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

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pwa
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby pwa » 23 May 2020, 12:11pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:
pwa wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:I do wish the moderators would correct wrong use of 'can' and 'may'

That distinction is now part of a world that has gone. It is an anachronism. You can try to defy it, but the tide of change will just wash over you.

How may one now distinguish between things that are possible but not allowed, and things that are both allowed and possible?

How might one teach children about right and wrong?

What do others think?

One wonders whether traffic policepersons are trained to use can + may correctly

I shall continue, as a sort of language policeperson, to bleat and fight for correct use of these two words in particular

I welcome and support your use of the English language in your chosen style, but it is now an old fashioned style.

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Mick F
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Mick F » 23 May 2020, 12:57pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:One wonders whether traffic policepersons are trained to use can + may correctly
I was daydreaming whilst riding a week or two ago and envisaged a copper asking me where I was going.

Copper: Can I ask you where you are going?
Me: Yes.
Copper: Well?
Me: Yes I am, thank you.
Copper: I asked you where you were going.
Me: No you didn't, you asked me if you could ask, and I said yes.


:lol: :lol:
You get the picture!
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Vorpal » 23 May 2020, 3:16pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:I do wish the moderators would correct wrong use of 'can' and 'may'

Fixing grammar would be a ful time job. :lol: :lol:
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rfryer
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby rfryer » 24 May 2020, 10:04am

Bryn, can you explain how you think "may" and "can" should be used? Without checking official definitions, I think that both words are ambiguous, so find it hard to get upset about usage.

"Can" is highly context dependent, meaning "able to", but without clarification it could have meanings ranging between "physically capable", "physically capable right now", and "legally permitted". For example, "I can ride 100 miles" might mean I'm fit enough, might mean I'm ok to push on for a destination 100 miles down the road, and might mean the Welsh government has eased it's restrictions.

"May" is worse, with the twin meanings of "being permitted" and "might" which generally fit equally well in any given sentence. Fit example, "he may cycle to Bristol" might mean that he's ignoring Welsh lockdown and so could well end up in Bristol, or could mean those restrictions have been lifted.

So, are my examples above the things that you're complaining about, and if so, which of them are technically incorrect?

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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby sjs » 24 May 2020, 10:16am

Oldjohnw wrote:I do actually agree about the often significant difference between can and may. I can kill someone with my bare hands. I may not.



Cue a discussion about may vs might.

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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Cyril Haearn » 24 May 2020, 10:30am

rfryer wrote:Bryn, can you explain how you think "may" and "can" should be used? Without checking official definitions, I think that both words are ambiguous, so find it hard to get upset about usage.
..

I think 'can' includes many things that are possible but senseless, illegal, not permitted
I think 'may' means allowed, permitted, legal

There are many things one can do but one may not do many of them

One would hope that the expensively educated civil servants who issue quarantine regulations would use the words correctly, likewise the police, whose job involves frequently trying to explain the difference between 'can' and 'may'
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Audax67
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Audax67 » 24 May 2020, 10:33am

Mick F wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:One wonders whether traffic policepersons are trained to use can + may correctly
I was daydreaming whilst riding a week or two ago and envisaged a copper asking me where I was going.

Copper: Can I ask you where you are going?
Me: Yes.
Copper: Well?
Me: Yes I am, thank you.
Copper: I asked you where you were going.
Me: No you didn't, you asked me if you could ask, and I said yes.


:lol: :lol:
You get the picture!


Reminds me of the old German joke:

Bloke to policeman: Excuse me, Herr Policeman, is it an offence to call a policeman an arschloch*?
Policeman: Yes, of course it is.**
Bloke: OK. Is it an offence to call an arschloch a policeman?
Policeman: Er... no.
Bloke: Thank-you, Herr Policeman.

I told this one to my BiL*** and he replied "I reckon he'd hear policeman and arschloch in the same breath and do you".

* that which is surrounded by the anal German sphincter
** and it is, in both Germany and France.
*** an ordinary guy
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Cyril Haearn » 24 May 2020, 10:35am

German humour +1? :wink:
German has 'kann' (can) + 'darf' (may), they are often used incorrectly
Best to use 'Sie' not 'Du' when talking to a cop
Whatabout can + may in French?
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Freddie
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Freddie » 24 May 2020, 10:50am

Cyril, where are your full stops?

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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Mike Sales » 24 May 2020, 10:53am

Cyril Haearn wrote:Whatabout can + may in French?

Or Welsh?

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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Cyril Haearn » 24 May 2020, 1:56pm

Freddie wrote:Cyril, where are your full stops?

I deliberately leave them out when I start a new line, to save energy.
..
A favourite little railway story
A Professor from the north was on the train to London, he realised he might reach his destination more comfortably by changing to the tube at a suburban station
'Can I hop off at Watford Junction, forbye* my ticket is to Euston?', he asked the guard
'I have no idea whether you are able to do that Sir, but it is permitted', came the reply :wink:

*forbye: although
Last edited by Cyril Haearn on 24 May 2020, 2:02pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Audax67
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Audax67 » 24 May 2020, 1:57pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:German humour +1? :wink:
German has 'kann' (can) + 'darf' (may), they are often used incorrectly
Best to use 'Sie' not 'Du' when talking to a cop
Whatabout can + may in French?


Good question. Pouvoir does for both.

When I was a kid I thought that if power in French was pouvoir then shower should be shouvoir. It ain't. Kick in the Kopf, gel?
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Cyril Haearn » 24 May 2020, 2:04pm

Audax67 wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:German humour +1? :wink:
German has 'kann' (can) + 'darf' (may), they are often used incorrectly
Best to use 'Sie' not 'Du' when talking to a cop
Whatabout can + may in French?


Good question. Pouvoir does for both.

When I was a kid I thought that if power in French was pouvoir then shower should be shouvoir. It ain't. Kick in the Kopf, gel?

Gel, I like that word, means something like 'right!'
'Alles jut!', we say at every opportunity (Berlinish)
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Audax67
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Audax67 » 24 May 2020, 2:22pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:
Audax67 wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:German humour +1? :wink:
German has 'kann' (can) + 'darf' (may), they are often used incorrectly
Best to use 'Sie' not 'Du' when talking to a cop
Whatabout can + may in French?


Good question. Pouvoir does for both.

When I was a kid I thought that if power in French was pouvoir then shower should be shouvoir. It ain't. Kick in the Kopf, gel?

Gel, I like that word, means something like 'right!'
'Alles jut!', we say at every opportunity (Berlinish)


I learnt my German in Schtuggart, the throbbing heart of Schwabenland. No endings! We used to have a tech from the Ostblock who used the J-like G. He'd been smuggled out after spending two years in jail for applying via the official channels to emigrate to the West.

AFAIK gel seems to be used from Bayern to Alsace. Or does it reach the North as well? I understand it as isn't it?
Last edited by Audax67 on 24 May 2020, 2:26pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Cyril Haearn
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Re: Clarification on swearing

Postby Cyril Haearn » 24 May 2020, 2:25pm

Weisst du doch:
Ossis sind schlau und stellen sich dumm
Bei Wessis ist es anders rum
(gilt wohl auch fuer Grand-Est)

© German humour alert :wink:
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