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Thread: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

  1. #21
    Hanna
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes


    Rockzmom - sorry I'm just too scatterbrained!
    It totally slipped my mind by the time I got to the bottom of the thread! (Scatterbrained = Not very focussed, a bit sloppy, too easily distracted)
    And yes, "focussed" has double-s! Oh the joys of English spelling.

    Personally, I like that. To read bland, plain English is no fun. And for many it's no fun to write either.
    Well, E-learner if that's what you like you shall have it.... We aim to please!
    (=this is an English saying, hard to explain what it means exactly but it's appropriate in this context).

    I guess my view is based on the fact that I am forever struggling with language confusion at work and like to keep things simple.... The fact that English is the "world lingua franca" also means that you can not always use it in the most artistic or poetic way... I find that most of the time it's is more useful to stick with very basic language. That way nobody can blame failures on communication problems.

    English person speaking to Indian person at work:
    "Gurvinder, if you've got a minute do you think you might be able to have a look at the logs for that server that maxes out during the weekends. I think we need to try to get to the bottom of that... Would you be able to let me know by next Monday please? "

    Next Monday:
    "Gurvinder I'm afraid we have a problem. All hell has broken lose here because that server is still acting up. I am SURE I explicitly asked you to fix the problem with that server no later than Monday! It's Friday and I haven't heard a word from you!"

    "Well I didn't understand what you meant... "
    ----------------------------------
    (based on a real story... no, based on 50 similar stories.. Oh the joys of globalisation... )

  2. #22
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    Oh... this is VERY common and I, ummm, sperk... ummm.... I have a hard time with this one!!!
    Really? I'd like to see some examples in print of their misusage, rather than some googled thing saying it's common.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Re: English Pet Peeves

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    It should be 'here is one point to add which is specific to Russian'.
    I believe CoffeeCup meant "Russia" (what he wrote), not "Russian". I liked Johanna's correction: "Here is one Russia-specific point to add". Is it not okay?
    I would say that's ok. Sorry for the mistake about Russia / Russian.

    Actually just a couple of hours after writing that comment I came across another example in the book I am reading. It covers both phenomena within six words:

    Это была наша с Сержем музыка.

    Literally translated: It was our with Sergej music.

    Robin
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    Bitpicker... you seem to be the expert on etymology... have anything to add to this one???
    Not as such, no. I personally find the three example sentences with 'further', which E-learner quoted, completely acceptable, though I would still say 'Los Angeles is farther away from Boston than New York is'. In this case 'further' seems incorrect to me. In a similar fashion I find 'further' in your book example quite questionable.

    Robin
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    I never was able to understand how could native speakers of English write "then" instead of "than" and vice versa. Why do you do that? Do they sound identical?
    I've never seen this. Perhaps a typo, either that or EXTREMRE ignorance bordering on illiteracy.
    I've seen that quite often, even from people who are anything but illiterate. In fact I came across it yesterday and would have added it here now as something to watch out for.

    Robin
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Bitpicker is one of those people whose English is better than that of most native speakers (grammar, vocab etc).. This drives Brits crazy, particularly if the speaker is German! Haha beat them at their own language!
    Thanks...

    In British English texts are full of words which take the edge off the message such as "quite" or "rather" to the point where you are not quite sure what the speakers' actual opinion is.
    I do that, too, I just love British understatement! Then again, I learned most of my English from Monty Python, so it's no big surprise.

    Robin
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  7. #27
    Hanna
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    I never was able to understand how could native speakers of English write "then" instead of "than" and vice versa. Why do you do that? Do they sound identical?
    I've never seen this. Perhaps a typo, either that or EXTREMRE ignorance bordering on illiteracy.
    I've seen that quite often, even from people who are anything but illiterate. In fact I came across it yesterday and would have added it here now as something to watch out for.

    Robin
    No this is common.
    It's / Its' and lots of variations on this is another common mistake.

    You should see some of the emails I get from native speakers at work. It's shocking, PARTICULARLY in light of the fact that many of the offenders actually have university degrees.

  8. #28
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    You should see some of the emails I get from native speakers at work. It's shocking, PARTICULARLY in light of the fact that many of the offenders actually have university degrees.
    You are making me feel sooooooo much better!

    Okay, so I have an idea! When anyone gets one of those emails with the mistakes as Johanna was mentioning, you should post them here (or if you like on another thread just for those emails). Maybe you can post the email without making corrections and see if "we" can spot the errors? Then if people have questions about why there was an error, it can be discussed. I think it would be helpful to all of us! Of course, you can remove the sender's name to protect the innocent!

    Hey, team Russia... what about the same thread from your side to help all the folks who do want to learn Russian??? Are there not common mistakes like we have in English? Do you get emails with mistakes from either native or non-natives and just shake your head when you read them?
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    I never was able to understand how could native speakers of English write "then" instead of "than" and vice versa. Why do you do that? Do they sound identical?
    I've never seen this. Perhaps a typo, either that or EXTREMRE ignorance bordering on illiteracy.
    I've seen that quite often, even from people who are anything but illiterate. In fact I came across it yesterday and would have added it here now as something to watch out for.

    Robin
    So here is an example. I was just writing to someone. "I think I could drive to your house faster than it takes me." So, for me, than or then sounds perfectly natural in this sentence. I have to actually THINK about which word to use or make a quess or check in Word. With other words, like their, there, they're.. (which should be harder because they actually sound exactly the same) I instinctively know which one is correct, yet these two.. stump me.
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Is it a comparison? Than.
    Is it a sequence? Then.

    Robin
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  11. #31
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    I was just writing to someone. "I think I could drive to your house faster than it takes me." So, for me, than or then sounds perfectly natural in this sentence.
    I think the reason it happens is because "than" in normal, casual speech often doesn't have stress on it, and most people pronounce th unstressed "than" as "n" (faster'n me) or as "thən" with a schwa instead of a clear "e" or "a". So some people may spell the word as "then" rather then "than", because pronunciation is not clear enough. But I guess that the reverse error is much less likely. For example, in "Then, and only then you will be able to... <blah-blah-blah>", "then" would be normally pronounced quite clearly, so most native speakers will have no problem spelling it correctly.
    That's just another theory of mine .
    P.S. Just checked a few dictionaries and was very surprised to find out that some of American dictionaries (i.e. the Random House and Marriam-Webster's Dictionaries) actually list "then" as a variant pronunciation of "than". None of my British dictionaries, however, agree with that.

  12. #32
    Hanna
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    The reason this kind of stuff is easier for perhaps Btpicker, Translationsnmru and myself is that we have consciously learnt it. Every piece of grammar and every word I use when I write in English is something I have consciously learnt at some point.

    I was nine I think when I started studying English. Young enough to learn fast but old enough to still remember the difficulties and the actual studying.

    When I noticed that my spoken and written English was in fact better than that of a lot of native speakers I totally stopped any efforts at improving it. It's just a tool. Before that I had been quite worried about the quality of my English.

    A great thing about English speakers across the world is that they are VERY tolerant to foreign (non-native) speakers. This is a very nice thing and it means a lot for people who have to struggle to learn English whether they like to or not. (compulsory subject, necessary for career and university studies)

    The problems between native and non-native English speakers are more of a cultural nature.
    For example when we have phone conferences, the English people want to start off with chit-chat about the weather and trivia while the German colleages prefer to get straight to the point.. The French and Italian colleages are more prone to get irritated or angry when faced with problems... All of this is very "rude" in the eyes of the English. Those kinds of cultural differences are what create the most problems for us, much more than the languages itself.

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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    BTW, Johanna... it is funny (as in interesting) that you use the word learnt and not learned. We had that in a thread a while back. Here in the States we don't use learnt and the only time I had heard that prevously was in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
    "If I have wounded your sister's feelings, it was unknowingly done; and though the motives which governed me may to you very natuarlly appear insufficient, I have not yet learnt to condemn them." - Chapter 43
    also remember from the movie, yet not the book the line…
    "If I had ever learnt, I should've been a great proficient."
    So everytime I see you use it, I get a small grin on my face and imagine you as this proper English lady back in the day!
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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  14. #34
    Hanna
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Wow, I didn't know anything about "learned" vs "learnt"!

    I had no idea it made me sound old fashioned... I'd like to read the thread about it, do you remember where it was?

    So it's a British vs American thing then, or what do you think? Is there any native English speaker who is British and could comment on this?

    Using "learned" in that sentence sounds wrong to me... But really, now I feel very unsure. I have no idea why I bent it that way I guess I was not completely correct when I said that I know the reasons behind all the grammar that I use!! Pride cometh before fall (I'm getting carried away now with the "advanced english" - that's a commonly used quote from the Bible)

    I can only imagine that it was taught that way in school or that I picked it up after moving to the UK. I'd really like to here what a Brit, Australian or South African would say it.

    There is some kind of practice of "Speech competitions" in the US which means that many people can deliver very clear, inspirational and eloquent speeches in a style that I really like. I've come across Americans with such skills several times. In Britain you rarely hear anything like that. One of the ministers in my local church is American and he one of the best speakers I've ever heard. If he was a politician he'd clean the floor of the competition.

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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Wow, I didn't know anything about "learned" vs "learnt"!

    I had no idea it made me sound old fashioned... I'd like to read the thread about it, do you remember where it was?
    Here is the link to that thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    So it's a British vs American thing then, or what do you think? Is there any native English speaker who is British and could comment on this?
    From what I have read about it, it is a US vs across the pond thing. Yet, I we have not had anyone from over there give us their two cents as to if it is still in wide usage. It would be interesting to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    There is some kind of practice of "Speech competitions" in the US which means that many people can deliver very clear, inspirational and eloquent speeches in a style that I really like. I've come across Americans with such skills several times. In Britain you rarely hear anything like that. One of the ministers in my local church is American and he one of the best speakers I've ever heard. If he was a politician he'd clean the floor of the competition.
    I know there used to be when I was growing up; however, I am not certain if they still have them.

    I can tell you that some people are just born natural speakers and my older daughter is one of those types. She has a natural cadence to her speaking and she does not even need to face the audience to draw the crowd in (as in when addressing a panel and having your back to the crowd). That is not something that can be easily taught, I really believe you have to be born with it. - It also doesn't hurt if you are really cute. Charisma goes a long way.
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    The reason this kind of stuff is easier for perhaps Btpicker, Translationsnmru and myself is that we have consciously learnt it.
    I'm not sure that's true for me. Of course I needed to acquire a sound knowledge of English grammar because I studied the language at university, but when I look back at how I actually learned the language, the things which come to mind are not actual learning efforts. I would say I learned English because I sang along with songs from bands I liked no matter what the lyrics actually meant (good for pronunciation, did nothing for my singing voice), started to read English novels in the original early on, and quickly learned many Monty Python sketches by heart. I get the impression that I soaked up vocabulary, grammar and expressions in a natural fashion while doing that rather than that I consciously learned how to create valid if-clauses, when to use progressive forms etc. I also think it was a very important step to use the single-language Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary instead of a translating one early on.

    I try to use the same approach now when learning Russian. Exercises do little for me. Incidentally, I have noticed that the same goes for most students I helped with their English: exercises teach them how to solve exercises with as little effort as possible, like replicate if-clause patterns six times with new words, but even if they can do such exercises perfectly, in a real-world situation they cannot form even the most simple sentence.

    Instead, I have people with whom I write e-mails in Russian, and I notice (but don't try to consciously memorize) what they correct. I read Russian on the net and a Russian novel and observe how things are expressed. I look up words I don't know, but don't make lists, don't write them down, don't use flash cards for repetition; either they stick, or they get looked up again and again until I master them. Furthermore, I try to put them into context (easy when they come from texts, hard when they come from flash cards or word lists) so I get to know them in their natural environment.

    The only thing that's sorely missing is a good single-language dictionary of Russian. I've looked at some but they are not on par with the OALD. The ones I have seen do not explain in-depth or give examples, they more or less just collect synonyms.

    Pictionaries are also a good resource: They show pictures with the words next to them rather than just words, and that helps to integrate the hemispheres of the brain when learning. Language-only information resides only in the let hemisphere, but the ideas you want to express are located in the right. If you learn a language text-only, you train your left hemisphere in translation, but you will always require translation before you can actually understand and extract ideas from a foreign language or formulate your own ideas in the target language.

    As it is, I lack speaking experience in Russian, but I have local friends and Skype contacts with whom I could converse if only I gathered the courage to try...

    Robin
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    ... Of course I needed to acquire a sound knowledge of English grammar because I studied the language at university, but when I look back at how I actually learned the language, the things which come to mind are not actual learning efforts. I would say I learned English because I sang along with songs from bands I liked no matter what the lyrics actually meant (good for pronunciation, did nothing for my singing voice), started to read English novels in the original early on, and quickly learned many Monty Python sketches by heart. I get the impression that I soaked up vocabulary, grammar and expressions in a natural fashion while doing that rather than that I consciously learned how to create valid if-clauses, when to use progressive forms etc. I also think it was a very important step to use the single-language Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary instead of a translating one early on.

    I try to use the same approach now when learning Russian. Exercises do little for me. Incidentally, I have noticed that the same goes for most students I helped with their English: exercises teach them how to solve exercises with as little effort as possible, like replicate if-clause patterns six times with new words, but even if they can do such exercises perfectly, in a real-world situation they cannot form even the most simple sentence.

    Instead, I have people with whom I write e-mails in Russian, and I notice (but don't try to consciously memorize) what they correct. I read Russian on the net and a Russian novel and observe how things are expressed. I look up words I don't know, but don't make lists, don't write them down, don't use flash cards for repetition; either they stick, or they get looked up again and again until I master them. Furthermore, I try to put them into context (easy when they come from texts, hard when they come from flash cards or word lists) so I get to know them in their natural environment.

    The only thing that's sorely missing is a good single-language dictionary of Russian. I've looked at some but they are not on par with the OALD. The ones I have seen do not explain in-depth or give examples, they more or less just collect synonyms.

    Pictionaries are also a good resource: They show pictures with the words next to them rather than just words, and that helps to integrate the hemispheres of the brain when learning. Language-only information resides only in the let hemisphere, but the ideas you want to express are located in the right. If you learn a language text-only, you train your left hemisphere in translation, but you will always require translation before you can actually understand and extract ideas from a foreign language or formulate your own ideas in the target language.

    As it is, I lack speaking experience in Russian, but I have local friends and Skype contacts with whom I could converse if only I gathered the courage to try...

    Robin
    Great post! Very interesting. Thank you!
    Which Russian songs or groups are your favorite?
    Here are good dictionaries:
    http://slovari.299.ru/oj.php
    http://www.dict.t-mm.ru/ushakov
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Lampada
    Which Russian songs or groups are your favorite?
    Here is a good dictionary: http://slovari.299.ru/oj.php
    The dictionary is bookmarked for later reference, thanks.

    The one Russian band I found which I really like is Slot (Слот). I downloaded their albums from amazon.de, and printed their lyrics from their website. There's a new album due out this month and while I suppose I'm in the wrong country to lay my hands on one of the double-CD albums they are going to release I hope that the downloads at least will be available soon.

    Even my boys (6 and 9) are already singing along to a couple of their songs even though they just mimick the sounds...

    Robin
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    I would say I learned English because I sang along with songs from bands I liked no matter what the lyrics actually meant (good for pronunciation, did nothing for my singing voice), Robin
    It is funny that you say this because that is how my husband started to learn English as well. When I first met him he hardly knew any English and one day we were at work and The Moody Blues were on TV and he started to sing along to Nights in White Satin. We all turned around and looked at him surprised because he knew all the words to the song, yet could barely speak a complete sentence in English. We then found out he knew the words to almost all of the Creedence Clearwater Revival songs a ton of heavy metal songs yet he had almost no clue what the words meant.
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    Re: English Pet Peeves & Common Mistakes

    Back on topic here for a second...

    AND PLUS... please, please, please... say or use ONE or the OTHER, not BOTH.
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