"have a doubt"


by Stephen Tashi
Tags: doubt
Stephen Tashi
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#1
May19-12, 10:16 AM
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I notice many posts in the mathematics sections use phrases like "I have a doubt about" instead of "I have a question about" or "I don't understand....". Is "have a doubt about" a phrase that has become popular with young people in the US/UK? Is it a phrase that non-English speakers learn to use when asking questions?
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Curious3141
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May19-12, 11:48 AM
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I believe some speakers of the English language hailing from the Indian subcontinent tend toward employing that turn of phrase.

Strangely enough, this question has been asked before, on this very forum: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=192539
phinds
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May19-12, 11:55 AM
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Yes, it is definitely a mistranslation from Indian dialects to English. I've been seeing it for years.

genericusrnme
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May19-12, 02:40 PM
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"have a doubt"


I just thought it was people making an unavailing attempt to sound more intelligent by putting on the facade of being more verbose than the average denizen!
Curious3141
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May19-12, 06:59 PM
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Quote Quote by genericusrnme View Post
I just thought it was people making an unavailing attempt to sound more intelligent by putting on the facade of being more verbose than the average denizen!
I seriously hope the irony was intended!
jtbell
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May19-12, 09:23 PM
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It does have the appearance of a premeditated stategy of self-embellishment.
phinds
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May19-12, 09:28 PM
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Quote Quote by jtbell View Post
It does have the appearance of a premeditated stategy of self-embellishment.
Although I see how it could look that way, having seen this with some annoyance (I'm a grammar Nazi) for years, I am quite convinced that there no such intent. It's just a simple mixup in the subtle meaning of words.

It's the same kind of mistranslation as when Pennsylvania Dutch folks say "let it there" where the rest of us would say "leave it there".

Apparently "doubt" and "question" don't translate exactly from Indian languages to/from English. They simple do not know that they are making what native English speakers see as a mistake.
QuarkCharmer
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May20-12, 12:16 AM
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My chemistry professor is from India, here is something from the course website that he wrote.


Funny this thread should be created. I was just wondering the exact same question.
jtbell
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May20-12, 12:23 AM
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That seems to negate my assumption that "doubt" is a synonym for "question" in this context.

"Inglish" has definitely become a separate stream from "English."
spamiam
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May20-12, 08:52 PM
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It's funny, I guess I can "have (my) doubts about something" but it just sounds wrong in the singular.

Also, I've heard French speakers make this very subtle mistake--"j'ai un doute" is pretty common in French.
glb_lub
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May22-12, 12:35 PM
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Quote Quote by Curious3141 View Post
I believe some speakers of the English language hailing from the Indian subcontinent tend toward employing that turn of phrase.

Strangely enough, this question has been asked before, on this very forum: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=192539
Yep. I am from India. The phrase is quite common here. Teachers frequently ask the question - 'any doubts?' .

I only realised it now that it is not the proper phrase. .

In the thread that you mention the member Gokul43201 has made a good post.


I would like to mention another interesting phrase common in India.
Whenever a person sits for an examination he/she uses the phrase "I gave examination xyz".
I believe the correct phrase should be "I sat for examination xyz" ?
jtbell
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May22-12, 03:08 PM
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Quote Quote by glb_lub View Post
I would like to mention another interesting phrase common in India.
Whenever a person sits for an examination he/she uses the phrase "I gave examination xyz".
I believe the correct phrase should be "I sat for examination xyz" ?
In the US the usual phrasing is "I took examination xyz." Another example of three countries divided by a common language!
Curious3141
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May22-12, 06:31 PM
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Quote Quote by glb_lub View Post
Yep. I am from India. The phrase is quite common here. Teachers frequently ask the question - 'any doubts?' .

I only realised it now that it is not the proper phrase. .

In the thread that you mention the member Gokul43201 has made a good post.


I would like to mention another interesting phrase common in India.
Whenever a person sits for an examination he/she uses the phrase "I gave examination xyz".
I believe the correct phrase should be "I sat for examination xyz" ?
"Giving an exam" is most appropriately used in the context of a doctor examining a patient medically. It may also be used when a teacher tests students, e.g. "I gave my students an exam last Tuesday and they all flunked it." However, the preferred phrase here is to "set an exam", i.e. "I set my students an exam."

"Taking an exam/test", "sitting an exam/test" and "sitting for an exam/test" all refer to the act of candidates attempting an examination or test.

There are many English words and phrases in use in India that other speakers of the language find surprising. One of my favourites is "octroi" - which is actually a perfectly correct word describing a form of local taxation levied on goods brought into a certain district. The word was widely used in antiquity, but has fallen into disuse in most parts of the world except for the Indian subcontinent. It would be viewed as an anachronism by an outsider.

BTW, I'm Indian by ethnicity, albeit born and bred in Singapore. I still have many close links to India and visit often, which is why I'm aware of these peculiarities of the local patois.
phinds
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May22-12, 06:34 PM
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Quote Quote by Curious3141 View Post
"" However, the preferred phrase here is to "set an exam", i.e. "I set my students an exam."
Interesting. I've never heard that phrase in the USA.
Curious3141
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May22-12, 07:47 PM
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Quote Quote by phinds View Post
Interesting. I've never heard that phrase in the USA.
Interesting to me, too, because it's fairly standard usage in Singapore, and I believe, in the UK.
jtbell
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May22-12, 07:51 PM
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I give my students an exam, and they take it. Logical, huh?

(and then hopefully I get it back.)
glb_lub
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May23-12, 02:33 AM
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Quote Quote by jtbell View Post
I give my students an exam, and they take it. Logical, huh?

(and then hopefully I get it back.)
Yes,that could be a reason why students in India use the phrase 'gave the exam'.
Perhaps they refer to the act of giving the answer book back(i.e returning it) at the end of the examination. . I can not think of any other act of giving on the part of the student during an examination.
jgens
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May23-12, 12:42 PM
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Quote Quote by Curious3141 View Post
Interesting to me, too, because it's fairly standard usage in Singapore, and I believe, in the UK.
I always thought the phrase used mostly in the UK was "sat an exam" but I could be dead wrong on that one. In any case, the English people speak in Singapore is much closer to British English than American English, at least in terms of the colloquialisms people use.


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