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  1. Dawood Usmani's Avatar
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    #61

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    How long will this querral be going on? I believe languages are living things in terms of words dying and new words coming into existence. So, let's give 'Would you mind if I open the door' structure a sapce in modern English just as many changes have already taken place. It should now also be included in grammar books so that it will no longer be considered as incorrect.


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    #62

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    Hello Philo

    I will open the door; nevertheless, I ask you if I may so as to sound polite.

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    *Between you and I,...
    Why should it be incorrect once a lot of people use it? Because 'between' is a preposition? From now on, let us call 'between' an adverb and everything falls into place. What is English grammar in aid of? Does it exist to clip people's wings and deprive them of their right of free choice of word combinations? To a certain extent, yes, and this is all very well, otherwise English would be chaotic and would lose its function. But when a lot of people use a structure, that is horse of a different colour. Grammars who insist on establishing molds should create new ones and abolish obsolete ones. What is English? What people use or what people should use?

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    (I trust you'll forgive the asterisk!)
    Probably I should but I can't. Can't see the reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    I wonder who dreamed that one up...
    More than one grammar at the department of linguistics at Cambridge Univ. working hand in glove.

    Another example:

    The reason for ... is because...

    We had this question here yesterday and two native English teachers said it is acceptable. Contemporary grammar says adverbs cannot ever assume subject complement role.

    This pattern does not fit the currently existing code for English grammar. Even semantically diabolic. But then, should these facts render it incorrect? Is the code for grammar insufficient or the syntax is incorrect here? That gives me food for thought. If this structure is used then we should find it a place in grammar books. How? By redefining the semantic content of 'because' or 'reason' or by reformulating existing concepts about linking verbs. How? Ich weiss das leider nicht.
    What I am trying to say with all these is that, in my opinion, it would be closer to the mark for frequently used structures to be regarded as incompatible with the current codes that all structures should(?) comply with and that possibly updates in grammar should be given.

    Am I talking rubbish?

    Svartnik (Do you know where this name comes from? When I registered here I could not make up a name for myself and then suddenly looked at my grammar book where I saw the name written: Jan Svartvik (co-author of CGEL). On the spur of the moment I chose his name but of course I misspelt it, which, with the wisdom of hindsight, I do not regret at all.)

    Quote Originally Posted by dawoodusmani View Post
    How long will this querral be going on?
    How long is a piece of string? It is not a quarrel, hey!

    Quote Originally Posted by dawoodusmani View Post
    I believe languages are living things in terms of words dying and new words coming into existence. So, let's give 'Would you mind if I open the door' structure a sapce in modern English just as many changes have already taken place. It should now also be included in grammar books so that it will no longer be considered as incorrect.
    Wow, where you not previously in favor of condemning this structure?

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    #63

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    Why should it be incorrect once a lot of people use it?

    You seem to take me for a fundamentalist, dyed-in-the-wool prescriptivist, which I am not. I do not dispute for a moment the principle of 'majority rule'. My contention is that the majority of educated speakers simply do not consider *between you and I to be grammatically correct, whether or not, as is doubtless the case, some do.

    The same essentially goes for the sentence at issue. If someone can present me with incontrovertible evidence that the majority of educated native speakers genuinely consider

    ? Would you mind if I open the door?

    to be correct, in spite of all the sound grammatical arguments that can be made against it, then I'll capitulate (however grumblingly and reluctantly!)

    Until then, I can do nothing but follow what both my instinct as a native and my reasoning powers as a grammarian tell me must be right.

    The original questioner is welcome to accept my answer or to reject it, as (s)he sees fit.

    Either way, I have stated my case in full and have nothing further to add!

    EOC

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    #64

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    Part 1:

    Although it is not my normal practice to revisit a thread having once declared ‘EOC’, I am on this occasion going to make an exception, with a view to making one final plea for common sense.

    The notion appears to persist in certain popular guides to English usage (which, since my purpose here is purely to explore the concept rather than to point a finger, shall remain nameless) that, when a sentence serves a functional purpose, it need not conform to normal rules of syntax.

    This “principle” is then invoked to justify the use of present-tense verb forms in sentences such as

    ? Would you mind if I open the window?

    as/when these are deemed to be construed as ways of requesting permission (i.e. as equivalent to relatively direct

    Do you mind if I open the window?

    or to its less direct ‘classical’ equivalent

    Would you mind if I opened the window?)

    It is, however, important to note that these same guides do not in any way seek to deny the existence/correctness of regularly formed second-conditional sentences, structurally identical in every way to the request sentence, e.g.

    Would you buy a yacht if you won the lottery?

    and do not even for a moment suggest that this should, or even could, be amended to

    * Would you buy a yacht if you win the lottery?

    If any deviation from standard syntax is to be accepted - let alone set up as a new benchmark of correctness – it is, one would think and hope, self-evident that there ought to be some rational basis for it, some perceivable gain in terms of communicative clarity, some commonly occurring problem of ambiguity to which the new syntactic construction represents a solution. We would not, as intelligent, thinking language-users, meekly accept as grammatical law, whatever its supposed source, just any old capricious whim - for instance, that the definite article need not be used when we are angry, that adjective order need be observed only by people with blond hair, or that the subjunctive can be dispensed with when there is an ‘r’ in the month…

    So let us return now to consider the aforementioned notion that normal tense-concord rules in second conditional sentences need not be observed when that sentence is deemed to be functional, implying that such functional sentences need somehow to be 'flagged', otherwise effective communication presumably cannot take place.

    I should, with your kind indulgence, in part 2 of this post, like to examine in the form of a little skit just what kind of dire communication problems are likely to occur if this precious precept should ever be overlooked by anyone excessively attached to grammatical norms, after which I will gladly retire and let the jury consider its verdict!
    Last edited by philo2009; 06-Aug-2009 at 09:03.

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    #65

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    Part 2:


    -----------------------A BLOODY NOSE FOR COLIN---------------------

    (A play in one act by Philo)


    COLIN LONGMAN is engrossed a large book, which he is holding upside-down. Enter his friend, GEOFFREY PUDDLEGLUM.

    GEOFFREY: Hey, Colin. Got your nose in that Cambridge Grammer of the Inglish Languige again, I see! Don’t know what you see in it, myself!

    COLIN: Oh, it’s fascinating stuff, Geoffrey, really one of the most exciting stories I’ve ever read! You really ought to try it! I’ve just got to the bit where the hero reclassifies all the naughty subordinating conjunctions as prepositions as a punishment for confusing him so jolly badly. I can’t wait to see what mincemeat he’ll make of those rebellious nouns and adjectives – goodness me, they’ll probably end up being reclassified as interjections and banished to some remote island! Anyway, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?

    GEOFFREY: Well, I came to tell you that there’s a linguists’ party on Friday. Would you like to go?

    COLIN: Yes, I would.

    GEOFFREY: OK, so what time shall I pick you up?

    COLIN: Pick me up?

    GEOFFREY: For the party!

    COLIN: Oh, but I can’t go.

    GEOFFREY: But you just said you’d like to!

    COLIN: Yes, I would like to go, if I could – but I can’t, because Aunt Hilda’s coming for tea on Friday. You see, Geoffrey, the problem is that you failed to signal to me that you were using the sentence functionally. I naturally interpreted it merely as a theoretical interrogation conjecturing about the hypothetical likelihood of my liking to go under the highly improbable condition of my actually being able to, and responded accordingly.

    GEOFFREY: You did? I mean, I did?

    COLIN: Yes, whereas all you meant to say was “I hereby invite you to the party!”

    GEOFFREY: Yes, I suppose that was it…

    COLIN: So, in order to prevent this kind of silly misunderstanding from occurring again in the future and possibly spoiling our wonderful friendship, I suggest that you signal clearly to me whenever you’re using the “would you like to…?” construction in a functional way, so that I’ll know how to respond.

    GEOFFREY: What do you suggest?

    COLIN: Well, how about some arbitrary change to the grammar? That would do the trick… I’ve got it, from now on, when it’s functional, just drop the ‘to’ from the infinitive phrase.

    GEOFFREY: You mean, say things like “Would you like go to the party?”

    COLIN: That’s it. Then I’ll always know what you mean!

    GEOFFREY: But Colin, that would be ungrammatical. There’s no such construction in English as *[would like V]...

    COLIN: Don’t fuss about little details, Geoffrey. If it avoids miscommunication, it’s fine. Everybody will understand! I’ll even put it in the next edition of my book!

    GEOFFREY: OK, if you say so. By the way, could I use your phone for a moment? I need to phone the others and tell them you’re not coming.

    COLIN: Yes.

    GEOFFREY: (Tries to use the phone, but…) The line is dead!

    COLIN: Yes, it’s been dead for days. Couldn’t pay the bill on time!

    GEOFFREY: (Sounding increasingly exasperated) But why did you say I could use it?

    COLIN: Oh, were you speaking functionally again? When you said "could I use your phone?", what you actually meant was "please lend me your phone!" Sorry! Once again, silly me, I simply interpreted your question as a hypothetical conjecture. When I said “yes”, I meant simply that you could use it, if it were connected - which, sadly, it isn’t!

    GEOFFREY: (Heaving a sigh and slumping back in his chair.) OK, so what do I need to do next time for a functional ‘could’ sentence?

    COLIN: Let me think...I’ve got it: replace the infinitive with an –ing form. That’ll show me that you’re speaking functionally!

    GEOFFREY: You mean, say “Could I using your phone?”

    COLIN: Yes!

    GEOFFREY: Even though it’s completely ungrammatical?

    COLIN: Yes!! Now is there anything else?

    GEOFFREY: Well, actually there is: would you mind if I punched you on the nose?

    COLIN: Not at all…

    (Suddenly reels back, clasping his nose.)

    What was that for???

    GEOFFREY: You said you wouldn’t mind if I punched you on the nose.

    COLIN: Yes, but you couched your sentence in the past subjunctive, which I naturally took to mean that it was highly unlikely to happen. I didn’t think you were actually planning to do it!

    GEOFFREY: I obviously should have said “would you mind if I punch you on the nose?” Sorry, old boy!

    COLIN: There, you see how handy these alternative constructions are for avoiding trouble? A little solecism goes a long way!

    GEOFFREY: Yes, Colin, you’ve convinced me!!


    (The curtain falls.)

    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Now, have I convinced you??

    Last edited by philo2009; 06-Aug-2009 at 09:09.

  5. Dawood Usmani's Avatar
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    #66

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    You're genius, man!


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    #67

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    Geoffrey: would you mind if I punched you on the nose?[/FONT]

    COLIN: Not at all…

    (Suddenly reels back, clasping his nose.)

    What was that for???

    GEOFFREY: You said you wouldn’t mind if I punched you on the nose.

    COLIN: Yes, but you couched your sentence in the past subjunctive, which I naturally took to mean that it was highly unlikely to happen. I didn’t think you were actually planning to do it!
    What, I suspect, may be causing COLIN some confusion here is the illocutionary function. We happen, in this case, to be employing a second conditional sentence in order to make a kind of request, disguising that request in a hypothetical form that is more socially acceptable than a direct request for permission: it seeks to maintain a kind of "polite fiction" that the act of my punching is so highly improbable that any question as to my collocutor's potential view of/reaction to it amounts to little more than academic speculation. Yes, it is semantically equivalent (or rather, to be precise, functionally equivalent) to more direct, simple

    May I slaughter you?
    Now, have I convinced you??


    Quote Originally Posted by dawoodusmani View Post
    You're genius, man!
    Thanks!


  6. Dawood Usmani's Avatar
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    #68

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    Originally Posted by dawoodusmani
    You're genius, man!

    Thanks!


    You're always welcome!

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    #69

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    Quote Originally Posted by dawoodusmani View Post
    You're genius, man!
    You are too kind!


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    #70

    Re: Would you mind if I opened the window?

    What, I suspect, may be causing COLIN some confusion here is the illocutionary function.

    Yes indeed, Svartnik, and Colin being evidently such an intelligent chap...

    There's clearly a very serious communication problem here waiting to trap us all. Thank heaven for the flagging of functional sentences!



    (Final) EOC
    Last edited by philo2009; 07-Aug-2009 at 06:07.

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