Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:05 UTC
Features, Office Since everybody in the technology world is apparently having a vacation, and nobody told me about it, we're kind of low on news. As such, this seems like the perfect opportunity to gripe about something I've always wanted to gripe about: a number of common mistakes in English writing in the comments section. I'll also throw in some tidbits about my native language, Dutch, so you can compare and contrast between the two.
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You could keep going on this topic.
by Tuishimi on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:27 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

The English (my) language is such a hodge podge, mix up of a language that there are (there's that there) many many many examples of words that sound alike, and odd usages of words.

One of my favorite (a/an) issues is whether or not an should be used in front of a word beginning with an "h". In writing I have seen it used whether the "h" is hard or soft, but in speech "an" is rarely used. I think if the word starts with such a soft "h" that it can be dropped or overridden, "an" is alright. For example, can you say "an hedge" which would sound more like "an edge", or should you always say "a hedge?"

Eh, I blather. I once had an "Old English" book that compared Old English to Old German and they were virtually identical. I always found that fascinating; Celtic and Latin languages, as well as Scandinavian languages got thrown into the mix. English really is a World language, or at least a huge mix of all, old Indo-European languages.

An excellent book along those lines to read: In Search of the Indo-Europeans. I've read it over and over and over again. The author uses linguistics and archeology to trace back our modern Indo-European languages/peoples to the likely location of proto-Indo-European. Please pardon my awful use of punctuation, which could make for another article on a boring day.

Edited 2010-03-18 19:28 UTC

Reply Score: 2

jack_perry Member since:
2005-07-06

I believe the Brits actually write (if not say) "a honorable man" whereas every American I've every met writes (or says) "an honorable man". So the differences get subtler.

Reply Score: 2

foldingstock Member since:
2008-10-30

I believe the Brits actually write (if not say) "a honorable man" whereas every American I've every met writes (or says) "an honorable man". So the differences get subtler.


Technically, the Brits would write:

"an honourable man"

Reply Score: 2

jack_perry Member since:
2005-07-06

Sorry, wrong reference I guess (but you're right about the ou as well). I meant something more along the lines of "an historian". Whatever the case, I've seen a big difference with words that begin with h.

Reply Score: 2

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Exactly! Because (at least in American English) the "h" is not pronounced on honorable. I would always write and say "It is AN honor to meet you!"

Reply Score: 2

flotsam Member since:
2006-01-04

It depends on whether the initial "h" is voiced or not.

With "hono(u)rable", you don't pronounce the "h", so "an" is appropriate.

With "historical", you do pronounce the "h", so you say "a historical". Unless you're in the habit of dropping your "H"s, Eliza Doolittle style, of course.

Reply Score: 2

frood Member since:
2005-07-06

With "historical", you do pronounce the "h", so you say "a historical". Unless you're in the habit of dropping your "H"s, Eliza Doolittle style, of course.


That's quite insightful. I've often wondered why people use "an" when "a" is appropriate, and this would explain it. Dropping the H is quite common where I live (south London).

Reply Score: 2

papertape Member since:
2008-05-04

I say "an historical event", but "a history lesson".

What's the difference? In "historical", the second syllable gets the stress, so the "h" on the first, unstressed syllable melts away. Hence the "an". But with "history", the first syllable is stressed and so the "h" gets fully pronounced, and therefore "a" is used. It's like Thom says - it's not the spelling, it's how the following word sounds.

Reply Score: 1

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Forget H’s, what about "An RPG"?. Abbreviations really screw with the rules.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Forget H’s, what about "An RPG"?. Abbreviations really screw with the rules.


When there's a common way to pronounce an acronym, then there's no problem - just apply the initial-sound-rule; ar-pee-gee, so it's an RPG.

Speaking of which - technically, RPG is not an abbreviation; it's an acronym.

Reply Score: 2

sachindaluja Member since:
2007-02-15

Most(if not all) acronyms are abbreviations by definition.

Reply Score: 1

HappyGod Member since:
2005-10-19

Actually, it's not an acronym, but an initialisation.

An initialisation is an abbreviation that consists of the first letters of a multi-word title where the letters themselves are pronounced. Examples: UK, RPG, IBM etc.

An acronym is used when those letters form a word in their own right, such as RADAR, NASA, ANSI etc.

Edit: Spelling :-)

Edited 2010-03-19 07:26 UTC

Reply Score: 2

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Forget H’s, what about "An RPG"?. Abbreviations really screw with the rules.


No, that follows the rules. Abbreviations and acronyms that are spelt out, rather then pronounced as a word, must still follow the rules. RPG is effectively "AR-PEE-GEE", which obviously starts with a vowel, so needs "an". If it was pronounced as "RoP'G" it could use "a". The FTSE is an example of this. "Financial Time Share Index" is sometimes called "EFF-TEE-ESS-EE" by some people and "FOOTSEE" by others. Okay, this example doesn't work with the indefinite article, but it illustrates what I'm trying to get across about pronunciation being the important part here.

Reply Score: 1

English language
by ecruz on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:31 UTC
ecruz
Member since:
2007-06-16

Interesting article. I am not a native English speaker but I have lived in the US for many years.

I believe that one of the causes of so much bad writing today is due to the popularity of blogs. Where in the past most news were written by professional journalists, today's news comes from everywhere and true journalists are in decline. Hopefully this will change.
It really bothers me when the blog writer, especially native speakers, do not have total command of the English language.
Coming from the Spanish language, which is grammatically as complicated as Dutch, I cannot see why English native speakers have so much trouble as they do.

I do not want to load up on English speakers (mostly from the U.S.), but verb conjugation, etc., is a piece of cake compared with others European languages.

Reply Score: 1

RE: English language
by Tuishimi on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:25 UTC in reply to "English language"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

The problem is other languages still have very apparent RULES that can be taught. English has a lot of exceptions to the rules. Also, as an example, we no longer conjugate (well, generally conjugations come out having two forms except with irregular verbs) and that can add to confusion because the rules often become blurred or refer to things that aren't readily apparent.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: English language
by phoenix on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:10 UTC in reply to "RE: English language"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

The problem is other languages still have very apparent RULES that can be taught. English has a lot of exceptions to the rules.


English has a very defined set of rulesets, as well. ;) However, which set of rules you use in any situation depends on where the word originated (from Olde English, from Greek, from Latin, from French, German, etc).

The "exceptions" really just show differences in the root language of an English word.

Within a root language, though, everything abides by nice, neat, tidy rules.

(Then there's all the Americanisms which break all the rules and try to re-write the language according to some phonetic hybrid of baby-talk, talk-show, and gangsta.)

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: English language
by Tuishimi on Fri 19th Mar 2010 00:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: English language"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, I suppose you are right! But... teaching kids all those combined rules is a pain. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: English language
by papertape on Thu 18th Mar 2010 22:15 UTC in reply to "English language"
papertape Member since:
2008-05-04

It's the spelling. Spanish is mostly phonetically spelled, is it not? Same with German. At least, they are internally consistent. But English, with the vast changes in sound over the centuries, has retained archaic spellings.

Or maybe it's the education systems nowadays, where spelling is not marked down, it's the "ideas" that count. In my antediluvian day, spelling cost you marks on everything you wrote. So you paid attention.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: English language
by AdamW on Fri 19th Mar 2010 19:12 UTC in reply to "RE: English language"
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

"In my antediluvian day, spelling cost you marks on everything you wrote. So you paid attention."

...and hence being dyslexic was effectively the same as being unintelligent. Truly, everything was better in the good old days!

Reply Score: 2

RE: English language
by abraxas on Sat 20th Mar 2010 18:08 UTC in reply to "English language"
abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

I do not want to load up on English speakers (mostly from the U.S.), but verb conjugation, etc., is a piece of cake compared with others European languages.


As a native English speaker who has learned Spanish and a bit of Italian I have to disagree. Spanish and other Latin languages are a piece of cake to learn. I cannot claim to know how easy or hard English is to learn but Spanish and other latin languages are much more rule-centered than English. Because English is such a mashup of different languages none of the rules in English are universal. They're more like guidelines. Latin languages tend to adhere more strictly to their rules.

Reply Score: 2

v english
by Janvl on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:32 UTC
Deleted News...
by bornagainenguin on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:41 UTC
bornagainenguin
Member since:
2005-08-07

Since everybody in the technology world is apparently having a vacation...


What about the article I submitted by Benjamin Humphrey, Ubuntu Manual Team leader? Here: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/03/16-things-that-could-be-improved...

Note that he has been updating the article to reflect flaws being fixed and which ones are being ignored. Quite good stuff!

Or the poll on the new button arrangement: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/03/poll-do-you-want-ubuntu-window-c...

Currently 79% of respondents (3,372 out of a total of 4,244) are against the changes--not that Canonical seems to care...

Or the article on iPad killers a friend of mine submitted?

Seems to me there is news, it's just being ignor^^deleted.

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 2

RE: Deleted News...
by kragil on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:47 UTC in reply to "Deleted News..."
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

Very valid points. Those should be paper cuts I guess. I am really not sure this LTS will really be that polished. It looks quite unfinished atm.

The last Kubuntu release was quite good and this one seems to be even better.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Deleted News...
by Kroc on Thu 18th Mar 2010 22:37 UTC in reply to "Deleted News..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Your contributions are always appreciated (hopefully some of that stuff mentioned will get processed), though a link does not news make. We have to write this stuff up, extracting the main details. We are selective because we have little time and me nor Thom are experts on all matters—it’s very hard to add much worthwhile content to a debate over Window decorations. What we’d much prefer is full articles (like what Thom has written today about language).

Again, not disrespecting your efforts to forward interesting stories to us, but various submissions get sidelined because we don’t always have the time or where-with-all at hand. That’s volunteering for you! ;)

Reply Score: 1

"Loose" vs. "lose"
by flotsam on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:41 UTC
flotsam
Member since:
2006-01-04

People using "loose" when they mean "lose". On a forum I read, a few days back: "I'm starting to loose my hair". It's only loose? It's not been lost? Then don't worry, just yet.

Using "been" when you mean "being". Are you a human been?

Any misuse of the apostrophe drives me nuts (or should that be "drive's me nut's")? How can one little punctuation mark cause so many people so many problems? Most people seem to think that if it's a plural, it needs an apostrophe. So I see things like "Ferrari's", "CD's", "1980's". Sometimes words that aren't plurals too: "Window's".

Apostrophes are not difficult. Is it a possessive? If so, it needs an apostrophe (exception: "its", as mentioned in the article). Is it a contraction? Yes: it needs an apostrophe (*).

(*) Note that the apostrophe goes where the letters are omitted. So it's "don't", not "do'nt".

PLURALS DO NOT NEED APOSTROPHES (**).

(**) Unless you're Dutch and you have a word ending in a long vowel that needs to be a plural (or some such). Thus: "foto's". (shudders)

Let's face it: most native English speakers are hopeless at writing English.

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Loose" vs. "lose"
by Adam S on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:02 UTC in reply to ""Loose" vs. "lose""
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

PLURALS DO NOT NEED APOSTROPHES (**).


Grammar Girl would tell you that there are plenty of exceptions where a non-possessive apostrophe is appropriate, including "the 80's", "Mind your p's and q's", and when you're buying CD's.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: "Loose" vs. "lose"
by Kroc on Thu 18th Mar 2010 22:39 UTC in reply to "RE: "Loose" vs. "lose""
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

That should be "The ’80s.", unless you are using possessiveness; That’s the 80’s look". I can’t agree with "CD’s" when not using possessiveness, that’s just odd.

On my site I tend to use “the ’Web.” to respect that ‘web’ is an abbreviation for the “World Wide Web”.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: "Loose" vs. "lose"
by Adam S on Fri 19th Mar 2010 00:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: "Loose" vs. "lose""
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

That should be "The ’80s.", unless you are using possessiveness; That’s the 80’s look".


I've never seen a single source that has ever condoned or promoted that usage. I understand you're a guy deeply tied to his own logic and style, but writing manuals are pretty clear about this, and they do not agree with you.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: "Loose" vs. "lose"
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 19th Mar 2010 00:27 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: "Loose" vs. "lose""
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I do agree with Kroc that his variants look a lot better (it's what I use, too), but you (Adam) are correct that many manuals of style prefer your variants.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: "Loose" vs. "lose"
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 20:14 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: "Loose" vs. "lose""
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

That's consistent with what I was taught in school, too -- to always use an apostraphe-S plural after an acronym or number. It's also true that very few people bother to do that.

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Loose" vs. "lose"
by parrotjoe on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:01 UTC in reply to ""Loose" vs. "lose""
parrotjoe Member since:
2005-07-06

Great article Thom and also the spirit of it too. I'm a native English speaker and I know it's a crazy language. I doubt I'd ever be able to learn it if my native language was not English.

I just wanted to reiterate what flotsam said about "lose" vs. "loose". Here on OSNews, I think that is the most common spelling error I see as far as simply an ordinary noun.

The non-native English speaking people here do a great job! I can only imagine the number of "tips" I'd need (infinite!) if I was in this situation.

Reply Score: 1

"Should of"
by sj87 on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:48 UTC
sj87
Member since:
2007-12-16

You forgot one of the stupidest errors ever: should of. People use that in place of "should have".

Once you tell them it's wrong, they say it's shorter than "should have" and hence faster to type (they use only one finger?). Tell those 'tards there's a shorter form, "should've", and they just start whining how it still sounds like a legit thing.

Edited 2010-03-18 19:50 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Should of"
by phoenix on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:14 UTC in reply to ""Should of""
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

You forgot one of the stupidest errors ever: should of. People use that in place of "should have".

Once you tell them it's wrong, they say it's shorter than "should have" and hence faster to type (they use only one finger?). Tell those 'tards there's a shorter form, "should've", and they just start whining how it still sounds like a legit thing.


The problem is that "should've" sounds like "should of", thus it must be correct to write "should of". ;) Most people learn to speak before they learn to write, and a lot of common issues like this arise due to people trying to write phonetically.

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Should of"
by phoenix on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:14 UTC in reply to ""Should of""
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Oh, and the most annoying and common spelling issue is "alot" instead of "a lot". ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Should of"
by neticspace on Fri 19th Mar 2010 00:05 UTC in reply to ""Should of""
neticspace Member since:
2009-06-09

You forgot one of the stupidest errors ever: should of. People use that in place of "should have".

Once you tell them it's wrong, they say it's shorter than "should have" and hence faster to type (they use only one finger?). Tell those 'tards there's a shorter form, "should've", and they just start whining how it still sounds like a legit thing.


You'll see worse than this. Some young people write "should off". Not a surprise, the preposition called "of" is misunderstood way too often now. Just like some of them write "off course" instead of "of course".

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Should of"
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 19th Mar 2010 00:47 UTC in reply to ""Should of""
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

You forgot one of the stupidest errors ever: should of. People use that in place of "should have".

Once you tell them it's wrong, they say it's shorter than "should have" and hence faster to type (they use only one finger?). Tell those 'tards there's a shorter form, "should've", and they just start whining how it still sounds like a legit thing.


In the same vein is "have got" (and variations like "I've got"). Most of the time, "have" and "got" are synonyms - so writing "I have got" means the same as "I have have."

The mis-use has become so prevalent that people often get confused by the correct usage. Write something like "I've an Apple computer," and someone will inevitably assume that you accidentally left out the word "got."

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: "Should of"
by siride on Fri 19th Mar 2010 22:22 UTC in reply to "RE: "Should of""
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

No it doesn't. "have got" is an idiomatic phrase meaning "possess"*. There is a shortened version without the "have" with the same meaning, which is considerably less standard and probably, on its own, wrong. So you have it backwards. "Have got" is correct and "got" is incomplete.

* I imagine the semantic process was much the same as for "have" in the first place, which comes from PIE *kap-, the same root in Latin "capere", which means "to seize, take". Once you take something, you have it. Once you have gotten something, you possess it, that is, you "have got" it. Latin has a few other verbs that are perfect in form, but present in meaning. And many of the modal verbs in English and other Germanic languages are also originally perfect in form, but present in meaning (the so-called preterite-present verbs). So it's a fairly common phenomenon.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: "Should of"
by StephenBeDoper on Sat 20th Mar 2010 16:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: "Should of""
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

No it doesn't. "have got" is an idiomatic phrase meaning "possess"*.


I realize it's an idiom, that doesn't make it less-redundant. The word "have" is already sufficient to indicate possession.

There is a shortened version without the "have" with the same meaning, which is considerably less standard and probably, on its own, wrong. So you have it backwards. "Have got" is correct and "got" is incomplete.


Except that "got" is often also used in the past-tense to mean "acquired". Although I was actually pointing out that "got" was the redundant word in the phrase, not "have".

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: "Should of"
by siride on Sat 20th Mar 2010 16:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: "Should of""
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

"No it doesn't. "have got" is an idiomatic phrase meaning "possess"*.


I realize it's an idiom, that doesn't make it less-redundant. The word "have" is already sufficient to indicate possession.
"
Except you forget, as annoying pedants often do, that "have" is not here used in the sense of possession, but rather as a function verb indicating the perfect aspect. It's no more redundant here than in "have had".

"There is a shortened version without the "have" with the same meaning, which is considerably less standard and probably, on its own, wrong. So you have it backwards. "Have got" is correct and "got" is incomplete.


Except that "got" is often also used in the past-tense to mean "acquired". Although I was actually pointing out that "got" was the redundant word in the phrase, not "have".
"
It may be that "got" to mean "have" is simply the simple past analog of "have got". However, it's more likely that it's just a shortening of "have got".

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: "Should of"
by StephenBeDoper on Sun 21st Mar 2010 15:04 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: "Should of""
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Except you forget, as annoying pedants often do,


Whining about pedantry in topic called "Common Mistakes in English", while engaged in pedantic nitpicking yourself... seriously?

"have" is not here used in the sense of possession, but rather as a function verb indicating the perfect aspect. It's no more redundant here than in "have had".


So when you encounter the statement "I have got a bottle of wine," you assume that it has the same meaning as "I have had a bottle of wine"?

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: "Should of"
by siride on Sun 21st Mar 2010 15:19 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: "Should of""
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

"Except you forget, as annoying pedants often do,


Whining about pedantry in topic called "Common Mistakes in English", while engaged in pedantic nitpicking yourself... seriously?
"
Fight fire with fire.

"have" is not here used in the sense of possession, but rather as a function verb indicating the perfect aspect. It's no more redundant here than in "have had".


So when you encounter the statement "I have got a bottle of wine," you assume that it has the same meaning as "I have had a bottle of wine"? [/q]
No, I think you quite missed the analogy. In the same way that "have had" is not redundant (because there are two instances of the verb "have"), so too is "have got" not redundant (just because other meanings of "got" and "have" both happen to mean possession).

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Should of"
by henderson101 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 10:15 UTC in reply to ""Should of""
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

That is a dialectal thing - in so much as, my native English dialect would say the exact phonetic value "should of" for the contracted "should have" in speech. I know it is "should've", and would never write "should of", but it doesn't stop me saying it that way. Less educated people might just use that because that is what they are actually "saying".

Reply Score: 1

RE: "Should of"
by Zifre on Sat 20th Mar 2010 12:11 UTC in reply to ""Should of""
Zifre Member since:
2009-10-04

Even worse than 'should of', there is 'I half to', and even 'I half too'!

Reply Score: 2

its
by tyrel on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:58 UTC
tyrel
Member since:
2009-04-03

"Its" is not the only possessive word in English that doesn't have an apostrophe. The others are "his" and "hers". You wouldn't write "hi's" and "her's" (although I have seen the latter, unfortunately).

Also, when did "Internet" stop getting capitalized, "e-mail" lose its hyphen, and "web site" get combined into a single word?

Grammatical and spelling errors irritate the heck out of me, although I must admit that I am often stuck in the "loose" vs "lose" confusion myself.

One other thing that annoys me quite a bit is total lack of punctuation and capitalization, even between sentences: "omg my dog puked all over its gross he is locked outside now i cant believe it"

Reply Score: 1

RE: its
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 19th Mar 2010 00:46 UTC in reply to "its"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Also, when did [...] "e-mail" lose its hyphen


I've never understood the reasons for hyphenating "e-mail" - since it's an abbreviation of "electronic mail," wouldn't "e. mail" make more sense?

Then again, I've written "EMail" for as long as I can remember without understanding the rationale for that spelling either.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: its
by renhoek on Sat 20th Mar 2010 17:05 UTC in reply to "RE: its"
renhoek Member since:
2007-04-29

Email is english, e-mail is dutch ;) . Its because "email" is already an word in dutch. So email didn't loose it's hyphen, it was never their.

Also, i was really expecting the XKCD comic here : http://xkcd.com/326/

Reply Score: 2

RE: its
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 20:48 UTC in reply to "its"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

I have been told that, originally, the possessive was formed with "his" (and maybe "hers" and "its"?), as, for example, "Bob his Computer" to indicate a computer that Bob owned. Over time, that intervening "his" was replaced by a contraction, formed by putting an "'s" on the end of the possessing noun.

Which would be why "his," "hers" and "its" are special, I suppose: they're the words that that apostrophe-S is a contraction of.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by ssa2204
by ssa2204 on Thu 18th Mar 2010 19:58 UTC
ssa2204
Member since:
2006-04-22

I find most of these trivial compared to the lack of capitalization, acronyms, and "net speak". I personally find no excuse what so ever for anyone to write a sentence and not capitalize the first letter, much less a name. The irony for me is that these are often comments by people that really want to be heard, but are the first to be ignored. Writing a sentence such as "leet haxors never dl p0rn". This sentence is not English much less even a language. I can tolerate simple errors, god knows everyone makes them (kind of the reason we have erasers on pencils!). I can read and comprehend the sentence "Their not going to pass this bill in Congress", and I believe most can as well.

So I would argue that we should be much less concerned whether the proper use of its/it's over language that is being created as the person writes. When one is required to use the Urban dictionary over Websters to read, then Houston we have a problem. Sometimes it seems almost as if there (their?) is a competition to write as much incompressible dribble as possible.

Reply Score: 3

They're there their
by aahjnnot on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:00 UTC
aahjnnot
Member since:
2008-07-24

As a native English speaker, those three words sound identical to my Welsh ears. And, Thom, don't be tempted to lose your Dutchness - we English speakers delight in diversity. Just make sure you're able to understand and make quick-spoken jokes based around subtle inuendo. That's the true test of fluency and few foreigners ever pass it.

Reply Score: 1

RE: They're there their
by henderson101 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 10:24 UTC in reply to "They're there their"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

As a native English speaker, those three words sound identical to my Welsh ears.


To my native British "south central" ears, they sound different. They're sounds like "vey-uh" (kind of rhymes with player) and their/there sounds like "vair" (to rhyme with hair/air.) Some people round here might even draw out "they're" to "vei-yuh" or "vei-yar".

Yes, v. Our accent sounds a bit like Cockney with a twang and was apparently influenced by Dockworkers migrating from London in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Reply Score: 1

Well...
by fretinator on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:05 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

Its about time someone spoke there mind on this, though I could care less (3 smacks)

Reply Score: 6

RE: Well...
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 19th Mar 2010 01:35 UTC in reply to "Well..."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

I could care less


In the last few years I believe that's been superseded by "I could careless."

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Well...
by Thomas2005 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 14:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Well..."
Thomas2005 Member since:
2005-11-07

"I could care less


In the last few years I believe that's been superseded by "I could careless."
""I could care less" should be "I couldn't care less". The point of saying it is to make it known, you do not care, at all.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Well...
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 19th Mar 2010 14:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Well..."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

"[q]I could care less


In the last few years I believe that's been superseded by "I could careless."
""I could care less" should be "I couldn't care less". The point of saying it is to make it known, you do not care, at all. [/q]

Yes, that is what we were both alluding to.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Well...
by fretinator on Fri 19th Mar 2010 15:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Well..."
fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

I could care less" should be "I couldn't care less". The point of saying it is to make it known, you do not care, at all.


In case my sarcasm wasn't evident (especially to those for whom English is not their first language), I was intentionally using 3 of the most common mistakes (who knows, maybe more!). That's what the 3 smacks meant, but you are free to smack me more if you so choose.


Its about time someone spoke there mind on this, though I could care less (3 smacks)

Reply Score: 2

Thaer
by Nathan O. on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:07 UTC
Nathan O.
Member since:
2005-08-11

"There" in its use as a "pronoun," I believe, is still actually an indication of location. Much like you can say, "there he lay," you can say, "here he lay." Also, in my Northwest American accent, the three "thaers" (can I coin that term?) sound identical. And I totally agree; learning the difference between these three words can appear daunting but it actually VERY easy. I think it's low-hanging fruit that can make a person feel like a better English writer with so little effort.

I have to admit, Thom, that for some crazy reason, I love reading your language-related tirades :-)

Reply Score: 1

When...
by AdamW on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:13 UTC
AdamW
Member since:
2005-07-06

"Also, when did "Internet" stop getting capitalized, "e-mail" lose its hyphen, and "web site" get combined into a single word? "

Those are all very common progressive changes with new words in English. There's no particular reason Internet ought to be capitalized, after all - it's not some kind of trade name, it's just a perfectly regular noun. We don't talk about the Telephone Network.

New phrases like 'web site' get contracted into single words all the time; often they first get hyphenated (web-site) and then eventually contract into one word. Sometimes they just start out hyphenated and then drop the hyphen, just like your 'e-mail' example. A good example of that is 'tomorrow'; a century or so back it was usually written 'to-morrow', and there were no doubt people writing in to newspaper columns to deplore the laziness of those who dropped the hyphen. I don't think I've seen it written 'to-morrow' in anything sourced later than the 1950s, though, and no-one now would fulminate at the contraction.

Languages change over time, and it doesn't usually do to stand and try to hold back the waves. Now, some honourable exceptions I'm entirely on board with. Especially loose / lose. Sigh.

My favourite English Fun Fact, which I picked up in a rather old grammar textbook: these days we're always taught that there are various ways of using the apostrophe, and the use to indicate possession - "John's ball", "Bob's cat", "the greengrocer's apostrophe" - is taught as something entirely separate from the use to indicate elision (leaving out a letter or series of letters) - "Bob's coming" instead of "Bob is coming", "that's crazy" instead of "that is crazy".

Did you know, though, they're not actually different at all? The apostrophe used to indicate possession is actually just one case of the use to indicate elision: "John's ball" is really a contraction of "John, his ball" and the apostrophe marks the elision of ", hi". The form "John, his ball" is so archaic now that no-one teaches it this way, but that's how it originated. Neat, yes?

Okay, I'm done teaching ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: When...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:22 UTC in reply to "When..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Did you know, though, they're not actually different at all? The apostrophe used to indicate possession is actually just one case of the use to indicate elision: "John's ball" is really a contraction of "John, his ball" and the apostrophe marks the elision of ", hi". The form "John, his ball" is so archaic now that no-one teaches it this way, but that's how it originated. Neat, yes?


I actually knew that, which scares me.

One thing I never quite understood, though, about the genitive-s in English is this: back in high school, I was taught by my (native speaker) English teacher that you drop the "s" in apostrophe-s as soon as the word you're attaching it to ends in an s-sound. However, many people on the 'net correct me, stating that the s is only dropped when working with plurals.

For example (sorry, first word that came to mind that ended with -s):

The penis' skin OR the penis's skin?

As said, I've been taught the former is correct, the latter incorrect. I still haven't been able to find a decent article or grammar explaining this one to me.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: When...
by Adam S on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:23 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

I can tell you for a fact that this is what we call a "stylistic" choice. It's not a hard fast rule, and I know this because I've read several books on grammar. You need to read up on the lawsuit about "Kansas' statute" and how the apostrophe changed the meaning of the law.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: When...
by AdamW on Thu 18th Mar 2010 21:08 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

As Adam S says, there's no particular consensus on that one. I know very well-educated people who use both. I'd probably double-S it, myself (I'd pronounce it more or less the same as the plural, 'penises').

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: When...
by Kroc on Thu 18th Mar 2010 22:41 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Yes, I‘ve known that too. Jesus’ instead of Jesuses or Jesus’s. (Less penis, more Jesus ;) ) I can’t believe that this convention is dying out of ignorance.

edit: s/to/too (bound to happen in an article discussing English).

Edited 2010-03-18 22:42 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: When...
by phoenix on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:21 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

One thing I never quite understood, though, about the genitive-s in English is this: back in high school, I was taught by my (native speaker) English teacher that you drop the "s" in apostrophe-s as soon as the word you're attaching it to ends in an s-sound. However, many people on the 'net correct me, stating that the s is only dropped when working with plurals.

For example (sorry, first word that came to mind that ended with -s):

The penis' skin OR the penis's skin?

As said, I've been taught the former is correct, the latter incorrect. I still haven't been able to find a decent article or grammar explaining this one to me.


At least in Canada, it's still taught correctly: you never use 's if the word ends in an "ess" sound. Thus, you never say "ess-ezz".

It's based on the "ess" sound, not just the presence of the trailing "s".

"Thomas's penis's black" is just plain wrong.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: When...
by sj87 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 04:47 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
sj87 Member since:
2007-12-16

I actually knew that, which scares me.


When referring to the whole previous sentence, it's wrong to use the word "which" which only refers to the previous word alone.

You probably meant to say that the fact you already knew makes you scared.

Edited 2010-03-19 04:47 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: When...
by consequence on Fri 19th Mar 2010 16:16 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
consequence Member since:
2010-03-19

The BBC/Guardian style guides are quite clear on the matter of apostrophes - use 's to indicate possesion except where the subject is a plural and ends with an 's', in which case just add the '.

See eg the excellent Economist style guide http://www.economist.com/research/styleguide/

Edited 2010-03-19 16:18 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: When...
by Adam S on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:22 UTC in reply to "When..."
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

Not that I doubt it, but do you have a source for your origin of possessives? I've never heard that before, and it seems a bit of a stretch.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: When...
by AdamW on Thu 18th Mar 2010 21:09 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

I can't remember the exact name of the book, it was a textbook from the late Victorian period.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: When...
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 21:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: When..."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

I've heard that before too, as I stated above, before I read down the page and out that you'd already brought it up. I'm think I heard it from a teacher of mine, but which one I can't recall.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: When...
by bralkein on Fri 19th Mar 2010 08:21 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
bralkein Member since:
2006-12-20

Wikipedia has something interesting to say, as usual: ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: When...
by henderson101 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 10:30 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Not that I doubt it, but do you have a source for your origin of possessives? I've never heard that before, and it seems a bit of a stretch.


This is going back to Proto-Indo European. It is *NOT* true that that was ever the case in English, else why the heck is S also use possessive in Swedish and the other Scandinavian languages? It isn't because of English influence, that is for sure. IIRC, the Genitive case used an S in this position in common Germanic tongues.

Reply Score: 1

RE: When...
by kragil on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:38 UTC in reply to "When..."
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

I think the internet will change written English at an ever increasing rate.

Most people will be fine with it but some will whine. That is just the way things work and have always worked.

Really illogical rules will die fast because most people won't bother.

(Full disclosure: Spell checking made me capitalize English and tbh I am totally unsure about English punctuation. In my language it would be: Most people will be fine with it _,_ but some will whine. Any quick and easy rules for me to learn? )

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: When...
by diakonos on Fri 19th Mar 2010 17:39 UTC in reply to "RE: When..."
diakonos Member since:
2009-10-30

Most people will be fine with it but some will whine. That is just the way things work and have always worked.


Had you included the comma, your post would have been grammatically perfect. ;-)

IIRC, conjunctions like "and," "but," and "or," join independent clauses, and a comma should precede the conjunction; independent clauses not joined by a conjunction should be separated by a semicolon. (Dependent clauses require a comma.)

And now we can argue about both "the Oxford comma" and whether the comma goes inside the quotes. My personal hangups make me prefer both the "extra" comma and pushing commas outside the quotation mars, as required by computers parsing programming languages.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: When...
by kragil on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 15:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: When..."
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

Thanks, I will try to remember that.

Reply Score: 2

RE: When...
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 19th Mar 2010 01:26 UTC in reply to "When..."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Did you know, though, they're not actually different at all? The apostrophe used to indicate possession is actually just one case of the use to indicate elision: "John's ball" is really a contraction of "John, his ball" and the apostrophe marks the elision of ", hi". The form "John, his ball" is so archaic now that no-one teaches it this way, but that's how it originated. Neat, yes?


That is an interesting tidbit - if that were taught in grade school English classes, I expect it would help alleviate with a lot of the confusion over apostrophe use.

On a slightly OT note, for some reason that jogged my memory of a line that jumped out at me when re-reading Lord of the Rings a few years ago: "Either our hope cometh, or all hope's end." At first glance it looked like a mistake and I thought it was supposed to be "all hopes end" - until I realized that Tolkien was actually using poetic, slightly-archaic way of saying "the end of all hope".

Reply Score: 2

A few points
by Zifre on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:47 UTC
Zifre
Member since:
2009-10-04

I agree that the language quality on OSNews is extremely good - especially for a place with such a high percentage of non-native English speakers.

One thing I think OSNews really needs is to allow small edits to be made at any time. I can't tell you how many times I've noticed errors in my post after the edit window is over. A lot of people make errors not out of ignorance, but out of sloppy fingers. Maybe if the edit distance is less than ~10, you can edit at any time?

I don't believe there is any difference in pronunciation between 'there', 'they're', and 'their'. At least where I live (USA), I have never heard any difference. Also, it is quite understandable that people mix them up. I probably do it a lot without noticing (although I generally consider myself pretty good with grammar). On a related note, I hate it when people tell me I can't use 'they' and 'their' for a single person. It has always been used that way and there is no reason to fight it. There really needs to be a gender neutral pronoun that is not neuter (i.e. it). It's the same thing with ending a sentence with a preposition - English had always done it and then people decided it was bad because they wanted to make it more like Latin.

I think that having no real indefinite article and using 'one' instead is pretty common in languages. I know that at least Spanish also does it (sort of). In Spanish, 'uno' (masculine) and 'una' (feminine) mean one. However, many adjectives shorten before a masculine noun (e.g. bueno -> buen, primero -> primer, ninguno -> ningún, etc.). So 'uno' becomes 'un'. This means that 'un' means only 'an', 'uno' means only 'one', and 'una' means both 'an' and 'one'.

With the 'a' vs 'an' thing, it bugs me so much when people mix them up. One of my teachers (a native English speaker) said 'an historian'. That just sounds so, so incorrect.

It slightly bugs me when people use "it's" when they mean "its". But it doesn't bug me much at all when it's the other way around - apostrophes are simply often left out on the Internet. However, this is definitely the most understandable mistake of all of them; I know I do it sometimes.

Also, I often purposely make "mistakes" in English to prove a point. For example, here in the USA, we are supposed to put punctuation inside quotes. IIRC, in Britain, the put it on the outside. I do both - depending on the context.

When the quote logically includes the punctuation, I put it on the inside:

Johnny said, "I like pizza."

Johnny said a sentence, and if it were written alone, it would include the period. When the quote does not logically include the punctuation, it goes on the outside:

"OSNews", which stands for Operating System News, is supposed to report on Operating Systems, not grammar.

OSNews would not include a comma if it were written by itself. (Note: I do not agree with this sentence, it was just the first example that popped into my head ;) )

I generally use this rule where I can (e.g. OSNews comments ;) ) because it is more logical and natural. I avoid it though in writing assignments because I don't want to get a bad grade...


Wow, this was a long comment.

Edited 2010-03-18 20:58 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: A few points
by nage on Thu 18th Mar 2010 21:10 UTC in reply to "A few points"
nage Member since:
2010-03-18

I think any non-native speaker finds these types of problems in a language they really take the time to study. I had a terrible time trying to convince a native Spanish speaker that "estuvo" isn't spelled "estubo" (most Spanish speakers do not distinguish 'v' from 'b', they're certain they sound the same--and of course, in Spanish, things are spelled how the sound).

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: A few points
by Zifre on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:02 UTC in reply to "RE: A few points"
Zifre Member since:
2009-10-04

I had a terrible time trying to convince a native Spanish speaker that "estuvo" isn't spelled "estubo"

Really? I understand that it may be hard to remember spellings when the language is phonetic and there are multiple possible spellings, but 'estuvo' is a fairly common word. I would think that native Spanish speakers would spell it correctly.

I guess that, not being a native Spanish speaker myself, it's hard to understand the types of errors that they would make (just as some errors that native English speakers make sound really weird to non-native English speakers due to the way they learned English).

in Spanish, things are spelled how the sound

Well, I would say that things sound how they are spelled, but not the reverse. There are plenty of words that could have multiple spellings that would sound the same (especially with h's or b's and v's).

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: A few points
by Gryzor on Fri 19th Mar 2010 01:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A few points"
Gryzor Member since:
2005-07-03


Well, I would say that things sound how they are spelled, but not the reverse. There are plenty of words that could have multiple spellings that would sound the same (especially with h's or b's and v's).


Actually, being a native spanish speaker and one that has studied about the language, I can tell you that neither B nor V should sound the same in spanish. There’s a subtle difference in the way you pronounce them and the room for error is minimal. Sadly, most of the people doesn’t really care and pronounce like hell, making it harder to really tell the right one.

The same happens with C, S and to a lesser degree, Z.

Spanish can be tricky.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: A few points
by elmimmo on Fri 19th Mar 2010 06:56 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: A few points"
elmimmo Member since:
2005-09-17

being a native spanish speaker […] I can tell you that neither B nor V should sound the same in spanish.


Absolutely no dialect of Spanish makes a distinction between the sounds of B and V. Both sound like a B. If you are indeed native Spanish speaker, you speak weird.

Edited 2010-03-19 07:01 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: A few points
by bosco_bearbank on Fri 19th Mar 2010 10:39 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: A few points"
bosco_bearbank Member since:
2005-10-12

As my elementary school Spanish teacher (a native speaker from Cuba) used to say, "¿v de vaca o b de burro?" - according to her the sounds are supposed to be identical.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: A few points
by pafipe on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 16:52 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: A few points"
pafipe Member since:
2010-03-22

It's even easier than that: B (de burro) is a "bilabial" sound; both lips come together in the making of the sound (others like it are M and P).

The V (de vaca) on the other hand is a "labiodental" sound. The lower lip joins the upper row of teeth to make the sound; another one like it is F.

As far as I know that is the case in every language that uses those letters.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: A few points
by Gryzor on Fri 19th Mar 2010 14:26 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: A few points"
Gryzor Member since:
2005-07-03

"being a native spanish speaker […] I can tell you that neither B nor V should sound the same in spanish.


Absolutely no dialect of Spanish makes a distinction between the sounds of B and V. Both sound like a B. If you are indeed native Spanish speaker, you speak weird.
"

Or you don’t know it, proving my point…

Reply Score: 2

RE: A few points
by phoenix on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:26 UTC in reply to "A few points"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

With the 'a' vs 'an' thing, it bugs me so much when people mix them up. One of my teachers (a native English speaker) said 'an historian'. That just sounds so, so incorrect.


Depends on whether or not you pronounce the h in "historian".

"Look, it's a historian" is too choppy and breaks up the flow of the sentence.

"Look, it's an istorian" just flows off the tongue.

It's similar to how French works with the "liason" (forget the technical term) between the last consonant sound of one word and the first vowel sound of another.

Makes the sound flow like a melody instead of being choppy like a bass-line.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: A few points
by henderson101 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 10:40 UTC in reply to "RE: A few points"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

"Look, it's a historian" is too choppy and breaks up the flow of the sentence.

"Look, it's an istorian" just flows off the tongue.

It's similar to how French works with the "liason" (forget the technical term) between the last consonant sound of one word and the first vowel sound of another.

Makes the sound flow like a melody instead of being choppy like a bass-line.


Probably "glide vowel"?

More importantly, the word is Historian. As a British English speaker, I would NEVER say Istorian, ever. I would always pronounce the H in Herb too. The brand "Herbal Essences" tried to use the US pronunciation of the name (i.e. "erbal essences") over here, and it didn't work. They now use the correct British pronunciation "herbal essences", which screws up the flow of their product name, but doesn't grate on the ears.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: A few points
by phoenix on Fri 19th Mar 2010 14:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A few points"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

"herbal essences" flows a lot better than "erbal essences". Not sure how anyone could find "herbal essences" choppy. When the h-word is first, it's generally better to pronounce the h. When the h-word is second, then it depends on the last syllable sound of the previous word.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: A few points
by henderson101 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 16:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: A few points"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

When the h-word is second, then it depends on the last syllable sound of the previous word.


Except it is not correct British English usage to do what you suggest, so therefore what you are saying is *not* a universal truth. Yes? You can't drop an H to glide two words together.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: A few points
by phoenix on Fri 19th Mar 2010 16:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: A few points"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Hrm, perhaps it's not proper Queen's English, but that's what we're taught in Her wonderful colony of Canada. ;)

Reply Score: 2

then/than
by Thomas2005 on Thu 18th Mar 2010 20:52 UTC
Thomas2005
Member since:
2005-11-07

Getting these two mixed up is fairly common, but easy enough to remember which one to use. "Then" is used with the chronological ordering of events, "I have to go to the bank, then the store, then pick up the kids", or conditions, "If you want to go to the party then you have to clean your room first". "Than" is used to compare, "I am taller than him", or express a preference, "I would rather have a cheeseburger than a hamburger".

What really bothers me is when people type as if they are instant messaging. "UR" instead of "you are" or "your", and "B4" instead of "before". I can also do without the "LOL", "ROTFLMAO", and grouping the first letters of the words in the sentence putting us in the position of trying to figure out what was said, instead of actually typing the words out so we know what was said.

If people used correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar then non-native English speakers could improve their understanding of the English language. Yes, there are differences between American English and British English, but not so great that it would matter. I do not know how close Australian English is to British English but what differences there are should also be negligible.

Reply Score: 1

RE: then/than
by aldo on Fri 19th Mar 2010 00:00 UTC in reply to "then/than"
aldo Member since:
2010-02-17

This is one of the things I was about to comment on. It always seems to be 'then' used when 'than' is correct - OSNews is better then any other site for OS related news! I find it pretty amazing, as the two words don't sound the same and have quite different meanings.

Another one that annoys me is that so many people - including tech journalists - don't seem to realise that media is the plural of medium and will even use both 'media' and 'mediums' within the same article. This is without getting uptight about the phrase "the media", which doesn't really mean anything, or even the word 'multimedia', which should really be 'multi-medium'...

Reply Score: 1

RE: then/than
by Darkness on Sun 21st Mar 2010 16:55 UTC in reply to "then/than"
Darkness Member since:
2005-08-27

I can also do without the "LOL", "ROTFLMAO"

actually, in Dutch, lol is a word which more or less translates to fun. 'Lollig' would then be 'funny'.

So us dutchies can usually live with the use of LOL ;)

Your/You're is also a common mistake that is easy to fix if you think about what you are writing. Same as their/they're.

A thing that sometimes bothers me in Dutch is people consistently using 'wat' (=what) instead of 'dat' (=that) in a sentence to refer to something that precedes it in the sentence.

Example: 'het boek wat ik lees' or 'het boek dat ik lees'.
An article (in dutch) about this topic:
http://www.let.ru.nl/ans/e-ans/05/08/05/05/01/body.html

English makes it easy by allowing you to leave out that word: The book (that) I read. (I'm reading might be better)

It is commonly accepted or even correct to use wat instead of dat but usually dat is the preferred form. The rules around this subject seem a bit fuzzy.

As a Belgian, speaking Flemish rather than Dutch (more a difference in sound and usage of some words than actual language difference), I often have the impression that people from the Netherlands more consistently seem to use wat instead of dat but that could just be me...

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: then/than
by henderson101 on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 09:51 UTC in reply to "RE: then/than"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

A thing that sometimes bothers me in Dutch is people consistently using 'wat' (=what) instead of 'dat' (=that) in a sentence to refer to something that precedes it in the sentence.

Example: 'het boek wat ik lees' or 'het boek dat ik lees'.
An article (in dutch) about this topic:
http://www.let.ru.nl/ans/e-ans/05/08/05/05/01/body.html

English makes it easy by allowing you to leave out that word: The book (that) I read. (I'm reading might be better)

It is commonly accepted or even correct to use wat instead of dat but usually dat is the preferred form. The rules around this subject seem a bit fuzzy.


In English, we have the exact same thing, except "what" is thought of as "inferior" and "that" is though of as "correct". That is to say - epeople who use "what" are not using an "acceptable" version of English in the eyes of most speakers. People would call it "chav" or "council estate" English, I guess. So,

"The book what I'm reading" vs "the book that I'm reading", "the car what I'm driving" vs "the car that I'm driving" etc.

I'm guessing this all stems from the fact that way back in the distant past, Dutch and English had a common Ancestor ;-)

Edited 2010-03-22 09:54 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Jeez Thom....
by carlo on Thu 18th Mar 2010 21:10 UTC
carlo
Member since:
2009-12-25

Quit being such a miereneuker. (Haha, that's my favorite word, even though I have no idea how to pronounce it.)

Agreeing with my Welsh friend above, where I am "they're" "their" and "there" all sound the same in common speech.

Granted, I am in Utah, USA, and we do have a bit of a regional accent. However, I think the pronunciation is the same in most American English.

Reply Score: 1

haha
by poundsmack on Thu 18th Mar 2010 21:19 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

"Since everybody in the technology world is apparently having a vacation, and nobody told me about it, we're kind of low on news"

i don't know about you guys, but if the rest of the world is like me, they are fairly hung over since yesterday was St. Patrick's day. And if my IT admin friends are any indicator, we love to get our drink on after a long day of telling users to "turn it off and on again" ;)

Reply Score: 2

Another common mistake to non native speakers
by panzi on Thu 18th Mar 2010 21:21 UTC
panzi
Member since:
2006-01-22

Another common mistake to non native speakers seems to be mixing "thing" and "think". Just to clarify: "to think" is what you do with your brain and "a thing" is an object.

There's also a mistake some native English speakers make, which seems odd to a lot of us non native speakers: they mix "of" with "have". How can that happen, you might ask. Well in some english (british) dialects the both words sound remarkably the same. We non-native speakers do not learn these dialects so we do not make THAT mistake (we tend to make enough other ones).

Oh and in German there are three articles: der (male), die (female), das (neuter). And its more complicated than that, because a group of anything is "die" (e.g. die Männer - the men) and we also have randomly assigned genders to objects: chairs (Sessel) are male, doors (Türen) are female and sinks (Waschbecken) are neuter.

Reply Score: 2

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

They aren't "male" and "female" (unless your chairs and doors happen to have genitalia on them). They are masculine and feminine, which are just noun classes, called such because the nouns for male animate beings and female animate beings belong to them respectively. Otherwise, there's no real connection to biological sex or gender identification.

Reply Score: 2

A little known mistake
by Anonymous Penguin on Thu 18th Mar 2010 21:49 UTC
Anonymous Penguin
Member since:
2005-07-06

A little known mistake, especially by non native speakers (I am one) is the usage of "to beg the question".
Its proper meaning is: "a logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise." (Wikipedia)
Nowadays it is used as a synonym for "to raise the question".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

http://begthequestion.info/

Reply Score: 2

It's not confined to English,
by orfanum on Thu 18th Mar 2010 22:18 UTC
orfanum
Member since:
2006-06-02

as others have pointed out. For example, native speakers of German will often misapply the dative in the case of the non-possessive genitive form after a preposition. I once had a ding-dong argument with a native speaker and teacher of German about the phrase "wegen dem Wetter", which I insisted was incorrect. It seems there's divergent opinion on this: http://www.jstor.org/pss/3531208, and in a way, often there is seemingly no correct answer. However, the discipline of corpus linguistics has to my mind given credence to and helped formalise usages that were once spoken only, and elevated them to the position of being authoritative - it has a lot to answer for, and in my view this development has been an unfortunate consequence of the employment of computational analysis in the humanities

Reply Score: 2

Gender
by Luis on Thu 18th Mar 2010 22:25 UTC
Luis
Member since:
2006-04-28

I usually love English for being simple and flexible. If I'd try to explain to an older Spanish person (I'm Spanish) who haven't been exposed to English that in English there is no gender and that verbs are so dead easy to conjugate he wouldn't believe that such system could work without causing confusion. But it does work, just as good as more complicated languages (with the advantage of being easy).

Of course, you lose some subtleties. A stupid example would be when your girlfriend tells you that she's been out with "a friend", and you just die for knowing if that "friend" is a male or a female. In Spanish (and most other European languages) the word friend (and the article preceding it) would already carry the gender of the bloody friend and you wouldn't have to make a fool of yourself having to ask: "A friend?" Hoping that she will give you more information.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Gender
by kaiwai on Fri 19th Mar 2010 01:32 UTC in reply to "Gender"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I usually love English for being simple and flexible. If I'd try to explain to an older Spanish person (I'm Spanish) who haven't been exposed to English that in English there is no gender and that verbs are so dead easy to conjugate he wouldn't believe that such system could work without causing confusion. But it does work, just as good as more complicated languages (with the advantage of being easy).

Of course, you lose some subtleties. A stupid example would be when your girlfriend tells you that she's been out with "a friend", and you just die for knowing if that "friend" is a male or a female. In Spanish (and most other European languages) the word friend (and the article preceding it) would already carry the gender of the bloody friend and you wouldn't have to make a fool of yourself having to ask: "A friend?" Hoping that she will give you more information.


You could always say that you went out with a female friend, or you went out for a 'hen's night' or a 'girls night out' or some other sort of colloquialism ;) maybe she didn't mention it because she thought it wasn't necessary for the purpose of the conversation ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Gender
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 21:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Gender"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

That's kinda what I was thinking: women can refer to their "girlfriends" to indicate female friends, so the confusion could be avoided. (And if she wouldn't take that step, it's at least possible that the ambiguity was intentional. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Gender
by Luis on Fri 19th Mar 2010 21:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Gender"
Luis Member since:
2006-04-28

Yes, but the point was the opposite. Of course the girl can make it explicit if SHE wants. She could just say "I went out with Caroline".

But it's the jealous boyfriend who is interested in knowing the gender of the friend and gives importance to it. And for him, it's a problem that the language has no gender and doesn't "force" his girlfriend to tell if the friend was a male or a female. His only options are to further inquire or to remain with the doubt.

Basically the point was that English does work fine being simple and removing non-essential information, but in a few cases it does have its drawbacks and one could wish for a more complex grammar (the example was a bit simplistic, but I used it because it is easy to understand).

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Gender
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 22:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Gender"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Well, I guess the point I was making was, "if she didn't say 'girlfriend', she was probably being deliberately vague, and if she's being deliberately vague, she can do that in any language."

Reply Score: 2

JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

Here's another one:

Affect versus effect: some people affect a change, while others effect a change. Now, affect is an interesting thing: it changes things, but in a different way than effect, and yet, an effect is a change that's resulted in an object having been affected by something else, one way or another, and also, affect is how something/someone may appear to behave, and the effects of someone without affect or the wrong affect will affect how others act as well as them effecting a change in how they act which may be effective and used to good effect, but won't affect things in the way people think they should.

Anyone confused yet? If so, I've effectively changed your affect by effecting a change!

Reply Score: 3

boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

I looked into this some time ago (for a report where I was using "effect" frequently), and I came to the conclusion that there was a degree of overlap. An impression that you deliberately convey is an "affectation," and to change, alter or bring about something would be to "effect" it, but I think you can use either "affect" or "effect" to refer to "a consequence of an action." "Effect" is more common: I think that, if you use "effect" for everything except an affectation, you'll be OK.



Look, lots of "quotation marks!"

Reply Score: 2

memson Member since:
2006-01-01

It's really quite simple.

Effect - consequence.
Affect - to have consequence.

Reply Score: 2

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

It seems as though you completely ignored the parent's point and the fact that "effect" can be used as a verb and "affect" as a noun. "Effect" and "affect" as verbs do have some semantic overlap. "Bring about" or "cause" ("effect" as a verb) is not that far away from "have an impact on" ("affect" as a verb). It isn't that simple.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Parry Hotter
by Parry Hotter on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:17 UTC
Parry Hotter
Member since:
2007-07-20

English may be difficult, still I'm glad I wasn't born in China - I don't know a word of Chinese!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Parry Hotter
by frajo on Sat 20th Mar 2010 12:09 UTC in reply to "Comment by Parry Hotter"
frajo Member since:
2007-06-29

English may be difficult, still I'm glad I wasn't born in China - I don't know a word of Chinese!
Chinese is the only widespread language with a grammar that is easier than the English grammar. Verbs are not conjugated, nouns are not declined. There are nearly no prepositions.
But they do have pronomina and they do have tones.

Reply Score: 1

There's problems...
by bousozoku on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:28 UTC
bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

So often when I watch the tv news, one of the reporters will say "There's problems..." but of course, that's not correct and you must say "There're problems..." if you're using a contraction.

If people would stop using contractions in English, people might actually learn English. You put the apostrophe (yes, that's the ' mark that most native speakers don't seem to know) in place of missing characters. It's--it is, Let's--let us, Can't--cannot, There're--there are.

Glad to see that people have mentioned then and than, loose and lose but these mistakes are generally made by native speakers and non-native speakers just follow.

After a boatload of European languages, I always find some peace in Japanese. The lack of gender, noun declension, and trading articles for particles make it somewhat more structured. The writing system makes sense as well, though it isn't happy with western names.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by neticspace
by neticspace on Thu 18th Mar 2010 23:59 UTC
neticspace
Member since:
2009-06-09

In Korean, there is a problem with "spacing" between words in writings. This text feature is of English, Russian, German or French origin but almost every Korean speaker has some sort of problems with spacing when they write or type something.

Interestingly enough, Korean used to feature long vs.short vowels in ordinary conversational speech in Seoul. Though it it has been dead for decades unless if you want to do voice acting as a career.

Edited 2010-03-19 00:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2

And Youâre Vs. Your?
by Gryzor on Fri 19th Mar 2010 01:05 UTC
Gryzor
Member since:
2005-07-03

“Your good”… when they meant You’re good. ;)


If I would have gotten a dime every time I saw that, I’d be rich by now.

Reply Score: 2

Pet peeves
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 19th Mar 2010 01:08 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

This list is an excellent summary:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

"Definately" especially irks me - sticking an "a" in definitely doesn't even make sense as a phonetic spelling.

There is no such thing as an "average person," or an average *anything* that isn't a numerical quantity. English already has a perfectly good word that carries the intended meaning: "typical."

It seems that the distinction between adverbs and adjectives is quickly being lost (or "being lost quick.").

Acronyms vs. initialisms - all acronyms are initialisms, but not all initialisms are acronyms. If you pronounce it as a word (E.g. RAID), then it's an acronym. If you say every letter, then it's an initialism (E.g. PCMCIA).

And it's not a mistake, per se, but when did "lol" become punctuation? I know it's a prejudicial bias - but I really have a hard time taking someone seriously when they end a sentence that way lol.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Pet peeves
by cefarix on Fri 19th Mar 2010 02:15 UTC in reply to "Pet peeves"
cefarix Member since:
2006-03-18

PCMCIA = People Can't Master Computer Industry Acronyms

Reply Score: 1

RE: Pet peeves
by mightshade on Fri 19th Mar 2010 16:17 UTC in reply to "Pet peeves"
mightshade Member since:
2008-11-20

And it's not a mistake, per se, but when did "lol" become punctuation? I know it's a prejudicial bias - but I really have a hard time taking someone seriously when they end a sentence that way lol.

Same with "haha", I'd like to add. It makes the author seem uncertain about what he/she writes, like how you chuckle nervously when talking in real life.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Pet peeves
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 21:44 UTC in reply to "Pet peeves"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

"Definately" especially irks me - sticking an "a" in definitely doesn't even make sense as a phonetic spelling.


That may vary by region(al dialect). I'm used to hearing "definitely" as "def-ih-neht-ly", so for me, "definately" is a reasonable phonetic spelling. Well, it's more of an "a" sound than an "i" sound: we don't pronounce it like "finite", but more like "net". "Definitely" looks like it should be pronounced "Dee finite lee", which is probably why people don't guess it.

I'm from north Georgia, for reference.

Reply Score: 2

Answering a few points
by YALoki on Fri 19th Mar 2010 02:06 UTC
YALoki
Member since:
2008-08-13

Regarding the indefinite article preceding an aitch.

The use of "an" is a result of English acquiring many French words and the French do not aspirate inital aitches.

So we see "an honour" where we don't usually aspirate anyway. Then there is "an hotel". In that case most English speakers do aspirate even though hotel is French, so they say "A hotel"

Historic, hour and heroic, amongst others, often are preceded by "an".

The ugliest thing about "H" is the ignorant pronunciation of that letter as though there was an initial "h" in its name, meant to be aspirated.

Offenders compare it to some of the letters whose names begin with the letter being named.

My answer to those people is to point to Em and En and Eff and Ell ....... We don't call them Mem and so on.

As to RPG being an acronym: No it isn't. Acronym is defined as a WORD formed from initials. Words are things we can pronounce. Refer Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

Some queer mixtures are out there. e.g. FAQ - you could pronounce it as a word but nobody does.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Answering a few points
by cefarix on Fri 19th Mar 2010 02:15 UTC in reply to "Answering a few points"
cefarix Member since:
2006-03-18

I've always pronounced "FAQ" as a word...

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Answering a few points
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 21:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Answering a few points"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Yeah, I've kinda been thinking of that during this discussion. Sometimes how people pronounce an acronym -- or if they do -- changes from group to group. Another example is "SQL", which I've always pronounced as "ESS-QUE-ELL", but most of my coworkers pronounce as "sequel". Similarly, there are those who pronounce "Qt" as "cute". I've even heard "XML" as "Zammel".

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Answering a few points
by james_parker on Fri 19th Mar 2010 23:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Answering a few points"
james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29

Another example is "SQL", which I've always pronounced as "ESS-QUE-ELL", but most of my coworkers pronounce as "sequel".


Based on Date's book, I am under the impression that the former pronunciation is in fact specified in the SQL standard.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Answering a few points
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 22:03 UTC in reply to "Answering a few points"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

It ticks me off a little bit when people refer to letters by spelling out the names for them phonetically -- like "aitch". "Aitch" is actually particularly annoying to me, as I've already had bad experiences with it: I read through most of Aeon before I figured out what the hell "slash-aitch" was. When I figured it out, I wanted to punch Greg Bear. Would it have killed him to type-set it as "slash-H" or "slash-h" or "slash-h" or some-such?

Seriously, if you want to talk about a letter, just use the upper-case letter. Most of use can figure out what you mean by context. Bold it or italicize it or some-such if you really want to signify, "this character is not a one-letter word, but has some other meaning".

Edited 2010-03-19 22:03 UTC

Reply Score: 2

About my language...
by cefarix on Fri 19th Mar 2010 02:12 UTC
cefarix
Member since:
2006-03-18

I actually speak English natively too, but my other native language is Urdu (or Hindi, if you're Indian/Hindu). It's the same family as English and Dutch, being Indo-European. In Urdu, the gender system is quite different from that of English (and presumably Dutch as well).

For starters, we don't have any equivalent of "the". Hence why you might find some Indians or Pakistanis omitting "the" in the wrong places, and even more annoying, sticking it in the wrong places.

Then there are the pronouns. Urdu only has "this" and "that" and their plural and genitive forms. No "it" or "he" or "she". But nouns are always either male or female, diminutives almost always being female. The verb then agrees in gender with the noun. Interestingly, a closely related language, Bengali, has no concept of gender at all.

Another thing that has no concept in English is the grammatical idea of politeness. Urdu possesses three levels of politeness: formal/respectful, informal, and intimate/rude. So we have three forms of "you": "aap", "tum", and "tu". French has something similar in the differentiation between "tu" and "vous", but the Urdu concept extends to the grammar itself, with verbs being inflected according to the politeness-tense.

Even though Urdu and English have evolved on divergent paths since the days of the mythical Proto-Indo-European (or PIE) speaker, you can still find common ground:
The name "Urdu" is the word "horde" in the English language - borrowed from Turkish in both.
"Two" in English and "Do" in Urdu.
"Dec-" in English and "Das" in Urdu.
En"dow"/"dow"ry in English and "Do" in Urdu.
"Father" in English and "Pidar" in Urdu (although not commonly used).
"Mother" in English and "Madar" in Urdu (although not commonly used).
"Brother" in English and "Biradar" in Urdu (although not commonly used).
And many others...

Reply Score: 1

RE: About my language...
by amoldan on Fri 19th Mar 2010 05:52 UTC in reply to "About my language..."
amoldan Member since:
2009-07-25

My mother tongue is Marathi and it has borrowed a lot from Urdu and Persian languages. The concept of grammatical idea of politeness is there in Marathi too.

But Marathi has complications of its own. Nouns can be masculine, feminine or neuter gender, even abstract nouns too. So aanand(happiness) is masculine, chinta(worry) is feminine and dukha(sorrow) is neuter. Further we have different pronouns for every gender in singular, to(he) ti(she) and te(it). But things are complicated in plurals. te is also masculine plural, tya is feminie plural and ti is also neuter plural. In case of a mixed group, we use te. (BTW I get confused where to use "also" and "too". Can someone clarify?)

I believe Marathi has an additional thing that English doesn't, i.e. combining subsequent actions. Tyane aamba aanun khalla(He brought a mango and he ate it. Can you omit this second "he"?). Here the word aanun signifies that action of bringing has completed and something else is to follow.

One more annoying thing is, since we use Devanagari script, we have to draw borders on top of words. Check out any Marathi or Hindi website. This slows down the writing a lot.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: About my language...
by Zifre on Sat 20th Mar 2010 12:36 UTC in reply to "RE: About my language..."
Zifre Member since:
2009-10-04

BTW I get confused where to use "also" and "too". Can someone clarify?

'Too' has two meanings. One is 'more than necessary' when followed by an adjective:

I have too much time on my hands.
This pizza is too hot.

'Too' can also mean basically the same thing as 'also' (which roughly means 'along with'). The main difference with also is where it is usually placed. You would say:

He came with us too.
He also came with us.

I like pizza too.
I also like pizza.

However, the placement is not totally strict; these are possible too:

I, too, like pizza.
I like pizza also.

These are generally used for emphasis.

As far as I know, there is really no significant difference in meaning, although sometimes one is more appropriate than the other (you're not going to confuse anyone though).

Reply Score: 2

Comment by marblesbot
by marblesbot on Fri 19th Mar 2010 03:03 UTC
marblesbot
Member since:
2009-12-25

One of the few times most everybody is in agreement here. I think it's probably the same in most languages that the native speaker doesn't care about the spelling. When you read something, or write something for other native speakers, you will be able to understand what is meant. Even though it does annoy some. It's to be expected, though. I know just between England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, how they all sound so much different to me. And they are in that tiny little area. Then you got the US and Canada where every language of the world has combined to form the English we speak in the western hemisphere. I'm not going to get into Australia and New Zealand. You're bound to get mistakes. Now let's add in texting and internet speak. I still don't know what that sentence in another comment is supposed to mean. And is it really easier to put a 0 in words instead of o? And the texting and internet speak has affected every language, not just English. Or it could all just be evolution of a language. How many languages have actually stayed EXACTLY the same throughout history?

On a different not, I gots to go with the Welshman about the subtle jokes and foreigners getting lost there. I know it doesn't happen in just English, but that's my native language. If you can pick up sarcasm, subtle jokes, and regional slang, that is the test of somebody who truly knows a language.

Reply Score: 1

A couple of abuses
by ohbrilliance on Fri 19th Mar 2010 03:33 UTC
ohbrilliance
Member since:
2005-07-07

The use of this one has died down a bit: virii, used to mean the plural of virus. There's no such word.

Another is the word literally, when the speaker means figuratively.

A really nice read is Eats Shoots and Leaves: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eats,_Shoots_&_Leaves

Reply Score: 1

RE: A couple of abuses
by boldingd on Fri 19th Mar 2010 22:49 UTC in reply to "A couple of abuses"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

A good friend of mine did that, which astounded me. He used "literally" to add emphasis to a purely metaphoric statement. It was something like, "he is literally a giant ass".
I just don't get how someone can do that. It's not merely confusing the word for another with a similar meaning; it's using the word for the opposite of it's meaning. You can't have any understanding of what the word means and innocently make that mistake.

Reply Score: 2

Momentarily
by 3rdalbum on Fri 19th Mar 2010 04:29 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

I hate when people misuse the word "momentarily".

Momentarily means "for a moment", not "in a moment".

Right: "The lights flickered momentarily"
Wrong: "We will be landing momentarily"

Reply Score: 2

RE: Momentarily
by siride on Fri 19th Mar 2010 22:35 UTC in reply to "Momentarily"
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

Why is that incorrect? The suffix is underspecified as to the nature of the root. So "momentarily" just means "with respect to a moment in some way". It does not have to mean (nor does it) "for a moment" to the exclusion of "in a moment".

Not that it really matters anyway because there is no confusion in having it also mean "in a moment". So it does not fail the one test that actually matters: whether the language is clear and expresses ideas in a way that makes sense to the listener. Everything else is just annoying pedantry (especially common, it seems, on these types of sites).

Reply Score: 2

Linguistics? Interesting
by jaklumen on Fri 19th Mar 2010 05:20 UTC
jaklumen
Member since:
2010-02-09

But if Randall Munroe covers it in xkcd, I guess it's a geeky enough topic.

I'm a native speaker of English and Spanish is my second language.

Speaking of English generally: Yes, I agree its roots in German (Old English being Germanic), French, and Latin does make much of it difficult-- spelling yes, but in many, many other ways.

I realize the differences between American English and British English are just staggering. I get very annoyed with those that try to browbeat me for it, more especially the focus of derision being the U.S. (I'm not sure how much Canadians get away with things... they seem to do so somehow. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Punctuation is my ONE pet peeve and it is mostly because if anyone truly studied dictation, they would know that they could NEVER read their run-on sentences as is without pausing to take a breath-- and would realize that the amount of time they pause to do so, speaking clearly, indicates the punctuation they should use. (So mistakes with commas instead of semicolons, dashes, or periods should sound stilted read as such.)

Speaking of Spanish: It's hard enough for me when Spanish, more often Latin American native speakers, don't use punctuation much.

but... @Gryzor: distinctions between b and v, and c, s, and z I think must be pronounced only for Castillian (and your profile says you're in Madrid, so)... I hear no such distinction in most Latin American dialects. I mean, I nor anyone in my family can figure out how often the "th" lisp is used, although I thought it was with z (zeta) for the most part. And b and v? Well, I know the Spanish b is much less frictive than the English b... what, does Castillian use a small frictive emphasis? I can't recall...

Yes, I speak Latin American Spanish.

@Janvi: Yes, I've seen some www-spanish already... the most common one I see must be a texting abbreviation-- 'q' and 'qu' is replaced by 'k' so, for example, the word 'que' is simply 'k'.

Basically, I think the most important part is being understood, and yes, when you are addressing an international audience, using grammar that is generally agreed upon is good.

Yes, language evolves. Spoken versions probably more so, because I think most folks run into problems trying to write precisely in the manner that they speak. Discrepancies arise because while it may be easier to say something a certain way, it doesn't translate well to writing. (I'm pretty sure contractions are simply formal written accommodations to how people speak-- the apostrophe usually indicates a dropped vowel or where a vowel would not be pronounced twice.)

Yes, I also have a dorky linguistics hobby. Mostly etymology.

Reply Score: 1

would of WTF?
by dumdiddydum on Fri 19th Mar 2010 07:14 UTC
dumdiddydum
Member since:
2009-10-29

another one that makes me wanna kill puppied every time i read it (and that is very often on the web):

the use of "would of" instead of "would have"

same applies "could of" and "should of"

is it really so hard to see the blatant difference between a verb and a preposition?

Reply Score: 1

RE: would of WTF?
by henderson101 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 10:53 UTC in reply to "would of WTF?"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

another one that makes me wanna kill puppied every time i read it (and that is very often on the web):

the use of "would of" instead of "would have"

same applies "could of" and "should of"

is it really so hard to see the blatant difference between a verb and a preposition?


This is all getting very blurred. It's fairly common to hear wanna, woulda, shoulda, coulda, etc. where "a" is "have", "to", etc

Reply Score: 1

Comment by kvarbanov
by kvarbanov on Fri 19th Mar 2010 11:41 UTC
kvarbanov
Member since:
2008-06-16

I have to admit that I learn it (the English) every day, given that I've never had any lessons in school or anywhere else, it just grew in me between the early MTV addictions and listening to music for 16 hours per day. Knowing a little German helped, but I wonder about languages like Dutch - boy, it sounds SO difficult ;) I get a bit irritated, however, when there are spelling errors in someone's text - for God's sake man, all browsers have built-in spell checker ...
English-British and US - I tend to dismiss those comments, as long as we can understand each other, I'm fine. The first time, on the other hand, when I had to speak to a person from UK, I got lost, but he was kind enough to walk in my shoes and repeat some words and phrases few times ;)

Reply Score: 1

Very interesing to a naitive.
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 19th Mar 2010 15:22 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

I often get critisied for my spelling and grammar on the web, with quite a few people defending me, because they assume english is not my native language.


Well, it is. I just suck at it. Absolutely nothing you've posted Thom is that uncommon amongst native speakers. Grammer just isn't a priority for me. Never has been. If I understand you, you're grammer is great. If I don't then it sucks, unless its really cleaver like a Charles Bukowski poem.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by mightshade
by mightshade on Fri 19th Mar 2010 16:13 UTC
mightshade
Member since:
2008-11-20

I believe it hasn't been mentioned yet: I see "too", "to" and "two" get confused sometimes as well.

Thom, I don't think getting annoyed by such mistakes is arrogant. Correcting people all the time would be, though. Thus I usually don't do it, unless the people ask for it, e.g. in their signature.

Related to that, equally annoying are directly translated idioms from English to German. Most abused is "to make sense". We already have a corresponding idiom, which is "x ergibt Sinn", and I cringe every time someone uses "x macht Sinn". Really, I do. And I'm not even a language purist.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by mightshade
by james_parker on Fri 19th Mar 2010 23:35 UTC in reply to "Comment by mightshade"
james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29

Related to that, equally annoying are directly translated idioms from English to German.


Interesting....I much prefer literal translations in most cases (into English, my native language -- American English, to be more precise), rather than idiomatic translations. The former provide insight into the nature of how individuals think in the original language, rather than mapping the thought to something roughly equivalent in English.

Reply Score: 1

Slightly off-topic, but could be amusing...
by arkeo on Fri 19th Mar 2010 16:37 UTC
arkeo
Member since:
2008-04-21

In its evolution, Italian lost the quantity of its vowels somewhere in the early Middle Ages. So, while Latin could differentiate between long and short vowels, Italian cannot.

99.9% of Italians who speak English, do so without knowing this. In Italian vowels are always short.

And when an Italian speaks English, "there's a SHIT of paper stuck in the printer", or "since it was a sunny day we all went to the BITCH"...

You have no idea how many times this happens, and it always makes me laugh no matter how hard I try to hide it...

Reply Score: 1

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

And when an Italian speaks English, "there's a SHIT of paper stuck in the printer", or "since it was a sunny day we all went to the BITCH"...


;) Shouldn't that be: "There's a shet of pepper in the printer, so where going to the betch" ;)

After all, pAper and wE're won't work. ;)

Reply Score: 2

A vs An in Middle English
by henderson101 on Fri 19th Mar 2010 17:08 UTC
henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

No one has mentioned this, and this is probably quite relevant:

In ME, there was often a confusion around the division of the article* before words. So we can find a number of words in English common usage that have been incorrectly divided.

* actually, this is not strictly true - the possessive pronoun "my" used to also have a counterpart "mine" (which, yes, is still used in another way) so you'd have My dog, but mine ape. English no longer uses this construction/rule.

Ones that come to mind:

* Orange (fruit) used to be Norange (cf. Naranja in Spanish)

* Nickname derives form "ekename" which meant "other name" or words to that effect.

* Adder (a type of snake native to the UK, cf the comedy series "Black Adder") was originally "Nadder".

There are a bunch more personal names that derive from the division between My and Mine:

* Nan - from My Nan[ne] / Mine An[ne]
* Ned - from My Ned[ward] / Mine Ed[ward]
* Nelly - from My Nellie / Mine Ellie

It's actually quite fascinating.

Reply Score: 1

this time?
by MamiyaOtaru on Sat 20th Mar 2010 03:37 UTC
MamiyaOtaru
Member since:
2005-11-11

ironic article coming from the guy who doesn't know how to use "neither ... nor". This in itself is fine but I got ignored for trying to inform him how it worked ;)

Reply Score: 2

abraxas
Member since:
2005-07-07

First of all there, their, and they're are all pronounced exactly the same by native speakers. There is absolutely no difference in pronunciation. The second point I want to make is that personally I believe English evolves a lot faster than other languages so it can be hard to keep up on it. One of the reasons this happens because a lot of new English words are introduced in the US where we have many people who speak different languages and are constantly contributing to the English language by slowly moving foreign terms into the language. Another reason English changes so quickly is that English is the language of computer technology. Code is written with English comments and English syntax. The rapid changes and ubiquity of computer technology forces English to change much more rapidly than most languages.

Reply Score: 2

Than and then...
by abraxas on Sat 20th Mar 2010 18:15 UTC
abraxas
Member since:
2005-07-07

There are so many comments so I'm not sure if this has been mentioned but people often confuse "then" and "than". I often see people writing "So and so is better THEN so and so". This is not correct. "Than" is a conjuction or sometimes a preposition. "Then" is an adverb, adjective, or sometimes a noun.

Reply Score: 2

Beating a dead horse?
by AnythingButVista on Sun 21st Mar 2010 15:28 UTC
AnythingButVista
Member since:
2008-08-27

It seems like such. But English is not my primary language either (Spanish is), and it annoys the heck out of me when I see people who are native English speakers disrespect their language while I do my best to improve my English.

Reply Score: 1

It's "its"
by aroleon on Tue 23rd Mar 2010 02:31 UTC
aroleon
Member since:
2005-07-30

It's "its", not "it's", unless you mean "it is", when it is "it's".

Reply Score: 1

A and An
by Almafeta on Tue 23rd Mar 2010 07:17 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

At my elementary school in Florida, we had a different rule beat into our heads: 'A' preceeded words that started with a consonant; 'An' preceeded words that started with a vowel. It doesn't matter if the consonant or vowel was silent (hour, opossum) - the spoken article was dictated by the following word's written form.

I've probably made some grammaticians cry in my wake thanks to that.

Reply Score: 2