Thursday, July 15, 2010


If you are interested in English and our language as it is spoken, you will find the Pants post on the subject interesting. The linked article to a piece in The Economist is a good read.

I grew up with an Australian version of British English and I will continue to use it until I die. The differences between British English and American English intrigue me, but there is nothing wrong with American English. It is just a bit different a times to what I know. Only the ex colonies seem to hang on to British English. It will die around the world and then perhaps even in England. There you go France, if you are forced to use English, use American English to piss orf the Brits.

I have already noticed I have slipped into American forms of words or sayings, even though I consciously don't wish to. American English will become the lingua franca of the world, if it is not already.

If you find this depressing, cheer up. It seems like mobile for your mobile phone is winning and cell is disappearing.

If you did any reading of the links I gave you above you will perhaps have an opinion on whether English is difficult to learn. There are suggestions that because certain things in English don't follow any rules, that it is very difficult, meaning you have to know these things off by heart. "i before e, except after c", was one I can recall. "except for weight", was added, and others I subsequently discovered.

I can only really recall that rule, which doesn't work very well, and the following three, all of which I am know to breach often enough.

Don't say 'got'. It does sound ugly at times, and generally I try to avoid it.

Don't end a sentence with 'it'. There, I just did it twice. Mostly laziness on my part. You often have to rearrange the sentence to avoid using it. If I am trying to write or speak proper like, I don't do it. But you can sound a bit overly correct by not using it at the end of a sentence.

Don't start and sentence with 'And'. It is a useful dramatic device and I will continue to use it. Sorry, take two. It is a useful dramatic device which I will continue to use.

V's work in Japan is in the education field, yet we both agreed that neither of us were taught much in the way of rules of grammar at school. Conjunctive verbs? Is that what makes your eyes clag up, or your bottom itch?

Clearly we learnt the right way to do it from experience, that is reading, writing, talking and listening. There may be gaps on my part that I need to watch for, but lordy, compared to what the schools are churning in the way of barely literate students, well, I am not concerned about my short comings. I am quite concerned for them though.

Stick ya two bobs worth in. I am interested. Do you known the rules or just what seems right?


  1. I thought I knew the rules, as rules, until I started to learn French at the beginning of this year. Now I am learning real rules of a language, I realise that most that I know of English is through reading.

  2. I work for state government and write a lot of formal documents for both internal or external (general public, NGOs), and as a team we are very VERY particular about how we write. Generally speaking I try to make sure I follow some basics, but as I've never really studied English post high school I just kind of go with what sounds correct.

    But eh, it's not a big deal. Language evolves.

  3. When I drafted correspondence for Government Ministers to send to constituents et al (wasn't that Latin bit posh?) my manager at the time insisted I limit every sentence to a maximum of thirty-two words.

    Considering that the Ministers rarely returned the correspondence for redrafting I can only assume the style suited them.

    Then my manager moved on and her replacement complained that my drafts were 'too staccato'. The word limit went out the window.

  4. By the way.


    Deliberate Manglish?

  5. I was never really taught anything and the things I did try to learn I'd usually forget all too quickly.

    I've heard a variety of rules over the years and probably ignored them all. interestingly (well to me anyway) my professional writing is a long way different from the things I smack down for my blog. I'm not sure how my mind knows how to separate the two but it does.

    I never knew about the 'it' thing. I'm going to have to keep an eye on that. I've also recently identified a distinct over-use of the word 'that'. Probably another issue I'll need to be mindful of.

  6. Example numero uno Julie. I suppose you need to be aware of rules more than most. But why Miss?

    A little knowledge can be dangerous Jayne. I prove that often enough myself.

    Example 2 Me. You just know what is right, not the rules. You have learnt along the way.

    Victor, I am so posh I use et al without even knowing it is Latin. Oh the joys of having a boss look over your shoulder. Thankfully I don't. I did mistype English and realised my mistake and then it kind of worked for the post. You would make a good proof reader.

    Come one Mutant. Even your blog writing is pretty good. I too overuse that. It can often just be removed without it being missed and the sentence will be tighter and just as readable.

  7. my single pet hate... people who say (or write!) "could of", "should of" or "would of"... AARGH!

    Actually I have a second pet hate... people who don't know the difference between "your" and "you're", or "there" "their" and "they're". And it seems to be that the higher up someone is in the corporate food chain, the less able they are to comply with such basic English.

  8. Oh TVAU, you are scaring me. What do I write. I think I say should have.... I hope. The theres and the yours aren't very hard to know. If I screw them up, it is a typo.

  9. Anonymous11:54 pm

    I read the link to Pants' article with interest. It amazes me that people find the irregularities of English - both written and spoken - so difficult to grasp these days. Yes, it can be difficult for non-native learners but really, native English speakers should be able to get their heads around it by the end of high school. Afterall, generations of English speakers have managed for hundreds of years!

    All languages have exceptions to rules, yet speakers of other languages seem to cope. What makes English so unique? At least we don't have to memorise thousands of pictographs with multiple readings like the Japanese do. Not to mention two separate syllabaries, each containing 47 characters and the English alaphabet! V.

  10. V, I think of my mother's mother who received minimal education and yet could read and write perfectly well. It only took a few years at school.

  11. Anonymous8:03 am

    We were taught these rules via repetition and a rap on the knuckles if you got it wrong (Catholic education). But since leaving school they all fly out the window with my writing. And hey, do I care?

  12. I went through the catholic school system in the 1960's - we saidhaitch instead of aitch - like the proddies - or something like that. I don't know of one child in a school of 200 who could not read. I can criticise the nuns on a lot of things but they never went home, never clocked off and with the slower kids - they persevered - in our school. I love Australian English and am sad about the colouful way my dad and that generation spoke disappearing.
    I came accross a phrase book of Dinkum Aussie and realised how much of it I knew and remembered and how many phrases I had not heard for too long.
    Frank McCourt's brother Malachy wrote a book called "A Monk Swimming" which was called that because when he learned his Hail mary - the bit "Blessed art thou amongst women - he thought it was "a monk swimming" all his childhood - he was a bit of a raconter - in the beginning he wrote something like this. The English forced the Irish to stop speaking Gaelic - but when the Irish began speaking and writing in English they were better at it than the English themselves" or words to that effect -
    I agree - but then I am of Irish descent so i would say that.
    I refuse to spell hospitalise with a 'z' which i see everywhere words ending in ise are becomming ize - not how they should be spelt. Kids saying Zee instead of Zed...its a Zebra not a Zeebra - hey the sun is actually shining - I am off out of here.

  13. Good on you Anon, except your comment was well written. The rules are embedded.

    Ah MC, the old haitch. I used to argue with my stepfather but I could never convince him that aitch was correct. I am holding out with the ise and zed.