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Author Topic:   Question on English Language to British Members
InGodITrust
Member (Idle past 2549 days)
Posts: 53
From: Reno, Nevada, USA
Joined: 05-02-2009


Message 1 of 79 (542272)
01-08-2010 3:00 PM


The British use the English language more skillfully than Americans do. I don't mean here at EVC necessarily, but on average throughout the whole population.

So I'm curious if you are wrestling, in England, with a problem we wrestle with in America: the "he/she" problem. An example is in the sentence "When a fire fighter enters a smokey building, he/she must follow strict safety proceedures." We don't know if the fire fighter is male or female, and we don't want to offend anyone by using either "he" or "she" alone.

Here are some of the ways we handle this problem in the United States:

1) We use the plural "they". So the sentence becomes "When a fire fighter enters a smokey building, they must follow strict safety proceedures." We use this solution more often in speech than in writing, and it is probably the most common solution we use in speech.

2) We make "fire fighter" plural, and write "When fire fighters enter a smokey building, they must follow strict safety proceedures."

3) We write "he or she", "s/he", or "he/she".

Is this a problem in England, or do you have it resolved? Just curious; thanks in advance for any replies.

IGIT


Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 2 of 79 (542277)
01-08-2010 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by InGodITrust
01-08-2010 3:00 PM


Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
The British use the English language more skillfully than Americans do. I don't mean here at EVC necessarily, but on average throughout the whole population.

Well I am sort of glad that we give that impression. But I am not sure it is true. This is mildly off topic - But I have wondered previously whether Americans (men especially) are less keen to invoke their full vocabulary than Brits for fear of sounding sort of "intellectualyl camp".

I would not dream of speaking the way I write here in common parlance (there is a good example - I don't think I have ever uttered the word "parlance". And nor do I intend to do so anytime soon).

Are the British just less afraid of expressing themselves in writing in a form that would sound vaguely ridiculous if spoken?

It always strikes me that American men write much more how they talk than I do. But that is a sweeping generalisation that I am happy to renege (another word I have never actually spoken) on if people disagree.

Is this a problem in England, or do you have it resolved? Just curious; thanks in advance for any replies.

I think we have the same issues and quandary (another word I have never spoken) that you guys do with respect to the examples you highlighted.


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hooah212002
Member (Idle past 50 days)
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 3 of 79 (542280)
01-08-2010 3:46 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Straggler
01-08-2010 3:20 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
Americans write the way they speak because either

a) they are too lazy to spell properly

b) they don't KNOW how to spell properly

c) they think they are cool if they spell using "1337 sp33k", conversely, they may perceive only nerds to know proper grammar.


Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people
-Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Straggler, posted 01-08-2010 3:56 PM hooah212002 has responded
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 4 of 79 (542281)
01-08-2010 3:56 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by hooah212002
01-08-2010 3:46 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
I am not so much talking lazy spelling here as vocab.

There are many intelligent people here at EvC. On all sides of the debate. And from various countries.

But the Brit contingent seem most able/inclined to express themselves in a manner that is quite pseudo-intellectual sounding in terms of vocab (IMHO) in a way that the Americans do not.

Maybe I am deluding myself in such a way as to justify my own relatively flamboyant means of expression. Or maybe I am deluding myself that my means of expression is any different or more worthy of comment than any other.

But there still seems (in my mind) to be a cultural difference in terms of use of language that is about willingness to use, rather than ability.


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hooah212002
Member (Idle past 50 days)
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 5 of 79 (542284)
01-08-2010 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Straggler
01-08-2010 3:56 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
In that sense, I agree. Whenever I "talk all fancy like", my old lady calls me snobby.

It may be due to media. Our media generally uses language for dummies. When I listen to BBC radio, I hear proper grammar. I don't know how many times I have mentally corrected simple grammar whilst watching TV or listening to American radio. When i listen to the BBC, I only notice having to do it when they interview......Americans.

So I would venture to guess that you guys hear and see proper language more than we do.

Edited by hooah212002, : don't mind my shift key

Edited by hooah212002, : No reason given.


Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people
-Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Straggler, posted 01-08-2010 3:56 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 6 of 79 (542287)
01-08-2010 4:21 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by hooah212002
01-08-2010 4:08 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
So I would venture to guess that you guys hear and see proper language more than we do.

I dunno. Maybe.

Would you say that there is an anti-intellectualism in the US that precludes writing in the most articulate manner possible?

As I mentioned before I don't speak as I write. If I did I would be considered some kind of weirdo. That is a form of bias and prejudice in it's own way.


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hooah212002
Member (Idle past 50 days)
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 7 of 79 (542290)
01-08-2010 4:37 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Straggler
01-08-2010 4:21 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
Would you say that there is an anti-intellectualism in the US that precludes writing in the most articulate manner possible?

YES..

YES..

FUCK YES. Look how Obama was chastised for articulating and pronouncing nuclear, Iraq etc.. The media hounds him to this day because he annunciates. I know you are talking about writing, but this is the attitude and it is reflected in "our" written word. Wasn't it an American who wanted to re-write the dictionary so all words were written as they sounded?

Schools are barely getting children by. I learned better writing skills AFTER high school than while IN high school (no college). It is a daily occurence, like I said, to read something, or hear a program that has either horrible spelling or atrocious grammar.

I would also say that most American's vocabulary is pretty slim, so using eloquent words when writing blows right past your audience.


Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people
-Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan


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 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 01-08-2010 4:21 PM Straggler has not yet responded

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Briterican
Member (Idle past 2177 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 8 of 79 (542297)
01-08-2010 5:04 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by hooah212002
01-08-2010 3:46 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
hooah212002 writes:

Americans write the way they speak because either

a) they are too lazy to spell properly

b) they don't KNOW how to spell properly

c) they think they are cool if they spell using "1337 sp33k", conversely, they may perceive only nerds to know proper grammar.

Unfair my good sir! I'm an American and I can spell correctly in both British and American English, and I do so without any thought of one being "right" and one "wrong". They are just different. Depends on your audience. Language evolves. The Americans spell things the way they do because these spellings were standardised by people, in America, who came long before them. You know all this man!


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hooah212002
Member (Idle past 50 days)
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 9 of 79 (542298)
01-08-2010 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Briterican
01-08-2010 5:04 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
Language evolves.

I agree. As it should. however, ours is de-volving. Improper spelling is not an advancement.

Here, let me quote something I just read at an Overclocking forum I frequent. Tell me if this doesn't chap your ass.

Is like..AMD "ok"?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I've been reading the news lately and trying to keep up with processors and stuff.
I also read that intel has already released their 32nm core i3s, and they are apparently pretty decent.
so what does AMD have 32nm thats coming out?

Im just worried about their future I guess, I dont want them to like go out of buisness .

Edited by hooah212002, : No reason given.


Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people
-Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan


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 Message 8 by Briterican, posted 01-08-2010 5:04 PM Briterican has responded

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Briterican
Member (Idle past 2177 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 10 of 79 (542299)
01-08-2010 5:20 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by hooah212002
01-08-2010 5:07 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
Improper spelling is not an advancement.

I know what you mean, but I find some British people in the UK that think many Americanised spellings make more sense to them.

Centre or Center? How is one more right than the other, apart from a declaration on which came first? Which is phonetically closer to the actual pronunciation? I'm not exactly sure of the answer myself hehe, but I don't exactly think the interchanging of the position of the two letters in question there (a mutation if you will) makes any difference.

I think many British just feel like we yanks bastardised their language, but if that's the case, so did much of the rest of the world.

I do think you make valid points about a general dumbing down in American society. I'd have to admit that a disproportionately significant portion of my vocabulary has been acquired since migrating to the UK.

I believe British intellectuals on the whole seem to utilise the language to better effect than their American counterparts.

It is a shame that in some circles a high degree of literacy is something to be ashamed of.

Edited by Briterican, : No reason given.


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Briterican
Member (Idle past 2177 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 11 of 79 (542300)
01-08-2010 5:27 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Straggler
01-08-2010 3:56 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
Straggler writes:

I am not so much talking lazy spelling here as vocab.

Here's an exaggerated, hypothetical example:

British member writes:

Maybe I am deluding myself in such a way as to justify my own relatively flamboyant means of expression.

American speaker writes:

Maybe I'm just kidding myself and really I'm trying to justify my own extravagant way of speaking.

I think the British have a better grasp on the nuances of individual words, and when one is better suited to express your thoughts than another very similar choice.

Edited by Briterican, : No reason given.

Edited by Briterican, : No reason given.


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hooah212002
Member (Idle past 50 days)
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


(1)
Message 12 of 79 (542301)
01-08-2010 5:39 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Briterican
01-08-2010 5:27 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
I think the British have a better grasp on the nuances of individual words, and when one is better suited to express your thoughts than another very similar choice.

Exactly. English is a very precise language (at least it can be, in the right hands). There is no excuse for one to not be able to express his/herself in the manner in which they intend.


Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people
-Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Briterican, posted 01-08-2010 5:27 PM Briterican has acknowledged this reply

    
Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 925 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


(1)
Message 13 of 79 (542302)
01-08-2010 5:40 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Briterican
01-08-2010 5:04 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
Briterican writes:

Language evolves.

Well, some languages evolve, and other languages are created. In created languages, counting only goes from -4004 to +2010, whereas in evolving languages there are words for bigger numbers, like 'billion'.

Joking aside,

Briterican writes:

It is a shame that in some circles a high degree of literacy is something to be ashamed of.

That's not just a shame, that's the world on its head.

Edited by Parasomnium, : No reason given.


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Briterican
Member (Idle past 2177 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 14 of 79 (542304)
01-08-2010 5:48 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Parasomnium
01-08-2010 5:40 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
Parasomnium writes:

Well, some language evolve, and other languages are created. In created languages, counting only goes from -4004 to +2010, whereas in evolving languages there are words for bigger numbers, like 'billion'.

Nice hehe. (I feel like I can type "hehe" in the Coffee House, but I try not to let it creep into my regular posts)

Speaking of "billion", it reminded me of my confusion when I came across a reference to "one thousand million" in a (relatively old) British book recently. In my head I was seeing that as one billion, and so I had to chase up what was going on...

billion: 1680s, from Fr. billion (originally byllion in Chuquet's unpublished "Le Triparty en la Science des Nombres", 1484; copied by De la Roche, 1520), from bi- "two" + (m)illion. A million million in Britain and Germany (numeration by groups of sixes), which was the original sense; subsequently altered in Fr. to "a thousand million" (numeration by groups of threes) and picked up in that form in U.S., "due in part to French influence after the Revolutionary War." France then reverted to the original meaning in 1948. British usage is truer to the etymology, but U.S. sense is increasingly common there in technical writing.

-- from www.etymonline.com


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Parasomnium
Member (Idle past 925 days)
Posts: 2191
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 15 of 79 (542306)
01-08-2010 5:58 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Briterican
01-08-2010 5:48 PM


Re: Brit Vs American - Written Vs Spoken
In Dutch, we have 'miljoen', 'miljard', and 'biljoen', for a million, a billion, and a thousand billion.
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