false starts

Discussion in 'English Only' started by LQZ, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. LQZ

    LQZ Senior Member

    In terms of overall word choice and "natural conversation" (false starts, interruptions, and so on), though, it does seem to represent "off the air" conversation quite nicely.

    Dear all,

    What is false starts? Thanks.

  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    False starts are when you start to say something then quickly change your mind and never finish saying it.
  3. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 74)
    UK English
    Here is an example of a false start (underlined).

    Someone is shown a picture and asked to describe it. He or she says:
    "This is a picture of a…of an ice skater, you know."
  4. LQZ

    LQZ Senior Member

    Thank you, e2efour and ewie. :)
  5. Spira Banned

    South of France
    UK English
    Just to split hairs, I would call your example a hesitation, but not a false start, as you did not stop and have to start again.

    "This is a picture of a…no, let me describe first a situation where a man on the ice is..........." would be a false start.

    The expression refers very clearly to an olympic-style sprint race, where the competitors start, are called back, and have to start again. It is more than a mere hesitation in a sentence. Ewie's explanation was nearer to the mark.
  6. temple09 Senior Member

    English - British
    In all honesty, it really isn't used as a fixed phrase to describe speech faults. The author has used in this instance as a way of highlighting the lack of fluidity in the speech.
    While you would often refer to interruptions, I don't recall anyone saying "Oooops ... sorry, I made a false start with that sentence!"
  7. Spira Banned

    South of France
    UK English
    You can pretty much apply the figurative expression "false start" to anything that just about started, and then was halted, before starting up for a second time ; a sentence, a speech, a departure, a product launch, even a marriage.
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    I beg to differ, Temple: false start is very widely used in linguistical type literature stuff.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2010

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