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  1. - Top - End - #271
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by The Second View Post
    Let me rebut, however, that even if we dispel all ambiguity, our gender neutral 'they' still falls apart. In this example, Mark will be androgynous.

    "Mark, Jenny, and Joan walked into a room. Jenny and Joan did each other's makeup while Mark put on their clothes."

    Who's[sic] clothes did Mark put on? I guess we could have written 'their own clothes', but this is just a clumsy patch, an ugly language hack, if you will.
    I don't see anything wrong with using the 'own' pronoun in that sentence, and if we start removing language hacks from the English language, ugly or not, we will quickly discover that we have got no English language left, because it's a quilt of a language made up of so many patches on top of previous patches that we've kinda forgotten they're hacks in the first place.

    But more broadly, I'm unsure why you think this rebuts my contention that "English (and indeed, every non-pedantic language) has ambiguity". You seem to be exposing the idea that the only way English has ambiguity when using pronouns is when using the plural pronoun as a singular genderless pronoun but, as I already demonstrated, gendered singular pronouns are not exempt from ambiguity.

    So I suppose your point would be that there is more ambiguity when using it? Sure, I'll grant you that any time a word can have more than one meaning it will engender (pun not intended) ambiguity but I fail to see why you'd single out the gender-neutral pronoun as particularly bad in this respect, given that the verb-noun dichotomy ambiguity is so much worse*.

    Grey Wolf

    *Was it in this thread that I demonstrated the point by the good ol' garden path sentence "The complex houses single and married soldiers and their families" & "The raft floated down the river sank"?
    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2017-06-27 at 12:18 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #272
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    *Was it in this thread that I demonstrated the point by the good ol' garden path sentence "The complex houses single and married soldiers and their families"?
    My favourite is "Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven".

    (Put commas after "plane" and "crash" for a better reading experience.)
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    My favourite is "Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven".

    (Put commas after "plane" and "crash" for a better reading experience.)
    Or the one that gave the garden path sentences its alternate name, "crash blossoms":
    "Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms"

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    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2017-06-27 at 12:21 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #274
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    I don't see anything wrong with using the 'own' pronoun in that sentence, and if we start removing language hacks from the English language, ugly or not, we will quickly discover that we have got no English language left, because it's a quilt of a language made up of so many patches on top of previous patches that we've kinda forgotten they're hacks in the first place.

    But more broadly, I'm unsure why you think this rebuts my contention that "English (and indeed, every non-pedantic language) has ambiguity". You seem to be exposing the idea that the only way English has ambiguity when using pronouns is when using the plural pronoun as a singular genderless pronoun but, as I already demonstrated, gendered singular pronouns are not exempt from ambiguity.

    So I suppose your point would be that there is more ambiguity when using it? Sure, I'll grant you that any time a word can have more than one meaning it will engender (pun not intended) ambiguity but I fail to see why you'd single out the gender-neutral pronoun as particularly bad in this respect, given that the verb-noun dichotomy ambiguity is so much worse*.

    Grey Wolf

    *Was it in this thread that I demonstrated the point by the good ol' garden path sentence "The complex houses single and married soldiers and their families" & "The raft floated down the river sank"?
    Points taken. Also may have learned a thing or two.
    Last edited by The Second; 2017-06-27 at 12:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by The Second View Post
    Let me rebut, however, that even if we dispel all ambiguity, our gender neutral 'they' still falls apart. In this example, Mark will be androgynous.

    "Mark, Jenny, and Joan walked into a room. Jenny and Joan did each other's makeup while Mark put on their clothes."

    Who's clothes did Mark put on? I guess we could have written 'their own clothes', but this is just a clumsy patch, an ugly language hack, if you will.
    Even if Mark weren't androgynous, I wouldn't say "Mark put on his clothes". I would say "Mark got dressed."

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    They would most likely just have referred to him simply as "the Emperor". There was only one* at the time so everyone would know who was meant. It's unlikely that the numeral would have been used at all except in official documents: Charles IV had died over a hundred years before so there was little need to distinguish them. Early in his reign and to avoid confusion with his grandfather, he might have been "the Emperor Charles". He could conceivably also have been "King Charles" or "King [Charles] of Spain", especially between 1516 and 1519, before he was Emperor. Again, though, it's unlikely a numeral would have been habitually used.

    In much the same way as Commonwealth citizens tend to refer merely to "the Queen" and everyone understands who is meant, while it's relatively rare for the name and numeral to get used unless it's needed for clarity or formality, I suspect it was much the same in the 16th century.


    *In Europe, at least. The Emperors of China, Japan, Persia, Ethiopia, and the Mughal Emperor, when mentioned at all, most likely were referred to as such, or by some other title (e.g. "Sultan").
    This, while interesting, is conjecture. I was asking for historical data. I apologise for the confusion. I'm not really expecting anyone to be able to pull this data out of a hat, but surely some correspondence has survived that spoke of the Holy Roman Emperor rather than to him. I will admit that it is a bit of a stretch since he pre-dates Shakespeare by about 50 years.

    The other question that we might find worth answering is how people have referred to him in the centuries since his death. We, looking back 500 years might have one view of how he should have been called, whereas historians have doubtless been writing about him for most of that intervening time. How do they call him?
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  7. - Top - End - #277
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    The other question that we might find worth answering is how people have referred to him in the centuries since his death. We, looking back 500 years might have one view of how he should have been called, whereas historians have doubtless been writing about him for most of that intervening time. How do they call him?
    "Charles 5th of Germany and 1st of Spain", which is probably far more unique, as numbering goes, than most "James X".

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant & Yendor View Post
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  8. - Top - End - #278
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    This, while interesting, is conjecture. I was asking for historical data. I apologise for the confusion. I'm not really expecting anyone to be able to pull this data out of a hat, but surely some correspondence has survived that spoke of the Holy Roman Emperor rather than to him. I will admit that it is a bit of a stretch since he pre-dates Shakespeare by about 50 years.

    The other question that we might find worth answering is how people have referred to him in the centuries since his death. We, looking back 500 years might have one view of how he should have been called, whereas historians have doubtless been writing about him for most of that intervening time. How do they call him?
    https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A6...;view=fulltext

    This English contemporary calls him "Emperor" when referring about him.

    What does Shakespeare have to do with this?

    Machiavelli also simply calls him Emperor ( https://it.wikisource.org/wiki/Lette...o_Guicciardini )

    It's not unusual, people were often simply called by their title (the Greek Emperor for the Emperor of Constantinople, the Turk for the Ottoman Emperor, the Sultan for the ruler of Egypt...) when they were written about.

    As for historians, I'm too lazy to search that now

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiryt View Post
    I really don't think that there are many places in the world where villages aren't named after simple geographical marks/dwellers/owners....

    Just googled my nearest neigborhood for better remembering, and yup there's mostly:

    "Cold Water"
    "Thorny"
    "Reedy"
    "Empty libera villa"
    "Sparrow's"
    "New Clay"

    In very loose translation.

    Most names that are obscure are mostly due to preserving some archaic vocabulary, morphology/phonology and undergoing some contractions.
    These examples are actually different than what I was on about, which were single element tautological names, like the Shire, the City.
    These are names with two or more elements even if some elements are only implicit, which are less likely to raise an eyebrow. I doubt this entire line of discussion would have arisen had the Shire been named Westshire or Hobbitshire.

  10. - Top - End - #280
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    I would say "Mark got dressed."
    Just because I can't resist ambiguity: that sentence has an ambiguous actor: who clothed Mark?

    Yes, current contextual clues would suggest Mark themselves did it, but if the action was set in, say, 18th century, with two other people in the room, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Mark got dressed by their ladies-in-waiting, Jenny and Joan (who also took the time to touch up their make up).

    Ambiguity: it's the spice of life.

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  11. - Top - End - #281
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    There's no ambiguity. Jenny and Joan are doing each other's makeup while someone is putting clothes on Mark. Unless there are other people in the room that we haven't been told about (and Occam's razor says no), Mark is the only one not otherwise occupied so it's obvious that Mark is the one putting the clothes on.

  12. - Top - End - #282
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    There's no ambiguity. Jenny and Joan are doing each other's makeup while someone is putting clothes on Mark. Unless there are other people in the room that we haven't been told about (and Occam's razor says no), Mark is the only one not otherwise occupied so it's obvious that Mark is the one putting the clothes on.
    False. It is perfectly possible for two people to be putting on make-up while helping a third put on their clothes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant & Yendor View Post
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  13. - Top - End - #283
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    False. It is perfectly possible for two people to be putting on make-up while helping a third put on their clothes.
    It's possible, but it could easily be phrased more directly ("Joan and Jenny did each other's makeup while they dressed Mark"). It's also so unusual that it's unreasonable to assume that's the case if it isn't directly stated. It's only ambiguous if you're being deliberately obtuse.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    It's only ambiguous if you're being deliberately obtuse.
    No, it is not. However, given that you feel the need to actually insult me, this is the last you and I will talk.

    GW
    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2017-06-29 at 02:51 PM.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    THE STUPID MISUSE OF 'Y'ALL'

    on the one hand, we have the haters. just recently in a chat room an otherwise intelligent looking fellow opined, "i hate it when guys say y'all, it just sounds so stupid" i would guess that he also thinks that southern accents sound stupid. for decades it's been perfectly okay to portray southerners as ignorant, racist, inbreed fools. if you took such a video and make it about black people, the NAACP would go full rapid and that show would never be seen again.

    on the other hand, writers often pop up souther (or inner city black) characters that will when talking to one person, address that person as 'ya'll'. a double evil, you note - you+all=>y'all, not ya'll. just saw that today, telling me that editors still don't have a clue.

    english NEEDS a second person plural. given how useful it is and how it's spread through america with inner city slang, y'all will almost certainly become official in a few more years.


    Atlantic article America Needs ‘Y’all’
    English has no standard second-person plural word, and it’s time for that to change.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by tantric View Post
    THE STUPID MISUSE OF 'Y'ALL'

    on the one hand, we have the haters. just recently in a chat room an otherwise intelligent looking fellow opined, "i hate it when guys say y'all, it just sounds so stupid" i would guess that he also thinks that southern accents sound stupid. for decades it's been perfectly okay to portray southerners as ignorant, racist, inbreed fools. if you took such a video and make it about black people, the NAACP would go full rapid and that show would never be seen again.

    on the other hand, writers often pop up souther (or inner city black) characters that will when talking to one person, address that person as 'ya'll'. a double evil, you note - you+all=>y'all, not ya'll. just saw that today, telling me that editors still don't have a clue.

    english NEEDS a second person plural. given how useful it is and how it's spread through america with inner city slang, y'all will almost certainly become official in a few more years.


    Atlantic article America Needs ‘Y’all’
    English has no standard second-person plural word, and it’s time for that to change.
    Heck, I use it, and people accuse me of talking like I'm trying to sound smart. It's just so useful
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by tantric View Post
    english [sic] NEEDS a second person plural.
    English does have a second person plural: you (note that it's "you are", not "you is/art", even when talking to a single individual). English used to have a second person singular (thou) which was abandoned for some silly reason, and now 'you' has to pull double duty of second person singular and plural.

    Which is fine by the way. I have no problem with y'all, since it does serve to remove a tiny bit of ambiguity. But what English needs is a second person singular, not plural.

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    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2017-07-01 at 08:34 PM.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    English used to have a second person singular (thou) which was abandoned for some silly reason, and now 'you' has to pull double duty of second person singular and plural.


    GW
    I think the English were copying the French back then, and the thing escalated. Is there some local speak where thou is still used?

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    I think the English were copying the French back then, and the thing escalated. Is there some local speak where thou is still used?
    I haven't heard of one. Which is weird you'd expect there to be some pocket of language somewhere that still used it.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    These examples are actually different than what I was on about, which were single element tautological names, like the Shire, the City.
    These are names with two or more elements even if some elements are only implicit, which are less likely to raise an eyebrow. I doubt this entire line of discussion would have arisen had the Shire been named Westshire or Hobbitshire.
    This brings up a secondary, adjunct issue with The Shire which is that in place names "shire isn't usually even it's own word at all; it's generally a suffix. Similarly Icewind Dale should be Icewindale or Icewinddale

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    This brings up a secondary, adjunct issue with The Shire which is that in place names "shire isn't usually even it's own word at all; it's generally a suffix. Similarly Icewind Dale should be Icewindale or Icewinddale
    Both "shire" and "dale" have been used by themselves since the words were formed. Many of the x-shire names were originally "The Shire of X), or X Shire - two words that blended together over generations, just like Charles Town eventually became "Charleston".

    "Icewind Dale should be only one word" has even less support - there's several towns existing to this day that follow the same format - such as Darley Dale.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Both "shire" and "dale" have been used by themselves since the words were formed. Many of the x-shire names were originally "The Shire of X), or X Shire - two words that blended together over generations, just like Charles Town eventually became "Charleston".
    They're their own words, but they're used as such way less often than they're used as suffixes (and here in the eastern United States I think the only time I've ever encountered "shire" as a word by itself was in situations where people were talking about or quoting something directly related to either England or The Lord of The Rings, and in the former case it's still usually a suffix even then)

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by The Extinguisher View Post
    I haven't heard of one. Which is weird you'd expect there to be some pocket of language somewhere that still used it.
    Wikipedia claims it's still used in parts of Scotland and Northern England, but I'd definitely like a [citation needed] on that, because I've lived in Northern England for more than 20 years and never heard it used--plus I have a Scottish brother-in-law, and he doesn't use it either!

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    I think the English were copying the French back then, and the thing escalated. Is there some local speak where thou is still used?
    What do you mean by "the thing escalated?" I understand the idea that using both "thou" and "you" could be due to copying the French, since we have both in French, but I'm not sure why it would escalate to using only one of the two.

    A gripe I have, since we're talking about it, is people who say things like "You shouldn't use "they" for just one person. "They" is a plural pronoun!". Note that the person used "you" (a plural pronoun) and that they used it to talk to a single person, all the while saying that very thing shouldn't be done. This really frustrates me every time I see something like that.

    I don't have a problem with "y'all" or any other "plural" of you (even though I agree with Grey_wolf that English needs a singular you, not a plural one). It makes things less ambiguous and that's good.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    I mean that French still has "tu", and English doesn't any more They overdid it.

    Edit: as for why, I have no idea. Some ways of speaking simply are cooler according to the speaker, and they stomp away their equivalents. Others are the result of hypercorrection, so you just aren't sure anymore if there is a place for "thou", and you stop using it even where it would have been right to.

    I am one who gripes about singular they, but the reason is mostly that it sounds bad to me. There is a logical component (neutral vs indeterminate) to it, however. To me, saying "they said" is like "somebody, whose identity I am not referring, said". Which is weird to me when the personal identity is actually clear.

    Edit #2: I am not sure if I got the question right, what I mean is that you can say vous in French to a single person as a form of respect. This is what the English probably imitated.
    Last edited by Vinyadan; 2017-07-02 at 05:41 AM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    I've had southerners explain to me that "y'all" IS the singular form of you. The plural is "all y'all." Maybe they were having a laugh. I dunno, I heard it a lot when I was down the the southern states.

    I say y'all now more than "you" because it's better received by the people I say it to, for some reason. I'm not going to argue against making my dealings with people easier.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    These examples are actually different than what I was on about, which were single element tautological names, like the Shire, the City.
    These are names with two or more elements even if some elements are only implicit, which are less likely to raise an eyebrow. I doubt this entire line of discussion would have arisen had the Shire been named Westshire or Hobbitshire.
    But such 'tautological' names aren't exactly rare either, I think.

    https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gródek

    At least this many places called "little Burg' (Gród + ek)

    https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miastk...noznacznienie)

    At least those called 'little town'.

    https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wioska

    And those called 'little village', of course.
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  28. - Top - End - #298
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    English does have a second person plural: you (note that it's "you are", not "you is/art", even when talking to a single individual). English used to have a second person singular (thou) which was abandoned for some silly reason, and now 'you' has to pull double duty of second person singular and plural.

    Which is fine by the way. I have no problem with y'all, since it does serve to remove a tiny bit of ambiguity. But what English needs is a second person singular, not plural.

    «

    GW
    did you seriously just [sic] me? in HS you learn prescriptive grammar - a set of rules you must obey so as to conform to the upper class sociolect. in college, you learn descriptive grammar - rules that describe how language works. to quote my linguistics prof, «you can never speak you native tongue incorrectly». correcting someone's grammar is pure elitism. so long as you understand the meaning of what is being said, live with it.

    that 'you' takes the plural conjugation doesn't mean a lick. consider: «¡look what you've done to yourself!» it is clearly singular. of course, there's «¡look what you've done to yourselves!».

    another nice reform that english could use - get rid of capital letters. if you're really worried about knowing where a sentence begins, use the japanese full stop (。) instead of our period. to avoid ambiguity with acronyms and abbreviates, use the interpunct (・), ・u・s vs us. while i'm at it, the quotation system sucks ass. See how clean this looks:

    —A ella se le ve que algo raro tiene, que no es una mujer como todas. Parece muy joven, de unos veinticinco años cuanto más, una carita un poco de gata, la nariz chica, respingada, el corte de cara es… más redondo que ovalado, la frente ancha, los cachetes también grandes pero que después se van para abajo en punta, como los gatos.
    —¿Y los ojos?
    —Claros, casi seguro que verdes, los entrecierra para dibujar mejor. Mira al modelo, la pantera negra del zoológico, que primero estaba quieta en la jaula, echada. Pero cuando la chica hizo ruido con el atril y la silla, la pantera la vio y empezó a pasearse por la jaula y a rugirle a la chica, que hasta entonces no encontraba bien el sombreado que le iba a dar al dibujo.
    or even this system:
    Alicia empezaba ya a cansarse de estar sentada con
    su hermana a la orilla del río, sin tener nada que
    hacer: había echado un par de ojeadas al libro que su
    hermana estaba leyendo, pero no tenía dibujos ni
    diálogos. «¿Y de qué sirve un libro sin dibujos ni diá-
    logos?», se preguntaba Alicia
    question and exclamation marks go inside the comillas, commas outside. and yes, i like the upside down marks, shows you when to change your tone. Tiene razón, ¿verdad?

    I've had southerners explain to me that «y'all» IS the singular form of you. The plural is «all y'all». Maybe they were having a laugh. I dunno, I heard it a lot when I was down the the southern states.

    I say y'all now more than «you» because it's better received by the people I say it to, for some reason. I'm not going to argue against making my dealings with people easier.
    they were ****ing with ya, dude
    southern woman, talking to two yankees at a gala: so, where y'all from?
    yankee woman: from whence we come we do not end our sentences with prepositions.
    southern woman: okay, where y'all from, bitch?

    'all y'all' means every last one of you, a kind of inclusivity.
    Last edited by tantric; 2017-07-02 at 08:36 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #299
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by tantric View Post
    did[sic] you seriously just [sic] me? in[sic] HS you learn prescriptive grammar - a set of rules you must obey so as to conform to the upper class sociolect. in[sic] college, you learn descriptive grammar - rules that describe how language works. to[sic] quote my linguistics prof, <<you can never speak you native tongue incorrectly.>> correcting[sic] someone's grammar is pure elitism. so[sic] long as you understand the meaning of what is being said, live with it.
    I didn't correct, just made sure to point out that I did not introduce mistakes in what you wrote.

    Also, behold exhibit A of what I was referring to here. Especially how it assumes everyone is a "native speaker".

    No, tantric, I do not easily understand the meaning of what is being said, because I cannot easily tell where your sentence start without the capital letters.

    GW
    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2017-07-02 at 08:45 AM.
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  30. - Top - End - #300
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    The phrase "romantic comedy" really should be "comedic romance", as in my experience the romance usually takes priority in these films. It isn't a funny movie that also has a romantic subplot, it's a romance movie with a bunch of jokes thrown in so that it doesn't become too unbearably oppressive.

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