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Language Learning Orthodoxy You Ignore

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dampingwire
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 Message 81 of 116
05 December 2014 at 9:05pm | IP Logged 
It all depends on the situation.

In the general, for something like the case cited where there is potential for
embarrassment or serious misunderstanding, I think I'd want to say something.

If it's a tourist asking directions, I'll just give them directions (assuming I can
decode their utterance).

If it's a colleague in a business meeting, I'd possibly repeat the statement in what I
believe to be the correct form and then proceed to answer the question or whatever.

If it's just the two of us discussing something, I'd probably just say "do you mean X?"
and then move on. If they keep making the same mistake and there's no ambiguity, then
I'm not going to repeatedly correct them.

It all depends on the context. There are lots of ways of correcting people, although
several of them could just as easily be seen as confirming that you've understood them
before expending any further effort on reaching whatever the goal might be.

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ScottScheule
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 Message 82 of 116
05 December 2014 at 9:15pm | IP Logged 
So be it agreed by the HTLAL board:

1. Mistakes are bad.
2. Be polite when correcting others.
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tastyonions
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 Message 83 of 116
05 December 2014 at 10:22pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
This happens all the time. In French for example, faire long feu has evolved from "to fail at a task" to now mean exactly the opposite, i.e. "to succeed at something". There are still purists who rail against the new usage and claim that the majority of users are totally wrong.

That's interesting. It seems like I always hear it in the negative, "ne pas faire long feu." A blog from Le Monde about the expression (or perhaps two expressions...) got a lot of comments: link

Guess the issue raises some passions!

Edited by tastyonions on 06 December 2014 at 1:26pm

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ScottScheule
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 Message 84 of 116
05 December 2014 at 10:42pm | IP Logged 
Seems to be a deep-seated human urge, to correct other's use of language. I mean, I know full well that many, indeed all of the words and expressions I use today would have struck previous English speakers as being incorrect. My language, as Iversen says, is a collection of fossilized mistakes.

So it's somewhat hypocritical for me to get mad at people who make similar mistakes today, when the only difference between the mistakes they make and the mistakes I make is that mine have a longer pedigree.

I know this. So why oh why do I still get infuriated when people say chomping at the bit?

Edited by ScottScheule on 05 December 2014 at 10:43pm

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Jeffers
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 Message 85 of 116
07 December 2014 at 10:28am | IP Logged 
ScottScheule wrote:
I know this. So why oh why do I still get infuriated when people say chomping at the bit?


Because you haven't read this?

But there is a large difference between the common "mistakes" made by native speakers, and common mistakes made by learners. Just like native pronunciation can vary, native "accuracy" can vary as well. In both cases the learner has difficulty knowing which ones are "acceptable" differences, and which ones mark them as a foreigner. In some situations, grammatical accuracy can even be a telling sign that the person has learned the language as a second language.

Edited by Jeffers on 07 December 2014 at 10:29am

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luke
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 Message 86 of 116
07 December 2014 at 10:33am | IP Logged 
As Joey from Friends said, "It's a moo point".
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Iversen
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 Message 87 of 116
07 December 2014 at 3:27pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
With my usual due respect to iversen, I disagree strongly here because I think he is confusing historical language change or evolution with contemporary errors. While it is true that usage and meaning can evolve and give words totally different meanings, we can observe the change in groups and generations for whom the new thing becomes the norm. In iversen's example, what we are seeing is
one norm or usage displacing the other.

This happens all the time. In French for example, faire long feu has evolved from "to fail at a task" to now mean exactly the opposite, i.e. "to succeed at something". There are still purists who rail against the new usage and claim that the majority of users are totally wrong.

This is not the case of organe and orgue. There is no evolution of one into the other. There is not one speaker of French who thinks the words are interchangeable. This is a totally embarrassing mistake that no native speaker of French would make.


Are you sure that the influence from English couldn't lead some poor Francophone native astray? Any change has to start somewhere, and one person may be all it takes. It is not even necessary that the person who starts the avalanche takes the name of the instrument in churches into account - actually it is more likely that the person doesn't even care about church organs, but so much more about the electric gadget used by rock and pop ensembles. If the 'organ' virus hasn't spread yet in France it could simply be due to the habit in Anglophone countries to refer to the electrical thing and the guy or girl who plays it as the 'keyboards'.

'Errors' can be caused by sloppiness or systematic sound changes (like the kind that transformed Latin 'organum' into "orgue"), by external influences (which may not yet have led to the use of "organ" for the keyboards in rock/pop, but it could have happened) or by misunderstandings or 'folk etymologies. But in all these cases a minority must have started the process, and then it is up to the language community to adopt the new usage or not.

I have a few things more to say about organs ('orgues'), but I'll do so in my log.


Edited by Iversen on 07 December 2014 at 5:07pm

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dampingwire
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 Message 88 of 116
07 December 2014 at 4:51pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
In some situations, grammatical accuracy can even be a telling sign that the person has learned the language as a second language.


So are these graffiti the
product of a native mind or a second language learner and a spray can :-)




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