Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

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Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby loqu » 2014-07-18, 23:20

I've been thinking today about this.

There are some aspects in the established normative of Spanish that I consciously disobey, because I find them unfair or just plain wrong.

I guess most of you guys do that as well in your mother tongues or in some other languages you may master. So which are the aspects of your language where you decide to contravene the "rules"?

And I don't mean rules you don't know or you don't care about. I mean rules you actively and purposefully break. Let me put an example:

Old rule: Don't say I could care less, say I couldn't care less.
Descriptivist thinking: But people say quite often I could care less so from a descriptivist POV it's legit.
Action: I'm gonna say I could care less from now on.

So, have you followed this reasoning and for which rules?
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-07-19, 2:02

I'm just going to talk about two examples in English I can remember off the top of my head here.

I think I do that with "if _____ were" where the subject in that clause is 1SG or 3SG; instead, I say "if ______ was."

I'm also finding that the probability of me saying things like "me and X," "me, X, and Y," etc. in subject position (instead of "X and I," "X, Y, and I," etc.) is increasing.

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-19, 2:27

Double modals and double contractions. E.g. "I might could" and "I wouldn't've".

ETA:
vijayjohn wrote:I'm also finding that the probability of me saying things like "me and X," "me, X, and Y," etc. in subject position (instead of "X and I," "X, Y, and I," etc.) is increasing.

Oh, totes. I'll even make both pronouns disjunctive, e.g. "Me and him're goin' too."
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Johanna » 2014-07-19, 3:56

Online I use some short forms that are seen as colloquial, or sometimes downright wrong, for example "sen" instead of "sedan" (colloquial) or "nåt" instead of "något" (wrong). Everyone says these words the short way though.

I'm also a fan of the new 3rd person singular gender neutral pronoun "hen" that most Swedes seem to hate.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby kevin » 2014-07-19, 9:24

I think most of the cases where I break the rules are dialectal influences that I don't care too much about and not because I actively decided to break them. And in the dialect, there are no clear rules like this, so it's hard to break them (and I think I tend to take a somewhat prescriptivist view on it anyway because the changes are usually just assimilating it to the standard language).

So what's left is the written language. I still refuse to write some words as they are supposed to be written after the spelling reform of 1996 because they just look stupid or wrong, but since most of the really stupid rules were taken back or made optional until 2006, I eventually gave up the old spelling and switched to something quite close to the reformed spelling a bit more than five years ago.

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-07-19, 10:21

There's just one thing - I never write (or say) "an historic" as a lot of people do, always "a historic". I mean, if you aspirate the "h" there then it's a consonant, why would you spell it (or worse, pronounce it) with an "an" rather than "a"? :?

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-19, 10:30

In French I can't accept the fact that's it's actually "un" haltère, most people say "une" haltère" so I decided to go with the feminine gender. Also, the word "chronophage" doesn't "exist" but I decided to use it anyway.

But there are cases where I'm more troubled like "malgré que" which is wrong from a prescriptivist POV but several famous writers have used it.

There's also "la voiture à Julien" which should be "la voiture de Julien" from a prescriptivist POV. Or "pallier à un problème" instead of "pallier un problème".

"Si je t'aurais aidé" instead of "Si je t'avais aidé" is another example.

I tend to avoid these forms because I don't want people to think that I don't know the "rules" but if I were a teacher I wouldn't consider them mistakes if my students wrote them.

In English I split infinitives but I don't know if people are still offended by this nowadays. Also, I don't care about the distinction between "less" and "fewer".

I like this video, it sums up my opinion about language pretty well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY


Also, this thread reminds me of a talk I had to give in a French language class about a topic of our choice. I picked prescriptivism vs descriptivism and I talked about diglossia in Arabic countries, languages evolving (French isn't Latin anymore for a reason), etc...

At the end my teacher said "No, no! We need prescriptivism because there are children who don't understand what you're saying sometimes". I assume she was talking about kids from bilingual families (often migrants) who have poor language skills in French. She was off-topic but I didn't want to point it out to her. She didn't give me a good mark, by the way. :roll:
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby loqu » 2014-07-19, 11:05

Marah wrote:There's also "la voiture à Julien" which should be "la voiture de Julien" from a prescriptivist POV.

What? I mean, every book of French as a second language I've seen, teaches la voiture à Julien, while la voiture de Julien is news to me :o I had no idea about that.

Marah wrote:I tend to avoid these forms because I don't want people to think that I don't know the "rules" but if I were a teacher I wouldn't consider them mistakes if my students wrote them.

Which means given the situation you'd become a prescriptivist, right? :P

Marah wrote:Also, this thread reminds me of a talk I had to give in a French language class about a topic of our choice. I picked prescriptivism vs descriptivism and I talked about diglossia in Arabic countries, languages evolving (French isn't Latin anymore for a reason), etc...

At the end my teacher said "No, no! We need prescriptivism because there are children who don't understand what you're saying sometimes". I assume she was talking about kids from bilingual families (often migrants) who have poor language skills in French. She was off-topic but I didn't want to point it out to her. She didn't give me a good mark, by the way. :roll:

You should have pointed it out to her, given the result :lol: Too sad that teachers are like that.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-19, 11:38

Came across one just last night in a book I was reading: A child uses can to ask permission and is corrected to may. I had my fill of that when I was younger, so now I defiantly use can. (Not that I ask permission of anyone much any more.)

And I also use less with count nouns. If it was good enough for Alfred the Great, it's good enough for me.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-19, 12:00

loqu wrote:What? I mean, every book of French as a second language I've seen, teaches la voiture à Julien, while la voiture de Julien is news to me I had no idea about that.

http://www.francaisfacile.com/exercices ... s-3219.php
Apparently the rule is that if both elements are nouns it should be "de".

Which means given the situation you'd become a prescriptivist, right? :P

Well, if I don't consider them mistakes but I just avoid using them in certain contexts I think I'm still a descriptivist, aren't I?

You should have pointed it out to her, given the result :lol: Too sad that teachers are like that.

I know, right? It's one of my biggest regrets this year. :P
Needless to say that our relationship changed after this, she used to appreciate me but after my talk on descriptivism she was constantly on my back... :roll:

linguoboy wrote:Came across one just last night in a book I was reading: A child uses can to ask permission and is corrected to may. I had my fill of that when I was younger, so now I defiantly use can. (Not that I ask permission of anyone much any more.)

This distinction is still taught to us at University. I know what the difference is full well, but I think I still use "can" a lot more, out of habit. I hope it didn't take off points from me...
Par exemple, l'enfant croit au Père Noël. L'adulte non. L'adulte ne croit pas au Père Noël. Il vote.

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-07-20, 17:55

loqu wrote:What? I mean, every book of French as a second language I've seen, teaches la voiture à Julien, while la voiture de Julien is news to me :o I had no idea about that.

To mean 'Julien's car'? I've never seen anything like la voiture à Julien in a textbook for teaching French (in all likelihood, I've never seen them cover such constructions at all) and would have guessed the form with de. :hmm:

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby JackFrost » 2014-07-20, 18:48

To mean 'Julien's car'? I've never seen anything like la voiture à Julien in a textbook for teaching French (in all likelihood, I've never seen them cover such constructions at all) and would have guessed the form with de. :hmm:

It's very common in the colloquial speech, so of course you won't find it in standard books.

I use that construction without any qualm. [flag=]fr-qc[/flag]

Anyway, as for the topic, I speak and write in a well-known French dialect very often, so I don't think I need to explain much. Do I? Like, I say "que ça vale" instead of the standard "que ça vaille" because I can't really accept that "valoir" and "prévaloir" can have different forms in the present subjunctive.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-07-20, 19:01

JackFrost wrote:It's very common in the colloquial speech, so of course you won't find it in standard books.

loqu wrote:I mean, every book of French as a second language I've seen, teaches la voiture à Julien

:ohwell: :lol:

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Saim » 2014-07-20, 19:28

In Catalan I tend to be a bit more puristic than in other languages, because all the influence is coming form one source (i.e. Spanish) that is also displacing it in some areas. However, there are some words that people see as "incorrect" but are just non-prestigious forms that have nothing to do with Spanish, for example I tend to pluralise things that in colloquial Catalan are often pluralised but are not admitted into the standard (hi han prous cotxes, tinc forces exemples). I also like the the use of the nominative I as the indirect object even though this is only present in the Balearics (a jo m'agrada instead of a mi m'agrada).

In English, Spanish and Serbo-Croatian, my mentality is that of anything goes. I was taught in Serbo-Croatian that you can't form the future tense with auxiliary + conjunction + present (ja ću da idem), and that it can only be expressed as auxiliary + infinitive (ja ću ići). But I'm almost proud of consistently breaking that rule in colloquial speech, just as most Serbs at least form Serbia do unconsciously. I don't see the problem with it is, because other instances of this that would sound very weird in Croatian or Slovene are now part of the Serbian standard, and ultimately all this "overuse" or "abuse" of the conjunction da comes from the same place (i.e. the Balkan sprachbund) - I thus find it arbitrary to accept some of these forms and not others.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Dormouse559 » 2014-07-20, 19:30

On "la voiture à Julien", I don't know if I've seen in a textbook before, but it certainly doesn't sound odd to me. I wouldn't have realized it was non-standard. I mean, you can say "Cette voiture est à Julien", so why not nominalize it?
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Johanna » 2014-07-20, 19:54

Dormouse559 wrote:On "la voiture à Julien", I don't know if I've seen in a textbook before, but it certainly doesn't sound odd to me. I wouldn't have realized it was non-standard. I mean, you can say "Cette voiture est à Julien", so why not nominalize it?

I haven't seen it before to my knowledge, and I was most definitely taught 'la voiture de Julien', but the moment I saw in this thread it I understood it perfectly and it looks quite natural to me.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby loqu » 2014-07-20, 21:21

Saim wrote:In Catalan I tend to be a bit more puristic than in other languages, because all the influence is coming form one source (i.e. Spanish) that is also displacing it in some areas. However, there are some words that people see as "incorrect" but are just non-prestigious forms that have nothing to do with Spanish, for example I tend to pluralise things that in colloquial Catalan are often pluralised but are not admitted into the standard (hi han prous cotxes, tinc forces exemples). I also like the the use of the nominative I as the indirect object even though this is only present in the Balearics (a jo m'agrada instead of a mi m'agrada).

That example you just mentioned is a quite tricky one. There's an essay by Professor Abelard Saragossà explaining why it is totally legitimate and genuine to pluralize the verb haver-hi (hui hi han molts cotxes aparcats, però ahir no n'hi hagueren tants). And it turns out that it has been condemned because of some old books on Spanish grammar for Catalans from the 19th century. He means that there are too many grammar taboos in Catalan that haven't been properly explained. If you're interested in that essay I can find it for you.

About prous, forces, masses - they sound horrible :P but I wouldn't be surprised if they got accepted into the standard, since they are Barcelonese speak. None of them is pluralized in Valencia (força is not even used there).

In Spanish, I'm trying to get the mentality that anything goes - except Anglicisms (I'm so fed up of my hipster friends inserting avoidable Anglicisms in conversation - and they are not only Anglicisms, but Valleyspeak cues like whatever! :cry: ). But I've become an activist in certain aspects of the language. For example, the vernacular usage of Western Andalusia when it comes to the 2nd person plural. Why must ustedes venís be condemned while we accept any pronoun distortion coming from Castile, most notably leísmo? It gets me out of my mind. I also defend the personalized usage of haber in plural, like people have always done in my area (aquí habemos muchos interesados - this is parallel to the pluralizing of haver-hi in Catalan). And at least at an oral, colloquial level, I say t'ha visto instead of te he visto (vowel shift) because that's how all my family has always spoken. When people don't understand me I just add the pronoun, *yo* t'ha visto.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Levike » 2014-07-20, 21:41

In Romanian: I continue = Eu continui and Eu continuu

Even though the first one became official, I prefer using the second one.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-20, 21:58

Saim wrote:In Catalan I tend to be a bit more puristic than in other languages, because all the influence is coming form one source (i.e. Spanish)

Rossellonés is dead already? :mrgreen:
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby JackFrost » 2014-07-20, 22:56

vijayjohn wrote:
JackFrost wrote:It's very common in the colloquial speech, so of course you won't find it in standard books.

loqu wrote:I mean, every book of French as a second language I've seen, teaches la voiture à Julien

:ohwell: :lol:

Yes. And?

I daresay he's mistaken or is remembering something else.
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