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Where is that "something" that makes others think you are really good in language


Ziemowit 14 | 4,201
29 Jul 2012 #1
Some verbal exchanges in the thread "Polish language would look better written in Cyrilic script?" between Lyzko, Grubas and Wulkan (posts # 72, 74, 78-81) have inspired me to ask myself the headline question. As Lyzko said in post #81 "social politness prevented him from "recasting" some of other members' English sentences", so I have thought that creating some space where it can be freely done from time to time, could be a useful idea. I think that my "something" in the headline may really hide itself in the "recasting" thing that Lyzko talks about.

- Wulkan's English seems fine, but can hardly compare with an educated native speaker, nor should it - says Lyzko. And that's exactly what I am looking for in this thread. Rather than comparing the knowledge of languages in this way: - English is not my second, it's my third language however it's still better than your second Polish... [Wulkan], let's talk about the difference between "fine" and "educated native speaker level".

I hope we will be talking of language samples on a certain level of the language (excluding, for example, discussion on the basic use of articles or minor mistakes in spelling).

(continued) ... level of the language knowledge (excluding, for example, discussion on the basic use of articles or minor mistakes in spelling or inappropriate endings in Polish). The emphasis, I imagine, should be on the "formulation" of ideas and sentences.

If you are willing to join in, remember: it is not about whose second language is better, but where the mystery of the "educated native speaker level" lies, both in English and in Polish. Please, provide as many examples as you can, otherwise, the discussion would be strictly theoretical; I will soon try to provide my own examples.
teflcat 5 | 1,027
29 Jul 2012 #2
One of the many common errors that drive me nuts is the misuse of the word however. I'd say most English native speakers lack a command of this word. A brief overview.

1. To express contrast. I like tea. However, I don't like coffee./I don't, however, like coffee./I don't like coffee, however.
All of the above are correct.
XI like tea, however I don't like coffee.X Wrong
2. To express the idea Regardless of method.
We're going to be late however we travel. I hate eggs however they're cooked.
Correct.
3. To express the idea Regardless of degree.
However hard I try, I'll never understand./ I can't make ends meet, however hard I work./ My hair won't lie flat, however much I brush it.

Correct.

Most errors are of the type exemplified in the incorrect sentence in 1 above. This explanation is not exhaustive; just an overview.
When I see however used correctly my faith in humanity is restored.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
29 Jul 2012 #3
One of the many common errors that drive me nuts is the misuse of the word however

Mandy had forgotten his name but said she'd 'phone him later that day. She could not call him however. She just had to call him Mr However.

;o)
isthatu2 4 | 2,694
29 Jul 2012 #4
" There were literaly thousands of them"
No, there may have been figurativly thousands of them though.....
Bugs me.
ps, remember the OPs point about spelling....note,dyslexia is not an indicator of lack of brains.....einstein et all..... :)

Its certainly not about using big words,anyone can find those in a thesaurus as demo'd by a certain member on here who Ive long ago blocked....
OP Ziemowit 14 | 4,201
29 Jul 2012 #5
I like tea, however I don't like coffee.X Wrong

Nice examples of the uses for "however". As a non-native speaker of English, I may comment that I'd never say it that way. It certainly looks as an abuse of the word "however" in English.

In a once well-known song "Bynajmniej", Wojciech Młynarski touches a similar problem: the difficult (for some) use of "bynajmniej" in Polish. In the second verse of the song, you have the wrong use (the proper word to use there should be "właśnie"), in the fourth verse the man aptly jumps up on the "educated Polish native speaker level":

Trudno nie wspomnieć w opowiadaniu
Choćby najbardziej pobieżnym,
Że się spotkali pan ten i pani
W pociągu dalekobieżnym.
Ona - na pozór duży intelekt,
On - jakby trochę mniej,
Ona z tych, co to pragną zbyt wiele,
On szeptał jej:

Za kim to, choć go wcześniej nie znałem,
Przez ciasny peron się przepychałem?
Za Panią, bynajmniej za Panią...
Przez kogo płonę i zbaczam z trasy,
Czyniąc dopłatę do pierwszej klasy?
Przez Panią, bynajmniej przez Panią!
Byłem jak wagon na ślepym torze,
Pani zaś cichą stać mi się może
Przystanią, bynajmniej, przystanią...
Mówię, jak czuję, mówię, jak muszę,
Gdzie Pani każe - tam z chęcią ruszę
Za Panią, bynajmniej za Panią!

Ta pani tego pana męczyła
Przez cztery stacje co najmniej,
Zwłaszcza złośliwie zaś wyszydziła
Użycie słowa "bynajmniej".
A on - cóż, w końcu nie był zbyt tępy,
Cokolwiek przygasł - to fakt,
Jednak ogromne zrobił postępy,
Mówiąc jej tak:

Człowiek czasami serce otworzy.
Kto go wysłucha? Kto mu pomoże?
Nie pani, bynajmniej nie pani...
I kto, nie patrząc na tę zdania składnię,
Dojrzy, co człowiek ma w sercu na dnie?
Nie pani, bynajmniej nie pani...
Dla pani, proszę pani, wszystko jest proste:
Myśli są trzeźwe, słowa są ostre
I ranią, cholernie mnie ranią!
I wiem, że jeśli szczęście dogonię,
W cichej przystani kiedyś się schronię,
To nie z panią, bynajmniej nie z panią!


As to the other two uses, they seem fine examples of the "educated English native speaker level". If I were to express the "regardless of method" idea, I'd have probably said: "I will be late whatever way we travel" which might be ambiguous (or simply wrong) for the native speaker since by meaning "method", I might be describing "itinerary".

I would probably sound akward with the third use: My hair won't lie flat despite brushing it very much in place of "My hair won't lie flat, however much I brush it".
isthatu2 4 | 2,694
29 Jul 2012 #6
As a non-native speaker of English, I may comment that I'd never say it that way. It certainly looks as an abuse of the word "however" in English.

This is another good example of non natives thinking they know best :)
Native speakers dont get offended when someone says * A Polish death camp* its only non native speakers who get p1ssy about it and will not be told that English is a far more flexable language than most others.

If we had stuck to set rules English would look something like this;
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,

monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra

ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning!
ðæm eafera wæs æfter cenned,
geong in geardum, þone god sende
folce to frofre; fyrenðearfe ongeat

þe hie ær drugon aldorlease
lange hwile. Him þæs liffrea,
wuldres wealdend, woroldare forgeaf;
Beowulf wæs breme (blæd wide sprang),
Scyldes eafera Scedelandum in.

:)
pam
29 Jul 2012 #7
I'd say most English native speakers lack a command of this word

I certainly don't!! Double negatives really annoy me e.g I didn't see nothing, i haven't got no money.
My son left school with good qualifications, yet talks like this all the time. I have given up on correcting him.
Sad to say it is all too common in England now.
It is just very bad grammar and it drives me nuts!!
p3undone 8 | 1,126
29 Jul 2012 #8
teflcat,I like tea however,I don't like coffee.Is this not correct?
isthatu2 4 | 2,694
29 Jul 2012 #9
If someone first said to you.
" I like all hot drinks"
You could then reply as you did. If however it was a stand alone statement there is no need for the "however".

ps,see what I did there? :)
p3undone 8 | 1,126
29 Jul 2012 #10
Isthatu2,you need a comma after however,however,I understand what you're saying.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
29 Jul 2012 #11
teflcat,I like tea however,I don't like coffee.Is this not correct?

Just my thoughts, teflcat is probably more knowledgeable: I think there should be a comma after tea and however. Or possibly a semi-colon after tea.

For Polish speakers, this is nothing to do with mosquitoes! And I have been bitten in three places in the space of a 10 minute walk in my shorts.
p3undone 8 | 1,126
29 Jul 2012 #12
InWroclaw,you are correct there should be a comma;note my response to Ishatu2.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
29 Jul 2012 #13
A lot of national newspapers in the UK tend to minimise the use of commas, they call it their 'house style'. There is also a debate on whether a comma is used before 'and', I think when used it's called an Oxford comma. I am just showing off now ;o)
p3undone 8 | 1,126
29 Jul 2012 #14
InWroclaw,It's the semi colon that can be tricky.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
29 Jul 2012 #15
I know, I know; it's not something I'd use normally.
p3undone 8 | 1,126
29 Jul 2012 #16
InWroclaw,lol good usage.
pantsless 1 | 267
29 Jul 2012 #18
There is also a debate on whether a comma is used before 'and'

depends on what English (standard BrE or AmE or any other national variety) and what style manual or even in-house standard is used
Lyzko
29 Jul 2012 #19
While it cerainly is true that many foreigners have mastered English GRAMMAR as well, if not better than some English native speakers, this scarcely gives certain people the right to claim that they "know" English BETTER than an educated or even semi-educated native English speaker. That's just typical arrogance. Even Joseph Conrad may have written English stylistically like and Englishman, when he spoke English, he revealed his Polish birth in practically every sentence (so I've read), what's more, had an atrocious accent.

What I've noticed is that many out there think that because they sprinkle their English with "dude", "awesome", the f-curse and automatic buzz words, they think their English is "superior". It isn't, because it lacks the idiomatic flavor of true native English. For instance, how many use expressions such as "Don't hide your light under a bushel!", meaning "Don't be modest!" etc...??
grubas 12 | 1,382
29 Jul 2012 #20
For instance, how many use expressions such as "Don't hide your light under a bushel!", meaning "Don't be modest!" etc...??

Huh?Seiously pal I live in the US among Americans for like 8 years and I have never ever heard this expression,not even once.
p3undone 8 | 1,126
30 Jul 2012 #21
How about the expressions there's no flies on me and I've been around the block.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
30 Jul 2012 #22
Huh?Seiously pal I live in the US among Americans for like 8 years and I have never ever heard this expression,not even once.

It's very rarely used in the UK, I don't think I've heard anyone say it in about 10 years, maybe 20 other than perhaps once or twice on pretentious radio chat shows. Perhaps L was being ironic?

How about the expressions there's no flies on me and I've been around the block.

She's been around the block, more like :o)

No flies on... is pretty outdated these days.

When I was last in London (home of the Olympic Games 2012, sponsored by McDonalds and Coca Cola TM) I heard a lot of "Bu'er [butter] wouldn't melt..." and "Too right mate!" and "You are having a laugh/giraffe. Also in some quarters "No sh*t Sherlock" had caught on, and a lot of "Are you gettin; me, bruv?"
pam
30 Jul 2012 #23
Huh?Seiously pal I live in the US among Americans for like 8 years and I have never ever heard this expression,not even once.

Another one of my pet hates! Take the word " like " out of the sentence :)
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
30 Jul 2012 #24
Like he's going to do it because you tell him to, hellooooo?!
p3undone 8 | 1,126
30 Jul 2012 #25
InWroclaw,Those expressions aren't out dated where I live and around the block applies to both male and female.It originally applied to a woman but has evolved in the U.S.;I don't know about the UK.
isthatu2 4 | 2,694
30 Jul 2012 #26
As I understand it non native speakers have a seriously hard time understanding Double Entendres, even the French,ironically dont have a word for Double Entendre.....

I would agree with Lyszko to a point but I would say that someone who came to English as a second language in their childhood could probably pass for a native speaker in much the same way as my Italian/Scots Bi Lingual cousins,fluent in both languages.

Coming into English discourse having learnt from books or on a course or even through immersion as an adult you will probably always be obviously non native till the day you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Look at ,oh,whats his name,the fella from the 60s ....sounds like a buzz saw cutting through ghoulash but at the forefront of Americas political scene for decades,hardly a dummie....p3, you know who I mean mate, throw us a bone pal :)

Another one of my pet hates! Take the word " like " out of the sentence :)

I loved the Bunny ;)
Sorry, obscure Miriam Margolyes reference for Brits of a certain age :)
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
30 Jul 2012 #27
evolved in the U.S.;I don't know about the UK.

I've never heard it said of a man in London or SE England (where I'm from) but I could be wrong on that and other Brits will correct me if so, perhaps. It's not like I'm an expert or anything, however.

my Italian/Scots Bi Lingual cousins

How is Giovanni McTavish these days?
grubas 12 | 1,382
30 Jul 2012 #28
Another one of my pet hates! Take the word " like " out of the sentence :)

I hear you.I just wanted to sound,you know, like an American or something but after I read your post I was like OMG she's right.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,910
30 Jul 2012 #29
You are like sooooo going to be on her Ignore list.
isthatu2 4 | 2,694
30 Jul 2012 #30
A cynic would say to pass as a native speaker one needs to learn how to speak utter bollox from time to time with absolutly no grammatical structure.

Its like totaly random and sick innit..

Sorry, back on topic.
Im mweh at French, tended to day dream about the cute blonde I sat beside in French class, but, I do watch a lot of French movies so the smattering I can muster tends to be delivered in a gritty Paris accent. A few polite words from me and French people tend to jabber away at me for 3 minutes before realising I have no idea what they are saying :)

So, in short kids,watch lots of movies and copy the accent, do an impression,sounds mad but I saw it work in a Russian night class I attended when some people just couldnt get the pronunciation of certain words the tutor got them to do *comedy russian * ( Alexander Meercat) accents, next time they tried the genuine Russian words they were as near as spot on as anyone on a taster course is likely to get :)


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