The Continuing Insult To The English Language

amyasleigh

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No, 'shall' and 'shan't' are alternatives to 'will' and 'won't' and such opinion-formers as the BBC have been announcing their disappearance from the language for years as they seem to hate them for some reason. However they seem to be making a comeback (I like to think I've done my bit, forsooth).
Can't resist the following: I tried it recently on a (largely US) message board, on which the envisaged extinction of "shall" was being discussed
(I was -- perhaps deservedly -- ignored).

Shall and should, are a load of crud;
I take a pill, and only will.

[After Aldous Huxley]
 

Yithian

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Can't resist the following: I tried it recently on a (largely US) message board, on which the envisaged extinction of "shall" was being discussed
(I was -- perhaps deservedly -- ignored).

Shall and should, are a load of crud;
I take a pill, and only will.

[After Aldous Huxley]
I've been on a private crusade against "I would like the mushroom soup (or whatever)", on the grounds that 'I would like' (as opposed to 'I should like') properly means (if anything) I would like to like.

Just use the contraction (I'd like) and I can pretend you know what you're saying and we can still be friends. ;)
 

Yithian

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If the speaker is treating the collective (singular; overall; whole) as the focal object of reference, the singular form is both preferred and serves as a cue to the referential level being addressed. Informally, it's generally assumed that invocation of any proper group / organization name or title is taking this 'as a whole' approach.

If, on the other hand, the speaker is alluding to the collective as a group of individuals, the plural form is appropriate for cueing finer-grained reference to the multiple members of the set rather than the set overall.

Of course, leaving such subtleties to individual discretion results in many individuals misusing or mis-applying them.
Fowler is flexible on treating collective nouns as either singular or plural (and, indeed, either things or people) but rigid in his ruling that they must not be mixed:

Though nouns of multitude may be freely used with either a singular or a plural verb, or be referred to by pronouns of singular or plural meaning, they should not have both (except for special reasons and upon deliberation) in the same sentence; and words that will rank in one context as nouns of multitude may be very awkward if so used in another.
The public is naturally much impressed by this evidence, and in considering it do not make the necessary allowances.—Times.
The Times Brussels correspondent ... tells us that the committee adds these words to their report.—Westminster Gazette.
The Grand Opera Syndicate has also made an important addition to theirGerman tenors.—Westminster Gazette.
The only political party who could take office was that which ... had consistently opposed the American war.—Bagehot.​
As the race of man, after centuries of civilization, still keeps some traits of their barbarian fathers.—Stevenson.​
The battleship Kniaz Potemkin, of which the crew is said to have mutinied and murdered their officers.—Times.
Source:​
 

SkepticalX

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The only one to which I might take exception is the reference to a political party as a "who." Otherwise, I agree there are a number of collective nouns (team, for example) that seem more comfortably associated with plural possessive pronouns like "their'.
 

amyasleigh

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I've been on a private crusade against "I would like the mushroom soup (or whatever)", on the grounds that 'I would like' (as opposed to 'I should like') properly means (if anything) I would like to like.

Just use the contraction (I'd like) and I can pretend you know what you're saying and we can still be friends. ;)
Just occasionally, one wonders whether conventions of polite speech are more trouble than they're worth; or at least, whether it might be better if they were less complicated. Is there a case for suggesting that life would be easier if it were generally accepted that the height of politeness re the above, were for the diner concerned, to say: "I WANT THE MUSHROOM SOUP ! NOW ! "
 

Rahere

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'dyn siarad gmraig
Llolwch , os gwelwch yn dda.

To which the informed will dutifully reply, there's no such thing as a correct written form of a Celtic tongue: it was forced on them by a Sais (which is a swear word) needing to pin them down. Now me, a Sais who won their way in by out-dancing a Welsh clog-dancer (I'm a quarter Belgian and wear peasant clogs, without heels, so if you give me wooden-soled shoes, I'm streets ahead...), my problem is that I don't think the way speech forces me to think, "A-B-C", I think "A-B-C" on one track, but at the same time counterharmonies are flying around, "But B means l-m-n" where n and C have difficulties getting on.
 
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Gaelic languages have more redundant letters than Old French, and I consider Old French to have vandalised Old Anglo-Saxon.



Prithee, thy point be taken. Perchance methinks I expressed that whole business poorly? I know that "Shall we be off to the pub then?" is a very English turn of phrase that you wouldn't hear in the USA. The US equivalent, is more "Time to hit the bar?".


UR dead to me (jk).


My understanding is that a lot of US English has its origins in western county accents. The hard rhotic "R" of the US is from Cornwall. The determination to pronounce every letter in a word was learned thru substandard teaching practices at Martha's Vineyard. I have moderated by rhotic R a bit and can turn it on and off now. I can also roll my R like a slav, which I learned to do over homebrewed vodka in tumblers.
I admire you sticking to your guns re. 'gotten'!

Interesting theory about teaching methods - I can see how that would have an effect on those learning the language. I know many people view American English as 'sloppy' but I've noticed how precisely news presenters and the like speak in the TV network 'General American' style as you point out. For example, whereas I (fairly well-spoken er, I think) would say 'fawteen' for the number 14, the standard US version is (to my ears) more like 'fourt-teen' - almost as if an almost-silent extra 'T' is added. I've tried to replicate this but just can't do it.

Wasn't there a bit in the X-Files where Mulder or Scully talks about something having happened 'fourteen' times, leading to speculation that this was a deliberate pun on 'Fortean Times' just for those in the know?
 
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EnolaGaia

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... Wasn't there a bit in the X-Files where Mulder or Scully talks about something having happened 'fourteen' times, leading to speculation that this was a deliberate pun on 'Fortean Times' just for those in the know?
Are you perhaps referring to this January 2003 post concerning Steven Spielberg and Taken?

I think I spotted a tribute to the FT. In one scene, with a man taking his sons hiking, one of the boys says "Dad, we've done this hill Fortean Times. Well obviously it was meant to be "fourteen times", but it sounded startlingly like Fortean Times. I wonder if Spielberg reads it?
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/spielbergs-taken.6917/post-157157
 

Yithian

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The only one to which I might take exception is the reference to a political party as a "who." Otherwise, I agree there are a number of collective nouns (team, for example) that seem more comfortably associated with plural possessive pronouns like "their'.
The point in all those examples is that the writer changes what the noun is: first he treats it as a singular (the public is) and then a plural (the public do--not does) in the same sentence. In others the collective noun is first a thing (the crew = it) and then changes to a person (the crew = they "murdered 'their' officers").

You need to pick one and stick to it.

The public is naturally much impressed by this evidence, and in considering it do not make the necessary allowances.—Times.
The Times Brussels correspondent ... tells us that the committee adds these words to their report.—Westminster Gazette.
The Grand Opera Syndicate has also made an important addition to theirGerman tenors.—Westminster Gazette.
The only political party who could take office was that which ... had consistently opposed the American war.—Bagehot.​
As the race of man, after centuries of civilization, still keeps some traits of their barbarian fathers.—Stevenson.​
The battleship Kniaz Potemkin, of which the crew is said to have mutinied and murdered their officers.—Times.

Source:​
 
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