convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

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convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby nike » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:37 am UTC

Heya,

I've got until today, 14:15 UTC +1 (that is, two and a half hours from now) to prepare something to brighten the mood of one of our more... remote professors.
This was the homework he left us:

Convert the following passage into a more informal style (as e.g. to family and friends):
"My mother was somewhat displeased when she observed that I had omitted to remove my soiled garments from the kitchen and place them in a more appropriate location, a task which I had given her an undertaking that I would perform before Father's [sic] return from his place of employment."

This is what I came up with so far:
"My mum was pretty upset when she saw that I hadn't taken my dirty laundry from the kitchen and put it where it belongs, even though I'd promised her to do it before dad came home from work."

I guess this fulfills the task, but if somebody had a totally exaggerated, slang, or comic version of this, that would make my day. (And the professors, I hope)
Suggestions?
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:03 pm UTC

Why the [sic] after "Father's"? Do you think there was some mistake with that? Actually, you're the one with the mistake, as "dad" should be capitalized in your version.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby nike » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:50 pm UTC

you capitalize "father"? :shock:

I will gladly accept that Dad should be capitalized, but if so, what about Mum? mum?
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby jaap » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:59 pm UTC

nike wrote:you capitalize "father"? :shock:

I will gladly accept that Dad should be capitalized, but if so, what about Mum? mum?

You capitalise Father/Mother/Mum/Dad/Granddad/etc. if you use the word as your particular relative's name rather than an ordinary noun.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:03 pm UTC

nike wrote:you capitalize "father"? :shock:

I will gladly accept that Dad should be capitalized, but if so, what about Mum? mum?
When is Father getting home?
When is my father getting home?

Do you see the difference?
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby Eugo » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:12 pm UTC

jaap wrote:You capitalise Father/Mother/Mum/Dad/Granddad/etc. if you use the word as your particular relative's name rather than an ordinary noun.

Is there anyone with such a name?
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:17 pm UTC

It doesn't literally have to be their given name to be the proper noun used to refer to that person. See my example again, for instance.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby Eugo » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:23 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:It doesn't literally have to be their given name to be the proper noun used to refer to that person. See my example again, for instance.

I saw it, and still don't understand the capitalization in English. It looks random to me. I have seen words (mostly nouns, but not exclusively) capitalized without any reason. In your first example, it looks like it mentions a member of some hierarchy, rank of a father. Does that include any rank? IOW, "the major is coming" vs "the Major is coming" - which is correct?
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby nike » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:41 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
nike wrote:you capitalize "father"? :shock:

I will gladly accept that Dad should be capitalized, but if so, what about Mum? mum?
When is Father getting home?
When is my father getting home?

Do you see the difference?


I do, and since it's obviously in accordance to what our professor wrote, I will "unquestionedly" accept it. Too tired to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of selective capitalization, my native language being one of the few languages (or the only one?) that capitalizes ALL nouns (and verbs and adjectives, too, if they happen to be nouns on occasion).
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:54 pm UTC

It's not random. In one case, "Father" is the name by which you address and refer to the person. In the other, "father" is a common noun that refers to being a male parent.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:00 pm UTC

Eugo wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:It doesn't literally have to be their given name to be the proper noun used to refer to that person. See my example again, for instance.

I saw it, and still don't understand the capitalization in English. It looks random to me. I have seen words (mostly nouns, but not exclusively) capitalized without any reason. In your first example, it looks like it mentions a member of some hierarchy, rank of a father. Does that include any rank? IOW, "the major is coming" vs "the Major is coming" - which is correct?

It's not random, and it has nothing to do with rank.

In modern English, common nouns should not be capitalized (unless they occur at the start of the sentence), and proper nouns (i.e., names) should be. Occasionally, people capitalize other words for emphasis, or to give their writing a somewhat old-fashioned look - it was quite common to capitalize all nouns a century or so ago (I'm sure Goofy can give a more exact date).

In the example given earlier
When is Father getting home? "Father" is capitalized because it is being used as a name.
When is my father getting home? "father" is not capitalized because it is being used as a common noun.

This has nothing to do with rank - it can apply to anyone or anything.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:15 pm UTC

In the rank example, I would say "the Major" or "the General" if it was common to refer to this person just by their title.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:20 pm UTC

Eugo wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:It doesn't literally have to be their given name to be the proper noun used to refer to that person. See my example again, for instance.

I saw it, and still don't understand the capitalization in English. It looks random to me. I have seen words (mostly nouns, but not exclusively) capitalized without any reason. In your first example, it looks like it mentions a member of some hierarchy, rank of a father. Does that include any rank? IOW, "the major is coming" vs "the Major is coming" - which is correct?


"the major is coming" would be correct. If "M/major" was being used as the name e.g. "M/major is coming" it should be capitalised. That said, I think nowadays there is very much a trend towards only capitalising actual names and dropping the capital on non-name proper nouns.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby Eugo » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:22 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:It's not random. In one case, "Father" is the name by which you address and refer to the person. In the other, "father" is a common noun that refers to being a male parent.

OK, then this is a cultural difference. Here, you can call anyone by the relationship title, but it is not considered a name. It's just a word you use to address someone. Only if it becomes a nickname, then it is considered a name: if someone's nickname is Uncle, then anyone can call him that, relatives or not, and then it's capitalized. Any nephews, however, will never consider "uncle" to be a name for their uncle. He either appears (and is addressed) by a personal name, or a nickname. Anything else is not a name, just a common noun (or, sometimes, adjective).

Still somewhat confused as to how to detect the different usages in English. Your example just showed me a whole forest I never entered.

That said, I think nowadays there is very much a trend towards only capitalising actual names and dropping the capital on non-name proper nouns.

Trend? Is there any rule to it?
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:34 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:In the rank example, I would say "the Major" or "the General" if it was common to refer to this person just by their title.

Hmmm. I'll pay that; I might even be tempted to write "The Major" or "The General", although I guess that looks a bit odd when referring to a person.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:38 pm UTC

Eugo wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:It's not random. In one case, "Father" is the name by which you address and refer to the person. In the other, "father" is a common noun that refers to being a male parent.

OK, then this is a cultural difference. Here, you can call anyone by the relationship title, but it is not considered a name. It's just a word you use to address someone. Only if it becomes a nickname, then it is considered a name: if someone's nickname is Uncle, then anyone can call him that, relatives or not, and then it's capitalized. Any nephews, however, will never consider "uncle" to be a name for their uncle. He either appears (and is addressed) by a personal name, or a nickname. Anything else is not a name, just a common noun (or, sometimes, adjective).

Still somewhat confused as to how to detect the different usages in English. Your example just showed me a whole forest I never entered.

That said, I think nowadays there is very much a trend towards only capitalising actual names and dropping the capital on non-name proper nouns.

Trend? Is there any rule to it?


1. Uncle is rather different. In my dialect, mother and father (and their many variants) are the only ones ever used on their own whilst the others are either used like a title or not at all whereas it is the norm to refer to one's parents as Mother and Father (and their variants) in which case, it is being used much as you describe the use of nicknames and so ought (formally) to be capitalised. In general, if it's followed by the person's name or preceded by "the", "a(n)" or some possessive pronoun, don't capitalise it, otherwise, do.

2. As a descriptivist (not that you'd know it from my last post/the first bit of this post), I'm not entirely sure what you mean. There isn't really any rule to language at all as I see it other than that speech (generally) should convey ideas. All I meant was that there is a noticeable shift towards less capitalisation (and punctuation as well; or at least, less varied punctuation).
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby Eugo » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:22 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
Eugo wrote:Trend? Is there any rule to it?

2. As a descriptivist (not that you'd know it from my last post/the first bit of this post), I'm not entirely sure what you mean. There isn't really any rule to language at all as I see it other than that speech (generally) should convey ideas. All I meant was that there is a noticeable shift towards less capitalisation (and punctuation as well; or at least, less varied punctuation).

Since ideas are human thought, and the human thought has invented logic as a set of rules for correct inference, some logic helps when it exists in a language. Some rules come handy, so that you can guess a meaning of something you hear the first time - may it be simple analogy, or form which follows the same pattern you already saw, or the way the new expression is deduced from its antecedent may resemble, if not entirely emulate, the way other expressions are. This kind of regularity helps a lot when you learn a language, be it your first or your fourth.

My question is whether there is, or there used to be, some set of capitalization rules for English, or if not a rule then a set list of cases. And if the trend is as you describe it, is the rule gradually abandoned? Or there was no firm rule, but just a pattern of general usage, with seasonal changes?
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:45 pm UTC

Eugo wrote:Here, you can call anyone by the relationship title, but it is not considered a name. It's just a word you use to address someone.
In English, if you call someone by the relationship title, or their rank, or anything else along those lines without qualifying it with a determiner, it gets capitalized. The reason it typically wouldn't be with "uncle" alone is that most people have many uncles. But it certainly is if you add the name to it:

I'm excited because Uncle Tom is visiting.
I'm excited because my uncle Tom is visiting.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby Yakk » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:20 pm UTC

"Daddy got back from de mines, an Momma did tan my hide where the sun don't shine, 'cause m' filthy underthings where a-soaking in the sink 'stead of away like I'd-a said I would did."

Needs work. And far past the deadline, naturally.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby nike » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:18 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:"Daddy got back from de mines, an Momma did tan my hide where the sun don't shine, 'cause m' filthy underthings where a-soaking in the sink 'stead of away like I'd-a said I would did."

Needs work. And far past the deadline, naturally.


That made me laugh very hard. If I'd read it out in class, nobody would have gotten it, so maybe it's even better I didn't have it then.
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Re: convert... into a more informal style (quick!)

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:24 am UTC

Eugo wrote:My question is whether there is, or there used to be, some set of capitalization rules for English, or if not a rule then a set list of cases. And if the trend is as you describe it, is the rule gradually abandoned? Or there was no firm rule, but just a pattern of general usage, with seasonal changes?


There are capitalisation *rules* which are what Gmal is talking about however the trend is towards a much more relaxed rule where only words at the start of sentences and actual names be they of people/places/etc. (like John or Sweden) are capitalised.
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