I dream about being a writer for whiles on end

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by flory, May 17, 2013.

  1. flory Member

    Italy, Italian
    "I dream about being a writer for whiles on end."
    Non so bene come esprimere in italiano "for whiles on end".
    "Da sempre sogno di diventare una scrittrice" è corretto?

    E' una frase detta da una bambina di dieci anni, che scrive un diario in cui a volte ci sono delle espressioni grammaticalmente scorrette o parole inventate...non so se si tratta di una di queste.

    Grazie a tutti
  2. rrose17

    rrose17 Senior Member

    Canada, English
    No, it doesn't mean "da sempre" but rather something like "i periodi lunghi". This sounds like a slightly archaic English. When was it written?
  3. theartichoke Senior Member

    English -- Canada
    Yes, that's exactly what that is. The usual English expression is "for hours on end," or occasionally "for days/weeks on end," but never "whiles," which would be completely incorrect. "For hours on end" means "for a continuous period of several hours" and is always used to express the idea that this is quite an impressively long time to be doing whatever it is.
  4. focoso New Member

    Australian, British English
    It is not incorrect to say "for whiles on end." It is quite a common expression. I guess it depends where you live though. A lot of people only know very little english in the scheme of things, society is not that well read and (perhaps for the sake of communication) what is common place narrows as the depth of a collective expands.

    It is slightly archaic, as proven by artichoke's complete ignorance of the expression. For "whiles" is a much more indeterminate period, much more befitting of the phrase in its entirety being "to dream". Because of this there is a slightly romantic connotation in the word itself and even in its cultural usage. So I propose a more accurate translation, might be

    "momenti senza fine"
  5. focoso New Member

    Australian, British English
    Grammatically I can't speak italian very well as I am new to the language but I think, in my attempts to place context, you will get "the drift"(the basic idea):

    "Sogno a momenti senza fine che divento una autrice."
  6. theartichoke Senior Member

    English -- Canada
    Leaving aside my purported ignorance of archaic English and the other insinuations, I would be extremely curious to hear other people's opinions on whether "for whiles on end" is a common expression.

    For what it's worth, a google search on "for whiles on end" (in quotation marks) turns up twenty-six results. A representative example: "duuuuude where did your mohawk and piercings go :p!!! ilysfm so stop leaving fti for whiles on end."
  7. focoso New Member

    Australian, British English
    I hope I didn't offend you, I wasn't insinuating any of the other things directly at you and I should have been a bit more tactful. It is definitely my grandma (lifelong devoted english professor) coming out in me with the assumptions of ignorance, I apologise, it does not suit me. So too might I add that I meant british english, rather than archaic (in my mind they're almost the same thing).

    Also please don't forget the sentence I wrote after it is quite a common expression, "I guess it depends where you live though" which is the part that should include you ;)
    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  8. AshleySarah

    AshleySarah Senior Member

    English - N.Ireland
    Fear not, artichoke! You are not alone in your ignorance. I am an elderly member of society - close to three score years and ten - yea, having survived nigh on thrice the number of years of our new forum member, and I have yet to hear spoken aloud the expression in question. ;):D
    Last edited: May 18, 2013
  9. london calling Senior Member

    I've never heard it before either, although it's perfectly understandable (must be because my English is archaic!:D:D).

    Molto liberamente, flory:

    Mi perdo nel mio sogno di diventare scrittrice per ore intere.;)
  10. Tellure

    Tellure Senior Member

    Oppure "... per ore e ore".
  11. Katejo Senior Member

    English - UK
    As a native BE speaker, I have never heard "for whiles on end".
  12. GavinW Senior Member

    British English
    I think there's a risk we're missing the point. I'm not at all convinced by the "frequency" argument. I guess it's a natural temptation for us to question how many times we have heard/seen a particular expression (or how many instances are there "out there" of its use...), but only because our first instinct has been to reject it as unnatural (or - I shudder - "wrong"), and then we go looking for evidence of its unreliability. I didn't wince, flinch, or shudder at this expression, I recognized it. Immediatelly, and instinctively. That's partly because it's more BE than AE (clearly), but also because I am comfortable with this phrase as an extension of more "common" time expressions: for hours on end (ie using a specific unit of time measurement); for a long while. In a sense, the phrase is a conflation of these more fixed forms. But the variation is slight, and the principle underlying it is wholly tolerated in English. Especially if one considers the aspect of creativity. We are allowed to be creative in our use of English (or any language), as long as the result does not stretch the rules of the language beyond breaking point. For me, the phrase in question gets nowhere near that breaking point. It's a very mild example of creativity. As further evidence in favour of its acceptability, one might cite the fact the context is, itself, specifically literary, which explains and justifies the element of creativity which is undoubtedly present.
    (Sorry, a bit long-winded...)
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  13. theartichoke Senior Member

    English -- Canada
    Actually, the original point to which I was responding was this one: "E' una frase detta da una bambina di dieci anni, che scrive un diario in cui a volte ci sono delle espressioni grammaticalmente scorrette o parole inventate...non so se si tratta di una di queste."

    I was simply confirming that "for whiles on end" does indeed seem to be one of the expressions characteristic of this young narrator, as it's not the regular way to phrase it.
  14. GavinW Senior Member

    British English
    Thanks for pointing this out. I totally missed the fact the writer is a 10-year old girl. However, I think the same argument applies: I think she's being slightly "creative" in her use of English, but because her choice of words is essentially tolerated in the language, she "gets away" with it. In other words, she hasn't "invented" anything completely new here, something that exists outside the language. After all, I think she's merely substituted a vague time reference ("whiles") in the place where we'd normally expect to see a specific time reference (minutes, hours, days etc).
    Of course, we don't have access to the rest of the original text. That would tell us if it is genuinely a characteristic of the writer that she bends the rules, and how much she bends them, and how often (and whether she bends them successfully). I tend to take the view that she's innocent (of allegations of torturing the language) until proven guilty!
  15. flory Member

    Italy, Italian
    Grazie a tutti per l'aiuto!
    Volevo specificare che, effettivamente, nel testo la ragazzina usa di tanto in tanto espressioni volutamente fuori della norma, o puramente inventate o "distorte" a volte probabilmente per suscitare ilarità, altre volte perché corrisponde un po' a quello che ci si può aspettare da una persona di quell'età che non ha una corretta dimestichezza con tutte le espressioni della lingua. Il problema nella traduzione è proprio riconoscere queste espressioni e riuscire a rendere il concetto in maniera ugualmente "scorretta" o approssimativa...

    Tutti i vostri commenti sono stati davvero utili!
  16. focoso New Member

    Australian, British English
    well said

Share This Page