The English Language

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Konstabel, May 19, 2008.

  1. Konstabel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Jan 31, 2008
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    I was just reading through a few posts and it came to my attention how poor some people's spelling and grammer are. Why can't we all just use proper English. English is not my mother tongue and it bothers me to see fellow engineers (who are supposed to be smart) use language such as "can't not","how does the ... be used" are just two examples.

    Can we not at least try to write in English that makes some kind of sense?
     
  2. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    You called it though, English is not everyone's native tongue, and truthfully I don't speak anything else. I have enormous respect for anyone who is multilingual, or makes the effort.

    The ones that bother me are the guys whose native tongue IS english, and try to talk as if we are being text messaged or in high school. Those I have very little patience with.
     
  3. studiot

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 9, 2007
    5,005
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    Fine English, crafted by a wordsmith, is indeed a pleasure.

    But poor English is better than no English.

    All too often we see a question and never hear from the poster again. So we have no idea if any answer is read or understood. Meanwhile the thread drops back to being a discussion amongst the regulars, most of whom know the answer anyway.
     
  4. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    There is poor English and then there is lazy English - the former can be forgiven, the latter cannot. As someone with single-language capabilities I fully admire those that try to speak English and may fall short - credit must be given to those that try because they do succeed in communicating what is often a complicated point. I think I speak for the majority when I say I deplore "txt spk", it is lazy and if you can't be bothered writing you initial request properly why should anyone be bother replying to you.

    There are several senior members here at AAC for who English is not a native language, however the quality of the English is impeccable. I'm not saying names, but I'm sure they know who they are.

    I want to put a spell-checker into the forums (Rob has mentioned this also), however I guess most have spell-checkers built into their browsers these days?

    Dave
     
  5. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
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    Well said! Leeting and letter supression only makes the messages more difficult to understand. And if it is difficult for a native English speaker, imagine for the non.native speakers.

    As for the poorly written English from an "apprentice", it should indeed be forgiven. Even if a user doesn't write too well, his efforts are meritory. Knowing a second language is not that easy. There is only one language that most of us use in our thinking process: our mother language.
     
  6. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
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    Multilingual folks get my respect. I'd much rather them try to communicate in somewhat broken English than for me to completely butcher their native tounge. English is a relatively difficult language to learn if it's not your native language.

    I don't strive to utilize perfect grammar/sentence structure on the forums and sometimes fall into the usage of slang terms, which would probably make it more difficult for non-native-English people to understand. However, some people who should know better (native English speakers) use far too many "shortcuts" in their posts.

    But then, there's the difference between UK and US English, too. I was helping a friend restore a 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, and attempting to interpret the service manual was indeed a chore. It might as well have been written in Greek.

    Some differences:
    UK = US
    Petrol = Gasoline
    Spanner = Wrench
    Bonnet = Hood
    Hood = Top/Roof
    Drop Head = Convertible Top
    Boot = Trunk
    Caravan = Trailer
    Wing = Fender
    Fender = Bumper
    Propellor = Driveshaft

    Then there were arcane sizes of bolts, nuts and screws - like Whitworth, which are as plentiful in the States as hen's teeth.
     
  7. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    That's why there are Crescent wrenches and Vice-grips. Not to mention taps for weird threads.

    Something to keep in mind about replies to non-English speakers is to try to avoid slang and contractions. Conversation language is not too hard to understand when mangled, but technical language is considerably more difficult to get right if not grammatical.

    Has anyone ever translated technical jargon into Esperanto? That was going to be the universal language. Do they write ADA statements in Esperanto? Mr. Gates said ADA would be the universal computer language.
     
  8. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
    5,072
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    For that matter, if someone is too lazy to write properly, why should I even bother to read it? Reading text speak is an effort for me - an effort I choose not to undertake.
     
  9. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
    5,072
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    UK: "Having a fag after being knocked up in the morning" - US: "Smoking a cigarette after getting a wake-up call"
    US: "Having a fag after being knocked up in the morning" - UK: "Male homosexual intercourse subsequent to forenoon impregnation" :eek:
     
  10. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
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    "Two great civilizations separated by a common language" - G. B. Shaw (I think).

    Anybody recall boontling? "It's crackers to slip a rozzer the sly". Supposedly a local patois spoken by a small California town in the 1920's - the phrase meaning "it's fun to tell a policeman an untruth".

    Then there's Midwestern. "You might not want to do that" has the East coast equivalency of "You would have to be insane to even think about trying that".
     
  11. arthur92710

    Active Member

    Jun 25, 2007
    307
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    1f u gE7 4ire4ox 17 h4s a sp3l1 c4ek3r

    If you get firefox it has a spell checker.

    English is not really my first language...... but it is my best... long story...
    txt speak is annoying. but if you love it check out leet google
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
  12. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    There is a downloadable IE6 plugin for the same thing. You click on the ABC icon and it will offer to download it for you.
     
  13. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    These days being "knocked-up" has taken on the meaning you guys have in the US! It tends to be the older generation who use "knocked-up" as in "waken up" because in years gone by people were woken up for work by a "Knocker-up" - my granddad was one of these after he lost his legs in the first world war.

    Never has a truer word been spoken.

    I'm intrigued!

    Yes, it is called IESpell. IE7Pro also has an in-line spell-checker amongst other features. Worth a look if you use IE6 or IE7.

    Dave
     
  14. Mark44

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2007
    626
    1
    Speaking of "knocked up," I remember hanging out with a couple of English guys for a time after coming to England from Oostend. We got to a small town named (IIRC) Crowhurst, where one of them told me he was going to "knock up" his sister. I figured this had a different meaning than the one I was used to in the States.

    I am fascinated by English as spoken in GB, with all its variety. There was an interesting series on PBS (the US's government-subsidized TV network), called "The Story of English." This nine-hour series aired about 20 years ago, and was narrated by Robert MacNeil. One of the more interesting segments to me was the one that dealt with how much the Vikings influenced the language, and how the concept of "Dane Law" affected the dialects in the counties where it held sway. To emphasize this point, MacNeil interviewed people from counties on opposite sides of the Dane Line to see how they would pronounce a given collection of words. Big difference, even to this day.

    Part of the reason that English is so difficult for nonnative speakers is that there have been so many influences on the language. The original Picts were overrun by the Angles, and later the Saxons, both of whom came from what is now Germany. Quite a bit later, the Normans (the Northmen, who were descendents of Vikings, but who spoke a kind of French), invaded Britain, and added a large dose of French/Latin to the Germanic words and grammar rules the Angles and Saxons had brought to the language. The influences of both groups persist to the present, with Anglo-Saxon/Norman word pairs such as cow/beef, chicken/poultry, deer/venison, pig/pork, and others. Did you ever wonder why circus is pronounced as if it were spelled sirkus? Thank the Normans.

    Nor were they the last to leave their traces on English. The far-flung British Empire of the 18th, 19th, and first half of the 20th centuries brought back to England words like "khaki", "pyjamas", "mufti", "compound" (in the sense of a group of buildings) and many others from the languages of India, (now)Pakistan, Malaysia, and other places.

    I better quit before I start rambling :)
     
  15. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
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    It was Winston Churchill who once said about the United States and Britain, “Two great countries separated by a common language.”
     
  16. nanovate

    Distinguished Member

    May 7, 2007
    665
    1
    I think Oscar Wilde wrote it first as ‘We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language’ and Shaw was quoted as saying also but I do not think it is written down anywhere.
     
  17. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Yes, it is something that you would expect Oscar Wilde to some up with - a truly great wit.

    Dave
     
  18. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
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    Well, the original source I found for that quote was on the Web, and while convenient, it's unreliable if the source of the data isn't referenced.

    On another site, I found:
    "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."
    --- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

    But I did find some other remarkable quotes:
    "From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. "
    --- Sir Winston Churchill

    "The trouble with America is that there are far too many wide-open spaces surrounded by teeth."
    --- Charles Luckman

    "Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."
    --- Oscar Wilde

    "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
    --- Oscar Wilde

    "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results."
    --- Sir Winston Churchill

    One of my favorites:
    "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."
    --- Sir Winston Churchill

    One of the most amusing:
    "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
    --- Sir Winston Churchill

    The most eyebrow-raising:
    "Don't talk to me about Naval Tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash." :eek:
    --- Sir Winston Churchill
     
  19. redacejr

    Active Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    85
    0
    to tell you the truth my mother language is Maltese, a language that no one ever heard of but i also speak english italian german and latin. the best language is and still remains the english because you can communicate with everyone evn though im not so good at it... XD
     
  20. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
    15,638
    2,343
    Hello,

    I am a dutch guy who is working for a german/swiss company.
    So I have to use German and english for writing the mails to the main companies.
    I hope I have an understandable witings in this forum.

    Greetings,
    Bertus
     
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