1. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    In Less is not how you spell that

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Jack Asher, Sep 10, 2013.

    My brother in law just wrote a facebook post in which he writes the word "unless", "in less". That's right, two words.

    I hesitate to chasten because he is a very reactive personality.

    At the same time I'm not sure I can let the english language be abused while I stand idly by.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    When people do things like this, I'll use/spell the word correctly in my response to their email, post, whatever and hope they'll notice. You can (hopefully) avoid confrontation that way.
     
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  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    When I see structural abnormalities in syntax use like the aforementioned 'in less', I am left to wonder as to the person's grasp of deep structure. That is no mere spelling error you have there. That's a completely different syntax.
     
  4. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    It's like "could of" instead of "could have".
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Precisely. Of is a preposition. Have is a verb. How does one conceptually replace the other and how does that replacement work in the overall, innate understanding the person has of how the language functions?

    Fascinating...
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My guess: they just kind of write it as they hear it, the function of the word on the syntax level, or the grammar level, doesn't matter, I mean, it still looks like English. Kind of like how I wrote English before I had a sufficient grasp on which sounds match which vowels/consonants. I imagined some kind of a way to spell the word in my head. It was worse than in the novel, Push,

    I do find it curious that natives do this too.
     
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  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hasten to chasten! Maybe he'll be angry now, but you're saving him a lifetime of embarrassment. Not only that, but if you don't correct him, what is he teaching his kids, and what kind of jeering are they going to face as they grow up?

    Maybe he's a reactive personality, but don't let him get away with it. If he fights really hard to preserve his ignorance, just tell him that he's fighting really hard to preserve ignorance. I don't know how far that will get you, but you'll be on the right side.
     
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  8. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    I'd think this would be actually more typical for natives, who learn the language by listening first, and spelling comes years later. On the other hand, when learning a language at a later age, a significant part of the learning is usually done through reading and writing so we learn spelling "early". I'd have trouble pronouncing many English words that I know and can spell, because I've never said or even heard them.
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, well, that's also 'cause, um, where's the logic? "Okay, so, kids, letters 'e' and 'a' together match the sound [ii]. Yes, yes, I know you'd rather pronounce it [e.ak] but that's not how it works. See?"
    Beak [ii]
    Sleak [ii]
    Leak [ii]
    Freak [ii]
    Wreak [ii]
    Break [ei]
    Steak [ei]

    Oh, wait... Oh gimme a brake. I mean break.

    But still, I love English 'cause she's so capricious :love:
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    English is my first and only language, and it still gives me trouble. When I was a young kid, I remember hearing adults use a word that sounded like "yoo-NEEK", and I also remember reading the word "unique", which I pronounced "UN-i-kyoo." I gathered from the context that yoo-NEEK and UN-i-kyoo were synonyms, and at the time I couldn't figure out why we'd have such strange words mean the same thing.

    Then I got older, and in my maturity I realized I shouldn't worry about things like that.
     
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  11. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Gerard Nolst Trenité - The Chaos (1922)
     
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  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sweetness! I'm going to use this poem in teaching, mwahhahhaa. Thanks.
     
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  13. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    Thanks for reminding me. I've seen it before, but forgot and it's definitely worth more attention.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Those examples in several of the posts above remind me of how, as a kid, I used to spell knife as nife. A silent k? Seriously?
     
  15. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    That's (k)nice. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    We used to have a very senior member who consistently wrote "proberly" instead of "probably"
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    This is obviously still nawing at you....
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
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  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Flanders and Swann - The Gnu Song
     
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  19. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That cursed 'g' makes me pronounce 'gnaw' differently than I would 'naw', I tend to say the 'n' further towards the back of my throat in 'gnaw'.
    I've also tried to type 'I no' instead of 'I know' a few times.
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, that's good...thanks for reminding me...
     
  21. CraniumInsanium
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    CraniumInsanium Member

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    yo dawg, ducho kno dat dis iz howl awl da kul kidz talk nowz?!?

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. I've seen memes, fb posts and all other sorts of verbal shenanigans. Yet, this is how the youth of today are learning how to primarily communicate with each other. Through texting, the purpoesful and deliberate butchery of the english language to make words and sentences shorter and more abbreviated.
     
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  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well I don't think electronics help kids spell. I was shocked to realise there were many words whose spelling I wasn't 100% sure about when my spell checker in Word turned itself off. You know, like whether something is spelt with an E or an I, whether it's "er" or "ar", little things. But then I got a tablet and there's predictive text, which, if you think about it, further discourages you to spell anything at all. You need to swipe your finger only in the approximate area of where one of the letters are - if you wanted the letter D, you could swipe A and the right word would still turn up based on the other letters. In the long run, you'll start forgetting the real spelling.

    @KaTrian - loved your example with -ea btw :D You know, I've always thought that English spelling was perfectly logical, until someone told me I could spell fish in the most ridiculous way. I've forgotten how exactly it's spelt now though. I'll find it and come back! I still remember teaching a little Czech girl English, and I asked her if she could spell "egg" - she said, "EG" and I told her there needs to be one more letter. She stared at me with great big wide eyes in utter bafflement. Then I watched her for the next minute muttering to herself going, "E... G... Egg. E... G..." Then turning back round to me completely lost. Then she just started naming random letters until I told her there needs to be a second G. Again, she stared at me like I'd just grown three heads.
     
  23. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    *shudder* sorry, but as a "kid" in this age, that has me mortified. Yes, we do communicate in text-speak a lot more now, just because it is faster, but i feel that that is destroying our otherwise healthy vocabulary, and making the already bad spellers much worse when it comes down to more formal matters such as writing an essay or manuscript. I have to help my dad spell words correctly on a regular basis because English is his second language, and i don't hold that against him, but when i see my brother, who is in high school, misspelling very simple words it drives me absolutely nuts!
     
  24. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Mckk : When kids ask why something is spelled like this, I ask do they really wanna know why, and they say yes and I start explaining it... their eyes glaze over in boredom and afterwards they accept "because" as an answer :) It's quite hard for them to accept that you don't spell as you pronounce. It was hard for me too, and I'll always remember spelling "apple" right, but cos the first letter is an "a", I thought it's pronounced [eipl] and, of course, embarrassed myself in front of the class several times.
     
  25. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh I was particularly proud of spelling "apple" too, but only because for some bizarre reason I knew the spelling really, really super well. Spelling was never an issue for me because I grew up first with Chinese looool, so the idea that the word should look anything like it sounds has never occurred to me. In fact, I was utterly baffled by phonics when I came across it for the first time when I was 8. I'd like at the letter A and say, well, A. And my teacher would tell me, well you see, it's pronounced "a" (so not AI, but A lol) and I was like, "Huh?"

    And then they tried to tell me why C.A.T. turns into the word "Cat", pronounced as one. Seriously, my mind boggled. I was far happier when they just told me it is pronounced like this, and I just accepted it. Anyway, slowly I learnt to put phonics together by basically assuming sounds from other words I know. So I worked out why AI was pronounced AI because I superimposed the AI from "Rain" over to the word "Afraid". I nonetheless got confused between the D and N though, forgot to replace it for the correct letter, and ended up saying "Afrain". I still remember my teacher actually praised me for trying, because it was one of the first times when I started working phonics in my head rather than just straight out asking "What is this?"

    But yeah I agree. For the Czechs, their minds boggle over English spelling like I did with phonics. I tried to show them examples, like your -ea list up there lol, and I'd frustrate myself because I'd come up with words that include -ea just to find that they break the rule. Back in England, loads of foreigners liked to tell me how English is the easiest language in the world (while of course the English insist it's the hardest - I've noticed it is the same everywhere. Natives always insist their language is the hardest in the world, no matter the country.) Anyway, I used to agree. Now, I prefer the generalisation of: "English is easy to learn and speak, but it is very difficult to learn to speak it well." I think that's much closer to the truth. Compared to languages like Czech and German and Chinese, English is indeed easier because you can get away with using a variety of tenses and still be understood, without having to worry about conjugation. But seriously, the irregularities in spelling and grammar and the little nuances between past perfect and past perfect continuous and present perfect, my goodness...
     
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