Should have / Should had

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Should have / Should had

Postby Naurgul » Wed May 19, 2010 1:06 pm UTC

An English language question I've had for a while now:

What's the difference exactly between "should have" and "should had"? I used to think that "should had" is for when you are referring to an impossibility, while "should have" is for everything else.

Example: You should had listened to me. (You didn't listen to me, so we're talking about something that didn't happen)

I was told it was wrong (and it's pretty obvious that you never get to use "should have" if you follow this rule). So, enlighten me, please. What's the correct use?
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 19, 2010 2:04 pm UTC

In standard English, the only form of a verb that can ever follow a modal (should, shall, would, will, etc.) is the base form (infinitive without 'to'). So yes, "should had" is incorrect.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Naurgul » Wed May 19, 2010 4:09 pm UTC

Never used? At all? That's a shock. :oops:
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 19, 2010 4:15 pm UTC

Well it's sometimes used, but not in *standard* English grammar. (There are 300 times more Google results for "should have" than for "should had", and many of the ones for "should had" are people asking if it's correct or explaining why it's not.)
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed May 19, 2010 6:44 pm UTC

Past perfect with a modal is a really weird concept to me.
When would I ever want to express that aspect with a should or a could?

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Lazar » Wed May 19, 2010 6:47 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Past perfect with a modal is a really weird concept to me.
When would I ever want to express that aspect with a should or a could?

The present perfect effectively serves as the past tense of those verbs. So if I had an obligation to do something in the past, but didn't do so, I would say "I should have done it". Likewise, if in the past I had the opportunity to do something, but can no longer do so, I would say "I could have done it".
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed May 19, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

Yes, I know. I was more astonished at the idea of the aspect of something completed in the past with no bearing on the present plus a modal, because, kind of like you said, the present perfect always captures the appropriate aspect.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 19, 2010 8:31 pm UTC

It's not so hard for me to understand why someone might expect another construction in there somewhere.

It's correct to say "He didn't do it, but he should have," and so it might seem a bit strange that you can also say "He hadn't done it, but he should have." In other words, if "should have" is effectively simple past, then why isn't there something different that's effectively past perfect?

Also, while the meanings of can/could can be expanded to other tenses with "be able to", it seems way more awkward to use "be supposed to" for any tense other than present or present perfect. "I'll be able to help you tomorrow" works, but "I'll be supposed to help you tomorrow" doesn't.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby AndrewT » Thu May 20, 2010 12:52 am UTC

I imagine the confusion comes from elision in rapid speech, where the "v" in "have" is entirely gone (at least in my dialect). "I should have done it" would come out as "I shoulda done it" , which could easily be reparsed as "I should had done it". I've never seen/heard any fluent speaker use "should had", though, at least in situations where it'd be distinguishable from "should had" (i.e. in written text, or before a verb that doesn't begin with "d").

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Naurgul » Thu May 20, 2010 3:43 pm UTC

Really, for me, the reason is even simpler than that. In Greek, you use past tenses to say "should have". Actually, you say "should had" almost word for word. I guess it could be the same in other languages outside English as well.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Bobber » Fri May 21, 2010 11:02 am UTC

Danish uses the same form as English, so I'm unsurprised that "should had" feels completely unnatural to me.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Chopperman » Sat May 29, 2010 9:26 pm UTC

AndrewT wrote:I imagine the confusion comes from elision in rapid speech, where the "v" in "have" is entirely gone (at least in my dialect). "I should have done it" would come out as "I shoulda done it" , which could easily be reparsed as "I should had done it". I've never seen/heard any fluent speaker use "should had", though, at least in situations where it'd be distinguishable from "should had" (i.e. in written text, or before a verb that doesn't begin with "d").


"Should had" just seems like bad speech; "should have had" may be correct for the context. A more common (and quite annoying) mistake of the same nature is "should of." Some people seem to translate "should have" in spoken language to "should of" in writing. While this makes identifying the obtuse on the internet easy, it is a cringe-worthy mistake. The same goes for the phrase "I could care less," or, correctly, "I couldn't care less." Its overuse (resulting in syllable trimming) in speech has made it nonsensical.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Sat May 29, 2010 11:17 pm UTC

Chopperman wrote:The same goes for the phrase "I could care less," or, correctly, "I couldn't care less." Its overuse (resulting in syllable trimming) in speech has made it nonsensical.
No. "I could care less" is sarcastic, not nonsensical.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Chopperman » Sun May 30, 2010 3:33 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Chopperman wrote:The same goes for the phrase "I could care less," or, correctly, "I couldn't care less." Its overuse (resulting in syllable trimming) in speech has made it nonsensical.
No. "I could care less" is sarcastic, not nonsensical.


Really? I don't think anyone understands it to be sarcastic. I've asked people who say it to actually think about what the phrase means, and every time they find that they have been saying something that they don't mean to say, not that they intended it to be sarcastic. A quick Google-ing of the phrase finds that the first few results support my interpretation, and a few refute the "sarcasm" interpretation (at least as far as I could see on the surface). I've never even considered that the phrase may be sarcastic, myself.

EDIT: This seems like a reliable source of evidence: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/care.html

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby PM 2Ring » Sun May 30, 2010 6:00 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Chopperman wrote:The same goes for the phrase "I could care less," or, correctly, "I couldn't care less." Its overuse (resulting in syllable trimming) in speech has made it nonsensical.
No. "I could care less" is sarcastic, not nonsensical.

My theory is that "I could care less" first arose as a sarcastic form, but it has been adopted by people who use it idiomatically & so they don't perceive it's sarcastic aspect.

FWIW, I heard only "I couldn't care less" in my youth, and didn't encounter the "I could care less" variant until the 1980s, IIRC. I'm pretty sure that I first saw / heard it being used by speakers of American English, but it's now fairly well established in Australian English.

I find "should of" rather annoying. On another forum I inhabit, if someone writes "should of", there are several posters who will respond by swapping all instances of "have" & "of" in their reply. Much hilarity ensues. :)

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Sun May 30, 2010 7:02 am UTC

Chopperman wrote:I've never even considered that the phrase may be sarcastic, myself.
Look, I could give a fuck what you've considered yourself (see what I did there?). When I use it, it's with the intonation expected of a sarcastic statement.

PM 2Ring wrote:I heard only "I couldn't care less" in my youth, and didn't encounter the "I could care less" variant until the 1980s, IIRC.
That's a really huge "if" there. While I wouldn't be surprised to find that the seemingly illogical sarcastic version was more recent, I'm unwilling to accept your vague memories of how language was used a quarter century ago as any kind of reliable evidence.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Chopperman » Sun May 30, 2010 7:24 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Chopperman wrote:I've never even considered that the phrase may be sarcastic, myself.
Look, I could give a fuck what you've considered yourself (see what I did there?). When I use it, it's with the intonation expected of a sarcastic statement.


Woah, no need to get angry. You stated that the phrase IS sarcastic (definitively); I offered evidence to the contrary. "I could give a fuck" about how you use it (see what I did there?). Regardless of what inflection you yourself put on the phrase, a majority of sources say that the phrase is a nonsensical corruption of "couldn't care less," and I merely said that you offered a perspective that I had yet to consider. The fact that I had not considered your perspective was not meant to be recognized as evidence on my part.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Sun May 30, 2010 7:33 am UTC

Chopperman wrote:Woah, no need to get angry.
No need to assume I was getting angry just because a "bad" word happened to be included in a phrase I used as an example of a similarly worded sarcastic expression for not caring.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby PM 2Ring » Sun May 30, 2010 9:59 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote:I heard only "I couldn't care less" in my youth, and didn't encounter the "I could care less" variant until the 1980s, IIRC.
That's a really huge "if" there. While I wouldn't be surprised to find that the seemingly illogical sarcastic version was more recent, I'm unwilling to accept your vague memories of how language was used a quarter century ago as any kind of reliable evidence.

Sure, hence my use of FWIW. I was only talking about usage that I was aware of in one Australian city, which is hardly representative of global English usage. I may've heard it on TV, but my TV watching was rather restricted in my high school years.

And of course I may have misheard the "I could care less" variant for years as "I couldn't care less", until I met someone who normally used the "I could care less" form.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby casiguapa » Sun May 30, 2010 10:46 am UTC

I could care less isn't sarcastic, it's just laziness and an assumption that everyone will know what you're trying to say.

Case in point.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby goofy » Sun May 30, 2010 10:53 am UTC

casiguapa wrote:I could care less isn't sarcastic, it's just laziness and an assumption that everyone will know what you're trying to say.

Case in point.


But does anyone really, sincerely think that could care less means something other than what it means?

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby casiguapa » Sun May 30, 2010 11:04 am UTC

well Americans regularly use it to mean "I couldn't care less" so apparently, yes
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Sun May 30, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

casiguapa wrote:it's just laziness and an assumption that everyone will know what you're trying to say.
You mean like almost all colloquial language? And the thing is, everyone *does* understand "I could care less" to mean "I don't care". So that is what it means. Just like "He ain't got no money" really truly means "he doesn't have money", despite whatever kind of extralinguistic logical contortions you want to use to claim vernacular double negatives mean something other than what they so obviously do mean.

casiguapa wrote:well Americans regularly use it to mean "I couldn't care less" so apparently, yes
Well, in my humble opinion "disorientated" is a far greater assault on our language, and I've seen that shit in the fucking BBC.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby casiguapa » Sun May 30, 2010 4:49 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote: And the thing is, everyone *does* understand "I could care less" to mean "I don't care"

Someone clearly didn't watch the link. I could care less is useless because all it tells us is that you ACTUALLY CARE an unidentifiable amount when the intention is to say you don't care at all.

You could care less if you cared 2%, but to care 2% is not the same as not caring at all. So were someone to say "I could care less", I would most probably reply with "well why don't you then" because all you're telling me is that you have the ability to care less than you care at that precise moment. What you are categorically not doing, is telling me that you don't care at all. To do that you would have to say "I don't care" or "I couldn't care less".

Also, "disorientated" is perfectly acceptable and included in the Oxford English Dictionary, whilst "disoriented" is not. That's an Americanism, it's probably in your dictionaries but it's not in ours, so if you don't like us using it, don't watch the BBC and stick to FOX who will be disoriented on a daily basis trying to figure out whether Obama is really a Muslim or not.

Disoriented/Disorientated has nothing to do with I could care less/ I couldn't care less. One is a case of spelling which is stupid to get into because we'll be arguing ad nauseum about it. The latter is a case of Americans saying one thing whist trying to convey another and not realising that they're just plain wrong. Sometimes it's ok to be wrong.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun May 30, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

Chopperman wrote:A more common (and quite annoying) mistake of the same nature is "should of." Some people seem to translate "should have" in spoken language to "should of" in writing. While this makes identifying the obtuse on the internet easy, it is a cringe-worthy mistake.


I admit I've said ʃʊd əv when I meant ʃʊdəv. I really don't know how I kʊd əv made that mistake. It's probably related to "of" used as a particle (? not sure what word I'm looking for here) after "kind." If you kɑjnd əv get what I'm saying.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Chopperman » Sun May 30, 2010 7:22 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Chopperman wrote:Woah, no need to get angry.
No need to assume I was getting angry just because a "bad" word happened to be included in a phrase I used as an example of a similarly worded sarcastic expression for not caring.


Sorry, I haven't been around long so I misread your tone. :)

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 31, 2010 12:34 am UTC

casiguapa wrote:Someone clearly didn't watch the link. I could care less is useless because all it tells us is that you ACTUALLY CARE an unidentifiable amount when the intention is to say you don't care at all.

You could care less if you cared 2%, but to care 2% is not the same as not caring at all. So were someone to say "I could care less", I would most probably reply with "well why don't you then" because all you're telling me is that you have the ability to care less than you care at that precise moment. What you are categorically not doing, is telling me that you don't care at all. To do that you would have to say "I don't care" or "I couldn't care less".
Yes, I too am capable of parsing the word "could", and if you want to go around logicking about language, then you'd be led to that incorrect conclusion about what people mean when they say that. Just like if you wanted to logic about Spanish you'd conclude that someone who no tiene nada actually has something, because that's what it would mean to not have nothing, right?

The reality of it is, if an idiom is used as well as understood with a particular meaning by a particular speech community, then that's the meaning it has in that speech community. The "literal" meaning of each individual word analyzed completely logically is completely irrelevant, because that's not how idioms work.

Also, "disorientated" is perfectly acceptable and included in the Oxford English Dictionary, whilst "disoriented" is not. That's an Americanism, it's probably in your dictionaries but it's not in ours
Haha, right. Someone clearly didn't actually check the OED, whose first entry for the verb "disorient" is "1655 J. Jennings Elise 48 'Twas Philippin who was disoriented, but more Isabella." Which is quite a bit earlier than the first entry for the verb "disorientate". It's not an Americanism, and it's not the newer form of that word.

Protip: don't cite sources that explicitly contradict what you're claiming.

so if you don't like us using it, don't watch the BBC and stick to FOX
Yes, because clearly if I don't watch your country's news the only other option must be FOX. That's kind of like assuming you must get all your news from the Daily Mail if you don't read the New York Times...
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon May 31, 2010 1:42 am UTC

Y'all are getting way too worked up about this.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 31, 2010 1:50 am UTC

I tend to get that way around prescriptivists who get really basic facts wrong like "Is this word in the OED?"
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby goofy » Mon May 31, 2010 3:38 am UTC

casiguapa wrote:well Americans regularly use it to mean "I couldn't care less" so apparently, yes


No, I mean that could care less clearly means "couldn't care less", and yet people seem to be willfully misunderstanding it, for no other reason than to be difficult as far as I can see.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby casiguapa » Mon May 31, 2010 6:50 am UTC

goofy wrote:No, I mean that could care less clearly means "couldn't care less", and yet people seem to be willfully misunderstanding it, for no other reason than to be difficult as far as I can see.

The negation of could is couldn't, therefore how can could and couldn't now take on the same meaning? Does not compute. I could care less != I couldn't care less. I'm not being a stickler here, this one isn't a case of prescriptivism v descriptivism like disorient/disorientate (which The Ask Oxford website lists as another term for disorientate in both the UK and US version) where at least you can see why someone would say disoriented if that is the spelling taught in schools, just like I deplore British people spelling Mum with an "o" or colour without the u because it's not how we are taught to spell those words here. "I could care less" when used to mean "I couldn't care less" is effectively a modern malapropism. Malapropisms are fun and sometimes (though not on this occasion) more logical, they're just not correct. It reminds me of this little moment of joy from The Princess Bride.
gmalivuk wrote:Haha, right. Someone clearly didn't actually check the OED, whose first entry for the verb "disorient" is "1655 J. Jennings Elise 48 'Twas Philippin who was disoriented, but more Isabella." Which is quite a bit earlier than the first entry for the verb "disorientate". It's not an Americanism, and it's not the newer form of that word.

*sigh* Here are the words I looked up in the OED: "disorientated" "disoriented" "disorientate" "disorient"
Here are the words I said were not in the OED: "disoriented"
Search result for disoriented:
Spoiler:
screencap1.jpg

Search result for disorientated:
Spoiler:
screencap2.jpg


Where did I say which was the newer form? I merely said one was an Americanism and one was British, seeing as Brits are taught disorientated and Americans are taught disoriented. A word is capable of being both an Americanism and the original form of a British English word. The two are not mutually exclusive. where did I say that disorient wasn't in the OED?

gmalivuk wrote:I tend to get that way around prescriptivists who get really basic facts wrong like "Is this word in the OED?"

Except I didn't get it wrong. Disoriented is not in the OED, whereas disorientated is. It's funny how you call me a prescriptivist and yet you're chastising the bbc for being descriptive and using disorientated?

gmalivuk wrote:Just like if you wanted to logic about Spanish you'd conclude that someone who no tiene nada actually has something, because that's what it would mean to not have nothing, right?

Well no because I'm not well versed on the rules of double negatives in Spanish but the English equivalent "I ain't got nothing", commonly used in the UK by young children and cockney Londoners, is wrong and is drummed out of children at as early an age as possible. If you ain't got nothing, then you've got something. Just because everyone knows what you're trying to say, doesn't make it correct.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby PM 2Ring » Mon May 31, 2010 9:46 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:The reality of it is, if an idiom is used as well as understood with a particular meaning by a particular speech community, then that's the meaning it has in that speech community. The "literal" meaning of each individual word analyzed completely logically is completely irrelevant, because that's not how idioms work.

Only a hard-core prescriptivist could disagree with this... :)

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby goofy » Mon May 31, 2010 1:24 pm UTC

casiguapa wrote:The negation of could is couldn't, therefore how can could and couldn't now take on the same meaning? Does not compute. I could care less != I couldn't care less.


gmalivuk has already answered this, but I'll add that there are several phrases in English where the presence or absence of negation doesn't seem to change the meaning. For instance:

I could care less.
I couldn't care less.

Eddie knows squat about phrenology.
Eddie doesn't know squat about phrenology.

That'll teach you not to tease the alligators.
That'll teach you to tease the alligators.

more examples

casiguapa wrote:*sigh* Here are the words I looked up in the OED: "disorientated" "disoriented" "disorientate" "disorient"
Here are the words I said were not in the OED: "disoriented"
Search result for disoriented:
Spoiler:
screencap1.jpg

Search result for disorientated:
Spoiler:
screencap2.jpg



Askoxford.com is not the OED. This is the OED. You need a subscription to access it, but your public library might give you free access. You'll have to trust me that "disorient" is in the OED.

casiguapa wrote:Just because everyone knows what you're trying to say, doesn't make it correct.


For the record, double negatives use to be standard in written English, and they are still standard in some dialects.

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 31, 2010 3:21 pm UTC

casiguapa wrote:The negation of could is couldn't, therefore how can could and couldn't now take on the same meaning?
Why do you insist on being intentionally obtuse about this? Goofy gave you some examples where making one word negative doesn't actually change the meaning of a sentence. Negative questions are another example: "Don't you like coffee?" has essentially the same meaning as "Do you like coffee?". And "Couldn't you do that tomorrow?" has essentially the same meaning as "Could you do that tomorrow?"

If English always followed the logical rules you seem to think it should, then we wouldn't have things like "inflammable" meaning "flammable", or "cleave" having two meanings which are the opposite of each other. We wouldn't use the word "children", because "childer" was already plural enough.

where did I say that disorient wasn't in the OED?
You said "disoriented" wasn't in the OED. Claiming now that this is different from saying "disorient" isn't in the OED is akin to saying "ran" isn't in the OED because the main entry is for "run". Yes, it lists the present forms of verbs. But the first use for the verb "disorient" given in the real OED (2nd ed.) is the form "disorientated". I frankly couldn't care less what some incomplete website includes, as that isn't actually the OED.

It's funny how you call me a prescriptivist and yet you're chastising the bbc for being descriptive and using disorientated?
Using a particular word has no bearing on being a prescriptivist or a descriptivist. It's only when you start blathering on about what's apparently correct in a language that the distinction becomes apparent. And if your argument is from something other than what people say and understand, then you're a prescriptivist.

Just because everyone knows what you're trying to say, doesn't make it correct.
This, for example, proves that you are a prescriptivist. Because when everyone knows what you're trying to say, and everyone says it the same way when they try to say the same thing, then that does make it correct because that's how (descriptive) linguistics works. That it started as an error has no bearing on this, or else most of our language would be incorrect. To take the above example of "children": when it first entered use, it was as incorrect as "mens" would be today. And yet now it's the completely correct albeit irregular form of "child", and if I said I had "two childer" you would have no idea what I meant.

"I ain't got nothing" is simply nonstandard (in modern English), not wrong. There are social reasons to discourage its use, but being logically wrong or somehow "meaning" the opposite of what everyone knows it actually means (as if that were even possible or logically coherent...) aren't among them.

Edit: Incidentally, "disoriented" shows up in a Google search of bbc.co.uk about half as often as "disorientated", whereas other American spellings show up only about a tenth as often as their British counterparts. Which suggests that disoriented/disorientated is different from color/colour, and that "disoriented" is approximately 5 times more common than should be expected if it's really just the American version of "disorientated".
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon May 31, 2010 5:37 pm UTC

It's worth noting that all of the examples of negatives "not changing the meaning" in this thread do change the meanings very subtly.
As already noted, double negatives not becoming positives is a no longer standard feature of English.
"Don't you like noun?" versus "Do you like noun?" is a slanted (expecting a particular answer) versus an indicative question.
"Teach you to not stupid action" versus "Teach you to stupid action" is "You've learned to not do stupid action" versus "You learned stupid action has undesirable consequences."

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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Felstaff » Mon May 31, 2010 10:12 pm UTC

"Could/n't care less"
Frankly, if I ever heard anyone say "I could care less about x", I'd be like "what? What do you mean you could care less? Does that mean you care at least a little bit?" I've never heard anyone outside of American TV use 'could care less'. It sounds horrific and grating to my ears, and if anyone used it I'd have to double-take and make sure they're not being deliberately facetious. It's a rubbish phrase. How on earth did it come about? It just sounds stupid and makes the user sound stupid. (I'm firmly in David Mitchell's camp about this). The entire reason the phrase "I couldn't care less" even exists is to intensify the point that "I don't care". Saying "I could care less" just... eradicates that point. Because it literally means "it's possible that I care somewhat". I would find it hard not to take the literal interpretation if someone actually spoke those words to me (fortunately this has never happened, and I might berate the user for being a bit simple and not quite fully understanding their words if they actually used this phrase).

"x knows/doesn't know squat about y"
is barely, if ever, used in British English. Perhaps "fuck all" or "jackshit" in replace of (what I presume is the contraction of diddly) squat. In which case I don't think I've ever heard "x doesn't know fuck-all about y", it's always a single positive. I know fuck-all about language and I know jackshit about linguistics.

"Do/n't you like"
would only be used in certain contexts, and aren't particularly interchangeable. Observe:
"I'm going to make you a hot drink. DO YOU LIKE COFFEE?"
"Why did you spit that coffee in my face? DON'T YOU LIKE COFFEE?"
...wouldn't work if you switched. They're exclusive phrases, for the most part, so essentially are not the same phrase, as they're used in different contexts. Also I'm pretty certain there would be emphasis on 'coffee' in the first example, and an emphasis on 'don't' in the second example. Stress, context, and tone would be different, so I would have a jarring reaction if someone said to me "I'm going to make you a hot drink! Don't you like coffee?" I would reply with "why... why would you presume I dislike coffee?"

"disorient/at/ed"
Never heard disoriented used. Sounds wrong in my head. As if it's missing a syllable. My OED only has disorientated, although I'm in no doubt of the validity of both words. I have, do, and always shall use 'disorientated'. Mainly because if you get confused about your orientation, you get disorientated. If you get confused about where the Far East is, you would be, I assume, disoriented.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:23 am UTC

Felstaff wrote:Frankly, if I ever heard anyone say "I could care less about x", I'd be like "what? What do you mean you could care less? Does that mean you care at least a little bit?"
And would in so doing prove that you are daft. It's okay, though. Lots of people are.

Because it literally means "it's possible that I care somewhat" I would find it hard not to take the literal interpretation if someone actually spoke those words to me
Presumably you are completely oblivious of what anyone means when they use slang or idiomatic phrases then, yes? Or even non-slang phrases like "The international community placed sanctions on $country1 for their unsanctioned aggression against $country2"? Oh me yarm, that word appears to have two contradictory meanings! What am I supposed to do?! You're supposed to figure out what it means from context, you dumb flimperer.

Do you have similar difficulty with someone complaining about their bloody car, because you notice that it doesn't have any blood on it? Does "head over heels in love" make no sense to you because people's heads are already above their heels most of the time?

My OED only has disorientated
That proves nothing except that "your" OED is also not the actual Oxford English Dictionary. Perhaps you were similarly using casiguapa's incomplete website and treating it as though it were the same thing as the real OED?

I have, do, and always shall use 'disorientated'. Mainly because if you get confused about your orientation, you get disorientated. If you get confused about where the Far East is, you would be, I assume, disoriented.
When you arrange something correctly, you orient it. ("Orient" as a verb predates "orientate" by over a century, and the OED's definitions for "orientate" all refer to specific senses in the entry for "orient".) Thus, if something is not oriented properly, it must be disoriented.

"Orientation", which you seem to claim counts as evidence in favor of "orientate", also dates from the mid-19th century (rather than the beginning of the 18th, which is when "disoriented" first appeared in the OED's citations). And furthermore it makes as much sense coming from "orient" as from "orientate", because while it's true we have pairs like educate/education and legislate/legislation, we also have pairs like administer/administration, float/flotation, and [anything]ize/[anything]ization (or -ise/-isation, if you prefer). Which proves that the base verb need not end with -ate for the nounified version to end with -ation.

And for the record, all of these -orient- words started with the original sense of orient=east.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:15 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Felstaff wrote:Frankly, if I ever heard anyone say "I could care less about x", I'd be like "what? What do you mean you could care less? Does that mean you care at least a little bit?"
And would in so doing prove that you are daft. It's okay, though. Lots of people are.
I had trouble parsing it the first time I heard it, too. I have to question the merits of a usage that has the effect of alienating honest listeners, as opposed to just the pedants. If it creates unnecessary ambiguity in your speech, then surely it should be discouraged by prescriptivists and descriptivits alike? Besides which, it isn't even that clever. It's not sarcastic, or ironic, but sardonic: the speaker is the only one who thinks they're being clever for contrasting literal truth with contextual meaning.
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:31 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:surely it should be discouraged by prescriptivists and descriptivits alike?
I don't think those words mean what you think they mean.

While everyone's entitled to their personal aesthetic preferences, descriptive linguistics tends to avoid making any kind of normative claim about language in the first place. So you're by definition being prescriptivist when you say something like "People shouldn't say X".
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Re: Should have / Should had

Postby casiguapa » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:07 pm UTC

It's funny you should quote The Princess Bride there, seeing as that is the exact reaction I have every time I hear someone say "Personally, I could care less about the economy"
The Guy who almost ruined Linguistics for me (David Crystal) wrote:The usage issue is relatively recent. For quite a while there was only the shorter form: the OED gives a first recorded usage for disorient in 1655, and for orient in 1728. The first recorded use of the longer forms is 1704 (for disorientate) and 1848 (for orientate). The new verb probably arose as a result of the associated nouns. Orientation (1839) and orientator (1844) preceded orientate, and the new verb usage would have been reinforced by the arrival of disorientation (1860). Certainly, by the end of the 19th century both verb forms were available.

Fowler has no separate entry on either word in his Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926). We might think he would favour orient, because in his entry on 'Long Variants', he advises the use of shorter alternatives, as in prevent(at)ive, cultiv(at)able. On the other hand, in The King's English, orient is criticised as a 'Gallicism'. In his revision of Fowler's Dictionary (1965), Ernest Gowers (thinking of British English) suggests that orientate 'is likely to prevail in the common figurative use', i.e. with reference to goals rather than physical direction. This is an important distinction. We are more likely to say The course is orientated towards linguistics than The basilica is orientated towards the east.1

So I'm not right but neither are you. We'll call this one a draw and maybe next time you hear disorientated you wont think it's such an assault on the language, as that's not a very descriptive stance to take now is it? /sarcasm
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