Language fails that make you angry

6,171
1,275
Actually quite a bit of universities (and remember the qualifier: educated foreigners) around the world teach their courses in English. Learning two language (English being particularly popular as a second) is just part of the culture for many western countries outside the U.S., it's not so much about being "drawn to". But most of them learn it later (like after 7 or so).
Good point. I was thinking only in US terms.

And it's not about creative or flexible; It's about sticking to the formal rules. In fact, a native English speaker might be more flexible and have a better idea of context and slang and just plain social slurs ("ya'll yump to and warsh my clothes" is very much an American dialect. You will not hear very many people learning English as a 2nd language using that kind of dialect). Yet, in much of the US, it's socially acceptable to break the rules (ebonics comes to mind).
The article you linked to made the claims I quoted. They weren't talking about linguistic flexibility, per se, but:

...the multilingual shows superior performance in handling complex and demanding problem-solving tasks when compared to monolinguals. They seem to be able to have an advantage in handling certain thinking processes," March continues.
The point I take from that being that the mere ability to speak coherently in a foreign language, not necessarily to pass for a native of Arkansas or the Bronx, makes a person a better thinker and problem solver. According to them.

Some foreigners will do better on an English test than the average American, for sure. What I was saying is that the meme that all of them will is not true in my experience. A lot of educated foreigners have studied English for years and still make wacky grammar mistakes. What you are saying, that many will do better because they stick to the rules and don't adopt the "flexibility" of the average American, is also true.

That's not universal either, though. I've met a lot of foreign exchange students and they are often determined to pick up every bit of slang and natural American speech they can. They want to fit in with the Americans their age.
 
243
1
I lived and worked out of the US for a couple of years and have the greatest respect for anyone who lives in the US and is not a native English speaker. I made some really dumb mistakes.

By the way, you don't say "quite a BIT of Universties", as BIT means a small single piece of. Like I'll have just a little bit of that dessert. You can say quite a number of , quite a few or just SOME or many universities.
 
854
16
Yahoo said:
the clans that banned together
Yahoo
They meant the clans that banded together.
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,248
1,851
"...per say..."


:grumpy: :grumpy:
 

lisab

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
243
1
it made sense the first time (clans that banned together)
 

Dembadon

Gold Member
607
89
it made sense the first time (clans that banned together)
While its use in the article still yields a grammatically correct sentence, I don't think it fits the context of the statement.
 
243
1
darn - I liked it better than banded

I was shopping in a hardware store in a Spanish speaking country and asked for plastic manure instead of plastic wood. When I got some really strange looks I realized my error and probably turned all shades of red.
 
Last edited:

russ_watters

Mentor
18,848
5,037
More a science issue than a grammar issue, but I was just at a conference on energy conservation and one speaker kept saying kW instead of kWh. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

Another one that appears to be getting worse is "there".
 
4,453
57
In that same ballpark is "calories". Food of such and such calories. 200 calories is bad 100 calories is better.

But it's not calories, it's kilo calories. But we should go metric and talk kilo Joule.
 
Last edited:

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
Many people confuse "less" with "fewer", and it bugs me to see news-readers on the TV make that mistake.
 

WannabeNewton

Science Advisor
5,774
529
This one is so pervasive and it absolutely drives me insane: the use of your instead of you're when appropriate.
 
4,453
57
your kidding :smile: Don't lose you're wit. :biggrin:
 

jtbell

Mentor
15,369
3,116

WannabeNewton

Science Advisor
5,774
529
I have to admit that's one plus for text-speak, which would be "yr" either way. :rolleyes:
Text speak is so simple yet so powerful :biggrin:
 

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
Text speak is so simple yet so powerful :biggrin:
How does it handle "there", "they're", "their", and other problems? I want to deal with such misuse, but am unable, due to the sheer volume of errors.

English is probably a tough language, but look at Borek's posts. He writes better than most native-speakers!
 
48
0
have the greatest respect for anyone who lives in the US and is not a native English speaker.
Care to mention England perhaps? Where English IS the native language.
 

Curious3141

Homework Helper
2,830
86
"I could care less" which really means "I couldn't care less."
"I could care less" is an ironic (sardonic) phrasing, which is quite acceptable to me. If anything, it emphasises utter disdain even more than the literal phrasing.
 

vela

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Education Advisor
14,426
1,109
"I could care less" is an ironic (sardonic) phrasing, which is quite acceptable to me. If anything, it emphasises utter disdain even more than the literal phrasing.
I disagree.

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/care.html [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Evo

Mentor
22,867
2,343
I disagree.

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/care.html [Broken]
True, the correct saying is "I couldn't care less". It's a put down meaning "I don't give a damn."

The mistaken "i could care less" isn't a put down, it means "I do care" and it's just people hearing and repeating the correct phrase wrong.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Fredrik

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,730
405
In that same ballpark is "calories". Food of such and such calories. 200 calories is bad 100 calories is better.

But it's not calories, it's kilo calories.
This isn't entirely true. There are two kinds of calories, "gram calories" and "kilogram calories". The former is the energy it takes to heat 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celcius. The latter is the energy it takes to heat 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celcius. Since "kilo" also means 1000, what one person calls "100 calories" can be "100 kilocalories" to another, because the first person means "100 kilogram calories", and the second person means "100000 gram calories". So they can actually both be right, because the same name is used for two different units.
 

Fredrik

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,730
405
True, the correct saying is "I couldn't care less". It's a put down meaning "I don't give a damn."

The mistaken "i could care less" isn't a put down, it means "I do care" and it's just people hearing and repeating the correct phrase wrong.
I think Curious meant that some people are saying it wrong on purpose.

We have a few phrases like that in Sweden. One phrase that was popular about 15 years ago is "hur bra är det på en skala?" which translates to "how good is that on a scale?". When I first heard it, I thought the people saying it had to be complete idiots. Obviously, you have to specify the scale, like "how good is that on a scale from 1 to 10?". But I soon discovered that people who use this phrase understand this. They think it's funny precisely because it doesn't make sense.

Of course, there's an important difference between this and "I could care less". The difference is that no one really uses the logically correct question.
 
Last edited:

Related Threads for: Language fails that make you angry

Replies
19
Views
3K
  • Poll
  • Posted
2
Replies
30
Views
7K
Replies
30
Views
5K
  • Posted
Replies
24
Views
12K
  • Posted
4 5 6
Replies
143
Views
80K
  • Posted
2
Replies
44
Views
3K
Replies
64
Views
8K

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving
Top