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English Usage
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michael


Posts: 3,223
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #21
06-01-2011 05:01 PM

What annoys me is global companies that have release products in a large number of languages but cannot allow for British/Canadian English spellings. Why is it that 13 years after Microsoft first released Internet Explorer I cannot avoid using 'Favorites'?

I do like a u in favour, neighbourhood etc, but I don't like -isation, I generally prefer -ization, although it does seem to depend whether we are talking about nouns or verbs. Organisation looks right to me, but I don't like customise. I just associate z with actions.

Grey and Gray had confused me for a while (I could never remember which spelling is right) until I realized they were UK/US spellings. I can't decide which I prefer.

Meter / Metre is another interesting case where I believe we measure distance in metres but measure the use of water and parking with devises called meters. I would perfer consistancy and would be happier to adopt the US er method for all words.

Americans format for dates is backward and they need to stop using this method as soon as possible. They all understand 6th Jan 2011, so why tell us it is Jan 6th, 2011 or worse still 1/6/11. They should adopt the European date convension or move to the Japanese version (2011-1-6 which is much better for sorting).

I'm glad I've had the opportunity to sort out these problems here!

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roz


Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #22
06-01-2011 07:52 PM

I'm not wholly anti american but I do resent the level to which its culture has been merged with ours through mass media and understand very well people like the French who persist in trying to maintain the purity of their language.

It really is the power and higher culture thing of the US for me as I think dialectical difference and a language's development is what keeps it alive and I savour other differences such as Irish English, Scots English and Ozzie English but just can't tolerate so many americanisms within our language as they haven't earned their place there for me.

The David Crystal books are excellent on the English language as is the one by Melvyn Bragg. The OU do a really good course (which I started but couldn't finish) which looks at the development of the language in the context of historical and cultural developments of Britain, and how languages continue to evolve.
The power of language will always hold a fascination for me as it really is where power and political influence of any kind begins in our society. Grasp the ability to throttle your opponents syntax or sentence and you've won the argument! Fascinating stuff.

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spud


Posts: 65
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #23
07-01-2011 11:03 AM

A few idle points...

I agree with Robin Orton that it's probably misleading to conceive of a pure and unsullied gold-standard English. The language is constantly mutating. Even Fowler's accepts this implicitly: usages that were judged taboo in older editions are eventually grudgingly conceded to be matters of style and preference in later editions.

There'd be no point, for example, in criticising the American preference for the '-or' ending over the '-our' ending in words such as humour or colour. They use it because we once used it ourselves. It even survives in the spelling of Honor Oak Park (won't go into the Elizabethan origins of the name because everyone knows that story).

'Awesome' might be an American interloper but, long before its arrival on these shores, us Brits had 'brilliant'. Which was often used just as inappropriately, wasn't it?

As for requesting coffee in the American style, my key reference point would be John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. So I think you'd have to ask for 'cworrfee'....

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #24
07-01-2011 12:03 PM

I agree some Brits are a little pedantic re the language.
As previous poster mentioned Elizabethan/ Shakespearean / King James Bible era , probably the most glorious in our language devolpment coincided with the early settlers to Virginia and Mass. Many so called Americanism's were common here at that time.
We have by far the most important language in the world thanks to The British Empire and The USA. I agree only about 400 million speak the language as a first language ( below Spanish , Hindi and Mandarin ), but English thrashes them when it comes to global reach and second language speakers.

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Cidered


Posts: 50
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #25
07-01-2011 02:14 PM

Nevermodern...I am entirely in agreement on the use of 'can I get?' by English folk. Horrid, misleading and so very common.

The tendency for English people to mispronounce schedule as sked-ule rather than shed-ule is another one.

Two food related creeping Americanisms are 'sprinkles' (ahem, I think you mean 'hundreds and thousands') and 'frosting' which I saw used on an M & S Christmas cake box this year. No, no, no - it's icing!

Sainsbury's use of the term 'colleague' when they clearly mean 'staff' [as in 'Colleague access only'] might not be American-English but it certainly makes me wince too.

I know languages aren't set in stone but I'd prefer not to surrounded by people talking like they're imitating Pheobe in Friends...Yay!

Oooh, I feel better having got that off my chest.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #26
07-01-2011 02:49 PM

Don't know about 'yay', but I got into trouble in this forum by snootily (or so it was, not unreasonably perhaps, supposed) commenting on the use of 'yup' instead of 'yes' in a posting on another thread. I genuinely wanted to know why people (and the poster who ticked me off was one of several) seem to prefer this usage, at any rate online. I often say something like 'yup' (or 'yep' or 'yeh') myself, but would never think of writing it, even in an informal communication. After all, it takes just as long to type as 'yes'. Is 'yes' perceived as prim or buttoned-up or English or what one's granny might write or uncool? Is the use of 'yup' a convention of cyberspace? Please enlighten me, somebody!

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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #27
07-01-2011 03:01 PM

Some people like to write how they want their post to read. Writing 'yes' might not sound like you would say it and therefore come across as overly formal. If you would say 'yep', then that's why you would write it.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #28
07-01-2011 03:30 PM

Thanks, Jon, interesting. I always think of emails, blogs, texts, forum postings etc as a substitute for writing (letter, diary, postcard, essay etc) , and therefore as something which should normally follow the conventions of written usage, rather than as an alternative to speaking. But perhaps I'm untypical - something to do with my advanced age, perhaps.

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michael


Posts: 3,223
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #29
07-01-2011 04:18 PM

Dear Mr Orton,
Many thanks for your recent post on the forum regarding the conventions of written English on the Internet. My suspicion is that the use of written English on forums may be unduly formal for the medium. I believe it would be acceptable to write in a less formal way, almost as one would speak in a conversation.

Yours faithfully,
Michael

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #30
07-01-2011 04:43 PM

Michael - you should have signed off 'yours sincerely'. Use 'faithfully' when the salutation is 'Dear Sir / Madam'. When you address the recipient by their name, use 'sincerely'. If your opening salutation is 'Yo, blood', the appropriate sign off is 'Laters'.

I'm with Jon - this is a conversation in written form, dialogue if you will. It is much less formal than other written forms and other people's 'incorrect' spelling and grammar doesn't bother me in this medium. This is from a person who fully punctuates text messages and never uses text speak or abbreviations. But I don't mind if other people do.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #31
07-01-2011 04:50 PM

To: Michael X Esq

Dear Sir

Thank you for your esteemed communication of today's date. Please be assured that I was not in any way seeking to suggest that it was in any way improper or not comme il faut to use informal facons de parler on an Internet forum. I was merely pointing out that other registers may be preferred by other users.

I hope you finds this information useful. Please do not hesitate to get back to me if I can be of any further assistance.

Please accept, my dear Sir, the assurance of my most distinguished sentiments.

I beg to remain your most humble and obedient servant

Robin Orton

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michael


Posts: 3,223
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #32
07-01-2011 08:11 PM

rshdunlop,
You got me bang to rights!

Robin,
All I have to say to you is 'façons' :-)

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andrewr


Posts: 296
Joined: May 2006
Post: #33
07-01-2011 08:13 PM

Wouldn't

Quote:
I hope you finds this information useful.


be more properly written

[/quote]?

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andrewr


Posts: 296
Joined: May 2006
Post: #34
07-01-2011 08:14 PM

Oops, that didn't work.

Wouldn't

Quote:
I hope you finds this information useful.

be more properly written
[/quote]Yo Man, I hope you finds this information useful.[/quote]
and spoken with an appropriate drawl?[/quote]

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andrewr


Posts: 296
Joined: May 2006
Post: #35
07-01-2011 08:16 PM

Still not quite right but I hope you get the idea!

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #36
07-01-2011 08:23 PM

Didn't know you could do a cedilla (had to check the spelling) in postings on this forum. Can you (sorry, can one) do accents and other diacritical (had to look it up) marks as well?

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andrewr


Posts: 296
Joined: May 2006
Post: #37
07-01-2011 09:24 PM

If I need to put accented or other special characters into somewhere like this forum, I usually type them in Word where there are sensible shortcuts to generate them, and then copy and paste where required. Playing around I find that Alt Gr+ a produces á and similarly you can get é but I haven't found out how to do ç (pasted from Word)!

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #38
08-01-2011 09:44 AM

Thankç, Andrew. I can now avoid exposing that particular flank to young Master Michael Clevercloggs - but no doubt he'll find another one!

R.H.S. Dunlop wrote:

Quote:
this is a conversation in written form, dialogue if you will


I've been thinking about this. The difference between an exchange on this forum and a real life conversation is that in the latter you know who you're talking to and (unless it's on the telephone) can actually see them, and you know (or can make a good guess about) things about them such as their age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnicity, education, social class, state of health etc. This means it's a lot easier to judge your style and register appropriately and avoid giving unintended offence. When you don't have any of this information, that 's a lot more difficult, and I think a certain degree of formality of style is safer.

Incidentally, isn't 'if you will' an Americanism? I was brought up to say 'if you like'. Not that it matters of course...

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #39
08-01-2011 12:11 PM

Robin - I think there is a difference between calling for a degree of formality and hijacking people's threads with complaints about Americanisms or other stylistic choices. That was my main reason for challenging your post about 'roosters' and 'cocks'. Someone had found the bird and wanted to reunite it with its owners. I think it must be frustrating for the original poster to be notified of a reply to their post, only to find it is not a helpful response to their original enquiry. The internet has evolved its own etiquette and 'thread hijacking' is rightly frowned upon.

'If you will' may be an Americanism, but as I have not objected to Americanisms at any point in this debate, I'm not sure what your point is. Also, 'if you will' and 'if you like' do not mean the same thing. I used 'if you will' as an alternative to 'as it were'. I don't think 'if you like' would have carried the same connotation.

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Theotherbrian


Posts: 86
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #40
13-01-2011 06:14 PM

Forums?
Fora surely!!

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