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I have some questions - Page 34 - UniLang

I have some questions

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linguoboy
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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2015-03-10, 16:40

LifeDeath wrote:So just for interestingout of curiosity I checked out one site withfor the expression "was been", which I thought would never be used, but to my surprise, I found some usages.
Here
Can "be" really be used in the passive voice? Tell me please when should I use it so.
Only twenty-four usages in a corpus of 450 million words should be a red flag that something is up. "We is" gets twice as many as that. And "has been" gets nearly 200,000 results.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2015-03-12, 18:12

What is the main difference between "step" and "approach"?
For example:

"We've been arguing for a long time, I think we should take a new step to understanding each other better"

"We've been arguing for a long time, I think we should take a new approach to understanding each other better"

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2015-03-12, 18:28

LifeDeath wrote:"We've been arguing for a long time, I think we should take a new step to understanding each other better"

"We've been arguing for a long time, I think we should take a new approach to understanding each other better"
"Step" implies progression along a particular course. For example, the well-known 12-step model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous prescribes a course and then lists out the various stages of it as "steps". A change in "approach" on the other hand implies a change in the overall course (which may also consist of various steps or stages).

So I read this statements as expressing different ideas. The first suggests the speaker has in mind an overall model of how people learn to understand each other and that this model consists of a progression of steps. Taking the next step in this progression is their idea of what will resolve the current difficulties.

The second, on the other hand, suggests that the whole course is wrong. Taking another step forward on it won't solve the problem; the participants need to step back and find another way to come at the problem.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2015-03-12, 20:01

LifeDeath wrote:I noticed that you used words like "prescriptivist pedant", "descriptivist", "pedantry". Though I've been trying to understand their meanings, I've actually found nothing. So can you please explain those to me?
So I'm not sure if the links I posted were of any use to you. This is an important issue in language learning (and one dear to me), so I want to make sure you've got a sense what it's about.

I think a lot of people prefer prescriptivism in language instruction because it's easier. It allows you to make simple categorical statements about what's acceptable and what isn't. When a learner comes and asks, "But what about these examples from native speakers?" a prescriptivist can just dismiss these as "wrong" and not have to deal with the complexities of their usage.

I think that apporach works in short term, but that in the longer run it causes more problems than it solves. Because if you ever want to be truly competent in the language, you need to come to grips with variation. Languages are messy. They don't make "sense" in the same pedestrian way that a computer language or a children's book does. You need to learn about registers, you need to learn about context, and you need to learn about creativity.

That's why my approach to answering your questions here is fundamentally descriptive. If you post something here I've never heard from any fluent speaker ever, I will tell you. If I have heard it, I will do my best to describe the conditions under which it seems to be used so you can make your own decisions about whether it's something you feel comfortable saying yourself or not. Anything else would be a disservice.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2015-03-13, 9:26

Thanks! :y:

Well I understood that "prescriptivism" is just the way a language should exist according to its rules. When "descriptivism" is the way a language exists after having been under the influence of time or something like that. Because when people speak a language they maybe change it to be more comfortable in use. One can never study a language but speak it perfectly since having experienced one. I think those belong to a "descriptivism" groop. And the "prescriptivism" groop is maybe what old people or teachers have ideology of.

But I guess that prescriptivism is a little harder for learners because of the need to compare a sentence you want to say(or write) with the rules, and you always should do that because you don't have enough experience to be fluent, I suppose that's the problem of all learners.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2015-03-13, 16:00

LifeDeath wrote:Well I understood that "prescriptivism" is just the way a language should exist according to its rules. When "descriptivism" is the way a language exists after having been under the influence of time or something like that.
That's kind of bass-ackwards. In short, prescriptivism is concerned with the notion of what should be whereas descriptivism describes what is. Where do the "rules of a language" come from if not from observed usage? A lot of prescriptivist rules are based on the usage of other languages (generally Latin). A shocking number (e.g. less vs fewer) are simply completely invented. That's why whenever someone claims something is a "rule of grammar", you should always ask them what their vetted source for that is. IME, most prescriptivists can't answer that (or, worse, they mention some high school or elementary school teacher they once had).

LifeDeath wrote:One can never study a language but speak it perfectly since having experienced one.
I'm not sure I understand your intended meaning.

LifeDeath wrote:I think those belong to a "descriptivism" group. And the "prescriptivism" group is maybe whatrepresented by the ideology of old people or teachershave ideology of.

But I guess that prescriptivism is a little harder for learners because of the need to compare a sentence you want to say(or write) with the rules, and you always should do that because you don't have enough experience to be fluent, I suppose that's the problem of all learners.
You need to worry about rules either way. As far as I can see, the chief difference is that prescriptivist have a more simplistic understanding of rules of grammar than descriptivists. For starters, they don't clearly distinguish actual rules of grammar from stylistic norms or conventions of orthography and punctuation. (Most lists of "grammar peeves" I see concern things like when to use their, there, or they're. That's not "grammar", that's spelling.) And they actually seem to believe that a grammar book can give you all the information you need to speak the language correctly whereas descriptive linguists know there's much more to it than that.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2015-03-14, 19:49

Thanks.

I meant that some people who were born in English spoken country can never learn rules but they would speak the language after having a huge experience.

Just prepared new questions:

1. How should I say, "I talk to him" or "I talk with him"?

2. I learnt that questions are made by having the auxiliary verb in the begining of a sentence thus making the inversion. Like: "Do you want?", "Did they go", "will it be", etc. But I was thinking if I can use just the common order of words. I know that's not fully grammatical but maybe that would be aceptable on streets when talking with friends or like that.
So I sometimes hear: "What happend?", and I guess I never heard "What did happen?"
But does this work with other sentences? Can I ask like:
"You wanted to tell me something?"
"Where you were?"
"You understood what I said?"

Like that.
I know that the auxiliary verb can sometimes be just omited. "(Did) you understand what I said?". But that's not what I'm asking about.

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2015-03-14, 22:17

LifeDeath wrote:I meant that some people who were born in an English-speaking country can never learn rules but they would speak the language after having a hugegreat deal of experience.
What linguists like me would argue is that they have learned the rules subconsciously and apply them without thinking about it. (Here I mean the real rules of the language, not what prescriptivist think those might be.)

LifeDeath wrote:1. Which should I say, "I talk to him" or "I talk with him"?
Depends on your intention, as the meanings are slightly different. "Talk to" can imply an unequal relationship. If someone tells me one of my employees messed up and I say, "I'll talk to him", the implication is that I will do most of the talking. In fact, a "talking to" means a scolding (and you "give someone a talking to"). But this isn't necessarily the case. "I talk to him every day" means just that we speak daily, with no other implication.

"Talk with" is of more limited use and generally means something like "consult", e.g. "Let me talk with the others and I'll get back to you." You could use "talk to" here and it would mean basically the same thing.

LifeDeath wrote:2. I learnt that questions are made by having the auxiliary verb in the beginning of a sentence thus making thean inversion. Like: "Do you want?", "Did they go", "will it be", etc. But I was thinkingwondering if I can use just the common order of words. I know that's not fully grammatical but maybe that would be acceptable on streets when talking with friends or like that.
Actually it's fully grammatical. All you really need to make something a question in English is the correct intontation.

LifeDeath wrote:So I sometimes hear: "What happend?", and I guess I never heard "What did happen?"
Wh-question are a special case. They use words like what which are interrogative in nature, so there doesn't need to be any inversion. "What did happen" can't be a simple statement in English; it's always a question.

On the other hand, both "What did happen?" and "Did what happen?" exist. The first is emphatic. You would use, for example, to stress that you want a truthful account. For instance, there's a Facebook page "What DID happen to Michael Jackson?" The title expresses doubt about the official accounts of what happened and stresses a desire to know what really happened instead.

"Did what happen?" is a question you would use when you need to know what someone means. For instance:

"Did it happen while you were asleep?"
"Did what happen?"

The second speaker is indicating that they don't know what "it" refers to in the first speaker's question.
LifeDeath wrote:But does this work with other sentences? Can I ask like:
"You wanted to tell me something?"
"Where you were?"
"You understood what I said?"

Like that.
The first and last examples are fine (and quite common). "Where you were?" is odd. Again, you'd only use it to ask for clarification on something someone else has said.

A: What did he ask you about?
B: He wanted to know where I was.
A: Where you were?

For whatever reason, A didn't expect this person to ask B where B was. You can think of "Where you were?" as being short for a longer question like "Why did he ask you where you were?"
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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