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Thread: Mistakes made by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

  1. #21
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    I've been hearing way too much "you and I" as the direct object of a verb: He saw you and I at the concert. It drives me crazy. Even when everyone says it, it will still be a mistake.
    I think that would count as "hyper correction". People think of "you and I" to be generally more correct than "you and me" so they even use it when it's the object. As a non native English speaker who learnt English mainly from TV, video games and at later phase the internet, whatever sounds right to native American English speakers would probably sound right to me, so I'm quite likely to confuse "you and me" with "you and I" as well. If you look at all the weird rules some languages have, there's little doubt that many of them came from mistakes such as this one which became official.

  2. #22
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    If native speakers agree something is a mistake, it's a mistake, even when said my other native speakers. Languages need some minimum amount of standardization. Otherwise it cannot serve its purpose as a means of communication.
    I agree. Finally, if I speak English "my way" then we could say, depending on our point of view:
    1. My English is incorrect, because the others consider it mistaken
    2. My English is linguistically correct, but then it's a different language/dialect/variant ..., and not what we call English (by consensus)

  3. #23
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by tFighterPilot View Post
    I think that would count as "hyper correction".

    Quote Originally Posted by tFighterPilot View Post
    ...there's little doubt that many of them came from mistakes such as this one which became official.
    I agree on both counts.

  4. #24
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Each person, family, community has their own unique standard of speech.

    If a person's speech is correct according to any one of those standards it is correct. So the question really is: according to which standard?

    If the expectation is set for a certain standard and that standard is not followed, then it can be considered incorrect.

  5. #25
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers View Post
    It depends entirely on the context. If you are in a context of standard British English and you start talking in some Jamaican dialect, you are wrong. If you are merely speaking to friends or with people from your area in a local dialect, then you can hardly be 'incorrect'.
    In Jamaica, we don't speak a dialect, we speak a Creole. Please stop perpetuating this prejudiced nonsense.

  6. #26
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    If a speaker of Jamaican English speaks in accordance with the rules of usage and grammar, but probably even more of usage, of Jamaican English, he or she does not speak English with mistakes, but rather Jamaican English.

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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by LilianaB View Post
    If a speaker of Jamaican English speaks in accordance with the rules of usage and grammar, but probably even more of usage, of Jamaican English, he or she does not speak English with mistakes, but rather Jamaican English.
    That sounds reasonable. There are many versions of English. The lightweight metal is "aluminum" in AE, "aluminium" in BE, with the other being an error in both cases. What, however, of someone who writes "aloominum? Is that not universally an error? Even if it is written by a native speaker, is it not still an error? I would say it is. If that spelling becomes adopted by many people, it may eventually be considered correct, but it isn't today.

    The real question is about that awkward stage where it's on the way to being accepted. How many people have to write "aloominum" for it to become correct? For that matter, in the absence of a governing body for the English language, who is to say that it is correct? Several years will go by between its acceptance by one serious dictionary and its acceptance by all of them. Or, at what point does "website" become an acceptable alternative to "Web site?" I don't know.

  8. #28
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    In Latvia, we often have this issue - there are some expressions, which are not gramatically incorrect but they would make no sense for an immigrant of for a person who lived here 200 years ago. Some of them are a direct translation from Russian and lately from English, for example some would say something like 'what do you have in view?' = what do you mean? from что ты имеешь в виду? and so on.
    Last edited by LiseR; 26th June 2012 at 8:42 AM.

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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Some might enjoy listening to Stephen Fry's 22 Dec 2008 podcast "Language" (length: 33m 9s). Boing Boing gives a brief review under the title "Stephen Fry on the beauty of 'incorrect' language and the *snip* futility of linguistic pedantry" here. Fun and insightful
    Por favor, háganme el favor de corregir mis intentos.

  10. #30
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post
    Some might enjoy listening to Stephen Fry's 22 Dec 2008 podcast "Language" (length: 33m 9s). Boing Boing gives a brief review under the title "Stephen Fry on the beauty of 'incorrect' language and the *snip* futility of linguistic pedantry" here. Fun and insightful
    Yes, very good, that's exactly what I was talking about. True linguists should appreciate changes that occur in a language.

  11. #31
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    I've been hearing way too much "you and I" as the direct object of a verb: He saw you and I at the concert. It drives me crazy. Even when everyone says it, it will still be a mistake.
    As things stand, the use of "you and I" as the direct object of a verb cannot be said to conform to the canons of standard English. However, I do not think we can say that it will never be correct.

    Consider the sentence: I was given a book. No one is going to argue that that is incorrect standard English. However, analysis shows that the subject of the sentence is "book" and that "I" is the indirect object. Turn the sentence round and you cannot say: *A book was given (to) I. You have to say: A book was given (to) me. The reason why I was given a book arose is easily explained.

    Many speakers who may say: John took Mary and I out to dinner would never say: *John took I and Mary out to dinner.
    John took Mary and I out to dinner is no more than a continuation of the drift there has been in English from synthesis to analysis. The "and" after "Mary" is enough to break any idea that the first person pronoun which follows it needs to be "me". Whilst the day may a long way off, we cannot rule out the possibility that eventually John took Mary and I out to dinner will be considered acceptable and even one day the only acceptable form - just as I was given a book is now considered acceptable and *Me was given a book is no longer considered acceptable. Any language is a convention and there has to come a point where when a change is accepted by the majority it becomes correct. To hold otherwise to believe that language change only happens in the past.

    The question posed here can be cast in two different forms.

    If we ask: Do some native speakers of a language when using the standard version of that language say things that do not conform to the currently and generally accepted conventions of the standard version? the answer is clearly "yes".

    If we ask: Do some native speakers of a language when using their own variety of that language say things that do not conform to that variety? the answer is both "yes" and "no".

    It is "no" because in a given speech community at any given moment language is a convention that everyone accepts. If you do not follow the convention you risk being misunderstood.

    It is "yes" because it is an inescapable fact that language changes and any change must start off as a "mistake".

    The paradox is resolved in practice because change takes place at such a speed that one generation always understands the generation that precedes or follows it. The purpose of language - communication - remains paramount.

    Of course you need to ask what you mean by "own variety" and "speech community". At one extreme you have all the speakers of a language (however you define language) considered together and at the other the idiolects of all those speakers. In the context of this thread neither extreme is a useful object of study, but you still have to decide at what level you pitch your enquiry. The best you can do when studying a given level is simply to note the differences you find.

  12. #32
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post
    As things stand, the use of "you and I" as the direct object of a verb cannot be said to conform to the canons of standard English. However, I do not think we can say that it will never be correct.
    .
    Interesting analysis. Well put. You clearly prove your point. Grammar is forever changing and the process is unstoppable. The fact that it's no longer studied in schools probably will make the process accelerate.

    This makes me think of another example where social use might have prevailed over logic.
    People now say "aren't I?" instead of "*amn't I?" or "am I not?" Clearly it's wrong. They would never say "are I?" or "I are".
    Probably some time ago "*amn't I?" (I'm not sure if this form ever existed. Now it obviously doesn't) changed to "ain't I?" There is actually some logic for the use of "ain't" in this case yet unfortunately it gained a vulgar connotation, a very uneducated ring to it, probably when some speakers extended the use of "ain't" to mean "isn't, aren't, haven't, don't, doesn't". I remember a teacher writing on the chalkboard in big letters "Ain't is not a word in English!" So they created the "aren't I?" forms that are equally incorrect but socially sanctioned.

    Maybe English should have an academy like French and Spanish. It might bring about some order or coherence.

  13. #33
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Language is a means of communication. Anything that causes miscommunication, even between native speakers, is a mistake. I'll give an example in Bulgarian, because we have T-V distinction.

    If speaker A doesn't use the polite V form when addressing speaker B, and speaker B interprets that as rudeness, although speaker A doesn't intend to be rude, then it's a mistake, because there is a misunderstanding.

  14. #34
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hulalessar View Post

    Consider the sentence: I was given a book. No one is going to argue that that is incorrect standard English. However, analysis shows that the subject of the sentence is "book" and that "I" is the indirect object. Turn the sentence round and you cannot say: *A book was given (to) I. You have to say: A book was given (to) me. The reason why I was given a book arose is easily explained.
    Wolfgang Pauli would have said this is not even wrong. I concur.

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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    I was given a book. No one is going to argue that that is incorrect standard English. However, analysis shows that the subject of the sentence is "book" and that "I" is the indirect object.
    In present it's "I am given a book" and not *"I is given a book". So which is the subject? ....

    Moderator note: Further discussions on this topic can be found here.
    Last edited by berndf; 9th October 2012 at 1:16 PM.

  16. #36
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by francisgranada View Post
    In present it's "I am given a book" and not *"I is given a book". So which is the subject? ....
    I am given a book??? Doesn't sound right.
    I am being given a book. Better
    I have been given a gook. Better still

    Try it with a more natural sentence and context.
    I am being presented to the queen tomorrow. yes
    I was presented to her.

    The subject is book.... The book has been given to me. I have been given the book. (It would certainly seem more grammatical to say "To me has been given the book" but it's no longer possible to start a sentence in English with "to...me, to... you, to... her")
    In my sentence the subject is indefinite or unknown. Someone is presenting me to the queen tomorrow.

    EDIT:
    "I am" instead of "I is".... probably just automatism comes into play. "I is" does not sound right in any context so people naturally switched it to "I am". This is obviously not logical

    Moderator note: Further discussions on this topic can be found here.
    Last edited by berndf; 9th October 2012 at 1:15 PM. Reason: Edit

  17. #37
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    I wanted to use the simplest possible example ... Though e.g. "I am given a book by the teacher" may be acceptable ... (I've found a lot of occurrences also on the net).

    But the substance of the "contradiction" can be shown using your example:

    I am being presented to the queen - it is me (I) who is presented, that's why I am ....
    I am being given a book - it is the book that is given, inspite of I am ...

    Moderator note: Further discussions on this topic can be found here.
    Last edited by berndf; 9th October 2012 at 1:15 PM.

  18. #38
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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironicus View Post
    Wolfgang Pauli would have said this is not even wrong. I concur.
    Not clear what you are saying is not wrong. If it is *A book was given to I then it is not correct standard English. It is however perfectly acceptable in some varieties of English.

    Moderator note: Further discussions on this topic can be found here.
    Last edited by berndf; 9th October 2012 at 1:15 PM.

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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arath View Post
    Language is a means of communication. Anything that causes miscommunication, even between native speakers, is a mistake. I'll give an example in Bulgarian, because we have T-V distinction.

    If speaker A doesn't use the polite V form when addressing speaker B, and speaker B interprets that as rudeness, although speaker A doesn't intend to be rude, then it's a mistake, because there is a misunderstanding.
    Whilst one cannot necessarily make a hard and fast distinction between the two, there is a difference between being grammatically correct and using socially correct forms. If speaking a language with a T-V distinction you say to someone: "You are standing on my foot" and use the wrong from you have communicated what you want to say even if you cause offence.

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    Re: Mistakes done by native speakers - are they mistakes or not?

    <...>

    Moderator note: Contents moved here.
    Last edited by berndf; 9th October 2012 at 1:05 PM.

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