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A strange question about English

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: A strange question about English

Postby Infidel » Mon 10.05.2009 9:48 pm

I think grammars is acceptable in Indian English. But It's definitely not in American English.
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby NileCat » Tue 10.06.2009 3:53 pm

Thank you, everyone.
And thank you jcdietz03. Your comment perfectly makes sense to me.
I think I've finally got it. :D
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby ヴェンリメル » Sun 10.18.2009 4:17 am

Bigger than everything mentioned, I think, is something I've encountered a lot across the US. (My mother was a recruiter for the Marine Corps, so we moved quite frequently.) There are a lot of people who think it pedantic of anyone to correct simple (or any) linguistic mistakes they make—be they spoken or written ones. The result is a lot of people who speak even their native language poorly (and for most people in the US, that means their only language).

An example: Redundancy creeps in all over the place. Things like "continue on" and "respond/reply/answer back". "Sit down" and "stand up" can be mentioned, but the phrases "sit up" and "stand down" also exist and have quite different meanings. Saying "continue on" is a little bit like saying "decapitate your head off" or (one I actually uttered, once) "sudden explosion". A phrase such as "continue on the path" is fine, because "on" modifies "path". "Answer back" doesn't make proper sense, because to "answer" is to reply to a question or hail. Adding "back" would be like answering a reply; which would only be the way to describe the situation if the reply (to some question) was, itself, a question. Similarly, an explosion is, by definition, sudden and to decapitate someone is to remove their head.

My point is, saying things like "continue on", "where's it at", etc. indicates one's lack of proper understanding of the words being utilized.

On the other hand, phrases like "take a shower" have existed for much longer and are accepted, though they don't make proper literal sense, even in English. Such things are, arguably, examples of the evolution of language.

P.S. As a (n aspiring) linguist, I usually say things like "bathe" in place of "take a bath/shower"; which gets me odd looks from people. lol
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby JaySee » Sun 10.18.2009 4:40 am

ヴェンリメル wrote:
My point is, saying things like "continue on", "where's it at", etc. indicates one's lack of proper understanding of the words being utilized.

P.S. As a (n aspiring) linguist, I usually say things like "bathe" in place of "take a bath/shower"; which gets me odd looks from people. lol


As a(n aspiring) linguist I think you should also know that we've long passed the stage in which one of the tasks of linguists was to make judgments about good and bad language, and to prescribe its 'proper' usage.
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby ヴェンリメル » Sun 10.18.2009 6:33 am

I feel I've just been slapped in the face—which I'm willing to accept, because sometimes that's exactly what you need.

My question, at this point, is whether that simply means to understand the ever fluctuating meaning of words, in general; an idea that I've obviously recognised if not wholly accepted. My line of thinking is that if people (or a people) don't (or can't) agree on what a word (or phrase) means, then the idea of communicating using such fickle facets of existence with any amount of dependability immediately crumbles.

Language isn't math, after all (my first love). People need to agree for there to be any precision in it, but that's kind of what I like about it. Other people are involved. Math is just math—it doesn't matter what language. You can't change the numbers. Uno, eins, one, ichi, hito, en—they're all the same thing. Individual, solitary, lone, singular, hitori; they all have similar meanings, but only because we agree that they do. But isn't the point of so many of them that they're all different? Doesn't it mean something to know what something is supposed to mean?

Literal translations are so difficult, because different peoples have agreed on different ideas grouped into particular words that merely have similar meanings between languages.

To sum it all up, I guess: What's the point of doing such study of language if not to share the knowledge and understanding with others? Better understanding means more efficient, no? Isn't better... Better?

Also... Am I not here to have those of you more learned in Japanese language help me understand good and bad usage and tell me the proper way to use the words?

Please believe me when I say that in Japanese, this would all be in polite language with the "friendly" sounds in place.
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby ヴェンリメル » Sun 10.18.2009 6:57 am

NileCat wrote:Thank you, everyone.
And thank you jcdietz03. Your comment perfectly makes sense to me.
I think I've finally got it. :D

If I may, the natural English expression is "makes perfect sense". However, I completely agree, so far, that your English is nigh impeccable. ^^

(I'm also a bit of a dunce and didn't read more than the first page of posts in this thread. >< For that, please forgive the double-post.)

Your conversation about "grammar" and "uncountable", I have discussed with people before. In so much as nouns that are "infinitive".

"How many times..." refers to a finite concept. You've referenced individual occurances of a thing.
"How much time..." requests a measurement. You'd answer with one of the counters—minutes, seconds, et al—but here, "time" is an infinitive and isn't used to measure something.*
In that way, I think "grammar" was an infinitive to begin with, but as in the case of saying "two coffees, please", you've (though, perhaps "we've" is proper, here) dropped the counter (grammatical systems / cups of coffee) and just used the subject.

*I had actually used these two examples for "much" and "many", originally. "How much money" and "how many dollars", etc.

I know that was pretty much done with, but I thought I'd add, since my thoughts on it were a little different.

And, NileCatさん, you are far too polite a person to be worried about how you've come across. ^^
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby Infidel » Sun 10.18.2009 4:09 pm

ヴェンリメル wrote:An example: Redundancy creeps in all over the place. Things like "continue on" and "respond/reply/answer back".


A lot of criticism does seem overly critical. It leaves no room for emphasis or clarification. Words are not only about conveying meaning but mental images and attitudes that excessive brevity ignores. Should we eliminate synonyms from the dictionary because they are "redundant" ? Besides, perhaps something would be lost if we cut out seemingly redundant words.

Continue on. There is a difference between repeating oneself, and repeatedly repeating oneself. I could be redundant, or redundantly redundant. One implies I take two pencils to the test room. The other implies I take a few cases of pencils to the test room.

answer back: I don't see this as redundant. Often people answer to themselves and not back at the person asking the question. When we watch a show like Jeopardy we don't answer back since no one is listening, but we will often answer to ourselves when we believe we know the answer. Answer back clarifies that someone is not just talking to himself, it also implies that the answerer might have been looking the other way and turned back to face the person they respond to.

"Sit down" and "stand up" can be mentioned, but the phrases "sit up" and "stand down" also exist and have quite different meanings.


And because there are different meanings that can be associated, it is a good habit to be clear by adding modifiers. Besides, Stand used alone as a command is a bit rude.

sudden explosion".


Not all explosions are sudden. The primary definition of sudden is unexpected, not quick. And implies that the explosion happens once. The repeated, expected, explosions that happen inside your car engine can hardly be called sudden explosions. Rather, if the car engine itself blew up while driving down the road then we could probably call it a sudden explosion.

My point is, saying things like "continue on", "where's it at", etc. indicates one's lack of proper understanding of the words being utilized.
I differ.
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 10.19.2009 6:35 pm

Redundancy is an integral part of language; it helps ensure that a message can be communicated even if there is sound distortion or the like. Obviously this doesn't apply to writing, but there's no reason to try to stop people from using perfectly natural and understandable idioms like "continue on" out of a sense that it means the person doesn't understand the meaning of the word.

Look at the sentence "They are five students." Plural is expressed four times in the sentence -- every word shows a plural meaning. This is extremely redundant, but nobody suggests this should be revised to get rid of the redundancy.
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby ヴェンリメル » Tue 10.20.2009 2:24 am

ユダンさん wrote:Look at the sentence "They are five students." Plural is expressed four times in the sentence -- every word shows a plural meaning. This is extremely redundant, but nobody suggests this should be revised to get rid of the redundancy.
This, I feel I must critique.
To begin with "they are five students" isn't a sentence that would be uttered, naturally, but to put that aside: This isn't an example of a redundant sentence, because you wouldn't change any of those words to indicate "singular" without changing the rest of them. In proper English, all of those elements need to indicate the plural idea for it to make sense. "Student" would indicate someone coming from a language, like Japanese, that doesn't typically pluralize nouns. "Is" would probably come from someone speaking something akin to Ebonics. And every time I try to change "they" to "it", "are" becomes "is". In truth, "it is five students" is probably the closest you'd come to a sentence that might be spoken.

"What about this group?" "It is five students." (Where it might have comprised other than students.)
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby tōkai devotee » Tue 10.20.2009 4:13 am

ヴェンリメル wrote:
"What about this group?" "It is five students." (Where it might have comprised other than students.)


Would anyone actually say "It is five students"?? Sounds off to me! Instead you'd say, "It has five students" or "There are five students".
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby becki_kanou » Tue 10.20.2009 5:08 am

ヴェンリメル wrote:
ユダンさん wrote:Look at the sentence "They are five students." Plural is expressed four times in the sentence -- every word shows a plural meaning. This is extremely redundant, but nobody suggests this should be revised to get rid of the redundancy.
This, I feel I must critique.
To begin with "they are five students" isn't a sentence that would be uttered, naturally, but to put that aside: This isn't an example of a redundant sentence, because you wouldn't change any of those words to indicate "singular" without changing the rest of them. In proper English, all of those elements need to indicate the plural idea for it to make sense. "Student" would indicate someone coming from a language, like Japanese, that doesn't typically pluralize nouns. "Is" would probably come from someone speaking something akin to Ebonics. And every time I try to change "they" to "it", "are" becomes "is". In truth, "it is five students" is probably the closest you'd come to a sentence that might be spoken.

"What about this group?" "It is five students." (Where it might have comprised other than students.)
f

That's exactly the point Yudan was making though. There is no logical necessity for both nouns and verbs to indicate singularity vs. plurality, but English grammar requires it; just as romance languages require adjectives to agree in number and gender. There are many redundancies in natural languages, but that doesn't mean they're unclear or ineffective tools for communication.
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby Sairana » Tue 10.20.2009 6:28 am

ヴェンリメル wrote:phrases like "take a shower" have existed for much longer and are accepted, though they don't make proper literal sense,

By the most common definition of 'make', 'making sense' is not sensible, nor can it be taken literally.

ヴェンリメル wrote:Redundancy creeps in all over the place.

All over the place? Really? If you already have "all over", what need for "the place"? Perhaps I am not taking things literally enough, in which case my ignorance causes me to question which "place" we are referring to. I don't have any redundancy in my bedroom.... but I do have more than one pair of socks. Does that count?

ヴェンリメル wrote:My line of thinking is that if people (or a people) don't (or can't) agree on what a word (or phrase) means, then the idea of communicating using such fickle facets of existence with any amount of dependability immediately crumbles.... What's the point of doing such study of language if not to share the knowledge and understanding with others? Better understanding means more efficient, no?


If people... all over the place... are using language that the people around them understand and agree upon, how do you rationalize correcting their mistakes? Clearly, they are communicating specific, complex ideas without your intervention.

but that's kind of what I like about it. Other people are involved.

I think... if you get odd looks from people when you announce you are going to bathe (who announces that?), then perhaps the "other people" are of no consequence when you make your linguistic judgments. What sort of involvement do you extend to your peers? "Me talk, you listen!"

ヴェンリメル wrote:There are a lot of people who think it pedantic of anyone to correct simple (or any) linguistic mistakes they make—

pedant: a person who adheres rigidly to book knowledge without regard to common sense.
I beg the question: If everyone says one thing and you say another, who is in error?

On this forum, I whine(read: bitch) at people about leet-speak and internet shorthand.
On World of Warcraft, I say, "LF4M NAXX25 NEED TANK HEALS 2DPS NO DKs"

Hypocritical? Maybe. But I think there's a time and place appropriate for everything. Making an issue of things that are likely to cause serious misunderstanding and hardship is one thing. Correcting the average Joe's small (any?) linguistic mistakes in the context of daily life is going to be called pedantic -- just like this post. I went a pretty long way to say, well, next to nothing worthwhile. Are the things I picked on in this post not silly and irrelevant? Maybe some of them are even a little contrived. Honestly... 'more than one pair of socks'? That was lame, right? I put myself in a pretty bad light just to write this drivel, but I'm never one to pass up an opportunity to prove I'm better than someone else, consequences be damned -- I have an ego to maintain. ^_^
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby astaroth » Tue 10.20.2009 9:54 am

tokai devotee wrote:
ヴェンリメル wrote:"What about this group?" "It is five students." (Where it might have comprised other than students.)

Would anyone actually say "It is five students"?? Sounds off to me! Instead you'd say, "It has five students" or "There are five students".

It sounds off to me too ...
Sairana wrote:
ヴェンリメル wrote:phrases like "take a shower" have existed for much longer and are accepted, though they don't make proper literal sense,

By the most common definition of 'make', 'making sense' is not sensible, nor can it be taken literally.

This is a good point. Actually for a while I've been saying "having sense" because of literal translation from Italian ... in Italian "having sense" makes sense, in English it doesn't.
Sairana wrote:On this forum, I whine(read: bitch) at people about leet-speak and internet shorthand.
On World of Warcraft, I say, "LF4M NAXX25 NEED TANK HEALS 2DPS NO DKs"

Hypocritical? Maybe.

I honestly don't think you're since on WoW one doesn't have the time to properly spell, while on a forum there should be plenty of time to write one's message.

Back on redundancy. In English the subject is always explicit ... this is a redundancy needed in the language to make grammatically correct sense, but following your logic one shouldn't stress the subject so much. One might argue than the subject is needed for the sentence to be understood (unlike languages like Italian) but Japanese does happily without it.
About "to sit down" ... the argument is not entirely right since "to sit" doesn't mean "to sit down". The former denotes the persistence of the state while the latter the action.
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby NileCat » Tue 10.20.2009 1:29 pm

May I get a word in edgewise a bit?

About redundancy.
Do you know a word おみおつけ? It's another name for 味噌汁(みそしる)(miso-soup).

Do you know the kanji for it?
御御御付け is the proper one. Interestingly, the only part that has a meaning in this word is 付け.The soup was originally served with some kind of meal. So it was called 付け, originally.
On the other hand, the kanji 御 is always used to express politeness. For instance, 礼 means gratitude, but we usually use it as 御礼(おれい). Because it should be polite.

Then, take a look at the miso-soup. 御御御付け. There are three 御s. Politeness × Politeness × Politeness
Well...you know? Redundancy sometimes can be a kind of art in Japanese.


your 耳 (ear) + politeness = お耳 (御耳)
your 足 (leg) + politeness ---> お足? No! お足 means money. ---> おみ足 (御御足)
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Re: A strange question about English

Postby john2 » Tue 10.20.2009 2:34 pm

Ah let it be… what’s wrong with redundancy?
I find it just interesting.
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