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#39184 - 08/23/01 09:03 PM Re: My ideolect
nancyk Offline

Registered: 03/09/01
Posts: 508
Loc: Metro Detroit (MI)
setting the bar very low

Au contraire, Max! I am mightily impressed with your ability to set forth your ideolect/idiolect (choose one )with such eloquence and clarity. It would take me days to even figure out my ideo/iolect, much less express it as well as you did yours. Bravo!

#39185 - 08/24/01 04:37 AM Re: My ideolect
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
This has turned in to more of a piece about my linguistic history than my actual usage, but for what's it worth here it is before I curl up into a catatonic ball at the thought of the amount of self-disclosure involved:

I was born and brought up in Buckinghamshire in the SE of England. My father is from London, and my mother is half English and half Scottish. The English I learnt at home and school was pretty close to Standard Southern British, but two words which I picked up from my Scottish grandmother were tarrara, meaning bum (He’s got a big tarrara) and slitter, to spill food on one’s clothes (You’ve slittered all down that shirt). Two constructions which don’t belong to the standard but which my family use all the time can be seen in the following: “What did you think to the film? Was it any good of?”

I’m told I was very late (nearly three) in moving beyond the one-word stage of talking, but then came out with complete sentences. I’d obviously decided I wasn’t going to go in for this language lark until I’d got it thoroughly sussed. I didn’t learn to read until I got to school, but went my own way once I’d started. While everybody else was painfully spelling out each word letter by letter time and time again, I was learning whole words easily but having problems with the individual letters, so was completely at sea with new words. Once this problem was overcome I became an avid reader.

When I started grammar school I was introduced to Latin and picked it up very easily, shooting ahead of the rest of the class. The only one who could keep up with me was the lone Catholic in the class, who was used to the Latin mass. I was put in the language stream and studied Latin, French, and Greek. This has influenced my language in that I tend to slide into a more bookish, Latinate, style easily. It also stimulated a fascination with etymology and grammar.

At university I did first year linguistics and picked up the theoretical side very quickly, but found the practical side of phonetics in particular much more difficult. I was painfully shy and the thought of collecting data by finding people to talk into tape recorders was not to be thought of, so I dropped linguistics, much to my subsequent regret.

In my mid twenties I took a course to become an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher, and my first job was in Singapore. The language school where I was working also offered courses in Malay, Mandarin, and Japanese, and I took beginner’s courses in all three. Just by being in Singapore I was starting to recognise some simple Chinese characters, but the spoken language defeated me. I simply could not hear the different tones.

After eighteen months in Singapore, I went to Spain for a year, living in a town called Valls, which was about an hour’s train ride from Barcelona on the Lerida line. The local language was Catalan, and although I did my best to learn Castilian Spanish I found myself slipping Catalan words (which were what I was hearing around me) into Spanish grammar (which was what I was studying from books). I found it was easy enough to work out from French and Latin what Catalan and Spanish meant when I saw them written down, but used to get frustrated by the fact that my listening skills lagged far behind.

After my time in Spain finished I came to Indonesia, and have lived here ever since. As usual my reading and writing skills are much more advanced than my speaking and listening skills. I’ve lived among different social groups among foreigners here. English teachers tend to sprinkle useful Indonesian words in their conversations much more than other foreigners living here do. The most common ones are sudah and belum (roughly already and not yet), especially useful as one word answers to questions. I’m careful not to do that with Indonesians though. I’ve moved around a bit in Indonesia and have sometimes had the experience of the word I learnt in one area not being understood in another, for example, in Surabaya (East Java) the everyday word for chili is lombok, but nobody I met in Bandung (West Java) recognised this and I had to remember to use cabe.

Indonesian is of course my main foreign language now, but I am struggling to retain my Latin, Greek, and French. Spanish and I parted company long ago but I can still sometimes dredge up or work out a few expressions if necessary. Reflecting on my language learning experiences I would say I have a talent for picking up the early stages very quickly and working out what things mean from very little data so I make very rapid progress, but then slow right down because I don’t feel any need to make much of an effort. Probably true in other areas of life as well.


#39186 - 08/24/01 07:29 AM Re: My ideolect
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Bingley--Thank you, my dear. I think you are utterly wonderful. Part of my idiolect (I have to go with Anu's spelling) now includes a sprinkling of words from other countries and languages. I have always picked up and used other peoples' expressions easily: whenever we'd come back from a trip to Tennessee in my childhood, I'd use whatever my cousin's latest slang term was, until the next time.
One of my favorite new terms now is "convo", thanks to a Zildean friend. And indeed, the very word Zildean! When writing to someone who speaks a foreign language, I often will throw a word or two of that language into a sentence.
Just this morning I wrote a query to a friend about a punctuation mark, and put çirconflex without even thinking about it: my first acquaintanceship with this mark was when I took French, and that's the name of it, to me!

tsuwm or Nicholas, is it possible to have a negative idiolect? I am thinking of my inability to say the word coin properly, and avoid speaking that word if at all possible. Can you say you have a negative idiolect, if there are certain things you never say?

#39187 - 08/24/01 08:44 AM Re: My idiolect
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10537
Loc: this too shall pass
negative idiolect? why bother trying to describe something that doesn't happen? it's akin to a problem we run into all the time in writing software requirements: the software shall not [do something under unusual circumstances] -- not only can it be difficult to code a negative, but it is usually nigh onto impossible to test. but I digress. why not just say that your idiolect *disincludes certain structures.
-joe (i was able to change the subject) friday

#39188 - 08/24/01 08:56 AM Re: My idiolect
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
why bother trying to describe something that doesn't happen?

It's easier (and clearer) than describing exhaustively all the things that do happen and not including that which you specifically wish to say does *not happen. In terms of an idiolect you may wish to say that you never ever ever use the word f**k without having to list all the vulgar terms you would use.

In terms of the software example, if you don't care whether there is a value left in a certain variable you needn't mention it but if it is important to other parts of your program you may wish to specify that nothing be put there.

#39189 - 08/24/01 09:08 AM Re: My idiolect
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10537
Loc: this too shall pass
my quibble (which I nicely obfuscated) was with saying specifically "I have a negative idiolect which includes f**k and etc."

as to your software example, the apposite requirement should read:
the function shall clear the variable n before returning.
this is readily testable, whereas:
the function shall not put a value in variable n
would be extremely ambiguous!

#39190 - 08/24/01 09:18 AM Re: My idiolect
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
saying specifically "I have a negative idiolect which includes f**k and etc."

And you got that from this?

I am thinking of my inability to say the word coin properly, and avoid speaking that word if at all possible. Can you say you have a negative idiolect, if there are certain things you never say?

#39191 - 08/24/01 09:24 AM Re: My idiolect
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
the function shall clear the variable n before returning.

Unless it is important that the variable n be left unchanged. One could, of course, say either "the variable n shall be left unchanged" or "the variable n shall not be changed". I see no particular reason to select one over the other.

#39192 - 08/24/01 09:26 AM Re: My idiolect
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10537
Loc: this too shall pass
no, I got that from this, "In terms of an idiolect you may wish to say that you never ever ever use the word f**k without having to list all the vulgar terms you would use."
again, the point being that you could say exactly that without *labelling it "negative idiolect". it's all just part of the package.

#39193 - 08/24/01 09:46 AM Re: My ideolect
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
I am the second child (of five) of Dublin Irish immigrants to NY. Neither of my parents had very much formal schooling, my mother was chronically ill, and never completed a year of school after 3rd grade, my father was an orphan, and had learning disabilities, and was sent to trade school at 14 or so.

Both of them are extremely bright people, and learned to overcome their lack of formal education.

I don't remember not being able to read. Very early in life– I caught on to the idea of written words having meaning– but I wasn't taught to read by my parents, or even read to, very much. I was very lucky, and lived a few blocks from the Central (main branch) Bronx library. Also with in walking distance, the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University, Hunter College (later, Lehman college) and the uptown campus of NYU (now, Bronx College, part of the CUNY system) so, my neighborhood had lots of bookstores. As a teen, I took to hanging out on the campus's – our working /lower middle class neighborhood didn't much value education.

I read–and was interested in ideas beside the narrow ones my parochial school exposed me to, and I had access to wonderful books, and lots of them. My mother also read a lot, but I grew up in house without a complete dictionary, and the one bookcase in the house was about 3 foot high, by 3 foot long.

Like bingsley– I caught on to things quickly– and then lost interest– but language was never my forte.. What I wanted to know was– what makes things work.. How do suspension bridges work? How are sky scrapers built? How come there are hills and valleys? Why do we use the words one, two, three to express a single entity, or double that quantity? Or the sum of a single quantity and the double?

I always wanted to know what was going on under the surface.– actually, I was compelled to know.. So– over time I have learned a little bit of geology, chemistry, engineering, biology, grammar, etymology, electronic, – in an attempt to understand the world.

No one subject was more important than the other– I needed all of them to understand the world. I was very anxious as a child not knowing how things worked.. And when I asked, the simple first level answers left me feeling cheated, and insecure– as if people were holding out on me.. By the time I was old enough to realize, that most time people gave first level answers, because that was all they knew– I was crazy..

Well, to be truthful– my family is a bit crazy– and I was just crazier than then generally accepted.. By 17, I was living on my own– a year later, I was married to man 7 years my senior– a graduate student in English Lit, (hanging around Fordham had its uses!) and I had dropped out of HS. I went to college as an adult.. But my real education came from reading.

My idiolect is a reflection of all these factors.. I have a form of dyslexia– and transpose words, letters, and numbers.. I never knew the word anastrophe– but my sentences often are..and as I realize this, and try to recast them into a more orderly format.. Words get dropped, tenses and cases are mangled.. Getting a clear sentence is as difficult as getting blood from a stone!

I have several vocabularies for speaking, from formal english, which I can do quite well, to every day speaking, to low class english, and this can be crude. Growing up in the a working class neighborhood in the bronx, there were very few crude words I didn't hear as a child. There have been times, when someone has slipped in a formal setting, and used a vulgar word– and since they only knew me in a formal setting, were sure I would be offended–hah! I've use words that would make a sailor blush!

my written vocabulary is limited, since there are masses of words, that I have so little idea how to spell, and my attempts at them, leave even the spell checkers stumped! But I love spell check, since there are now words I try for, and some I have even learned to spell..

My reading vocabulary is the best– there is many a word I haven't a clue how to say–and couldn't spell properly if my life depended on it, but I know what it means.. I understand the meaning – an now, have a better understanding of how the world works.. And along the way– have acquired enough knowledge to be a pretty good generalist..

I love this board, because there are so many word experts– I have learned so much about the workings of language..– on so many levels-- letters, (thorns evolving to d, thorp to dorp) words, grammar, phrasing, style, regional vocabulary.. And, last but not least, a lifetimes worth of puns! I have also manage, to complete this little essay- with out an of course, a phrase that all too often creeps in– a marker of my idiolect!

my other obsession

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