1. Joe Palmer

    Joe Palmer Active Member

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    American English/Standard English

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Joe Palmer, Dec 10, 2017.

    Recently I have become aware of American usage in pieces written by authors I presume to be British. I know that certain things, such as "We were looking to defuse the situation.", have crept into the language since I was a child, just as IT-speak has, and somehow filled a void or made it easier to phrase an idea. But here I am particularly referring to variants for which there does not seem to be any obvious reason. For example "gotten" where SE would be "got", spelling such as "lite" for "light" and others which may just be errors e.g. "His ..." for "He is ...". Of course I am talking about straight text, not dialogue or reported speech.
    From the point of view of getting read, or published, is there any advantage either way? Shall I have to jazz up everything I've written?
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    "lite" is not American English; it's not correct anywhere. It's advertising nonsense.

    Do you have a source for the idea that "gotten" is not appropriate in standard English? The Oxford English Dictionary does say that it's more commonly used in North America, but that's not the same as saying that it's incorrect or nonstandard.

    I'm not really seeing how these "jazz up" anything.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Your examples don't seem like anything I'd think would be a selling point - I'm certainly not aware of any advantages to just being flat-out wrong, like "His" for "He's".

    But I think it is often valuable for authors to have a distinctive voice and to use vibrant language that gives a sense of place and that the author is comfortable with. I think overly formal, stringently correct language can, for some writers, get in the way of that vibrancy. But I'm not sure if that's what you're actually getting at.
     
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  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    I'm a card-carrying American and spell it "grey" instead of "gray," use "lift" instead of "elevator," and "boot" instead of "trunk" when making up sci-fi vehicles. Does that count?
     
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  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And do you remember when spot-on was suddenly welcomed into the lexicon 'round these parts? One day it was just everywhere on TV, and I can easily remember when that was a very pip-pip cheerio thing to hear. :wotwot:
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Kind of... think the first time I heard it was in that episode of the Wire when McNulty went undercover in a brothel and "spot-on" was the code phrase for the rest of the cops to break the door down. Of course, McNulty boned two of the hookers first, which is probably why the scene sticks out so much in my memory.
     
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I've never heard a Brit say gotten .. except in forgotten, or misbegotten. I suspect it used to be used in the old days before the divergence of colonial (at the time) and home English
     
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  8. Joe Palmer

    Joe Palmer Active Member

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    I'm very glad about "lite" not being correct anywhere.
    I've never heard "gotten" said except on TV but I've very often read it in American texts. It's like "gonna" and "gotta". But these were just examples.
    My question really was, I suppose, just how acceptable are such usages? Are they expected? What do they add?
    For example, I've noticed British popular singers often speak one way but sound like Americans when they sing. They must have some reason for doing so. Curiously, I've never noticed American singers sounding like Brits! Do similar reasons apply to certain writers?
     
  9. Joe Palmer

    Joe Palmer Active Member

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    I agree with your observations in your second paragraph but see my response to Chicken Freak. Thanks.
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    gonna and gotta are slang for going to and gotten/got to - gotten isn't slang, but its a US term not one from English English (that said due to Hollywood you here Americanisms more and more in other English speaking countries)
     
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  11. Joe Palmer

    Joe Palmer Active Member

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    I am not trying to be a sod, honestly, but I have seen your "its" and "here" several times recently and assume they are typing errors in your case, but I'm not always so sure!
     
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  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    If you did see it in anything that had pretenses of being anything but an ad (and any pretense of correctness or careful editing) I'd guess that it was intended in a sarcastic way. I am curious about the context.

    Except it's not like "gonna" and "gotta". Both of those are slang--when I look them up I see notes that they're regional/colloquial/informal, and the usage curve is flat at around zero until roughly 1900.

    "gotten" is merely defined as "past participle of get", and it has much, much older origins. A link:

    http://www.miketodd.net/encyc/gotten.htm

    I realize that this is probably a digression--you probably would have been just as happy to offer "gotta" as an example.

    However, that's arguably an important sub-issue of this issue--you're talking about more than one, well, issue.

    The sub-issues are, as I see it:

    - Slang, colloquialisms, and other words and phrases and usages that are not seen as standard formal English in America, England, or other English-speaking countries. I would put "gonna" here.
    - Americanisms that ARE standard formal English in America. I would put "gotten" here, though, rather like the American use of cutlery, it does sound like it's not something newfangled that Americans came up with, but instead an older usage that they didn't lose when the British lost it.
    - Advertising speak. ("lite")
    - Just plain errors. (Confounding "he is" with "his")

    I think I have. (Edited to add: Sadly, I have no examples.) Arguably, if they're totally successful, and if you're British, you probably wouldn't even notice?

    To discuss this, I feel the need for a broader set of examples, for whichever sub-issue(s) interest(s) you. It's an interesting topic, but I think that there are a lot of distractions to clear out.
     
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  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Taping to fist :D I dunt doe thit wen i right
     
  14. Joe Palmer

    Joe Palmer Active Member

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  15. Joe Palmer

    Joe Palmer Active Member

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    Touché!
     
  16. Joe Palmer

    Joe Palmer Active Member

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    Thanks! I've got (here definitively not "gotten") quite a lot to think about.
     
  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Just FYI, that usage (of "got") is one that I hear as a bit slangish, and as a Britishism. An American would be likely to say, "I have quite a lot to think about."

    I realize that it's probably not slangish; I'm presenting it as a sort of mirror image of you hearing "gotten" as incorrect.

    (Just FYI, an American wouldn't say, "I've gotten quite a lot..." in this context either. That's not how "gotten" is used.)
     
  18. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    I say it fairly frequently, and I'd never noticed that one or the other was the "British" version until surprisingly recently.
     
  19. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    I write 'human' in a certain kinda dialect ... ish.

    I forgooten woot Scootish az? Az et Anglesh?
     
  20. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    'Gotten' is very bigly bad, not English in England. Down Hansard corridors you would lose all your friends saying 'gotten,' with great sniggers behind hands.

    As for tech-speak being a simplification? That is an enemy POV, linkedin and bubbling lavas of hell future...
     
  21. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm an American and I would use "I've gotten quite a lot..." like "I've gotten quite a lot of feedback." I don't see a problem there.

    When it comes to American vs. British English, I think it comes down to where you are publishing and what they use. But these are easy enough fixes and understandable if you are from one place and your publisher is in another.
     
  22. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Hmm. I interpreted the comment to mean, essentially, "I now have a lot of feedback." If it meant, "During this process, I have received a lot of feedback," then, yes, "gotten" would make sense.

    "Gotten", IMO, refers to the receiving, while "got" refers to the having. Actually, no, I suppose I'm referring to past continuous versus simple past? Hmmmm.

    Examples:

    I've gotten a lot of cupcakes at St. Cupcake over the years.
    I got the cupcakes for the party.


    I've always gotten my hair cut at Jane's.
    I got my hair cut at Jane's.


    But "got" for simple possession:

    I've got a box of cupcakes.

    is, to me, a Britishism. An American would say:

    I have a box of cupcakes.

    Edited to add: Except, interestingly (well, interesting to me):

    I've got it.

    I think that I saw that as American, even before the classic-to-me line in Tremors.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  23. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    I'm an American expat working in a multi-English environment, so I hear most of the dialects (we don't have any Indians or South Africans in the office) pretty regularly. The only "got" difference that springs to my mind would be that my English coworker would probably ask "Have you got a pen?", where I'd say "Do you have a pen?".

    Gotten? Dunno...
     
  24. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    I've gotten a lot of cupcakes at St. Cupcake over the years.
    I don't think I'd use got here...probably I've bought a lot of cupcakes at St. Cupcake over the years.


    I've always gotten my hair cut at Jane's.
    I've always had my hair cut at Jane's.


    For me, a haircut isn't something that I can "get" because once it has happened to me (passive voice) I can't take it back and exchange it.
     
  25. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    England - the 20th century...

    Teacher would display your exercise book to the class - the word 'got' highlighted/crossed out eleven times in red ink. He would write 'got' in chalk upon the blackboard & you were invited to erase the word with your nose ( phone post, one finger)
     
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