What's new

Are there any changes in English language?

kei1980

Kouhai
Joined
Oct 31, 2015
Messages
29
Reaction score
1
Hello,
I've been studying English for about ten years. A few years ago, I had an opportunity to talk with a young American boy. And he said "I play piano" instead of "I play THE piano." And I googled " I play piano." Then I found that English language changes like Japanese language changes.
I really don't like hearing Japanese language changes. For example "~してもらっても良いですか?”instead of "~していただけますか?" That sounds stupid and uneducated. This will be correct way to say in the future though.
Now I have a question. Are there any changes in English language that irritate you?
 

mdchachi

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
476
I find text-speak irritating. Like:
how r u 2day?
 
Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
145
The use of 'literally' to mean 'figuratively' ...
That's hopefully just a passing bit of slang that will die out soon, but you never know.
 

kei1980

Kouhai
Joined
Oct 31, 2015
Messages
29
Reaction score
1
Mike Cash,
I think we have to find how to get used to them!

mdchachi,
I understand but I thoght those texts were funny.

SomecallMechri,
Sorry, my English is not enough to understand it. Does 'literally' mean 'figuratively'?
 

mdchachi

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
476
I understand but I thoght those texts were funny.
Most of the time it's not meant to be funny. It's just for communication. Of course it's understandable when we used to text via phone keyboard. But some people even type that way on computer or smartphone.

Sorry, my English is not enough to understand it. Does 'literally' mean 'figuratively'?
Literally means "really true." But people use it just for emphasis now. Like "It was so funny, I literally died."
Can you say 笑いすぎて、本当に死んでしまった?
 
Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
145
'starving' is a good example I think for literally.

Ten years ago, if you said 'I'm literally starving to death', then you would mean that you were not getting enough to eat, becoming malnourished, and in danger of dying if the situation doesn't change.

Today, "I'm literally starving to death" means "I'm feeling really hungry."

It's a bit annoying to me (and many others) because 'literally' was a word that was used almost exclusively to distinguish a metaphor or bit of hyperbole from a statement of fact.

People have said "I'm starving" or the like for decades, and used words like 'really' and 'actually' for emphasis. (Those words also originally have a meaning like 'literally' or 'in fact', and still can have that meaning but are more likely just be emphasis).

"Literally" was the last term we had in the language to clarify that something was being stated as fact if the sentence could also be heard as a metaphor. Now I suppose you'll just have to explain very carefully and avoid phrases that can be taken as metaphors.
 

mdchachi

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2003
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
476
Maybe we can introduce the double literally to solve this problem.

Literally, I am literally starving.

:roflmao:
 

Edward T.

Kouhai
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
64
Reaction score
7
Hello,
I've been studying English for about ten years. A few years ago, I had an opportunity to talk with a young American boy. And he said "I play piano" instead of "I play THE piano." And I googled " I play piano." Then I found that English language changes like Japanese language changes.
I really don't like hearing Japanese language changes. For example "~してもらっても良いですか?”instead of "~していただけますか?" That sounds stupid and uneducated. This will be correct way to say in the future though.
Now I have a question. Are there any changes in English language that irritate you?
Too many to even mention. The example you cite (I play piano) is acceptable since a piano is an object. If he were to have said "I play THE baseball" that would be confusing, because baseball is a sport/activity and does not need a "the" beforehand. If you play THE drums, or if you play drums, it's acceptable. If you run track, that's acceptable. It would sound odd to say "I run THE track" since track is a sport. It depends on the situation. If he had said "I drive car" instead of "I drive THE car" that would be unacceptable. Now, he could have said "I drive cars" in a plural sense and been correct.

The misuse of the word "that" in English is another pet peeve of mine. I have very limited understanding of Japanese and do not know if the word "that" is used often. But it is certainly overused in English.
 

Edward T.

Kouhai
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
64
Reaction score
7
See the following on usage of "the" in English. It might answer some of the questions posed before.

The definite article | English Grammar Guide

The word "the" is one of the most common words in English. It is our only definite article. Nouns in English are preceded by the definite article when the speaker believes that the listener already knows what he is referring to. The speaker may believe this for many different reasons, some of which are listed below.

WHEN TO USE "THE"
GENERAL RULES
Use the to refer to something which has already been mentioned.

EXAMPLES
  • On Monday, an unarmed man stole $1,000 from the bank. The thief hasn't been caught yet.
  • I was walking past Benny's Bakery when I decided to go into the bakery to get some bread.
  • There's a position available in my team. The job will involve some international travel.
Use the when you assume there is just one of something in that place, even if it has not been mentioned before.

EXAMPLES
  • We went on a walk in the forest yesterday.
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • Turn left and go to number 45. Our house is across from the Italian restaurant.
  • My father enjoyed the book you gave him.
Use the in sentences or clauses where you define or identify a particular person or object.
 

Majestic

先輩
Joined
Oct 12, 2013
Messages
1,693
Reaction score
668
1. Starting sentences with the word "So" (particularly when there is no other context or explanatory introduction.
2. Hyperbole, as mentioned above. Also, its annoying cousin - separating individual words with periods for (supposed) emphasis. For example: Best. Pizza. Ever.
3. Instead of writing "would have" or "could have", I see increasing use of "would of" or "could of".
4. "Just sayin'" An annoying phrase that is well past its use-by date.
 
Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
145
3. Instead of writing "would have" or "could have", I see increasing use of "would of" or "could of".
Oh, yeah. Those are just misspellings of "would've" and "could've" when people learn the words through conversation and don't realize the correct way to write them. I don't mind the actual use of the contraction, but using 'of' like that is a good way to look uneducated.
 

lincstreff

後輩
Contributor
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
108
Reaction score
47
Hi, Kei.
Yes, language is always evolving, and English is certainly changing. Sometimes the changes are so subtle that native users of the language don't even recognize them. One simple example is how the word "shall" is disappearing from American English.
One specific type of change I have been paying attention to recently (in American English, at least) is a shortening of conditional statements. This is now widespread in the world of sports.
Here's an example:
"If he had (only) caught that pass, we would have (certainly) won that game."
gets shortened to
"He catches that pass, we win the game."
Athletes, coaches, and sports commentators all regularly speak this way now when talking about events in a game that was just concluded.
But the usage is not limited to sports. I have seen it in other places, including in judicial opinions.
For example:
"I am a woman, I am offended by that."
is a shorthand form of
"If I were a woman, I would be offended by that."
I don't think this manner of speaking has quite caught on with the general public yet, but because sports has such a huge influence on the culture, I think it is a strong possibility that this kind of shorthand could become widespread, and maybe even far in the future become standard English.
One thing that would help the spread is that it is efficient: sentences are much shorter. That is sometimes a factor in how languages change.

Finally, Kei, I am curious about the example you gave for Japanese. As a non-native speaker who started studying the language well into my adult years, I have never developed good instincts for recognizing errors in Japanese. The example you gave: "~していただけますか?" actually sounds fine to me. I would be curious to know what you see is wrong or substandard about it. Cheers.
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2014
Messages
614
Reaction score
147
Hi, Kei.
The example you gave: "~していただけますか?" actually sounds fine to me. I would be curious to know what you see is wrong or substandard about it. Cheers.
Actually keiさん gave "~してもらっても良いですか?” as an example of an irritating transformation of "~していただけますか?" So i guess you'd better ask what is substandard about the former.
 

lincstreff

後輩
Contributor
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
108
Reaction score
47
Whoops. Thanks for catching that.
Yes, I'd like to revise my question accordingly.
 

kei1980

Kouhai
Joined
Oct 31, 2015
Messages
29
Reaction score
1
Hello!
I'm glad I got so many replies. It's very very interesting. Thank you!
Maybe we can introduce the double literally to solve this problem.

Literally, I am literally starving.


:roflmao:
It sounds like Japanese people say "I'm dieing." when we are very tired.:D

Edward T.
I see. "play piano" is acceptable but you don't like it do you?!
The definite article and the indefinite article are difficult for Japanese. What about "an idea"? It's not a object.

Lincstreff,
Since I'm not a specialist, it's very difficult to say.
"~してもらってもいいですか?" is supposed to say very politely. "もらって(もらう)" is informal way to say "to get".
So, these combination sounds like a small kid is trying to behave an adult. If you goolge, you can find many people are complaining about it.
 

Edward T.

Kouhai
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
64
Reaction score
7
Hello!
I'm glad I got so many replies. It's very very interesting. Thank you!

It sounds like Japanese people say "I'm dieing." when we are very tired.:D

Edward T.
I see. "play piano" is acceptable but you don't like it do you?!
The definite article and the indefinite article are difficult for Japanese. What about "an idea"? It's not a object.
No, I do not like it. A number of factors have caused a deterioration in the use of English during the past 30-40 years. "I have an idea" is different than "I play piano" in that an idea is, technically, not an object. You could say "I like the idea" as easily as "I play the piano" and be correct in English. If you say "I own a piano" and "I have an idea" the words "own" and "have" indicate a similar meaning, but they are also vastly different. I know it's difficult to understand. I majored in English and journalism in college years ago, and much of what I learned in that era is different today. The usage of many words (not to mention punctuation rules) in English seem to change by the decade, and not always for the best. I agree with you 100 percent.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Reaction score
2,233
I think we have to find how to get used to them!
Fortunately, I don't have to get used to them. I'm not around any other English speakers and, except for the internet, I almost never use English. That's probably the reason I notice some changes and find them annoying. If I were around English speakers more then I probably wouldn't notice these gradual changes.

My exposure to English comes from 1)this forum, 2) podcasts, and 3) occasional telephone calls to my mother.

The use of 'literally' to mean 'figuratively' ...
That's hopefully just a passing bit of slang that will die out soon
That's not a recent thing. I'm 50 and it was prevalent when I was a kid. It isn't going anywhere.

1. Starting sentences with the word "So" (particularly when there is no other context or explanatory introduction.
Thanks to a post a few months ago on this topic, I first started noticing this quirk. It is incredibly annoying.

Others:

1a. The "vocal fry" epidemic. Everybody sounds like a bunch of croaking toads.

1b. The "running out of air" too-cool-for-the-room disaffected affectation. Pretty much always found in conjunction with vocal fry. It is as though people run out of air 3/4 of the way through their sentences and they just just let everything trail off and disappear into a breathless, inaudible croak. If you don't care enough to maintain the volume through your entire sentence, then I don't care enough to listen to it.

2. People who punctuate their speech with tooth-sucking sounds. It makes me think I'm watching a Victor Borge punctuation sketch.


3. The rapid disappearance of the indefinite articles a/an from speech. Has no one else noticed that many English speakers almost universally replace a/an with this/these? It goes beyond merely annoying to being distracting. By way of example, an extract from a post of a few months ago:

i met this guy who asked me where is the nearest park, so we talk and while on our way outside the mcdonalds, we met this girl who stop us and was traveling, she got stuck there and she connected with this lady who was there sleeping. Lucky, the lady knew the area and showed us this other spot to go too. we hang out and talk all night at this noodle shop.

Imagine if Japanese speakers indiscriminately inserted 例の or とある in front of every noun. That's what it sounds like when I'm listening to it in English. I recently subscribed to a new podcast, Embedded, and while it seems to be a well-produced and interesting show, in the middle of the first episode I was already contemplating unsubscribing. Why? The host has the (typical for NPR) vocal fry and the this/these habit.

4. "Try and {verb}" instead of "try to {verb}". Don't believe it is wrong? Try the construction in different tenses and see if you maintain "and" instead of "to".

5. "If I would of/have...." instead of "If I had...."

6. Misuse of past perfect tense as some sort of hypercorrect or formal past tense. When I hear past perfect tense, I expect there to be reference to TWO past events....not ONE.

7. The "down the rabbit hole" expression. Somebody please dynamite the rabbit hole.

8. Inability to distinguish between nominative and objective case pronoun use. I get so tired of hearing ignoramuses say things like "to he and I" for "for her and I".

9. Using "whenever" as a universal substitute for "when".

10. "Yeah, no" or "No, yeah". Eff you, pick one!!!.

11. Textspeak.

12. The surreal political correctness inspired phenomenon of mixing of register in vulgar conversations. Plenty of bawdy slang you wouldn't use of front of your grandmother referencing sex acts and male genitalia....interspersed with "vagina" throughout. All one or all the other, please. Clean it all up or nasty it all up.
 

Majestic

先輩
Joined
Oct 12, 2013
Messages
1,693
Reaction score
668
So, these combination sounds like a small kid is trying to behave an adult. If you goolge, you can find many people are complaining about it.
Let me have a crack at this. As with many things, it comes down to the expression of humility.

The phrase してもらっても良いですか makes the mistake of using the verb もらう, which can be neutral, but it can also indicate a hierarchical relationship.

In normal adult conversation, if one is asking for a favor, one would be sensitive to the effort required to fulfill the favor, and so this effort would be acknowledged through the use of a suitably humble verb (most likely いただく or くれる/くださる). The choice of いただく shows that the speaker is aware of the effort imposed on listener. It also implies the speaker is humbled by receiving such a favor. It is an expression that shows deference to the listener or the performer of the task.

もらう is simply "to get". There is no humility implicit in the verb, and, depending upon the situation this omission of humility can make the speaker sound superior.
~してくれた Someone did something (for me). Someone did (me) a favor
~してもらった Someone performed a task (because I asked/instructed/commanded them to)
In the second choice, there is no ambiguity about the hierarchy. This lack of deference may be taken as vaguely insulting if used in the context of asking for a favor (as if the speaker is entitled to the favor he or she is requesting). In the case in question, the speaker tries to ameliorate this effect by adding on っても良いですか? but the verb is the linchpin of the sentence, so while the friendly intentions of っても良いですか? may be noted, the error has already been committed by the use of the verb もらう.

Note this usage is fine among friends who are asking for very petty favors (eg. Hold my phone while I tie my shoe).

As kids gradually become aware of social hierarchies, they become more facile with the language (and perhaps vice-versa). This is why the use of もらっても良いですが? make the user sound somewhat juvenile, clueless, or lacking in manners.
 

johnnyG

先輩
Joined
Dec 23, 2010
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
289
You could start here:


...and then work your way thru the series. Some of it is dated, but other parts are still fine. I used to teach a class & use this series as a supplement (英語史), up till maybe 12-15 yrs ago.

Also, look up what Braj Kachru (and wife Yamuna) has written on world englishes (one of my profs way back in the 70s).
 

madphysicist

先輩
Joined
Aug 20, 2015
Messages
341
Reaction score
131
Everyone has some words or expressions or "mistakes" that annoy them, although often these are just regional variants. It grates on my ears when someone says "me either" rather than "me neither", or tells me "I could care less" (that means you care!), but it hardly seems worth criticising someone for saying it the same way as everyone around them.

What annoys me most is people who are constantly correcting others or who use regional or class variants as a reason to ignore the content of what someone's saying. Some people have the idea that dialects spoken by specific ethnic or regional groups are a sign that someone is "less educated" or just "can't speak correct English". Well, in fact each dialect has its own rules and grammar that mean you can determine whether a sentence is correct or not in terms of this dialect. It's not just arbitrarily incorrect English, unlike somebody accidentally writing "would of" in what's supposed to be standard English.
 

tomoni

先輩
Joined
Apr 15, 2014
Messages
181
Reaction score
68
This is an interesting thread. I think that we have seen examples of changes as well as commonly made errors (that I would suggest are still errors rather than changes). For example, I do not know any case that could of would be considered correct alternative to could have. One change that used to bother me is shift in the writing of dates (started I think in the US, and spread globally by MS Office.) from May 25, 2015 to May 25th, 2015.

But language changes as the language conventions so who's to argue with progress. I think we'll see more resistance as English gets more more internationalized and international English is begin have more impact on what's considered "correct" English.

I believe that the native speaker of English, is losing the monopoly on the English language and since English has really become the lingua franca, other (non-native) user of English will begin to shape the usage of English. Consequently, I think we will see English change even more.
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
16,454
Reaction score
2,233
13. Actually, I actually knew I would actually probably actually forget to actually mention actually at least a couple of things, actually.

14, Obviously, I actually intended to actually include the actual misuse of "obviously" to actually mean "naturally" or "as you would expect" instead of actually referring to something which is actually obvious.

I really don't think I could ever stand to live in America again, if for no other reason than all the annoying English quirks that would then be inescapable.
 

madphysicist

先輩
Joined
Aug 20, 2015
Messages
341
Reaction score
131
I really don't think I could ever stand to live in America again, if for no other reason than all the annoying English quirks that would then be inescapable.
What's even worse is when you find yourself accidentally doing these things that annoy you so much. I kind of hate the "would you do it already!" type of expression because "already" should refer to an action in the past. But sometimes I find myself using it now and I cringe on my own behalf.

I'm sure I have committed a good 4 or 5 of the sins on your list without even knowing it.

I believe that the native speaker of English, is losing the monopoly on the English language and since English has really become the lingua franca, other (non-native) user of English will begin to shape the usage of English. Consequently, I think we will see English change even more.
For a while now I have been picking up mistakes from my friends because I so rarely talk to native English speakers any more.

e.g. when we go to the canteen and my friends ask me "What will you take?" instead of "What will you have?" because it's a direct translation from their own language (maybe this sounds correct to some native English speakers? but not to my knowledge). Now I keep saying ""What will you take?" and I always call the canteen the "mensa" because that's what it's called in nearly every European country. People from the UK and other English-speaking countries think "Mensa" is just the special club for people who need to show off their IQ. This has led to many confusing conversations.
 
Last edited:
Top