Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    heidita's Avatar
    heidita is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Europe
      • Current Location:
      • Europe
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,436
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Dialect or simply atrocious grammar?

    I wonder what you think about this question which has arisen in this post:

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...bjunctive.html

    A native American speaker is asking about the correctness of

    If you would have let me, I would have came to New York
    What surprised me most is the fact that this speaker considered the sentence: .... I would have come to New York "bad English".

    The answers were varying from atrocious grammar to this is a dialect and as such is ok.

    I wonder what your opinions are on this matter.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    59
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Dialect or simply atrocious grammar?

    "If you would have let me, I would have came to New York."

    There are two things going on here.

    1. In Colloquial speech, Americans (and Canadians?) often tend to use 'would have' in the 'if'-clause instead of Standard 'had'. I don't know whether this is thanks to German, or whether it's an everyday variant that's climbing the social ladder to linguistic respectability, but American TV commentators of all stripes commonly use it: 'If he woulda just held on to that ball, it'da been six points'.

    2. There's a long-standing tendency for the affirmative past tense form and the past participle form of irregular verbs to get mixed up in some speakers' speech. Given that these forms are often the same and that those of regular verbs are always the same, this can hardly be surprising, but it carries - or, at least, carried - a social stigma much like that of 'ain't': educated middle-class types will not succumb to this error. So, among certain sectors of society, one may hear non-Standard 'He coulda did it', 'She musta ate it', or, horrors of horrors, perhaps even 'They aint stole it' (personally, I've never heard the last one), but in the "right" sectors they were thrashed out of us as children - ironically, 'Speak proper!' is itself hardly grammatical, but no matter). I assume that 'came' is an instance of this. It's been around for centuries, but that someone should be touting it as correct (Standard?) is the bizarre thing.

    Consequently, Standard English must read:

    "If you had let me go, I would have come to New York."

  3. #3
    riverkid is offline Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,064
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Dialect or simply atrocious grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by heidita View Post
    I wonder what you think about this question which has arisen in this post:

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...bjunctive.html

    A native American speaker is asking about the correctness of

    "If you would have let me, I would have came to New York."

    I wonder what your opinions are on this matter.

    As Iconoclast said, this is in common use.

    Using 'would' in the if clause makes it more emotive than a simple factual 'had'. It is criticized but no reasons are ever given to support the contention that it's incorrect.

    The modal 'could' in if clauses meets with approval,

    If I could have come, I would have.

    so one has to wonder what makes 'would' unacceptable.

  4. #4
    heidita's Avatar
    heidita is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Europe
      • Current Location:
      • Europe
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,436
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Dialect or simply atrocious grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    As Iconoclast said, this is in common use.

    Using 'would' in the if clause makes it more emotive than a simple factual 'had'. It is criticized but no reasons are ever given to support the contention that it's incorrect.

    The modal 'could' in if clauses meets with approval,

    If I could have come, I would have.

    so one has to wonder what makes 'would' unacceptable.
    This depends on what you consider could in the sentence. I consider it the simple past of can, so it would be equivalent to had or any other past simple.

    If would was written in a test, it would be marked as a mistake.

    Look what this American Speaker said:
    I always thought the if + would construction was British English. I am glad to have that bit of misinformation corrected. I agree that If + would is usually a mistake in American English.
    if should/if would + should/ought to - WordReference Forums

    In the worksheets provided by this site, this answer is marked a mistake too.

    Q30 - If I ...... in your shoes, I'd be very worried indeed
    *would be
    were

    But in any case, I was thinking about the "I would have came" part.

    My argument is, if we accept anything in language and don't follow any kind of rules or directions, anything could be said, and nothing would be considered a mistake or "wrong English".

    I wonder...in Spain there is the Royal Academy which sets the rules. I know in English there is no such Academy but I believe that not everything can be accepted just because it is "said".

  5. #5
    riverkid is offline Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,064
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Dialect or simply atrocious grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by heidita View Post
    This depends on what you consider could in the sentence. I consider it the simple past of can, so it would be equivalent to had or any other past simple.

    But 'could' is not the past tense of 'can', Heidita. I think that you may/might be viewing this thru your mother tongue. The subjunctive is a much different animal in English.

    Gotta run. More later. Have a nice day, Heidita.
    ###
    Last edited by riverkid; 07-Mar-2008 at 17:38.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    59
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Dialect or simply atrocious grammar?

    Heidita: it's not a question of accepting non-Standard forms uncritically, but rather of acknowledging that people say them and that people have been saying some of them for quite a long time. Now we all enjoy mocking the bloopers of the standardisers - a preposition is a word you can't end a sentence with, it's wrong to wilfully split the infinitive, etc. - but without their overall efforts this conversation could not have taken place, as we're judging everything by the yardstick of Standard English.

    Socially and educationally, also, we're on a very sticky wicket here. In both America and Britain, some school teachers have argued that working-class kids might better be served by being educated in their "native" variety of English, rather than having "middle-class" Standard English unsuccessfully shoved down their throats. And counter-arguers obviously query how we're to cohere without a Standard. And so on. As with most things, it ain't quite so simple as it looks.

  7. #7
    riverkid is offline Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,064
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Dialect or simply atrocious grammar?

    Quote Originally Posted by heidita View Post
    In the worksheets provided by this site, this answer is marked a mistake too.

    Could you please point me to those worksheets, Heidita?


    But in any case, I was thinking about the "I would have came" part.

    My argument is, if we accept anything in language and don't follow any kind of rules or directions, anything could be said, and nothing would be considered a mistake or "wrong English".

    But we don't just accept anything in language, Heidita. For speech, which is a different ballgame to the written language, ENLs follow the rules of their dialect fastidiously.

    You're confusing prescriptive rules with the actual rules that govern how we use language.

    Read this. It'll help you to understand the difference between prescriptions and the real rules of English.


    http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articl...wrepublic.html


    I wonder...in Spain there is the Royal Academy which sets the rules. I know in English there is no such Academy but I believe that not everything can be accepted just because it is "said".

    In that same article, above, there is this:
    Someone, somewhere, must be making decisions about "correct English" for the rest of us. Who? There is no English Language Academy, and this is just as well; the purpose of the Acade'mie Francaise is to amuse journalists from other countries with bitterly-argued decisions that the French gaily ignore.

    Nor was there any English Language Constitutional Conference at the beginning of time. The legislators of "correct English," in fact, are an informal network of copy-editors, dictionary usage panelists, style manual writers, English teachers, essayists, and pundits. Their authority, they claim, comes from their dedication to implementing standards that have served the language well in the past, especially in the prose of its finest writers, and that maximize its clarity, logic, consistency, elegance, precision, stability, and expressive range.

    William Safire, who writes the weekly column "On Language" for the [New York Times Magazine], calls himself a "language maven," from the Yiddish word meaning expert, and this gives us a convenient label for the entire group.

    To whom I say: Maven, shmaven! [Kibbitzers] and [nudniks] is more like it. For here are the remarkable facts. Most of the prescriptive rules of the language mavens make no sense on any level. They are bits of folklore that originated for screwball reasons several hundred years ago and have perpetuated themselves ever since.

    For as long as they have existed, speakers have flouted them, spawning identical plaints about the imminent decline of the language century after century. All the best writers in English have been among the flagrant flouters.

    The rules conform neither to logic nor tradition, and if they were ever followed they would force writers into fuzzy, clumsy, wordy, ambiguous, incomprehensible prose, in which certain thoughts are not expressible at all. Indeed, most of the "ignorant errors" these rules are supposed to correct display an elegant logic and an acute sensitivity to the grammatical texture of the language, to which the mavens are oblivious.

Similar Threads

  1. Is there a grammar of spoken English?
    By M56 in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 09-Feb-2009, 00:58
  2. May Might Can Could
    By beachboy in forum Teaching English
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 23-Jan-2008, 19:20
  3. Complex english grammar
    By shivam in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 12-Oct-2007, 04:57
  4. Complex english grammar
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 17-May-2007, 08:03
  5. corrections help
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 21-Feb-2003, 17:05

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk