1. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Please help me with "bla".

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ohmyrichard, Oct 3, 2011.

    Hi,everyone.
    This may be very easy for you but I, as a non-native speaker of English, find it hard to try to get an answer on the web. I know "bla" is often used to mean "etc." or to omit things which are unimportant or things that are easy to infer in a particular situation. But I do not know how many "bla"s are usually used for these purposes. Is it either one "bla" or three "bla"s or more( as many "bla"s as we wish to use) ? Is there a rule for its use? Can anyone explain this linguistic issue and give me some example sentences? I find this issue very interesting and I hope I haven't overthought this issue.

    I just wanna make sure of it.

    Thanks.

    Richard
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that you'd ever use "blah" in anything but dialogue or very, _very_ informal narrative. It can mean something similar to "etc.", but I think that it more often signifies meaningless speech - for example, I recently saw a bit of a television comedy where people are speaking to a baby, and the baby is hearing "blah blah blah", because of course a baby can't understand speech yet.

    An example of how it might be used:

    Jane said, "I couldn't get him to stop talking. About his shoes, his hat, his socks, blah, blah, blah."

    ChickenFreak
     
  3. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Sorry for wall of text... Chickenfreak explains it well. Its a casual and disrespectful way of saying etc, usually used when relaying what someone else has said. For this use it's "blah blah blah". Also, not to confuse the issue but in case you've also noticed a second meaning, "blah" x1 can be used (again casually/in speech) to mean feeling down or minorly depressed. An example of that would be "I just couldn't get out of bed today, I was feeling so blah".
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Except I'd consider that to be more like, "I just couldn't get out of bed today. I was feeling so - bleh."
     
  5. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Hmm, perhaps its a colloquial thing then. I'd read bleh as being more of a sickly or hungover feeling, taken from blech, where blah refers to a listless, depressed feeling. The great oracle :)p) of wiki refers to The Blahs as being a feeling of boredom or mild depression, but it may well depend on where you are and the context of the sentence. The dash is fair enough, but optional I think. Perhaps this shows that these words are usually best avoided- made up words are annoying :p
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    pretty good's nailed it pretty good [ok, so 'well'!]... ;)

    'blah' means just 'so-so' or 'not so hot' or 'characterless' and so on... 'bleh' usually means worse than that...
     
  7. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Hi, everyone.
    Thanks a lot for your replies. Then which one spelling is the normally accepted in writing, "bla" or "blah"? I will seldom use it but I have to know something about it in order to understand those who use it.
    Thanks again.
    Richard
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Blah. I've never seen 'bla' used.
     
  9. Smythe
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    Smythe Member

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    I have seen (heard) up to five consecutive 'blah's...

    "And even the way he stood! It was all like 'just look at me'. I mean, he's so... blah" - I've only ever really come accross this when it's been spouted by a young dumb Californian. Here it is an undefined adjective, but it's not a compliment. When applied to the self, it can also mean apathetic, or discontent.

    "She went on about the paintings having such culteral significance, and it was all blah, blah" - In this instance, the the first iteration has a rising tone, whereas the second iteration has a falling one. Usually mocking a third party.

    "Blah, blah, blah. Have you ever tried making even the slightest bit of sense?" - usually said angrily to someone.

    "Blah, blah, blah, blah. Don't you ever shut up?" - usually said with a high level of annoyance. Each iteration is stressed.

    "And she kept nattering on. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." - Imagine how a husband would tell his friends after being stuck at home when his wife and wife's friends had a 'girl's night in'. Only the odd ones are stressed, and usually denotes complaint to a third party.


    Of course there are no strict (or otherwise) rules.
     
  10. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Hi, ChickenFreak.
    Why will I get a lot of results when I google "bla"? Is is that "bla" has a different meaning from "blah"? And why does Wikipedia have the entry of "Bla Bla Bla"? It does not seem to be a mistake.
    Thanks.

    ---------- Post added at 03:17 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:09 PM ----------

    Thanks a lot for your great answer to my follow-up question, Smythe.
    Richard
     
  11. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I'm 100% certain that "blah, blah, blah" is the most common way to say it. If you get search results for "bla, bla, bla"... I don't know what to say. Maybe it's the way it's said in other languages.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Wikipedia entry appears to be for a song. Song titles aren't always conventionally spelled.

    But a dictionary search turns up no word "bla" and it does turn up "blah".

    ChickenFreak
     
  13. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks a lot for giving me sufficient information to help me with the proper use of "bla", ChickenFreak.
    Richard
     
  14. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    In a workshop we had recently, it was pointed out that people usually repeat themselves in groups of 3 OR 5:
    "Blah, blah, blah... he never shuts up."
    You hear the 3/5 pattern especially for swearing with short words. Think about it. You don't say (well, in England anyway) "I'm going to be late. Sh**, sh**." (just 2) but you do mutter the 3/5 pattern; it's just a case of the normal rhythm of the speech!
     
  15. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    What you said is very interesting!
    By the way, where do you usually organize writing workshops? Is there one in Austin, Texas?
     
  16. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, sorry... this was a workshop about speech patterns at the university where I work in Turkey. I would love to take part in more creative writing workshops and go to book fairs, but unfortunately I can't, as I live abroad...
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    richard...

    you can google for anything and find it... but if you look carefully, when you google for 'bla' most of the hits are for the initials of something, not a word... and even non-words and misspellings turn up in a google search... but when you google for the correct spelling of 'blah' you'll find the word used correctly in most of the hits...
     
  18. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for reminding me of this fact about googling, maia. But it is often extremely difficult for a non-native speaker of English to differentiate the search results (which is correct English and which is incorrect?) I know that you and a lot of other members of this website will come to my rescue when I am having a problem. However, I often feel sorry for giving you so much trouble and taking up so much of your time.

    This "blah" question was caused by what was included in the brackets beside my daughter's username on a Chinese Messenger-like website, through which I can talk to her online free of charge. I noticed she wrote "balabalabala..." in the brackets actually, which can be perceived to be the Chinese translation of "blah blah blah" in Chinese phonetic sounds or which may be what she thought of as correct English due to her carelessness. My linguistic intuition at the moment that I saw it told me that it is a wrong English spelling if it was not otherwise thought of. At that time I knew that it must be "bla" or "blah", but I was not aware whether either of them is OK or only one of them is correct. Instantly I also thought of the question of how many bla's or blah's on earth we usually use in English and I, as an avid learner of English, found this question interesting. This is why I posted my question on this forum.

    I have not found time to talk to my daughter about this issue. Now with your help and other members' detailed explanations I've come to know everything about this issue and I will talk about it with her. By the way, my daughter is now a senior high school student.

    Thanks again.
    Richard
     
  19. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Hi, Drotillerge. Your post is composed of all unrecognizable signs.
     

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