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  1. #1
    Szymon is offline Junior Member
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    Default really strange word order

    Hi,
    I`ve been learning English for many many years but suddenly I have realised that I may not be aware of some basic grammatical structures. Some days ago I came across such phrases:

    1)'they speak to each other how could they do it', and
    2)'the lawyers are asking each other how do they look the other way .. '

    To be honest, I`m surprised with these phrases, I have always thought the word order should be like that:

    'they speak how they could do it'
    'the lawyers are asking how they look'

    As for the first sentence, I would say that the meaning is different than my sentence's meaning, as if people from the original sentence were surprised/shocked that they did something. My sentence is about their thinking about other possible ways of doing what they already did, right?

    But I don`t know how to understand the second sentence.
    If you could help mi with this, I would be very grateful. Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: really strange word order

    Are you sure you wrote those phrases accurately? They make little sense to me. I would write them like this;

    1. They asked each other how they could do it.
    2. The lawyers are asking each other how they could look the other way.

  3. #3
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Exclamation Re: really strange word order

    There is a possibility that the person who is dealing with the sentences should put punctuation marks, like this:

    1) They speak to each other, "How could they do it?"
    2) The lawyers are asking each other, "How do they look the other way?"

    The author of the extracts could also have forgotten to put them in the right positions within the sentences.

  4. #4
    Szymon is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: really strange word order

    Hey, guys!
    thanks a lot for explaining but that`s for sure that those sentences were written the way I put them here, in addition to this, I came across many such phrases, with such a word order-really-and those sentences were written by native speakers, once I even found an article written by an American where there were lots of such structures, maybe for poetic purposes, I don`t know, but that`s why I`m asking about it as it`s not a first time I see it.

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    Default Re: really strange word order

    I agree with engee: punctuation, not structure, is the problem. I also agree with Rewboss, notably that both medium and context play a role. Where were the sentences? On the Net? If so, note that a percentage of on-line writers today don't use punctuation. Yes, they should, but they don't. Perhaps they don't care or they don't have the time to care or they don't know punctuation is even required. No excuses necessary - it's reality. Net communication - for most - is an extension of spoken language. And, in spoken language punctuation is invisible.

    Additionally, nativeness;i.e. being an 'American [speaker of English]' doesn't buy you grammaticality. That is, just because you're a native speaker, whatever the dialect, doesn't mean your grammar is perfect or even should be perfect. Consider the same relationship among the native speakers of your own language.

    Consider the source, the medium, and the context.

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    Default Re: really strange word order

    Well, native speakers often make mistakes, and punctuation errors are extremely common. I doubt that sentence 1 was written by a native speaker, because you cannot use "speak" in the manner engee uses it here: "say" would be the usual verb here. Otherwise I would say it would have to be two sentences: "They speak to each other. How could they do it?" -- but that doesn't make much sense.

    But just because it's written by a native speaker doesn't mean it is acceptable according to the formal rules of English.

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    Default Re: really strange word order

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss
    I doubt that sentence 1 was written by a native speaker, because you cannot use "speak" in the manner engee uses it here: "say" would be the usual verb here.
    MacBeth - I love that play.

    Context! Context! My kingdom for context!

    What about direction?

    Act 1; Scene 1
    Servants: (they speak to each other) "How could they do it!"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: really strange word order

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    MacBeth - I love that play.
    Context! Context! My kingdom for context!
    Er... did you mean Richard III, by any chance?

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    Default Re: really strange word order

    Er ... yes, I do. <uncontrollable laughter> (they speak to each other) "How could [she] do it!"

    Thanks, rewboss. It's mighty good t'ave'ya around. Cheers!
    Last edited by Casiopea; 03-May-2006 at 13:55.

  10. #10
    Szymon is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: really strange word order

    ok, thank you once more, next time I`ll be more careful

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