Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby ZoraPrime » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:10 pm UTC

Him is used for predicate nouns, not accusative nouns. But America is sloppy with its English grammar if its intuitive that we don't actually realize there is a difference between predicate and accusative, or most people who haven't taken another language don't know what an accusative is.

Anyways, grammar really only becomes an issue when we are intuitive grammatical sense conflicts with the established (often arbitrarily so) convention, e.g. "I am good" vs. "I am well." It's just silly to make a fuss over, but we do. There is a reason for such statements. For example, we are often inclined to say "I am good" because "I am _____" is in any other case followed by an adjective, not an adverb (e.g. I am quick/strong/fine; not I am quickly/strongly/finely). Good just happens to be an exception where we feel we must do an adverb because... well, really, because some old dudes decided that's how it should be. Pretty much, anything that is accepted colloquially but not in writing for a really arbitrary reason.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Aiwendil » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:57 pm UTC

Good just happens to be an exception where we feel we must do an adverb because... well, really, because some old dudes decided that's how it should be. Pretty much, anything that is accepted colloquially but not in writing for a really arbitrary reason.


Actually, 'well' has existed as an adjective since Old English and in the predicative use you mentioned it is certainly an adjective. But I agree that it's silly to condemn 'I am good'.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby nasalhernia » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:48 am UTC

ZoraPrime wrote:Him is used for predicate nouns, not accusative nouns. But America is sloppy with its English grammar if its intuitive that we don't actually realize there is a difference between predicate and accusative, or most people who haven't taken another language don't know what an accusative is.


This is the story of my life. I couldn't tell the difference between those two cases until I learned German, which ended up improving my English.

I also hate it when people start a story in this manner: "Him and I go back a long way... we met in high school, blah blah blah...". Does anyone find this acceptable?
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:55 am UTC

Sure. I even use "Me and him", perhaps most of the time.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:12 am UTC

I use the "Me and X..." form quite often, but is there really any justification for that form other than usage? For a lot of other "erroneous" forms I've seen grammatical justifications, but I can't imagine any actual justification for using the objective case there. Not that that will stop me from using it.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:32 am UTC

Derek wrote:but is there really any justification for that form other than usage?


I am not sure what you're asking here.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Oflick » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:52 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:
Derek wrote:but is there really any justification for that form other than usage?


I am not sure what you're asking here.


I think he's asking if there is anyway you can justify using "Me and X" apart from saying it's common.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby goofy » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:30 pm UTC

Derek wrote:but is there really any justification for that form other than usage?


If you want grammatical justification, some people have speculated that what we call the objective forms aren't objective, but are really the default forms, used everywhere except immediately before the verb.

Many people have talked about how conjoined pronouns behave differently from single pronouns. In Barriers (1986), Chomsky suggests that case cannot be assigned to conjoined pronouns, and so the pronouns are free to take whatever case pragmatics requires.

Also see this paper.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

Derek wrote:is there really any justification for that form other than usage?


As, primarily a descriptivist (because it fits more with my scientific interests), I would argue that this is like saying "is there any justification for the strength of gravity following an inverse square law with distance other than experimental observation". If linguisitics is to be the scientific study of language, then it is required to be descriptivist and usage is the set of observations they have.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
Derek wrote:is there really any justification for that form other than usage?


As, primarily a descriptivist (because it fits more with my scientific interests), I would argue that this is like saying "is there any justification for the strength of gravity following an inverse square law with distance other than experimental observation". If linguisitics is to be the scientific study of language, then it is required to be descriptivist and usage is the set of observations they have.

Except that scientists have long looked for explanations for things like the inverse square law. As I understand it, it's because the surface area of a sphere grows with the square of the radius, so the intensity of whatever transmits gravity at a certain radius is proportional to the inverse square of the radius. Describing the phenomenon is the first step, then you try to explain it using as few and as simple assumptions as you can. To be clear here, I am not complaining about the "Me and X..." form, I'm just wondering if any explanation has ever been put forward.

Goofy: Thanks for the link, I'll read (or skim) through it later
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:05 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:
Derek wrote:is there really any justification for that form other than usage?


As, primarily a descriptivist (because it fits more with my scientific interests), I would argue that this is like saying "is there any justification for the strength of gravity following an inverse square law with distance other than experimental observation". If linguisitics is to be the scientific study of language, then it is required to be descriptivist and usage is the set of observations they have.

Except that scientists have long looked for explanations for things like the inverse square law. As I understand it, it's because the surface area of a sphere grows with the square of the radius, so the intensity of whatever transmits gravity at a certain radius is proportional to the inverse square of the radius. Describing the phenomenon is the first step, then you try to explain it using as few and as simple assumptions as you can. To be clear here, I am not complaining about the "Me and X..." form, I'm just wondering if any explanation has ever been put forward.

Goofy: Thanks for the link, I'll read (or skim) through it later


That argument would require that gravitational field is something emitted from the mass in all directions evenly (like light from a blackbody, the intensity of which goes down like the inverse square of distance) but this argument stops working nicely when you consider overlapping fields from more than one source. In this case, a test particle will be hit by two sets of emitted things and there is no obvious way to combine these. Of course, if you just go with the inverse square law as being as much meaning as there is, then Gauss's law seems fairly obvious and it becomes easy to add the fields. Anyway, in general, most arguments (that I've met) for an inverse square law require more induction than just assuming the inverse square law so are less Occam-favourable than assuming it.

Anyway, my point is essentially that Newton applied the idea of hypotheses non fingo too narrowly and that it should be applied in many more setting than it is (including linguistics IMO).
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Sean Quixote » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:06 pm UTC

Oflick wrote:Whenever someone asks for me on the phone, I reply "this is him", not the correct "this is he". I'm sure it annoys some people, but something about saying "this is he" just strikes me as wrong. Just my preference.

I guess I don't even know enough about grammar to understand why there's any difference between them. I usually will just say, "speaking," or even just "sup?" or "yo!" when I'm in that situation. :P

I also think every grammatical mistake I've made in this post should be acceptable.

I searched the thread and was surprised not to find the word "comma", or even a single "quo" on the first page, much less any discussion of what is probably my greatest grammatical pet peeve: Every time I have to put a quotation mark adjacent to a comma, my mind jams up like a gear with a bicycle spoke shoved in it. :mrgreen:

I actually tried looking up what I'm "supposed" to do on Wikipedia recently, only to find that, apparently, go figure, the Queen's and American English differ in their accepted conventions on the matter. So I have decided to simply continue doing as I always have, which is to put the comma inside if the quotation is actually, you know, a quotation; and outside if it's just one of those "air quotes" situations... Though, I see from your post you must have a different opinion. Is that one of the ones you were referring to? :D


Oh, and another one of mine is that I'm not really 100% sure I am using semicolons correctly. I'm pretty sure that, at least most of the time that I go ahead and decide to use them I'm doing so correctly, though not certain. And even the ones that I'm the least confident about, I've probably got some defense for the usage: I like to do it with words too, so why not grammar as well? "It" being, using "things" in general I guess :D, in what I think might possibly be a new way; though an intelligent-enough member of my audience, as I suppose it is, should be able to tell through context what I meant. :D

...How about those two instances of semicolons in this post? Those are fine, right? :| Also, you might notice in the second sentence of this post, I made a fairly conscious decision to forsake commas altogether after the first item on the list, mostly due to a generally way-too-high punctuation density. :P
Last edited by Sean Quixote on Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:09 pm UTC

Sean Quixote wrote:Oh, and another one of mine is that I'm not really 100% sure I am using semicolons correctly.
I used to think I was fine with colons but never sure about semicolons. Then I read the handy Oatmeal comics guide. Now I think I'm fine with semicolons but never sure about colons.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Oflick » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:15 pm UTC

Sean Quixote wrote:I actually tried looking up what I'm "supposed" to do on Wikipedia recently, only to find that, apparently, go figure, the Queen's and American English differ in their accepted conventions on the matter. So I have decided to simply continue doing as I always have, which is to put the comma inside if the quotation is actually, you know, a quotation; and outside if it's just one of those "air quotes" situations... Though, I see from your post you must have a different opinion. Is that one of the ones you were referring to? :D


Any mistake in my post was unintentional; I simply put that last line in because I figured I probably did have a mistake somewhere in there. From looking through this thread, it would seem my mistake was assuming "this is him" is incorrect.

Generally, I prefer the comma's, full stops etc. outside the inverted commas, except when I'm directly quoting someone. I wouldn't consider what I said in my first post a direct quotation, so I put the full stop outside.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby GuyOnTheInterweb » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:08 pm UTC

Oflick wrote:Whenever someone asks for me on the phone, I reply "this is him", not the correct "this is he".
What about an informal "That's me"? Throw in an exclamation mark if the call is from the National Lottery.

Aiwendil wrote:I don't know, things like 'ten items or less' really do sound wrong to me on a fairly basic level, in a way that those other baselessly proscribed constructions don't.
I get the feeling that "or less" points to "ten items" as a mass or mere indication of size rather than an exact count. "Picture 10 items in a basket. Now your basket should have that much or less." Thus one would somewhat be less in breach of the guideline with 11 items of groceries, where you are over the limit because of a 2-for-price-of-1 offer on cheese, rather than if you showed up at the till with 11 items of 24-pack Coca Cola cans.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Роберт » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:33 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Sean Quixote wrote:Oh, and another one of mine is that I'm not really 100% sure I am using semicolons correctly.
I used to think I was fine with colons but never sure about semicolons. Then I read the handy Oatmeal comics guide. Now I think I'm fine with semicolons but never sure about colons.

Did I just see an Oxford semicolon?
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Lazar » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:05 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Did I just see an Oxford semicolon?

I'm an opponent of the Oxford comma, and for some time I wondered how to deal with the question of serial semicolons - it would be inconsistent for me to use Oxford semicolons before "and" while omitting the Oxford commas. Eventually I read somewhere (I forget where) that the consistent thing is to use a comma in place of an Oxford semicolon - just as the potential Oxford comma is demoted one rank to null, the potential Oxford semicolon (which is really a kind of super-comma) is demoted one rank to a comma. But I'm not dogmatic - I'll use an Oxford comma or an Oxford semicolon if I think it's needed for clarity.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:11 pm UTC

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Lazar » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:16 pm UTC

There's ambiguity either way. If we construct a sentence like "I brought JFK, a stripper(,) and Stalin," then the Oxford comma introduces ambiguity. Honestly though, the thing that drove me away from the Oxford comma is the fact that it's not accepted in any other European language. It is to punctuation what the imperial system is to measurement.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby goofy » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:24 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:There's ambiguity either way. If we construct a sentence like "I brought JFK, a stripper(,) and Stalin," then the Oxford comma introduces ambiguity.


In what way?
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Lazar » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:25 pm UTC

Because "a stripper" could be an appositive referring to JFK. Without the Oxford comma, it's clear that this is a separate listed noun.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:27 am UTC

Lazar wrote:There's ambiguity either way. If we construct a sentence like "I brought JFK, a stripper(,) and Stalin," then the Oxford comma introduces ambiguity. Honestly though, the thing that drove me away from the Oxford comma is the fact that it's not accepted in any other European language. It is to punctuation what the imperial system is to measurement.


I'm not sure complex punctuation rules are transferable across languages in the way that measurements are transferable across nations.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:31 am UTC

There's ambiguity either way. If we construct a sentence like "I brought JFK, a stripper(,) and Stalin," then the Oxford comma introduces ambiguity. Honestly though, the thing that drove me away from the Oxford comma is the fact that it's not accepted in any other European language. It is to punctuation what the imperial system is to measurement.

Ambiguity with appositives exists in any list, since they are both denoted with commas, but only the lack of an Oxford comma allows for treating the final two items as a single appositive. For example, even without an Oxford comma "JFK, a stripper, Eisenhower and Stalin" is still ambiguous. In fact, since leaving out the Oxford comma can only remove this ambiguity at the end of a list, I would say that that makes it inconsistent, which is even worse. If appositives are ambiguous in any position, they may as well be ambiguous in all position.

The oxford comma is more consistent and matches how we (or at least I) speak. If other European languages don't use the oxford comma, well they're wrong too. It wouldn't be the first time (I mean, comma as the decimal point with period for grouping? Really?). :P
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Gigano » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:27 am UTC

In Dutch we have this common error which may exist in English as well - I'm not sure though - and it concerns the combination "a number of [plural noun]".

A Dutchman ought to say "een aantal (van) mensen gaat naar de wedstrijd" (a number of people is going to the match). This is because the subject 'een aantal' (a number) is singular, and the verb should therefore also be singular. But people usually say "een aantal mensen gaan naar de wedstrijd" (a number of people are going to the match), inferring that the subject is not 'een aantal' (a number) but rather 'mensen' (people) which is plural.

There is a discussion among Dutch linguists whether they should allow this (currently incorrect) combination. Technically it is incorrect because '(van) mensen' ([of] people) is a genitive and can therefore not be the subject of the sentence. However, contextually it is the subject. I believe that at least in British English that for example 'police' behaves as if it were plural. Same thing goes with a word like '(music) band'. In Dutch, those words are singular and people do conform to this rule when speaking publicly.

I think that "een aantal mensen gaan" (a number of people are going) should be allowed just because it is so commonplace nowadays, and the underlying grammar is pretty confusing for non-linguists because the genitive indicator 'van' (of) is almost always left out.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

"A number of people are..." is standard in English. There is no debate over this to my knowledge.

Gigano wrote:I believe that at least in British English that for example 'police' behaves as if it were plural. Same thing goes with a word like '(music) band'. In Dutch, those words are singular and people do conform to this rule when speaking publicly.

In American English, "Police" takes plural verbs, but "band" takes singular. "The police are coming", "The band is on stage". Also note that you can say "bands", but not "polices".
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Anonymously Famous » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:33 pm UTC

"A number of people are..." might be standard, but "A group of people is..." is pretty common.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby sorsoup » Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:41 pm UTC

I think that "een aantal mensen gaan" (a number of people are going) should be allowed just because it is so commonplace nowadays, and the underlying grammar is pretty confusing for non-linguists because the genitive indicator 'van' (of) is almost always left out.


I think the the idea of not 'allowing' a certain grammatical construction is fairly ridiculous, especially when its commonplace, but even for things that are rare, and I would imagine that whatever the dutch language union decides will be widely ignored. I'm glad there's no equivalent English language organisation.

Surely schools should be teaching the language based on how its used and understood in the contexts students will need to use it in, not how an organisation says it should be used. If employers, for instance, widely object to "een aantal mensen gaan" then teach students they should avoid it in formal situations, if almost no-one objects then there's no point teaching students not to say it.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:16 am UTC

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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Lazar » Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:21 am UTC

The Etymonline entry is interesting.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:16 am UTC

Lazar wrote:The Etymonline entry is interesting.

It's ok. :) It's a pity that it doesn't elaborate a little more on the history of the apostrophe issue. IIRC, there was a period of at least half a century where the opposite usage to the modern recommended pattern was popular, but I'm not sure how widespread that was. Hopefully, Goofy or someone with access to OED will be able to enlighten us.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby goofy » Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:18 pm UTC

MWDEU:
It's was apparently the more common form of the pronoun throughout the 17th and 18th centuries... The unapostrophized its was in competition with it's from the beginning and began its rise to dominance in the mid 18th century.


And from The Oxford Companion to the English Language:
it appears from the evidence that there was never a golden age in which the rules for the use of the possessive apostrophe in English were clear-cut and known, understood, and followed by most educated people.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby scratch123 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

I hate it when people complain about people who use (their and there) and (your and you're) wrong. When spoken they are said exactly the same so its not that hard to figure out which one they really mean when they are written. I think people who complain about these things are just desperate to complain about something or have an overly strict view of grammar.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:00 pm UTC

scratch123 wrote:(your and you're)


These are phonemically distinct in my idiolect as /jɔː/ and /jʊə̯/ respectively.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:04 pm UTC

scratch123 wrote:I hate it when people complain about people who use (their and there) and (your and you're) wrong. When spoken they are said exactly the same so its not that hard to figure out which one they really mean when they are written.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:17 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
scratch123 wrote:I hate it when people complain about people who use (their and there) and (your and you're) wrong. When spoken they are said exactly the same so its not that hard to figure out which one they really mean when they are written.
Sher, buht than agyen their our lahts uv weighs two spell thingz wear wee kan stil figger aut wat thei meen.

This was all fine until you used "figger" for "figure". That just crossed the line :P
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

Indeed, how is one supposed to understand the presence of a glide in <er>?
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Lazar » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:05 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Indeed, how is one supposed to understand the presence of a glide in <er>?

"Figger" is the standard pronunciation in British English.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:58 am UTC

Your dialect is wrong and you should feel wrong.

But in all seriousness, that's the primary reason why I'm against nearly every proposed English orthographic reform. Since we all use the same spellings or very similar spellings (are there any Englishes out there that use substantially different orthography?), it's seamlessly easy to be an American reading Australian newspapers or a Singaporean person reading a Scottish book, not to mention ESL teachers don't need to teach substantially different spelling systems depending on where they expect their students to be using their English skills.
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Derek » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:19 am UTC

I would seriously appreciate it though if British people would realize that some dialects do pronounce R's, and would stop using them for onomatopoeias and pronunciation spellings where R is not appropriate. You don't say anything like "figger", you say something like "figga". Just because you guys forgot how to pronounce your R's doesn't mean you can throw them about willy-nilly :P
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Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Postby Oflick » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:22 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:But in all seriousness, that's the primary reason why I'm against nearly every proposed English orthographic reform. Since we all use the same spellings or very similar spellings (are there any Englishes out there that use substantially different orthography?), it's seamlessly easy to be an American reading Australian newspapers or a Singaporean person reading a Scottish book, not to mention ESL teachers don't need to teach substantially different spelling systems depending on where they expect their students to be using their English skills.


It would be the influence of America on Australia, but I remember first reading the word "gaol" in school and having no idea what this word was. No student knew what it was. A teacher explained "it's how we spell 'Jail'". So my point is, if Australian's have trouble reading things in Australian English, I think Americans might have some as well.
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