If I "would have"...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Holadem, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Is that construction correct? I hear it all the time. I would think the correct way would be "If I HAD...".
    "If I had done this" instead of "If I would have done this"...
    I was fairly confident about this until I heard it in an R&B song today [​IMG].
    Did I just betray the inadequacies of my english?
    --
    Holadem
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    It's okay.
     
  3. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Just one note - I wouldn't necessarily take a phrase's presence in an R&B song to suggest you doubt your (very good) command of the English language (even if it happened to be right this time). [​IMG]
     
  4. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    I wouldn't worry about this one, although I think your construction is probably preferred. (But I think "Had I done this" is even better, because it saves a word. [​IMG] Brevity is all.)
    I'd much rather have people write or say "If I would have done this..." than "If I would OF done this...", which I seem to run across every day. [​IMG]
    Regards,
    Joe
     
  5. Leif Wall

    Leif Wall Second Unit

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    There is no 'correct'. English is a living language.


    At least that's what I heard a college english teacher say.
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Thanks.
    It still sounds very wrong to me for some reason. I guess I just won't use it [​IMG]
    --
    Holadem
     
  7. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  8. EdR

    EdR Second Unit

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  9. Tommy Ceez

    Tommy Ceez Second Unit

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    If Woody had gone to the police, this never would have happened!
     
  10. EdR

    EdR Second Unit

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    Joseph DeMartino,
    I agree with what you're saying, educating people in how to speak clearly is important. But your argument is based on fairly extreme examples of the 'misuse' of English. The idea of 'abandoning any attempt' to teach proper English isn't really something that many people would argue for. The case in this thread is not extreme at all (although I understand your post was directly responding to the phrase "there is no 'correct'"). It's one of a nearly inexhaustible supply of examples of very minute changes in speech that add up to gradual, but sustained, change in language...even the 'proper' form.
    It can't be denied that today's proper English is yesterday's slang. A good place to see this is in the disappearance of irregular noun plurals. English has, in the last 200 years, lost over half of it's irregular plurals. The reason they have been lost is that the rule for gererating irregular forms has been lost. By 'rule' here, I'm not talking about something you consciously learn in school like "I before E except after C", rather the internal, unconscious rules that people use on the fly as they speak. (i.e. what's the rule that turns 'child' into 'children' vs. the rule that changes 'brother' into 'brothers'). Not too long ago, the proper form of the plural for brother was brethren (same as children), this is a good example because we recognize both forms...'brethren' is still used in some contexts, but no longer in colloquial speech.
    In most cases, we don't recognize previously proper forms because they fell out of use. They fell out of use because the unconscious rule that generates irregular forms is gone from English. This is the kind of rule that allows you to generate plurals for words you've never heard like 'dorf' - to which you'd automatically assign the plural 'dorfs' (I'm skirting a lot of the details here because I don't wish to write a longer post than this already is!).
    I'm using the case of irregular plurals because it's rather easy to recognize the change, and because English is on the tail end of converting irregulars to regulars, so we still have a mix of both. But the point crosses over into nearly every part of speech and grammar.
    The main point I'm making is that, what is proper at a given moment is a distillation of current usage, but current usage inevitably changes. As the changes accumulate in a community of speakers, eventually they will define a new proper form. These changes don't occur because someone (or anyone) decides to change the rules, they happen as people alter the rules unconsciously for various reasons.
    BTW, the topic of irregular verbs and nouns, and how they have changed over time, is covered in detail in the book Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language
     
  11. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Joseph DeMartino wrote:
     
  12. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    EdR wrote:


    Quote:



    It can't be denied that today's proper English is yesterday's slang.






    Bear in mind that the term slang, along with others such as patois, jargon, even dialect, is a designation socially determined by power elites to help separate themselves from the hoi polloi, i.e., those who do not have power within a given society. It says NOTHING about the "validity" of what is spoken (or, more precisely in this context, the mode of expression, rather than the content of a given utterance). It is basically a commentary on the part of the speaker about the validity of the mode of expression of any given relevant utterance. Such value judgments change across speakers and across time.


    Quote:



    Not too long ago, the proper form of the plural for brother was brethren (same as children), this is a good example because we recognize both forms...'brethren' is still used in some contexts, but no longer in colloquial speech.





    You're on the right track about the unconscious use of language. Still, you don't make clear the distinction between language and writing, including things like orthography (correct spelling), the conventions of which so many confuse with real grammar, that unconscious collection of rule-ordered language behaviors, the output of which give well-formed utterances for native speakers of a given language, or even of just a dialect of a given language. (Which means that the grammar for a given dialect will never match in all its features those for other dialects of that same language, including the standard dialect. (Yes, standard American English (SAE), a.k.a. "proper English", is a dialect, just like any other. Ask the British!) Those discrepancies are what define any given "dialect". Language is, first and foremost, what people speak, rather than what they write. You can have speech without having writing, but you cannot have writing without speech. No way!

    The details of the development of the -en-plurals are a bit complicated. I just want to point out that neither brethren nor children can be the original ("regular") plurals to their respective singulars, from a comparative Germanic, or comparative Indo-European standpoint. They, too, are secondary---(and, so, at one time were "irregular"---, based on the analogy to nouns that still earlier had an -en-suffix (not a plural ending, by the way), namely, oxen, which goes with Sanskrit ukshan-.

    The -s-plural for brother is, in fact, more likely---heck, surely---the "older" form, going with Latin fra:tre:s, Greek phra:tres, and other Indo-European cognates.
     
  13. EdR

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  14. Brian Perry

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  15. Brenton

    Brenton Screenwriter

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    My high school English teacher is very adamant that no one person has the right to decide what is "good" or "proper" English and what's bad English. The language basically belongs to the person speaking it. And different dialects happen to come from different cultures even within our own country. Just because someone happens to come from aristocracy, and he speaks what is commonly thought of as "good English", that doesn't mean that he has the right to condemn something that is a trademark of a culture other than his own.
     
  16. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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  17. EdR

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  18. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Is this a personal opinion or based on some kind of study?




    Crawdaddy
     
  20. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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