1. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    The use of Whilst

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by hippocampus, Feb 6, 2013.

    I don't think I've seen the word "Whilst" used so often as I have on this forum! Is it mainly a UK thing?

    I ask because I have a British (so far I'm going with London) character in my novel, but I don't know if this is a word I should have him use or if it's really mostly from other parts of the UK.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's mainly British. I almost never heard it growing up in Canada. A high school science teacher of mine once used it in class and we all laughed. He said, "I learned that at knight school." We laughed again.
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I use it a lot and I'm from the UK. It's not an uncommon word around here, so I'd guess yes, it is probably British. :)
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've definitely noticed it here, and my first thought is, "Oh, this person must be British. Or not American." I've never heard it used by an American (which is not to say that it never has been, just that I've never heard an American use it.) But on this and other forums, I've seen it quite a bit.
     
  5. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I use it all of the time.

    For example, if I make a bonehead error, get caught with a cheaper knife than my client, fail to get my bike started, etc, I always say this:

    ...a slight pause whilst I adjust my accouterments...

    Baby boomers like the joke.
     
  6. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    Thanks all! Awesome.

    @minstrel - I love that... knight school. Heh!

    @tourist - cute! but I take it you use it as an affectation, not as part of every day speech?
     
  7. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Not every day, but it is a running joke. I even lisp and spit to make the comment authentic.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that even in the UK it's regional or slightly archaic. I use it, but I'm an older person with a tendency to slightly formal language. I can't imagine either of my children using it. But it's probably more likely to be used in other parts of the UK (especially Scotland and Ireland, I suspect). Google nGram shows 'whilst' declining on both sides of the Atlantic, but from a lower starting point and now almost extinct in the USA.
     
  9. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    It's definitely archaic. Most UK people wouldn't use it in everyday language. The more erudite people in the media might use it a fair bit though. If your character is a regular UK citizen, and is living in recent times (the last hundred years or less) I, personally, wouldn't have them use it unless they are erudite and a bit posh.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I'm less than 100 years old and from a working-class (blue-collar, for US readers) background, and I use "whilst". I'd like to think that's because of the "erudite" part, but I suspect it's more a regional thing.
     
  11. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Heh. I'm nineteen years old and I use 'whilst' all the time. I love the word, personally. :D
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't call British TV presenters "erudite", and they seem to use the word often,
    e.g. "The rain will clear towards evening in these areas of the South East, whilst in coastal areas it will grow heavier." Or: "Whilst I agree with you about the housing issue, Dave, I've got reservations as to the proposals put forward to combat the problems." etc.
     
  13. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    Ah... if only I could just take a few weeks and travel the UK and see for myself! :D
     
  14. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    I use While in situations where there are multiple actions occurring simultaneously and Whilst in a comparative sense similar to whereas (and even then I'm not consistent) but as far as I am aware, grammatically speaking there is no real difference between the two words in common usage apart from their etymology. While is believe it or not the older word, being introduced in Old English whereas (ha ha) Whilst is a Middle English word.
     

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