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Language Learning Orthodoxy You Ignore

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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 97 of 116
08 December 2014 at 4:45pm | IP Logged 
It's good for everyone not to assume that the person you're speaking to is cisgender, though.
4 persons have voted this message useful



ScottScheule
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
scheule.blogspot.com
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 Message 98 of 116
08 December 2014 at 4:51pm | IP Logged 
Ha, all right, fair enough.
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dampingwire
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
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Studies: Japanese

 
 Message 99 of 116
08 December 2014 at 4:59pm | IP Logged 
ScottScheule wrote:
As you say, it depends how far you go back. My point was that if you go
back far enough, everything I say would be incorrect. Not in Middle English of course, but
Old English, probably. And if not there, go back to PIE or Proto-World if you like. My point
is everything I use would have been considered incorrect at some point in the evolution of my
present tongue


I don't know where the cut-off would be, but if you go back far enough that the language of
the time isn't "English" (say as far back as PIE, or more obviously absurdly, back to
slightly before the Earth began to form) then it's not very helpful.

At some point in time "facebook" was not a meaningful utterance in English, now it is,
because the great majority would recognise it as such. "nice" has completely changed meaning
since ~1300 or so. At some point today's usage would have been seen as a mistake or simply
misunderstood. Today, the former meaning is entirely incorrect.

Unless language remains completely backwards-compatible (i.e. new formations allowed, but old
ones always accepted with the original meaning) then this sort of evolution will (presumably)
always happen.

So today "chomping at the bit" is acceptable but perhaps a few hundred years ago it wasn't.
Today "toe the line" is correct and "tow the line" is not (afaik) but given the inexorable
rise of the latter (according to google), maybe 50 years from now I'll be marked down as
"archaic" in some test or other.

So I think my point is that you are right, in some sense, that everything you say used to be
an error at some previous point in time, but that shouldn't stop you at least inwardly
groaning when you are forced to put up with something that is unambiguously an error
today.

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ScottScheule
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
scheule.blogspot.com
Joined 3596 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Latin, Hungarian, Biblical Hebrew, Old English, Russian, Swedish, German, Italian, French

 
 Message 100 of 116
08 December 2014 at 5:22pm | IP Logged 
I'm not sure why it wouldn't be "helpful." It was certainly helpful to the point I was making!

Don't worry, I'm not going to stop groaning. In fact, the point of my post was that I can't help groaning! I just find it ironic that I'm so hesitant to accept the current evolution of the language (say from champ to chomp), but at the same time I eagerly accept all evolutions of the language that happened prior to my momentous arrival on the planet (for example, I care not a whit that "arRIVal" originally had something to do with RIVers). It needn't be that way, obviously. I could just accept that champ has become archaic, chomp has taken its place, and the phrase is now chomping. But I don't do so. I groan.

Also, not sure if you're being droll or not, but for the record, Proto-World has nothing to do with the formation of the earth. It's the putative first language of humankind, which would place it somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago (not terribly long at all compared to the age of the world itself!)
1 person has voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
tinyurl.com/pe4kqe5
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 Message 101 of 116
08 December 2014 at 7:35pm | IP Logged 
ScottScheule wrote:
I just find it ironic that I'm so hesitant to accept the current evolution of the language (say from champ to chomp), but at the same time I eagerly accept all evolutions of the language that happened prior to my momentous arrival on the planet (for example, I care not a whit that "arRIVal" originally had something to do with RIVers). It needn't be that way, obviously. I could just accept that champ has become archaic, chomp has taken its place, and the phrase is now chomping. But I don't do so. I groan.

I don't remember the precise moment when I stopped groaning (most of the time) but I think it must've been either when I started using English for several hours every day, or when I picked up Japanese. I do remember a situation when somebody called me dogmatic for insisting on 'correct' usage of an expression. But since then my idea of what languages are has become much more fluid and context-dependent, and I find it easy to accept that expressions can have several forms that are appropriate in different contexts. So a, let's say, streamlined form of an idiomatic expression does not make me groan in a casual conversation, but it still does when a journalist inadvertently uses it in writing and it gets published.

Edited by Bao on 10 December 2014 at 8:56pm

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dampingwire
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*, Italian*, French
Studies: Japanese

 
 Message 102 of 116
08 December 2014 at 10:41pm | IP Logged 
ScottScheule wrote:
I'm not sure why it wouldn't be "helpful." It was certainly
helpful to the point I was making!


I suppose so, but it seemed to me that if you can go back arbitrarily far you might as
well be saying that it's all wrong today and so there's no difference between your
"wrong" (i.e. the accepted norm of today) and his "wrong" (the erroneous speech, by
today's standard).

ScottScheule wrote:
Don't worry, I'm not going to stop groaning. In fact, the point of
my post was that I can't help groaning!


Good. Rage, rage against the dying of the light :-) It's when you stop noticing that
all hope has gone!

ScottScheule wrote:
I could just accept that champ has become archaic, chomp has taken
its place, and the phrase is now chomping.


"thou" has gone the way of the Dodo, and "champ" may be on its way out, but "champing
at the bit" is, I would say, still perfectly acceptable. There are plenty of fossils
lying around in English that live on only in a few set expressions.

ScottScheule wrote:
Also, not sure if you're being droll or not, but for the record,
Proto-World has nothing to do with the formation of the earth. It's the putative first
language of humankind, which would place it somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 years
ago (not terribly long at all compared to the age of the world itself!)


Ah no. I wasn't that clever, sadly :-) I just went back to a point where I could
reasonably guarantee that there was no language on Earth.

1 person has voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
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 Message 103 of 116
10 December 2014 at 5:49am | IP Logged 
There is perhaps a distinction to be made between language variations and true mistakes. If you look
at the sum of all usages in a society, you will certainly see differences that relate to age and reflect
changing norms and rules of acceptability. Certain forms that historically could have been considered
outright mistakes at a certain time now coexist and continue to evolve, perhaps leading to the
disappearance of the earlier forms.

So, for example, "champing" and "chomping" at the bit are today nearly interchangeable because both
are widely used regardless of considerations of etymology and historical accuracy. I think we can
assume that new usages, however incorrect relative to some contemporaneous standard, is generally
associated with youth and innovation. As they are wont to do, older speakers die off and take with
them the older linguistic forms.

As the same time, we see efforts in the press and certainly in the movies of authors trying to be
relevant and speak the language that is considered modern or contemporary. Otherwise they will
appear old-fashioned and stuffy. That is exactly the danger of insisting on rigid respect of certain
uses and rules. And a certain point one has to decide whether one wants to up-to-date or out-of-
date. So while we may deplore certain changes because we think speakers are wrong, often we have to
get on board with the changes if we don't want to be left behind and become archaic-sounding.

At the same time, we can and do make real mistakes in our native languages and even more so in our
foreign languages. Here it's not an issue of co-existing or competing usages but rather usages that are
considered improper or unacceptable at a given moment. For example, confusing "their" and "there" is
an egregious spelling mistake that I often mistake. These are not competing forms, at least for the
time being.
1 person has voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5573 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
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Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 104 of 116
11 December 2014 at 12:36am | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
wow, S_allard, you had 2430 posts and 2430 votes. I wrecked it for you, sorry! ;)


All I need is 1904 "useful" votes on this post and I'll be set.


5 persons have voted this message useful



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