English spoken around the world

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Wrey, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. Wrey

    Wrey New Member

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    This topic came up between my boyfriend and me the other night. He is a Spanish teacher here in Puerto Rico and although he cannot claim English as a native language, his vocabulary is impressive.

    He questioned me on the use of the words thou and thee. He had come under the impression that they were separate pronouns, the former being the formal and the later being the informal. I explained that they were in fact the same word in the nominative and oblique cases respectively. He was also under the impression that these words were in current use. Not being a native speaker, he did not realize that these words represent, in fact, an antique, informal counterpart to the pronoun you and that at one time the pronoun you was considered to be the formal for the second person singular.

    (Whew!)

    This conversation got me to thinking about the different English speaking peoples here at LPSG and the subtle differences I notice in the way different posters from different parts of the world make use of the English language.

    We’re all pretty aware of the cliché lists of words that are different in England and America: truck – lorry, elevator – lift, policeman – bobby, etc. But there are more subtle differences that I notice from time to time in posts.

    In the states, Americans would not use the word nice to refer to the taste of food. Americans say good. Americans would rarely create the grammatical structure you need not do, and even more rarely you needn’t do.

    Yes, I did study lingustics, but am I alone in my crazy little world? Do you ever notice these differences? For those many members not from the states, what do you notice about the American usage of English? What stands out to you?

    Many thanks!
    Wrey


     
  2. frizzle

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    I can almost guarantee a person is English just from the way they talk on the internet, it's usually a fool-proof way of proving it, although there are some exceptions.

    So yes, it is easily noticeable.
     
  3. Wrey

    Wrey New Member

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    Yes, I agree it is noticeable, but the question was what do you notice? There are a huge number of differences that I notice, almost always grammatical, not vocabulary.

    :biggrin1:
     
  4. Pye

    Pye
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    I notice how people incorrectly use myself vs me and it's fingernails on a chalkboard. It has become so misused that I've heard it on newscasts and presidential addresses. People usually seem to use myself when they are trying to sound more proper and they go and fuck it up. (There I go ending a sentence with a preposition)
     
  5. Principessa

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    Thee and thou while English are incredibly antiquated. When I hear thou I think of the writings of Shakespeare and thee was last used routinely in the King James version of The Bible.

    Non-native English speakers tend to invert the verb in a sentence; while British people are less likely to use contractions. They will often say cannot rather than can't.

    Agreed, you Brits talk funny. :biggrin1:
     
  6. Wrey

    Wrey New Member

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    Actually thou and thee are the same word, just as I and me are the same word. Here is how they function:


    Prithy tell, art thou my husband?

    In this sentence the word thou is the subject. The word can also be described as being in the 'nominative case.'



    I create thee Lord Burly, that thou might enjoy thy retirement in greater comfort.

    In this sentence the word thee is the direct object. Because English has reduced nearly all cases outside of the nominative into one form, it is refered to as the 'oblique case.' The obvious standout in this sentence is the form thy which represents the same word in the 'genetive case.' This case is sometimes refered to as the 'possessive case,' but this term can confuse because not all uses of this case actually refer to possession.




    As far as the verb inversion, yes, I notice that one too from those who are not native speakers. My B/F also regularly inverts the noun and adjective to conform with standard Spanish grammar.
     
  7. Principessa

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    I thought that Spanish speakers often put the adjectives in what I would consider to be the 'wrong' place; but wasn't sure. :redface:

    Unfortunately, I can't even conjugate verbs in Spanish even though I took it in high school. :redface: My knowledge of the Spanish language is limited to what one might find on the menu in a restaurant.
    We commit to memory things which are important to us. Most people learn curse words first; for me that means food. :tongue: For instance I can say, No thank you, I do not like rabbit stew in three languages.:smile:
    • Ningún gracias, yo no tienen gusto del guisado del conejo.
    • Aucun merci, je n'aiment pas le ragoût de lapin.
    • Nessun grazie, io non gradiscono lo stufato del coniglio.
    njqt466

     
  8. Principessa

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    I thought that Spanish speakers often put the adjectives in what I would consider to be the 'wrong' place; but wasn't sure. :redface:

    Unfortunately, I can't even conjugate verbs in Spanish even though I took it in high school. :redface: My knowledge of the Spanish language is limited to what one might find on the menu in a restaurant.

    We commit to memory things which are important to us. Most people learn curse words first; for me that means food. :tongue: For instance I can say, No thank you, I do not like rabbit stew in three languages.:smile:
    • Ningún gracias, yo no tienen gusto del guisado del conejo.
    • Aucun merci, je n'aiment pas le ragoût de lapin.
    • Nessun grazie, io non gradiscono lo stufato del coniglio.
    njqt466

     
  9. No_Strings

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    English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish.

    There's no 'British accent', and we all talk a lot differently, as we are seperate countries. :wink:
     
  10. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    I've noticed, of course, though I think you are wrong about Americans never using the word 'nice' to describe the taste of food.
     
  11. Principessa

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    You are correct; but he didn't mention the UK in his initial post.
    I can actually distinguish an Irish accent from a Scottish brogue, or an English accent. Don't think I've ever met anyone from Wales so I may just assume they were English.:smile:
     
  12. Wrey

    Wrey New Member

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    I must concede the point. Never would be strong to say. It does seem a strange usage, though. It just doesn't 'ring true' to my American ears.
     
  13. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    "That tastes nice," might be more rare than "that tastes good," even if they are both used, but what about "the soup had a nice taste to it?"
     
  14. Wrey

    Wrey New Member

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    Of course. The construction does comes off a bit, well.... twee. I'm sure that usages more common on one side of the pond can be found in use on either side. I cannot be the only American familiar with the word fortnight, but to say it has any common usage in America is a bit of a stretch.
     
  15. Principessa

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    Fortnight isn't used in everyday speech. I am familiar withi it only because of its use in the writing of romance novels and crossword puzzles.


    NineInchCock_160IQRe: English spoken around the world
    "That tastes nice," might be more rare than "that tastes good," even if they are both used, but what about "the soup had a nice taste to it?"

    NIC_160IQ, you talk funny for an American. :tongue: "The soup had a nice taste to it." Might be grammatically correct; but it's not something I can see myself saying. I would be more likely to say, "the soup had an interesting flavor to it."
     
  16. headbang8

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    True, Wrey. People can pick up different words, but find it harder to change the way they construct their sentences.

    For me, the surest giveaway is different from, different to and different than.

    Another frequent marker is haven't got vs. don't have.

    Most of the vocabulary differences occur around informal words that describe people. Bloke, mate, tart, lad, or lass vs. guy, pal, buddy, chick or babe. Would you rather be an average joe, or the man on the Clapham omnibus? Yiddish borrowings are a source of many American people-words, like schmoe, schmuck or mensch.

    Swear words and insults always show some local flavour. Though the words pop up on both sides of the Atlantic, my sense tells me that more Americans are dickheads and more Britons are fuckwits. I always reveal myself as an American speaker when driving, and wonder aloud "Why can't that bozo learn to use his turn signals?"

    Which reminds me. Words associated with cars seem to be peculiarly local. Think of bonnet, boot, carriageway, indicator, overtake, glove-box, gearbox, motorway, hot hatch, saloon, petrol, wing mirror, reversing. I wonder why?
     
  17. earllogjam

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    I usually cannot tell if the person is an English speaker from another country just by the text, with Gisella being the exception as her text reads as broken Brazilian English, charming as it may be. But most standard modern everyday English text is usually indistinguishable from one country to another for example - in Fizzle's text there is nothing that would mark him being from England; this is usually the case with all the Britons here on the board for me. You can recite his text out loud and it would sound like perfect American English. Since I read text in my own accent - it comes across as American. The only markers for me are word spellings that are distinct to a country, for example, centre vs. center, theatre vs. theater, tonne vs. ton, arse vs. ass. These mark people from Canada and England respectively. But most people now a days do not use provincial words and Old English when communicating, and the rapid standardization of English text and spelling of words worldwide makes it difficult to distingush between the various written forms of English.

    It is also important to understand that America is comprised my many foriegn English speaking people, Mexican, Philipinos, Russian, Polish, Indian, Chinese, British, Australian, New Zealanders...etc. and they are considered American if they reside here regardless of what broken English or dialect they speak. This is a darned big country with thousands of dialects and mannerisms in people's speech patterns, phrases, and word choices. It would follow that there is a wide variety of ways to put together sentences just in this country alone. So trying to pick out a non-American speaker of English with just word usage patterns admist all these "Americans" is difficult to say the least.

    As a generalization I have noticed is that British people have a superior command of the English language than most Americans. Their English is much more percise, colorful and direct and not mired in overly pleasant phrases or doublespeak as in America. For example, a subway warning in Britain would be "Mind the Gap", simple, direct, economical, and precise. While in America that same warning would probably go something like, "Please Watch Your Step While Exiting," in comparison, ambiguous, overly polite, indirect, and verbose.
     
  18. ActionBuddy

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    "That Earllogjam tastes nice," might be more rare than "that Earllogjam tastes good", even if they are both used, but what about "the Earllogjam had a nice taste to it?"

    mmmmm...

    Lol... hot chest, Earllogjam!

    Onan
     
  19. titan1968

    titan1968 Active Member

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    I agree that there might be fewer differences between the written forms of British English and American English than there once were, but the differences are still apparent. For instance, the syntax (word order) is noticeably different; the significantly higher use of adverbs in British English; the use of word tags (e.g. It's raining, isn't it?) in British English (hardly used in American English); the punctuation. With respect to idiomatic expressions British English is much richer than American English.

    Having studied with English and American students, I have come to the conclusion that Canadian English is somewhere in the middle-- not quite one or the other, closer to British English in some instances (e.g. spelling, use of adverbs and word tags) and to American in other ones (e.g the use of 'truck' instead of 'lorry').

     
  20. simcha

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    Actually Welsh accents are quite distinct. Watch "Torchwood" on BBC America. Not only is the series excellent but you hear some fine examples of Welsh accents.
     
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