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Roger Hicks
07-24-2009, 12:36
Why do so many threads begin with 'So...'?

Does anyone know where this fashion came from? It seems not to be as popular among native English speakers as among Americans, and it seems to be almost unknown among those for whom English/American is a second language.

Just curious...

Edit: Frances has just pointed out that it's common in Russian. Are there other languages in which it's common? German? Yiddish? One of the other languages that has helped separate American from English?

Tashi delek,

R.

FrankS
07-24-2009, 12:39
HI Roger,
I don't know how it started or where it came from, but I think it is a device or way of engaging others, as if your question follows from an existing conversation. In "live" conversation, it can also be used to draw attention to yourself to indicate to others that you are about to speak.

So, how IS Frances doing after her cataract operation?

kshapero
07-24-2009, 12:42
Roger in Yiddish it is nu? means the same as so. Yiddish speakers say it about 450,000 times a day or thereabouts.

Todd.Hanz
07-24-2009, 12:43
So, why do you ask? ;)

Todd

rpsawin
07-24-2009, 12:45
Roger,

Shut down your computer, grab a gear bag and go shoot....please.

Best regards,

Bob

johne
07-24-2009, 12:46
Well,

in the grand scheme of things, "so" is better than "huh?"
johne
:-D

xayraa33
07-24-2009, 12:48
It was General Burkhalter who started this trend.

Dave Wilkinson
07-24-2009, 13:05
I think it started about the same time that everything started 'sucking' - or being 'awesome' :rolleyes:
Dave.

Roger Hicks
07-24-2009, 13:10
Roger,

Shut down your computer, grab a gear bag and go shoot....please.

Best regards,

Bob

Bob,

First, thanks to those who attempted to answer my question. I didn't know that nu meant 'so', though I did know that nu peppers Yiddish (and Yinglish) like tak peppers Russian and reyba (I think that's the spelling, though it's pronounced 'rewa') peppers Tibetan. And the idea that 'So...' implies an ongoing conversation is intriguing.

Now to address your reply.

I posted the original question at about 10 pm.

Thus far today (roughly in the order I did them) I started out by making a couple of revisions to a novel I hope to sell, co-written with Aditi. After that I worked on an article for one of the magazines I write for. Then I drove 50 miles or so round-trip to Chinon to take Frances in for a check-up on the cataract surgery she had on Monday (all going fine). I've done (with her) the shopping for friends who are coming to stay next week-end. I've helped her prepare the house somewhat for the guests. I've cleared up the garage somewhat to make it easier to work there. I've transferred the controls and clutch release mechanism from one Land Rover gearbox to another, and part stripped the old gearbox. I've shared cooking dinner with Frances. (Being a perfect wife, she did the washing up).

Oh; and since I got back from the Rencontres at Arles, a week before taking Frances in for the cataract surgery (60 miles away in Tours) I've been going through several hundred pictures I shot at Arles, as well as the ones I shot on Bastille Day.

At this point, your exhortation begins to look a tiny bit patronizing. I'm interested in language, and I've had a couple of excellent answers to an innocent question asked as a form of relaxation after a hectic day and indeed a hectic couple of months (tour of Southern and Central Europe in May-June, Arles in early July, Frances in hospital earlier this week, quite apart from the writing and working on the web-site).

Why don't you go and take some pictures? What's your excuse?

Cheers,

Roger

Roger Hicks
07-24-2009, 13:12
I think it started about the same time that everything started 'sucking' - or being 'awesome' :rolleyes:
Dave.

Dear Dave,

Father to daughter: "There are two words I never want to hear again. One is gross and the other is awesome."

Daughter: "For sure, dad. What are they?"

Cheers,

R.

Austerby
07-24-2009, 13:21
I think it is catching on in Blighty even as we speak. I've noticed that when something goes pear-shaped on the evening BBC London news and the tele-prompter thingy goes wrong (it is a live broadcast so there can't be silence) the presenters have a habit of starting the next item with "So..." as they buy time whilst the producer is no doubt screaming in their ear.

sepiareverb
07-24-2009, 13:24
I'd have guessed it was an American "English" thing.

dee
07-24-2009, 13:37
... it's as if these little words become a habit ... but much better than '' you know ... ''
I don't do it though . Too old ?

jack palmer
07-24-2009, 14:02
So, Roger, I know you're a Land Rover fan and I thought I'd mention that I built a Series 111 Station Wagon from the ground up. Not a restoration but a new vehicle. It was 1985 spec. ,the last year for the Series111. It took a first place at British Car Day in Vermont. So, what do you think of that?

Michael Markey
07-24-2009, 14:16
Roger, I`m weary just reading about your hectic schedule. Pleased to hear that everything is OK. As for "so" it`s odd that you menion it. There is a lady I know who finishes all her sentences with so. Maybe it`s a version of the rising intonation which seems to have caught on in the UK and is very annoying. Every statement becomes a question.
Ps Get yourself a new Landrover. I know,I know they are not the same as the series ones but ...

Micky D
07-24-2009, 14:20
I'd have guessed it was an American "English" thing.

It's a British English thing too, and there's an equivalent in just about any language.
It seems that Roger is having a few senior moments lately, like forgetting where his Leicas are at (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76933).:rolleyes:

Spider67
07-24-2009, 14:20
"you know" and "Right" are a clear sign that we are like all machines prone to loosen our tolerances as time goes by. I think both are better then "Ahemm"
For us non native speakers it is very difficult to see the difference between a lingual fad like "awesome" or "excellent" and colloquial expression.....and we are completely helpless when it comes to rhyming slang!
But So...! could very well have Yiddish roots as the posing of questions is an imporatnat element in (eastern european) Jewish humour /which is said to have its roots in legistic and thelogical discussions of Rabbis)
.....Tyrolians very often finish sentences with "odrr?" (oder) so that when you hear it the first time they sound as if they are looking for a conflict.

Thardy
07-24-2009, 14:22
Probably the same reason people in England use the expression "RIGHT" then run off excitedly to do a task.

JoeV
07-24-2009, 14:50
About the phrase "So...": it started at Intel, in Fab 9 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, in the 1990s. Seems like whenever a manager or engineer stood up in front of a group to speak, they would always begin their sentence with "So..." I think this was purposefully done as a way of not being accused of starting each sentence with "Uh...."

At least, that's my personal history about "So..." ;)

~Joe

pagpow
07-24-2009, 14:50
Roger,

In Italian, an equivalent is "allora" as in "Allora, cosa vogliamo fare." "So, what do you want to do."

I do think FrankS nailed both ways it is used -- both as an artifice of a connector to a conversation or situation, close to its literal meaning --
"As long as we're here, what do you do?" "So, what do you do?"
"In light of ...." "So..." "As a result of ..." "So..."

and as an utterance to announce a forthcoming question.

Can't tell you whether the two are connected -- ie whether usage started with a real connection and evolved to a stand-alone connection to something.

In the US, my impression, possibly wrong, is that it varies across geography and ethnic group -- I think I hear it more on the East Coast than West -- and possibly among some ethnic groups than others.

Giorgio

antiquark
07-24-2009, 15:41
I think that some words evolve to serve a meta-punctuation purpose in the language.

I suspect that even phrases like "um" and "uh" convey information.

If these words had no purpose, then nobody would use them!

FrankS
07-24-2009, 15:55
Um um ah uh um uh uh ah um.


;)

charjohncarter
07-24-2009, 16:03
I think Spanish has something close. But Americans (USA) are 'click word' oriented: like, man, dude, random, all have replaced previous versions (bitchin', cool); 'so' is a pause word now (it used to mean; therefore) that also has a slight connotation of confrontation (e.i. so, what's the big deal).

rpsawin
07-24-2009, 16:59
Bob,

First, thanks to those who attempted to answer my question. I didn't know that nu meant 'so', though I did know that nu peppers Yiddish (and Yinglish) like tak peppers Russian and reyba (I think that's the spelling, though it's pronounced 'rewa') peppers Tibetan. And the idea that 'So...' implies an ongoing conversation is intriguing.

Now to address your reply.

I posted the original question at about 10 pm.

Thus far today (roughly in the order I did them) I started out by making a couple of revisions to a novel I hope to sell, co-written with Aditi. After that I worked on an article for one of the magazines I write for. Then I drove 50 miles or so round-trip to Chinon to take Frances in for a check-up on the cataract surgery she had on Monday (all going fine). I've done (with her) the shopping for friends who are coming to stay next week-end. I've helped her prepare the house somewhat for the guests. I've cleared up the garage somewhat to make it easier to work there. I've transferred the controls and clutch release mechanism from one Land Rover gearbox to another, and part stripped the old gearbox. I've shared cooking dinner with Frances. (Being a perfect wife, she did the washing up).

Oh; and since I got back from the Rencontres at Arles, a week before taking Frances in for the cataract surgery (60 miles away in Tours) I've been going through several hundred pictures I shot at Arles, as well as the ones I shot on Bastille Day.

At this point, your exhortation begins to look a tiny bit patronizing. I'm interested in language, and I've had a couple of excellent answers to an innocent question asked as a form of relaxation after a hectic day and indeed a hectic couple of months (tour of Southern and Central Europe in May-June, Arles in early July, Frances in hospital earlier this week, quite apart from the writing and working on the web-site).

Why don't you go and take some pictures? What's your excuse?

Cheers,

Roger

So maybe I'll do that Roger.

Bob

Thardy
07-24-2009, 17:04
I bet John Ciardi could answer that question. He is frequently on NPR discussing the origins and usage of words. More importantly, he is pompous enough to act authoritatively on things that are quite trivial to most normal folks.

rbiemer
07-24-2009, 17:08
I have started posts and threads with "So..." specifically because I consider RFF to be an ongoing conversation. And I am using it as something of a signal for an interjection. Likely incorrect but Mrs. Banks (my 7th grade English teacher) is no longer around for me to ask.
Rob

Gumby
07-24-2009, 17:11
Back in the 1930s or 1940s, not that I was there, didn't every thought begin with "Say, ..."?

Gumby
07-24-2009, 17:12
But what is even more curious, to me at least, is why people type, "I got me a new ...". Odd, to say the least.

Thardy
07-24-2009, 17:14
Back in the 1930s or 1940s, not that I was there, didn't every thought begin with "Say, ..."?

What do you think Say Hey means? Remember the Say Hey kid?

Gumby
07-24-2009, 17:15
... among native English speakers as among Americans...

Say, I beg your pardon, Mack. So I am American and I am a native English speaker too. What a load of arrogant ex-pat Brit rubbish. :p

Gumby
07-24-2009, 17:20
What do you think Say Hey means? Remember the Say Hey kid?

Sorry, but no. I might have still been a haploid gamete at the time. ;)

FrankS
07-24-2009, 17:21
But what is even more curious, to me at least, is why people type, "I got me a new ...". Odd, to say the least.

Sometimes (granted, not always) people use improper, colloquial, or childish language, grammar, or spelling on purpose. It's a way of having fun with language, don'tcha know?

Those people who get annoyed by imperfect language when the meaning is perfectly clear, may have issues.

;)

Gumby
07-24-2009, 17:23
It's a way of having fun with language, don'tcha know?

Yup, I'm good. I can even accept the use of the term "minty". :o

FrankS
07-24-2009, 17:28
Yup, I'm good. I can even accept the use of the term "minty". :o

Yep, "minty" makes me smile.

Micky D
07-24-2009, 17:31
Yep, "minty" makes me smile.

How about a "sexy" lens?

Could you fall in love with one?:)

rbiemer
07-24-2009, 17:32
But what is even more curious, to me at least, is why people type, "I got me a new ...". Odd, to say the least.

It is fairly annoying. I'd much rather they said/typed, "I got you a new...":D
As odd as it reads, I'm not sure that it is actually wrong though.
Rob

Gumby
07-24-2009, 17:32
Umm, Frank... you have a piece of parsley stuck between your front teeth.

Gumby
07-24-2009, 17:33
It is fairly annoying. I'd much rather they said/typed, "I got you a new...":D
As odd as it reads, I'm not sure that it is actually wrong though.
Rob

Me got a new... :confused:

FrankS
07-24-2009, 17:36
Umm, Frank... you have a piece of parsley stuck between your front teeth.

Thanks. I hate it when someone doesn't tell you.

marke
07-24-2009, 17:52
Dear Dave,

Father to daughter: "There are two words I never want to hear again. One is gross and the other is awesome."

Daughter: "For sure, dad. What are they?"

Cheers,

R.

Three words: "For sure, dad. Like, what are they?"

SolaresLarrave
07-24-2009, 18:44
I was in Costa Rica, with two of the undergrads who came with me to that study abroad program. We were talking about our respective trips when one of them started her intervention this way:

"So, we were all in the lab, buying our tickets, and decided that since we were all together we should also fly together. Isn't it nice?"

The "So" at the beginning reminded me of a snippet of a conversation between Scully and (a supposed) Mulder, in the TV show The X-Files, in which Scully says "So, I was there, in the middle of nowhere, at three o'clock in the morning, and I wondered: what on Earth am I doing here?"

If this rhetorical trick appears in TV shows and movies, I only can imagine that it's purpose is to make you feel as if you were in the middle of an interesting story. The difference between Scully and my student is that she wasn't in the middle of any story, but still wanted to convey to other ears that she might have been.

I know, it makes no sense... but it also annoys me. However, I concur with a previous statement: it's easier to take than "You know?" every three words.

BTW, "like" is soooooooooooo twentieth-century... :)

bmattock
07-24-2009, 18:55
It came from Seinfeld. Clever git.

Al Kaplan
07-24-2009, 19:19
Me no know.

Oscar Levant
07-24-2009, 19:42
A disturbing issue, to be sure, ah so desu ka.

Roger Hicks
07-24-2009, 23:57
Thanks (almost) everyone. The TV announcer buying-time argument and the idea that it draws people into a conversation (the latter misguided, in my view, but quite possibly what its users believe) seem to be the likeliest bets. Thanks for examples from other languages, including Italian. Is the Italian usage recent, or has it been more or less constant for (say) 100 years?

As many have said, it is almost certainly a passing fad; and I shall not mourn its passing. 'Say' (from the 1930s) is probably an exact parallel, but 'so' looks just as odd as 'say' to me.

Oh, and Gumby, if you're determined to be patronized, I'll do it properly, and correct your English. It's 'expat' not 'ex-pat'. An expatriate is someone who lives outside the country of his birth; 'ex' in the sense of 'outside' as in 'external' or 'exogenous', not 'ex' in the sene of 'former' as in 'ex-soldier'.

Cheers,

Roger

JohnTF
07-25-2009, 00:31
Oh, so you are interested in word usage, eh?

Interesting that US English is the current world standard, so future native English speakers are being and will be born on this continent, and a rubber is to prevent, not erase or preserve. ;-)

Only a few cars have wings, or boots for that matter.

Italian is not really one language, or so my Italian friends tell me, but a collection of dialects some quite distinct from others, so it takes a bit of effort for one from one region to understand one from another, and adds confusion to those taking lessons.

We do seem to abbreviate many things, shortening the two fingers to one as well.

So, you guys started the language, the French severely modified it, and then you leave it to us to perfect it?

Deep thinking going on at 4am? Perhaps not.

Did not see anything of yours in the last Issue of Shutterbug, have I renewed needlessly?

Regards, John

dmr
07-25-2009, 00:42
Daughter: "For sure, dad. What are they?"


Like, that would be "fer-shure", ya know! :)

Carlsen Highway
07-25-2009, 01:14
For what its worth in this examination of current slang, here in NZ people do not use "So' the way you guys have described it. I have noticed it on American forums though, and idly thought it was just some American way of indicating a "chattiness' to thread. I was mildy interested to find that it seems you use it in coversation the same way.

Perhaps an equivilent we use here is "anyway," as in a translation from one subject o another "Anyway, then I went to the circus..." But then maybe you guys do that as well. I dont know. The only American language I know is off TV. For example I was suprised to speak for the first time to a friend from Arkansas on the phone who I had previously only correspanded with by email; his accent was unfamiliar, being as how not many people obviously make TV shows about people from Arkansas. I sort of assumed that there was NEW York accent, Californain accent and deep southern Carolina or something like that. The Arkansas accent threw me. I hadn't heard it on TV.
Shows how powerful the medium is. It influences not only by what it shows other people, but by what it omits.
I have gone off topic; forgive me.

MartinP
07-25-2009, 01:32
An interesting thread. Having just walked around for ten hours a day, for four days, with just over 40000 other people from (approximately) 37 countries and had a bit of an international experience as a result, may I just point out that there is nothing wrong with languages evolving differently in different places. For example, Canadian french compared to French french, or Brazilian portugues vs. that used in Portugal, or American english and British english.

In the case of english (as I am British) the verbs, especially participles, have changed differently over tha last couple of hundred years and the adjectives are used in different structures too. Children from either land would fail a grammar test in the other ! But it's not a problem so long as everyone discusses possible ambiguities when they write the instructions for hospital equipment, nuclear-powerstations, aeroplanes etc etc.

Amusingly, quite a few Dutch people have picked up the "so" thing as well, then continue in Dutch - learned from tv or films I suspect.
:)

KoNickon
07-25-2009, 03:15
I am surprised no one has mentioned "well" as an English (American English, anyway) word that is used seemingly at least as often as "so," and for the same purpose -- to make a a new statement sound as if it was a continuation of an existing conversation when that's not necessarily the case. Definitely like the Italian "allora" (and -- though I'll defer to the German speakers here -- "also.") And Roger, isn't "donc" much the same in French?

In English, anyway, it does seem as though "so" and "well" serve to signal and soften the transition to a new topic of conversation. Certain TV newscasters use "well" so often that my wife and I figure it's something they're taught in broadcast school.

Roger Hicks
07-25-2009, 03:30
This is intriguing; I am learning a good deal about other languages and dialects. I don't think that 'donc' is used as much as 'or' (more or less 'well...') in written French, and it doesn't seem that common to me in spoken French. Or maybe I just don't notice it.

Differentiation of languages from a common root fascinates me. An example I've used elsewhere is 'sump' (English), 'oil pan' (American) and 'chamber' (Indian), but on a larger scale consider Provençal, Catalan, Spanish and French. It seems to me that we may be embarking on a new (and possibly unnecessary) reversal of the way in which dialects have been consolidated (largely by television), while simultaneously seeing 'English as a second language' (and mostly American English at that) appearing even among the speakers of one or another dialect of English.

One definition of a language, of course, is 'a dialect with an army'.

Cheers,

Roger

Dave Wilkinson
07-25-2009, 03:34
I would still like to know why and how sub-standard items 'suck'!. I have a very good vacuum cleaner that sucks!.....and sometimes my pipe gets a bit blocked!........:confused:
Dave.

Thardy
07-25-2009, 04:31
"So, what’s the camera like to use?" Roger Hicks discussing Zorkis.

More ubiquitous than we thought.

bmattock
07-25-2009, 04:49
This is intriguing; I am learning a good deal about other languages and dialects. I don't think that 'donc' is used as much as 'or' (more or less 'well...') in written French, and it doesn't seem that common to me in spoken French. Or maybe I just don't notice it.

Differentiation of languages from a common root fascinates me. An example I've used elsewhere is 'sump' (English), 'oil pan' (American) and 'chamber' (Indian), but on a larger scale consider Provençal, Catalan, Spanish and French. It seems to me that we may be embarking on a new (and possibly unnecessary) reversal of the way in which dialects have been consolidated (largely by television), while simultaneously seeing 'English as a second language' (and mostly American English at that) appearing even among the speakers of one or another dialect of English.

One definition of a language, of course, is 'a dialect with an army'.

Cheers,

Roger

When I was in Brazil, several years ago, I was informed that Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world; not Portugal. Furthermore, apparently the dialect of Brazilian Portuguese is not the dialect of modern Portugal. Rather, it is related as, say, modern English relates to Middle English. The Portuguese who colonized Brazil brought their (then current) language with them. In later years, Portuguese as it is spoken in Portugal changed, but it did not change as much in Brazil.

The unusual (and somewhat amusing) part to me was that Brazil exports a large number of television shows to Portugal, where they are quite popular. As a result, Portuguese parents are becoming concerned that their children are growing up speaking what English-speakers might consider Elizabethan English in terms of equivalence!

Oculus Sinister
07-25-2009, 05:13
It's also irritating when you hear people(mostly of the teenage set) begin their sentences with "oh my god/gosh"

Brian Sweeney
07-25-2009, 05:16
Maybe the other American RFF members did not have a Father that would say "SO?", "SEW Buttons".

I cannot recall starting a thread or a reply like that.

Do you have a Histogram of the words used to start threads? I wonder if we could separate out American/English/and Non-Native English speakers by looking at the distribution.

Roger Hicks
07-25-2009, 05:19
"So, what’s the camera like to use?" Roger Hicks discussing Zorkis.

More ubiquitous than we thought.

Dear Thomas,

I do not recall, but I think that was part of a continuing discussion -- in which sense I do indeed use it. What I'm questioning is the beginning of a whole thread (or indeed using 'So' in the title of a thread) when clearly it is a new topic of conversation.

In the sense described above, surely I was saying "All this having been said, what's the camera like to use?"

Which argues, of course, that beginning a thread or topic of conversation with 'So' is an attempt (as I have said, misguided in my opinion) to pretend that it is a continuation of what has already been said, when it clearly is not so. EDIT: or indeed, not 'So'.

Cheers,

Roger

Roger Hicks
07-25-2009, 05:22
Maybe the other American RFF members did not have a Father that would say "SO?", "SEW Buttons".


Dear Brian,

Often in English (English English), the response to 'So what?' (a classic childish rejoinder) was 'Sew a button on a balloon'.

Cheers,

R.

Gumby
07-25-2009, 07:14
Oh, and Gumby, if you're determined to be patronized, I'll do it properly, and correct your English. It's 'expat' not 'ex-pat'. An expatriate is someone who lives outside the country of his birth; 'ex' in the sense of 'outside' as in 'external' or 'exogenous', not 'ex' in the sene of 'former' as in 'ex-soldier'.

Roger... if "patronizing" is what you want to do, well that is what you'll do. Doesn't offend me one bit. It is, however, an expression of what's in your heart. "Sew a button on a balloon"... I haven't heard that since I was a kid. It fits this conversation! :) Thanks for reminding me of that great saying!

If correcting me is what you want to do, well I'll accept that... you are correct about expat being more proper than ex-pat. Have a nice day!

Al Kaplan
07-25-2009, 07:56
I don't remember which science fiction author it was who referred to what we speak in the U.S. and Canada as "North American Anglic". Jamaicans are taught British English in schools but speak a patoise (the word they use) that consists of mostly English words with a West African grammatical structure. Taditional American "black English" (not the slang the kids speak) is also based on West African grammar. It substitutes words like him, her, etc. for he and she, as well as the following verb such as "Him be going to the market" rather than "He is going to the market". They make no distinction between the objective and the subjective forms, but neither do the West African languages.

Television has just about destroyed regional accents in the U.S. Back in the 40's and 50's growing up in New England you could tell which town somebody was from by their accent. There was an obvious difference between Boston, Brockton, Taunton, and New Bedford if you drove the 50 miles north to south. Heading west you knew you were in Providence, Rhode Island, then Harford, Conneticut, and EVERYBODY complained about the way New Yorkers couldn't pronounce a damned thing properly.

FrankS
07-25-2009, 07:59
When I was in Brazil, several years ago, I was informed that Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world; not Portugal. Furthermore, apparently the dialect of Brazilian Portuguese is not the dialect of modern Portugal. Rather, it is related as, say, modern English relates to Middle English. The Portuguese who colonized Brazil brought their (then current) language with them. In later years, Portuguese as it is spoken in Portugal changed, but it did not change as much in Brazil.

The unusual (and somewhat amusing) part to me was that Brazil exports a large number of television shows to Portugal, where they are quite popular. As a result, Portuguese parents are becoming concerned that their children are growing up speaking what English-speakers might consider Elizabethan English in terms of equivalence!


In French speaking Quebec, the language is less changed from the French spoken during colonization times, than the French used today in France, which has evolved and changed to a much greater degree over the same period of time.

Gumby
07-25-2009, 08:08
I don't remember which science fiction author it was who referred to what we speak in the U.S. and Canada as "North American Anglic".

Too bad this isn't more accepted. It might help us get beyond the parochializm/parochialism of which English is more right. :o

JohnTF
07-25-2009, 08:22
My friend Maria from south of France was visiting, we saw a French Canadian (Jesus de Monreal?) film and she resorted to reading the subtitles in English.

Many of the conversations I have had in Paris began with donc, usually signaling a slight change in direction, and now that I think of it, there is a Canadian program filmed in BC in which the title character is an investigator (surprise) who routinely interviews witnesses, with much of his dialogue beginning with "so", and it seems a more personal, or friendly way of beginning a discussion in some cases, gaining attention and putting people at ease at the same time.

If you read the repair manual for cars, something I did often in my misspent youth, you will see the term "oil sump" which refers to the oil pan reservoir, not just the pan , and certainly in almost every home insurance contract you will see "sump" in terms of a water sump. Driver's and passenger side seems to be off in the UK, but it is normally used in the manuals as being more accurate than saying, perhaps, the left side as that would depend on which way the car was facing. ;-)

There was a time early in broadcasting, when a broadcaster was expected to speak with a neutral accent, and were actually sent to Cleveland to polish it.

In the Czech Republic, many of the English teachers seemed to be American, and the result being that many Czechs speak English understood well by those from that continent.

So, have a pop and chill out?

Regards, John

Gumby
07-25-2009, 08:28
So, have a pop and chill out?

Too early for that. I'm still sipping coffee (joe, java)... regular.

JohnTF
07-25-2009, 08:28
Too bad this isn't more accepted. It might help us get beyond the parochializm/parochialism of which English is more right. :o

A "pointed" comment, for sure. ;-)

Regards, John

Gumby
07-25-2009, 08:35
In the Czech Republic, many of the English teachers seemed to be American, and the result being that many Czechs speak English understood well by those from that continent.

Interesting. I met a Czech woman in London who was there to attend school with the express purpose of improving her English language skills. She had nearly completed her course but admitted to me that she was failing. She couldn't seem to understand a word the Brits said in English, but easily understood my American English. Now I understand why!

JohnTF
07-25-2009, 14:25
Interesting. I met a Czech woman in London who was there to attend school with the express purpose of improving her English language skills. She had nearly completed her course but admitted to me that she was failing. She couldn't seem to understand a word the Brits said in English, but easily understood my American English. Now I understand why!


If you have a pronounced southern accent, they may think you speak as if you came from another planet. I have no trouble, and find say a Carolina accent pleasing, but people I have met in Europe say they are met with blank looks.


John

Jmiothy
07-26-2009, 10:24
The standard of english, in general, has been in decline for some considerable time. This decline has been hastened, in my opinion, by the influence of the United States. Only recently a BBC correspondent in Afghanistan commented on the death of a British "lootenant-colonel" ( I can only presume that the correspondent meant lieutenant-colonel).
We also, nowadays, have train stations in Britain where once we had railway stations.
I feel that the usage of english is in mortal decline and we shall soon all have to speak american.

crawdiddy
07-26-2009, 10:43
The standard of english, in general, has been in decline for some considerable time. This decline has been hastened, in my opinion, by the influence of the United States. Only recently a BBC correspondent in Afghanistan commented on the death of a British lootenant-colonel.
We also, nowadays, have train stations in Britain where once we had railway stations.
I feel that the usage of english is in mortal decline and we shall soon all have to speak american.

The language belongs to all who use it. If you want a dead language, try Latin, Greek or maybe Aramaic. Did you ever wonder why English (even if it isn't the King's English) is so ubiquitous? Do you think it's because it's the language of Great Britain? Or do you think it might be because of U.S. English?

Not to be snarky, and I realize you may speak with tongue in cheek. I'm just sayin.

Dave Wilkinson
07-26-2009, 10:47
The standard of english, in general, has been in decline for some considerable time. This decline has been hastened, in my opinion, by the influence of the United States. Only recently a BBC correspondent in Afghanistan commented on the death of a British "lootenant-colonel" ( I can only presume that the correspondent meant lieutenant-colonel).
We also, nowadays, have train stations in Britain where once we had railway stations.
I feel that the usage of english is in mortal decline and we shall soon all have to speak american. That's dangerous talk around here Bud! - but there is no way a Yorkshire dude like me could be influenced - our English is awsome!...the rest sucks! - go figure! :D

Roger Hicks
07-26-2009, 10:53
The language belongs to all who use it. If you want a dead language, try Latin, Greek or maybe Aramaic. Did you ever wonder why English (even if it isn't the King's English) is so ubiquitous? Do you think it's because it's the language of Great Britain? Or do you think it might be because of U.S. English?

Not to be snarky, and I realize you may speak with tongue in cheek. I'm just sayin.

Dear Dan,

Does it? Is Italian, Provençal, Catalan, Castilian or French 'legitimate' Latin? Or are they all *******izations? EDIT: Or *astardizations or ba*tardizations -- donch'a lurve clean-up-the-*ucking-langage programmes?

Languages differentiate. Go back 1000 years and no doubt you'd find lots of people saying they all spoke the Latin that 'belonged to everyone who spoke it'. And they all spoke different languages.

Distinguishing between American and English (and indeed the Indian, Australian and South African versions of the same original language) may be premature -- but sooner or later, even American speakers are going to have to admit it, and they can't really claim that they speak English, while native-born Englishmen don't.

Anyone else for 'Anglic'?

Tashi delek,

R.

NathanJD
07-26-2009, 11:10
The standard of english, in general, has been in decline for some considerable time. This decline has been hastened, in my opinion, by the influence of the United States. Only recently a BBC correspondent in Afghanistan commented on the death of a British "lootenant-colonel" ( I can only presume that the correspondent meant lieutenant-colonel).
We also, nowadays, have train stations in Britain where once we had railway stations.
I feel that the usage of english is in mortal decline and we shall soon all have to speak american.

Language is in a state of constant flux. Do you think Chaucer would approve of contemporary English? Or even understand it? Or even Shakespeare? My native language has a very small vocabulary and so it ‘borrows’ words from English like digidol from digital etc... Seeing as my ancestors had no such thing. Therefore it becomes an amalgamation like any other language. You can’t expect it to stand still and you can’t site that your own regional and temporal dialect is the ‘proper’ dialect because there cannot be a standard in a language whose dictionary is subject to yearly amendments. Why do we no longer use the word ‘thy’ to indicate a singular ‘you’ in contemporary English? Would thou consider that improper use of the word you? Is that a sign of improper use of English? How about the word ‘pig’ – it’s a relatively modern word, so is it a mark of degradation? To say that a language is in a state of degradation is absolutely ludicrous! As long as those speaking a language are able to communicate effectively said language is doing it’s job is it not?

When the UK is so blessed with such an array of dialects to the point where a Londoner would have trouble understanding me and I have a hard time understanding those from North Wales or Newcastle with their own idiosyncrasies that sometimes date back centuries what’s the difference with such a thing happening in our time? What about the remnants of Polari in English today? Brought to us by early TV shows such as the Carry On’s and Steptoe and sons dating back to the end of the first half of the last century? Can a masculine man or woman not be ‘butch’? Is that a ‘proper’ English word? Not 150 years ago! When a Scottish man asks a Welsh man how old he is the conversation goes “what age are you?” “30, I am” and when the Welshman asks the same of him it goes “how old are you?” “I’m 35”. Language is very complicated and I don’t believe people should just expect it to stand still. It’s going to change and fashions are going to come and go, some will stay some won’t. It’s life.

FrankS
07-26-2009, 11:26
I'm not sure that you can state that language is declining, just that it's changing and moving away from a personal or temporal standard.

The example of Olde English is illustrative of this.

Roger Hicks
07-26-2009, 12:10
... What about the remnants of Polari in English today? ...

Palare? Bona to vada your dolly old eek? (Julian and Sandy, Round the Horne)

Yes, language is constantly changing. But sometimes, too, it is diverging, look you, innit?

Thee's cassn't understan' I 'cos thee'st foreign, bouy, and don' talk proper like us does over St. Denys.

A friend pointed out long ago that most Britons speak at least two dialects, according to where they are. Perhaps it was a little snobbish but as he said, "I don't talk the same languge to you as I do when I go to the garage to get my car repaired." Come to that, my oldest friend and I (same minor public school) do sometimes talk proper and sometimes like we'm where we'm from (Kernow). And he's half Hungarian...

Tashi delek,

R.

Michael Markey
07-26-2009, 12:47
I would still like to know why and how sub-standard items 'suck'!. I have a very good vacuum cleaner that sucks!.....and sometimes my pipe gets a bit blocked!........:confused:
Dave.
It`s as descriptive as a soft drink, Dave.

kbg32
07-26-2009, 12:58
Ok, ok, ok....


So why is this thread still active??


:-)

Roger Hicks
07-26-2009, 13:19
Ok, ok, ok....


So why is this thread still active??


:-)

Because people are interested in language?

Cheers,

R.

Dante_Stella
07-26-2009, 14:37
Roger, all of this is an interesting discourse. And since I'm waiting (what seems like forever) for some van dyke prints to dry, I'll unload with some observations/questions:

1. "Allora" in Italian has been in use for at least 30 years (so at least as long as I can remember...). Smart to use a three-syllable vocalized pause. It often gives you time to think about how you will (deferentially) tell your interlocutor to jump off a bridge ("Si prega di andare in quel paese...").

2. Why have Brits resurrected "whilst" from the discard pile, only to misuse it the same way Americans misuse "while" (i.e., as a substitute for "although?"

3. Why do Brits - who invented the concept of a "company" or a corporation as a singular artificial person under the law - consistently treat corporations as plural (or perhaps collective) nouns: "Nikon are releasing..." Nikon has been a corporation since 1917 and refers to itself in English press releases in the singular.

4. How is it that, despite having the BBC for decades, the British government has not crushed regional drift? I'm talking about High Barnet (where I lived with my parents). How can you still be on the Northern Line and not speak the Queen's English? :)

5. It's fascinating that when you see an American movie about the Revolutionary War, the English speak with a britannic accent and the (future) Americans always speak with a Great Lakes American accent. Really, at that time, both sides would have sounded like New Englanders.

6. How is it that British English took the French-influenced spellings of "colour," "spectre," etc., but the Americans took the straight Latin forms (color, specter, etc.)?

7. Why did the (English-speaking) Canadians adopt the word "serviette" (napkin)? If you had to guess what that was, what would it be? My guess would have been a tampon (oddly, a different type of feminine hygeine product in the States is a "sanitary napkin"). Wow. Think I can skip dinner now.

8. One thing I learned in linguistics studying in Italy is that "BBC" English has 31 vowel sounds and American English only has 13 (Italian has 7 or 5, depending on the regional variant). Aside from the fact that Americans have been the dominant tourist force for 50 years, they have the biggest army, they export the most popular culture, and they unleash the largest number of language tutors on the world, their version of English is probably easier to learn as well.

9. Many newscasters in the United States are actually Canadians (c.f. the late Peter Jennings). The Chicago-Detroit-Cleveland dialect is considered standard for broadcast, and nobody does it better than the Canadians (...just as one time in an interview, Neil Diamond said that no one could sing Christmas songs like he could...)

Whoops, prints are dry. Gotta go!

Dante

kbg32
07-26-2009, 14:51
I love listening to the BBC news. "Their" pronunciation of certain English words really threw me at first. "Con - trov - o -see" (controversy), is my favorite.

FrankS
07-26-2009, 15:02
There was this boy at my high school with a very pronounced British accent, even though he came to Canada with his parents at age 3. He was very full of himself.

Gumby
07-26-2009, 15:15
There was this boy at my high school with a very pronounced British accent, even though he came to Canada with his parents at age 3. He was very full of himself.

I'm told that I speak with a bit of a Scotch Canadian accent. I must have learned that from my maternal Gram, who was from PEI, or my paternal Great Gramps, who was from NB. On both sides of the family the Candians emigrated from Scotland about 1815 or so. Sometimes accents seem to cross generational lines even though nobody in my family has seen Scotland for more than a short vacation in last five generations

I'm also told that I'm full of myself. :D

John Robertson
07-26-2009, 15:35
I think it started about the same time that everything started 'sucking' - or being 'awesome' :rolleyes:
Dave.
"Awesome", when used makes me want to slit the users throat, its used so often it is now completely meaningless:bang:
I hate too when I take a shot and someone says its a nice "capture"
:bang::bang::bang:

John Robertson
07-26-2009, 15:40
There was this boy at my high school with a very pronounced British accent, even though he came to Canada with his parents at age 3. He was very full of himself.
He fitted in well then:p

John Robertson
07-26-2009, 15:44
How about a "sexy" lens?

Could you fall in love with one?:)
as yes thats why some prefer an f 1.2 over an f3.5:rolleyes:
pencilwise could turn your 2B into a 4H

bmattock
07-26-2009, 16:05
I worked with a man in Montreal who spoke both English and French-Canadian. I remarked to him that I found him very tolerant of my very poor French, and he laughed and said that French-Canadians appreciate when people try to speak French. The French, on the other hand...he told me of a Frenchman who came to work as a consultant and who was apparently horrified by the French spoken by French-Canadians. My friend told me that the Frenchman "told me how to say my own name."

crawdiddy
07-26-2009, 16:36
I love listening to the BBC news. "Their" pronunciation of certain English words really threw me at first. "Con - trov - o -see" (controversy), is my favorite.

Why do they (Brits) add an extra syllable to "aluminum"?

And I wonder if their "laboratories" are populated with evil scientists.

smiling gecko
07-26-2009, 17:24
szo,...

roger, i haven't any insights or illumination to share with you regarding your initial posting. it does, however, reminded me of a very happy and fulfilling period in my life.

please accept my digression here as i share a fond memory regarding "so,...".

dr. walter ducloux, (born in switzerland) conductor of many operas with the austin lyric opera, would sometimes use "szo" (during rehearsal) at the beginning of a sentence where he would share thoughts, instructions, guidance, and illumination with the chorus and/or the orchestra. at times he use "szo" as a sort of preparatory command, or he would use it to give the listener an opportunity to think about what he had just shared before proceeding, and sometimes as an expression on it's own.

i had the privilege and honor and great fortune - as a member of the austin lyric opera chorus - to learn some of the finer nuances and intricacies and the very heart, the very soul of the operas he conducted in austin, texas. like many, many other chorus members i had the opportunity to grow as a person as a result of the unqualified acceptance and kindness and love and tremendous generosity of spirit that made dr. ducloux the person he was. :angel:

thank you roger for stirring a fond memory. i apologize for not being having a response that addressed your query and for creating some thread-drift here. thank you, everyone else for bearing with my off-topic post fished out of the the gulf stream of my consciousness. :)

adieu.

kenneth
www.neverforgetbeslan.org

bmattock
07-26-2009, 18:32
Palare? Bona to vada your dolly old eek? (Julian and Sandy, Round the Horne)


I've often wondered if chellovecks could get by just govoreeting nadsat. Now be a dobby malchick and itty and get me a peet.

John Robertson
07-26-2009, 19:11
Palare? Bona to vada your dolly old eek? (Julian and Sandy, Round the Horne)



R.
I recall Kenneth Williams saying in an interview that this was Polari a gay slang. I googled it and got this, !!!:eek:
http://www.chris-d.net/polari/

interesting to see where some of todays slang comes from!!!

Al Kaplan
07-29-2009, 07:53
The Brits haven't learned to speak North American Anglic.

Dave Wilkinson
07-29-2009, 12:02
The Brits haven't learned to speak North American Anglic.
Not quite!....but they are getting there! :mad:

Michael P.
08-02-2009, 19:19
Japanese has the expression, "So desu." which loosely means "That's right."

Chris101
08-02-2009, 19:52
(disclaimer: I have only read the first 30 and last 6 posts.)

I find that I use the "So [Name]..." construction to ease my way into a conversation with an uncertain outcome. As when asking for a raise, favor or date: "So Jeanne, I've been doing a great job and all..."; "So Colin, would you be able to work Thursday afternoon..."; "So Nichole, would you like to see Bob Dylan next week..."

I rationalize that adding the "So" makes it seem like the idea just occurred to me, and I have little risk at stake in the question. In the past 10 years or so, I have noticed that this form does not affect the turnout of the question. Further it gives the impression that I am socially timid. While my timidity is based on my state of mind, it is not a trait most people would assign to me. So, (;)) I have been consciously trying to remove it from my speech.

jonmanjiro
08-02-2009, 20:00
Japanese has the expression, "So desu." which loosely means "That's right."

You can also add a "ahhh" in front and leave off the "desu", to make it a question i.e. "is that so?"

That gives you "ahhh sooo" :rolleyes:

Chris101
08-03-2009, 07:54
Or you can put an "L" after that, and the meaning changes once again!

kshapero
08-19-2009, 05:50
When I lived in New England a "Cabinet" was a milkshake. When I lived in Kentucky all soda were called a "Coke". Now that I live in South Florida, most folks don't even speak English. Nu? I mean, so?

Al Kaplan
08-19-2009, 06:26
...and a milkshake wasn't made with ice cream until you got south to Providence. Also, the letter R doesn't exist in New England except when a word begins with it. Oh yah, we used to use "fillum" in our fillum cameras.

JohnTF
08-22-2009, 08:22
I'm told that I speak with a bit of a Scotch Canadian accent. I must have learned that from my maternal Gram, who was from PEI, or my paternal Great Gramps, who was from NB. On both sides of the family the Candians emigrated from Scotland about 1815 or so. Sometimes accents seem to cross generational lines even though nobody in my family has seen Scotland for more than a short vacation in last five generations

I'm also told that I'm full of myself. :D

Is this before or after the Scotch and the Canadian, hopefully in separate glasses? ;-)

wgerrard
08-22-2009, 08:56
Why do they (Brits) add an extra syllable to "aluminum"?



They aren't. It's an alternate spelling: aluminium.

wgerrard
08-22-2009, 09:05
Per Wikipedia, the U.S. has the greatest number of English speakers, followed by India, Nigeria, the UK, the Phillippines, Germany, Canada, and France.

Ranking numbers in my head, it appears the U.S. has the most folks who speak English as a first language, followed by the UK, Canada and Australia.

On "So...": It's an obvious piece of verbal punctuation, but I concur that it's current American popularity stems from its use on Seinfeld. Yada, yada, yada.

Harry Lime
08-22-2009, 09:38
Why do so many threads begin with 'So...'?

Does anyone know where this fashion came from?
R.

So, I'm not exactly sure if this is true, but I was told a long time ago that I harkens back the post WWI to 1950's period. Apparently this was a very common figure of speech in the 1930's and 40's.

I've noticed that a lot of early 20-somethings use it less, but a lot of them talk 'Valley Girl'.

It could come from the German influence. Remember that until just few decades ago, Americans with a German background made up a huge percentage of the population. Back in the old days a lot of Germans would start a sentence with 'Also...'. Using 'So' in English is a good equivalent.

Roger Hicks
08-22-2009, 13:52
Per Wikipedia, the U.S. has the greatest number of English speakers, followed by India, Nigeria, the UK, the Phillippines, Germany, Canada, and France.

Ranking numbers in my head, it appears the U.S. has the most folks who speak English as a first language, followed by the UK, Canada and Australia.

On "So...": It's an obvious piece of verbal punctuation, but I concur that it's current American popularity stems from its use on Seinfeld. Yada, yada, yada.

Is it English? Or American?

What do you understand by 'oil chamber'? (Indian English)

Oh: and why is it 'obvious'?

Cheers,

R.

wgerrard
08-22-2009, 14:07
I think it's current popularity in the States is due to its use by the characters on Seinfeld. E.g., someone prattles on at length about whether they should go to the Chinese restaurant or to the Thai restaurant. Eventually, they stop talking and someone, less than innocently, asks, "So... do you want Chinese or Thai?"

So, in that aspect, it's American. But, opening a sentence with "So" is perfectly legitimate, and I'm sure it's done all the time in the UK. And, because Brits have been fouly corrupted by American TV imports, I'm also sure it's used there in the Seinfeldian sense. I recall often hearing the, "Right. So..." variation. As in, "Right. So, now what?"

Oil chamber: Where the oil resides in an internal combustion engine? Or, in a lamp of some sort?

Obvious: It's a signal that the speaker is going to say something. Very much like "Well", "You know", "OK, But...", etc.

Roger Hicks
08-22-2009, 14:17
I think it's current popularity in the States is due to its use by the characters on Seinfeld. E.g., someone prattles on at length about whether they should go to the Chinese restaurant or to the Thai restaurant. Eventually, they stop talking and someone, less than innocently, asks, "So... do you want Chinese or Thai?"

So, in that aspect, it's American. But, opening a sentence with "So" is perfectly legitimate, and I'm sure it's done all the time in the UK. And, because Brits have been fouly corrupted by American TV imports, I'm also sure it's used there in the Seinfeldian sense. I recall often hearing the, "Right. So..." variation. As in, "Right. So, now what?"

Oil chamber: Where the oil resides in an internal combustion engine? Or, in a lamp of some sort?

Obvious: It's a signal that the speaker is going to say something. Very much like "Well", "You know", "OK, But...", etc.


Sump (English), oil pan (American). A good illustration of the evolution of dialects, like 'Eve teasing' or 'communalism' in Indian English.

English speakers of English, and Americans, tend to forget that theirs are not the only dialects, and to claim superiority. To say 'English' without specifying the dialect, except perhaps in the slightly tautologous 'English English', is excessively arrogant. Would anyone care to supply Australian expressions that are rarely understood in English? Other than Durex? Or Ocker?

Cheers.

R.

wgerrard
08-22-2009, 14:37
In the U.S., we have many, many place names that are either taken directly from native American expressions or are vulgarizations of the same. Yet, as far as I know, American English includes few, if any, other expressions derived from native American speech.

mfunnell
08-22-2009, 14:50
Would anyone care to supply Australian expressions that are rarely understood in English? Other than Durex? Or Ocker?Just off the top of my head...

Don't piss in my pocket.

Don't come the raw prawn with me, mate!

You've got two chances, mate...

Fair suck of the sauce bottle (a recently manufactured utterance of the animatronic device passing itself off as our Prime Minister)

He can play ducks and drakes all he likes, but... (not sure if that's Aussie or not, but I had to explain it to someone the other day)

Let's pack up our bongos and piss off (Aussie, yes, but probably purely military)

...Mike

Ronald M
08-22-2009, 16:19
Because people can not speak, spell or punctuate anymore. Schools are more more interested in making the studends feel good and filling their heads full of liberal mush, than learnin em anything.

JohnTF
08-22-2009, 19:59
Because people can not speak, spell or punctuate anymore. Schools are more more interested in making the studends feel good and filling their heads full of liberal mush, than learnin em anything.


After twenty years, people are beginning to think that the "self esteem" movement is a failure, that unearned self esteem is meaningless or worse, actually damaging. The same people pushing it used to say, "If the horse is dead, get off", but that horse has been down a long time.

Some of us in the game held out all along, and took a lot of heat.

It has meaning, if you help create a situation where earned self esteem can be achieved, not passed out like M & M's.

However, if you want to succeed in administration, you parrot the party line, and if it is repeated more than a couple of times it becomes gospel.

Education as a subject in itself is not firmly grounded, it is often an art, and you know how well we quantify art, yet people are required to obtain advanced degrees in education which are often a reflection of the ability to remain seated and upright in dogmatic classes which reflect what ever current trends people can get published.

As to American English, it is the world standard, if you want to start tracing English back to "legitimate" roots, you can try Old and Middle English, and then propose the French influence of the 12th century should be challenged and rooted out in a sort of "reverse engineering". Am not sure what the language of the Angles was really like, but the point is that language evolves and just because it changes geography does not make it illegitimate.

Seems the UK has a number of dialects as does the US, and English absorbs new words from other languages continuously as it evolves. I think trying to define proper English as that of the UK is being geographically chauvinistic at its worst.

Hard, and perhaps not very useful, to pin it down to just one narrow pigeon hole.

As to beginning a sentence with "So", I agree it is often a verbal punctuation, perhaps a transition, used in several contexts, often determined by inflection. Much more common I believe in spoken communication.

Regards, John

JohnTF
08-22-2009, 22:19
You know:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAgI4AS1NVg&feature=fvw


Is there another version for "Like", or "Uh"?

Having spoken extemporaneously publicly for years, I find myself listening for these also in my own lectures, editing on the fly.

Sometimes people who speak as a profession tape themselves to improve, but I am surprised at how difficult it is, even if you are carefully listening, to limit the use of, for example, "uh" at times while speaking before a group.

OTOH, the example of Ms. Kennedy is an example of someone who is not practiced at public speaking.

Of course, some of the smoothest talkers were not necessarily the best choices, but if you are a poor speaker, you can look like an idiot in very short order on camera. ;-)

The style, syntax, grammar, of TV news-persons today seems to be at an all time low, even when they are reading.

Have to give the BBC news high marks, along with generally PBS.

Now if we can just get them to speak Standard English. ;-)


Regards, John

Roger Hicks
08-23-2009, 01:44
As to American English, it is the world standard,

Dear John,

No, sorry, it's not. It may be the most widespread but it is merely a dialect. As are all the other dialects. There is no world standard -- and an awful lot of people speak English as a second language, which may be turning into a dialect of its own, with regional sub-dialects.

The only reason not to specify 'English English' is that it looks pretty silly. It's a bit like 'London, England', or 'Paris, France'. Without a qualifier -- 'London' or 'Paris' -- it can fairly be taken to be the original.

To deny that the other English-speaking peoples derived their English from anything other than modern English (post 17th century or thereabouts) is to fly in the face of the facts. Even so, the phrase 'English English' makes more sense than a flat (and flatly erroneous) assertion that American English is the world standard.

Cheers,

Roger

FrankS
08-23-2009, 05:34
Clearly and self-evidently, (central) Canadian English is the world standard with its neutral accent. ;)

JohnTF
08-23-2009, 07:43
Dear John,

No, sorry, it's not. It may be the most widespread but it is merely a dialect. As are all the other dialects. There is no world standard -- and an awful lot of people speak English as a second language, which may be turning into a dialect of its own, with regional sub-dialects.

The only reason not to specify 'English English' is that it looks pretty silly. It's a bit like 'London, England', or 'Paris, France'. Without a qualifier -- 'London' or 'Paris' -- it can fairly be taken to be the original.

To deny that the other English-speaking peoples derived their English from anything other than modern English (post 17th century or thereabouts) is to fly in the face of the facts. Even so, the phrase 'English English' makes more sense than a flat (and flatly erroneous) assertion that American English is the world standard.

Cheers,

Roger

I flatly assert it is a matter of opinion, English English would include many dialects as well.

Actually, I have heard, "The Queen's English" and "Oxford English" much more often, but in my region, it is accepted that we speak a "Neutral English", which the Canadians copied from us, ;-).

There are published opinions, for better or worse, that American English, has become the accepted current standard. I do not take particular pride in that assertion, nor can I put a precise date on it, though I did not see it in print until probably the last ten years.

As most of the time I feel few here speak Standard American English from what I hear personally, I do not see this assertion as a threat to language in the UK and I do not expect the phrase "Speak American" to gain real traction.

If I look for a possible justification of such an assertion, I would look to population, technology and economics.

The world seems to face that fact (flat or not) and seems to be proceeding accordingly.

Left up to me, I personally would choose to standardize on Alistair Cooke English.

"As always, the British especially shudder at the latest American vulgarity, and then they embrace it with enthusiasm two years later."

I did, however, live in fear that I would receive a pencil eraser at an awkward junction leaving me with limited options while in London, and that was not London, Ontario home of the famous Annual Shakespeare Festival. ;-)

Unfortunately, those fears went unrealized.

I also hear that York is proposing to change their name to "Old York" to distinguish it properly from the other well known one, York, Ontario.

Bit of a Tempest in a Tea Kettle, eh what old chap? Thank god I watched a lot of those old English English films. One cannot work up proper stereotypes without the influence and support of media.

OK, you may be fighting the current, but you will be awarded style points, as always.

(I replaced the accepted "So" with the new standard, OK.)

John

ps-- do not forget to set your spell check and keyboard to English when you pen the next article for Shutterbug.

dmr
08-24-2009, 06:15
There was a time early in broadcasting, when a broadcaster was expected to speak with a neutral accent, and were actually sent to Cleveland to polish it.

They say the same about Omaha.

Clearly and self-evidently, (central) Canadian English is the world standard with its neutral accent. ;)

It is, eh?

Roger Hicks
08-24-2009, 08:27
The idea of a 'neutral' accent is terminally bizarre. Such a thing cannot exist.

Cheers,

R.

JohnTF
08-24-2009, 09:21
They say the same about Omaha.



It is, eh?


Right, the number of eh's vary by region, and I can normally pick up the very slight rise toward the ends of certain words that are a Canadian "tell", but it can be very close to "neutral Cleveland" .


Neutral accent, on the surface, appears to be an oxymoron, however a neutral accent normally refers to the lack of any particularly recognizable regional inflection. Some say, other than calling a carbonated beverage "pop", short for Soda Pop, there is a very slight flat "a" around here. Henry Higgins might have trouble placing you. ;-)

In truth, it is not a great achievement, your speech is what it is, but with 35 trips to Europe and a similar number to Mexico, people often tell me they have less trouble understanding my English than others. If you have a southern accent, you may as well be from Mars to them. In Mexico, they often think I am Canadian as I do not have any strong regional US accent.

I became quite used to people telling me I had an accent in French, and I used to joke it was everyone else who had an accent, but my friend Maria from Mandelieu said it was Parisian. ;-)

Am afraid what ever it is now, it is rusty.

I know I have heard different accents in French regions, I just cannot tell what region they are from. Quebec French is very recognizable for a variety of reasons.

While in various parts of Morocco, locals could not place my French accent, and they often did not place my English as American, but I was traveling with a French tour group.

I grew up in a suburb that was largely a population of folks whose parents had immigrated from central Europe, so there were a lot of accents, my dad was from Kiev, but at such an early age that he had no accent.

Unfortunately, some people used to make fun of people with an accent in their English, but I was taught to understand from hearing an accent that they probably spoke at least one more language than I did.

Roger, I joke with you a bit more, because I know you are a student of languages, and many other things, and I am guessing you enjoy a fine point now and again.

Canadians, I joke with you guys, just to mess with you, after all, the border is 30 miles by the crow's flight?, and you have decent beer, if it stops evolving into American beer, plus I know the problems of Toronto in the 1950's and you have done a very decent job of turning that around to create a beautiful city with a subway, (bit expensive though) please send those folks in charge down here, eh. ;-)

Regards, John

kermaier
08-24-2009, 09:45
I am surprised no one has mentioned "well" as an English (American English, anyway) word that is used seemingly at least as often as "so," and for the same purpose -- to make a a new statement sound as if it was a continuation of an existing conversation when that's not necessarily the case. Definitely like the Italian "allora" (and -- though I'll defer to the German speakers here -- "also.") And Roger, isn't "donc" much the same in French?

In English, anyway, it does seem as though "so" and "well" serve to signal and soften the transition to a new topic of conversation. Certain TV newscasters use "well" so often that my wife and I figure it's something they're taught in broadcast school.

Good thing I decided to read the rest of the thread before I mentioned "well" as well. :)

There are, of course, other similar locutions in common use in various languages and cultures.

I've heard a fair number of Brits begin sentences with "Right!" even though they're certainly not agreeing (nor sarcastically disagreeing) with any immediately preceding statement.

Israelis of a certain generation seem to begin most of their sentences with the Hebrew word "az", meaning "then", which I guess is similar to "so" in that it connotes a continuation from something immediately preceding. (Israelis of an earlier generation use "nu" liberally, even though they're not Yiddish speakers.)

I'm sure there are others that aren't coming to mind right now.

::Ari

wray
08-24-2009, 09:45
The idea of a 'neutral' accent is terminally bizarre. Such a thing cannot exist.

Cheers,

R.
Within the context of a country, neutral would indicate a "plain" accent that is regionally difficult to identify. For example a great many Americans speak with what H.L. Mencken called the American Midwestern non-accent which does indeed sound strange to those not from the U.S.

Roger Hicks
08-24-2009, 10:04
Neutral accent, on the surface, appears to be an oxymoron, however a neutral accent normally refers to the lack of any particularly recognizable regional inflection.

Region. Yes. USA. UK (by region). Australia. South Africa. India (by region -- a Bombay accent is not a Calcutta accent is not a Madras accent). It IS an oxymoron.

The most neutral accent in the world will, at best, provoke the reaction 'You're not from round here, are you?'

And: no offence (or offense -- Americans can't spell either*) taken. Or I hope given...

*This is another argument, and actually, I'm on the side of non-standardized spelling: standardised spelling is a nasty 18th century invention.

Edit: as Wray says, 'Within the context of a country'.

Cheers,

R.

JohnTF
08-24-2009, 11:14
The most neutral accent in the world will, at best, provoke the reaction 'You're not from round here, are you?'

>>Unless you are in Cleveland. ;-)

If you are in a non English speaking country, the reaction is mostly one of comprehension.

If down South, Y'all from ritcheer? (Forgive me Mom), and "The War of Northern Aggression", which it may have well been. <<

And: no offence (or offense -- Americans can't spell either*) taken. Or I hope given...

>>As much as it seems that many of your country men are still fighting the 100 years war or any other with France, you spell color colour?

But the French have a committee to determine if you can legally say, le weekend, or le chewing gum, or le compact disc?

Ciao is a felony, they want to spell it with a T. <<

*This is another argument, and actually, I'm on the side of non-standardized spelling: standardised spelling is a nasty 18th century invention.

>>Or Spell Check? It is telling me that standardized is correct, and do not forget arguement, an alternate spelling that cost me a letter grade in a history class and the semester to repeat the class as credit did not transfer. ;-)

I know it gives you no comfort, but regardless of any spelling convention, it all seems to be a lost cause in this "modern" age along with vestiges of grammar. It is a bonus if news "reporters" can even read accurately from a prompter.

And seriously, you have to sign up for a Facebook Page, if only for a day, to go to the lower left and with a click change the language to Pirate English, it translates everything, including computer jargon to Pirate English. I think the Trash is Sending it to Davie Jones' Locker. Maybe an acquired taste as is much humor. ;-) It might enliven an hour of your day with a grog in hand. <<


\


Regards, John

J J Kapsberger
08-24-2009, 11:34
They aren't. It's an alternate spelling: aluminium.

It's not quite an alternate spelling. The two words are pronounced differently.

The correct word to denote the element is aluminium. The word aluminum comes from a trade name (I'm not sure which one; perhaps Aluminum Foil) and has in North America become the commonplace word instead of aluminium.

wray
08-24-2009, 11:47
My cousins in the Midlands of the UK think I sound Irish when I speak!!

Chris101
08-24-2009, 14:00
Ray, I've always called the 'neutral American accent' a California accent, since that is where the actors from television, movies and commercials usually come from. Ever notice how nobody in CA has an accent? :p;):D

wray
08-24-2009, 14:14
Ray, I've always called the 'neutral American accent' a California accent, since that is where the actors from television, movies and commercials usually come from. Ever notice how nobody in CA has an accent? :p;):D

Not anymore! There once existed a distinct San Francisco accent. Sadly, it has disappeared. I love regional accents especially on Southern American women!!:D

Tuolumne
08-24-2009, 14:53
I believe it started with American comedians, many of whose jokes and stories begin with "So,". I don't know who was the first to employ the construct, though.

/T

MacDaddy
08-24-2009, 15:09
GEEZ! All this rhetoric and no truly complete answer to the question! This is NOT a full answer for you Roger but, as an English Literature major, I go to THE authoritative source-The Oxford English Dictionary (shorter version included FREE with any new Macintosh computer!) and here is what I feel is the relevant portion of their definition:
Use as a conjunction:
1 and for this reason; therefore : it was still painful, so I went to see a specialist | you know I'm telling the truth, so don't interrupt.
• ( so that) with the result that : it was overgrown with brambles, so that I had difficulty making any progress.
2 ( so that) with the aim that; in order that : they whisper to each other so that no one else can hear.
3 and then; as the next step : and so to the finals.
4 introducing a question : so, what did you do today?
• introducing a question following on from what was said previously : so what did he do about it?
• (also so what?) informal why should that be considered significant? : “Marv is wearing a suit.” “So?” | so what if he failed?
5 introducing a statement that is followed by a defensive comment : so I like anchovies—what's wrong with that?
6 introducing a concluding statement : so that's that.

Maybe this gets closer to a proper answer to your initial question! (If anyone actually remembers what that was after six pages of replies!)
Rob

wgerrard
08-24-2009, 16:01
It's not quite an alternate spelling. The two words are pronounced differently.

The correct word to denote the element is aluminium. The word aluminum comes from a trade name (I'm not sure which one; perhaps Aluminum Foil) and has in North America become the commonplace word instead of aluminium.

I stand happily corrected. That trade name might be ALCOA, the Aluminum Company of America.

JohnTF
08-24-2009, 17:56
It's not quite an alternate spelling. The two words are pronounced differently.

The correct word to denote the element is aluminium. The word aluminum comes from a trade name (I'm not sure which one; perhaps Aluminum Foil) and has in North America become the commonplace word instead of aluminium.

Well, all those periodic tables in the US are using a trade name? ;-)

Maybe Alcoa printed them.

For some reason, it has not been unusual that differences of opinions occur and sometimes international conventions discuss the naming of elements. Some places call Wolfram Tungsten, some symbols are changed, Argon was A and is now Ar, probably to distinguish it from Angstrom, the Russians agreed to names for the higher trans Uranium elements, ending years of dispute.

In the case of Tungsten, it is fortunate that they kept Tungsten longer, as I grew up on Tungsten Road, which also had the GE Filament plant, would have had to
change the street signs, and my address?

I have long heard aluminium in the UK, and aluminum elsewhere.

The modern process that made aluminum cheaply enough for common usage was developed near, Cleveland, Oberlin? by I believe Hall, who founded the Aluminum Corporation of America, Alcoa.

And I am aware that the same process was developed almost at the same time in Europe, there seems to be no real big competition as to who did what exactly first. Both made out rather well.

Aluminum was once used to make crowns for Royal families, which is the origin of Royal Crown Cola in cans.

The crown (cap) of the Washington Monument was displayed in Tiffany's window in NY before it was put in place.

So, I guess that is about enough. ;-)

Regards, John

JohnTF
08-24-2009, 18:01
Ray, I've always called the 'neutral American accent' a California accent, since that is where the actors from television, movies and commercials usually come from. Ever notice how nobody in CA has an accent? :p;):D


They don't come from there, they go there, from Cleveland, or Nebraska, or Canada. ;-)

JohnTF
08-24-2009, 18:04
I stand happily corrected. That trade name might be ALCOA, the Aluminum Company of America.


The company was named for the metal, not the other way around, I assume Hall could read a periodic table at Oberlin. ;-)

dmr
08-24-2009, 21:36
They don't come from there, they go there, from Cleveland, or Nebraska, or Canada. ;-)

One very interesting map if you can easily find one is that showing "isogloss" placement. (Think isobars on a weather map.) The classic one I remember (I googled and could not find a good example easily) showed one isogloss, that being what we might call American Broadcast English, beginning in upstate NY, looping around Pittsburgh, passing through Cleveland and Toledo, just south of Chicago, just north of Omaha, Denver, and out to California.

I've lived in the Omaha area for 30-some years now and I've always regarded the non-accent here to be about as neutral as you can ever hear. If you go south to Missouri there's a definite "twang" beginning to appear. Go north and you start to hear the "Minnesoooota" stereotype. :)

Omaha itself seems to be a melting pot of terminology. "Soda" and "pop" are both heard, ditto with "pail" and "bucket", "basement" and "cellar", etc. The only regionalism I can think of right off hand is "crick" for a moving body of water smaller than a river but larger than a brook, but you will hear "creek" as well.

One I can never seem to get used to is "interstate" for any limited access highway. People here call the Kennedy Freeway and Storz Expressway "interstates" even though they are not signed I-{whatever}.

Oh well, interesting thread. :)

dmr
08-24-2009, 21:46
Ever notice how nobody in CA has an accent? :p;):D

Like doooood, ya know, this is sooooo true, fer-shure! :)

Roger Hicks
08-25-2009, 01:01
GEEZ! All this rhetoric and no truly complete answer to the question! This is NOT a full answer for you Roger but, as an English Literature major, I go to THE authoritative source-The Oxford English Dictionary (shorter version included FREE with any new Macintosh computer!) and here is what I feel is the relevant portion of their definition:
Use as a conjunction:
1 and for this reason; therefore : it was still painful, so I went to see a specialist | you know I'm telling the truth, so don't interrupt.
• ( so that) with the result that : it was overgrown with brambles, so that I had difficulty making any progress.
2 ( so that) with the aim that; in order that : they whisper to each other so that no one else can hear.
3 and then; as the next step : and so to the finals.
4 introducing a question : so, what did you do today?
• introducing a question following on from what was said previously : so what did he do about it?
• (also so what?) informal why should that be considered significant? : “Marv is wearing a suit.” “So?” | so what if he failed?
5 introducing a statement that is followed by a defensive comment : so I like anchovies—what's wrong with that?
6 introducing a concluding statement : so that's that.

Maybe this gets closer to a proper answer to your initial question! (If anyone actually remembers what that was after six pages of replies!)
Rob

Dear Rob,

You know, I never thought to look in the OED! Heading 4 certainly seems to cover it, but my question really was when and how this usage appeared as a beginning to a conversation, and above all as a written introduction. Until recently, it was normally reserved (in my experience) for a contintuation -- and as several have pointed out, this idea of a 'false continuation' may be central to its usage, at least by some.

I did however check the OED for aluminum/aluminium, as I have been meaning to do for several days. This confirmed my recollection that aluminum was the older form, but that the discoverer of the metal, Sir Humphry Davy, had changed the word after brief usage to aluminium as having a more classical sound. What I did not know was that before he called it aluminum he called it alumium.

Cheers,

R.

JohnTF
08-25-2009, 02:52
Roger,

The "ium" endings are much more common in the endings of metallic elements, good catch on the Davy research, -- until the late 19th century not too many people had much contact with the metal, though again, it is the most common metal in the crust, and right on the line between metal and non metal, much is tied up in the crystals of silicate rocks.

I did look for an on line copy of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, I think mine is in my office, but I could not access the content without paying a fee.

Evidently it is still published annually, and I recall really old ones in school also having Kodak formulas.

My old edition has a good half page description and history of each of the elements.

The oldest known elements, particularly the native metals, have names that predate modern English, copper, lead, gold, as betrayed by their symbols, etc.

I am guessing you would have a copy lying about the place, Roger?

A good, $100 or less, balance, and a few chemicals, and we may well be mixing our own in a few years. Obviously it was far more common when we were young, and many chemicals were on the shelves in Skoda Photo in Prague at very low prices.



Regards, John

JohnTF
08-25-2009, 03:07
One very interesting map if you can easily find one is that showing "isogloss" placement. (Think isobars on a weather map.) The classic one I remember (I googled and could not find a good example easily) showed one isogloss, that being what we might call American Broadcast English, beginning in upstate NY, looping around Pittsburgh, passing through Cleveland and Toledo, just south of Chicago, just north of Omaha, Denver, and out to California.

I've lived in the Omaha area for 30-some years now and I've always regarded the non-accent here to be about as neutral as you can ever hear. If you go south to Missouri there's a definite "twang" beginning to appear. Go north and you start to hear the "Minnesoooota" stereotype. :)

Omaha itself seems to be a melting pot of terminology. "Soda" and "pop" are both heard, ditto with "pail" and "bucket", "basement" and "cellar", etc. The only regionalism I can think of right off hand is "crick" for a moving body of water smaller than a river but larger than a brook, but you will hear "creek" as well.

One I can never seem to get used to is "interstate" for any limited access highway. People here call the Kennedy Freeway and Storz Expressway "interstates" even though they are not signed I-{whatever}.

Oh well, interesting thread. :)


Isogloss, interesting, -- Iso means "same", I think the line from Pittsburgh to Cleveland might be a bit of a steep angle.

Pittsburgh has its interesting word usages, an odd way of saying book, and the comments such as, "My camera needs rebuilt".

No one around here would say crick, and while pop is the norm, sometimes it is a soda pop, you might catch soda in Pittsburgh.

I think we clip or flatten the "a" in car, or so I am told.

Regards, John

dmr
08-25-2009, 03:27
Isogloss, interesting, -- Iso means "same", I think the line from Pittsburgh to Cleveland might be a bit of a steep angle.

Pittsburgh has its interesting word usages, an odd way of saying book, and the comments such as, "My camera needs rebuilt".

IIRC, the isogloss kind of circled around Pgh. :)

No one around here would say crick, and while pop is the norm, sometimes it is a soda pop, you might catch soda in Pittsburgh.

The one that gets me is the conversation we had with a local in Birmingham ... "now here, Pepsi is a kind of coke." :) :)

Michael Markey
08-25-2009, 03:39
Interesting piece on BBC radio 4 this morning about the origin of Hello. Used in it`s original form as a exclamatory shout to dogs on the hunting field. Norman in origin. Still being used as an off stage shout rather than a greeting by Shakespeare.The most common form of greeting at that time was "what cheer" still used in the east end as "Whatcha".
So who is credited with first using Hello as a form of greeting ? Well it was America. First recorded in New Hampshire in the 1820`s and then again used by a Mr. D Crockett in his book about 1833.
It entered common usage because of the rivalry between Bell and Edison re the telephone. Bell thought that Ahoy was a more suitable introduction ,redolent of ships and communication at sea. Edison thought otherwise. We know whose view was to prevail. You can listen to it on BBC i player.

dmr
08-25-2009, 04:12
The most common form of greeting at that time was "what cheer" still used in the east end as "Whatcha".

Oh really?

Interesting ...

I've always wondered where that expression came from.

There's a town in Iowa, east of Des Moines, called What Cheer. I've never been there but I've see the off-ramp sign and kinda wondered about it.

There's also a web design firm here by that name. They have a studio in one of the oh-so-trendy neighborhoods:

http://i25.tinypic.com/219e8lt.jpg

This photo was actually done at night, all the light came from street lamps.

http://www.what-cheer.com/

MickH
08-25-2009, 04:24
Ahoy Michael,

Stephen Fry's series has been a real joy. Sadly I missed today's installment so will have to resort to iPlayer.

There are three sources for information that I completely rely on and trust, one need look nowhere else:

Wikipedia
Stephen Fry on "QI"
and Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson has written two very interesting books on the English language "Mother Tongue" which concerns itself with English and its roots, and "Made in America" which covers the use of English by the colonials. I was very surprised at how many expressions and idioms that I would have thought were originally English turn out to be "Americanisms".

Cheers.

Pherdinand
08-25-2009, 05:26
So...you know, i meaaaan, well, don't know, really, what to say uh um, on this, uh, well.
Whatever, man. It's awesome, anyway, i mean, to use words such as, like, so and all.
You know what i mean?
(Correct answer: "Yea man, totally.")

JohnTF
08-25-2009, 08:16
I tried to speak in as standard an English as I could manage around students, who thought they could turn "street" language on and off. Though English was not my certificated subject, I hammered them with standard English, explaining that a single slip could sink them on almost any decent job interview.

Kids get twelve years of English, but many want to "sound cool".

It is OK to play around a bit, but it is difficult to be truly bilingual in poor English and good English.

At present, there seems little societal expectation that someone who makes his living with language, either written or spoken, speaks correctly.

In that regard, the RFF average post seems to read decently, with the odd spelling faux pas, probably due to keyboarding errors, or alternate spellings.

Common errors in common usage are similar to a creeping vine and seem destined to be morphed in to accepted style if not grammar.

Way back, when I worked for a newspaper, copy began with the writer, went to one or two editors, and then a copy desk, with a number of discussions among perhaps a dozen pretty smart guys, before it went to the printers. When something was tossed out, anyone within ear shot could make an opinion known. Guys on the copy desk would work for years at these jobs.

We also had a style book for writing, in college, and each paper chose one, though I cannot name them, to aid in conformity of copy. I recall there was a dominant one. Am pretty sure big papers had created their own.

I have been out of the loop for a long time on that, and from what I see the book may have been lost. ;-) Perhaps there was only one very worn copy passed around?

We can, of course, make allowances for certain people who type with accents. ;-)

I did think the "what cheer" might be a sequel to the show set in Boston?

Regards, John

Roger Hicks
08-25-2009, 08:19
Style books are an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

Cheers,

R.

JohnTF
08-25-2009, 08:24
Ahoy Michael,



There are three sources for information that I completely rely on and trust, one need look nowhere else:

Wikipedia
Stephen Fry on "QI"
and Bill Bryson



Cheers.

When students lift paragraphs from Wikipedia and paste them in to their papers, it has become known as "Wikidemia"

JohnTF
08-25-2009, 08:26
Style books are an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

Cheers,

R.


And if you get an offer to pen the "good" one? ;-)

There was a sign over one reporter's desk:

RATS:

They spread disease.

They destroy and contaminate food.

They edit copy.

Thardy
08-25-2009, 10:02
I chuckled when I stumbled onto this article (http://photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00UJ2S).
My first time noticing "so" starting a thread.

srtiwari
08-25-2009, 10:09
In Hindi there is there is "Toe" (soft 'T'), which is commonly used, and is a literal translation of "so".

Roger Hicks
08-25-2009, 11:10
And if you get an offer to pen the "good" one? ;-
Dear John,

No.

I may be arrogant, but I'm not THAT arrogant.

A style book creates the illusion among the semi-literate that they aren't too bad, and cripples the literate.

Cheers,

R.

Michael Markey
08-25-2009, 11:25
Ahoy Michael,

Stephen Fry's series has been a real joy. Sadly I missed today's installment so will have to resort to iPlayer.

There are three sources for information that I completely rely on and trust, one need look nowhere else:

Wikipedia
Stephen Fry on "QI"
and Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson has written two very interesting books on the English language "Mother Tongue" which concerns itself with English and its roots, and "Made in America" which covers the use of English by the colonials. I was very surprised at how many expressions and idioms that I would have thought were originally English turn out to be "Americanisms".

Cheers.
Really. I have missed the early shows.I have The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg.
Oh ,according to the broadcast "what cheer" was still being used in the north east apparently until the 1950s. Any geordies here ?
Dickens used hello both in it`s old sense ,as an exclamation, but also in it`s new sense as the latest street language in Christmas Carol. According to Fry.
What this all has to do with RF s I don`t know but interesting never the less.

JohnTF
08-25-2009, 11:48
Dear John,

No.

I may be arrogant, but I'm not THAT arrogant.

A style book creates the illusion among the semi-literate that they aren't too bad, and cripples the literate.

Cheers,

R.

I was thinking a style book should be the one that tells you the basic rules for reportage-- just as a beginning photographic manual, and hopefully the ones that need it read it, and the ones that do not, do not.

About the level of a pocket dictionary, I believe the only ones I saw were about 20 pages. A style book for literature would be an oxymoron.

Just as in photography, a particular piece of equipment or a book will not make an artist, but allows you to begin, it is up to you to finish.

The level of reporting/writing today is so abysmal the bar seems quite low, less than that of grade school students, so any help might be better than none.

When I was working at a newspaper, many writers, photographers and editors had begun by answering phones and sharpening pencils. The last photographer who began as an office boy, with a--just out-- Nikon F and one lens put in to his hands, just retired, as the head photographer.

When I left, a few years later, all new hires were university graduates, but the level of writing had not changed. Were it so today. The City Editor of 35 years had left, and it took a dozen or more tries to replace him.

I suppose a Berkeley or Northwestern Journalism grad should be able to fit verb and noun, but I just do not see many good ones in practice, and newspapers are declining rapidly. Perhaps the literate are not applying?

Not enough ads to stick between editorial copy, and vice versa?


Regards, John

Roger Hicks
08-25-2009, 11:49
When I was working at a newspaper, many writers, photographers and editors had begun by answering phones and sharpening pencils. The last photographer who began as an office boy, with a, just out, Nikon F put in to his hands, just retired, as the head photographer.

When I left, a few years later, all new hires were university graduates, but the level of writing had not changed. Were it so today. The City Editor of 35 years had left, and it took a dozen or more tries to replace him.


Dear John,

Well, yes.

Cheers,

R.

MickH
08-25-2009, 14:50
In Hindi there is there is "Toe" (soft 'T'), which is commonly used, and is a literal translation of "so".

Toe pachi?

... or as my Berliner familie might say "na und?"

JohnTF
08-25-2009, 20:42
Dear John,

Well, yes.

Cheers,

R.


Right, I should have condensed it down to : Some feel the same about spell check, and let it go. ;-)

Regards, John

Henryah
08-26-2009, 15:19
It all started when the storyteller began his story around the fire in the cave.
End of story Henry

John Camp
08-29-2009, 15:21
I've been publishing novels in the US and Britain for twenty years or so, and in that time things have changed a bit -- when I first started, the American version (I write in American) would say "hood" and trunk" and the British version would be changed to bonnet and boot; and there were others.

No more. The Americanisms are now accepted and are apparently well-known to Brits. In American, we used to say, "hung up," the telephone, but since there's nothing to hang the receiver on anymore, I find the British, "rang off" is becoming common and I've used it in my American versions.

The British "bloody" is also heard in the US, with a correct usage. The British word "twat" has the same gynecological meaning as the American, but the British word also includes the meanings of "twit" or "prat," and I've seen it used in the Guardian. That would never be done in the US, where the meaning has remained strictly and vulgarly gynecological.

The word "so" is an oral punctuation mark, somewhat like the upside-down question-mark in Spanish, used to signal a change that you can't otherwise see (hear) coming. It's nothing like the Canadian 'eh,' which is used used when seeking agreement or acknowledgment. (Nice fish, eh? Colder 'n a well-digger's ass, eh?) When Canadians (in Northwest Ontario, anyway) want to signal a change of subject, or to introduce one, they do it the same way as Americans -- "Hey, so, well, anyway, dude, like, you know..."

One of my pet peeves is when English nazis start correcting internet exchanges based on misspellings or occasional awkwardness; we're not writing essays, we're actually doing something like a speech function, but on a keyboard. I was very pleased to see that when one of the non-native-English speakers used the word "censor" to mean "sensor," nobody bothered to correct him, although it did result in some mildly funny plays on words. But there was no question what he meant, and being a prig about it wasn't going to help; and, if he's interested, sooner or later he'll figure it out.

Every successful novelist I know will occasionally make a there-they're-their error, or a to-two-too error, because at the novel level, you're not thinking so much about spelling as about the sound the story makes in your mind; your fingers spell the sound. And sometimes, the fingers get it wrong, the dumb *******s (or, as Quentin Tarantino would say, "basterds.")

JC

Al Kaplan
08-29-2009, 17:43
A few months ago the Miami Herald had a color illustration across the entire width of the top of the first page of an inside section of the paper. With yellow hand drawn lettering against a mostly red part of the drawing was the title of the piece: FUKU.

Just exactly how are you supposed to pronounce that?

pevelg
10-09-2009, 09:47
Though I do not have anything to contribute to the discussion of the topic, I must say that it is very fascinating. I spent my entire lunch break reading this thread! :)