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Use of the Word Whilst

  1. Jul 13, 2005 #1

    loseyourname

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    Use of the Word "Whilst"

    I've noticed that people are using this word more and more frequently. I've especially noticed it on these forums. Is there any particular reason for this? It has exactly the same meaning as 'while' and no additional connotations. Furthermore, it is a much uglier sounding word and comes across as rather pretentious. For those of you using it all the time, why? Where is this coming from? I can't think of anything in recent pop culture that could have caused this.
     
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  3. Jul 13, 2005 #2
    It's hardly a new word. Middle English I think. I can't give you any authoratitive advise on when to use 'whilst' as opposed to 'while' but I'd say I'd use 'whilst' to mean 'although' or 'meanwhile', which 'while' can also be used for, but not 'at the same time as' which 'while' is used for.

    e.g. "I am tall whilst my girlfriend is short."
    "I did the vacuuming whilst my girlfriend cleaned the bathroom."
    "I smoked a cigarette while vacuuming."
     
  4. Jul 13, 2005 #3
    I think, in short, 'whilst' is only used as a connecting conjunction, whilst 'while' can also be used as a preposition.
     
  5. Jul 13, 2005 #4

    Danger

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    In my case it's because the environment that I live in and the people that I've been involved with have been heavily influenced by so many different cultures that we blend them all. A lot of old English, erse, gaelic, etc. get mixed into our everyday speech, along with the more official French and Brit slang. Although I try to keep my grammar more or less correct in PF, it's informal enough that I don't take time to filter the actual words.
     
  6. Jul 13, 2005 #5

    loseyourname

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    Oh, it is correct to use 'whilst' in any situation that you would use 'while' in. As I said, they have exactly the same meaning and exactly the same usages. If it's just commonly used in whatever part of Canada you're in (I can't remember it), that explains it. It just seemed to be getting more common to me. It seems like I've been seeing it everywhere recently and I never used to.

    To the Hombre, 'whilst' has no additional connotation that implies the consequent clause is in opposition to the antecedent clause in your sentences. In those situations, 'although' or 'whereas' would be the best word to use. 'Yet' would suffice, but 'although' and 'whereas' are better.

    All this said, the use of the word 'whilst' is not inaccurate, although it is archaic. It does originate from medieval English. Adding an "s" to the end of words in medieval English indicated an adverbial usage, and was added to the verb form of 'while' (meaning to spend time idly). The "t" is just epenthetic. Hard consonants were added to a lot of early English words in medieval times simply to better differentiate words from one another (early English kind of just flows into itself and can be very difficult to understand when spoken). So etymologically speaking, using 'whilst' to replace 'while' is technically incorrect, but it did become accepted long ago, kind of how 'normalcy' eventually became a real word thanks to Harding being an idiot and 'conversate' probably will now that so many public figures are (mis)using it.
     
  7. Jul 13, 2005 #6
    I couldn't agree less. 'While' also has these connotations, at least in England. Whether another word may 'suffice' or be 'better' is entirely irrelevant.
     
  8. Jul 13, 2005 #7
    Another difference between 'whilst' and 'while': no-one ever says "worthwhilst" or "worth your whilst". I think 'while' in this case just means 'time' in general, which 'whilst' seemingly does not.
     
  9. Jul 13, 2005 #8

    fuzzyfelt

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    I think 'whilst' is really pretty common here, but so is ironic affectation.
     
  10. Jul 13, 2005 #9
    In fact: <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=while>
    Definitions of 'while' include: although, whereas.

    Example: "My twin brother eats donuts for breakfast while I, on the other hand, eat them for lunch." Or whilst.
     
  11. Jul 13, 2005 #10
    If Cambridge don't know, who does? <http://dictionary.cambridge.org/results.asp?searchword=whilst&image.x=47&image.y=8>
     
  12. Jul 13, 2005 #11
    More generally here in the States, "Britspeak" is up --- I believe by an order of magnitude in newspapers and so on - over the last decade.

    An informal study looked at the the frequency of words and phrases such as "queue," "whilst," "at the end of the day," "on holiday," and others - in newspaper reports. The rise in usage of such words and phrases was striking. i was unable to find a website for actual figures.

    (But this is kind of fun: http://englishclub.8m.com/ukus1.htm)
     
  13. Jul 13, 2005 #12

    Moonbear

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    I think it's just a matter of personal taste. One person may find "whilst" to be ugly while another may find it more quaint, or fun to use. Since there's nothing wrong with either word choice, it could just be that as more people hear a different word used, they adopt it themselves just because it's different.
     
  14. Jul 13, 2005 #13

    arildno

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    Not having English as my native language, but having read quite a bit, I've always found the use "whilst" rather artificial and perplexing.
    That is, I haven't really managed to find out where the proper usages of "whilst" should be; frankly, "whilst" to me sounds like unnecessary frillery or silly snobbishness.

    Perhaps someone could enlighten me on when "whilst" is properly used, in particular when it is the ONLY correct word to use?
     
  15. Jul 13, 2005 #14
    I think i use it sometimes to make a major point while I using "while" the majority fo the time...i think its just a slur of the tongue/emotion
     
  16. Jul 13, 2005 #15

    arildno

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    So, you use it as an "emphasizing technique", then?
    It would be interesting to see if native speakers are in agreement on these issues..
     
  17. Jul 13, 2005 #16

    selfAdjoint

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    To me, an American speaker using whilst would sound pompously pseudo British, like spelling center "centre" in mall names. What is OK in the UK is not in the USA.
     
  18. Jul 13, 2005 #17

    arildno

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    Ok, that's important, thanks.

    BTW, I think "centre" is a pompous and silly way of writing the word in the first place.
    But, whenever were Brits anything else, really? :wink:
     
  19. Jul 13, 2005 #18
    whilst is from the middle english period... The fancinating thing about English is that, unlike most other langauges English does not have a body that governs what is an English word and what isnt... Unlike French or Italian, therefore English picks up lots of different localised words, that are absorbed into the "Cloud" of words that is English.

    In the UK we have many many more dialects/lanaguages than in the USA so it is normal for Brits to have many different words that you would see in USA..

    For Example, Scots, which is derived from old North English (and is a direct relation to fresian in The Netherlands) is now considered a seperate langauge to English (regonised by the EU)..

    ayll be Pittin ma mither tung on the wab, ya ken?
     
  20. Jul 13, 2005 #19

    arildno

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    I like Scots. You have very practical clothes, for example.
     
  21. Jul 13, 2005 #20
    Friends don't let friends say whilst.

    The people who bother me are the ones who never use it in everyday speech, but suddenly pull it out when they try their hand at verse.
     
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