11, 2019 9:59 pm

"I will diary that". Another great American habit; verbalising nouns.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#162  Postby Fallible » Mar 11, 2019 10:15 pm

We all verbalise nouns. You mean 'verbing' nouns, I think. I more often see people nouning verbs, eg. 'this is a good bake', or 'that's a big ask'.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#163  Postby laklak » Mar 12, 2019 3:15 am

aban57 wrote:Scalping tickets ?


Buying tickets to an event and then selling them for a profit, usually an usurious profit. It's illegal in many jurisdictions.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#164  Postby don't get me started » Mar 12, 2019 3:37 am

English has a pretty two way flow between verbs and nouns, as in the cases you noted.
A lot of verb to noun transitions (referred to as nominalization) mark casual and informal speech, especially collocating with the verb 'have'. They often have nuanced meanings that are not easily accessible by second language learners. Have a go/laugh/bite/lie down/wash etc.

On the subject of American habits- making a given name out of a family name seems to be popular with our transatlantic cousins.
Bradley, Dexter, Tyler and the like are not traditionally given names in English. (Although the name Fletcher - one who feathers arrows- seems to have been a given name also...It's mutiny Mr Christian!)

Going off at a tangent about names. It struck me that certain colours can serve as family names in English. Green, Black, White, Brown Red (Read) are all possible in English as a family name, both as stand-alone and in combination (Brownrig, Blackwood, Greenacre etc.) It seems pretty unlikely that someone would be called Mr Blue or Ms Yellow or Mrs Purple.
In Japanese Murusaki (purple) is a family name. aoi (blue) is possible in combination (Aoiyama = 'Bluemountain). It just stuck me as interesting that there seem to be constraints on what color words can be used as family names.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#165  Postby laklak » Mar 12, 2019 3:43 am

as long as I'm not Mr. Pink.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#166  Postby don't get me started » Mar 12, 2019 3:59 am

We tried giving the choice to people one time. Everybody wanted to be Mr Black
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#167  Postby don't get me started » Mar 13, 2019 12:37 am

OK, getting back to the thread's basic theme, let's have a look at conditional sentences.

English has a fairly clear set of ways to encode conditional relationships.
These are the zero, first, second and third conditionals.

Zero conditional encodes a cause and effect relationship that is generally true at all times.

If the phone rings, the dog barks.
(In this case, 'if' can be replaced by 'when' or 'whenever'.)

The first conditional encodes a relationship where a future event, which is perceived as possible or likely, leads to a second event.

a) If it rains, we'll cancel the barbecue.
b) If you wait, you'll see why.
c) You'll hurt yourself if you are not careful.

Notice that the 'cause' clause is in the simple present tense and the 'result' clause uses 'will' plus a verb. (The clauses can come in either order and still mean the same relationship pertains. Sentence c) shows result first and cause second.)

Then we have the second conditional which encodes a 'cause' which is perceived as somewhere along a cline from merely unlikely to outright impossible and could refer to the future or a counterfactual present.

If it snowed in July I'd be surprised.
If I was President, I would legalize it.
I would go to the ancient past if I could travel in time,


Notice in this case the 'cause' clause uses a past tense verb or past form of a modal (would, could etc.) and the result clause uses 'would' plus a verb.

Then we have the third conditional which supposes a counterfactual past and the equally counterfactual result of that cause, whether it also be past or a counterfactual present.

1) If I had studied harder, I would have passed the test.
2) If we had stayed in touch, I'd probably be married to her now.
3) I'd be taller if I had eaten my vegetables as a kid.
4) If I had saved enough money, I would buy it right now.


Notice that to encode counterfactual past cause and counterfactual past result, (in 1) we use 'had' + past tense form of the verb in the cause part and 'would' + 'have' + past tense form of the verb in the result part.

To encode counterfactual past with counterfacual present (2 & 3 & 4) we have 'had'+ past tense form of the verb in the cause part and 'would' + base form of the verb in the result clause.

All well and good.

But, some US-ians have a different usage for the third conditional.
E.g.
If you would have called me, I would have come to pick you up.

I'm not sure what that first 'would' is doing in there. On a standardized grammar test this sentence would be marked as wrong and the 'correct' sentence would be 'If you had called me, I would have come to pick you up.'

(Mind you, I'm not a big fan of standardized grammar tests. :nono: )

It seems to be another one of those cases where the languages are diverging. No big problem and it doesn't interfere with comprehension IMHO, but interesting all the same.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#168  Postby scott1328 » Mar 13, 2019 1:24 am

“If I were president, I would legalize it.”

The subjunctive form of the verb in your “type three” conditional statements use the third person plural form of the verb. It can also omit the “if” if the verb is placed first and subject second

“Were I president, I would legalize it.”
“Had I a million dollars, I would buy it.”

English has a second subjunctive form that is derived from the verb’s uninflected form. Whereas the form that derives from the past tense is used for counter factual statements, the form the derives from the infinitive form expresses a requirement, preference, or necessary condition of its subordinate clause. This form is also used in imperative statements.

“I prefer that it remain a secret”
“He was running, lest the policeman catch him”
“The law requires that be prosecuted only after indictment by grand jury”

note in these examples the uninflected verb with a singular subject.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#169  Postby don't get me started » Mar 13, 2019 3:27 am

scott1328 wrote:“If I were president, I would legalize it.”

The subjunctive form of the verb in your “type three” conditional statements use the third person plural form of the verb. It can also omit the “if” if the verb is placed first and subject second

“Were I president, I would legalize it.”
“Had I a million dollars, I would buy it.”

English has a second subjunctive form that is derived from the verb’s uninflected form. Whereas the form that derives from the past tense is used for counter factual statements, the form the derives from the infinitive form expresses a requirement, preference, or necessary condition of its subordinate clause. This form is also used in imperative statements.

“I prefer that it remain a secret”
“He was running, lest the policeman catch him”
“The law requires that be prosecuted only after indictment by grand jury”

note in these examples the uninflected verb with a singular subject.


You are entirely correct to point out the alternative form for counterfactual statements (If I was president/ If I were president)
The subjunctive is one of those things that is alive and well in other languages but seems to be an increasingly marginal item in English, confined to the most formal registers and mainly occurring in written rather than spoken language.

I've often wondered about the slow decline of various items in language. 'Whom' is another item that seems to be dying a slow death, and the 'whither away', 'whence came he' directional question words from up thread are also pretty much moribund now.

Pure speculation on my part, but I think that the preference in spoken, casual language for 'If I was...' may be due to the hearability of the 'z' at the end of 'was' as opposed to the much less hearable (especially for non-rhotic speakers) sounds of the word 'were'. (Usually pronounced 'wuh' or even just 'w'. )

There is another example from spoken English that I think may parallel this.
English is usually pretty rigorous about the singular/plural distinction. There is a dog/there are two dogs.
But, if you listen to spoken English, you will hear the singular form 'is' (reduced to /z/) used liberally with plural referents.
There's a dog. There's loads of dogs/There's a few dogs/ There's a lot of dogs and even 'There's two dogs.'
Even though the correct (!) form should be 'There are' for plurals, (There are a few dogs, There are a lot of dogs) in fast speech, this gets a bit tongue-twistery using the scwha sound. 'Thururuh few dogs.'
Using the singular version makes it more hearable and may be an example of language change happening before our eyes.

For a really good account of pronunciation changes in language, I'd recommend 'The Unfolding of Language' by Guy Deutcher.

https://www.amazon.com/Unfolding-Language-Evolutionary-Mankinds-Invention/dp/0805080120/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2R4NYILWM25J0&keywords=the+unfolding+of+language&qid=1552447374&s=books&sprefix=The+unfolding+of+%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C381&sr=1-1
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#170  Postby The_Piper » Mar 13, 2019 10:47 am

"Life totally could have been possible on Mars."
As opposed to...partially could have been possible? :lol:
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#171  Postby Keep It Real » Mar 13, 2019 5:46 pm

"I could care less" makes zero sense, it's "I couldn't care less" :crazy:
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#172  Postby Svartalf » Mar 13, 2019 5:49 pm

I care nought about other people's opinions, so I could careless about your latest post.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#173  Postby OlivierK » Mar 13, 2019 8:36 pm

don't get me started wrote:On the subject of American habits- making a given name out of a family name seems to be popular with our transatlantic cousins.

Bradley, Dexter, Tyler and the like are not traditionally given names in English. (Although the name Fletcher - one who feathers arrows- seems to have been a given name also...It's mutiny Mr Christian!)

It's also a Gaelic thing: Campbell, Douglas, Kingsley, Neil, Scott, Murray, Stewart, Ross, etc.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#174  Postby surreptitious57 » Mar 14, 2019 8:42 am

Dialogue is more flexible than text as abbreviation is useful when talking especially when talking quickly
But some times it just goes too far . The bastardisation of isnt it ? to innit ? is the classic example of this
As a phrase it is vulgar and the original is far better even if more energy is required for the extra syllable

Stephen Frys pet hate are statements asked as questions due to the inflection at the end of the sentence
Apparently rather popular with young Australian women for some reason though he didnt elaborate why
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#175  Postby The_Piper » Mar 14, 2019 11:51 am

Upspeak, it's ok in moderation, but when someone is giving an interview or lecture, it's very distracting. :lol:

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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#176  Postby don't get me started » Mar 14, 2019 3:06 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:Dialogue is more flexible than text as abbreviation is useful when talking especially when talking quickly
But some times it just goes too far . The bastardisation of isnt it ? to innit ? is the classic example of this
As a phrase it is vulgar and the original is far better even if more energy is required for the extra syllable

Stephen Frys pet hate are statements asked as questions due to the inflection at the end of the sentence
Apparently rather popular with young Australian women for some reason though he didnt elaborate why



People can have very strong views on what is acceptable and unacceptable in language. But, unfortunately for them, language pays little heed.
(Book no.13 on my list in this year's book challenge thread
http://www.rationalskepticism.org/books/book-challenge-thread-2019-t55732-60.html
has a good overview of this.)

The gradual shortening of words and dropping of endings and syllables is a constant in language.
Guy Deutcher, in the book I mentioned up thread details the course of the negative across the centuries in English (and also French). I'll try to repeat his discussionhere (if memory serves..)

The original negator was 'ne'. But as this was a single syllable ending in a vowel, it was prone to erosion. But, a language can't make do without a negator* and so steps were taken by speakers to get over their reduced pronunciation. Ne got combined with other words to form the expression 'ne a wit' (something similar to Not a jot). Now we have a three syllable expression with a nice hard consonant at the end. But, the reduction process kicked off again and the form got contracted to 'nawit' (which led to 'nowt' in certain dialects'). Nawit then eroded to 'not' which is where we are today.
French did something similar with ne being combined with other words and after a long process coming out as ne... pas' meaning 'not a step'. Erosion and renewal are constant processes in languages.

On the subject of 'innit' it is interesting to me that it seems to be used by certain speech groups as the default tag question.
'Iz cool, innit?' adheres to the rules of English. But I've heard such instances as 'That was wicked, innit?'
English is especially productive in tag question formation, requiring reversing the polarity and selecting the correct verb tense and pronoun, and using 'do' or 'will' or other words, depending on the original statement.
He is late, isn't he?. They are late, aren't they? He isn't late, is he? They aren't late, are they? They like it, don't they? She disagreed, didn't she? She'll meet us, won't she?
In Japanese there is a general tag question that applies to all constructions. ですね?Desu ne?
You can tack it on to any statement and it still serves as a tag.
(I think that something similar applies with German 'Nicht Wahr?, but I'll happily be corrected by any German speakers here.)

Perhaps 'innit' is becoming such a default tag in English... :?

* I'm reading a book now on some very strange, outlier languages, and it seems that maybe some languages can do without a negative. More when I reach that chapter.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#177  Postby romansh » Mar 16, 2019 3:43 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:He fails at the first word.

Scotch is the drink. Scots are the people.

He was American so we have to forgive him.

And while I would agree with you here on the use of the word, we have been through this before on this site somewhere.

So Scotch whisky translates to scotch scotch? And what about scotch eggs … are they pickled in scotch? This should be on the adventures in English page. And now it is.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#178  Postby Keep It Real » Mar 16, 2019 3:47 pm

Arthur : All my life I've had this strange feeling that there's something big and sinister going on in the world. Slartibartfast : No, that's perfectly normal paranoia.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#179  Postby Scot Dutchy » Mar 16, 2019 3:54 pm

Sorry no excuse.
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Re: Adventures in the English language; AkaThe YGS thread

#180  Postby The_Piper » Mar 16, 2019 4:50 pm

Fletch is Scotch-Romanian :teef:

Here's a common one that bugs me "There's a guy in the car group that I'm apart of " :nono:
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