Pet Peeves of your native language

dRic2

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Anyone having problem with punctuation ? o_O

I know I should focus on more important issues to improve my English, but one thing that always got me on my nerve is punctuation. In my native language (Italian) it is everywhere and we have precise rule to follow for a correct use (of course 90% of the people doesn't know those rules, but that's another story). In English it seems (to me) punctuation is not a dominant part and it is used in a slightly different way. I think this is because English speakers prefer short sentences over long ones, thus they really only need '.' (full stop).

I'm not talking about what I read here on forums because that would be absurd, but books.


Did anyone ever think about this or is is just me ?
 
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pinball1970

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Anyone having problem with punctuation ? o_O

I know I should focus on more important issues to improve my English, but one thing that always got me on my nerve is punctuation. In my native language (Italian) it is everywhere and we have precise rule to follow for a correct use (of course 90% of the people doesn't know those rules, but that's another story). In English it seems (to me) punctuation is not a dominant part and it is used in a slightly different way. I think this is because English speakers prefer short sentences over long one, thus they really only need '.' (full stop).

I'm not talking about what I read here on forums because that would be absurd, but books.


Did anyone ever think about this or is is just me ?
No you are correct, texting and social media has made a negative impact on the use of punctuation.
The young are the worst offenders.
 

Orodruin

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No you are correct, texting and social media has made a negative impact on the use of punctuation.
The young are the worst offenders.
”The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
 

pinball1970

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”The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
Ok I see what you did there and that is not what I meant, otherwise I would have said,

'our sires age was less than our grandsires. We their sons are more worthless than they, so in turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.'

I was referring to the fact texting, e mailing and social media has had a negative impact on aspects of our wonderful language.
Since technology is embraced by the young they are the ones who will not visit libraries, write letters or understand why that blue underline appears in word.
 

PeroK

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Ok I see what you did there and that is not what I meant, otherwise I would have said,

'our sires age was less than our grandsires. We their sons are more worthless than they, so in turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.'

I was referring to the fact texting, e mailing and social media has had a negative impact on aspects of our wonderful language.
Since technology is embraced by the young they are the ones who will not visit libraries, write letters or understand why that blue underline appears in word.
Or, they may be using the vast resources on the Internet in preference to a local library.

When I was at school I could play chess once a week at the school chess club. A child these days could take online lessons from grandmaster.
 

fresh_42

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I suspect that a lot of words starting with "kn" such as knave, knot, know, knowledge can be traced back to Old German or before.
Probably. We still have those words with a voiced 'k' as in Knoten, Kniff (trick), Knick (kink) or Knopf (button). I wonder whether it will be dropped some time. Or whether 'ite' will win over 'ight', or the 'ise' vs. 'ize' controversy will be resolved. Before you object: "Yuck!, Never!" I like to add that the 'u' in 'ou' already got lost!
 
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fresh_42

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Such as prog' ress (noun) and pro-gress' (verb). Also, "I enjoyed reading about the city of Reading, Berkshire."
"Are you going to read that book?"
"No, I have already read it."Lead and led/read and red are pairs that are pronounced the same, but differ in meaning.
  • "I was peeling an orange while the bells were pealing."
And the Homoinsulae!
  • colour vs. color
  • recognise vs. recognize
  • truck vs. lorry
  • the pronunciation of either vs. either, issue vs. issue, fast vs. fast, can't vs. can't
and presumably more than I'm aware of. This doesn't make the whole issue easier.
 

symbolipoint

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I remember asking a Yorkshireman once why he said "we were sat" but not "we were talked" or "we were watched the TV"?

He was genuinely puzzled and couldn't explain it.
"We were sat", feels like it makes sense; "we" were seated, either on our own action to sit, or as directed to be seated by a host.
 

fresh_42

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The only natives who understand English grammar are foreign language students.
This isn't unusual. Someone who learns a new language learns the grammar, too, whereas natives just use it as adapted. I remember, if we had a question about the correct use of a word, e.g. 'What is the correct genitive of Gauß?', we used to ask our American colleague who either knew it or knew where to look it up.
 

PeroK

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"We were sat", feels like it makes sense; "we" were seated, either on our own action to sit, or as directed to be seated by a host.
Yes, in that context, as in "we were warned". But, that implies someone must have done it to you. You are then the object of an action, represented by a transitive verb.

But the simple intransitive act should be "sitting" not "sat".
 

pinball1970

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Or, they may be using the vast resources on the Internet in preference to a local library.

When I was at school I could play chess once a week at the school chess club. A child these days could take online lessons from grandmaster.
Yes there is a vast amount of resource on the net, there is also a huge amount of garbage to occupy a young mind and fast technology to facilitate it.
Text speak, chat room speak, Twitter, face book, face time, snap chat, Instagram, msn, what's ap, MySpace, myblog, Tumblr, are all about speed. Grammar and punctuation are not considered and this carries on into the workplace.
 
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And the Homoinsulae!
  • colour vs. color
  • recognise vs. recognize
  • truck vs. lorry
  • the pronunciation of either vs. either, issue vs. issue, fast vs. fast, can't vs. can't
The 1st and 2nd items are a result of changes made to American English back in the 18th Century in an effort to rationalize the spellings of many British words by Noah Webster in his dictionary. Other examples are honour, harbour, flavour, and others. An exception to this is the word glamour, which comes from Scots, not French. This wiki page has many examples of the differences between British English and American English spellings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences.

When two languages with common roots are separated by thousands of miles, it's not surprising that the languages evolve in separate directions for the same concept, as in truck vs. lorry.

Regarding the word truck, how many of you know that a truck is also a part of a flagpole?
From Merriam-Webster dictionary:
a small wooden cap at the top of a flagstaff or masthead usually having holes for reeving flag or signal halyards
 
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English has acquired umpteen elements of other languages, starting with Pictish, ranging through Greco/Roman, Anglo/Saxon, Skand via the 'Vikings', French via the Normans, Middle-Eastern tongues via the Crusades, a bunch of Romance stuff, Imperial India etc etc etc.
This hits the nail on the head as to why English is so chaotic. There are lots of words whose sources most people don't know, such as "cotton," which is derived from Arabic "qutn" or "al-qutn." The Spanish word "algodon" is linguistically related.
The period of the Raj in India brought lots of words of Indian origin, such as bungalow, dungaree, khaki, nirvana,pundit, thug, yoga, and many more.
Sources not listed above include Aleut and Eskimo, from which we now have igloo, parka, kayak, and a few others.
 
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In English it seems (to me) punctuation is not a dominant part and it is used in a slightly different way.
Including or not including commas can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
"Let's eat Grandma!" and "Let's eat, Grandma!" are obviously different, especially from Grandma's perspective.

There's a book about the importance of punctuation in writing: "Eats, Shoots & Leaves," by Lynne Truss, that makes the point that the sentences "A panda eats shoots & leaves." and "A panda eats, shoots & leaves." mean very different things.

A recent post here at PF mentioned a sentence from a recommendation letter: "I was moved to be honest!!"
The writer no doubt meant ""I was moved, to be honest!!" The first sentence implies that the writer was formerly dishonest.
 
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Orodruin

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pinball1970

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Yes, in that context, as in "we were warned". But, that implies someone must have done it to you. You are then the object of an action, represented by a transitive verb.

But the simple intransitive act should be "sitting" not "sat".
Another thing that annoys me is the use of English words that actually means something else. Meme, cis and trans and I recently found out that the word 'girth' has a completely different connotation to meaning I was taught. The young are the main culprits again, if they want to hijack a good word then at least find out what it originally meant.
 

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fresh_42

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The young are the main culprits again, if they want to hijack a good word then at least find out what it originally meant.
I guess this happens in a lot of languages and is part of the juvenile rebellion when growing up. Several words here changed more or less completely its meaning, either partially, or as a new possible meaning on top of the old one. This holds especially for exaggerations, and first of all for the word good. Things youngsters liked were called here: horny, hot, mega, fat, and presumably some I missed throughout the years. The first one almost lost entirely its original meaning, i.e. basically nobody uses it in its original meaning anymore. The latest one is 'runs' as synonym for: is fine, works, being lucky and such.
 

dRic2

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@Mark44 I didn't mean that English speakers don't use punctuation. I was saying that English sentences require less punctuation than in other languages (in my opinion). Also I've noticed a slightly different use of some punctuation marks.
 

pinball1970

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I guess this happens in a lot of languages and is part of the juvenile rebellion when growing up. Several words here changed more or less completely its meaning, either partially, or as a new possible meaning on top of the old one. This holds especially for exaggerations, and first of all for the word good. Things youngsters liked were called here: horny, hot, mega, fat, and presumably some I missed throughout the years. The first one almost lost entirely its original meaning, i.e. basically nobody uses it in its original meaning anymore. The latest one is 'runs' as synonym for: is fine, works, being lucky and such.
I am pointing out my peeves with the use and bastardisation of the language rather than the language itself which was not the op
For me all those annoying idiosyncrasies are what make it special.
 

Bandersnatch

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@Mark44 I didn't mean that English speakers don't use punctuation. I was saying that English sentences require less punctuation than in other languages (in my opinion). Also I've noticed a slightly different use of some punctuation marks.
I've definitely had a similar experience as yourself. And a few other EFL learners I talked to reported the same thing.
I think it's just that in some languages it's acceptable to splice a few independent clauses into a single sentence using punctuation. Whereas in English it's in bad form (cf. 'comma splice' on Wikipedia).
 

fresh_42

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I think it's just that in some languages it's acceptable to splice a few independent clauses into a single sentence using punctuation.
We have e.g. the general rule, that all parts of a sentence, which have an SPO structure, belong into commata. This includes parts introduced by conjunctions like 'that', 'which', 'who', 'because', 'whether' etc. An example is the first sentence here. I'm not sure, whether all commata in this response are really correct in English. I think, I would skip all of them, which do not belong to the list.
 

dRic2

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That's interesting.

I'm beginning to think there are two ways to see punctuation: it can be a tool that helps you to read correctly for yourself, or it can be a tool that helps you to read things to other people. I think they are different although they may look similar. If you need just to read something for yourself then you don't actually need to be a good reader, as long as you can understand. On the other hand, if you have to read something to other people it is necessary that you have the right tone and you pause at the right time.

We have e.g. the general rule, that all parts of a sentence, which have an SPO structure, belong into commata. This includes parts introduced by conjunctions like 'that', 'which', 'who', 'because', 'whether' etc. An example is the first sentence here. I'm not sure, whether all commata in this response are really correct in English. I think, I would skip all of them, which do not belong to the list.
This seems a very useful rule that helps you quickly identify the part of complex period, but (I think) if you had to pause every time, especially in front of pronouns like 'which" or 'who', it would sound a bit off. In Italian for example we have a similar rule, but commas must be avoided (usually, there are exceptions too) before pronouns and conjunctions like 'and', whereas they must be placed before disjunctions like 'but'.

Some of the rules I know don't seem to apply to English so I get really confused at times.

BTW '-' is the one that gets me the most: I suspect it is fairly used in English while I kind of never used it.
 

symbolipoint

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We have e.g. the general rule, that all parts of a sentence, which have an SPO structure, belong into commata. This includes parts introduced by conjunctions like 'that', 'which', 'who', 'because', 'whether' etc. An example is the first sentence here. I'm not sure, whether all commata in this response are really correct in English. I think, I would skip all of them, which do not belong to the list.
Examples would help to understand what you said there.
 

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