Sub-standard language- ever acceptable?

Discussion in 'Português (Portuguese)' started by ayupshiplad, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Evening all :)

    Was recently shopping about for Portuguese grammars, and came across a review of one that claims to give written (formal) variations and colloquial ones so you get a better feel of the language.

    However, it gives the 'colloquial' example of:

    "Esses aluno ficaram muito motivado".


    I ask you, is this ever acceptable?! If so, is it acceptable enough that it should be included in a Portuguese grammar for foreigners?

  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    That's Brazilian Portuguese and, I think, somewhat regional. Some speakers won't pronounce the final esses when they are semantically redundant. I will let our Brazilian friends give their opinion on the appropriateness of such constructions.
  3. Tagarela Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    Português - Brasil

    No, it is NOT acceptable.
    For me, there is a differnce between Colloquial language and Wrong language. I mean, colloquial languae is more flexible than formal, of course, and some 'mistakes' or mmm 'soft usage' is tolerated, but, something like this, a great errors of 'agreement' (concordância) should be really forbid.

    Perhaps, the book shows 'usually errors' that you should not commit, if this is the goal, it is not so bad.

  4. mnajan Senior Member

    That's, unfortunately, used by those who don't know their own language (and that is not rare in a country that almost doesn't incentive culture). This phrase is wrong. That should be written this way:
    "Esses alunos ficaram muito motivados."

    Just to be clear: this is not acceptable in any classroom anywhere in Brazil.
  5. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    I find it really interesting that you said this, given that in the example there is an equal number of plurals and it because of the verb being plural and this is the most dominant feature?

    Thank you all for such great reassurance! I was really surprised to see it in a book for people learning Portuguese.
  6. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Which book was it?

    The first word, esses, already indicates the plural. Pluralizing the others is redundant, from a purely semantic point of view. (Yet it is standard in Portuguese.)
  7. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Ah ok. Such logic never occured to me! I just saw 2 singulars and 2 plurals!
  8. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Esses alunos ficaram muito motivados. 4 words are pluralized in the standard Portuguese version.
    These students were very motivated. --> In English, you only have to pluralize 3 words. :)
    I understand that in some other languages it may happen that only one, or even none of the words, is pluralized.
  9. Ayazid Senior Member

    Well, I am afraid that we should firstly define the right meaning of the words "acceptable" or "wrong", at least in this context. Myself I can´t understand what is unacceptable in showing how certain people in certain Brazilian regions speak (obviously the uneducated ones, without proper knowledge of formal language). If a considerable number of these people speak this "caipira" way (droping final ´s), shouldn´t we rather ask if it is acceptable for them although it is regionally and socially limited and therefore stygmatised feature (BTW, a few days ago I found a reference to this "wrong" usage in one English written compendium of Portuguese grammar from 1920s, being mentioned as an example of uneducated Brazilian speech)? Maybe in sociolect of such capiau or matuto it is perfectly acceptable construction! :)
  10. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    But is it acceptable to teach this to foreigners as a standard colloquial sentence? Personally, I don't think so.

    Ah, Out, now I know what you mean!!! By 'esses' you meant the plural of s...ok, that makes perfect sense now. I don't think I would have ever understood why it went plural automatically without such an explantion. I would most likely be wondering for quite a long time whether this person really wanted to talk about one pupil or two ;)
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Yeah, sorry about the confusing wording! :eek:
  12. Ayazid Senior Member

    No, but it might be mentioned as an example of how uneducated people in certain Brazilian regions speak, with information that it is a stygmatised feature, otherwise it would be written in misleading way, but if it was mentioned as a general example of Brazilian coloquial speech it really was misleading and author´s inaccuracy.
  13. Frajola Senior Member

    Braz Portuguese
    I would say that this construction is more of a social than a regional variation.

    I assume that the author of the book was pointing out the kinds of constructions a learner of Brazilian Portuguese might be exposed to if they ever set foot in good old Brasil. And it is a very accurate account of how a considerable number of Brazilian speakers render their own language.

    That said, it is a honest approach to learning. I can't remember the number of times I had people leaning American English ask me what the heck the word 'ain't' means. No such word in their textbooks, they'll tell me, and it seems to be quite a pervasive word once they go out there in the real world.

    Should that Brazilian Portuguese construction be there in the first place? Maybe. If you are looking for a straightup apporach in a book that won't leave you hanging out there with bookish Portuguese, who knows, this might be good one to hold on to. In learning a foreign language, it is arguably as important to learn what you don't want to say as what you do want to say.

    On the native speaker side of the spectrum... Granted, people will judge you by how you write and how you say things. But to claim that this construction is wrong or unaccpebtable or that it should be fordibben (!), that I think is an oversimplication of the matter.
  14. Tagarela Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    Português - Brasil

    I understand that for some social, economic and so on reasons some language errors are unavoidable, and, for that I said that, if the intention of the book was to point out what foreigners may meet/hear to their comprehension and not speaking, it is a good idea.

    The problem is that it is not very rare to see people with what we would consider 'high-education', as a university degree, speaking badly. Sometimes, the 'culture' (perhaps 'technical' is a better word) has nothing to do with the language level of one.

    I agree with Frajola that expressions like English´s 'Ain´t' should be taught, but foreigners should avoid it. It is not a matter of using bookish language, it is only 'standard', not that hight, not that low. I think, at least foreigners have a good confidence, they should avoid some regional expressions, slangs, it may lead to some misunderstandings.

  15. Denis555

    Denis555 Senior Member

    Cracóvia, Polônia
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I think that it's wrong to write a sentence like this. But at the same time we have to understand that a lot of people would speak like that. So we have to see it as a way of pronunciation not spelling.
    Even when someone who usually speaks like this would have to write this sentence s/he would put the S's there.

    In French it happens all the time! The S's for the plural are not pronounced, only written. The only difference is that EVERYBODY uses the language this way, then it becomes OK.

    The S's in Brazilian Portuguese can be dropped specially by uneducated people or in the casual speech of the educated.

    As usual I agree with Outsider for the reason why for that: Semantic redundancy. "Esses aluno ficaram muito motivado". Observe that the first "s" is never dropped because it's the marker of the plural, but the other S's are semantically irrelevant.

    In most languages(including our European variant with the vowels) you can find something that can be dropped in pronunciation.
    English is no exception:
    I don't know -> Usually the "t" is dropped. Sometimes even written: I dunno .
    Another case of what I'm saying is: I'm lovin' it Where the dropping of the "g" changes the pronunciation.
  16. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Yes, but this is standard pronounciation!

    I would have to disagree with your saying that the 't' is usually dropped...perhaps it is a question of English variants, I really don't know, but I certainly would never talk like this unless I was particularly tired or feeling melancholy!! It might be more common in AE though (similarly with 'ain't' which is understood but never used in BE)

    I haven't actually read this book, just read a review of it which slated it. From what I can gather, I don't think the book was just highlighting that this dropping of the s can be often heard in certain areas of Brazil, rather advocating its use. Of course I agree that such things should be brought to the attention of learners, to avoid confusion when trying to understand a native that speaks this way, but I don't think that foreigners should be advised to talk this way, which is what I think the book was doing.
  17. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Just to compare, many English books for foreigners (especially a famous - I dare say the most famous British one in the area, widely adopted all around the world) bring what is wrong and write in English. Some columns of Dos and Donts of the language. It is really helpful for students! I've learned a lot from those lists!
  18. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Ahh but that is the point! Obviously such things are really useful for learners of any language, but the book was saying it was a 'do' and not a 'don't'!
  19. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Be careful, you haven't actually read the book. It might be interesting to increase your knowledge of the language, but I would start by looking at books with a more traditional approach.
  20. Dona Chicória Senior Member

    Brazil, Portuguese
    On the other hand I have noticed some misprinting (typing) problems in books printed in English, or Portuguese in...China, or Spain, respectively.

    I would suggest that you check where the book has been printed: it might be the answer.
  21. Tagarela Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    Português - Brasil

    This matter about what foreigners should do or not reminds me of two things.
    First, when I was preparing myself for Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) exams. A classmate of mine asked the teacher "Can we use slangs in the speaking part?" she replied "No?" he "But even the new ones? to show that we are updated?" she "No, Cambridge doesn´t want to know if you know all the new hip-hop slans and so on, perhaps, they even do not understand you."

    Second, what is written in one of the books that I use to learn Czech in the paragraph "Non-standard Czech" : "Foreigners using these features may expect sometimes to attract criticism - even from Czechs who habitually speak like this themselves (...)".

    This Cambridge-ESOL really wants you to speak standard language, you cannot say there "O, but this mistake I commited, every native does too, you cannot penalize me for this..." They do not care.

    So, Native language not always is the correct language, althought it may sound weird.

  22. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    É verdade o que o Denis disse: esses "erros" muitas vezes são apenas preguiça de pronunciar como se escreve. São erros cometidos mesmo por quem sabe como a gramática normatiza. Na minha fala, por exemplo, eu quase sempre digo esse/essa mesmo quando o correto seria este/esta; isso simplesmente porque acho mais fácil pronunciar esse/essa e todo mundo entende. São fatos da vida. Eu nunca omito s's nos plurais (o que, aliás, é extremamente estigmatizado), mas quando os plurais me chateiam eu recorro a um "plural singularizado" muito comum na fala brasileira. Exemplos:

    - Nunca tinha visto tanta mulher bonita junta como num fim de semana que eu passei em Búzios!
    - Eu compro mais livro do que consigo ler.
    - Minha avó paterna tinha 22 irmãos! Minha bisavó tinha filho igual uma preá! (igual sem a preposição a, para ficar mais fiel ao realismo lingüístico ;))
    - Eu tenho amigo de tudo o que é jeito.
    - No Natal eu ganhei um monte de roupa da minha mãe e nenhuma me serviu...
    - Eu sei de história do meu ex-chefe que até Deus duvida.

    Isso, sim, se ouve muito na fala coloquial no Brasil. Em todos os casos, é óbvio que se tratam de plurais.

    A frase do livro em questão me parece estranha. Tem quem fale assim, claro, mas não me parece que sejam tantos e nem isso seja tão difuso que justifique ser ensinado para estrangeiros. E, como Tagarela disse, certos erros comuns, produzidos pela simples preguiça de falar certo, passam despercebidos quando cometidos por um nativo mas saltam às vistam quando cometidos por um estrangeiro. É injusto, eu também acho...:(
  23. Frajola Senior Member

    Braz Portuguese
    I am 100% sure the author was rather trying to make a whole different point. Not even the most liberal Portuguese language teacher would advocate using that construction. Let alone a book aimed at the non-native speaker.

    Now, if I am 100% wrong, someone out there please slap me out of my delirium!

  24. Nikola Senior Member

    English - American
    I think that these informal ways of speaking should be taught to intermediate and advanced students once they have learned the proper structure of the language. They should be presented as what they are, generally unofficial, informal and often incorrect forms of the language. It should be clearly stated whether these forms are used only by the uneducated or if they are also used by the educated in informal situations. I teach English in an English speaking country so my students are exposed to all forms of the language and I explain to them when some expressions are common even if they are not standard or correct.
  25. Dom Casmurro

    Dom Casmurro Senior Member

    Brazil Portuguese
    A few comments, if I may:
    - I have nothing against a book that teaches foreigners how to speak - and, for that matter, how to avoid - bad Portuguese. My only contention is that such a book should not be marketed as a 'grammar', because it is not about grammar. It is, by all means, about linguistics.
    - I read somewhere that the influence of Italian immigrants is not to be discarded as one of the causes behind the s-dropping tendency in Brazil. The point is, their original language has no plural finishing with 's'. However far-fetched this theory may appear, I share it with you for the sake of polemics.;)
  26. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Not to speak about the surrounding influence of Spanish speakers que se comen la' ese' finale' (lah eseh finaleh, laj esej finalej) en lo' plurale'... :D
  27. Dom Casmurro

    Dom Casmurro Senior Member

    Brazil Portuguese
    Good point, but if any influence from our surrounding hermanos is to be detected, it seems to be confined to the Southernmost part of Brazil, where the Argentinians and Uruguayans are very close, both geographically and culturally, to the gaúchos (you can hear gaúchos saying che, just like their neighbours across the border). On the other hand, I think the Rio Grande do Sul people pronounce the s-ending plurals rather clearly. Am I wrong, che? :)

    BTW, let me add that I find Macu's post # 22 particularly enlightening.
  28. ronanpoirier

    ronanpoirier Senior Member

    Porto Alegre
    Brazil - Portuguese
    Did I read gaúcho? :D

    Well, I can tell you some people drop the final S, except from the main word that indicates the plural. However, it's seen as a low-educated people feature, even if not everybody speaks like that. Extremely estigmatized in here!

    If that can be an Italian influence? Of course, since we have Italians everywhere in Brazil (Hello, Vanda :p). If that can be a Spanish influence? I doubt so, since the dialects from Uruguay and Argentina don't have the aspiration of the S (maybe in some areas of inner Argentina, but that'd be too far away from the borders of RS or SC). But we can't forget the French language which a long time ago doesn't pronounce the final S and shares another similiarties with Portuguese phonetics.

    And my opinion about the main topic, I'd never teach something like that to someone! I'd say it happens but they should avoid it.
  29. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    Many Argentinos and Uruguayos pronounce "s" like "jota espanhol"
  30. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Thank you all for your varied and interesting replies!

    I agree with Dom Casmurro #25 that it shouldn't market itself as a grammar.

    Also, as Tagarela said in #21, I think it's very different if natives make a mistake than if foreigners do ;) Would it be correct to assume that a foreigner would sound as ridiculous making mistakes like 'esses aluno...' as it would be to hear a non-native of English using words like 'wanna' 'gonna'* etc?

    *I know these are used commonly in some places, mostly in some areas of America I think, but I couldn't state where and don't want to generalise!
  31. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    In Indonesian, the sentence would look like:

    Murid-murid ini sangat termotivasi.

    Murid-murid, plural of murid (aluno) is enough.
    The word ini (esse) and termotivasi (motivado) don't need any plural markers anymore. :)


  32. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Pois eu continuo duvidando de que seja ensinado num livro para estrangeiros, a não ser como donts, mesmo que na fala popular isso aconteça.
  33. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    In Indonesian, even though the standard language is easy enough, there are further simplifications in the spoken language.

    Some countries where there is a considerable discrepancy between the written and spoken languages:
    1. Indonesia
    2. The Arabic-speaking countries
    3. German-speaking part of Switzerland
    4. Norway

    In most parts of Indonesia and the Arab world, it would be very strange for someone to speak exactly like the written language, even the most educated people don't do that (except in formal situations or when reading, of course).
    In many daily situations it is even quite "inappropriate" to speak the written language because, well, the written language is written, whereas the spoken one is different.

    A foreigner who speaks the written language will be understood, but if s/he adjusts to the spoken language, it won't be considered bad at all. In fact, it'll make the situation more natural since speaking the written language in situations where no Indonesian would do that produces a certain "stiff" atmosphere.
    A foreigner staying in Indonesia for a longer time will automatically adjust to this since s/he will have noticed by no time that you don't speak "bookish" in most of daily situations, and this applies to all educational or social levels of the society.


  34. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    I personally don't think it is ridiculous to hear non-native English speakers using words like "wanna", "gonna", in appropriate, informal situations.

    I don't know about Portuguese, but in Indonesia, for natives to speak the written language in many daily situations where no other Indonesians would do that is a mistake in a way.
    It's like speaking the language of Shakespeare today. A bad comparison but just to give you an idea.
    To use Shakespeare language, or highly judicial or literary language in situations where it isn't appropriate is a "mistake".
    Nobody would say that Shakespeare language is wrong. Quite the contrary. But it can be inappropriate in the wrong settings.


  35. olivinha Senior Member

    Português, Brasil
    I totally agree with you, MarX, especially because gonna and wanna are so much part of everyday language (in the US), I daresay sometimes it would be even weird to say going to instead of gonna, unless you wanted to emphasize going to. For example, it's much more common to hear what are you gonna do than going to. Of course, I'm talking about AE.

    Now that I live in Spain, sometimes I catch myself dropping the "d" in past participles, for example, I'd say está cerrao instead of está cerrado. It's not something that I try or plan to do. It just happens. I hear Spaniards (and non-Spaniards ;)) constantly pronoucing participles without that "d", that by osmosis, I end up doing it also. And, I think there is nothing ridiculous about that.

    Sem preconceitos e sem senso de ridículo, dude!
  36. Tagarela Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    Português - Brasil

    Well, I am didn´t mentioned that foreigners should speak literary or bookish way. It is just that somethings should be avoided even in coloquial languages. For sure some of them are only matter of pronnunciation, but we must be careful, to see wether this pronnunciation is affecting some important points or not. For example, now, people here in Brazil amost do not speak 'viR' anymore, they say 'vim' - then, it creates some very ugly senteces as 'ele vai vim'.
    For sure, that speaking in a bookish way on the streets is not very 'correct', but the colloquial language also has rules to be followed.

    Good bye.:
  37. olivinha Senior Member

    Português, Brasil
    Yes, Tagarela, there are things that are acceptable in coloquial speech that are not in written language, i.e. wanna, gonna, and even ain't. And that's my point, there is nothing wrong if a foreigner use those terms even if they are classified as don'ts in a grammar book, as long as he/she knows how and when to use them.
    Learning a language is more than them grammar rules. ;)

    PS: There ain’t no mountain high enough/ Ain’t no valley low enough/ Ain’t no river wide enough/ To keep me from getting to you.
  38. Dom Casmurro

    Dom Casmurro Senior Member

    Brazil Portuguese
    I don't seriously disagree with you, but I think foreigners should exercise caution when they acquire a second language, start using it on a daily basis and feel so confident about it that they are tempted to emulate the natives. I really think he or she should be reminded at the outset that whatever the outcome of his learning process, he could occasionally be at risk of sounding ridiculous if he uses colloquial, slangish or vulgar language. Nothing is more embarassing than being greeted by a gringo with something along the line of "Olá, tudo jóia?". You know what I'm talking about.
  39. olivinha Senior Member

    Português, Brasil
    Hi, my dear Dom.
    I know what you are talking about and agree. In my post #37 I do write "as long as he/she knows how and when to use them".
    I can't imagine myself not being allowed to speak colloquial (sometimes slangy, why not?) Spanish in my daily life. Should that be considered ridiculous, it is also something the flows naturally out of my ways of communicating in Spanish. I'm a foreigner here, and my Spanish does have an obvious Brazilian accent, something I can't help it. Another thing I could not have helped it yesterday was that !Joder! which came out of my mouth after the unfortunate incident I had in the kitchen which cost me my beautiful white blouse.
    I cannot start premeditating what I am going to say to avoid being ridiculous. Where should we draw the line?
  40. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Nothing is more embarassing than being greeted by a gringo with something along the line of "Olá, tudo jóia?". You know what I'm talking about.

    Ah, Bentinho, don't say so! I'd love to be greeted this way, sooo mineiro! On the contrary, I'd think this gringo really knows my language! So it all comes to personal likes and dislikes. :)
  41. Frajola Senior Member

    Braz Portuguese
    I think that learning a foreign language is a lot about having the courage to stick your neck out. Confidence does play a key role but there's only so much you can control.

    Eventually you'll have to use what you learned on others and see for yourself how it all goes over with them, no matter how forewarned and cautioned you've been.

    The usage of words and phrases may also involve how your pronounce them, how you deliver them and the context. And a lot things can "go wrong" while you are at it.

    What's more, people speaking their native language will always be picked out for the kind of language they speak. So you might as well be glad be picked out as a learner of English.

    As for the structure in the original post, you might be looked down on for using it. So I'd personally chalk it up as a don't for non-native speakers.
  42. Macunaíma

    Macunaíma Senior Member

    Um ninho de mafagalfinhos
    português, Brasil
    I agree with you there, Vanda. Let's take Que Trem Doido as an example (sorry for dragging you into the spotlight :D): I find it really cool when he uses diminutives like we mineiros do; makes him sound so much nicer and so familiar!

    I'd say it's a don't for natives speakers as well :)
  43. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Yes, but as I suspected and as was confirmed by Olivinha, this occurs in the US. If it was said in the UK (I do not know enough to comment about other English speaking countries) it would just sound bizarre. It wouldn't be the case of a foreigner trying to emulate natives when they don't have enough mastery of the language to know when it is appropriate or not, it would just sound really, really odd.

    D'accord. No-one speaks like Shakespeare anymore, though ;) (By the way, it is surprising how many English natives can't spell Shakespeare).
  44. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    On the contrary, many people would find maintaining the "d" over-correct or even foreign-sounding.
    Worse than that: in some parts of the Spanish-speaking world, you would even hear " 'tá cerrao". Now, which one is standard and which is sub-standard depends on the country, context, social factors...
    From a teacher's point of view (I was one a looong time ago) "está cerrado" would still be the first form to teach to beginners. But like any question about correction, we are on slippery ground here.

    Exactly, Olivinha! :thumbsup: Indeed, what would be ridiculous, with the command of Spanish you have, would be restricting yourself and not saying ¡Joder! in that situation!

    This is exactly the point - mastery of the language. A foreigner with not enough mastery will either sound hypercorrect or out-of-place forms, and will not be able to identify forms that may be criticised (like Ayup's example in post 1).

    I also would not accept, as a learner, not to have the right to exclaim or to use colloquial terms whenever appropriate... Just to take an example, Olivinha says something that sounds absolutely natural and the word goes out effortlessly. Should she be thinking "I am a foreigner, thus not allowed to swear when I stain my nice white blouse? And should I control myself at all times and complete all my sentences and demand more of myself than native speakers do in similar circumstances..." Aaaargh!...
  45. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Ah but then isn't this the point? That Olivinha could say it effortlessly and it sounds natural, but doesn't this just come with enough mastery of the language to be able to use colloquial forms, swear etc?

    I mean that when people who don't know a language well enough use colloquial forms or slang it can sound really contrived and unnatural, as if they're trying to sound 'normal' but are better of sticking to the standard varient of that language until their 'level' is better. For example, there's a guy in my French class that insists on talking in verlan all the time...which just sounds so (funnily) ridiculous, especially given that he only discovered a month ago that to say 'I think that' you say 'Je pense que' and not 'Je pense ça' :D
  46. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    It depends on the language and/or the country.
    For most of native English speakers it may be hard to grasp the concept of the situation in Arab countries and in Indonesia.
    The language taught in the textbooks are practically only written, or used in a very formal occasion, it's almost like a diglossia, in fact.
    Two persons may use the written language within a formal interview on TV, and as soon as they're finished interviewing, they return to the spoken language.
    No normal Indonesian, no matter how educated s/he is, would speak the standard written language in most situations of his life.
    I don't know the exact situation in Brazil or in Scotland.
    In Jakarta, a foreigner who continues speaking the standard written language after living for a month certainly hasn't had enough interactions with the natives.
    All being said, the difference between the written and spoken registers of Indonesian can be learnt quite easily, but it definitely involves some grammatical changes, like the simplification of most affixes.



    PS: A thread about Arabic might give you a better idea of what I'm talking about. I don't know if the situation in Brazil is similar.
  47. ayupshiplad Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    Very interesting! In general (I'm sure someone will contradict me :)), there is not that much difference between written and spoken English, I don't think.
  48. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    That's also what I think.
    Some examples in Indonesian, the words for no(t) and (formal) you in the written language are: tidak and Anda.
    But you don't use them in the spoken language.
    Hard to believe, but saying tidak for no(t) in the spoken language sounds veeery weird. And a foreigner should notice this after a couple of weeks.

    I may be getting off topic here. If the moderator think this should be split, I wouldn't mind. :)
  49. Frajola Senior Member

    Braz Portuguese
    We must keep in mind that register in both spoken and written language may vary widely.

    Two blokes having a smoke and chatting on their lunch break, for example, may not sound quite like two businessmen discussing the terms on a deal. The same applies to written language, I think.

    So it all depends...
  50. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    No, the difference between spoken and written English or Portuguese is not as wide as it is in Arabic (or Indonesian) which seem like extremes to me. It is much more than a change of register: pronunciation, vocabulary, syntax... many things change! And another thing about Arabic - one does not need to switch to the "classical language" even if the context is formal. Two Arab businessmen can negotiate the terms of a deal in their dialect, even in their respective dialects if they come form different countries (although the actual contract will be redacted in "Modern Standard Arabic").
    I was going to add comments about Arabic but that would be off-topic (the thread posted by Marx will give you a better idea).

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