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Thread: General english questions

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    General english questions

    Hello! May be I'm wrong in creating new thread but I have not found something similar. At the moment I'm translating an article titled "Held by the Taliban" which has been published in "The New York Times" by David Rohde. Here is reference http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/wo...18hostage.html to the source. I have several general questions about constructing sentence in Englsh. I would like post some of them to this thread. Here is my first question. There are two sentences in the first part:

    1) "Tahir and Asad were ordered out of the car."
    2) "I was told to get out of the car and take a few steps up a sand-covered hillside."

    Is it correct to phrase first sentence, for example like that:

    Tahir and Asad were ordered to get out of the car? Why there is no "get" verb in the first sentence but it is in the second? The full text of paragraph is below:

    "Tahir and Asad were ordered out of the car. Gunmen from a second vehicle began beating them with their rifle butts and led them away. I was told to get out of the car and take a few steps up a sand-covered hillside."
    Science is the systematic classification of experience. (c) George Henry Lewes

  2. #2
    Hanna
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    Re: General english questions

    Ivan, I am not aware that there is any explicit grammatical rule governing "get" vs "get out".

    "Get" and "put" are very tricky words in English. I think they have to be learnt by exposure to written and spoken English.

    It wouldn't be a serious mistake to say ""Tahir and Asad were ordered to get out of the car." But it is not how a native person would say it.

    The only "rule" I can think of is that "get!" is imperative, and such sentences tend to use the minimum amount of words, since they are essentially an order.

    The sentence could be re-written slightly: "Tahir and Asad were given the order to get out of the car" In this sentence it would be correct to use "get out". Unfortunately I can't explain why.

    In English speaking newspapers in Asia (where the journalist may be a fluent English speaker but not native) these types of "non-native" sentences appear quite a lot. It isn't considered a problem and most English speakers are very tolerant about non-natives making minor mistakes or using different speech patterns.

    (But obviously, if somebody wants to speak/write exactly as a native. then they have to get their head around (=understand) these minor details too. )

    Bitpicker (Robin) might have an idea about this - he's very good with grammar.

    I started learning English at 9 and can still remember doing lots and lots of exercises about "get".

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    Re: General english questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Иван
    Here is my first question. There are two sentences in the first part:

    1) "Tahir and Asad were ordered out of the car."
    2) "I was told to get out of the car and take a few steps up a sand-covered hillside."

    Is it correct to phrase first sentence, for example like that:

    Tahir and Asad were ordered to get out of the car? Why there is no "get" verb in the first sentence but it is in the second? The full text of paragraph is below:

    "Tahir and Asad were ordered out of the car. Gunmen from a second vehicle began beating them with their rifle butts and led them away. I was told to get out of the car and take a few steps up a sand-covered hillside."
    Hi Иван!

    Your thread might be better under the Learn English topic.

    I will answer from a native American English speaker point of view and most people on this forum already know that I am not a scholar of English. So I will leave the technical "whys" to someone else.

    When you speak with your family and friends, do you ALWAYS use perfect and complete sentences? Probably not. You speak casually.

    This article is written first person as if the author is actually speaking to you and telling you what happened to him. Sometimes when this happens the author's style is such that he will speak (write) to you just as if you are a friend. So as such, the style is not going to be the same as "formal" writing and the normal rules of writing are over looked. (it is how I tend to write on this forum).

    I would venture to say that he has done this so that you (the reader) will feel more connected to him. He is drawing you into his story. If he were too formal, you might not become one with him and therefore you may not experience the story as if unfolds and have the same understanding of what exactly happened to him.

    Does this make sense?
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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    Re: General english questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    In English speaking newspapers in Asia (where the journalist may be a fluent English speaker but not native) these types of "non-native" sentences appear quite a lot. It isn't considered a problem and most English speakers are very tolerant about non-natives making minor mistakes or using different speech patterns.

    (But obviously, if somebody wants to speak/write exactly as a native. then they have to get their head around (=understand) these minor details too. )
    Johanna, it sounds as if you are saying that David Rohde, the journalist, is NOT a native English speaker. Just to clarify, he is American born and raised (from Maine and a graduate of Brown Univeristy). He works for the New York Times, and this article was under the Asian Division, which he used to be co-chief of.
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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  5. #5
    Hanna
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    Re: General english questions

    Rockzmom - no, that's not what I was saying. I have no doubt that the journalists at NY Times are natives - or at least have native proof readers.

    I was answering the question:
    "Why there is no "get" verb in the first sentence but it is in the second?"

    The biggest problem with my response is that I wasn't able to give a concrete explanation. I responded regardless, because I doubt very much that anybody is able to give a clear and comprehensive answer - there probably isn't one.

    My comment was about English speaking papers in Asia, such as Straits Times (Singapore) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong). I have spent time in those places and when reading the English speaking papers there I often came across vaguely non-native sounding sentences which were not technically incorrect, but nevertheless sounded foreign. An example of such a sentence would be: "Tahir and Asad were ordered to get out of the car."

    I would guess that the exact same thing happens in Russian when an Estonian, Uzbek etc writes in Russian. I.e. they might be technically/grammatically correct, but nevertheless sound slightly "foreign".

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    Re: General english questions

    Johanna and rockzmom thanks for yours fast and comprehensive replies. First of all I try to explain with my creepy english why I chose just "General Discussion" topic and not the other one. I had looked over the "General Discussion" topic nearly for the last 2 months. But I cannot joined to it as I do not received confirmation mail. Over all this time I had noticed that you and some others (Оля, Zaya, Basil77, Lt. Columbo. sorry if I missed somebody else) are most active in posting messages. And I'm just had got accustomed to all of you. The second reason why I created thread in current topic is may be my erroneous conclusion that in the other places such a subject may rest without attention of fluent in english peoples. That is why I decided to post current thread in "General Discussion" topic.
    As to the article from "The New York Times" I learned (or learnt ) that I should not ask such sort of question because there is enough other ones (more general) I have to find the answers in the first place. But if rockzmom won't be opposite I will keep posting other questions on this issue in the current thread.
    Science is the systematic classification of experience. (c) George Henry Lewes

  7. #7
    Hanna
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    Re: General english questions

    Glad you decided to participate! Impressive that you remembered by comment about playing chess in school! I came here for help with Russian language but I always end up chatting about other things... Distraction, but a nice one.
    There's also Lampada, Ramil, Iti-ogo, Crocodile, Bitpicker and many more.

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    Re: General english questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Иван
    Johanna and rockzmom thanks for your[s:2cya8twl]s[/s:2cya8twl] fast and comprehensive replies. First of all I will try to explain with my creepy English why I chose [s:2cya8twl]just[/s:2cya8twl] the "General Discussion" topic and not the other one. I [s:2cya8twl]had looked[/s:2cya8twl] have been looking over the "General Discussion" topic for nearly [s:2cya8twl]for[/s:2cya8twl] the last 2 months. But I [s:2cya8twl]cannot[/s:2cya8twl] could not join[s:2cya8twl]ed to[/s:2cya8twl] it as I [s:2cya8twl]do[/s:2cya8twl] did not received a confirmation email. Over all this time I had noticed that you and some others (Оля, Zaya, Basil77, Lt. Columbo. sorry if I missed [s:2cya8twl]somebody[/s:2cya8twl] anyone else) are most active in posting messages. And [s:2cya8twl]I'm just had[/s:2cya8twl] I've just gotten (become) accustomed to all of you. The second reason [s:2cya8twl]why[/s:2cya8twl] I created this thread [s:2cya8twl]in[/s:2cya8twl] under th[s:2cya8twl]e[/s:2cya8twl]is current topic [s:2cya8twl]is[/s:2cya8twl] may be my erroneous conclusion that in the other places such a subject may rest without the attention of anyone fluent in English[s:2cya8twl]peoples[/s:2cya8twl]. That is why I decided to post under [s:2cya8twl]current thread in[/s:2cya8twl] the "General Discussion" topic.

    As to the article from "The New York Times" I learned (or learnt ) that I should not ask such sort of question because there is enough other ones (more general) I have to find the answers in the first place. But if rockzmom won't be [s:2cya8twl]opposite[/s:2cya8twl] opposed I will keep posting other questions on this issue in th[s:2cya8twl]e[/s:2cya8twl]is current thread.
    You raise a very valid complaint about English speaking people NOT correcting posts if they ARE in English Forum! That is one of Оля's biggest complaints!!

    So, if you have been reading all of our postings... then you know ALL about my unique style of writing and how Robin/Bitpicker is our "go to" expert right now!

    Of course I do not mind you posting any questions. Please post away!!! I will do my best to correct what I can and answer what I can as long as you don't mind that I have NO skills in Russian and I write like I speak, not like I technically should!!
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
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    Re: General english questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Иван
    Johanna and rockzmom thanks for your[s:clkus6vl]s[/s:clkus6vl] fast and comprehensive replies. First of all I will try to explain with my creepy English why I chose [s:clkus6vl]just[/s:clkus6vl] the "General Discussion" topic and not the other one. I [s:clkus6vl]had looked[/s:clkus6vl] have been looking over the "General Discussion" topic for nearly [s:clkus6vl]for[/s:clkus6vl] the last 2 months. But I [s:clkus6vl]cannot[/s:clkus6vl] could not join[s:clkus6vl]ed to[/s:clkus6vl] it as I [s:clkus6vl]do[/s:clkus6vl] did not received a confirmation email. Over all this time I had noticed that you and some others (Оля, Zaya, Basil77, Lt. Columbo. sorry if I missed [s:clkus6vl]somebody[/s:clkus6vl] anyone else) are most active in posting messages. And [s:clkus6vl]I'm just had[/s:clkus6vl] I've just gotten (become) accustomed to all of you. The second reason [s:clkus6vl]why[/s:clkus6vl] I created this thread [s:clkus6vl]in[/s:clkus6vl] under th[s:clkus6vl]e[/s:clkus6vl]is current topic [s:clkus6vl]is[/s:clkus6vl] may be my erroneous conclusion that in the other places such a subject may rest without the attention of anyone fluent in English[s:clkus6vl]peoples[/s:clkus6vl]. That is why I decided to post under [s:clkus6vl]current thread in[/s:clkus6vl] the "General Discussion" topic.

    As to the article from "The New York Times" I learned (or learnt ) that I should not ask such sort of question because there is enough other ones (more general) I have to find the answers in the first place. But if rockzmom won't be [s:clkus6vl]opposite[/s:clkus6vl] opposed I will keep posting other questions on this issue in th[s:clkus6vl]e[/s:clkus6vl]is current thread.
    Thanks rockzmom ! It is very instructive to be corrected with person whose English is native. I will try to analyze all the errors I had made. As I see someone has moved thread under the "Practive Yor English" topic.
    Science is the systematic classification of experience. (c) George Henry Lewes

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    Re: General english questions

    Actually I think the answer to the original question is much simpler: you can order someone out of a car, you can also order someone to get out of the car, but you cannot tell someone out of the car. In the first case you simply have the option either to use 'to get' or not. Maybe the first implies a short 'out of the car, now!', the second could imply a more polite 'Please step out of the car!', which could still be an order. But with 'tell' you simply don't have the option to drop the 'get'.

    It is very instructive to be corrected by a person whose English is native. I will try to analyze all the errors I have made. As I see someone has moved the thread under the "Practice Yor English" topic.
    Robin
    Спасибо за исправления!

    Вам нравится этот форум, и вы изучаете немецкий язык? Вот похожий форум о немецком языке.

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    Re: General english questions

    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker
    Actually I think the answer to the original question is much simpler: you can order someone out of a car, you can also order someone to get out of the car, but you cannot tell someone out of the car. In the first case you simply have the option either to use 'to get' or not. Maybe the first implies a short 'out of the car, now!', the second could imply a more polite 'Please step out of the car!', which could still be an order. But with 'tell' you simply don't have the option to drop the 'get'.

    It is very instructive to be corrected by a person whose English is native. I will try to analyze all the errors I have made. As I see someone has moved the thread under the "Practice Yor English" topic.
    Robin
    Hello bitpicker! Nice to meet you. I understood your explanation. Thanks for the answer and corrections.
    Science is the systematic classification of experience. (c) George Henry Lewes

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