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Grammar's coming round for tea


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#261 Reasonable Man

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 08:51 PM

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I suppose you'll want to know the easy way to look back over someone's posts, won't you... unless you've already discovered it, in which case you will also have discoved how I knew when Brian was last online.Big%20smile

 

I worked it out. I used to be a detective you know. Wink

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#262 Old Codger

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 10:04 PM


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Maybe it's also because we predate the computer mouse.


Quite likely.  I also thought of a rodent, even though I was wielding my computer mouse at the time.  LOL



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#263 Brutus

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 11:24 PM

I am in a room in my house and writing a posting to an Internet site on my computer.  You know the context.  You know that I am using a computer and so i am in close proximity to things associated with computers, and when I mention "mouse", your minds automatically go to the rodent which the majority of people only encounter on very rare occasions, rather than the computer peripheral, which you all see and use several times a day.

WHY????

The answer is not semantic, but pragmatic: by virtue of me making a point of saying there is a mouse in the room I am in, rather than expecting you to take it for granted (because you know I am using a computer), you search for the third of H.P. Grice's maxims of the conversational principle, namely relation (or relevance, as it was later referred to by Sperber and Wilson).

Similarly, if someone shrugged and said, "dead!", while holding a mobile phone, you would probably think they were telling you that their phone battery was depleted.  Conversely, if someone rushed in to your house and, breathless, shrieked "DEAD!!!", you would interpret that as, in police parlance, a major incident.

Funny thing, language.

When my eldest daughter was given her first pony, I said she would one day have to sell him so we could buy her a larger mount.  She hugged her pony and said: "I'll never sell him!".

Five years later, when she had completely outgrown him, she decided she wanted a larger animal and had her eye upon a beautiful hunter horse, but I said she would have to sell her old pony first.  After advertising him for three months, and with no interest from a potential buyer, my daughter, in exasperation, said,  "I'll never sell him!", but this time her meaning was very different!

My point is that there is a huge difference between the semantic meaning of an expression (like mouse) and the pragmatic meaning of that same particle.

Brutus




#264 Reasonable Man

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 12:03 AM

The answer lies in psychology. We make sense of the world by concepts, our way of dividing the world into manageable units. There are so many objects in the world we cannot cope with dealing with each one as unique so we categorise these concepts. We also give concepts a hierarchy and each concept has properties.
So when we hear 'mouse' we need context. If we are at a computer then we conceptualise computer - peripherals - mouse.

Us country folk identified 'mouse' in the concept of a 'room' the stronger context was 'mouse' - 'rodent'.

Had the 'mouse' referred to been given properties then we would have better chance of identifying the correct type of mouse. So if Brutus had said there was a 'wireless mouse' or 'a three button mouse' in my room those properties would have pointed to the concept of a computer mouse, and hopefully not a radio controlled rodent, nor one with 3 buttons on their fur coat.

Too much thinking for midnight!

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#265 M&MBM

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 06:32 AM

That's the basis of puns and why we find them amusing. Note that I have used the word amusing rather than funny. There is a difference, though soome would take the narrower meaning; if they find puns funny.
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#266 croberon

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 01:08 AM

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One of my pet hates is 'fewer' and 'less'. The one we all see is the checkout for '10 items or less', NO NO NO it is '10 items or fewer'. 


I hear it all the time in work, 'We have less officers than you...', 'We have less cars...' etc.

 

Fewer means not as many and less means not as much.

 

So we may have fewer officers than you but you have less overtime than me.

 

Reasonable Man, I love you!!!

 

No one, not even on the BEEB, knows how to use either of these words correctly any more. It's so annoying when those who are required to read or write the language to earn a living aren't able to do so.

 

Here's sort of a conversation I had with a colleague today. She said:

They were unable to get through, but he had a mobile with a local number and we were able to call him. But the other guy, he had to call in from his mobile. It cost us something like $200.

 

Now fortunately, I know who they and he are and the situation she's was talking about. I told her not to use personal pronouns, but to use names first. (My co-workers hate it when I do this sort of thing). My point was, if someone has no idea what you're talking about, you're unintelligible.

 

She related the exact series of events in the same language to the EVP later in the day. Fortunately, I was there to interpret who the they, he and other guy were.

 

Sometimes I despair.

 

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#267 arliss

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 01:40 AM

why is it these days, when something doesn't cost anything, they say it's ''for free''; if it doesn't cost anything, then it's ''free'', or, you get it ''for nothing''; arliss2009-06-16 01:41:31

#268 BIkerider

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 08:16 AM

The well known BBC news broadcaster James Noughty has a very annoying pronunciation of the word SECRETARY. he without  exception pronounces it SECETARY.  You would have thought with his ability and professional status he would at least get that right.

And don't get me started on the text used in Cefax or to a lesser degree Teletext news pages. The balance of sentences and the way of 'putting the cart before the horse' in the grammar they use is atrocious. Less than the standard of someone not quite into secondary school. (in my day anyway)


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#269 Timbo59

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 08:34 AM

So taking Reasonable mans definition 'Fewer means not as many and less means not as much'
 

In the above quote 'or to a lesser degree Teletext news pages' is it lesser or fewer? 

 

LOL Im just teasing - but it does make you think which is good.

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#270 Old Codger

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 10:26 PM


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The well known BBC news broadcaster James Noughty has a very annoying pronunciation of the word SECRETARY. he without  exception pronounces it SECETARY.  You would have thought with his ability and professional status he would at least get that right.


BBC announcers and newscasters are dreadful these days.  There used to be a time when they spoke slowly and distinctly using standard English.  Strange pronunciations were checked before the broadcast and it was newsworthy if they got anything wrong.  These days they just gabble, as if they daren't have a pause, running sentences, paragraphs and sometimes even subjects together, until they run out of breath.  Kate, what's her name, even broke a word in two when she ran out of breath.  They also use every accent and dialect, some of which are difficult to understand when spoken slowly and distinctly.  Nobody cares about correct pronunciation.

Quote


And don't get me started on the text used in Cefax or to a lesser degree Teletext news pages. The balance of sentences and the way of 'putting the cart before the horse' in the grammar they use is atrocious. Less than the standard of someone not quite into secondary school. (in my day anyway)



Probably about the output standard for secondary schools these days.



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#271 croberon

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 02:46 AM

Quote

Quote

The well known BBC news broadcaster James Noughty has a very annoying pronunciation of the word SECRETARY. he without  exception pronounces it SECETARY.  You would have thought with his ability and professional status he would at least get that right.


BBC announcers and newscasters are dreadful these days.  There used to be a time when they spoke slowly and distinctly using standard English.  Strange pronunciations were checked before the broadcast and it was newsworthy if they got anything wrong.  These days they just gabble, as if they daren't have a pause, running sentences, paragraphs and sometimes even subjects together, until they run out of breath.  Kate, what's her name, even broke a word in two when she ran out of breath.  They also use every accent and dialect, some of which are difficult to understand when spoken slowly and distinctly.  Nobody cares about correct pronunciation.

Quote


And don't get me started on the text used in Cefax or to a lesser degree Teletext news pages. The balance of sentences and the way of 'putting the cart before the horse' in the grammar they use is atrocious. Less than the standard of someone not quite into secondary school. (in my day anyway)


Probably about the output standard for secondary schools these days.



 

How true! There are a couple of presenters that I do like to listen for the sheer joy of the way they speak, the way they present their stories. Peter Day, the Business Correspondent is one. John Lyon, who is currently in Tehran, is another.

 

There was one story quite recently that I had to listen to three times before I understood  it. Turns out it was interesting, just that the presenting was rapid and unclear.

 

I have no problems with multiculturalism, but there are a few "local" (reporting from their country of origin) reporters whose accents are too difficult to deal with after the first couple of words.

 

The thing that keeps the BEEB in business internationally is that there is no broadcast service like it. It is far more reliable than Agence France and less hysterical and sensationalist than CNN.

 

I get the WS on satellite radio. They have recently added a service of English language broadcasts from radio stations around the world. It is puzzling that I can understand a Croat English broadcast but not a BBC reporter from the same country.

 

 

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#272 croberon

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 10:16 PM

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#273 M&MBM

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 06:24 PM

Topic resurface
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#274 Bouncer

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 05:02 PM

Has the resurfacing of this topic been carried out by itinerant tarmacadam operatives? :P
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#275 M&MBM

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 05:03 PM

Yeah, it was a bit left over from a job, see.
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