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  1. #1
    Olympian is offline Member
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    How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    Hello,

    I read the following sentence in the news story about a disabled Carnical ship drifting due to an engine fire.

    Passengers also are getting sick and throwing up, he said, adding that his wife told him: "The whole boat stinks extremely bad."

    It is quite common in AmE to use expressions such as the above, or saying "smells real bad" instead of "smells really bad".

    How to know if a particular expression/sentence is just wrong, or if it is acceptable?

    Thank you



  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    What do you think is wrong with saying something "stinks extremely bad?"

  3. #3
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    For info, in BrE, it would be correct to say either "It smells really bad" or "It stinks really badly" but not a combination of the two. The same might not be true for AmE.

    However, in the example you gave, the report was repeating exactly what the person actually said. When quoting people's words, it should be done so verbatim, regardless of whether the writer of the report believes that what the person said was grammatical or not.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  4. #4
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    You don't hear "badly" a lot in AmE. Whether it's "correct" or not, people usually use "bad" in these types of sentences.

  5. #5
    Olympian is offline Member
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    What do you think is wrong with saying something "stinks extremely bad?"
    SoothingDave, sorry, I don't know. I am just confused.

    Perhaps, I chose a wrong expression (which, it turns out, may be correct) for my question. There are several words and expressions commonly used in English in India, and which some books point out to be 'wrong', whereas, some people seem to think they are acceptable because they are now a part of Indian English. The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) and some American dictionaries seem to add new words periodically. But, as far as I know, there is no dictionary of Indian English. Yet, people use words found in English dictionaries (Br/AmE) to mean things that those dictionaries don't list. (For example, the word 'crib' is used to mean 'to complain'. A common sentence would be - 'Why are you cribbing?'). Everyone seems to understand this. Typically, books point out that 'prepone' is not the opposite of 'postpone', but people continue to use it ('prepone') regularly. Or 'to take a class' means 'to teach a class' (or in some cases, it also means - to scold/lecture at length; example sentence - When he found out what I did, he took my class), not 'to be a student of/in a class'. So, I am trying to understand how (by what process)/when is it considered wrong English, and when it is just slang/colloquial?

    Thank you
    Last edited by Olympian; 12-Feb-2013 at 18:39. Reason: Added more text

  6. #6
    Olympian is offline Member
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    For info, in BrE, it would be correct to say either "It smells really bad" or "It stinks really badly" but not a combination of the two. The same might not be true for AmE.

    However, in the example you gave, the report was repeating exactly what the person actually said. When quoting people's words, it should be done so verbatim, regardless of whether the writer of the report believes that what the person said was grammatical or not.
    @emsr2d2, thank you for the examples. Did you mean to say "It smells really bad" or "It stinks"? Since 'stinks' = 'smell really bad(ly)'. I am a bit confused, sorry.

    I understand what you wrote about the report having to quote a person verbatim. My difficulty is that either I don't understand what people say (for example, my post about 'Inbox me') or I have a doubt about whether what they are saying (or what is written) is correct or not. So, I ask my questions here. I am thankful for this forum and for the kindness of the native speakers and senior members who clarify things for people like me.

  7. #7
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympian View Post
    SoothingDave, sorry, I don't know. I am just confused.

    Perhaps, I chose a wrong expression (which, it turns out, may be correct) for my question. There are several words and expressions commonly used in English in India, and which some books point out to be 'wrong', whereas, some people seem to think they are acceptable because they are now a part of Indian English. The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) and some American dictionaries seem to add new words periodically. But, as far as I know, there is no dictionary of Indian English. Yet, people use words found in English dictionaries (Br/AmE) to mean things that those dictionaries don't list. (For example, the word 'crib' is used to mean 'to complain'. A common sentence would be - 'Why are you cribbing?'). Everyone seems to understand this. Typically, books point out that 'prepone' is not the opposite of 'postpone', but people continue to use it ('prepone') regularly. Or 'to take a class' means 'to teach a class' (or in some cases, it also means - to scold/lecture at length; example sentence - When he found out what I did, he took my class), not 'to be a student of/in a class'. So, I am trying to understand how (by what process)/when is it considered wrong English, and when it is just slang/colloquial?

    Thank you
    I don't think there is anything Indian about saying something stinks bad.

    It's perfectly acceptable American English.

  8. #8
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympian View Post
    @emsr2d2, thank you for the examples. Did you mean to say "It smells really bad" or "It stinks"? Since 'stinks' = 'smell really bad(ly)'. I am a bit confused, sorry.
    I meant exactly what I said. In BrE, we would say "It smells really bad" or "It stinks really badly". We would not say "It stinks really bad". However, in preference to "It stinks really badly" we would probably just say "It stinks" because that makes it clear that it is a a very unpleasant smell, worse than just "it smells bad".
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  9. #9
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympian View Post
    .... But, as far as I know, there is no dictionary of Indian English. Yet, people use words found in English dictionaries (Br/AmE) to mean things that those dictionaries don't list. ...


    Plenty of such books have been produced since Hobson-Jobson.... in 1888. It is still in print in several editions.

    b

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

    With stink, I would be more likely to modify with an adverb- it really stinks. It stinks bad sounds OK to me, but it stinks extremely bad less so, though people may well use it when faced with such conditions. (BrE speaker)

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