Use of the Word Whilst

honestrosewater

Gold Member
2,071
5
Moonbear said:
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.
Yeah, I was going to suggest this as a possible reason loseyourname was seeing it suddenly being used more often on PF. Someone used it, other people saw it and started using it, others saw them use it and started using it...

What about amidst and amongst? I don't think those are pretentious.
 

Danger

Gold Member
9,564
244
El Hombre Invisible said:
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.
In this case 'while' is a noun. 'Whilst' never is.
And to Arildno, 'centre' is the proper spelling of the word. 'Center' is a Yank variation. When it comes to randomly moving r's around, consider the difference in meaning between 'metre' and 'meter'.
 

Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
818
14
arildno said:
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?
my thoughts exactly, i find the word atrocious to say...
 

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
Thinking about it, I use 'whilst' a lot. I don't think it's pompous; at least in the UK, it's not a word which only posh people use.

When writing, I find myself using 'therefore', 'whence', 'henceforth' and 'thence' quite a lot too.

Smasherman, I had to explain to a USian what a queue was a while back. Often, it doesn't even cross my mind that another English speaker doesn't share the same dialect as myself, even within the UK. I quite like the way there are so many different dialects over here. Just having a conversation about the different regional names for bread cakes (bread rolls, cobs, buns, barms, fadges) can be rather enlightening.
 
279
0
I like to hear the English use such terminology.

I like different cultural quirks. "Arse" and "That's a bit dear" and "further maths" are ... I don't know .... sweet, to my way of thinking, and I'd hate to see this sort of linguistic diversity homogenized.

It sounds a bit different when an American says something like this - bnut I think that would change with usage.
 

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
pattylou said:
I like to hear the English use such terminology.

I like different cultural quirks. "Arse" and "That's a bit dear" and "further maths" are ... I don't know .... sweet, to my way of thinking, and I'd hate to see this sort of linguistic diversity homogenized.

The funny thing is that words like that don't even cross my mind as being particularly UKish (perhaps with the exception of arse). I just like it when American tourists say things like 'it's in my wife's fanny bag', and the look on their face when we ask 'can I please bum a fag?'

In fact, it was only the other day when I realised that USians pronounce, say, '160' as "one hundred sixty", where we say "one hundred and sixty".
 

honestrosewater

Gold Member
2,071
5
brewnog said:
In fact, it was only the other day when I realised that USians pronounce, say, '160' as "one hundred sixty", where we say "one hundred and sixty".
I say "one hundred and sixty". Do UKans say still call 23 "three and twenty"?
 

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
honestrosewater said:
I say "one hundred and sixty". Do UKans say still call 23 "three and twenty"?
The hardcore might. Wolram probably does, but that's cos he thinks, urm, how do you say it, 'chicks dig that sh*t'?
 

honestrosewater

Gold Member
2,071
5
brewnog said:
The hardcore might. Wolram probably does, but that's cos he thinks, urm, how do you say it, 'chicks dig that sh*t'?
:rofl: Does he also dance around singing "When I was one-and-twenty"? That would certainly turn me on. :biggrin:
 
210
0
'can I please bum a fag?'
Aye, got some benny edges 'ere if you like :-)
 
I don't think I have ever used "whilst" before. The times I have heard it, here in the states, it seems like the people doing so were being sarcastic and/or condecending.

I do use differant spellings of words on occasion. I add the "u" in words like colour and honour. It comes from the books I read as a kid, I loved Sherlock Holmes. The words just don't look right to me spelled otherwise.
 

Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
brewnog said:
In fact, it was only the other day when I realised that USians pronounce, say, '160' as "one hundred sixty", where we say "one hundred and sixty".
Sometimes we just say it "one-sixty." I used to say it "one hundred and sixty" until I had a math teacher drill it out of me in elementary school.
 

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
Moonbear said:
I used to say it "one hundred and sixty" until I had a math teacher drill it out of me in elementary school.
Bloody teachers. Go round and drill it into her not to mess with MY language. Hmph! :smile:
 
I would only use whilst to if I wanted to really accent the word while. Even then I would not be able to say it without some humour involved, just because it's such a silly word.
I also spell it, centre and humour. and I was taught to say "one hundred sixty" but I only do about half the time.
As far as I'm concerned, the English spelling of things is the only way. They don't call it ENGLISH for nothing !!!
 
279
0
brewnog said:
Bloody teachers. Go round and drill it into her not to mess with MY language. Hmph! :smile:
Why "bloody?" I never understood that. Can you explain how that expression came to be?

And to Americans: How many of you automatically visualize Corporal Peter Newkirk of Hogan's Heroes when you hear the word "bloody" used in conversation? Played by Richard Dawson (and I had to google for those specifics; all that my brain has stored was the image of the character contacting the outside world on the teaset and saying "bloody machine, won't connect whilst Klink's on the phone...")

http://www.hogansheroesfanclub.com/images/photoNewkirkSmall.gif
Believe it or not, I never realized he was the same guy that did "Family Feud."
 
Last edited by a moderator:

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
pattylou said:
Why "bloody?" I never understood that. Can you explain how that expression came to be?
As it happens, yes, I can.

As I've heard, the original curse was "By Our Lady in hell", and back in those days was, as you can imagine, a pretty hefty cuss. I suppose after numerous muttered curses (hitting thumb with hammer, that kind of thing), it turned into 'bloody hell'.

Another explanation relates to 'bloods', or certain aristocrats, frequently having drunken fights, but I'm not quite sure how that came about. I like my version. :smile:
 
279
0
brewnog said:
As it happens, yes, I can.

As I've heard, the original curse was "By Our Lady in hell", and back in those days was, as you can imagine, a pretty hefty cuss. I suppose after numerous muttered curses (hitting thumb with hammer, that kind of thing), it turned into 'bloody hell'.

Another explanation relates to 'bloods', or certain aristocrats, frequently having drunken fights, but I'm not quite sure how that came about. I like my version. :smile:
LOL. I like your version too. Thank you! I'll remember that! But.... who is "Our Lady in Hell??"
 

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
pattylou said:
LOL. I like your version too. Thank you! I'll remember that! But.... who is "Our Lady in Hell??"
Mary, mother of Jesus.
 
279
0
... and why is she in Hell?
 

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
pattylou said:
... and why is she in Hell?
That's the cuss, it's blasphemy.
 
279
0
Oh. She's our "Lady in Heaven," and you edited it? i take it you're a good atheist?

da...de dum. Waiting for thirty seconds to pass.... da.... de dum. S'pose I could edit instead.... da.... de dum.

Edit: Aha. thank you.
 

brewnog

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,701
7
As I understand it, the original curse was "by Our Lady in hell". It was blasphemy, a swear word, basically damning the Madonna to hell. Over time, it turned into "bloody hell", hence today's expression.
 

honestrosewater

Gold Member
2,071
5
Something similar helps date texts of Shakespeare's plays. I can't find the links right now, but for instance 'sblood, 'swounds, or even zounds are abbreviations of the curses or oaths Christs' blood or God's blood and Christ's wounds. The abbreviations were used because laws were passed outlawing the longer versions (or something). So if you find the full curse God's blood in a text, it was very likely published before the laws went into effect.

Okay, here's one:
Stokes (Chronological Order of Shakespeare's Plays) shows that it was written before 1606 by the fact that in the quarto of 1622 (i.1.4) we find the oath "S'blood" (God's blood), while this is omitted in the folio. This indicates that the quarto was printed from a copy made before the act of Parliament issued in 1606 against the abuse of the name of God in plays, etc. So "Zounds" and "by the mass" (in ii.3) are found in the quarto but not in the folio. (293)
- http://www.shakespeare-online.com/playanalysis/othello.html
Yeah, so I had it a bit wrong. I may see if I can find another supporting my version. :wink:
 
Last edited:

arildno

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
9,948
130
All right, then.
So, to Americans "whilst" is in any context a rather artificial construction that if it is to be used at all, only should be used sparingly, perhaps in order to give particular emphasis to what you're saying.

For Brits, it is rather different, and that it isn't particularly snobbish to say something like "Please keep the seat belts on whilst the train is in motion".

But I wonder about the usage of "whilst" in its comparative connotation as well, like:
"I'm tall, whilst my girl-friend is short".
To me, this sounds a bit archaic..
Is it?
 
40
0
I had a physics teacher in high school who was from England. He never used 'while', preferring 'whilst' in all cases. I involuntarily cringe when I hear it, not that it sounds pompous or artificial.

It's a lot like encountering ampersands when reading text. It's perfectly valid & it can even look good typographically & so on, but it just doesn't flow well, eh?

Whilst I dislike it, though, it has probably slipped into my compositions on occasion. :wink:
 

Related Threads for: Use of the Word Whilst

  • Last Post
Replies
19
Views
4K
Replies
8
Views
702
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
33
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
464
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
16
Views
2K
  • Last Post
4
Replies
75
Views
8K

Hot Threads

Top