Use of the Word Whilst

arildno
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I still cringe from hearing anything uttered in French due that perfectly horrible teacher I had back in school..
 
Maybe some Americans are just more insecure and judgemental to the point that if someone uses a perfectly valid word they don't use they get all "Ooooh, get her!" Quite frankly, I'm amazed it seems to have caused a stir with so many people. Myself, the only time I frequently judge someone's use of language as pretentious is when bombarded with the myriad American buzzwords where I work. IF I WANT TO FIND LEVERAGE IN THE DIGITAL COMMUNITY I'LL BUY A BLOODY MAP!!!

I think the other thing is that the English have a wealth of literature going back over a period in which the language was still still settling down after too many invasions, so we are being constantly reminded of words that may have otherwise died out. Shakespeare is as popular as ever, for instance.

'Whilst' is never the ONLY correct word to use (unless a man puts a loaded gun to your head as says "Say 'whilst' or I'll blow your brains out"), but there are looooooads of words in the English language that are interchangeable with others.
 
arildno said:
"I'm tall, whilst my girl-friend is short".
To me, this sounds a bit archaic..
Is it?
You're right. Allow me to correct myself:

"I'm tall, whilst my beeyatch is short."

Better?
 
loseyourname
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arildno said:
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?
There is no comparative connotation, at least not in addition to 'while.' Both words have exactly the same meaning. I explained the etymology back on the first page, and technically, 'whilst' is a modification of the adverb form of 'while.' To do something "whilst" is basically equivalent to saying that you're doing it nonchalantly, carefreely, idly. Somewhere along the way, this correct usage was abandoned and the word became equivalent to any form of 'while.'

If you want to be really exacting, both words are archaic, and 'while' might be considered even more archaic, as it's maintained the same meaning since Old English.

To the Hombre - Of course 'while' can be used to contrast. What I meant in saying that 'although' or 'yet' would be the more correct words is that they can only be used to contrast. Using those words instead of 'while' takes the ambiguity out of the sentence, and gets rid of the need for qualifiers. Take the earlier sentence you posted:

"My twin brother eats donuts for breakfast while I, on the other hand, eat them for lunch."

It is necessary to add in 'on the other hand' because otherwise the sentence is ambiguous. You might be contrasting your eating habits with your brother's, or you might be saying that you eat lunch at the same time he eats breakfast. There is nothing in the word 'while' itself that can tell us the difference. You can simply say:

"My twin brother eats donuts for breakfast, whereas I eat them for lunch."

In this case, 'whereas' is a better word to use than 'while.' Though both are correct, 'whereas' is more precise.
 
arildno
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loseyourname said:
There is no comparative connotation, at least not in addition to 'while.'
All right; seems I mixed up the linguistic terms here.. :blushing:

To do something "whilst" is basically equivalent to saying that you're doing it nonchalantly, carefreely, idly. Somewhere along the way, this correct usage was abandoned and the word became equivalent to any form of 'while.'
Cool; I didn't know that.
(I really should start reading a thread from page 1 and onwards.. :uhh: )

If you want to be really exacting, both words are archaic, and 'while' might be considered even more archaic, as it's maintained the same meaning since Old English.
I meant the technical term "archaic", i.e, sounding old-fashioned, gone out of usage.

Okay, thanks a lot, loseyourname (and everybody else); it seems I might just as well stick with "while".
That seems safest; as a non-native English speaker, I would blunder constantly if I tried to use 'whilst'.
 
loseyourname
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arildno said:
Okay, thanks a lot, loseyourname (and everybody else); it seems I might just as well stick with "while".
That seems safest; as a non-native English speaker, I would blunder constantly if I tried to use 'whilst'.
Really, my primary objection is that I find the word 'whilst' to be an ugly sounding word, simultaneously baroque and harsh on the pallet. I find 'while' to be far more elegant; in fact, it flows off the end of the tongue. English is not the greatest sounding language to begin with; there's no need to worsen it if you ask me.
 
arildno
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loseyourname said:
English is not the greatest sounding language to begin with; there's no need to worsen it if you ask me.
:confused:
I love the sound of English, from drawling Texan to Queen's English.
But, it's great to be informed about how certain words 'feels like' for the native speaker; for any language, that is really the major hurdle foreigners have difficulties getting past.
 
loseyourname
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arildno said:
:confused:
I love the sound of English, from drawling Texan to Queen's English.
But, it's great to be informed about how certain words 'feels like' for the native speaker; for any language, that is really the major hurdle foreigners have difficulties getting past.
I guess I've just always been a fan of the latin-derived languages, especially Spanish (real Spanish, not Mexican Spanish) and Italian. I've never really liked the sound of the Germanic languages. They do make great literary languages, though. The multiplicity of meanings and ambiguities of so many of the words, and the free borrowing from other languages (especially in English), along with the heavy use of cognates, can make for very rich prose. A lot of that can be lost in translation. Take a language like Armenian, or the worst of all languages in this regard, Navajo. There is no ambiguity whatsoever in that language - any given sentence means exactly one thing, with no connotation whatsoever beyond the denotation of the words. They literally have several hundred different words for walking, depending on what direction you're facing, your pace, the weather, and every other imaginable variable. Nothing is context dependent - a fiction writer's nightmare. On the other hand, that's what made it the unbreakable code in WWII. Only native speakers could tell what was being said. Regarding Armenian, though, even if I don't think it's the greatest language for literary purposes, I do find the actual sound of it to be absolutely gorgeous, especially the eastern dialect.
 
loseyourname said:
To the Hombre - Of course 'while' can be used to contrast. What I meant in saying that 'although' or 'yet' would be the more correct words is that they can only be used to contrast.
Ahhhh, so that's what you meant when you said:

loseyourname said:
'whilst' has no additional connotation that implies the consequent clause is in opposition to the antecedent clause in your sentences
Gotcha. Um..

loseyourname said:
Using those words instead of 'while' takes the ambiguity out of the sentence, and gets rid of the need for qualifiers. Take the earlier sentence you posted:

"My twin brother eats donuts for breakfast while I, on the other hand, eat them for lunch."

It is necessary to add in 'on the other hand' because otherwise the sentence is ambiguous.
"I am a carnivore while my girlfriend is a vegetarian." No ambiguity, no need for 'on the other hand'. It's a very common use of the word.
 
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"I am a carnivore while my girlfriend is a vegetarian." No ambiguity, no need for 'on the other hand'. It's a very common use of the word.
Of course that could mean you are not a carnivore when your girlfriend isn't a vegetarian. :)

I have an idea that, over time, the language has gotten lazier. 'Whilst' uses a lot more muscles in the tongue than 'while'. Similarly 'one hundred and sixty' has been shortened to 'one sixty' because of laziness.
 
Except that 'while' predates 'whilst', so for a period we actually got less lazy and started inserting consonants we didn't need. :eek:)
 
loseyourname
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Daminc said:
Of course that could mean you are not a carnivore when your girlfriend isn't a vegetarian. :)
Exactly. See what I mean about the literary richness of the English language? Almost any sentence can be interpreted in so many ways that often native speakers don't even realize it. The only reason I'm so keen on this stuff is that I'm a writer.
 
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El Hombre Invisible said:
Except that 'while' predates 'whilst', so for a period we actually got less lazy and started inserting consonants we didn't need. :eek:)
Could you show me where I can find the dates for the origin of these words please.
 
nameinamillion
As a native (UK) English speaker, and a bit of a pedant, I have always used "whilst" as an alternative to "at the same time as" when applied to two actions being performed concurrently - eg. "I was watching TV whilst eating my dinner".

This seems to me to be much better than the alternative "while eating my dinner" but does not allow what I would consider to be the pretentious somewhat affected use of "whilst" as a simple synonym for one of the uses of "while" that is, regrettably, gaining currency in some circles.
 
jaqubim
'Whilst' is an adverbial genitive. This means it is used to describe verbs.
For an example of where it's used, in English English at least, 'Whilst rising, the sun shone'. Not used as 'Whilst the sun was rising, it shone'. 'While' would be used instead here.

In writing, I sometimes use whilst, but I don't really remember ever saying whilst until 5 mins ago whilst/when debating it with my girlfriend. I just know I've always used it that way. Maybe it is slightly dated now though. I'm only 23, I don't want to sound like something out of Shakespeare!
Usually tend to use it when writing formally, like writing essays, not when writing my thoughts on a random forum! Sorry to bust in on this, I just want to set the world straight on it now!
We’re not stuck in the dark ages over here in England, we’re probably the most culturally advanced country around, but we do tend to stick to traditions rigidly,not all of us maybe, (but I think having a queen is a good thing).

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/results.asp?searchword=whilst&image.x=47&image.y=8

More examples: I met her whilst working up North
I met her while I was working up North

In English English, both are correct. Don’t know about you, I’d call the whilst version less effort.
Why have Americans had to take things, tweak them slightly, and call it their own, or have authority over it?! i.e. Rugby into American football, the little girls game rounders into baseball, English into American English, etc! Bottom line: Our language, we're right.
 
jaqubim
We love you guiys really. An earlier post got my back up that's all.
 
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I learned to write "favour" instead of "favor" and I still do that but I cannot in good faith criticize the elimination of redundancy. Why insert silent letters? Why stretch your speech to "one hundred and sixty and one" when "one hundred sixty one" will do? Also, if you pronounce it "centER" then why write "centRE"? And if "while" is sufficient then why retain "whilst"? I think we should either pronounce "saLmon" or write "samon". English can be simplified and many exceptions can be removed without loss of meaning. Yeah, I'm out of whack.
 
cristo
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The l in salmon tells us how to pronounce the word. If you were to omit it, the word "samon" would be pronounced "same-on."

Quit messing with a perfectly good language! If you start picking letters out, then you'll destroy the beauty of the English language.
 
Astronuc
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eau yieuw ghyze! :rofl:
 
mathwonk
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i love 17th century posts.
 
jaqubim
Lol! My bad...
Basically, the English language is like someone said, a big hairy 500lb gorilla. It's never been logical. It just is how it is. Maybe I'm a stick in the mud, I just don't like seeing words disappear for the sake of people being lazy.

We've got the most diverse language, making it easy to write songs, and say exactly what we mean. But yeah, I see your points, I'd hate to have to learn English if it wasn't my native language. It's got 1000s of exceptions to the rules, and keeps some things that originated from France. Why the hell we keep those I don't know. I never understood 'centre', I just accepted that that's how it is. Italian...that's a nice simple straightforward language, they say it how they see it; how it's written, but try listening to their pop music!
 
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jaqubim
At least we don't have to construct sentances like in Catalan, (the Basque language in Catalonia)...

Instead of "I've had a ham sandwich"
Their literal translation is "In the act of eating, you have me, 10 minutes ago, a ham sandwich".
 
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The l in salmon tells us how to pronounce the word. If you were to omit it, the word "samon" would be pronounced "same-on."
No point. You write samba, not salmba.

Quit messing with a perfectly good language!
Nobody is. We're messing with a good language, not with a perfectly good one. Languages that are never messed with do not evolve and there is no good reason to keep a good language from evolving into a better one.
 
cristo
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There's no need for an l there, since the "mb" shortens the sound of the "a"; as in "lamb."
...or do you mean as in "chamber"? :rolleyes:
 

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