Saturday, June 18, 2011

English Language

It's been a long time since I was at school but I have been reading books.
Two books lately have had sentences in them that have annoyed me because they didn't sound right and I don't know if they are right.

First book, the detective walks into a cabin and notices an unlighted stove. "Unlighted" sounds not quite right, should it be "unlit"?

Second book, the adventurer shined the light around. "Shined", should that be "shone"?

Am I out of date with English writing or is it just American English?

22 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Not an expert, but with you on both counts. Pavlov's cat would know.

River said...

You are right, the books are wrong. Dumbed down English is everywhere now.

Windsmoke. said...

Why bother with the stove in the first place did it commit the crime?. Shone would be better, i also think that "the adventurer shone his or her torch around would have been better, at least you know where the light is coming from :-).

Andrew said...

It's not like the word hanged is it? I've certainly read unlighted stove somewhere. It sounds like older English.

Elisabeth said...

It's funny how words can hit your eye and implant themselves there until you're almost driven mad by them. Look at any word for long enough and it will start to fragment before your very eyes.

R.H. said...

You're right.

It's possibly American, or it could just be pedantry.
Ask Ms Goldsworthy (or Noam Chomsky).

R.H. said...

Well pardon me I'm slamdunked by the rudeness of some people - did you go to Mentone and collect the mail?

Yes?

No?

(for goodness sake!)

JahTeh said...

ROBBERT, I sent you an email the moment I got home from the Post Office. Go look in your Optusnet box.

EC, it just pokes me in the eye every time I read it.

River, dumbed down English is right. Take 'disrespected' which developed from those awful gangsta songs and now is everywhere. He/She was disrespectful to me is right not he/she disrespected me.

Windsmoke, just setting the scene if I remember but unlighted seems cumbersome.

Andrew, hanged or hung? There must be some reason for using one or the other.
The pheasants had been hung for a week to mature sounds right but put hanged in there and it doesn't so perhaps it's for plural. Thank you, something else to drive me crazy.

Elisabeth, I don't know how many times I've looked at a word thinking the spelling isn't right but it always is. It's almost like an out of body experience then you snap back.

Jayne said...

Eek, those both sound wrong to my ear, and the hanged/hung thing irks me whenever Poirot/Barnaby et el mutter it.

Frances said...

A lot of people get hang hung confused...hence their disappointment with our hung parliament: they were expecting a hanged one.

R.H. said...

Mea culpa. Oh my goodness.

I'm an idiot.

R.H. said...

Optusnet. How's that. Until now I thought Hotmail was the only postie. Oh my golly but this is a bottomless techno.

JSK said...

I think it's American English(?). I'm Australian by birth but have lived in the U.S. for almost 40 years. Americans say 'unlighted' and 'shined.' I say 'unlit' and 'shone/' Sometimes I think I'm losing my mind. Perhaps I'm not.

R.H. said...

I've avoided consulting Google on this (in order to be innocent), but I think unlighted and shined are "past Participles", like when a thing is done and all over with. Such words in English often have "ed" on the end. In Italian it's "uto" or maybe "ato" etc. Years ago I tried to learn Italian because it sounded so cute and actually retained enough of it to ask for the key to my room in a Naples pensione, that's just by the way, but learning a bit of Italian made me aware of grammar for the first time. My little room at the pensione was dingy and had a view down onto the flat roof of the building next door. The roof of this building was covered with rubbish, presumably tossed from the windows of adjoining buildings. A lot of it was fruit and veg, slowly rotting away. The tarriff at the pensione included meals and I was sat in a gloomy dining room with a young couple who seemed to be the only other guests. As the proprietor (grubby singlet, baggy pants, big smile) put a plate in front of me he informed me that the young couple were on their honeymoon. I looked across at them and they smiled at me. And so I gave them a little wave - feeling sad, melancholy - meaning it with all my heart.

-Robert.
Any Excuse for an Anecdote Inc.

JahTeh said...

Jayne, some of our sayings must be confusing. I wonder if that is why the poms love 'Neighbours' so much.

Frances, a nice gallows drawn on the wall might remind our reps to do a half way decent job.

Thank you JSK, both books are American.

Robbert, that's not an anecdote, it's a Uni lecture.

Mindy said...

I once ended an essay on The Crucible with "and at dawn he was hung" which my teacher wrote all over in red pen - "what, is he a picture?" so I have always remembered that pictures are hung, people are hanged. Unfortunately many editors didn't have the good fortune to have Mrs Power as their English teacher and so continue to annoy me by not picking up this error from their authors.

JahTeh said...

Mindy, that's perfect and I will remember it.

JahTeh said...

Jayne and River, get thee to JSK's blog for the most amazing botanical and insect photography.

Gerry said...

Language is an ever-changing thing.
All through the ages, pedants of every linguistic persuasion have been upset by this. I call it lingo-fascism. Suckit up, guys, change happens.

Middle Child said...

You are spot on - how can they not have the books properly proofread - it is important because its the thin edge of the wedge -

R.H. said...

Cliches give me pain, I once sewed three together: "At the end of the day get your act together and know where you're coming from."

Language changes for practical reasons, cliches are ephemeral sayings parroted by people of limited intelligence and zero creativity; "suck it up guys" won't last long.

phil said...

Personally, I'm waiting until we get to the thick end of the wedge.