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    #1

    "toy with me"

    hi there,
    I have just heard this expression in a movie. I thought that "toy" was only a noun. Is it good and natural English, please? Sometimes I think that Hollywood pushes the language too far and I wonder if real people actually speak like this.
    thanks.

  1. Amigos4's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "toy with me"

    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    hi there,
    I have just heard this expression in a movie. I thought that "toy" was only a noun. Is it good and natural English, please? Sometimes I think that Hollywood pushes the language too far and I wonder if real people actually speak like this.
    thanks.
    jctgf,
    'Toy' when used as a verb means to act idly; or with indifference; trifle: to toy with one's food. The girlfriend may tell her boyfriend, "Please don't toy with my emotions!"

    Toy used as a verb is a common usage in the US.

    Cheers,
    Amigo


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    #3

    Re: "toy with me"

    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    hi there,
    I have just heard this expression in a movie. I thought that "toy" was only a noun. Is it good and natural English, please? Sometimes I think that Hollywood pushes the language too far and I wonder if real people actually speak like this.
    thanks.

    We all push our language to say things in the most effective way possible, JC. English has always been a language that is receptive to new forms.


    Grammar Puss - Steven Pinker

    Through the ages, language mavens have deplored the way English speakers convert nouns into verbs. The following verbs have all been denounced in this century:

    to caveat to input to host to nuance to access to chair to dialogue to showcase to progress to parent to intrigue to contact to impact

    As you can see, they range from varying degrees of awkwardness to the completely unexceptionable. In fact, easy conversion of nouns to verbs has been part of English grammar for centuries; it is one of the processes that make English English. I have estimated that about a fifth of all English verbs were originally nouns. Considering just the human body, you can [head a committee, scalp the missionary, eye a babe, stomach someone's complaints], and so on -- virtually every body part can be verbed (including several that cannot be printed in a family journal of opinion).



    What's the problem? The concern seems to be that fuzzy-minded speakers are slowly eroding the distinction between nouns and verbs. But once again, the person in the street is not getting any respect. A simple quirk of everyday usage shows why the accusation is untrue. Take the baseball term [to fly out], a verb that comes from the noun [a pop fly]. The past tense is [flied], not [flew]; no mere mortal has ever [flown out] to center field. Similarly, in using the verb-from-noun [to ring the city] (form a ring around), people say [ringed], not [rang], and for [to grandstand] (play to the grandstand), they say [grandstanded] not [grandstood]. Speakers' preference for the regular form with [-ed] shows that they are tacitly sensitive to the fact that the verbs came from nouns. They avoid irregular forms like [flew out] because they intuitively sense that the baseball verb [to fly] is different from the ordinary verb [to fly] (what birds do): the first is a verb based on a noun root, the second, a verb with a verb root. Only the verb root is allowed to have the irregular past-tense form [flew], because only for verb roots does it make sense to have [any] past-tense form. The quirk shows that when people use a noun as a verb, they are making their mental dictionaries more sophisticated, not less so -- it's not that words are losing their identities as verbs versus nouns; rather, there are verbs, there are nouns, and there are verbs based on nouns, and people store each one with a different mental tag.

    The most remarkable aspect of the special status of verbs-from-nouns is that everyone feels it. I have tried out examples on hundreds of people -- college students, volunteers without a college education, and children as young as four. They all behave like good intuitive grammarians: they inflect verbs that come from nouns differently from plain old verbs. So is there anyone, anywhere, who does not grasp the principle? Yes -- the language mavens. Uniformly, the style manuals bungle their explanations of [flied out] and similar lawful examples.
    [emphasis is mine]

  2. Amigos4's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "toy with me"

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    We all push our language to say things in the most effective way possible, JC. English has always been a language that is receptive to new forms.



    [emphasis is mine]
    Thanks for the reference, RK!

    Cheers,
    Amigo

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    #5

    Re: "toy with me"

    Hi,
    Thanks!
    I have a doubt about the process of studying and learning English of a native speaker, please. Do the natives study about the component parts of the language as presented in many threads of this forum? I mean, do they study about nouns, verbs, modal verbs, prepositions, adverbs and so on? Do the natives learn how to identify and classify each word of the language? I thought it was a latin language thing.
    Thanks again!
    Last edited by jctgf; 25-May-2008 at 00:55.


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    #6

    Re: "toy with me"

    Yes and no.

    The UK government keeps on changing the curriculum structure, so from year to year teachers are having to alter the content of their courses. The result is that in many cases children do not receive proper and full instruction, and there is a resultant lowering of standard in written and spoken English.


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    #7

    Re: "toy with me"

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglika View Post
    Yes and no.

    The UK government keeps on changing the curriculum structure, so from year to year teachers are having to alter the content of their courses. The result is that in many cases children do not receive proper and full instruction, and there is a resultant lowering of standard in written and spoken English.
    That can't be the case, Anglika, because it's abundantly clear that teachers never knew much about how English worked. Leaf through any old school grammar book. They are absolute jokes.

    ==================

    JC wrote:

    Do the natives study about the component parts of the language as presented in many threads of this forum? I mean, do they study about nouns, verbs, modal verbs, prepositions, adverbs and so on? Do the natives learn how to identify and classify each word of the language? I thought it was a latin language thing.

    I think that in the USA there is a feeble attempt at trying to have students learn about English, JC, ie. learn how to parse sentences, etc. but it doesn't amount to much. About the most that's imparted is the memorization of a few prescriptions.

    This is not to say that there aren't good teachers that help students learn to write.

    All people learn their language without consciously identifying parts of speech, etc. Yet we all know intuitively, from our internal grammars, the rules to apply when we want to a certain word form or a certain structure.


  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: "toy with me"

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    That can't be the case, Anglika, because it's abundantly clear that teachers never knew much about how English worked. Leaf through any old school grammar book. They are absolute jokes.

    ==================

    JC wrote:

    Do the natives study about the component parts of the language as presented in many threads of this forum? I mean, do they study about nouns, verbs, modal verbs, prepositions, adverbs and so on? Do the natives learn how to identify and classify each word of the language? I thought it was a latin language thing.

    I think that in the USA there is a feeble attempt at trying to have students learn about English, JC, ie. learn how to parse sentences, etc. but it doesn't amount to much. About the most that's imparted is the memorization of a few prescriptions.

    This is not to say that there aren't good teachers that help students learn to write.

    All people learn their language without consciously identifying parts of speech, etc. Yet we all know intuitively, from our internal grammars, the rules to apply when we want to a certain word form or a certain structure.

    I am in complete agreement.

  4. RonBee's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: "toy with me"

    Re:

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    All people learn their language without consciously identifying parts of speech, etc. Yet we all know intuitively, from our internal grammars, the rules to apply when we want to a certain word form or a certain structure.
    This question is for ESL learners only. Can you tell what word Riverkid (unintentionally) left out of the second sentence?



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    #10

    Re: "toy with me"

    Hi,

    "use" ?

    Yet we all know intuitively, from our internal grammars, the rules to apply when we want to use a certain word form or a certain structure.
    Regards,
    Leszek

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