English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Cathode Ray Sunshine » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

Ok guys, I've been speaking English for quite a few years now and I think I'm pretty good at it, but there's always a few things that kinda confuse me.

Let's say that I have two friends, John and Peter. If I wanted to say that I went to talk to to their parents, would I say :

"Yesterday I went to have a talk with Jonn's and Peter's parents?"

or

"Yesterday I went to have a talk with John and Peter's parents?"

To me, the first one looks odd, and the second seems like it would make sense if both John and Peter were brothers. So it's the first one correct? or are they both incorrect?
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Lazar » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:42 pm UTC

"Yesterday I went to have a talk with John and Peter's parents?"

I think this one is preferable in all situations, even if John and Peter aren't brothers.

"Yesterday I went to have a talk with Jonn's and Peter's parents?

It's not incorrect to throw in an extra possessive clitic as you've done here, but it sounds stilted.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Cathode Ray Sunshine » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:03 pm UTC

Thank you very much for your answer. I have another question, which is very similar to the one I asked. What If I wanted to say that I visited their houses, how would it be?

"I've visited John and Peter's house"

What I am unsure about it's if I use the plural or the singular. I'm saying that I've been to both the house of John and Peter, so I think the singular form is the one that should be used, since (if I'm getting this right), if I used "houses" I'm saying that both John and Peter own more than one house.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Lazar » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:11 pm UTC

No, if John and Peter each have one house, then you have to say, "I've visited John and Peter's houses." If you say, "I've visited John and Peter's house," it definitely means that John and Peter live in the same house.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Cathode Ray Sunshine » Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:18 pm UTC

Thanks a lot for your help. I guess this is one of those things that I really never paid much attention to. I'm guessing if I ever encountered a situation where I had to use that sentence structure I would try to find a way to go around it. Like I said, thanks a lot for your help :P
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Qaanol » Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:05 am UTC

You’ve certainly found an area of meaning that English does not have a natural and smooth method to convey. Here are some ways you could phrase them, and how I would parse them:

I’ve visited John’s house and I’ve visited Peter’s house. (Two houses belonging to different people.)
I’ve visited John’s house and Peter’s house. (Two houses belonging to different people.)
I’ve visited John’s and Peter’s houses. (Probably two houses belonging to different people, but possibly multiple houses each owned by one or more person.)
I’ve visited John and Peter’s house. (One house belonging to both John and Peter.)
I’ve visited John and Peter’s houses. (Possibly multiple houses belonging to both John and Peter, but possibly two houses belonging to different people.)

Yesterday I went to have a talk with John’s parents and a talk with Peter’s parents. (Two talks with different sets of parent.)
Yesterday I went to have a talk with John’s parents and Peter’s parents. (Probably one talk with two sets of parents, but possible two talks with different sets of parents.)
Yesterday I went to have a talk with John’s and Peter’s parents. (Probably one talk with two sets of parents, but possibly two talks with different sets of parents, and even possibly one talk with one set of parents, meaning John and Peter are siblings.)
Yesterday I went to have a talk with John and Peter’s parents. (One talk with one set of parents, meaning John and Peter are siblings.)
Yesterday I went to have a talk with John and Peter’s parent. (John and Peter are siblings with only one parent remaining, or they are half-siblings and the talk was with their shared parent.)
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Microscopic cog » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:56 pm UTC

What about "I've visited both John's and Peter's house"?

Or in OP's case, "I went and talked to both John's and Peter's parents".
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Monika » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:23 am UTC

Which of these expressions are right or wrong?
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:33 am UTC

As far as I know, the first one is standard and the second one is wrong/nonstandard. I don't think anyone will fault you for the second though, it makes about as much sense and a cursory Google search indicates a fair number of people are already using it.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Monika » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:15 am UTC

Thanks :) .


About John's and Peter's house: In practice, we rarely try to convey the information whether John and Peter live together or not when casually mentioning that we were at their house.
"You know John?" "Yes." "Do you know his significant other Peter?" "No." "Well I was at their house for dinner yesterday."
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:47 am UTC

I have never heard 'put my foot on it' before.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby HugsBoson » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:16 am UTC

Hello! I am a native English speaker who is starting college soon. It was recently brought to my attention how much my writing skills have degraded since high school. :oops: The essay I wrote for my college's placement test was atrocious. I notice myself struggling with grammar and sentence structure while writing even a small post such as this. Do you have any tips for cleaning up my messy writing?
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Grop » Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:54 pm UTC

(Hugsoson, I have no tip for you).

Here in France (and I suppose in other countries as well) you may buy cheap canned meat labelled "corned beef". Which makes me wonder... Apparently this product contains almost no carbs (typically 1% or less) so I suppose there is no corn in the can.

How do you guys understand it? Is it supposed to be corn-fed beef? Could it be that canned and corned are homophonous in some dialect? Can someone make some sense in the phrase "corned beef" describing this product?
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby HugsBoson » Sat Aug 27, 2011 8:44 pm UTC

Grop wrote:Here in France (and I suppose in other countries as well) you may buy cheap canned meat labelled "corned beef". Which makes me wonder... Apparently this product contains almost no carbs (typically 1% or less) so I suppose there is no corn in the can.

How do you guys understand it? Is it supposed to be corn-fed beef? Could it be that canned and corned are homophonous in some dialect? Can someone make some sense in the phrase "corned beef" describing this product?


I have wondered about the etymology of "corned beef," too. Corned beef is beef that has been preserved by salting. Another word for salting is "corning." Corned beef is therefore beef that has been "corned," or preserved with salt.

(Did I use quotation marks correctly above?)
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Anonymously Famous » Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:30 pm UTC

The quotation marks seem to be correct.

As for the origins of the "corned" in "corned beef":
Wikipedia wrote:The word corn derives from Old English, which is used to describe any small hard particles or grains.[4] In the case of "corned beef", the word refers to the coarse granular salts used to cure the beef.[3]
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Grop » Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:31 am UTC

WTF? Ah, okéoké :shock:

Thanks.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Lazar » Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:02 am UTC

As an addendum, we should note that corn (the noun) has different meanings in British and American English. In the US, corn means maize, but in Britain it can mean any plant that is made into flour.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Grop » Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:50 am UTC

Yes, I am already aware that "corn" can mean anything, as well as its opposite. But I didn't know it could (sort of) mean salt.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Makri » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:33 am UTC

Well, it could, but can't anymore. We don't know what a word could mean all the time. :mrgreen: Also, I'm not sure that "corned beef" is really synchronically morphologically linked to "corn" for all that many speakers. If I'm not mistaken, "corned" here seems to have gotten phonologically reduced in some varieties.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby poxic » Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:56 pm UTC

Yeah, "corn" doesn't mean salt anymore. It probably did a hundred years ago or more, when people needed to salt things to keep them from spoiling. You can still describe the salting process as corning, producing corned [thing], but you'll probably get confused looks from most people under 50. :wink:
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Kirby » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:53 pm UTC

HugsBoson wrote:Hello! I am a native English speaker who is starting college soon. It was recently brought to my attention how much my writing skills have degraded since high school. :oops: The essay I wrote for my college's placement test was atrocious. I notice myself struggling with grammar and sentence structure while writing even a small post such as this. Do you have any tips for cleaning up my messy writing?


Personally, I've found that reading quality texts helps. By quality texts, I mean texts that are published and have an editor - novels, some magazines (think Time or The Economist - leave the tabloids out), preferably literary in nature. The focus in academic texts tend to be exactness of language over beauty of prose. For recommendations as to specific books and the like, I suppose you could have a look at the books forum.

The other suggestion I have for you is to just write. Pick up a composition journal and try to fill a page on a regular basis. I've written some interesting compositions working through an A-Z project. (That is, write a page about some topic beginning with the letter 'A', then 'B', and so on.) Let it be a place to experiment with diction, syntax, and the like. The more you write, the better you will become at writing.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby tastelikecoke » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:14 pm UTC

Any tips in writing? Whenever I craft a story the point of view gets incoherent and when I write an essay my argument falters.

Also: wow, I thought corned beef was beef treated with corn or corn oil.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Anonymously Famous » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:55 pm UTC

I have not tips for story writing, but years ago I was given an outline of what an essay is supposed to look like, and it hasn't let me down since.

  1. State your thesis.
  2. In the same paragraph, state what supporting arguments you are going to make.
  3. In the following paragraphs, expound upon each argument, usually one paragraph per argument.
  4. The conclusion, where you repeat your arguments and your thesis, kind of like a backwards introductory paragraph.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby JamesP » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:25 pm UTC

I'm actually Scottish so I should be able to speak English, but this is nagging me.

"The first is whether the choice of Balliol was the right one- legally and pragmatically."

Does this make sense? I'm trying to state that there's a debate over Balliol's inauguration as king of Scotland- both as a legal matter (primogeniture) and whether it was best for Scotland (which I've condensed to 'pragmatically'. I think it's easier than I'm making it but I've hit a wall.

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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:34 pm UTC

I would chose "legally or pragmatically", and ideally I'd have a 'whether' there.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Kirby » Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:50 pm UTC

JamesP wrote:I'm actually Scottish so I should be able to speak English, but this is nagging me.

"The first is whether the choice of Balliol was the right one- legally and pragmatically."

Does this make sense? I'm trying to state that there's a debate over Balliol's inauguration as king of Scotland- both as a legal matter (primogeniture) and whether it was best for Scotland (which I've condensed to 'pragmatically'. I think it's easier than I'm making it but I've hit a wall.

Bitte, mein lieblings.


I'm no grammarian, but I really feel like you're missing a noun between "first" and "is." The first what? Debate? Order of business?

(Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken, or if this is a matter of local variation)

Something like "Our first order of business tonight is whether..." reads much more naturally to me.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Lazar » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:03 pm UTC

Kirby wrote:I'm no grammarian, but I really feel like you're missing a noun between "first" and "is." The first what? Debate? Order of business?

(Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken, or if this is a matter of local variation)

Something like "Our first order of business tonight is whether..." reads much more naturally to me.

Presumably there's a preceding sentence that justifies it. "We are faced with two questions. The first is..."
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:39 pm UTC

You might want to add "both" before legally, if you're trying to say that the question of whether or not he was a good choice had two subquestions to it.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Cathode Ray Sunshine » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:24 pm UTC

Maybe it's just me as a foreign English speaker, but "interpretated" should totally be a valid word. You have interpretation, but you don't interpretate something, you interpret. I don't know, it just feels weird.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Lazar » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:33 pm UTC

Cathode Ray Sunshine wrote:Maybe it's just me as a foreign English speaker, but "interpretated" should totally be a valid word. You have interpretation, but you don't interpretate something, you interpret. I don't know, it just feels weird.

It's true, English is quite inconsistent in its treatment of Latin verbs of the first conjugation (-āre); some take the "-ate" suffix, but some don't. Sometimes both forms are acceptable: for example, most English speakers say "illuminate", but the alternate form "illumine" is sometimes found in formal or archaic writing. Likewise, "oblige" and "obligate" are both used. Sometimes it depends on dialect: American English speakers orient themselves, but British English speakers orientate themselves.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby firechicago » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:13 pm UTC

Lazar wrote: Likewise, "oblige" and "obligate" are both used.


This case is even weirder because the two terms have actually taken on slightly different meanings. Obliged is used for informal or weak duties, while obligated is used for strong and/or formal ones. (So, for example, a contract obligates you to follow its terms, while someone saying "Hello" obliges you to return the greeting.) Not to mention idiomatic uses like "much obliged" meaning "thank you."
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Schrottrocker » Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:00 am UTC

I have a question to you native English speakers:

Does the word "willeth" exist?

For clarity:
You know that the 3rd pers. sing. can have the archaic -th ending instead of -s (e.g. "here beginneth a new chapter") and this goes for all verbs, even those that Shakespeare and his mates did not know yet - for example, "my friend yiffeth" would be possible by sheer grammar rules.
Now, "will" exists in two versions: the modal verb "will" (with past tense "would") vs. the full verb - "he wills it", "the people willed".
:arrow: Let's combine both: "His Majesty willeth it"? Is that possible?
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby poxic » Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:08 am UTC

According to Wiktionary, yes. I can't say that I've ever heard it used, even while browsing Shakespeare.

Then again, I don't usually pay attention to archaic grammatical rules. Current ones are enough of a bother. :wink:
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Schrottrocker » Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:12 am UTC

Thank you :) Yes I agree, I was just curious :wink:
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Derek » Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:17 am UTC

On the full verb it is certainly possible, as you said "this goes for all verbs". I don't think you can apply it to the modal verb though.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Makri » Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:29 am UTC

My first guess would be that it's a hyperarchaism. To modern English speakers, this use of "will", with a (pro)nominal object, looks like a full verb, so perhaps someone though they'd just apply the -eth ending there, too. It'd be surprising to find it attested historically, since the form is not supposed to exist.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:29 am UTC

I'm not sure how consistent the rules are for [+old timey] conjugations.
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Schrottrocker » Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:40 pm UTC

Well, thing is, ~500 years ago rules were not consistent, today they are and that includes archaisms. While Shakespeare alternates between -s and -th just as he likes modern authors will usually employ only -th to point out clearly they are using archaic language. While Shakespeare uses 'thou art' and 'thou beest' interchangeably Tolkien uses 'art' for indicative only and 'beest' for subjunctive only.
So, even though there are no general rules how to handle archaisms modern speakers are usually quick to build up rules that fit in our modern language patterns. That would be my point to justify construing forms like that. :wink: But then I'm weird, I like playing with language :mrgreen:
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Makri » Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:53 pm UTC

The point is, though, that the -eth ending wasn't there on will originally. It is conceivablethat during the period of loss of the ending, willeth sometimes appeared as hypercorrection, but I'd consider it unlikely, because -eth wasn't lost so much as supplanted by -s.

Also, one could also say that with respect to verbal morphology, Tolkien simply wrote more archaic than Shakespeare. Although of course that means that he doesn't accurately depict any state of the language. Or maybe he wrote how an educated linguist at Shakespeares time would have written, had he existed. :mrgreen: Something like that...
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Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

Postby Lazar » Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:17 pm UTC

Schrottrocker wrote:Well, thing is, ~500 years ago rules were not consistent, today they are and that includes archaisms. While Shakespeare alternates between -s and -th just as he likes modern authors will usually employ only -th to point out clearly they are using archaic language. While Shakespeare uses 'thou art' and 'thou beest' interchangeably Tolkien uses 'art' for indicative only and 'beest' for subjunctive only.
So, even though there are no general rules how to handle archaisms modern speakers are usually quick to build up rules that fit in our modern language patterns. That would be my point to justify construing forms like that. :wink: But then I'm weird, I like playing with language :mrgreen:

I disagree - these rules weren't concocted by modern authors for their own convenience. They may never have been consistently followed, but they were set down 400 years ago. The King James Bible (searchable here), contemporaneous with Shakespeare, is pretty much the perfect prescriptive example. It doesn't have a single instance of "beest" or "gives".
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