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English help

英語を勉強している方のためのフォーラムです。練習のために英語の文章を投稿してもかまわなく、英語の文法・語彙に関する質問をしてもけっこうです。

RE: English help

Postby queshaw » Wed 05.10.2006 12:10 pm

Yes. Regardless of whether a dictionary calls itself proscriptive or descriptive, it refers to words that are in use (unless it is making up words that haven't been used by anyone other than the authors of the dictionary before).

Words come into being through usage. There were not a group of apes that gathered together and invented a new thing called spoken language with rules and words and then worked to make everyone learn the rules and words. First people spoke, then eventually people formed groups to study the usage of these words and they describe them in rules of grammar and in dictionaries. So, all dictionaries are effectively the result of a survey of word usage.

Some people can be given an arbitrary thing called "credit" which is to mean that their ideas are arbitrarily correct and can then say that their observation of a word's usage and meaning are correct, though in reality all word meanings are vague, because words are simply symbols that one associates with a private experience. People talking are each having a private experience and exchanging symbols during a common experience.
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RE: English help

Postby Schattenjedi » Wed 05.10.2006 8:30 pm

queshaw wrote:
though in reality all word meanings are vague, because words are simply symbols that one associates with a private experience. People talking are each having a private experience and exchanging symbols during a common experience.


I like how you make conversations seem so intimate. I'm off to go have a private experience with this girl I like. löl
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RE: English help

Postby queshaw » Wed 05.10.2006 9:00 pm

Hehe! I think it's at the heart of romantic tragedy.

But, actually it's quite nice for us all to be different people. "Viv la difference".
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RE: English help

Postby coco » Wed 05.10.2006 9:32 pm

Queshaw-san,
May I ask you these questions?
1) Where are you from?
2) Where do you come from?
3) What is your nationality?
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RE: English help

Postby queshaw » Wed 05.10.2006 10:17 pm

coco wrote:
Queshaw-san,
May I ask you these questions?
1) Where are you from?
2) Where do you come from?
3) What is your nationality?


1. I'm from California.
2. I come from California, born from a fierce and beautiful woman who I called Mom.
3. I'm an American, by citizenship. Or, I'm a "European American". I have heard people ask question #3, meaning "what is your race". I'm Welsh-Irish.

After reading this thread, I think it probably depends on context, how "a Japanese" sounds.

The quote earlier from the person saying "For a Japanese, he spoke English well", sounds different than "I'm a Japanese".

"An Irishman" sounds okay too me. "An Irish" sounds wrong. "A Chinaman" sounds racist. I'm not sure about "A Chinese". Probably people would say "A Chinese person".

But, it could also be that I don't know how to speak English very well.
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RE: English help

Postby AJBryant » Thu 05.11.2006 12:26 am

The quote earlier from the person saying "For a Japanese, he spoke English well", sounds different than "I'm a Japanese".


But they impart exactly the same information and are used in exactly the same way: "a Japanese" = "A person who is from Japan."

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RE: English help

Postby LordOfTheFlies » Thu 05.11.2006 3:47 am

AJBryant wrote:
The quote earlier from the person saying "For a Japanese, he spoke English well", sounds different than "I'm a Japanese".


But they impart exactly the same information and are used in exactly the same way: "a Japanese" = "A person who is from Japan."

Tony

That's true... It's just an issue of what's most commonly said.
Coco-san, all of those three questions are ok... The third one sounds a bit stiff though.
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RE: English help

Postby jinksys » Thu 05.11.2006 4:05 am

"japanese" is a adjective and a plural noun. So you can say , I am japanese. Or you can say, "I am a japanese". Both are fine. Can we end this now?
Hello? Internets?
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RE: English help

Postby coco » Thu 05.11.2006 5:04 am

Queshaw−san,
Thanks for replying. your answers show some interesting points that i can learn from. :) (but unfortunately, I can not tell it all even in my Engrish..)

When we ask
ご出身はどちらですか? (formal)/どこの出身?(casual)
The answer doesn't related with "present residence". We answer the place where we were born, or grown up.like
・鹿児島です。
・広島生まれの大阪育ちです。
・北海道。

When we ask
国籍はどちらですか? /どこの国籍ですか? /お国はどちらですか?
何人ですか? (casual)
Generally, we hardly expect answers related with "race". answers would be
Q: 国籍は? (国は?)
・アメリカです。
・カナダです。
・ボリビアです。
・日本の国籍をとりました。
Q: 何人ですか?
・アメリカ人です。
・カナダ人です。
・(中国系)アメリカ人です。

LordOfTheFlies-san, Thanks. :)
Last edited by coco on Thu 05.11.2006 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: English help

Postby queshaw » Thu 05.11.2006 12:33 pm

Tony's thread "Learning a foreign language" refers to articles that relate to this issue, I think:

http://www.thejapanesepage.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3389

Generally, the authors suggest that you should try as much as possible to use phrases that native speakers use, in preference to phrases you construct that are technically corrrect, but unusual.

For example, in:

http://www.english-learning.co.uk/vocdb.html#vd7

He refers to a Frenchman saying in English "aliment a debate" and not being corrected, because it is technically correct, but an odd thing to say to the ears of most English speakers, probably.

That leaves the problem that you can't be sure if the people you speak with are speaking English typically or not. And, it's not obvious what "typical" means.
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RE: English help

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 05.11.2006 4:23 pm

well this thread certainly turned inward.. and quite honestly as an American I don't even know which sounds best anymore..

and forgive me for being argumentative queshaw but there is no point to your last comment. you have not helped with that and only convoluted things more..

I am sure you were trying to help, but

(quote) That leaves the problem that you can't be sure if the people you speak with are speaking English typically or not. And, it's not obvious what "typical" means. (unquote)

just leaves one wanting to wash their hands..

just as one should learn proper japanese first and then through immersion, get a feel for common or local terms, I believe CocoSan is also trying to learn the proper terms and then over time to get the feel for local terms..

without proper terms, slang and hogen mean absolutely jibberish..
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RE: English help

Postby queshaw » Thu 05.11.2006 7:29 pm

Those "learning vocabulary" links are pretty good reading, in my opinion. They don't mean to me that I should just dispair about the difficulty of learning appropriate speech. The main implication I take from it is that I have to give up the notion that I can treat spoken language like it's a computer programming language. I can't just look up the words in a dictionary, fit them into the rules of grammar and there's my sentence. Instead, I have to kind of dance with people (or, I will have to), using a patchwork of phrases that are appropriate for the given situation.

"Proper English" is either the English that allows you to pass a test, or it's the English that lives up to some individual's opinion, or it's the English that allows you to communicate well with the people who happen to be your audience at any given moment.

In general "proper" refers to a context. There isn't a proper English that exists pure in form. There is only English that is inappropriate for some reason or other in a given situation, and English that happens to be appropriate in some way in a given situation.
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RE: English help

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 05.12.2006 9:12 am

queshaw wrote:
"Proper English" is either the English that allows you to pass a test, or it's the English that lives up to some individual's opinion, or it's the English that allows you to communicate well with the people who happen to be your audience at any given moment.

In general "proper" refers to a context. There isn't a proper English that exists pure in form. There is only English that is inappropriate for some reason or other in a given situation, and English that happens to be appropriate in some way in a given situation.



Your definition of proper english is incorrect, and arguing semantics about it is both rediculous and unedifying.

cocosan originally wanted to know how to base study on certain "proper" tems, the whole thread has spiraled to the point of no help.

sorry cocosan, I would like to help more, feel free to pm if you would like..
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RE: English help

Postby AJBryant » Fri 05.12.2006 10:05 am

I have to agree. There *is* such a thing a proper English. Contextual English may be at variance, and usage patterns may exist, but proper is proper. Anything else is "eccentric," stylized, improper, dialectical, etc.


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RE: English help

Postby queshaw » Fri 05.12.2006 3:42 pm

Saying proper is proper, is a tautology, or circular logic.

There is a practical bit of advice for cocosan in what I'm saying. Essentially, regardless what each of us say, none of us have the authority to say whether "As a Japanese" is "proper" or not. Cocosan and all of us are likely to find that what is "proper" depends on the context (in fact "correct in context" is what proper means). Language is a living thing that changes in real time as we use it. So, my main point is that the problem should be addressed as having multiple answers, depending on the context, meaning that this is not a problem to treat as a set of rules to learn, but rather a problem of learning about different language cultures. It's more like learning music than it is like learning the syntax of a computer programming language.
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