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Can I say: Anybody helps me checking this car? watch


    On Fri, 28 Jun 2002 06:49:02 +0200, Einde O'Callaghan <[email protected]> wrote:

    [q1]|Howie wrote:[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|> On Fri, 28 Jun 2002 00:27:11 +0200, Einde O'Callaghan[/q1]
    [q1]|> <[email protected]> wrote:[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|<snip>[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|> |Usage is what defines meaning, not your somewhat eccentric views. If we |expect the usdage to be[/q1]
    [q1]|> a request, then the usage can be a request. |Anything else is does not reflect the English[/q1]
    [q1]|> language as she is spoke.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|> So, following that logic, I can say anything to mean anything else then? How convenient. Liberal[/q1]
    [q1]|> descriptiveness at it's worst[/q1]
    [q1]|> IMO.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|********.[/q1]

    Ooooh!

    [q1]|Usage means not what one individual says, but what the sppech |community (for want of a better[/q1]
    word) finds acceptable. Language change |and development doesn't happen at the level of tzeh
    individual.

    OK, i'll get my friends and family to join in then. Out of interest, exactly how long will we have
    to do it for, - before you'll accept it, I mean? What are the rules regarding number of people,
    length of time and geographical saturation? Where do they originate?

    [q1]|> |> Look, are we advising a foreign speaker about the [1]best,[/q1]
    [q1]|> |> [2]most accurate, [3]most polite and [4]most effective way to use the english language, or[/q1]
    [q1]|> |> not? If so, you are only causing confusion with every argument you raise on this matter.[/q1]
    [q1]|> |>[/q1]
    [q1]|> |Naturally we discuss levels of politeness and formality etc. But that |isn't what you and I are[/q1]
    [q1]|> discussing. We are discussing your mistaken |insistence that in modern English usage the ability[/q1]
    [q1]|> meaning of "can" is |the primary and predominant one.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|> We are now, yes. And, when it is used in a question, I stick by that notion. But actually this[/q1]
    [q1]|> argument started during an effort to advise a non-native speaker how to make a request.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|But "can" and "will" are indeed used to make requests, as you've |admitted yourself - even though[/q1]
    you indicate that you don't like this. |But that's your problem.

    I believe I speak from the notion of general acceptance. You disagree. Others will make up their own
    minds. I also think that we should put forward the [1]most accurate, [2]most concise
    [3]least ambiguous, [4]most polite, option whenever there is a choice. You have no preference - as
    you have already stated. Again, others will make up their own minds.

    [q1]|> The most important point here is your last one. My so-called "mistaken insistence" that in modern[/q1]
    [q1]|> English usage the ability meaning of "can" is the primary and predominant one. The term "Modern[/q1]
    [q1]|> English" means nothing BTW.[/q1]
    [q1]|[/q1]
    [q1]|Modern English is the technical description of teh varieties of English |used in the modern period.[/q1]
    Do you deny that you can periodise English, |as do all linguists (including prescriptivists), into
    Old English (also |called Anglo-Saxon), Middle English (the language of Chaucer) and Modern |English
    (roughly since the beginning of teh 17th century)?

    A "Technical Description" requires technicality, which in turn requires accuracy. So (wherever you
    got that description), Modern English (by both our definitions) can not _possibly_ be a "technical
    description" - for reasons of constant evolution AND wooly time period. However, I agree that the
    description exists and it has meaning. What I meant, as you know, was that your insertion of the
    term into your argument was irrelavent.

    [q1]|> I will continue to insist that, as far as foreign learners are concerned, this is indeed the[/q1]
    [q1]|> primary AND predominant meaning of "can" to begin a question.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|Can you cite any authority for this other than your own prejudice?[/q1]

    Possibly, if I searched hard enough. But that is not the point. My suggestion of starting with
    "Please will you...", instead of "Can you..." Remains the ONLY UNAMBIGUOUS WAY TO BEGIN THIS
    REQUEST. It also happens to be much more polite, which you appear to attach minor importance to. I
    attach lots.

    [q1]|can you honestly say that you have never used the word "can" to start a |request? (Note this is the[/q1]
    ability use of "can".)

    Of course I can't. But I wish I could, because then I would know that I have been more polite and
    less ambiguous than I have actually been. Are you getting it yet?

    [q1]|> |To take just one reference book at random (because it's still on the |desk since the last[/q1]
    [q1]|> lesson): in his book "Modern English Usage" (2nd |edition), published by Oxford University Press,[/q1]
    [q1]|> Michael Swan devotes 7 |pages to the use of "can" (and "could"), of which only 2 deal with the[/q1]
    [q1]|> |ability meaning of the word.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|> Stick with that if you must. It's obviously within your intellectual comfort zone.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|I don't know what you mean by that. Swan is regarded as a major |authority on English language[/q1]
    usage, particularly British usage.

    I will explain exactly what I mean by that. You (and others), are taking on the views of the
    excellent Michael Swan, and his purely descriptive approach to the English language. But at the same
    time you are (quite rightly) practising a PRESCRIPTIVE method of teaching in order to help foreign
    students understand the rules. RECOGNISE THAT! Now, having begun to formulate a set of rules in your
    students minds, you cause unbelievable confusion if you do not identify for them the BEST way to
    formulate certain prases _when there is a choice_. and this is where you MUST use your own
    common-sense. So why do you refuse to do that? Are you incapable of giving your own opinion, or are
    you so wrapped up in your descriptive learning that you are unable to identify common-sense. This is
    the crucial bit: You CANNOT apply a totally descriptive approach to an inherently prescriptive task?
    Your students ask you the best way to say something? BLOODY-WELL TELL THEM!

    [q1]|> Good luck with your teaching or EFL students from a viewpoint of pure descriptive grammar.[/q1]
    [q1]|>[/q1]
    [q1]|So we now come to your hobby horse. You're an adherent of prescriptivist |grammar.[/q1]

    Not true. See above.

    [q1]|Unfortunately for you, the English language pays absoutely no |attention to the your prescriptions[/q1]
    and those of your ilk. EFL students |want to know what English speakers mean when they use certain
    [q1]|structures. This is our job as English teachers[/q1]

    It certainly is part of our job. How on earth do you cope with the other parts?

    First off, the understanding of intent is needed.

    CAN in the sentence questions "able to" not "willing to".

    WILL would be used if the speaker is seeking help.

    CAN is used only if the speaker is trying to find out if someone is skilled in something.

    example: Can you pick up that 2 ton rock? Ans: No, I'm only human. Will you pick up that 2 ton
    rock? Ans: No, I'd hurt myself. Can you bring me the newspaper? Ans: Yes. (and I don't move) Will
    you bring me the newpaper? Ans: Yes (and I bring it...)

    My kids have a problem with this ALL the time.

    In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...
    [q1]> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > CyberCypher wrote:[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> > Or I should say: Anybody help me checking( check) this car?[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> You need to say "{Can/Will} anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > Does that mean that "Can/Will" is omitted here?[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> No, it means you have a choice of[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> "Can anybody help me check this car?"[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> and[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> "Will anybody help me check this car?"[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> >> --[/q2]
    [q2]> >> Franke: Grammar 1: Internalized rules for the spoken language. Grammar 2: Formal rules for the[/q2]
    [q2]> >> written language. Grammar 1 does not equal Grammar 2.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]

    Stromm Sarnac <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:

    [q1]> In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...[/q1]
    [q2]>> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> > CyberCypher wrote:[/q2]
    [q2]>> >[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> > Or I should say: Anybody help me checking( check) this car?[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> You need to say "{Can/Will} anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> > Does that mean that "Can/Will" is omitted here?[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> No, it means you have a choice of[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> "Can anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> and[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> "Will anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]

    [q1]> First off, the understanding of intent is needed.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> CAN in the sentence questions "able to" not "willing to".[/q1]

    For the past 50 years (and undoubtedly much, much longer than that) "Can you + VERB?" has been
    used to mean "Will you + VERB?" for as long as I can remember, just as "Can I?" has been used to
    mean "May I?" Regardless of what dictionaries have to say about it, this is the way people use
    the language
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> WILL would be used if the speaker is seeking help.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> CAN is used only if the speaker is trying to find out if someone is skilled in something.[/q1]

    No, that is simply not true. Perhaps that should be true and would be true if everyone spoke
    perfectly correct English governed by exactly the same rules, the same internalized and external
    grammars, but that is obviously not the case.
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> example: Can you pick up that 2 ton rock? Ans: No, I'm only human. Will you pick up that 2 ton[/q1]
    [q1]> rock? Ans: No, I'd hurt myself. Can you bring me the newspaper? Ans: Yes. (and I don't move)[/q1]
    [q1]> Will you bring me the newpaper? Ans: Yes (and I bring it...)[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> My kids have a problem with this ALL the time.[/q1]

    That's because they speak natural English and not grammarbook English. You are apparently a
    prescriptivist who refuses to acknowledge that native speakers use the language the way they will
    and would actually make an issue over whether someone talking to you used "can" instead of "will" or
    "can" instead of "may".

    --
    Franke: "There are no great religions, only great myths and great mistakes." Bodhisattva F. A.
    Tchirl. Grammar 1: Internalized rules for the spoken language. Grammar 2: Formal rules for the
    written language. Grammar 1 does not equal Grammar 2.

    In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...
    [q1]> Stromm Sarnac <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...[/q2]
    [q2]> >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> > CyberCypher wrote:[/q2]
    [q2]> >> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >> >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]> >> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> >> > Or I should say: Anybody help me checking( check) this car?[/q2]
    [q2]> >> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> >> You need to say "{Can/Will} anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> > Does that mean that "Can/Will" is omitted here?[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> No, it means you have a choice of[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> "Can anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> and[/q2]
    [q2]> >>[/q2]
    [q2]> >> "Will anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > First off, the understanding of intent is needed.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > CAN in the sentence questions "able to" not "willing to".[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> For the past 50 years (and undoubtedly much, much longer than that) "Can you + VERB?" has been[/q1]
    [q1]> used to mean "Will you + VERB?" for as long as I can remember, just as "Can I?" has been used to[/q1]
    [q1]> mean "May I?" Regardless of what dictionaries have to say about it, this is the way people use the[/q1]
    [q1]> language[/q1]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > WILL would be used if the speaker is seeking help.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > CAN is used only if the speaker is trying to find out if someone is skilled in something.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> No, that is simply not true. Perhaps that should be true and would be true if everyone spoke[/q1]
    [q1]> perfectly correct English governed by exactly the same rules, the same internalized and external[/q1]
    [q1]> grammars, but that is obviously not the case.[/q1]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > example: Can you pick up that 2 ton rock? Ans: No, I'm only human. Will you pick up that 2 ton[/q2]
    [q2]> > rock? Ans: No, I'd hurt myself. Can you bring me the newspaper? Ans: Yes. (and I don't move)[/q2]
    [q2]> > Will you bring me the newpaper? Ans: Yes (and I bring it...)[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > My kids have a problem with this ALL the time.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> That's because they speak natural English and not grammarbook English. You are apparently a[/q1]
    [q1]> prescriptivist who refuses to acknowledge that native speakers use the language the way they will[/q1]
    [q1]> and would actually make an issue over whether someone talking to you used "can" instead of "will"[/q1]
    [q1]> or "can" instead of "may".[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    Does isn't always correct. By asking this person is looking for CORRECT usage and not slang usage.
    Therefore, I gave him a non-misleading CORRECT answer.

    I was born in Central Ohio, and have many relatives that are from Southern Ohio, W. Virginia,
    Canada, Kentucky and even Northern Ohio. I know more than most people how language is changed by
    region. Most people I grew up with and most people my age correctly use CAN and WILL. I will never
    condone improper use of language just because someone is afraid of not fitting in even at the cost
    of being ignorant. This will only lead to gutteral speech in X-number of generations. Being lax in
    teaching someone should be a crime. I am a Network Engineer and if I "followed your rules" I would
    be broke and a few hundred companies would be bankrupt.

    Teach correctly first, then look at alternatives. Sadly though, evolution of language is by use.
    More often, improper use, but there we have it.

    Stromm <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:

    [q1]> In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...[/q1]
    [q2]>> Stromm Sarnac <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> > In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> > CyberCypher wrote:[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> >[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> >> > Or I should say: Anybody help me checking( check) this car?[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> >> You need to say "{Can/Will} anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> > Does that mean that "Can/Will" is omitted here?[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> No, it means you have a choice of[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> "Can anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> and[/q2]
    [q2]>> >>[/q2]
    [q2]>> >> "Will anybody help me check this car?"[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> > First off, the understanding of intent is needed.[/q2]
    [q2]>> >[/q2]
    [q2]>> > CAN in the sentence questions "able to" not "willing to".[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> For the past 50 years (and undoubtedly much, much longer than that) "Can you + VERB?" has been[/q2]
    [q2]>> used to mean "Will you + VERB?" for as long as I can remember, just as "Can I?" has been used to[/q2]
    [q2]>> mean "May I?" Regardless of what dictionaries have to say about it, this is the way people use[/q2]
    [q2]>> the language[/q2]
    [q2]>> >[/q2]
    [q2]>> > WILL would be used if the speaker is seeking help.[/q2]
    [q2]>> >[/q2]
    [q2]>> > CAN is used only if the speaker is trying to find out if someone is skilled in something.[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> No, that is simply not true. Perhaps that should be true and would be true if everyone spoke[/q2]
    [q2]>> perfectly correct English governed by exactly the same rules, the same internalized and external[/q2]
    [q2]>> grammars, but that is obviously not the case.[/q2]
    [q2]>> >[/q2]
    [q2]>> > example: Can you pick up that 2 ton rock? Ans: No, I'm only human. Will you pick up that 2[/q2]
    [q2]>> > ton rock? Ans: No, I'd hurt myself. Can you bring me the newspaper? Ans: Yes. (and I don't[/q2]
    [q2]>> > move) Will you bring me the newpaper? Ans: Yes (and I bring it...)[/q2]
    [q2]>> >[/q2]
    [q2]>> > My kids have a problem with this ALL the time.[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q2]>> That's because they speak natural English and not grammarbook English. You are apparently a[/q2]
    [q2]>> prescriptivist who refuses to acknowledge that native speakers use the language the way they will[/q2]
    [q2]>> and would actually make an issue over whether someone talking to you used "can" instead of "will"[/q2]
    [q2]>> or "can" instead of "may".[/q2]
    [q2]>>[/q2]
    [q1]> Does isn't always correct.[/q1]

    I'm afraid that too often what is "correct" by one speaker's standards is incorrect by another's. As
    many people like to point out, unlike the French, the USA and the UK and all other anglophone
    countries have no Academie Anglais. There is no single correct way of speaking or writing. All we
    have to guide us are grammar books (eg Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartik's _A Comprehensive
    Grammar of the English Language_) and style manuals (eg _Chicago Manual of Style_) for writing and
    the usages of those around us for speaking. People who insist that there is a single correct way of
    speaking and writing are usually assuming that their opinions are always true because they read it
    in a grammar book somewhere. But they didn't read the parts about how the language is actually used
    by it users, most of whom do not know the contents of grammar books as well as you seem to. They are
    also usually in the habit of assuming that there is no difference between written and spoken
    English. Another mistake.

    [q1]> By asking this person is looking for CORRECT usage and not slang usage. Therefore, I gave him a[/q1]
    [q1]> non-misleading CORRECT answer.[/q1]

    Here is what Merriam-Websters 3rd New International Dictionary of English says about "can". Please
    see 2j, set off by $$$:

    Main Entry:1can

    transitive verb 1 obsolete : KNOW, UNDERSTAND *most of the inhabitants can no word of Cornish
    Richard Carew*
    2 : to be able to do, make, or accomplish *the will of Him who all things can John Milton*
    intransitive verb , archaic : to have knowledge or skill used with following of *thou canst well
    of woodcraft Sir Walter Scott* verbal auxiliary 1 a : know how to : have the skill to *he can
    read* *she can play the piano* b : be physically or mentally able to *he can lift 200 pounds* *I
    can tell red from green* c : may perhaps : may possibly *do you think he can still be living*
    *it could be true* d : have the necessary courage or resolution to *he can accept defeat without
    complaining* e : be permitted by conscience or feeling to *can hardly blame him* *I can forgive
    anything but that* f : be made possible or probable by circumstances to *he can hardly have
    meant that* *I could cry for shame* g : be inherently able or designed to *everything that money
    can buy* *this car can hold five persons* h : be logically or axiologically able to *2 + 2 can
    also be written 3 + 1* *we can reasonably conclude from this that such is the case* i : be
    enabled by law, agreement, or custom to : have a right to *only the House can originate
    financial measures*

    $$$j : have permission to used interchangeably with may *you can go now if you like* see COULD$$$

    2 dialect : to be able to used as infinitive *I may can go* *he'll can tell us Alexander Wardrop*

    [q1]> I was born in Central Ohio, and have many relatives that are from Southern Ohio, W. Virginia,[/q1]
    [q1]> Canada, Kentucky and even Northern Ohio. I know more than most people how language is changed by[/q1]
    [q1]> region. Most people I grew up with and most people my age correctly use CAN and WILL. I will never[/q1]
    [q1]> condone improper use of language just because someone is afraid of not fitting in even at the cost[/q1]
    [q1]> of being ignorant.[/q1]

    You are under no obligation to condone or condemn any language usage. You are free to choose
    whatever way of speaking that suits your taste, and you are certainly free to ensure that your
    children speak the way you want them to speak as well.

    [q1]> This will only lead to gutteral speech in X-number of generations.[/q1]

    This is an old argument often made by the ignorant, by those who think there was a golden age of
    English when it achieved perfection and was somehow enshrined in a prescriptive grammar that all
    should be forced to memorize, the way we memorize dead languages like Estruscan, Latin, and ancient
    Greek, languages that no longer change because no one speaks them any longer. English has never been
    fixed and never will be until no one speaks it. Once that happens, it will never change again and
    future English scholars can argue all they want about which version of English was the "correct"
    version. There are still many disagreements about how to translate ancient Greek and Latin. That
    ought to tell you something about the nature of language that you seem to have missed.

    [q1]> Being lax in teaching someone should be a crime.[/q1]

    And what should the punishment be? Who is to determine whether someone speaks or writes poorly
    because a parent or a teacher or a role model was lax? I know that my HTML program can scan my lines
    of code and tell me whether I've made a a syntax error, but I have yet to see a computer program
    that can scan a paragraph and give it a pass or fail on the English.

    [q1]> I am a Network Engineer and if I "followed your rules" I would be broke and a few hundred[/q1]
    [q1]> companies would be bankrupt.[/q1]

    Of course you would. Computers are stupid. They do not understand what you mean if you make one
    syntax mistake. Comparing humans and CPUs is making a false analogy. Human beings can interpret the
    meaning of a particular sentence or phrase or word in context. If everything spoken or written had
    to be "correct, then no one would be able to understand incorrect English, and they would be just as
    stupid as computers. People have been speaking for maybe 150,000 years or more without written
    grammars and style manuals. They understood each other then and they continue to understand each
    other now. The grammar of their spoken language is acquired during the first 5 years of life (under
    normal circumstances) without grammar books and without parents or teachers telling people what is
    correct and incorrect. We all listen and analyze and learn our native language -- or languages, as
    is the case for most of the world.

    Anyway, I have not offered rules here, just the facts of spoken English usage. You can take the
    position of the Edwin Newmans and John Simons of the world and insist that there is only one correct
    way to speak the language, but then you would be advancing a theory that is not only false but
    extraordinarily arrogant as well. As much as I do not like to see the language I speak, read, write,
    and teach every day change in ways that offend my eyes and ears, it is something I have had to live
    with for many decades. There are still excellent writers and speakers of English, despite the
    ignorant masses who use it and change against my will and yours.

    [q1]> Teach correctly first,[/q1]

    Where is the canon? Who is the keeper of this correct English that must be taught at first? I know
    that when I was in school I had to learn English grammar, but that is no longer the case. Of course,
    I learned more about English grammar by studying Latin, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and
    Chinese. And linguistics. In primary and secondary school we had a bunch of absolutist teachers who
    knew "the truth" about language, much as you seem to. They taught us incorrectly and taught us
    nonsense to boot. "Don't split infinitives!" "Don't end a sentence with a preposition!" "Two
    negatives in and English sentence make a positive, just as they do in math!" "Don't use 'can' for
    'may'!" You seem to have bought into all those myths. Most English speakers have not.

    [q1]> then look at alternatives. Sadly though, evolution of language is by use. More often, improper[/q1]
    [q1]> use, but there we have it.[/q1]

    You have just written a two-sentence jeremiad that laments language change. You want the language to
    stay the same forever, or else you want the arbiters of language -- who are they, by the way? -- to
    give some kind of papal imprimatur to changes, it seems.

    When you're setting up a network, if you screw up the parameters, it won't work. When you're
    writing a program, if you screw up the syntax, it won't work. But when you're speaking English to
    another human being, you can screw up and the listener might still be able to understand what you
    mean and so you will have successfully communicated. If that were not true, then I would not be
    able to understand any of my English as a foreign language students, none of whom speak or write
    correct English.

    --
    Franke: "There are no great religions, only great myths and great mistakes." Bodhisattva F. A.
    Tchirl. Grammar 1: Internalized rules for the spoken language. Grammar 2: Formal rules for the
    written language. Grammar 1 does not equal Grammar 2.

    CyberCypher wrote:

    [q1]> Howie <[email protected] sage.com> burbled[/q1]
    [q1]> news:[email protected]:[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >|> Yep. Because of fragments and verbless clauses which are used all over the place in spoken[/q2]
    [q2]> >|> english. Look at the example and tell me how a non-native english speaker would start using a[/q2]
    [q2]> >|> book on written grammar? Personally, I don't think that written grammar rules are very helpful[/q2]
    [q2]> >|> to EFL students when analysing spoken english. Do you?[/q2]
    [q2]> >|[/q2]
    [q2]> >|It helps to know the rules before you start bending and breaking |them, because there are[/q2]
    [q2]> >"rules" about how you can bend and break |the rules. In English it's not a case of anything goes.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > Or in most other languages. Please note the term 'written grammar' which was the recommendation[/q2]
    [q2]> > for explaining an utterance I was arguing with.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >|Native speakers know instinctively what goes in what |circumstances. People come here looking[/q2]
    [q2]> >for guidance. Telling them |to rely on their gut feeling isn't very helpful, particularly[/q2]
    [q2]> >|because their gut feeling will often be heavily influenced by |their native language until they[/q2]
    [q2]> >have sufficient experience with |the English language to rely on their gut feeling - and even[/q2]
    [q2]> >then |they may often make errors.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > I have dealt with this previously.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >|There are, unfortunately, more than enough enough native and |non-native pundits dispensing[/q2]
    [q2]> >misleading information in various |newsgroups. If you insist on joining them you will inevitably[/q2]
    [q2]> >rub |some language professionals up teh wrong way.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > "Language Professionals"! What a jumped-up lot they must be if this is how they describe[/q2]
    [q2]> > themselves. And I notice you prove yourself to be one of the "dispensers" occasionally,[/q2]
    [q2]> > don't you?[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >| I don't know if you have any teaching[/q2]
    [q2]> >|experience but suspect as a "new media consultant" you probably |have none - and it shows[/q2]
    [q2]> >sometimes, even if occasionally you might |trip one of us up when we over-generalise.[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > My qualifications are of no matter or concern to this forum,[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> You act as if that were true, but it actually isn't. If you think that EFL students are happy with[/q1]
    [q1]> the advice of just any ignorant native speaker, then you'd better think again. Most EFL students,[/q1]
    [q1]> and especially Far East Asians, know a hell of a lot more about English grammar than the vast[/q1]
    [q1]> majority of native speakers, and that includes English teachers. The EFL students I know want[/q1]
    [q1]> quality information from people who know what they are talking about and who can back it up with[/q1]
    [q1]> evidence, just as their English teachers in their home country did and[/q1]
    [q1]> do. Most of them also know lots of native English speakers who got their jobs only because they[/q1]
    [q1]> are native speakers and not because they are teachers or are capable of teaching.[/q1]

    It is true. Sometimes I really want to know, maybe just out of curiosity, why you native speakers
    speak the way you do. And as far as I know, I am even among those Chinese who don't keep on asking
    millions of whys on English, because I know if you ask me the smiliar questions on Chinese, I
    probably can not answer them either. I think the way I am studying English, mostly counting on my
    gut feeling, is good for spoken English learning, but probably not for written English. What do you
    guys think?

    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > and they are unnecessary to allow me to have a voice.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> ANyone can have a voice here, but whether your voice is merely a bray or something worth listening[/q1]
    [q1]> to is another story.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > But I am quite confident in my thoughts and advice, thank you.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> You may have confidence in your language advice, but I certainly don't. I would not recommend that[/q1]
    [q1]> anyone listen to anything that you have to say. Your record so far is pretty poor, IMHO.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > Your suspicions are also quite irrelevant for the same reason. And if you think that I have[/q2]
    [q2]> > spent 22 years in business whilst not knowing english better than many "language professionals",[/q2]
    [q2]> > you are in a world of your own.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> You will have to explain what all these words mean.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > If you have a quote from the content of any of my messages, and wish to argue about it, please[/q2]
    [q2]> > do so.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> Well, I have just pointed out a reasonably meaningless couple of sentences you wrote. Care to[/q1]
    [q1]> explain them[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > If you have a personal problem with me joining in your 'cosy little newsgroup',[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> This is not a cosy little newsgroup. It's an open forum. If it were cosy, as you charge, you would[/q1]
    [q1]> be outta here already.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > please explain your neurosis.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> Do you also give psychiatric advice? Does "new media consultant" mean that you are qualified to[/q1]
    [q1]> dispense public psychiatric opinions about the mental condition of others?[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > If you just don't like me, either killfile me or e-mail me to sort it out.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> If you think anyone here has time for that, you must live in a leisure world. I don't.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q2]> > AND: God save me from ever wishing to describe myself as a "Lanuage Professional" ![/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> It's okay, Howie, because nobody would ever believe you.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> --[/q1]
    [q1]> Franke: "Life is simple: pain is good, pleasure is better, no pain is best. Death is even[/q1]
    [q1]> simpler." Bodhisattva F. A. Tchirl. Grammar 1: Internalized rules for the spoken language. Grammar[/q1]
    [q1]> 2: Formal rules for the written language. Grammar 1 does not equal Grammar 2.[/q1]

    Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> CyberCypher wrote:[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [...]

    [q2]>> If you think that EFL students are happy with the advice of just any ignorant native speaker,[/q2]
    [q2]>> then you'd better think again. Most EFL students, and especially Far East Asians, know a hell of[/q2]
    [q2]>> a lot more about English grammar than the vast majority of native speakers, and that includes[/q2]
    [q2]>> English teachers. The EFL students I know want quality information from people who know what they[/q2]
    [q2]>> are talking about and who can back it up with evidence, just as their English teachers in their[/q2]
    [q2]>> home country did and do. Most of them also know lots of native English speakers who got their[/q2]
    [q2]>> jobs only because they are native speakers and not because they are teachers or are capable of[/q2]
    [q2]>> teaching.[/q2]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> It is true. Sometimes I really want to know, maybe just out of curiosity, why you native speakers[/q1]
    [q1]> speak the way you do.[/q1]

    The general answer is that we speak the way we do for the same reasons that you speak the way you
    do. No living language adheres to the grammar book rules in every respect. All living languages
    are constantly changing. And they differ from region to region and sometimes from block to block
    in the city.

    [q1]> And as far as I know, I am even among those Chinese who don't keep on asking millions of whys on[/q1]
    [q1]> English, because I know if you ask me the smiliar questions on Chinese, I probably can not answer[/q1]
    [q1]> them either. I think the way I am studying English, mostly counting on my gut feeling, is good for[/q1]
    [q1]> spoken English learning, but probably not for written English. What do you guys think?[/q1]

    At your level of English, you probably have sufficient knowledge to be able to rely on your gut
    feeling about spoken English and know that most of the time you will probably be correct. Once I
    reached a high enough level in German, French, and Japanese, I had no need to carry a dictionary and
    grammar book with me. I could rely on my intuitions. It is also far better to to speak and make
    mistakes from which you can learn when more skilled speakers correct you than than to hesitate
    because of a fear of making a mistake and being laughed at.

    In order to have a gut feeling at all, you must have internalized the grammar of a language. That
    doesn't mean that you must have memorized
    it. As all of the students I have taught in Taiwan, Japan, and the USA have demonstrated time after
    time, memorizing the grammar of a language does not lead to being able to speak or write or read
    it well. Acquiring the grammar of that language and internalizing it means thinking in that
    language instead of your native language. Once you can do that, you can exercise your intuition.

    --
    Franke: "There are no great religions, only great myths and great mistakes." Bodhisattva F. A.
    Tchirl. Grammar 1: Internalized rules for the spoken language. Grammar 2: Formal rules for the
    written language. Grammar 1 does not equal Grammar 2.

    Stromm Sarnac wrote:
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> First off, the understanding of intent is needed.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> CAN in the sentence questions "able to" not "willing to".[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> WILL would be used if the speaker is seeking help.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> CAN is used only if the speaker is trying to find out if someone is skilled in something.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> example: Can you pick up that 2 ton rock? Ans: No, I'm only human. Will you pick up that 2 ton[/q1]
    [q1]> rock? Ans: No, I'd hurt myself. Can you bring me the newspaper? Ans: Yes. (and I don't move)[/q1]
    [q1]> Will you bring me the newpaper? Ans: Yes (and I bring it...)[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> My kids have a problem with this ALL the time.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    Your kids are playing on the double meaning of "can". Of course, if you say: "Can yopu bring me the
    newspaper, please?" it's clearly a request and not a question about ability.

    Regards, Einde O'Callaghan

    Stromm wrote:
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...[/q1]
    [q2]> > Stromm Sarnac <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q3]> > > In article <[email protected] 3.1.4>, [email protected] says...[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q3]
    [q3]> > >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> > CyberCypher wrote:[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> >[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> >> Peng Zhang <[email protected]> burbled news:[email protected]:[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> >> > Or I should say: Anybody help me checking( check) this car?[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> >> You need to say "{Can/Will} anybody help me check this car?"[/q3]
    [q3]> > >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> > Does that mean that "Can/Will" is omitted here?[/q3]
    [q3]> > >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> No, it means you have a choice of[/q3]
    [q3]> > >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> "Can anybody help me check this car?"[/q3]
    [q3]> > >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> and[/q3]
    [q3]> > >>[/q3]
    [q3]> > >> "Will anybody help me check this car?"[/q3]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q3]> > > First off, the understanding of intent is needed.[/q3]
    [q3]> > >[/q3]
    [q3]> > > CAN in the sentence questions "able to" not "willing to".[/q3]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > For the past 50 years (and undoubtedly much, much longer than that) "Can you + VERB?" has been[/q2]
    [q2]> > used to mean "Will you + VERB?" for as long as I can remember, just as "Can I?" has been used to[/q2]
    [q2]> > mean "May I?" Regardless of what dictionaries have to say about it, this is the way people use[/q2]
    [q2]> > the language[/q2]
    [q3]> > >[/q3]
    [q3]> > > WILL would be used if the speaker is seeking help.[/q3]
    [q3]> > >[/q3]
    [q3]> > > CAN is used only if the speaker is trying to find out if someone is skilled in something.[/q3]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > No, that is simply not true. Perhaps that should be true and would be true if everyone spoke[/q2]
    [q2]> > perfectly correct English governed by exactly the same rules, the same internalized and external[/q2]
    [q2]> > grammars, but that is obviously not the case.[/q2]
    [q3]> > >[/q3]
    [q3]> > > example: Can you pick up that 2 ton rock? Ans: No, I'm only human. Will you pick up that 2[/q3]
    [q3]> > > ton rock? Ans: No, I'd hurt myself. Can you bring me the newspaper? Ans: Yes. (and I don't[/q3]
    [q3]> > > move) Will you bring me the newpaper? Ans: Yes (and I bring it...)[/q3]
    [q3]> > >[/q3]
    [q3]> > > My kids have a problem with this ALL the time.[/q3]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> > That's because they speak natural English and not grammarbook English. You are apparently a[/q2]
    [q2]> > prescriptivist who refuses to acknowledge that native speakers use the language the way they[/q2]
    [q2]> > will and would actually make an issue over whether someone talking to you used "can" instead of[/q2]
    [q2]> > "will" or "can" instead of "may".[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q2]> >[/q2]
    [q1]> Does isn't always correct. By asking this person is looking for CORRECT usage and not slang usage.[/q1]
    [q1]> Therefore, I gave him a non-misleading CORRECT answer.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> I was born in Central Ohio, and have many relatives that are from Southern Ohio, W. Virginia,[/q1]
    [q1]> Canada, Kentucky and even Northern Ohio. I know more than most people how language is changed by[/q1]
    [q1]> region. Most people I grew up with and most people my age correctly use CAN and WILL.[/q1]

    I grew up in various parts of Ireland and lived in various pasrts of England before moving to
    Germany. The usage of "can" that you describe is not that used in any of these places by reasonably
    educated individuals using the standard form of the language - I'm not talking about dialect here.

    [q1]> I will never condone improper use of language just because someone is afraid of not fitting in[/q1]
    [q1]> even at the cost of being ignorant. This will only lead to gutteral speech in X-number of[/q1]
    [q1]> generations. Being lax in teaching someone should be a crime.[/q1]

    Don't assume that the way you speak is the way that the majority of English speakerws use the
    language. I reject the implication that what I and other relatively educated native speakers form my
    part of the world speak is in some way slang or incorrect.

    [q1]> I am a Network Engineer and if I "followed your rules" I would be broke and a few hundred[/q1]
    [q1]> companies would be bankrupt.[/q1]
    [q1]>[/q1]
    [q1]> Teach correctly first, then look at alternatives. Sadly though, evolution of language is by use.[/q1]
    [q1]> More often, improper use, but there we have it.[/q1]

    This evolution of the language goes back to the period before North America was colonised by English
    speakers. If the language of some descendants of the colonists has become "impoverished" - to use
    your insulting attitude to the way other native speakers speak - then it is your loss not ours.

    Regards, Einde O'Callaghan
 
 
 

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