Usage of the English language (languages?)

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Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by eldin raigmore » 23 Oct 2014 06:59

(I thought we already had a thread for this -- maybe one for all natlangs, maybe a separate thread for each natlang -- but I looked and couldn't find it.)

An interesting bit of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) vs. SAE (Standard American English)* (or maybe it's AAE -- Average American English? Or SAAE, Standard Average American? Or SAUSAE?) I heard a few days earlier this week.
(I've heard it many times before but just didn't get around to posting about it before now.)
I mentioned to an iPhone & U-Verse tech who was helping me the other day that wrote: there's a new advertising thing happening at Marathon stations that's not only very irritating but probably will backfire on the company, (since it makes it harder to purchase gasoline and any customer who is driven away before purchasing gas will probably go to some other filling station before going inside the Marathon station to purchase the items advertised).
She said wrote: "You're right! It's a Marathon a few blocks south of here where I noticed the same thing!"
*(I don't speak S.A.E. myself, so I'm only guessing that's what this AAVE contrasts with.)

In AAVE I often hear African-Americans use "It's" in places where Euro-Americans (or, at least, Britanno-Americans) would use "There's".
I've never heard of any USAnian who had trouble understanding the 'lect that wasn't their own, though; or, at least, not trouble with this particular usage.
For example I had no trouble understanding Tech Brittany, and I'm sure she had no trouble understanding me.

Does anyone know of any other 'lect of English that has a different way of saying that "some sample of what I'm about to say next exists somewhere/sometime in the universe: …" besides "there's a" or "it's a" (and grammatical variations thereof due to number and gender and tense and aspect)?

Does anyone know of any other 'lect of English that uses "it's a" the way AAVE does, as an existential marker or existential quantifier (or whatever the right terminology is)?
Goan English, maybe?

Does anyone know of other interesting ways AAVE differs from SAUSAE (Standard Average USAmerican English)?
(Damn, now I'm trying to think of a good word that starts with a <G>! "General", maybe? "Standard Average US American General English"? Something else might be better.)

Does anyone know of a way for me to identify my own 'lect, since I kind of doubt it's Standard or Average for the whole USA as opposed to just the places I've lived most of my life?
How can I tell I'm not speaking SAUSA(g)E? Or, how can I tell I am speaking SAUSA(g)E?

(And of course I know that I don't actually speak any recognized and named 'lect just exactly the way it's supposed to be spoken, in every way and every context. My parents, and other people I've spent time with, may have brought habits from other 'lectozones that I picked up. Also I've spent time outside the country (as well as in a few more than half the states of this country), and have picked up some Briticisms and some NATO dialect and other stuff I probably either don't recognize or would mislabel.)

Is it true that if I wish to enjoy speaking SAUSAE I should not learn how it was made?

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by Systemzwang » 23 Oct 2014 10:31

Hypothesis: if there exist alternatives to those two, 'they have' is among them.

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by eldin raigmore » 23 Oct 2014 18:23

Systemzwang wrote:Hypothesis: if there exist alternatives to those two, 'they have' is among them.
Seems likely; but I can't think of an example.
"it there has" in French, "it gives" in German, so maybe some English 'lects use a form of "have" or "give".

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by Lao Kou » 23 Oct 2014 18:33

eldin raigmore wrote:"it there has" in French, "it gives" in German, so maybe some English 'lects use a form of "have" or "give".
As in "What gives?" (for "What's the matter?" = "Qu'est-ce qu'il y a?")?
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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by eldin raigmore » 23 Oct 2014 18:37

Lao Kou wrote:
eldin raigmore wrote:"it there has" in French, "it gives" in German, so maybe some English 'lects use a form of "have" or "give".
As in "What gives?" (for "What's the matter?" = "Qu'est-ce qu'il y a?")?
I don't think English "what gives?" is an example of what I'm asking about; you can't use it to affirmatively and indicatively state that something exists.

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by Lao Kou » 23 Oct 2014 18:46

eldin raigmore wrote:I don't think English "what gives?" is an example of what I'm asking about; you can't use it to affirmatively and indicatively state that something exists.
Thought not -- just feelin' all free associate-y. [:P]
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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by All4Ɇn » 19 Dec 2014 05:40

eldin raigmore wrote:
Systemzwang wrote:Hypothesis: if there exist alternatives to those two, 'they have' is among them.
Seems likely; but I can't think of an example.
"it there has" in French, "it gives" in German, so maybe some English 'lects use a form of "have" or "give".
I sometimes use "it has" in situations where "there is" is acceptable when the place that I'm talking about is already known to by the speaker. E.G: "What's at the mall?" "It has a food court". Hope this helps

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by eldin raigmore » 20 Dec 2014 00:23

All4Ɇn wrote:I sometimes use "it has" in situations where "there is" is acceptable when the place that I'm talking about is already known to by the speaker. E.G: "What's at the mall?" "It has a food court". Hope this helps
I think it probably does help. Thanks.

A more reliable test might be something like
Q: "What's going on at the mall?"
A: "It has a Handel concert this week."

Or something.
Or maybe it doesn't make any difference.

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by All4Ɇn » 20 Dec 2014 01:41

eldin raigmore wrote: Q: "What's going on at the mall?"
A: "It has a Handel concert this week."
This makes sense to me.

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by MrKrov » 20 Dec 2014 08:11

It sounds alright to me. Some permutation of got might be better for me but still not bad.

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by eldin raigmore » 20 Dec 2014 21:41

All4Ɇn wrote:
eldin raigmore wrote: Q: "What's going on at the mall?"
A: "It has a Handel concert this week."
This makes sense to me.
Me too, though I wouldn't say it that way myself.
To me there's (or it's?) less of a difference between that and my own idiolect in that test, than in the "there's a Marathon…" vs. "it's a Marathon…" test.
But as I said I understood all of them so far.

MrKrov wrote:It sounds alright to me. Some permutation of got might be better for me but still not bad.
So far all contributions have made sense to every contributor. Differences seem to be about what we would say ourselves rather than what we would understand.
That being said:
I'd love to see (or hear) what you'd say that has "got" in it.
And if it's different enough from other posters' idiolects (maybe mine), let's see whether we can figure out where our idiolects come from?

(BTW my father reported that in his childhood some speakers in his neighborhood used "seefing" to mean "seeing whether"; they'd reanalyzed "see if" as "seef".)

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by elemtilas » 24 Dec 2014 01:59

eldin raigmore wrote:An interesting bit of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) vs. SAE (Standard American English)* (or maybe it's AAE -- Average American English? Or SAAE, Standard Average American? Or SAUSAE?) I heard a few days earlier this week.
(I've heard it many times before but just didn't get around to posting about it before now.)
I mentioned to an iPhone & U-Verse tech who was helping me the other day that wrote: there's a new advertising thing happening at Marathon stations that's not only very irritating but probably will backfire on the company, (since it makes it harder to purchase gasoline and any customer who is driven away before purchasing gas will probably go to some other filling station before going inside the Marathon station to purchase the items advertised).
She said wrote: "You're right! It's a Marathon a few blocks south of here where I noticed the same thing!"
*(I don't speak S.A.E. myself, so I'm only guessing that's what this AAVE contrasts with.)

In AAVE I often hear African-Americans use "It's" in places where Euro-Americans (or, at least, Britanno-Americans) would use "There's".
I've heard this phenom as well, but I don't understand how it's applicable to the example. I found nothing at all odd SAEwise or familiar-regiolect-wise about "It's a Marathon a few blocks...". I would say exactly the same thing, almost certainly. Or perhaps "Twas a Marathon..."
eldin raigmore wrote:I've never heard of any USAnian who had trouble understanding the 'lect that wasn't their own, though; or, at least, not trouble with this particular usage.
For example I had no trouble understanding Tech Brittany, and I'm sure she had no trouble understanding me.
For all Americans are lambasted with being recalcitrant monoglots I think we do pretty well at understanding all the foreign Englishes, not to mention the often quite distinct native Englishes!, spoken here.

An interesting thing to note, though! Gullah, interestingly in light of what you say about AAVE, seems to align more with SAE on this usage: "Wehsoneba dey a dead body, de buzzat dem gwine geda togeda dey too." (Lk. 24:28) & "Fodamo, dey a deep deep ditch tween we and oona." (Lk. 16:26) & "Bot dey a nodaposon wa tell bout me..." (Jn. 5:32) (With the expected copular deletion common in AAVE (he in the kitchen / he's in the kitchen sort of thing).)

An interesting one that doesn't seem to quite match either "black" or "white" English: "Een Jerusalem, a pool ob wata been dey by de place dey call 'Sheep Gyate.' De Jew people call dat pool Bethesda, an dey been fibe poch close by dat wata." (Jn. 5:2) Leastways not modern English! Maybe something like "... a pool of water be there by the place...and there be five porches..."?

Other instances of "there is a" use other turns of phrase (there is a great odor vs. dis place gwine stink e.g.), most of which I'd find perfectly acceptable in basal-cross-dialectical American English.

eldin raigmore wrote:Does anyone know of any other 'lect of English that has a different way of saying that "some sample of what I'm about to say next exists somewhere/sometime in the universe: …" besides "there's a" or "it's a" (and grammatical variations thereof due to number and gender and tense and aspect)?
Just the expected "they've / they have" -- "they've quite a few stale doughnuts left in the cupboard..." kind of thing.
eldin raigmore wrote:Does anyone know of any other 'lect of English that uses "it's a" the way AAVE does, as an existential marker or existential quantifier (or whatever the right terminology is)? Goan English, maybe?
I hint below, at least in my experience of AAVE, "it has" doesn't / mayn't operate everywhere SAE uses "there's". I would have rather expected "they a concert..." in your example above, but I'm not as familiar with AAVE to say anything definitively.
eldin raigmore wrote:Does anyone know of other interesting ways AAVE differs from SAUSAE (Standard Average USAmerican English)?
(Damn, now I'm trying to think of a good word that starts with a <G>! "General", maybe? "Standard Average US American General English"? Something else might be better.)

Does anyone know of a way for me to identify my own 'lect, since I kind of doubt it's Standard or Average for the whole USA as opposed to just the places I've lived most of my life?
How can I tell I'm not speaking SAUSA(g)E? Or, how can I tell I am speaking SAUSA(g)E?
There are all sorts of dialect quizzes out there. E.g. http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_vall ... alian.html I'd try three or four of them and see what they come up with! I just took two, one placed me anywhere in a broad swath from NJ to northern CA. The other placed me smack in Northern Ireland! Take these quizzes with just a pinch of salt! I know my idiolect ain't SAE (or even SAUSAGE), and definitely has a number of non-standard features based on family connections.

There are certainly many key ways AAVE and SAE differ. I mention copula deletion in AAVE: "Where Marcus?" "He in the back." This I admit to using, leastways when talking with someone who is already speaking AAVE. I have also come to refer to (usually older) black ladies as "Miss So-and-so".

Take a look at: http://public.wsu.edu/~gordonl/S2003/326/SAE_AAVE.htm
eldin raigmore wrote:(And of course I know that I don't actually speak any recognized and named 'lect just exactly the way it's supposed to be spoken, in every way and every context. My parents, and other people I've spent time with, may have brought habits from other 'lectozones that I picked up. Also I've spent time outside the country (as well as in a few more than half the states of this country), and have picked up some Briticisms and some NATO dialect and other stuff I probably either don't recognize or would mislabel.)
Of course. No one anywhere really speaks any standard lect in exactly the way it's supposed to be spoken. Whatever "exactly the way it's supposed to spoken" really means outside of a horrifically prescriptivist grammarian world-view! I certainly have Briticisms, Southernisms, Asianisms, New Yorkisms and possibly some other ismses in my lect. But this is why we also have the word "idiolect"! Recognising that individuals each have their own unique "phenotype" or expression of a recognised standard.

eldin raigmore wrote:A more reliable test might be something like
Q: "What's going on at the mall?"
A: "It has a Handel concert this week."

Or something.
Or maybe it doesn't make any difference.
I concur with the "got" folks on this one: for me, twould be more something like "It's got / they've got a Handel concert". "It has a Handel concert" certainly doesn't sound basal "white" English to me (let alone SAE) and neither does it seem to fit with the "black" English I hear every day. I don't have enough data to formulate a theory though and of course, I don't even know if I'm right on this or not!

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by eldin raigmore » 24 Dec 2014 08:35

@elemtilas, I read your post with interest. I want to thank you for it; but I don't have a reply (or at least not yet).
Merry Christmas! (or whatever holiday you're celebrating between December and January).

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by elemtilas » 24 Dec 2014 16:04

eldin raigmore wrote:@elemtilas, I read your post with interest. I want to thank you for it; but I don't have a reply (or at least not yet).
Merry Christmas! (or whatever holiday you're celebrating between December and January).
Well, there's no rush certainly! And happy Christmas to you as well!

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by eldin raigmore » 21 Dec 2015 04:39

I have a question.
Today on a radio program I heard the presenter say (about "accidentals" in musical notation -- i.e. sharps and flats and naturals) that they looked dull on "the stave".
I had never previously (to the best of my recollection, anyway) heard "stave" used as a singular.
To me, it was taught, one of those things was called a "staff"; two or more were called "staves".
How wrong am I?

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by clawgrip » 21 Dec 2015 05:27

Just analogy at work. Words with irregular plurals that are more common than their singular form can have their singular back-formed from the plural:
cf.
louse/lice. "on Tuesday I found a lice bug in my hair"
die/dice "Meanwhile when the long product 20 is moved from the opposite side to the one side in reverse making the dice retention member 14 as a center, the long product 20 is put through one dice selected out of the plurality of kinds of dices (!!!) 18a, 18b."

Those examples were pulled from Google search results. I figure the existence of "dices" as the 3P form of the verb "dice" helped speed this change along, since the word doesn't sound strange.

I had a computer teacher who thought the singular of "vertices" was "verticee". Not once did I ever hear him say "vertex".

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by Dormouse559 » 21 Dec 2015 06:06

I feel like I hear "parenthesee" a lot (instead of "parenthesis") and am probably tempted to use it on occasion.

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by Sumelic » 21 Dec 2015 09:23

"Stave" is actually pretty far along in the process, since it's actually listed as a word in dictionaries, with some lexical differentiation from "staff". Another example I can think of that's become standard is "syringe" (in part from the plural of syrinx, "syringes": it apparently also comes from a Latin feminine form "siringa," but this can't explain the pronunciation of the final consonant as an affricate). Other words pluralized the same way are phalanx~phalanges (phalange also exists as a back-formated singular), pharynx~pharynges, larynx~larynges, meninx~meninges, Sphinx~Sphinges. None of these pairs are in my native vocabulary, of course; I just looked them up now. As learned words, I was familiar with some of the singular and some of the plural forms. And back-formed singulars are not as common as regularized plurals (phalanxes, pharynxes, larynxes, Sphinxes all seem fully acceptable; "meninxes" is the only one that seems questionable, since the singular is so rarely used). However, I can't find any record of lynces being used as the plural of lynx in English, though it is an etymologically valid form.
eldin raigmore wrote:
She said wrote: "You're right! It's a Marathon a few blocks south of here where I noticed the same thing!"
This is not an ideal example of the phenomenon you describe because as far as I can tell, it also works in standard English; it just requires a certain grammatical interpretation (as a cleft sentence, an interpretation made possible by the use of "where" later in the sentence.)

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Re: Usage of the English language (languages?)

Post by Salmoneus » 21 Dec 2015 15:50

eldin raigmore wrote:I have a question.
Today on a radio program I heard the presenter say (about "accidentals" in musical notation -- i.e. sharps and flats and naturals) that they looked dull on "the stave".
I had never previously (to the best of my recollection, anyway) heard "stave" used as a singular.
To me, it was taught, one of those things was called a "staff"; two or more were called "staves".
How wrong am I?
"Stave" and "staff" are both used; the former is more common in Britain; the latter, apparently, in America.
"Stave" has been a singular of "staves" in the sense of the elements of a barrel since 1750; I don't know when it became the singular of musical staves, but I suspect it was a long time ago. It's been helped by the near-total replacement of 'staves' by 'staffs' as the plural in most other cases.

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