Topic RSS | Reply to topic
Author Post

Mark_Rose


Member

Posted Tue Jan 13th, 2009 12:17pm Post subject: Language Help!
Having just listen to, and thoroughly enjoyed, the language podgram, it left my head with a few curiosities which I hope to be answered via this thread.

I personally have no formal education in English Language beyond GCSE. I read, and enjoy reading, but some of the technicalities of language are beyond me. I beg you to excuse my ignorance whilst I list a few from the podgram that could do with clarification.

-The distinction between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. I recognise that ‘5 items or fewer’ sounds better, looks better, and have no doubt in its correctness. However I find it hard to define ‘fewer’ as anything more technical than ‘less than’, and vice versa.

-Uninterested and Disinterested?

-Infer and Imply?

-None of these are of importance, None of them is of importance.

Before any Fry fanatics worry, I am not hoping to become a language fascist, learning the mechanics of language to correct my friends and make myself feel smarter. It is simply something that interests me, and as Stephen himself mentions, it is always useful to be able to ‘dress-up’ your language. This is very important for me as a student regarding academic essays and interviews.

Once again, please excuse my blaring ignorance. Any feedback will be appreciated greatly.

Mark

Back to top

timjwild


Member

Posted Tue Jan 13th, 2009 2:19pm Post subject: Language Help!
Having just listen to, and thoroughly enjoyed, the language podgram, it left my head with a few curiosities which I hope to be answered via this thread.

I personally have no formal education in English Language beyond GCSE. I read, and enjoy reading, but some of the technicalities of language are beyond me. I beg you to excuse my ignorance whilst I list a few from the podgram that could do with clarification.

-The distinction between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. I recognise that ‘5 items or fewer’ sounds better, looks better, and have no doubt in its correctness. However I find it hard to define ‘fewer’ as anything more technical than ‘less than’, and vice versa.

-Uninterested and Disinterested?

-Infer and Imply?

-None of these are of importance, None of them is of importance.

Before any Fry fanatics worry, I am not hoping to become a language fascist, learning the mechanics of language to correct my friends and make myself feel smarter. It is simply something that interests me, and as Stephen himself mentions, it is always useful to be able to ‘dress-up’ your language. This is very important for me as a student regarding academic essays and interviews.

Once again, please excuse my blaring ignorance. Any feedback will be appreciated greatly.

Mark

Mark,

We seem to be of a similar mind and level of education, however, I do believe that someone should only be called ignorant if they do not seek to learn. The fact that you started this thread states (to me at least) that you are not ignorant it's just that you haven't filled that particular pigeon hole of knowledge yet. I have not done so either!

An online dictionary look up has given me the following:

infer verb
to form an opinion or guess that something is true because of the information that you have:

imply verb
to communicate an idea or feeling without saying it directly:
Are you implying (that) I'm fat?

I would be interested in some examples from fellow Fry-fans of how or where these very dissimilar terms are mis used.

Back to top

timjwild


Member

Posted Tue Jan 13th, 2009 2:21pm Post subject: Language Help!
From the same source as my last post:

disinterested = having no personal involvement or receiving no personal advantage, and therefore free to act fairly:

uninterested = not interested

The 'less or fewer' and 'are of importance or is of importance' debates require a better educated mind than mine (or a degree more internet searching!)

Hopefully somebody will come to our aid.

Back to top

timjwild


Member

Posted Tue Jan 13th, 2009 2:46pm Post subject: Language Help!
I confess to having leanings towards agreeing with some of the Daily Mail letters page / Radio 4 phone in participants when they complain about some of the modern usage of English. I listened to this podgram with interest and, as is nearly always the case, find it almost impossible to disagree with Mr Fry after he has put together such a good argument.

However!

Where does Mr Fry's claimed acceptance of all language 'evolution' fit in with his appearance on the programme 'Room 101' where he committed AQI (Australian Questioning Intonation) to that particular place?

Does intonation not count as 'evolution'?

On the same subject,


Whilst I accept what Mr Fry has to say on the subject, I will find the following forever irksome:

- ending sentences with 'innit' e.g. (overheard in a shop) "They're nice, innit"
- ending sentences with an extended 'or' e.g. "Can I take a message, orrrrrrrr" (several of my colleagues do this when answering sombody else's phone, it implies that there is an alternative action they could take but they are unable to bring it to mind.
- filling the gaps or pauses in sentences with "So, er" to avoid that most terrible of occurences, a moments silence!
- The introduction of what I believe is called 'management speak' into everyday language, I'm sure we are all, by now, familiar with "blue sky thinking'"but how many times have you heard the term "footfall" recently? It is used by business people to mean the number of customers passing through their doors. I find it utterly nauseating.

Apologies, this is turning into a letters page / phone in style of rant. I'll stop now.

Back to top

your_lady_disdain


Member

Posted Wed Jan 14th, 2009 12:12am Post subject: Language Help!
Well with the word "innit" after phrases, its just a word that has evolved from isn't it and hasn't it (for this, most people put a more relaxed eu sound on it).
I cant understand why people have disliked the over-use of this word, but in proper context, I can't see why it can't be used.

As for the little "filler words", such as "so" or "er" and the one I use most commonly "like", these as you say are just words to make sure there is no silence. They give you time to speak.
They may not be the best things to say, but even royalty have there own way. Prince Charles is very well known for elongating a word so it seems there is no gaps or unprofessional sounding "like"s or "er"s.

Back to top

Antonia


Member

Posted Wed Jan 14th, 2009 12:28am Post subject: Language Help!
Hi Mark,

for -None of these are of importance, None of them is of importance.
see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w-XQ6MVAsM

Back to top

joan


Member

Posted Wed Jan 14th, 2009 2:50am Post subject: Language Help!


-The distinction between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’. I recognise that ‘5 items or fewer’ sounds better, looks better, and have no doubt in its correctness. However I find it hard to define ‘fewer’ as anything more technical than ‘less than’, and vice versa.

Mark

I'm not sure if anyone answered this bit - but the answer is simple: you use 'fewer' for more than one thing, and less for one thing. Example:- 'There is less mashed spud on my plate than yours, but you have fewer carrots'

As for 'innit' - as it is slang for 'isn't it', it often sounds appallingly wrong. But I suppose it has evolved into an English version of 'nicht wahr' or 'n'est-ce pas'. I reserve the right to dislike its usage though.

It is hard to be clear about English grammar when you have never been formally taught. There is only so much you can know instinctively, and when a problem arises, you don't have the tools to solve it. It's a bit like driving a car with no knowledge of how it actually works. Most of the time you're fine, but when something seems wrong, you have no idea where to look.

I was very lucky - I went to an English grammar school back in the 11+ days when they were free, and was taught Latin, French and German. You just cannot avoid learning and understanding grammar in those subjects.

(PS I'm a lousy driver, and the internal combustion engine is a horrible mystery to me)

Back to top

elTweeno


Member

Posted Wed Jan 14th, 2009 4:10pm Post subject: Language Help!


Where does Mr Fry's claimed acceptance of all language 'evolution' fit in with his appearance on the programme 'Room 101' where he committed AQI (Australian Questioning Intonation) to that particular place?

Does intonation not count as 'evolution'?



I believe it's just because he finds it irritating when people end every sentence like that (as opposed to a 'paragraph' of speech). Also, intonation is more linked to dialect than language as in words (in my ill-educated head, anyway). But I'm not sure if that's what you're asking about specifically?

I'm not a language fascist, but certain things annoy me if they're repetitive. I have a tutor at Uni who cannot complete any sentence without interjecting the phrase 'kind of like' somewhere. It really grates on me, especially when she's been speaking for more than a couple of minutes...

Stuff like 'innit' and 'er' don't bother me at all, though. I love it when the young people I work with come up with new words for things; it's really refreshing.

As for grammatical details & rules, I'm a bit useless, but willing to be educated!

eT

I'm also on Twitter: elTweeno (of course!)

Back to top

timjwild


Member

Posted Thu Jan 15th, 2009 1:40pm Post subject: Language Help!
Hi Mark,

for -None of these are of importance, None of them is of importance.
see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w-XQ6MVAsM

This video has been removed due to terms of use violation.

Was this a spot of Rick-Rolling?

Back to top