LINGUIST List 4.735

Tue 21 Sep 1993

Misc: Can/Can't, British English

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Directory

  1. Michael Newman, Can't
  2. , Re: 4.706 Last posting: cross-cultural fun
  3. wachal robert s, Re: 4.721 Varia: woof tickets, word number, Wang
  4. , Cross-cultural fun: "bilingual helps wanted"

Message 1: Can't

Date: Fri, 17 Sep 93 15:23:00 EDCan't
From: Michael Newman <MNEHCCUNYVM.bitnet>
Subject: Can't

Isn't the difference between can and can't (in most environments) the presence
of a glottal stop in the negative?
Michael Newman
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Message 2: Re: 4.706 Last posting: cross-cultural fun

Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1993 23:11:00 Re: 4.706 Last posting: cross-cultural fun
From: <CONNOLLYmemstvx1.memst.edu>
Subject: Re: 4.706 Last posting: cross-cultural fun

Sorry, Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" didn't mean 'I am a jelly doughnut.'
It's absolute correct to use the article in the situation where he wished
to say he was one of them in heart, though not in fact.

The legend of the supposed jelly doughnut gaffe really hasn't been around
all that long. I first saw it in that inestimable source of misinformation,
the _Reader's Digest_, about 10 years ago. Odd that the Berliners, who
are the lest reverent people on earth, failed to find it the least bit
funny when Kennedy said it. Compare the reaction of the Poles when
Carter's translator turned Carter's understanding for their future desires
into understanding for their future lusts. They immediately found it
hilarious, and rightly so. Nothing of the sort happened in Berlin.
Indeed, when I started teaching German in the 60's, it was possible to
buy elementary readers which made that speech, and the four words of
German that it contained, into a major item. No German teacher would
have tolerated that if it had been ungrammatical!

And another point. If I say that my wife is a New Yorker (which she is),
have I called her a magazine?

--Leo Connolly
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Message 3: Re: 4.721 Varia: woof tickets, word number, Wang

Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1993 10:35:18 Re: 4.721 Varia: woof tickets, word number, Wang
From: wachal robert s <rwachalumaxc.weeg.uiowa.edu>
Subject: Re: 4.721 Varia: woof tickets, word number, Wang

Re: claim that WANG is strictly british. In the film starring Peter Falk
and spoofing all of te classic mystery/detective films, he says in the
john after glancing at someones privates, "I've never seen a white wang
before." I got it and so did the rest of the audience.
Bob Wachal
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Message 4: Cross-cultural fun: "bilingual helps wanted"

Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 11:52
From: <BLACKWELLSAvms1.bham.ac.uk>
Subject: Cross-cultural fun: "bilingual helps wanted"


This doesn't sound at all peculiar to my British ears, as expressions
like "home help(s)" are common in the U.K. Don't you have "help" as
a (non-abstract) noun in the US? I think this usage is pretty ancient -
I seem to remember that in the Authorized Version of the Bible, God
creates the first woman as a "help meet" for the first man - i.e. a
suitable (meet) helper for him - and this later got converted somehow
into the noun "helpmate".

Come to think of it, the use of "help" in the sense of "human or
personified helper" is common in religious usage - "O God our help
in ages past" etc.

Sue Blackwell
University of Birmingham
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