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Author Topic: A Rant, in which I express displeasure at the lack of proper English usage.  (Read 15835 times)
Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #100 on: September 22, 2007, 09:17:54 pm »

I think Australian English is a good example of how international standards should work. True, many Australians sound very different, and talk in a very different manner, but the written form of Australian English is near as makes no difference, British English. When Australians use Australian dialect in an international setting, they do so self consciously. If they write something more formal, they leave them out.

My brother has lived in parts of Africa where the official language is French. The people speak a scarcely recognizable form, but formal documents are written to bassically the same standard of French as the French use.

I simply think that the native land of any language, gets to define the international standard of that language. When we speak of "English", not "American English" or "Australian English" or "anylocalvariant English", we mean the English accepted as standard by the English. Likewise, "French" is what the French speak, and ditto for every other language spoken beyond its native shores.

If we all stubbornly stick to our local language in an international context, we are speaking a foreign language to everyone else but ourselves. That kind of defeats the purpose of having a language at all, if we all have our own. The same applies to me. I may be English by birth, and mostly so by blood, but my own Yorkshire dialect is far from the Queens English. I just consider it basic courtesy to avoid using it around people from further away.
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Tinkergirl
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« Reply #101 on: September 22, 2007, 09:45:20 pm »

But, if you take that the the illogical extreme - then there would only be one language, and the now long forgotten part of the world that first encountered its use would be the sole arbiter of what was and wasn't accepted as the formal standard.  Smiley

English is some bonkers mix of just about every language we've had the pleasure of being invaded by - from latin to germanic to french and countless more.  By your reasoning, English should have never existed - disfigured mutant that it is of so many foreign parents *chuckles*
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #102 on: September 22, 2007, 10:09:24 pm »

Would one world language be such a terrible thing? Not to my mind.

The existance of english, and its popularity across the world, is entirely accidental. But one way or another, we have a perfectly usable language which is almost universal, for a fair portion of the worlds population.

There may have been very little careful consideration put into the development of the english langauge, but I really dont see why we shouldnt put effort into maintaining its usefulness. If we allow it to fragment too much, we loose all the benefit of having such a large number of people that can speak the same language.

English (and most other old languages) developed in environments were the written form was very much secondary to the spoken form. Indeed, for quite some time in England, people spoke early english, and wrote in Latin.

Now, the written form is very important. For starters, almost all english speakers can actually read and write. In terms of the history of language as a whole, thats a pretty new and important development. Really, it is just the last 100 or perhaps 200 years, out of many tens of thousands. We all use written language now.. Sometimes just as much as we use spoken language.

When it wasnt important to have a standardised written form.. there wasnt one. As it became important, it developed. As it becomes even MORE important into the present and future.. Why shouldnt we defend the standard, and develop it further?
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Tinkergirl
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« Reply #103 on: September 22, 2007, 10:15:32 pm »

Well, English (309 million) ranks a poor third behind Mandarin (873 million) and Spanish (322 million) for number of native speakers of a language in the world Smiley  Indeed, depending on who you get your estimates from, even Arabic wins third place and shunts English to fourth (and a wonderful history of science endeavours they had too - particularly astronomy, good skies).

Surely if we were being efficient about it, we should all learn Mandarin and be done with it *chuckles*
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #104 on: September 22, 2007, 10:28:56 pm »

Well, we would perhaps.. If mandarin was easier to learn, and china had a cultural impact on the world proportional to its population, we would have some motivation to do so.

Languages grow as communities grow, but mostly they spread through cultural influence of the native speakers.

Take a look at the languages used on the internet. English is the most common. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm
I think this shows that in terms of cultural influence, English is probably the most pervasive.

By the way, I dont think your stats can be right. 309 million english speakers doesnt even cover the UK and US populations. I won't contest that english isnt the most commonly spoken language in the world though.

I am not suggesting that everyone who doesn't speak English should immediately start doing so.. Just stating the obvious in that the number of languges is dropping, and a very small number of langauges will soon account for almost all of the worlds population.
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Flynn MacCallister
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« Reply #105 on: September 23, 2007, 12:18:12 am »

I think Australian English is a good example of how international standards should work. True, many Australians sound very different, and talk in a very different manner, but the written form of Australian English is near as makes no difference, British English. When Australians use Australian dialect in an international setting, they do so self consciously. If they write something more formal, they leave them out.
Exactly. Australian English is just UK English with a bit more tolerance for US variants, and some different slang -- which is generally the case even in different regions within a single city.
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oskila
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« Reply #106 on: September 23, 2007, 12:25:11 am »

Well, we would perhaps.. If mandarin was easier to learn, and china had a cultural impact on the world proportional to its population, we would have some motivation to do so.

Languages grow as communities grow, but mostly they spread through cultural influence of the native speakers.

Take a look at the languages used on the internet. English is the most common. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm
I think this shows that in terms of cultural influence, English is probably the most pervasive.

By the way, I dont think your stats can be right. 309 million english speakers doesnt even cover the UK and US populations. I won't contest that english isnt the most commonly spoken language in the world though.

I am not suggesting that everyone who doesn't speak English should immediately start doing so.. Just stating the obvious in that the number of languges is dropping, and a very small number of langauges will soon account for almost all of the worlds population.


309 million is the ethnologue estimate. Encarta 2006 estimates 322 million and an article from Oxford seminars estimates 380 million native speakers. (source: wikipedia)
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« Reply #107 on: September 23, 2007, 08:23:12 am »

    While I can be a little nationalistic when it comes to the Queen's English I actually am quite fond of having a wide variety of languages spoken -I would be more towards the view that, there should not be a single world language, rather that people should endeavour to speak other languages, aside from their native tongue. I am not exactly a perfect example of this- I can speak enough French to get by & my spanish is frankly appalling, however I will always try to start a dialogue in the relevant tongue, rather than my own.

    On a bit of an aside, I find it amusing how English people (myself included) tend to be very anti-nationalistic, except on the subject of spelling!

-lastly a pet hate of mine, is that when typing on the æther, one can not use the tab button to make indent at the start of a paragraph.
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Mr. Ethan Grammatikidis
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« Reply #108 on: September 23, 2007, 05:04:47 pm »

Well, it was strange to read this, considering the difficulty I have in expressing myself in a coherent manner. It was comforting to see that the discussion remained civil, however. If I may make an apology for my own style, may I say that if I affect a faux-Victorian style it is because those old words and that old style actually lend themselves far better to expressing my thought processes than any modern words, even though I may not fully understand the older terms. Truth be told my thought processes are convoluted at best, sometimes they can even best be described as tangled, and usually when posting on these boards there is some idea in the forefront of my mind that I must record before I can give any thought to how to record it well. It is a difficult situation since if I record the idea badly it will be permanently broken in my mind, whereas if I put more than a certain insufficient amount of work into finding the right words and grammar then the idea is driven from my brain entirely! It is a situation up with which I suppose I shall have to put. Wink

Spelling is a drag to do. The problem is one of maintaining a reasonably high enough standard myself, in the face of all the illogicalities of the language, while at the same time not being so hung up on it that a misspelling or American spelling breaks the flow of my reading in much the same way as tripping and landing flat on one's face breaks the flow of one's walking. I find that quite the impossible balance to achieve!

Incidentally, there is one American spelling that I prefer over the English. "Color" is far closer to my pronunciation than the apparently French-inflouenced (sic) "colour". Do any other Brits here feel the same? You know, I do think there should be a u in color, however. See, I say "Kuller".Cheesy
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« Reply #109 on: September 23, 2007, 05:47:55 pm »


     I just use the British spelling because that is how I learned English.  I agree that it doesn't really need the "u", but it's the way I'm used to seeing it spelled.

      Vienna
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Mr. Ethan Grammatikidis
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« Reply #110 on: September 23, 2007, 07:50:01 pm »

I have caught myself using both spellings, a couple of times in the same paragraph. I generally put the u in other words though,.
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Flynn MacCallister
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« Reply #111 on: September 23, 2007, 10:36:30 pm »

Incidentally, there is one American spelling that I prefer over the English. "Color" is far closer to my pronunciation than the apparently French-inflouenced (sic) "colour". Do any other Brits here feel the same? You know, I do think there should be a u in color, however. See, I say "Kuller".Cheesy

I read "color" as Koh-lorr (or -law, as in the thing that police enforce), which bears no resemblance to how I say it, which is partway between "Kuller" and "Kuh-loore" (or -lure, the thing you use for fishing). I think the British spelling is probably more appropriate to the sound, but really, I mostly prefer the look of it.
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Mr. Pickles
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« Reply #112 on: September 24, 2007, 08:28:01 am »

An interesting side effect that I have seen, in the US at least, is the use of "armour" for medieval armor as opposed to "armor" for modern tanks, etc.  Many of the medieval web sites use the different spellings to differentiate them selfs from the modern term.  This of course does not help our English friends overseas, but it can be useful for searching the aetherweb.  Smiley
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Duncan Hawthorne
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« Reply #113 on: September 24, 2007, 03:05:15 pm »

Well, we would perhaps.. If mandarin was easier to learn, and china had a cultural impact on the world proportional to its population, we would have some motivation to do so.

I believe you mean to say, "if Mandarin were easier to learn...," but I wax subjunctiveWink

Sorry; just trying to inject some humor.  Or humour, if you prefer.

For the record, English is also very difficult to learn, mainly because of the previously mentioned elements from several other languages.

I think it is understandable that American English has deviated more than Australian English simply as a factor of time.  American was settled and gained its independence earlier than Australia, so it has had more time to mutate.  Also, we tend to have a very blunt style with a mind toward efficiency, which makes the dropping of (to us) extraneous letters make sense.  Combine this with what was probably a deliberate attempt to distance ourselves from our former rulers, and there you have it.

You make an excellent point, however, and I find I agree that perhaps we on this side of the pond should have been less lazy and at least invented a new name for our bastardization of the language.
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Clym Angus
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« Reply #114 on: September 24, 2007, 05:02:15 pm »

OK stepping back we have.
Bassically, I believe that "American English" cannot be seen as a legitimate branch of the english language.

That's basically, if your extolling the virtues of “pure” English than at least have the good graces to spell it correctly. I on the other hand am not, so I do not feel my self obligated to do so. I could in fact in my current role of anarchistic despoiler of everything pure and sacrosanct quite happily make up ten new words.

Call it "american" and stop taking it for granted that the english speaking world can necessarily understand you, or burn all the american dictionaries and use English English for formal and official use. You can't have it both ways.

But it has it's root in English, I find it very flattering that a county we exploited wishes to still use the term. Also you have to be trying really hard to misunderstand most Americans.

but you don't see me trying to pretend those corruptions are as legitimate as the real standard
Define legitimacy; Oxford Engilsh? Well that's changing all the time. This turns legitimate into something of a slippery slope. For absolutes look to math not language. There's a reason why it's called the language of the universe.

As a side note your veering very close to “political” which I believe is a no no.

It deliberately damages the value of standard written English.

I see no evidence of this, quote some examples. I'm sure a man with such a passion for the subject matter has plenty.

Would one world language be such a terrible thing? Not to my mind.

Well to some people it is a mark of their culture, a thing to be defended, a thing that makes them, them really. I seem to remember that the unification and standardization of language was a large part of 1984. Draw your own conclusions.

Personally I think your making  a mountain out of a mole hill. To speak a language doesn't mean you OWN it, you have an investment nothing more. It's not just about communication, it's about select communication between similar ideologies, it's a feather that flocks together. Your heavy on condemnation, but light on solutions and if you don't mind me saying sounding a touch rabid. In the science your completely and totally missing the art.

You maybe a man of letters sir, but I find it hard to believe that you are in anyway, a poet.
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #115 on: September 25, 2007, 01:47:14 pm »

Hold on a moment.. Saying that one world language wouldn't be a bad thing is somehow Orwellian? Oh please. If we were inventing language from scratch, I would certainly advocate having just one for the whole world. But we are not.. We already have languages, which are diverse and imperfect, yet full of our culture and history. That is precisely WHY I advocate avoiding change for its own sake.

If you manage to read anything political into my ranting, it is not because I wrote it there.

Language does change all the time.. Words are added at a rate of a few a year, and definitions drift slowly, but usually remain broadly similar, just coloured by new undertones. I am much in favour of this kind of thing. Language after all, has to serve a purpose.

What I do NOT like, is arbitrary changes to perfectly good, existing standards. A language after all, IS a standard. You understand me because the words I type mean the same thing to you as they do to me. Pointing out the fluidity of language does not undermine this basic fact in any way.

It doesn't matter that language flows in new directions sometimes. What matters is that we agree on the direction. If we do not, one language becomes two, and we create a barrier to communication.

But it all comes down to the principle of the thing. Do we want to understand each other better, or worse? If americans do not wish to respect any standard beyond their own, it will just make communication more and more difficult. The cultural divide is huge enough, without adding a linguistic one too.
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Duncan Hawthorne
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« Reply #116 on: September 25, 2007, 02:27:12 pm »

If americans do not wish to respect any standard beyond their own, it will just make communication more and more difficult. The cultural divide is huge enough, without adding a linguistic one too.
I have sad news for you: although there are exceptions, Americans as a majority tend to be obstinate and proud of their ignorance cultural divisions from other countries, which is often a bad combination. 

I can see what you're saying, but I also feel that it is too late to realistically expect a change and at this point am not sure its truly necessary.  Hell, people here balked at learning the metric system, and that is an easy one.  Spelling differences, although they seem annoying to you now, have been established by enough time here to make them fairly static. 

In fact, most Americans feel that people who use British spelling are just trying to come off as being ostentatious - or as they would say, "highfalutin'!" and spell that wrong too.

And again, I will refrain from my views on how this affects our political discourse, but let's just say it tends toward the negative.
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #117 on: September 25, 2007, 02:36:01 pm »

Duncan, you are probably right there. I do like to stay optimistic though. Without some hope for change... well, it leads to a very unforgiving attitude, and I do want to avoid going down that road.
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Clym Angus
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« Reply #118 on: September 25, 2007, 02:47:33 pm »

Hold on a moment.. Saying that one world language wouldn't be a bad thing is somehow Orwellian? Oh please. If we were inventing language from scratch, I would certainly advocate having just one for the whole world. But we are not.. We already have languages, which are diverse and imperfect, yet full of our culture and history. That is precisely WHY I advocate avoiding change for its own sake.

If you manage to read anything political into my ranting, it is not because I wrote it there.

Language does change all the time.. Words are added at a rate of a few a year, and definitions drift slowly, but usually remain broadly similar, just coloured by new undertones. I am much in favour of this kind of thing. Language after all, has to serve a purpose.

What I do NOT like, is arbitrary changes to perfectly good, existing standards. A language after all, IS a standard. You understand me because the words I type mean the same thing to you as they do to me. Pointing out the fluidity of language does not undermine this basic fact in any way.

It doesn't matter that language flows in new directions sometimes. What matters is that we agree on the direction. If we do not, one language becomes two, and we create a barrier to communication.

But it all comes down to the principle of the thing. Do we want to understand each other better, or worse? If americans do not wish to respect any standard beyond their own, it will just make communication more and more difficult. The cultural divide is huge enough, without adding a linguistic one too.

Like I said mountain out of a molehill.
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Flynn MacCallister
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« Reply #119 on: September 26, 2007, 07:17:53 am »

OK stepping back we have.
Bassically, I believe that "American English" cannot be seen as a legitimate branch of the english language.

That's basically, if your extolling the virtues of “pure” English than at least have the good graces to spell it correctly. I on the other hand am not, so I do not feel my self obligated to do so. I could in fact in my current role of anarchistic despoiler of everything pure and sacrosanct quite happily make up ten new words.

Call it "american" and stop taking it for granted that the english speaking world can necessarily understand you, or burn all the american dictionaries and use English English for formal and official use. You can't have it both ways.

But it has it's root in English, I find it very flattering that a county we exploited wishes to still use the term. Also you have to be trying really hard to misunderstand most Americans.

but you don't see me trying to pretend those corruptions are as legitimate as the real standard
Define legitimacy; Oxford Engilsh? Well that's changing all the time. This turns legitimate into something of a slippery slope. For absolutes look to math not language. There's a reason why it's called the language of the universe.

As a side note your veering very close to “political” which I believe is a no no.

It deliberately damages the value of standard written English.

I see no evidence of this, quote some examples. I'm sure a man with such a passion for the subject matter has plenty.

Would one world language be such a terrible thing? Not to my mind.

Well to some people it is a mark of their culture, a thing to be defended, a thing that makes them, them really. I seem to remember that the unification and standardization of language was a large part of 1984. Draw your own conclusions.

Personally I think your making  a mountain out of a mole hill. To speak a language doesn't mean you OWN it, you have an investment nothing more. It's not just about communication, it's about select communication between similar ideologies, it's a feather that flocks together. Your heavy on condemnation, but light on solutions and if you don't mind me saying sounding a touch rabid. In the science your completely and totally missing the art.

You maybe a man of letters sir, but I find it hard to believe that you are in anyway, a poet.

Now, now, now. Let us replace "American" with "poor" in each of those arguments you are rebutting and we shall be back onto the topic of this thread!

Speaking of which, "it's a feather that flocks together" is a completely nonsensical statement. No-one would have the foggiest idea of what you were talking about were it not for the fact that this is one of a set of standard English idioms and phrases which you have bastardised.
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Daemon
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« Reply #120 on: September 26, 2007, 08:06:32 am »

Wasn't the original post on this thread simply a rant about almost illegible posts on this forum? Was it not generally referring to AOL-ish posts by others? How did it explode into a debate on American/British/Australian/Martian English? We have a topic for clarification of different definitions of words in different variations of English. I think the common user on this forum doesn't have difficulty discerning what someone is saying if they are generally using a clear form of English, despite the locality. I don't believe anyone is expected to have 100% flawless grammar and spelling. A genuine effort simply needs to be made.

So, isn't it just best to type complete words, use the spell check button, do your best with punctuation and general grammar so we can all understand each other reasonably and have done with it?
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Outa_Spaceman
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« Reply #121 on: September 26, 2007, 01:02:36 pm »

I have been able to understand all of the posts on this thread...
If not all the arguments...  Smiley
Before joining this forum I'd never heard of AOLish and assumed that posts in this form were written by members for whom English (of whatever variety) was not the first language....
I now know better...
It's not that I'm offended by AOLish more that I haven't the time to learn it's conventions...
So to end my pointless point...
Here's a definition of "Rant"

ORIGIN late 16th cent.(in the sense [behave in a boisterous way] ): from Dutch ranten ‘talk nonsense, rave.’(AOLish perhaps?)
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Mad Maxine
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« Reply #122 on: September 29, 2007, 03:04:59 am »

Yes, truly! It was a rant against the use of lazy language, regardless of cultural influence. Folks who type as though they are text messaging are the primary reason for the post, if I'm interpreting it properly.
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« Reply #123 on: October 01, 2007, 07:01:59 pm »

That would be my understanding as well.  It's quickly becoming a pet-peeve of mine that people can't/won't use (at least to the best of their abilities) proper grammar and/or more or less proper spelling.  How hard is it after all to simply click the button at the bottom of the page where you're posting that says "Spell Check"?  It's rather aggravating at times trying to decipher what people are saying... that's my $.02 anyway.

Please ignore any grammatical or spelling errors in the text above.  Wink
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Duncan Hawthorne
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« Reply #124 on: October 02, 2007, 09:54:32 pm »

While we are somewhat on the topic, can I express how much I dislike the current trend of using adjectives as adverbs?  I see and hear this all of the time, and it bothers me greatly.  I don't know why.

No, Mr. Jobs I will not think different, thank you very much.  I will think differently about something which is different instead.
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