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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    No.

    There have been self-appointed grammarians who have inflicted much damage on the English language by trying to make English grammar more like Latin grammar, but otherwise there are independent scholars and linguists who argue amongst themselves about certain grammar rules and other conventions and are loosely termed "the authorities", even though they technically have none.

    I do agree. As a start they have all kept stupid names for easy concepts (conditional 1st, 2nd and 3rd type, or even worse, real, unreal, impossible..., restrictive and non-restrictive relative clause, modifier and the subsets premodifier and postmodifier, attributive position of adjectives, present participle, agent, adjunct, phatic, semivowel...) It's high time they put their imagination to work.
    However, I hope you hold Swan and Leech in high esteem; they are my 'authorities', along with David Crystal (his commentaries on the BBC are really interesting). (I can't stand Quirk)


    The result? Strangely enough, English dictionaries are more likely to keep in step with actual language development without inflicting sudden major spelling reforms once every 50 years. On the flip side, though, dictionaries (and other "authorities") can give conflicting advice, which is often confusing.
    It's all very well to say that although I think there are some drawbacks to it too. You leave your lexicon -and,as a result, your own language- on the hands of publishing companies and they will turn it into business, trying to make it as profitable as possible. They will place a lot of emphasis on any idiomatic expression that happens to be in fashion at a particular time in a particular place -even though they know -let's put it 'have the feeling'- it won't last long and will soon become outdated, and they will take their time to warn you against using it, "wanna, as mad as a hatter, ride the lightning, ... and a very long list -; they will publish phrasal verbs dictionaries, idioms dictionaries, collocations dictionaries common mistakes dictionaries, pronouncing dictionaries... and all kinds of workbooks and material to practise them all just because they happen to have decided to give them an entry, which doesn't necessarily entail they serve a communicative need-. At least here we know RAE worries about language rather than sales figures. Language develops just the same and when usage is widespread and changes are ripe, they enter the corpus.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Wuisi View Post
    They will place a lot of emphasis on any idiomatic expression that happens to be in fashion at a particular time in a particular place -even though they know -let's put it 'have the feeling'- it won't last long and will soon become outdated
    In fact, that's a pretty good description of how a dictionary should work. It records actual language use.

    Attempts have been made to control dictionaries by big business, but actually the dictionaries themselves tend to resist this. So when McDonald's tried to get one dictionary to change its definition of the phrase "McJob" (a low-paid menial job with no good career prospects), they merely demonstrated that they failed to understand what a dictionary is actually for.

    I think it would be more worrying to have dictionaries under government control (directly or indirectly). Totalitarian governments sometimes try to control how language is used, because in doing so they think they can control how people think. This was taken to its logical conclusion in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the government was planning to change the language so that people would be unable to talk about certain subjects because they didn't have the words for them.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post

    I think it would be more worrying to have dictionaries under government control (directly or indirectly). Totalitarian governments sometimes try to control how language is used, because in doing so they think they can control how people think. This was taken to its logical conclusion in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the government was planning to change the language so that people would be unable to talk about certain subjects because they didn't have the words for them.
    OK, it would all depend on your interpretation of 'indirectly'; however, we still make a difference between a dictionary and a list or inventory, so we don't include 'fimbling sensation' after some TV characters in a children TV series (if small children understand it and use it is language, isn't it?) We don't include Mcjob neither; we have a well-developed swearing words system in Spanish. A comedian may coin a similar term and it may catch up and become popular, for a while, but that's all. In a few years' time, if you came across that expression in a book, a footnote would tell you about the meaning conveyed and the nuances implied.
    I don't really want to read between the lines in your reference to totalitarian governments, and I don't really know whether by totalitarian you just mean 'dictatorships' or you also include those governments which try to impose their culture and habits on migrants -by means of forcing them to pass a test to get citizenship, for instance-. Politics is one thng but people are not that gullible. 'You can take a horse to the river, but you can't make it drink.'
    Finally, with all due respect, I find your reference to Orwell's 1984 a bit childish -no offence meant-. I seem to remember it was by means of altering history. Personally, I liked 'Coming Up for Air' much more.
    Last edited by Wuisi; 15-Feb-2008 at 12:07.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Wuisi View Post
    I don't really know whether by totalitarian you just mean 'dictatorships' or you also include those governments which try to impose their culture and habits on migrants -by means of forcing them to pass a test to get citizenship, for instance-.
    No, by totalitarian I mean undemocratic dictatorships, such as Germany's Nazi regime or the old USSR.

    Politics is one thng but people are not that gullible. 'You can take a horse to the river, but you can't make it drink.'
    Oh, you'd be surprised. The East German government found it disturbingly easy to get half the population spying on the other half.

    Finally, with all due respect, I find your reference to Orwell's 1984 a bit childish -no offence meant-. I seem to remember it was by means of altering history.
    That was part of it, yes; but the book includes an appendix detailing the fictional government's proposals to remodel English and invent a language called "Newspeak". Some of Orwell's Newspeak inventions have found their way into English (for example "doublethink", the act of believing two mutually contradictary things at the same time). In the main part of the book, the government has already made a start, calling the government department responsible for spreading propaganda the "Ministry of Truth" (or, in the next stage of Newspeak, "Minitrue".)

    Part of the idea was to eradicate words and alter others to suit the doctrines of the Party. So there would be, for example, no word for "freedom", and the word "free" would only mean "without". Sex between married partners is called "goodsex", and every other form of sex is called "sexcrime".

    Such a radical reform of the language would probably not be possible in practice, but the principle is not without foundation. Look at the way even democratic governments use language to provide spin: whether somebody who incites armed insurrection is a "terrorist" or a "freedom fighter" depends on which side of the argument you're on (as the saying goes: "Your terrorist is my freedom fighter").

    How effective all this is in changing people's attitudes for real is debateable, but consider two different survey questions:

    1. Do you believe that Islamists living in Britain should be allowed to do whatever they please, unchecked?

    2. Do you believe that members of the Muslim community living in Britain should be continually harrassed by the police and spied on even when there is no evidence of wrong-doing?

    I'll bet you anything that these two questions would give you very different pictures of what ordinary people think.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Finished adverbs with the present perfect

    [quote=rewboss;254653]

    That was part of it, yes; but the book includes an appendix detailing the fictional government's proposals to remodel English and invent a language called "Newspeak"
    .
    You are right, I had forgotten about Newspeak

    How effective all this is in changing people's attitudes for real is debateable, but consider two different survey questions:

    1. Do you believe that Islamists living in Britain should be allowed to do whatever they please, unchecked?

    2. Do you believe that members of the Muslim community living in Britain should be continually harrassed by the police and spied on even when there is no evidence of wrong-doing?
    กกก Amigo Sancho, con la Iglesia hemos topado !!! (D.Quixote) Something like, "Sancho, my friend, we've bumped into The Church" (in a very metaphorical and ironical way because they were discussing religious matters when D.Quixote said so -Capitals are mine, to illustrate the pun). I think it has always been the same all over the world, you can take your stand and discuss about 'almost' anything but when it comes to 'religion' ... there are those who... in the name of... So, I must admit you are right again, language can be a very useful weapon, capable of brainwashing some people's minds if used in a make-believe fashion by the managers of the 'beyond' on earth.
    Sadly, whatever you do to prevent them from doing what ,IMO, they are bound to do will be to no avail and all this 'checking' and 'harassment' will do little but gain them more fanatics as a result of this very 'harassment' to keep things under control. Your survey questions pose an ethical dilemma we are not ready for. So we let politicians to their own devices because they are very likely to come up with some policy or another. However, this time, I feel it is a bit hypocritical and very unfair to a lot of people. (Spain's rightwing party has promised to pass a similar requirement for migrants if they win the elections to be held on 9th March).
    To cut it short, I may very well say 'Mariano Rajoy has announced his intention to put stricter controls on immigrants in a meeting two days ago', but, funnily enough, I should avoid saying so in front of my teacher.
    Regards.

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