Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:38 am UTC

Did you run into many other problem words like that in your schooling? Gaol is kind of a special case, I remember running across it in an older book and being baffled as well. Turns out this confusion runs deep:

The OED entry on jail | gaol, n. wrote:Middle English had two types, from Northern or Norman French, and Central or Parisian French respectively:
...
Of the two types, the Norman French and Middle English gaiole , gaole , came down to the 17th cent. as gaile , and still remains as a written form in the archaic spelling gaol (chiefly due to statutory and official tradition); but this is obsolete in the spoken language, where the surviving word is jail , repr. Old Parisian French and Middle English jaiole , jaile . Hence though both forms gaol , jail , are still written, only the latter is spoken. In U.S. jail is the official spelling. It is difficult to say whether the form goal(e , common, alike in official and general use, from the 16th to the 18th cent., was merely an erroneous spelling of gaol , after this had itself become an archaism, or was phonetic: compare modern French geôle /ʒol/ .


Also, a couple of blogs I ran across suggested that Australia is the only place left where <gaol> is the standard, with England only using it in legal language.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby isch » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:09 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
Роберт wrote:Did I just see an Oxford semicolon?

I'm an opponent of the Oxford comma, and for some time I wondered how to deal with the question of serial semicolons - it would be inconsistent for me to use Oxford semicolons before "and" while omitting the Oxford commas. Eventually I read somewhere (I forget where) that the consistent thing is to use a comma in place of an Oxford semicolon - just as the potential Oxford comma is demoted one rank to null, the potential Oxford semicolon (which is really a kind of super-comma) is demoted one rank to a comma. But I'm not dogmatic - I'll use an Oxford comma or an Oxford semicolon if I think it's needed for clarity.

The semicolon drives me nuts. I enjoy it and use it somewhat regularly; lol, however my experience has shown me that no matter how or where if used in an essay points shall be deducted for it.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Zizoo » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:05 pm UTC

I only use semi-colons for very special cases of wanting to combine two independent clauses. Specifically, if I can't make the second clause dependent or state them separately without obstructing the flow or confusing the meaning of the sentence. For instance, I might say "Politicians are like diapers; they both need regular changing."

I could use "A is like B in that they both C," but this softens the rhythm and reduces the impact. And in an essay, important sentences should have impact.

As for the Oxford comma and semi-colon, I have no views on their general-case appropriateness, but I usually use them because they're the standard where I am. In general though, if following a rule introduces ambiguity, I either avoid that sentence structure or ignore that rule though.... -shrug-

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Oflick » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:45 am UTC

I think I should be able to say "if it was" whenever I want.

That's all I have to add for now.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:44 pm UTC

Oflick wrote:I think I should be able to say "if it was" whenever I want.


I am a big fan of this.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:25 pm UTC

I think most people pretty much do that already, really. Even as someone who doesn't say it myself (I've trained myself to properly use the subjunctive because I have to teach it to folks learning formal English), I don't think I ever notice anything odd about the speech of people who do.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:00 pm UTC

I used to do it, until a Sinfest comic appeared on the topic and I learned what the heck it was talking about. Now I almost exclusively use "If it were" and I can't help myself. It might be the Baader-Meinhof Effect, though. It still distresses me, because I feel like the English I learned and spoke as an adolescent is piece by piece falling away from me.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Aiwendil » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:14 pm UTC

I use 'were' for the subjunctive and unapologetically correct people when I hear them use 'was'. Okay, in reality, first I gauge how good-naturedly they're likely to take my correction (which is itself intended quite good-naturedly) and then I either correct them or scowl and become unaccountably less friendly, as the situation may warrant.

I do very much agree with the Derek that people with non-rhotic accents should not use the letter 'r' in pseudo-phonetic transcriptions of their own speech. For instance, take the British use of 'er' to represent the utterance indicative of hesitation or uncertainty, which Americans spell 'uh'. The latter spelling is likely to be understood well-nigh universally among English speakers, whereas the spelling 'er' had me, at least, believing for many years that these people were meant to be indicating hesitation by means of a short growl.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:48 pm UTC

Aiwendil wrote:I do very much agree with the Derek that people with non-rhotic accents should not use the letter 'r' in pseudo-phonetic transcriptions of their own speech. For instance, take the British use of 'er' to represent the utterance indicative of hesitation or uncertainty, which Americans spell 'uh'. The latter spelling is likely to be understood well-nigh universally among English speakers, whereas the spelling 'er' had me, at least, believing for many years that these people were meant to be indicating hesitation by means of a short growl.

I was actually about to mention this very example, because I too thought for years that "er" was supposed to be /ɚ/. In fact I think I may have even had to read an explanation before realizing that it was actually what I would write as "uh".
Last edited by Derek on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:51 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby skullturf » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:32 pm UTC

Similarly, the name of the Nigerian-British singer Sade is pronounced "shah-day", not "shar-day".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sade_(band)

http://www.languagehat.com/archives/000514.php

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:06 pm UTC

I like to use the subjunctive, but mainly because I like the way it sounds and like to sprinkle a few archaic constructions and words in my speech. I certainly have no problem with other people not using it and will never "correct" people for not doing as I do.

Aiwendil wrote:I do very much agree with the Derek that people with non-rhotic accents should not use the letter 'r' in pseudo-phonetic transcriptions of their own speech. For instance, take the British use of 'er' to represent the utterance indicative of hesitation or uncertainty, which Americans spell 'uh'. The latter spelling is likely to be understood well-nigh universally among English speakers, whereas the spelling 'er' had me, at least, believing for many years that these people were meant to be indicating hesitation by means of a short growl.


I can't speak for other non-rhotic speakers, but to me, "uh" is a very different sound from "er" (I read them as [ɐ] and [ɜ] respectively) and I do not easily interpret "uh" correctly (and do so at all only because I've seen people use it online) so, whilst the "r" is not pronounced as a separate phone, it does modify how the vowel is realised (usually as follows for me):

a [æ] -> ar [ɑː]
e [ɛ] -> er [ɜː]
i [ɪ] -> ir [ɪː] (this is slightly diphthongises towards a shwa/shwi)
o [ɒ] -> or [ɔː]
u [ɐ] -> ur [ɜː]

The r is definitely not a null character so advocating its removal is absurd. It has just as much right to belong as the "e" after consonants modifying the previous vowel (i.e. not very much, but until you come up with a better way of conveying the same information, it'll do).
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:18 pm UTC

Clearly, macrons are the solution here.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:52 pm UTC

Macrons usually indicate long vowels, but the "r" modifier doesn't simply affect vowel length, it also moves the vowel in a way inconsistent between vowels. Lastly, I dislike the way accents are often used to create different vowels rather than the accent having a specific function (like the German use of the diaresis or the Spanish use of an acute accent) and so I'd be very much against adding them any form of diacritic for the "r" modifier.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:04 pm UTC

Sorry, I was being facetious. I think the only problem with the use of post-vocalic <r> in non-rhotic dialects is that it's confusing for speakers of rhotic dialects. Any spelling reform is just going to cause more confusion, so ideally we'd just teach children about, you know, the single most dichotomizing difference between the varieties of English.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:06 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:I can't speak for other non-rhotic speakers, but to me, "uh" is a very different sound from "er" (I read them as [ɐ] and [ɜ] respectively) and I do not easily interpret "uh" correctly (and do so at all only because I've seen people use it online) so, whilst the "r" is not pronounced as a separate phone, it does modify how the vowel is realised (usually as follows for me):

a [æ] -> ar [ɑː]
e [ɛ] -> er [ɜː]
i [ɪ] -> ir [ɪː] (this is slightly diphthongises towards a shwa/shwi)
o [ɒ] -> or [ɔː]
u [ɐ] -> ur [ɜː]

The r is definitely not a null character so advocating its removal is absurd. It has just as much right to belong as the "e" after consonants modifying the previous vowel (i.e. not very much, but until you come up with a better way of conveying the same information, it'll do).

"ar" and "or" go to sounds that already exist and can be pseudo-phonetically spelled "ah" and "aw". "ar" phonemically changes the word, and using it instead will result in rhotic speakers reading the wrong sound and likely not knowing what you're talking about. "er" is fine for words, since [ɚ] and [ɜː] are phonemically the same, but I still wouldn't recommend it for spelling onomatopoeia like "uh"/"err".

This just occurred to me, but how do non-rhotic speakers talk like a pirate? [ɑː] just doesn't have the same effect as [ɑr].

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby skullturf » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:14 am UTC

Derek wrote:This just occurred to me, but how do non-rhotic speakers talk like a pirate? [ɑː] just doesn't have the same effect as [ɑr].


I've recently wondered the same thing about "grrr" for the sound of a roaring animal.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Aiwendil » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:38 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:The r is definitely not a null character so advocating its removal is absurd. It has just as much right to belong as the "e" after consonants modifying the previous vowel (i.e. not very much, but until you come up with a better way of conveying the same information, it'll do).


I never claimed that 'r' is a null character in non-rhotic speech, nor that it should be removed from anything. I stand by what I said though, which is that the use of 'r' in quasi-phonetic spelling to indicate vowel quality or quantity is terribly confusing to us rhotic folks. I do of course appreciate that my accent is not in any way privileged or 'correct', and that there are quasi-phonetic spellings I might use that would be interpreted by people with other accents in ways other than intended. However, I'd still say that, for example, 'uh' does a better job translating across accents than does 'er'. It seems to me that [ɜ] and [ɐ] are much more alike than [ɜ] and [ɚ], if you follow me; that is, at least to a rhotic speaker, the difference between a rhotic vowel and a non-rhotic vowel tends to seem much greater than does the difference between two non-rhotic vowels of different but similar quality. So perhaps I shouldn't have said that 'uh' would be nearly universally understood - but I would still at least claim that when it fails to be understood, it at least gets closer than 'er' does when it fails.

Of course, the real solution is just to use IPA whenever one wants to indicate a pronunciation.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:31 am UTC

Derek wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:I can't speak for other non-rhotic speakers, but to me, "uh" is a very different sound from "er" (I read them as [ɐ] and [ɜ] respectively) and I do not easily interpret "uh" correctly (and do so at all only because I've seen people use it online) so, whilst the "r" is not pronounced as a separate phone, it does modify how the vowel is realised (usually as follows for me):

a [æ] -> ar [ɑː]
e [ɛ] -> er [ɜː]
i [ɪ] -> ir [ɪː] (this is slightly diphthongises towards a shwa/shwi)
o [ɒ] -> or [ɔː]
u [ɐ] -> ur [ɜː]

The r is definitely not a null character so advocating its removal is absurd. It has just as much right to belong as the "e" after consonants modifying the previous vowel (i.e. not very much, but until you come up with a better way of conveying the same information, it'll do).

"ar" and "or" go to sounds that already exist and can be pseudo-phonetically spelled "ah" and "aw". "ar" phonemically changes the word, and using it instead will result in rhotic speakers reading the wrong sound and likely not knowing what you're talking about. "er" is fine for words, since [ɚ] and [ɜː] are phonemically the same, but I still wouldn't recommend it for spelling onomatopoeia like "uh"/"err".

This just occurred to me, but how do non-rhotic speakers talk like a pirate? [ɑː] just doesn't have the same effect as [ɑr].


I tend to use contort my mouth far more than is probably necessary and I think probably end up sticking a retroflex approximant on the end (or it might be a heavily rhoticized shwa, I'm not very good at identifying syllable coda rhotics).

Aiwendil wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:The r is definitely not a null character so advocating its removal is absurd. It has just as much right to belong as the "e" after consonants modifying the previous vowel (i.e. not very much, but until you come up with a better way of conveying the same information, it'll do).


I never claimed that 'r' is a null character in non-rhotic speech, nor that it should be removed from anything. I stand by what I said though, which is that the use of 'r' in quasi-phonetic spelling to indicate vowel quality or quantity is terribly confusing to us rhotic folks. I do of course appreciate that my accent is not in any way privileged or 'correct', and that there are quasi-phonetic spellings I might use that would be interpreted by people with other accents in ways other than intended. However, I'd still say that, for example, 'uh' does a better job translating across accents than does 'er'. It seems to me that [ɜ] and [ɐ] are much more alike than [ɜ] and [ɚ], if you follow me; that is, at least to a rhotic speaker, the difference between a rhotic vowel and a non-rhotic vowel tends to seem much greater than does the difference between two non-rhotic vowels of different but similar quality. So perhaps I shouldn't have said that 'uh' would be nearly universally understood - but I would still at least claim that when it fails to be understood, it at least gets closer than 'er' does when it fails.

Of course, the real solution is just to use IPA whenever one wants to indicate a pronunciation.


Our (non-rhotic) use of an "r" to change vowel quality may be confusing to you, but your alternatives are just as confusing to us. The only reason I can read rhotic qseudo-phonetic spellings more easily than it seems you can is because American films and tv are so ubiquitous over here that non-rhotic brits cannot help but come across large volumes of rhotic speech.

Also, I certainly do not hear [ɜ] and [ɐ] similarly at all (they seem about as similar as [] and [u] do to me) whereas to me [ɜ] and [ɚ] sound very similar indeed. The problem is that whichever system people use for their pseudo-phonetic spellings, one group will find it ambiguous, unclear or confusing. Of course, as you say, the solution is to use IPA, but sadly not as many people know it as should.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Anonymously Famous » Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:30 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Of course, as you say, the solution is to use IPA, but sadly not as many people know it as should.

There's also the problem of it being hard to input on a keyboard.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Lazar » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:08 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:I tend to use contort my mouth far more than is probably necessary and I think probably end up sticking a retroflex approximant on the end (or it might be a heavily rhoticized shwa, I'm not very good at identifying syllable coda rhotics).

Often, non-rhotic speakers will use a somewhat velarized /r/ when affecting rhotic speech (probably carried over from the velarization that's associated with syllable-initial /r/ in English) - this can be sometimes be heard from African-American and Eastern New England speakers, and I think it's this that can lend a certain fakeness when English people try to do an American accent.

Our (non-rhotic) use of an "r" to change vowel quality may be confusing to you, but your alternatives are just as confusing to us. The only reason I can read rhotic qseudo-phonetic spellings more easily than it seems you can is because American films and tv are so ubiquitous over here that non-rhotic brits cannot help but come across large volumes of rhotic speech.

To be fair, our use of "ah" and "aw" is objectively superior. :P But I'll fully concede the unsuitability of "uh" in place of "er", as it's a case of distinct phonemes.

Also, I certainly do not hear [ɜ] and [ɐ] similarly at all (they seem about as similar as [] and [u] do to me) whereas to me [ɜ] and [ɚ] sound very similar indeed. The problem is that whichever system people use for their pseudo-phonetic spellings, one group will find it ambiguous, unclear or confusing. Of course, as you say, the solution is to use IPA, but sadly not as many people know it as should.

Interesting tidbit: [ɜ] is the realization of /ʌ/ in a Southern US accent. As for the more subtle difference in quality between GA and RP, my characterization is that GA uses a near-back sort of [ʌ] whereas RP uses a truly central [ɐ].
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:47 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure my /ʌ/ is a schwa. At least, I can't hear any difference :/

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:02 am UTC

Say "put", then say "again". In GA the put has /ʌ/ and schwa is the first vowel in "again". If they still sound the same, then maybe they are for you?

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Lazar » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:15 am UTC

"Put" has /ʊ/, although "putt" has /ʌ/.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:16 am UTC

Lazar wrote:"Put" has /ʊ/, although "putt" has /ʌ/.
Yeah, "put" is definitely not a short u sound, which is what ʌ typically represents.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:13 am UTC

Indeed. That was a typo. I meant "putt".

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Apeiron » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:00 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Oflick wrote:Common usage doesn't automatically make something acceptable.
In language it does.


That's the problem. People think there's no right or wrong in language and that correcting someone is mean. It's wrong headed. The common usage CAN BE [b]WRONG[/b]. It doesn't matter how popular or long standing the mistake is... it's still a mistake. Once upon a time people thought Earth was at the center of the universe, the popularity of that belief and the long standing of that belief DID NOT MAKE IT TRUE. Same applies to language. Language, as the operating system of thought, is too important to be left in the hands of it's users... most of which are ignorant, stupid or lazy.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:18 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:It doesn't matter how popular or long standing the mistake is... it's still a mistake.
So you would agree that "a newt" is misspelled, as it should instead be "an ewt"? And that "peas" is a misspelling and mis-pluralization of the mass noun "pease", while "pea" means nothing at all? And that every English speaker for the past thousand years or so has been doing nouns wrong by not declining them properly?

Once upon a time people thought Earth was at the center of the universe, the popularity of that belief and the long standing of that belief DID NOT MAKE IT TRUE. Same applies to language.
No, it doesn't. There isn't a fact of the matter about language the way there is about scientific questions. You can't make predictions based on prescriptive rules and then test those predictions like you can with science. The only predictions you can make are *descriptive* ones, about how speakers actually use the language in practice.

Language, as the operating system of thought
It's not, though. People can have minds and think without having language.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby skullturf » Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:24 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:It doesn't matter how popular or long standing the mistake is... it's still a mistake.


This is exactly wrong. If the same mistake is made by enough people, it can thereby become correct. That's precisely what happened with gmalivuk's examples of "ewt" -> "newt" and "pease" -> "pea".

Of course, "ewt" -> "newt" and "pease" -> "pea" are changes that have already happened and were complete long ago. There may be other examples of shifts in language that are ongoing now. With more current changes in language, it can be harder to gauge the extent to which the change has "already happened", and there can be room for disagreement on specific examples.

But in a very real sense, the exact opposite of your statement is true. In language, if enough people make the same mistake, it can thereby become not a mistake.

Apeiron wrote:Language, as the operating system of thought, is too important to be left in the hands of it's users... most of which are ignorant, stupid or lazy.


Ironically, that sentence contains an error (you have an "it's" that should be "its").

Language is IN FACT in the hands of its users. In your astronomy analogy, the external reality is the actual position and motion of the Earth relative to other bodies. In language, the external reality is the way language is IN FACT used.

This doesn't mean that a particular speaker can't argue for or against a particular usage on aesthetic grounds, or on the grounds that it's confusing. You can.

But if the majority of people use language a certain way, including a majority of "educated" or "prestige" speakers, then ipso facto, that becomes the way that educated prestige speakers actually use the language. Can it then still somehow remain "incorrect"?

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby eSOANEM » Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:46 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Once upon a time people thought Earth was at the center of the universe, the popularity of that belief and the long standing of that belief DID NOT MAKE IT TRUE. Same applies to language.
No, it doesn't. There isn't a fact of the matter about language the way there is about scientific questions. You can't make predictions based on prescriptive rules and then test those predictions like you can with science. The only predictions you can make are *descriptive* ones, about how speakers actually use the language in practice.


Do not underestimate this. If we are to view linguistics (and specifically, the study of the English language) as a science (which I believe we can all agree is a good thing) then there must be some means by which to test the validity and accuracy of various models against some reality. There is no other candidate for this reality than common usage thus, in any scientific formulation of linguistics, usage is king. Any other stance leads to absurd arbitrary choices of cutoffs (unless you want us to all be speaking proto-indo-european).

Any non-descriptivist formulation of linguistics is utterly arbitrary and, if you are happy living with such a model of the world then I'm afraid that this discussion will be of little use.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby skullturf » Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:51 am UTC

As I alluded to earlier, one could single out a particular subset of speakers as the subject of study -- e.g. academics, lawyers, journalists, or whatnot -- and say "I'm interested in that particular subset of speakers, not all speakers."

But even if you restrict your attention to just those speakers, it's hard to base linguistics on a kind of platonic notion of "correctness" as though it was handed down from the sky on stone tablets. Rather, even if looking only at "careful" or "educated" or "prestige" speakers, one needs to base one's science on the empirical reality of how those speakers actually use the language.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Monika » Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:16 pm UTC

Oflick wrote:So, everyone has their own pet peeves when it comes to grammar, but what mistakes and errors do you think should be acceptable?

Shaw felt apostrophes should be kicked out of English. I wouldnt go so far, I think the apostrophes when pulling two words together, e.g. in "he's", "they're", "it's" should stay there. But Makri has convinced me successfully that the negatives with "...n't" are not two separate words drawn together [anymore]. For one thing the ' is not even between the two words. And they are put in locations where only one word can go in English, e.g. "Aren't they cute?" instead of "Are they not cute?", not "Are not they cute?".

So basically I suggest to write: dont isnt arent havent etc.
However, I am so used to writing them with ' that I can barely get used to this myself.

I am undecided about possessive 's ... the ' is not strictly needed (we don't have it in German and it works) ... and it's not two words drawn together ... but it looks totally weird without.

Also I think using excessive ... should be considered acceptable ;) ,
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:09 pm UTC

The apostrophe is meant to stand in for letters that are removed, whether from the beginning of a word (as in the pronoun+verb contractions) or the middle (as in the negative contractions). For possessives, we put 's at the end of the whole noun phrase, and so including the apostrophe potentially makes it *far* easier to understand whenever the thing that'd doing the possessing is more than one word.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby PM 2Ring » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:38 pm UTC

If I weren't such a big fan of the apostrophe I probably wouldn't've replied to this post. :)

I'm rather fond of the use of apostrophes in English, although I will agree that they do seem to give a lot of people trouble, and their misuse is probably one of the main grammatical blunders by native speakers. Wikipedia says that English's use of the apostrophe to mark possession is unique and I'd rather not lose that, although I've sometimes thought it'd be nice to revert to using -es. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxon_genitive#Development

Dropping the apostrophe that marks contractions would create homonyms in a few cases, and I'm not a big fan of language changes that force the reader to rely more on context to resolve ambiguity. OTOH, I suppose that most of the words that currently apostrophised forms would clash with are fairly archaic, eg cant and wont.


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This topic reminded me of Frank Zappa's album, Apostrophe, which contains the song Cosmik Debris.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby goofy » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:their misuse is probably one of the main grammatical blunders by native speakers.


It's a spelling mistake, not a grammar mistake

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby PM 2Ring » Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:41 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote:their misuse is probably one of the main grammatical blunders by native speakers.


It's a spelling mistake, not a grammar mistake

Yeah, ok. OTOH, plurals and possessives in English look too similar, and plenty of people are not quite sure what to do with possessive plurals, or possessives of words that already end in 's'. So if more distinct syntactic mechanisms were used to mark plurals and possessives such confusion couldn't occur and the spelling error wouldn't arise.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Oflick » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:28 am UTC

On IMDB's music board, which I occasionally visit, there is a thread titled "Last Song/Music To Which You Listened? " I would have preferred it to have just been "Last Song/Music you listened to?"

I don't know why. The wording is to my knowledge correct, but it sounds forced. I'm sure many members of this forum (if not the majority) would naturally say "Last Song/Music To Which You Listened", but to me it doesn't seem natural.

On a related note, but slightly off topic, to me it looks like it should read "Last Song/piece of music To Which You Listened?" It's probably acceptable, but "last song to which you listened" makes sense to me, but "last music to which you listened" doesn't.

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Monika » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:54 am UTC

Oflick wrote:On IMDB's music board, which I occasionally visit, there is a thread titled "Last Song/Music To Which You Listened? " I would have preferred it to have just been "Last Song/Music you listened to?"

I don't know why. The wording is to my knowledge correct, but it sounds forced. I'm sure many members of this forum (if not the majority) would naturally say "Last Song/Music To Which You Listened", but to me it doesn't seem natural.

This was discussed in some other thread here. Apparently native speakers generally prefer to drop the relative pronoun, which of course is only possible by moving the preposition to the end of the relative clause. The "to which" usage indicates that the thread opener may have been a non-native speaker.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:01 am UTC

Aiwendil wrote:I use 'were' for the subjunctive and unapologetically correct people when I hear them use 'was'. Okay, in reality, first I gauge how good-naturedly they're likely to take my correction (which is itself intended quite good-naturedly) and then I either correct them or scowl and become unaccountably less friendly, as the situation may warrant.

If you become less friendly to them because you don't feel it would be appropriate to tell them off, then perhaps your intention (as bolded) isn't quite so good-naturedly as you would credit yourself.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby yurell » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:05 am UTC

I was under the impression that contracting multiple words isn't acceptable (is that the right word? I'm thinking of couldn't've, shouldn't've etc.) ... if so, I think that's a grammatical rule that can go. If not, then I guess I look like a right twit.
Last edited by yurell on Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:15 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Pronouns: Feminine pronouns please!

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:13 am UTC

Monika wrote:
Oflick wrote:On IMDB's music board, which I occasionally visit, there is a thread titled "Last Song/Music To Which You Listened? " I would have preferred it to have just been "Last Song/Music you listened to?"

I don't know why. The wording is to my knowledge correct, but it sounds forced. I'm sure many members of this forum (if not the majority) would naturally say "Last Song/Music To Which You Listened", but to me it doesn't seem natural.

This was discussed in some other thread here. Apparently native speakers generally prefer to drop the relative pronoun, which of course is only possible by moving the preposition to the end of the relative clause. The "to which" usage indicates that the thread opener may have been a non-native speaker.

Or an overly-prescriptive one. In Latin, prepositions can't go at the back of sentences, and some idiots felt English sentences wouldn't be wholly proper if they didn't follow the same rule--yeah, the majority of writers don't listen to them on that one, but the folk who don't feel they should have a say on language, such as editors, advertisers and journalists, follow it carefully. Hence the awkward IMDB wording.
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