English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

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Bonefishblues
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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby Bonefishblues » 26 May 2020, 9:45am

mjr wrote:Why do people use "tin" when they mean "can"?

Because it would sound silly to ask for a may of beans :)

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Audax67
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Audax67 » 26 May 2020, 10:57am

Cyril Haearn wrote:
pwa wrote:It would be interesting if we could look at how this develops on this Forum over the years. In some ways it is already behind general society in that language and jokes that would go unremarked on a light hearted TV programme such as Taskmaster would be censored here.

Nearly two years have gone by, anything changed?

I think, the language is so rich, there is no need to use bad language


Or as Cole Porter put it in 1934:

Good authors too who once knew better words
Now only use four-letter words
Writing prose.
Anything goes.


The trouble is that you have to pick your vocabulary according to your audience. The first time I watched an episode of Deadwood* I was somewhat surprised at the abundant use of what Hemingway called the procreative expletive. When I mentioned this elsewhere, someone remarked that the worst swearing of the time would have blasphemous rather than sexual, but blasphemy has little impact these days so the scriptwriters felt obliged to update it.

I remember a university friend getting that good old criticism thrown at him, "you'd think with your education you'd know better words than that", and replying "I certainly do, but I'm not sure that you would understand them".

In the end, skating round the words in question makes for rather prissy prose, as when Wendy in A Fish Called Wanda told Archie he could "stick this marriage right in his bottom". Fine if you want to make the speaker appear a milksop, perhaps - which leads to the thought, do we swear because we don't want to appear so?

* also the last time
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Freddie
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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby Freddie » 27 May 2020, 10:18pm

I think you are about twenty years too late to fix the may/can split, Cyril. I think if one goes into a shop, as a young person (say younger than 40 years old) and says "may I have...", they are likely to be giggled at by another person their age or get a response like "oh, yes you may" in a somewhat sarcastic tone, it seeming archaic/quaint for one and overly deferential for two. Older people are usually patronised regarding the word may by the very same young people.

However, I doubt if you go to The Royal Albert Hall as a young person and say "May I..." there will be the same reaction, it being a class and situational thing.

If you think "can I have..." is bad, what about the execrable "can I get", which if it isn't coming out of the mouth of a teenager, I have difficulty not snorting at in derision.

How about lesser and fewer then? It seems around 75% of people, irrespective of age, don't know the difference between the two. It only took Youtube about ten years to have a fewer videos tab, as opposed to less videos.

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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby Cyril Haearn » 27 May 2020, 10:23pm

So, how might one distinguish between things that are possible but not allowed, and things that are possible AND allowed, without using can + may?
Or do people under 40 not know or care about the difference?

What other poisonous changes are creeping into our King's/Queen's English?
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jimlews
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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby jimlews » 28 May 2020, 7:50am

English, how she am spoke.

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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby Bonefishblues » 28 May 2020, 8:42am

Cyril Haearn wrote:So, how might one distinguish between things that are possible but not allowed, and things that are possible AND allowed, without using can + may?
Or do people under 40 not know or care about the difference?

What other poisonous changes are creeping into our King's/Queen's English?

I expect people were writing similar complaints in the early 20th, 19th, 18th and previous centuries.

Language evolves, it always has, and will continue to do so. In my personal experience life's much less stressful when one accepts that.

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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby jimlews » 28 May 2020, 5:48pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:So, how might one distinguish between things that are possible but not allowed, and things that are possible AND allowed, without using can + may?
Or do people under 40 not know or care about the difference?

What other poisonous changes are creeping into our King's/Queen's English?


"How might one distinguish..." By context.

"Or do people under 40..." Have more important things to care about (?).

"What other poisonous..." Which Kings English, Which Queens English. King James 1 &6, King Canute, Queen Lizzie 1 or Boudica?

You should apply your strictures on Wenglish, Bryn.

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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby ferrit worrier » 29 May 2020, 10:00pm

one phrase that annoys me is when you'r in the local take away and someone walks in and says " Can I get a kebab" NO you Cannot get it, the guy behind the counter will get it for you.
Percussive maintainance, if it don't fit, hit it with the hammer.

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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby DaveReading » 29 May 2020, 10:47pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:So, how might one distinguish between things that are possible but not allowed, and things that are possible AND allowed, without using can + may?
Or do people under 40 not know or care about the difference?

Why do you need to use "may" at all ?

There's a perfectly good, unambiguous way to describe things that aren't allowed: you must not ...

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Re: Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby Cyril Haearn » 30 May 2020, 3:52am

ferrit worrier wrote:one phrase that annoys me is when you'r in the local take away and someone walks in and says " Can I get a kebab" NO you Cannot get it, the guy behind the counter will get it for you.

It helps to use 'please' too :wink:

'Please may I have..'
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Oldjohnw
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Oldjohnw » 31 May 2020, 1:03pm

Theresa May but Theresa couldn't.
John

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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Bmblbzzz » 31 May 2020, 7:25pm

The French did nickname her "Theresa Peutetre".

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Cyril's linguistic walkabout: 'can' & 'may'

Postby Cyril Haearn » 31 May 2020, 9:33pm

Just read an article in the Guardian about sleeping habits
Hard to believe that times are given in the archaic am/pm 12-hour format. I have to do calculations in my head to convert to 24h

Surely the am/pm format should be consigned to museums
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Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 31 May 2020, 9:39pm

Superfluous suffixes.
No longer do you park, but now you park up.
One is not told to listen, but to listen up.
Nothing is swapped, it is swapped out.

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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Oldjohnw » 31 May 2020, 10:44pm

What is "off of" all about. "You need to lift the kettle off of the hob".
John