Does it sound right?

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Woods
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Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2020-10-28, 7:40

"the one that" - referring to an uncountable noun?

"Listen to the advice that pisses you off, not to the one that makes you happy."

Can this be said?
Last edited by Woods on 2021-01-13, 21:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "the one that" - referring to an uncountable noun?

Postby linguoboy » 2020-10-28, 9:29

Woods wrote:"Listen to the advice that pisses you off, not to the one that makes you happy."

Can this be said?

Sure it can. It’s confusing, though, since “the one” sounds like it refers to a person giving the advice, not the advice itself.

The more idiomatic way to phrase this world be “…not (just) what makes you happy.” The clearest way to phrase it would be simply to repeat “advice”.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: "the one that" - referring to an uncountable noun?

Postby Woods » 2020-10-28, 10:46

linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:"Listen to the advice that pisses you off, not to the one that makes you happy."

Can this be said?

Sure it can. It’s confusing, though, since “the one” sounds like it refers to a person giving the advice, not the advice itself.

The more idiomatic way to phrase this world be “…not (just) what makes you happy.” The clearest way to phrase it would be simply to repeat “advice”.

Thanks :)

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-13, 21:20

less of + plural ?

It makes them feel less of losers. - Is that okay English?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-14, 3:46

Woods wrote:less of + plural ?

It makes them feel less of losers. - Is that okay English?

I would say it's fine in colloquial English, but I'm not sure it works in a higher register. It's odd because "less of a loser" works in any register (well, "loser" is rather colloquial, but replace this with, say, "soldier" and you could use it anywhere) but I can't think of an corresponding plural form that does. I'd be inclined to substitute "less like losers".
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-14, 11:51

linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:less of + plural ?

It makes them feel less of losers. - Is that okay English?

I would say it's fine in colloquial English, but I'm not sure it works in a higher register. It's odd because "less of a loser" works in any register (well, "loser" is rather colloquial, but replace this with, say, "soldier" and you could use it anywhere) but I can't think of an corresponding plural form that does. I'd be inclined to substitute "less like losers".

Thanks :P

Well, the text mixes all registers from the most upper-class to the lowest kind of slang. But if it's totally non-idiomatical and it's the first time you see it as a construction, maybe it's a bad idea?

"Less like losers" is slightly different cause it focuses more on them feeling like losers, whereas the author wants to put the emphasis on them being it.

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-14, 16:30

Woods wrote:Well, the text mixes all registers from the most upper-class to the lowest kind of slang. But if it's totally non-idiomatical and it's the first time you see it as a construction, maybe it's a bad idea?

I don't know if it's the first time I've seen it, but it's definitely not the first time I've heard it, which is why I say it'd be fine in a colloquial register. (There's a number of constructions like that which I probably hear almost every day but look odd if I ever write them down. A good example is "Did you used to go there?" Neither that or "Did you use to go there?" looks quite right, but I use that construction all the time in speech.)
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-15, 0:20

lingoboy wrote: A good example is "Did you used to go there?"

Well, that one is pretty horrible!

If you compare it to that, I definitely shouldn't use it :)

Have you heard this and my phrase from natives?

"Did you use to go there" sounds right to me though - is it not very good? Is there a better way of saying it?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-15, 0:57

Woods wrote:
lingoboy wrote: A good example is "Did you used to go there?"

Well, that one is pretty horrible!

If you compare it to that, I definitely shouldn't use it :)

Have you heard this and my phrase from natives?

"Did you use to go there" sounds right to me though - is it not very good? Is there a better way of saying it?

This gets complicated, because used to is in the process of being grammaticalised. When used to express habituality, it's not pronounced the same as it is otherwise (such as in this very sentence). That is:

This is the knife I used to slice the cheese. It needs washed.
This is the knife I used to slice with. Now it's only good for stabbing.

do not sound the same in my dialect (or in the English of most other fluent speakers I know). In my speech, the first is approximately [ˈjʉʊ̯zd̥tə] and the second is [ˈjʉʊ̯stə]. And this is true regardless of its position in the sentence. That is:

I [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there. Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?

Since they have the exact same pronunciation, it would make sense to use the same spelling. But using an what looks like a marked past tense form after did violates basic principles of English grammar and orthography, so it looks all wrong. But the spelling use to doesn't look better because it suggests the pronunciation [ˈjʉʊ̯zˈtʉʊ̯], which would be absolutely jarring in this context. There simply is no good solution. (Using an innovative spelling such as usta--similar to hafta, coulda, etc.--would work, but no one does this yet so it looks worse than the other alternatives.)

So my point is there are a lot of things fluent speakers say that aren't frequently written or don't have widely-accepted conventional written forms. When reproducing colloquial speech, speakers will vacillate between different possibilities, and may avoid using them at all. (Like I might just right "Did you got there too back in the day?" or something in order not to have find a solution for how to write [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] here.)
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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby Woods » 2021-01-17, 11:55

linguoboy wrote:This gets complicated, because used to is in the process of being grammaticalised. When used to express habituality, it's not pronounced the same as it is otherwise (such as in this very sentence). That is:

This is the knife I used to slice the cheese. It needs washed.
This is the knife I used to slice with. Now it's only good for stabbing.

do not sound the same in my dialect (or in the English of most other fluent speakers I know). In my speech, the first is approximately [ˈjʉʊ̯zd̥tə] and the second is [ˈjʉʊ̯stə]. And this is true regardless of its position in the sentence. That is:

I [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there. Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?

Since they have the exact same pronunciation, it would make sense to use the same spelling. But using an what looks like a marked past tense form after did violates basic principles of English grammar and orthography, so it looks all wrong. But the spelling use to doesn't look better because it suggests the pronunciation [ˈjʉʊ̯zˈtʉʊ̯], which would be absolutely jarring in this context.

That's a very interesting observation, I wouldn't have noticed the difference! I probably would have voiced the "s" if there was a vowel after it ("I used it"), but pronounced both as with an unvoiced /s/ whether it's the knife I used to slice a piece with or the one I used to slice with. I guess I assimilate everything with the following "t" (when used to...).

Also I would've assimilated the voice behind the "s" into the "t" in the past: "Did you use to go there" (Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there). Maybe if I say "This is the knife I use to slice the cheese", I could put some voice behind the "s" is I say it slowly or emphasise it, but if I say it fast probably not. Would you?

But after all, isn't the pronunciation supposed to follow the grammar and not vice-versa? So shouldn't we just write "Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?" as "Did you use to go there" and let the speaker pronounce in the way that's most natural to them? After all both "used to" (the thing I used to do that with) and "used to" (do something) come from the same place, and are the same word - why would we adapt grammar to match its two divergent pronunciations?

When you're saying that "used to" is in the process of being grammaticalised, does that mean that it wasn't very common to use it in any other forms than a basic affirmative?

By the way, I just noticed you write the -ise verbs with the British ending even though you are from the US - is there a reason for that or is it your personal preference?

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Re: Does it sound right?

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-17, 18:12

Woods wrote:Also I would've assimilated the voice behind the "s" into the "t" in the past: "Did you use to go there" (Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there). Maybe if I say "This is the knife I use to slice the cheese", I could put some voice behind the "s" is I say it slowly or emphasise it, but if I say it fast probably not. Would you?

I might, but there's still a difference in the length of the stressed vowel. So simple past used to and non-past use to fall together, but both remain distinct from past habitual used to.

Woods wrote:But after all, isn't the pronunciation supposed to follow the grammar and not vice-versa?

The point is that the underlying grammar is changing, and the pronunciation reflects that. The problem is that we have (in careful speech) three different pronunciations but only two conventional spellings to choose from.

Woods wrote:So shouldn't we just write "Did you [ˈjʉʊ̯stə] go there too?" as "Did you use to go there" and let the speaker pronounce in the way that's most natural to them? After all both "used to" (the thing I used to do that with) and "used to" (do something) come from the same place, and are the same word - why would we adapt grammar to match its two divergent pronunciations?

That's begging the question. The divergent pronunciations suggest that we are, in fact, not dealing with "the same word". Habitual use to clearly originates in a combination of use and to, but it doesn't have the same meaning as other collocations of use and to, and that is reflected in the pronunciation.

Woods wrote:When you're saying that "used to" is in the process of being grammaticalised, does that mean that it wasn't very common to use it in any other forms than a basic affirmative?

Whether it was or not, I'm using "grammaticalise" as a term of art specific to linguistics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammaticalization.

Used to has some features in common with the class of modal verbs in English, despite the fact that it expresses aspect and not modality. It's not a true modal, however, since it can't be used interrogatively without do-support. (I.e. *"Used he to live here?") Its usage most closely resembles that of have to/got to/have got to, which has largely ousted the true modal must in colloquial speech. It probably makes the most sense to class it as an aspectual construction in which use plays the role of an auxiliary verb. (For a bit more on this construction and its usage, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_markers_of_habitual_aspect#Used_to.)

Woods wrote:By the way, I just noticed you write the -ise verbs with the British ending even though you are from the US - is there a reason for that or is it your personal preference?

Personal preference.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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