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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:10 am 
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Hoing wrote:
For me the single most noticeable difference involves the grammar of singular nouns which represent plural entities. In the US we would say "The BBC is a big company." In the UK you say "The BBC are a big company." Of all the differences, that was the biggest one for me to get used to. I assign no value judgment either way as to which is correct, because I understand the arguments both ways.


I don't know about this. Personally, I'd say, "The BBC is a big company." When plural forms of verbs are used with singular nouns representing collections... I'm not convinced it's right to do so, but it's often spoken that way - perhaps because it sounds better.



**The way I see this working itself out these days is a separation between entities whose members we can identify as opposed to those we can't. Or the difference been "a thing" which happens to consist of people as opposed to "a bunch of people".

For example,

"The BBC is a faceless corporation."
"The cast of Blue Peter are suspicious looking individuals."

or

"Manchester United is a powerful football club."
"Manchester United are a well drilled football team."

Or something like that.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:33 am 
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NeilW wrote:
"The cast of Blue Peter are suspicious looking individuals."

or

"Manchester United are a well drilled football team."


You could also say, "Man U is a well-drilled football team." (Not that it would make it any more true :-)). Which, to me, makes looks like agreement with the object: cast -> individuals... Man U -> team.

No idea if that's right, though...


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:35 am 
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In terms of big companies (of any sort), I tend to use the singular: e.g: Barclays Bank is an unfair provider. My personal reason is that, after a point (I'm not sure where, yet) organisations cease to be a collection of individuals and become organic entities in their own right. HSBC made £9 billion last tax year. Which individual, or group of individuals, now own that money? Which individual, or group of individuals, made the decision to make that money? The cooperation exists to expand and make money, expand and make money . . . seeking to grow and reproduce, consume resources and replicate itself, the same as any other organism. There's no controlling set of individuals - the directors make decisions for shareholders, who take their money and have a minimal say in how the company is run. The workers work for the good of the company, taking their wages . . . I'm sure you see where I'm going.

As for language in general, I can't help but feel we're moving towards a 'third way'. As net users, we all know the difference between 'hot' and 'hawt', 'rock' and 'rawk' . . . I've found myself regularly using fubr (foo-bar) and lol in meatspace, and my gf has taken to speaking in lolcat. It's surely only a matter of time before these sorts of changes become accepted as the AOL generation grows up and (*shudders*) starts to run the planet.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:50 am 
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Foxie wrote:
...and my gf has taken to speaking in lolcat. It's surely only a matter of time before these sorts of changes become accepted as the AOL generation grows up and (*shudders*) starts to run the planet.



I think your "third way" will ultimately be a combination of "standard English" and these new formations, but probably closer to standard English than not, for the next wee while anyway. The thing I've noticed about netspeak, especially something like LOLcats, is that the more popular it becomes the more diluted it becomes. It takes effort to remember to spell "the" as "teh" every time, and even on something like icanhascheeseburger.com you can see people slipping up and normal english bleeding through (and spoiling it - because it's now a largely artificial construction - there's no such thing as standardised illiteracy).

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:56 am 
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See? I'm doing it myself!

icanhascheezeburger.com

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:10 am 
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Surely it's not a "third way"? It's just English assimilating more vocabulary, and grammar evolving... as it has been doing since the Celts ran for the hills.

One of the interesting things about English is that is has 26 letters to represent between 45 and 56 phonemes. There is no real fixed way to pronounce any given word - unlike in languages such as German, French or Arabic. The disadvantage is that this means written English is a poor tool to teach spoken English; the advantage is that incorrect pronunciation is not a barrier to communication. Everyone says English is difficult to learn because of its bizarre orthography and over-abundance of irregular forms... But conversely, it's also easier to make yourself understand in English with only a low level of skill in the language. And yet, ironically, English has one of the largest vocabularies (if not the largest) of all languages - around a million words.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:17 am 
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iansales wrote:
Surely it's not a "third way"? It's just English assimilating more vocabulary, and grammar evolving... as it has been doing since the Celts ran for the hills.


Yeah, that's it exactly, Ian. The "third way" was just a reference to neither US or Brit I think. And no need to bring the Celts into it thankyou very much.

iansales wrote:
But conversely, it's also easier to make yourself understand in English


As you so eloquently prove. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:41 am 
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NeilW wrote:
Yeah, that's it exactly, Ian. The "third way" was just a reference to neither US or Brit I think. And no need to bring the Celts into it thankyou very much.


Ah, well. In that case, I think you need more fingers - since there's also Canadian English, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, South African, Singaporean, Caribbean...


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:49 am 
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Don't think we're at odds at all here, Ian. The phrase really just came out of the fact that the initial premise of the discussion concerned two (perceived) flavours of English.

C'mon, this hair's had enough splitting already.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 11:06 am 
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Fingers... hairs... I think we need to throw more body parts into the mix :-)


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