Questions about english language

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Spirou003
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Questions about english language

Post by Spirou003 »

As you maybe know, english is not my native language. My background in english is two years of learning the very basics 12-13 years ago, and based on that, the only english I did read/wrote since 10 years is dedicated to mathematics and informatics. I'm confronted to something else only from a few months now. That makes me often fall in a situations where "OK, I want to say that. How could I do in english?" And fore sure, I sometimes make bad translations that can change the meaning of what I say (that's a pity) and it becomes worse when I don't fully understand the answer (that's a problem). That's why I would want to ask you sometimes things about it, if you're ok to give me responses :)

1) When I want to speak about a person but for whom I don't know the gender, should I use "it" instead of "she" or "he"? (And similar for his/her/its, etc)
2) In french, there is a word to reflect the following idea. Let's say I affirm that something is true. You answer "No, that's false". To that, in french, I can reply with something like "<single word to oppose to your negative position and to recall the affirmative one> because blablabla". Does a similar word exist in english? Or should I in this situation use a form like "I'm sorry but you're wrong because blablabla"? All searches I did were unsuccessfull, because that french word is "si", which is also used for conditionnals and is then the french "if"...
3) Let's say you buy a new house and want to live in your new house. Actually the english expression I know is "to move house". Is there a better expression or verb for that?
4) What's the difference between home and house? (If somebody also speaks dutch, are the correspondences [home <-> thuis] and [house <-> huis] corrects? If yes, no need to answer this point)
5) When you sit in a "not-so-good" position which causes obstruction of some blood vessel, after a short moment you temporarily have a sensation which is uncomfortable but sometimes funny (and if you stay too long you lose sensations in that part of the body or even the control but that's rare). How do you call it when this sensation is weak enough to allow you doing everything as usual? And when it's strong enough let's say to put your foot on the ground?

Edit: I probably won't be able to read your responses before wednesday
I'm learning english, thus when there is any mistake or weird word/sentence, feel free to tell me it!
Tackleberry
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Tackleberry »

As this is a mainly an American English speaking forum it is quite hard to understand as an English English speaking bloke!!
There’s a lot words that get lost in translation!!!
I used to travel into Belgium (pre lockdown -(Adinkerke) quite regularly via P&O, Dover - Calais 8)
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Jim
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Jim »

As one who has spoken English over 65 years and a home school teacher, here are my opinions. Thanks for asking; this was fun.

1) In English the historical formal pronoun is "he/him" for one whose sex is "unknown or immaterial". Many now consider this sexist and use the formerly incorrect plural "they/them".

2) I'd use "Yes, because..."

3) Most people just use "move" without an object to talk about moving to a new dwelling.

4) "Home" speaks about someone dwelling there, "house" is a building (occupied or not). The real estate business uses this incorrectly all the time.

5) One says a part of the body "feels numb" or "fell asleep". More adjectives or more description is used to indicate how strong this feeling was.
Last edited by Jim on Sat Aug 15, 2020 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Freefrom
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Freefrom »

Hi Spirou003,
Personally I am a stickler for grammar. Nevertheless your written words are totally understandable. Might I encourage you not to fret over detail and that you continue practicing the master of my 'mother tongue' ?
I wholeley respect your effort.'
rode_kater
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by rode_kater »

Actually, singular they is quite old. From wikipedia:
The singular they emerged by the 14th century, about a century after the plural they. It has been commonly employed in everyday English ever since then and has gained currency in official contexts. Singular they has been criticised since the mid-18th century by prescriptive commentators who consider it an error. Its continued use in modern standard English has become more common and formally accepted with the change toward gender-neutral language, though many style guides continue to describe it as colloquial and less appropriate in formal writing.
In other words, for a long time people considered it normal, then it was bad, and now it's back again. I actually prefer it in situations where I honestly don't know the gender (which on the internet is not uncommon).
pelmut
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by pelmut »

Spirou003 wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 6:52 pm
1) When I want to speak about a person but for whom I don't know the gender, should I use "it" instead of "she" or "he"? (And similar for his/her/its, etc)
"It" is used for objects but not for people.  The word "they" is the correct word but it is sometimes misunderstood by people who incorrectly believe it can only be plural.
2) In french, there is a word to reflect the following idea. Let's say I affirm that something is true. You answer "No, that's false". To that, in french, I can reply with something like "<single word to oppose to your negative position and to recall the affirmative one> because blablabla". Does a similar word exist in english? Or should I in this situation use a form like "I'm sorry but you're wrong because blablabla"? All searches I did were unsuccessfull, because that french word is "si", which is also used for conditionnals and is then the french "if"...
There doesn't appear to be an equivalent to "si" in English.  The meaning can conveyed in speech by the word "Yes", said more slowly and emphatically.  Your phrase "I'm sorry but..." is a very good and very English way of conveying any sort of disagreement.  I have heard English people use the French Au contraire, but this is unusual and it could be seen as a way of boasting that you are more educated than the other person because you speak French.
3) Let's say you buy a new house and want to live in your new house. Actually the english expression I know is "to move house". Is there a better expression or verb for that?
Not really.  I might say "I shall be moving next month" or "I'm moving in on Monday".  The term "relocate" has a wider meaning which includes moving the whole family to another district because of a change of job, rather than just going from one house to another.
4) What's the difference between home and house? (If somebody also speaks dutch, are the correspondences [home <-> thuis] and [house <-> huis] corrects? If yes, no need to answer this point)
Home is your domestic arrangements (family, cooking, furnishings etc), house is the building where they are located.  If you have been living in another country ("abroad") and return to your country of origin, you might say "I'm going home", without meaning any specific address in that country.
5) When you sit in a "not-so-good" position which causes obstruction of some blood vessel, after a short moment you temporarily have a sensation which is uncomfortable but sometimes funny (and if you stay too long you lose sensations in that part of the body or even the control but that's rare). How do you call it when this sensation is weak enough to allow you doing everything as usual? And when it's strong enough let's say to put your foot on the ground?
"Tingling" is the formal word, but the expression "pins and needles" is often used for the mild sensation. The strong sensation is "numbness", which is a loss of normal feeling and sometimes implies weakness in a limb because of that.

My replies are based on British English, Americans may differ.
Edit: I probably won't be able to read your responses before wednesday
That gives us plenty of time to have an argument about it.
There is no such thing as a normal person, only someone you don't know very well yet.
partlyscot
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by partlyscot »

The word for losing sensation is called numb, or numbness. If it involves loss of control, to some extent, I would generally say " it's gone to sleep" if I feel an itchy, tingly sensation, then I have "pins and needles"

How correct this is, I'm not sure, but that's the words, or descriptions I would use.
moonshadow
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by moonshadow »

As one who often gets his knuckles bruised on the Cafe for my horrendous grammar, I am reluctant to offer advice, however in my practice when the gender isn't known I've often just said "he or she". Sometimes I use "them/their/they".
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Kirbstone
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Kirbstone »

Regarding numbness &c. Let's keep it very simple and call it parasthaesia!

Med. cap off again.

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Stu
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Stu »

I have been training prospective English teachers since August 2009, so here are my answers:


1) When I want to speak about a person but for whom I don't know the gender, should I use "it" instead of "she" or "he"? (And similar for his/her/its, etc)

Never use "it". Preferably use "he or she", "they" is also acceptable where the sex is not known.

2) In french, there is a word to reflect the following idea. Let's say I affirm that something is true. You answer "No, that's false". To that, in french, I can reply with something like "<single word to oppose to your negative position and to recall the affirmative one> because blablabla". Does a similar word exist in english? Or should I in this situation use a form like "I'm sorry but you're wrong because blablabla"? All searches I did were unsuccessfull, because that french word is "si", which is also used for conditionnals and is then the french "if"...

That does not exist in English

3) Let's say you buy a new house and want to live in your new house. Actually the english expression I know is "to move house". Is there a better expression or verb for that?

The phrase "move house" or "move home" is perfectly fine. In British English, the verb "flit" is sometimes used to mean the same thing.

4) What's the difference between home and house? (If somebody also speaks dutch, are the correspondences [home <-> thuis] and [house <-> huis] corrects? If yes, no need to answer this point)

A house is a building. In British English, it is distinguished from a single story house (a bungalow) and an apartment (or flat). The word "home" can be wherever you consider to be your home, which could be a house, or a cave or a caravan.

5) When you sit in a "not-so-good" position which causes obstruction of some blood vessel, after a short moment you temporarily have a sensation which is uncomfortable but sometimes funny (and if you stay too long you lose sensations in that part of the body or even the control but that's rare). How do you call it when this sensation is weak enough to allow you doing everything as usual? And when it's strong enough let's say to put your foot on the ground?

British speakers often say "pins and needles" for a mild case, bur a more severe case might be referred to with a medical term which most people would probably not understand. Otherwise, there is no short way of expressing this
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Pdxfashionpioneer
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Pdxfashionpioneer »

Winston Churchill, who was a master of the English language, said, probably on a number of occasions, that the British and Americans are 2 people divided by a common language because there are just enough differences in our terms, meanings and usages that some of the unintentional conflicts those differences have created were epic.

When you said "move house" what that brought to my Yankee mind was an image of a house being towed down the street by a large truck. "Move in" or "moving" are common usage in the US to get across the idea that you're moving yourself and your possessions from one domicile to another.

The proper distinction between "house" and "home" is that "house" refers strictly to the building, typically a detached structure designed for a single family, but the usage has been extended to townhouses and apartments. "Home" connotes a place where one's family resides or, as some of the other responders noted, where one grew up or is otherwise emotionally attached. Consequently, real estate agents will usually refer to any residence they're trying to sell as a "home," because they are trying to implant the suggestion that it is the place you want to live and therefore buy so you can do so. it also has more of a warm, appealing sound to it than "house."
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oldsalt1
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by oldsalt1 »

Oscar Wild in Canterville Ghosts 1887 and most notably and Winston Churchill some time in 1943 stated that England and the United States are 2 Nations divided by a common language.

I guess that is still true.
Ray
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Ray »

Dan

It’s Britain and the United States, not England.

I’ve told you before. Britain and England are not interchangeable. Do keep up.
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by aussie08 »

From a DVD {and TV programme} "The Adventure of English" by Melvyn Bragg.
This Poem was on the Wall in a Primary School in England (enjoy) :

We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are celled geese.
Yet the plural of mouse should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice.
But the plural of house is houses' not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
The cow in a plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows and not vine.
And I speak of foot and you show me your feet,
But I give you a boot . . . would a pair be called beet?

Yes I totally agree the English Language: "she is a strange!"
Spirou003
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Re: Questions about english language

Post by Spirou003 »

Thank you all for your answers! :)
Now I see the "singular they", it reminds me something. I probably have seen it at school but was not remembering it anymore.

@Freefrom: Thank you! :) But I often have to change how I write just because I don't know a specific word or how to conjugate some verbs (and even here, I wanted to add something but don't know the correspondance of "temps de conjugaison"... and google is not to help as it thinks I want to learn how to conjugate, while I just want to translate the expression and I don't trust the "time of conjugation")

@Kirbstone: Haha it makes all easier! :lol: But in fact, that's exactly what I was looking for some time ago, in another topic.

@Pdxfashionpioneer: I have the same image than you, a house being in move throught streets, when speaking about "move house". That's why I don't like it. I rather prefer the dedicated words "verhuizen" (dutch) or "déménager" (french) but it seems there is no real english equivalent :(

@aussie08: I had a good laugh with this poem! :lol:
I'm learning english, thus when there is any mistake or weird word/sentence, feel free to tell me it!
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