by default

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kniwor, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. kniwor New Member

    Chicago
    India - Hindi & English
    What is the proper/formal word or expression for "by default", as in:

    "I will, by default, be there at 1PM."

    Which is, basically trying to express that a course of action will be taken if there are no change in the current state of affairs. Literally speaking one could use "of-course" meaning if the course of things do not change; but the phrase "of-course" in contemporary usage incorporates a certain "obviousness" in the action. I'm looking for an alternative.
     
  2. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    "... barring the unexpected, ..."

    A colloquial expression for this, in fake U.S. rural dialect, is "God willin' and the crick [creek] don't rise." It's not improper, but it may not be formal enough for your needs.
     
  3. kniwor New Member

    Chicago
    India - Hindi & English
    Thanks.

    "barring the unexpected" is the appropriate phrase for the question I asked, but not the question I had in mind; I should have perhaps phrased my question more appropriately.

    The phrase "barring the unexpected" provides a slightly negative connotation to the alternative events that might occur. Consider a hypothetical situation where you want to meet a friend (or a professor, say, for sake of continuity with my request of a formal expression) and both you and the professor prefer meeting as early as possible. So you ask him to email you whenever he is free, and if he doesn't you will be there at 1:30 "by default" or "of course" or "barring the unexpected". As you see, the latter doesn't fit the bill very much, and "of-course" gives a sense which I already mentioned wasn't exact.
     
  4. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    We would not say "by default" in this situation. It's just not applicable.

    The usual would be something along the lines of: Unless I hear otherwise from you, I'll be there at 1:30.

     
  5. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    "By default" makes it sound like you are usually in that place at that time whether you have a meeting or not. It's your default place to be at that time.
     
  6. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Given the complete context, I agree completely!
     
  7. Johannes Senior Member

    Natal, Brazil
    Dutch Netherlands
    Perhaps you could say : without fail
     
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    "By default" may work in this context in Indian English - I don't know.

    But it doesn't work in British English:(.

    I'd say "in any event"/"in any case". Or, more explicitly, "unless I hear from you [to the contrary]".
     
  9. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    This would be a promise that you will be there. In his explanation, he wants to allow for a small possibility that he might not be there.
     
  10. TekYelken Senior Member

    Marmaris/Turkey
    Turkish
    I have had to translate "by default" into Turkish to mean "automatically". Maybe it's what you are looking for.
     
  11. frenchifried Senior Member

    France
    English - UK/US
    I could try an example:

    You are in town A and you're on a plane to town B. It's too foggy to land in town B, so you are taken to town C. You are in town C by default.

    OK all - shoot me down!:D
     
  12. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    That is not the normal sense of "by default" as I know it, frenchifried. It would make sense to me to say "The plane was unable to land in town B so the pilots defaulted to landing in town C." In other words, town C was the automatic back-up choice for town B in case of a problem. "By default", though, means something different to me.

    I'm with Myridon on the meaning of the original sentence. "I will be there, by default..." means, to me, "I'm always there as part of my regular schedule".
     
  13. frenchifried Senior Member

    France
    English - UK/US
    I had a feeling I had it wrong somewhere JamesM and you are quite right!:eek:
     
  14. kniwor New Member

    Chicago
    India - Hindi & English
    I imagined "by default" here was appropriate if 1:30 was the time previously agreed upon (which I failed to mention I guess), and hence 1:30 is the default meeting time if there is no change made.

    In any case, I'm looking for an alternative to "by default", even though the situation I suggested might not have conveyed the same.
     
  15. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    "As agreed" would sound better to me than "by default".
     
  16. kniwor New Member

    Chicago
    India - Hindi & English
    True, in this case "as agreed", and also, the suggestion by Parla works very well. But as I mentioned, I'm looking for a general, formal replacement for "by default", a word that would say "in the normal course of things", more generally. That was an example where I thought the word I was looking for would fit, the purpose of which was defeated by my inappropriately stating the example.
     
  17. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    If you are looking for correct usages of "by default", then I suggest you search for by default in Dictionary and thread title search and click on 'in context'.

    That will lead you to a number of Google News examples:)
     
  18. frenchifried Senior Member

    France
    English - UK/US
    Unless something prevents me, I will be there at 1 pm.
    Unless there's a hitch, I will be there at 1 pm. (more colloquial)
    If all goes well, I will be there at 1 pm.

    All these imply that you will be there at 1 pm provided nothing happens to prevent you from keeping your appointment.
     
  19. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    I quite like Egmont's "barring the unexpected". I could suggest something like "under normal circumstances" but I have no idea if it's good enough for you...
     
  20. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    A default means a failure, so if you lose something by default, you lose it because you've failed to do something. People used to lose cases at law by default; that usually meant they had failed to appear.

    I will by default be there at 1 pm doesn't have an obvious meaning to me, unless you've made it clear that you had plans to be somewhere else but a failure of some sort on your part, maybe to catch a train, will cause you to be there at that time.

    The word default has been tweaked by computerspeak, where it means the base setting, a sense most of us are familiar with. This seems to have tweaked people's understanding of the old, and now much less familiar, sense of the word.
     

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