LINGUIST List 9.702

Tue May 12 1998

Disc: Recent changes in English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. D C Nelson, Recent changes in English
  2. Karen Courtenay, Recent Changes in English
  3. waltmart, Recent changes in English
  4. Peter R. Burton, Re: Recent Change in English

Message 1: Recent changes in English

Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 13:57:29 +0100
From: D C Nelson <>
Subject: Recent changes in English

To me the most striking change in English in the last few years is the
emergence/spread of final rises in statements ("uptalk"). I've heard
it spreading from friend to friend in the US (even my mother suddenly
acquired uptalk about 2 years ago), and it's beginning to crop up in



Dr. Diane C. Nelson			email:
Dept. of Linguistics & Phonetics	phone: +44 (113) 233-3563
University of Leeds			fax: +44 (113) 233-3566 
Leeds, England LS2 9JT
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Message 2: Recent Changes in English

Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 11:19:28 -0400
From: Karen Courtenay <>
Subject: Recent Changes in English

I have noticed the following unfortunate (in my opinion, anyway)
changes in English in the past few years:

1) Lack of parallel construction in coordination. Many people now
seem to have no idea that parallel construction might help in
comprehension, translation, etc. I suppose it is no longer being
taught in the schools. Some examples:

Do you live in Japan and are looking for a summer job teaching
Japanese there? Does anybody have experience with analysis of
Homepages and can give me some advice? Do you watch Figure Skating on
television, but can't tell a flip from a lutz? Have you got someone
you are seeking and cannot find any clues? Have you gone through
menopause and are not taking estrogen? The link you followed is
either outdated, inaccurate, or the server has been instructed not to
let you have it. Monitoring patent filings should be a regular
activity for any company doing business in Japan, or who has Japanese
competitors in the U.S. Welfare mothers may be fearful, have little
education, or do not speak English. Boston lawyer Robert Wilson said
the judge's options ranged from sending Louise home today or she would
continue to serve time. Patients with low levels of calcium in their
blood, severe kidney disease or who are pregnant or nursing should not
take Fosamax. Using SGML, we can offer you an advanced catalogue
based on your criteria, fulltext search of a corpus that you have
compiled, and to download texts in different formats from one SGML
source. This a rippled effect in the paint film that can be produced
quite often because of inadequate spraying pressure or the paint's
viscosity has been incorrect.

2) the use of MAY for MIGHT. I am not sure how new this is, but I
have only been noticing it in the past ten years or so. A few

He is recovering from a heart attack he had last month - a heart
attack that MAY have been prevented. [well, was it or wasn't it?]
McCall is a superachiever, without a doubt - but it's possible he MAY
have never reached such heights if Haynes hadn't spied him years ago
in a Roxbury pool hall, AWOL from his high school classes. Perhaps,
if Beam had read more carefully, he MAY not have mistakenly listed
Time magazine as one of her "primary resources." The house MAY not
have burned if there had been a third pumper available.

Karen Courtenay

Senior Linguist <> Language Engineering Corporation
385 Concord Ave <> Belmont, MA 02178-3037 <> U.S.A.
Tel: 1-617-489-4000 x719 <> Email:
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Message 3: Recent changes in English

Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 12:13:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: waltmart <>
Subject: Recent changes in English

The relative pronoun "who" is ordinarily treated as a third person
singular subject in current American English, whatever the antecedent.
This can lead to such howlers as the New American Standard Bible's
rendering of Isaiah 44: 26b, 27 and 28. All three passages begin: "It
is I who says ...".

Or does everyone sensitive to such niceties experience this as an
error? The editorial staff of the NASB never replied to my letter
pointing it out.

Walter Bishop

Walter/Martha Bishop
Vox/Fax: 404-325-4735
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Message 4: Re: Recent Change in English

Date: Tue, 12 May 98 12:08:22 -0500
From: Peter R. Burton <>
Subject: Re: Recent Change in English

What about the almost complete U.S. substitution of adjectival for
adverbial forms? This is evident locally here in Minnesota and in the
speech of a number of national politicians, journalists and educators.

Some uses have probably been around for a long time: cf the American
<You done good> rather than <You did well>. [<Good> is of course an
awkward word in English because it can act as noun, adjective and (to
my ear, strangely) as an adverb.]

I cannot tell whether the Apple slogan <Think different> is intended
as a linguistic joke which exemplifies what it advocates or instead as
a transparently obvious call in the vernacular to do something that is
different - to think differently and so ...

1. Think different.
2. Think differently.
3. Think something different.
4. Think something that is different.
5. Think of something different.

There seems to be a growing aversion to using adverbs ending in <ly>
at the end of sentences, so that a general form of 1 is being followed
instead of 2.

When I find myself doing something similar I like to think (or is it
pretend?) I am following a general form of 3, which I take to be a
shortened expression of 4 (but in the particular case of <think> I
would likely follow 5 and so on.)

Peter Burton
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