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Misused English words in EU publications

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s_allard
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 Message 25 of 37
23 May 2014 at 3:31am | IP Logged 
I have no doubt that some people here and respected authors think that the '"It is not allowed to..." construction is
bad. But, at the same time, the Guardian newspaper quotes a BBC reporter as saying:

"It is not allowed to use much stuff shot on Olympics premises," said a BBC source."

I don't care what Michael Swan says. If it's good enough for the Guardian and for the BBC, it's good enough for me.
Usage has changed.
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Medulin
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 Message 26 of 37
23 May 2014 at 4:23am | IP Logged 
One occurrence is not enough.
I'd say that any usage that gets < 0.1 % of hits in native material when confronted with the prevalent usage (which gets >99.99% ) is marked and should be avoided, especially by non-native speakers.

You may find things like ''for the entire of my life'' in native material, but its usage is marked (archaic-sounding) and most people would find it unacceptable in modern English (even though it appears in OED). L2 users are advised to follow the normal usage ''for the whole of my life'' [ The obsolete variant is extremely rare, but it does appear in stylized prose '' It's not really that I expect calm waters for the entire of my life, but more a matter of noticing a kind of condensed quality to all of this turmoil.'' Marcia Hill, Diary of a Country Therapist - Page 198 - Google Books Result].

If you are to take TOEFL or IELTS, you should not use structures of questionable acceptability in modern English (like ''slowlier'' [archaic superlative of slowly], ''it is not allowed to'' [which sounds like a French imitation], ''for the entire of my life'' [archaic variant of ''for the whole of my life], ''we recommended you to arrive earlier'' [obsolete variant of modern ''we recommended (that) you arrive earlier], ''the house was cleaning'' [archaic variant of modern ''the house was being cleaned''] etc...

From ''Longman dictionary of common errors''
(which lists errors common in L2 English):




-It is (not) allowed to- is okay only with animals:
"Excuse me, is that your dog over there? It's not allowed to walk on the grass''.

Edited by Medulin on 23 May 2014 at 4:48am

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Serpent
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 Message 27 of 37
23 May 2014 at 4:48am | IP Logged 
Also, afaiu they're quoting what a BBC reporter said informally. And we don't even know if the reporter was a native speaker.
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s_allard
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 Message 28 of 37
23 May 2014 at 5:50am | IP Logged 
Medulin wrote:
...
From ''Longman dictionary of common errors''
(which lists errors common in L2 English):




-It is (not) allowed to- is okay only with animals:
"Excuse me, is that your dog over there? It's not allowed to walk on the grass''.

When does a so-called common error become acceptable? Some people believe that "It is (not) allowed..." is
wrong. Some people believe that this form is acceptable for animals. And, finally, a highly respectable British
newspaper quotes a highly respectable reporter using this form without any restriction. What are we to
conclude? That the BBC reporter must be not be a native speaker and even if he were, he must have been
speaking informally. The Guardian newspaper has thus made a big mistake by quoting this speaker without
putting in some indication of the improper usage, i.e. with (sic).

I don't even understand why we are discussing this. As I said, if it's good enough for the Guardian and the BBC,
it's good enough for me. If you don't like it, don't use it. But that doesn't make it wrong.
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Doitsujin
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 Message 29 of 37
23 May 2014 at 8:06am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
What is so bad about the second example from the above list?
cEU English: It is not allowed to smoke in enclosed public places.
Some people find this stilted. So be it.

IMHO, it's actually you who's missing the point. When writing in a foreign language one should usually follow generally accepted usage patterns and not make up non-existing words. This holds especially true for formal texts that'll be read by non-native speakers. I.e., it's not a matter of personal taste, but a matter of clarity.

The sentence "It is not allowed to smoke in enclosed public places." is not stilted English. It's English usage that violates commonly accepted English usage patterns. I'm pretty sure that this usage was introduced by German EU lawyer-translators, because it perfectly matches the corresponding German pattern:

EU English: It is not allowed to smoke in enclosed public places.
German: Es ist nicht erlaubt in geschlossenen Räumen zu rauchen.

(Note the phonetic similarity between German "erlaubt" [ɛɐ̯ˈlaʊ̯pt] and English "allowed" [əˈlaʊd].)

While most non-native English speakers won't have problems understanding the sentence, it'll most likely also make some native speakers cringe.

However, there are some EU English expressions that have taken on new meanings virtually unknown outside of the EU bureaucracy. For example, Transposition and Gold-plating.
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Iversen
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 Message 30 of 37
23 May 2014 at 1:19pm | IP Logged 
I have done a bit of empirical study, using Google, and it revealed a quite unexpected pattern!

"it is not permitted to" (without any further restrictions) occurs 651.000.000 times. I have only checked the first forty hits, but among these no less than 12 were from internet pages which explains Sharia laws. Two of these used 'it' with a specific reference, and apart from one ambiguous example these were the only ones to do so - and I suspect they quoted the same dubious Islamic source.

Among the rest at least 6 were from 'foreign' homepages, 9 were from computer pages and 5 others were found on language related pages, which all agreed that the use of the construction with a dummy "it" isn't allowed. Which is patently wrong, given that ALL examples with the construction apart from two (maybe three) represent the impersonal use of "it" - not in a passive construction, as sometimes claimed, but rather with "it" as a dummy pronoun and "allowed" as a subject predicative.

So the correct rule seems to be: avoid the construction, but if you DO decide to use it then "it" should be used as a dummy, NOT with a distinct reference.

I'll put the complete list on my log thread in a moment


Edited by Iversen on 23 May 2014 at 2:15pm

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s_allard
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 Message 31 of 37
23 May 2014 at 1:43pm | IP Logged 
Thanks again to the inquisitive mind of Iversen, we can shed some light on this particular point and move the
discussion forward. We may dislike the constructions "it is (not) permitted..." and "it is (not) allowed" for
whatever reasons but we have to admit that 1) they are used by some native speakers and 2) they can be found in
good sources.

A separate but interesting question is why do these particular forms exist in English at all. Is it the influence of
French, German or some other language? It very well could be, and what is wrong with that?

What also happens, and I think this applies to all the examples in the original list, is that we are seeing the over-
generalization or extension of some existing pattern in the language. For example, in formal written English, we
often see the "it is + part participle" construction. Academic English is full of things like "it is believed" and "it is
thought". "it is (not) allowed" is, rightly or wrongly, an extension of this pattern.

For the same reason, I can't for the life of me see anything wrong with "Look at the sky. It will rain." Why is "it's
going to rain" better? I wouldn't blink is someone asks me: Should I take an umbrella, do you think it will rain? I
don't see the mistake.

Edited by s_allard on 23 May 2014 at 1:44pm

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tastyonions
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 Message 32 of 37
23 May 2014 at 3:49pm | IP Logged 
I think it's just a question of common usage here, not grammar. What's even stranger is that "Look at the sky. It will rain." does indeed sound awkward to me, but something like "I think it'll rain today: just look at the sky." sounds perfectly normal. Oh, English!


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