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(?) I use to do it
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Lorikeet



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm I would use "didn't use to be" with no problem. Just goes to show there are a lot of varieties!
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JuanTwoThree



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder who 'John Walden' might be. The writing style has a familiar ring to it:

"My own view is that the 'd' shouldn't be there. Marking for the past twice has no precedent that I can think of, English doesn't usually do anything twice. But there are far too many people who think the 'd' is there for a descriptivist to argue any different."

I couldn't have put it better myself.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So he be thee, JTT! Surprised Very Happy
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jotham



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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodcutter wrote:
You can't make that mistake since they sound the same.

As for writing, wrong, but one of those mistakes which are always being made by natives too and which make a mild prescriptivism necessary for the language teacher.

Merry Xmas.

I imagine the problem crept up because of not "mild" prescriptivism by descriptivists on this point to begin with. Since they usually teach "didn't use to" against the grain of common and traditional usage (as well as logic and practicality), as though it were a verb with an infinitive form -- then it is only more than natural for students to want to apply it in its "present" tense.

And how could we logically deny them this simple pleasure and basic principle governing our verbs? If a verb has an infinitive form (speciously deriving from its "past" form), it must surely have a present form -- after all, for what other verb is this not the case? It's not hard at all to understand the occasion for this mistake.

If students were familiarized, however, with the practical concept instinctively familiar to most native speakers, that "used to"is fixed idiomatically no matter what the context, then it would be more difficult for students to stray off the path as above.

In this case, I'd have to say, one prescriptivism awry necessarily begets (or deserves) another, or perhaps others.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, if one insists on appealing to (personal) logic, why not bang on about other things too while one is at it. (For example, Why doesn't 'beware' have a past tense? It really ought to, and it indeed will, if I have my way!). But is "dropping the -d" in 'didn't use to' really 'straying off the path'? And what is so logical and natural about "If a verb has an infinitive form (speciously deriving from its "past" form), it must surely have a present form"? (The only real logic is that 'used to' is used to talk about the past, so why should it behave any differently from any other verb in terms of the grammar involved).

Hmm, I've thought of a possible compromise: how about if everybody keeps the -d in 'used to' no matter what, but always drops the -d in 'use' (~ an object) again no matter what. Surely that would make things clear beyond any doubt, balance everything out very nicely, and help restore perfect cosmic equilibrium and harmony?

Laughing Wink Very Happy
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jotham



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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
Well, if one insists on appealing to (personal) logic, why not bang on about other things too while one is at it. (For example, Why doesn't 'beware' have a past tense? It really ought to, and it indeed will, if I have my way!). But is "dropping the -d" in 'didn't use to' really 'straying off the path'? And what is so logical and natural about "If a verb has an infinitive form (speciously deriving from its "past" form), it must surely have a present form"? (The only real logic is that 'used to' is used to talk about the past, so why should it behave any differently from any other verb in terms of the grammar involved).

Beware seems fixed in the infinitive, which we have ample examples in other verbs, such as our modals -- and it usually functions in the imperative to boot. At least one dictionary does list present and past forms. I have no problem with that for the sake of creativity or word play, just so long as the user is aware that it is creative and doesn't really enjoy standard acceptance (of course they would know that). And I certainly wouldn't teach it to a beginner to intermediate ESL student to avoid confusion at first. But all things being equal, beware seems to behave much more similar to my argument for fixed applications, than your argument for fluidity.

Quote:
Hmm, I've thought of a possible compromise: how about if everybody keeps the -d in 'used to' no matter what, but always drops the -d in 'use' (~ an object) again no matter what. Surely that would make things clear beyond any doubt, balance everything out very nicely, and help restore perfect cosmic equilibrium and harmony?

Laughing Wink Very Happy

Used to may have the same verb root as use, but has a different pronunciation, totally different meaning, and different and specific application. (Beware is similar in this respect in that it is also fixed in a certain application, the imperative, and thus fixed in tense, the infinitive, with respect to common and traditional usage -- though perhaps not in historical or ancient usage). Likewise used to is fixed in a certain application and verb tense. We couldn't possibly draw any comparisons or parallels with the other verb to use, which I submit has probably been the problem to begin with.

If we were really saying "he didn't use to," (like descriptivists seem to be intent on putting words in our mouth) and the verb really is fluid, then by the same token, it wouldn't be strange for us to be saying, "he was using to" instead of "he was used to." But it does sound strange. And this is because we are indeed saying (and have been saying) "we didn't used to," all along. It just so happens that pronunciation doesn't erect any obvious aural barriers with respect to use to like it certainly does for using to, which lack of barrier descriptivists pounced on -- though logical and practical barriers still stand nonetheless. The verb is fixed and not selectively fluid as you conveniently suppose (and select) to fit your pet theories of how language ought to operate.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If we were really saying "he didn't use to," (like descriptivists seem to be intent on putting words in our mouth) and the verb really is fluid, then by the same token, it wouldn't be strange for us to be saying, "he was using to" instead of "he was used to."

How is 'be/get used to sthg or doing sthg' at all relevant? If do-support (or indeed perfects formed with 'have' and 'get', or progressives formed with 'be' and 'get') is used with that, they can and will only relate to a 'get' (which is then a main verb following an auxiliary), so obviously the 'used' (always an adjectival in this particular construction) is therefore not out of place here. So the issue is surely still that '*didn't used to' (i.e. 'used to', NOT 'be/get used to') is completely at odds with, an exception to, genuinely do-supported verbs/structures.
http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/features/chref/chref.py/main?query=used&title=21st
http://www.chambersharrap.co.uk/chambers/features/chref/chref.py/main?xref=21C46472&title=21st&query=used%20to

As for '*he was using to' in particular, again, how is that relevant to the discussion? The active, -ing participle is the verb 'use' (NOT 'used to' or 'be/get used to'), meaning "use an object", hence the clear ungrammaticality of '*he was using to' (due to the missing object between the 'using' and 'to').

A quick recap:

used to: may use do-support, in which case the 'used' (i.e. the actual verb, albeit a modal of sorts) has to change to a non-finite form

be/get used to: any do-support will relate to the 'get', so the 'used' (an adjectival/complement rather than a verb) doesn't need to change form (so you could call this a fixed and unchanging word-form)

to use: a lexical verb that can take the full range of tense and aspect inflections

So the only exception in all this is your apparent insistence that 'used to' be made an anomaly when supported by 'do', and I suspect that quite a few students would in fact question rather than willingly accept that "easy" inconsistency.

Anyway, I have no particular interest or stake in the matter and/or of convincing you, Jotham (I certainly haven't read that deeply on this topic, so what I'm saying is just what to me logically follows from the wider/overall linguistic system I've learnt (or at least "learnt about")*), but by the same token, you do have to appreciate that not everybody is particularly interested in reading and following the supposed authorities that you evidently have. Cool


*And in learning that system, I honestly don't recall '*didn't used to' being mentioned much if at all (though one can of course find something about it, if not in grammars or grammar courses, then at least in usage manuals and dictionaries), so like I say, whatever instincts I've developed are a product of learning a wider, more generalized system than stemming from a preoccupation with the point in any seeming isolation.
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jotham



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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
How is 'be/get used to sthg or doing sthg' at all relevant?

I suppose it isn't relevant in today's understanding of those phrases. But given that their pronunciations are similar and meanings almost similar -- and likewise with both expressions being unsimilar in pronunciation and meaning to the common verb use -- I wonder if at one time, they did mean exactly the same thing and then slowly differentiated their meaning over time so that the difference in nuance became ever sharper. For instance, the concept of habit in past versus present tense might be demonstrated by these sentences:
    He used to read a book every day.
    He is used to reading a book every day.

I really don't know and only speculate. It would be interesting if this was considered an acceptable way of expressing habits in the present because no one dare change the fixed used to into using to, though it would fit neatly into the verb-tense system even of that time I'm sure.


Quote:
As for '*he was using to' in particular, again, how is that relevant to the discussion? The active, -ing participle is the verb 'use' (NOT 'used to' or 'be/get used to'), meaning "use an object", hence the clear ungrammaticality of '*he was using to' (due to the missing object between the 'using' and 'to').

You missed my point. I'm saying if the verb really is fluid enough to change to the infinitive at your whim, then historically, we would have done so and wouldn't have found no fault at all with going a step further and conveniently making the verb present tense -- and there would be no reason why it shouldn't enjoy common usage today. But it doesn't because the verb is fixed. It's just that people are easily fooled by the similar pronunciation of used to and use to, (which doesn't even exist except to satisfy your requirements for fast and easy rules with respect to your "linguistic system" and cherished "do-supported structures".)

Quote:
Anyway, I have no particular interest or stake in the matter and/or of convincing you, Jotham (I certainly haven't read that deeply on this topic, so what I'm saying is just what to me logically follows from the wider/overall linguistic system I've learnt (or at least "learnt about")*), but by the same token, you do have to appreciate that not everybody is particularly interested in reading and following the supposed authorities that you evidently have. Cool

I know you're just following your crowd, (and perhaps I am mine). I'm not so much personally reacting to you as I am most dictionary makers and the sort, whom you listen to, and who seem hellbent on evolving the language and facilitating linguistic change without the overwhelming support or participation of the masses.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must say I'm finding it hard to follow your logic or reasoning here, Jotham. You seem to ultimately be saying that verbs (well, a certain verb anyway) shouldn't change form, but that adjectives ought to, resulting in your arguing for very questionable forms like *he is using to sthg/doing sthg (which nobody would accept, at least not at the current moment...and why not simply he reads a book every day?). And I doubt if either of us is really qualified to comment on the historical factors involved (or not involved) - all we can really do is deal with what the language is like at present, and in terms certainly of the overall system, lexicographers have obviously had to balance apparent usage (though I have argued that could well be a lot of hypercorrection - if anything, you could be underestimating the [pernicious] influence of the authorities you champion!*) with logic, and at least their logic in this particular instance would appear to be well motivated! (Not that their system would come crashing down and every other verb start behaving illogically if 'didn't used to' were accorded its "rightful" place in the dictionary). The main point though is why should a verb that is "all about the past" necessarily have a present form? And let's not forget that there is at least one other way (give or take a few connected/sequential discourse factors) of expressing certainly "past habits", namely 'would', but I doubt if many people are insiting that that has to be somehow counterbalanced with a "non-past/less 'remote' habit" reading for examples using 'will'. Could it actually be that particular linguistic life-forms evolve for and fill a certain niche, and are not to be found elsewhere in the linguistic ecosytem? Or do you really expect to find deep-sea 3-D piranha angler fish splashing about in the shallows there?

Quote:
It's just that people are easily fooled by the similar pronunciation of used to and use to, (which doesn't even exist except to satisfy your requirements for fast and easy rules with respect to your "linguistic system" and cherished "do-supported structures".)

Come off it, 'didn't use to' DOES exist (though its existence in my personal idiolect may indeed have something to do with the linguistic system I've more or less consciously learned...I very much doubt however if the compliers of dictionaries go around asking only trained English teachers or linguists to contribute any and all of the 'didn't use to' examples found in the corpora, which is what you seem to be implying). But at least we agree that they sound the same, but the obvious next question is, would or should that motivate more, or less, variance in the writing (English, spelling) system? (The following might be interesting in that regard: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3150 ).


*It would be interesting to fully investigate (assuming we haven't done so already, "to the best of the data available") when 'didn't use to' first appeared, or rather (as I suspect) when it was first "picked up on" by precriptivists (who can only really notice and object to forms "after the fact", after the forms are or have become already established, which makes the prescriptivists' objections always a bit academic ultimately. There's a writer who made this point better than I could, but I can't seem to find the quote at the moment!). The following is probably a fair description though of what generally happened in this particular instance too: descriptivists try to answer "Why this is so", whilst prescriptivists are more concerned with "Why this shouldn't be so", with the result that on the one hand and in the one camp there are elegant and internally-consistent theories that fit all the facts, whilst in the other there is all sorts of torturous "explanation", 'negative "evidence"', and justification for what is ultimately a quite limited point and point of view. (But I'm sure there are also people who've made your points better than you are making them, Jotham! Wink ). But hey, that is just my opinion, eh.


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun May 29, 2011 4:05 pm; edited 2 times in total
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jotham



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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
I must say I'm finding it hard to follow your logic or reasoning here, Jotham. You seem to ultimately be saying that verbs (well, a certain verb anyway) shouldn't change form, but that adjectives ought to, resulting in your arguing for very questionable forms like *he is using to sthg/doing sthg (which nobody would accept, at least not at the current moment...and why not simply he reads a book every day?).

We're miscommunicating. I'm not championing any such change of the kind. I'm talking of hypotheticals to illustrate how language could have been versus what it actually is now and why we keep the idiom in its fixed state. "He is using to" would be a hypothetical fluid verb instead of the fixed one we know today, (which might be synonmous with the Portuguese verb talked about earlier), and could sufficiently supplant the adjective variety of used to (which I supposed was employed to prevent rendering the verb fluid in the first place).

Quote:
The main point though is why should a verb that is "all about the past" necessarily have a present form?

Again, I'm not desiring this kind of change. I'm a prescriptivist for God's sake! My argument is that the used to verb comes from an archaic form of use that means to be in the habit of, (which is basically what our adjective form means today), and which verb form could easily be rendered in present tense. I'm just saying that hypothetically it would have been very possible to render this verb fluid, but historically, we chose not to follow that path. Therefore, the verb is fixed today in it's past form and doesn't need to comply with semantics. The pronunciation and spelling for both the verb and the adjective is the same (and almost the same meaning).

Quote:
I very much doubt however if the compliers of dictionaries go around asking only trained English teachers or linguists to contribute any and all of the 'didn't use to' examples found in the corpora, which is what you seem to be implying).

Oh, you don't think they cook the books? Surely scientists wouldn't have a preconceived bias and doctor up evidence, or only look for evidence that supports their hypothesis? Nawwww, scientists are always pure as the wind-driven snow, right? Especially those linguist types.
Quote:
But at least we agree that they sound the same, but the obvious next question is, would or should that motivate more, or less, variance in the writing (English, spelling) system?

Well, it's your dictionaries who tell us that didn't used to is wrong... and we stupid hoi polloi should desist, because you're the elitist, and you say so, and we should just listen to you, because you're the language scholars, and you've obviously thought this out for everyone's welfare.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, like I say, I am more interested in how language is, not how it "could have been". I mean, if you keep asking that question, what you're really beginning to ask (or certainly, appearing to ask) is what it should be like, which can start to beg a few too many questions for most people. But hey, perhaps English really is just like (or wanting to become like) Portuguese, eh (maybe you should try to find a job in UG research? LOL!).

And like I say, there is nothing wrong with 'using _____ to' in the progressive, provided it's the "use an object to" verb 'use' that we're talking about.

The most important point though is that 'used to' was obviously not "rendered into the present", and is a bit more fluid in the past than you personally would like; then, you seem to be doing little or nothing to incorporate the full range of facts into your thinking. (IMHO you should be using distributional criteria i.e. syntactic order to establish what part of speech a word is, and by extension how it behaves - not really even how it 'should behave' - rather than trying to impose inflexible "form constraints" or whatever it is on certain "select" items).

Or look at it this way: I'm a marine biologist investigating the number of weed-eating Yumyum fish in a lake. One day, a batch of carnivorous Gobblegobble fish are introduced (deliberately?), and apparently start displacing the Yumyum fish. Now, I could of course begin counting just the Gobblegobble fish (and may well decide to do so, if enough of the "authorities" decide there is no more future for the Yumyum fish), but if I am still interested in the Yumyum fish, there's really no reason why I can't (continue to) count them too, and it isn't like they never existed in the first place is it. Plus the Yumyum fish may turn out to be essential in understanding processes of weed digestion or something equally fascinating.

Regarding the sort of dictionaries I myself use, *didn't used to is one of the very few things that they inform me (as a native speaker) is "wrong" (illogical, inconsistent with the system as a whole) - mostly, they are concerned with telling me what is simply "right" (i.e. not only attested but also uncontested usage). There really isn't the space in certainly a learner printed dictionary to deal and dispense with every prescriptive dictat, and where it is a relatively simple question of logical morphology, the learner dictionary will obviously go for that more logical, consistent, and most importantly, less involved line (i.e. the learner is basically expected to refer back as it were to the wider system, expected to analogize).

Quote:
Well, it's your dictionaries who tell us that didn't used to is wrong... and we stupid hoi polloi should desist, because you're the elitist, and you say so, and we should just listen to you, because you're the language scholars, and you've obviously thought this out for everyone's welfare.

There is nothing elitist about giving something a bit of thought and careful analysis, and I personally wouldn't say that 'didn't used to' is wrong so much as "not my own preferred choice, for the following reasons..." (which I've already outlined at more than enough length above!). I'd be simply trying to help people make informed decisions for themselves. (I wouldn't presume to present your arguments in much depth though, Jotham, mainly because I can't claim to have really understood them. That could be due to deficiencies on my part of course, but it could perhaps be more due to...well, you know! Laughing Wink Cool Very Happy ).

Edit: one thing I thought I'd add is that I hadn't ever checked in the CamGEL for this. I found it calls the 'use' of 'used to' an "aspectual verb" (which could be a useful term) rather than a modal, but the main information it supplies (on page 115) is that 'Morphologically, use is highly defective: it has no present tense, no gerund-participle, and no past participle (except that the preterite perfect had used is occasionally found: When Arthur had been a boy at school, he had used to play football).'
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jotham



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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
Well, like I say, I am more interested in how language is, not how it "could have been". I mean, if you keep asking that question, what you're really beginning to ask (or certainly, appearing to ask) is what it should be like, which can start to beg a few too many questions for most people. But hey, perhaps English really is just like (or wanting to become like) Portuguese, eh (maybe you should try to find a job in UG research? LOL!).

And like I say, there is nothing wrong with 'using _____ to' in the progressive, provided it's the "use an object to" verb 'use' that we're talking about.

The most important point though is that 'used to' was obviously not "rendered into the present", and is a bit more fluid in the past than you personally would like; then, you seem to be doing little or nothing to incorporate the full range of facts into your thinking. (IMHO you should be using distributional criteria i.e. syntactic order to establish what part of speech a word is, and by extension how it behaves - not really even how it 'should behave' - rather than trying to impose inflexible "form constraints" or whatever it is on certain "select" items).

Yes, clearly I've not made myself understood. Now that I think about it, we've often had communication issues in the past. I'm using strategies very common in debating -- probably learned in most debate or rhetoric classes. The ability to debate was considered very crucial to a classical education at one time, which we seem to be losing. Now debate or rhetoric (or even Latin classes) are just extracurricular.

Through hypotheticals, I've been trying to show the folly of your position. But you keep throwing them right back at me as though you believe these hypotheticals actually are my position. I think using language to describe language is one of the hardest things to do. And I'll be the first to admit that my writing skills are not yet equal to the task.

Quote:
Regarding the sort of dictionaries I myself use, *didn't used to is one of the very few things that they inform me (as a native speaker) is "wrong" (illogical, inconsistent with the system as a whole) -

But why do so when most people spell it with a -d? And when most journals, newspapers, and editors American or British and most websites on Google regard the -d as correct or more appropriate? In light of such factors, what business does any descriptivist have telling us that we are wrong, especially when such descriptivists tell us they don't believe in right or wrong in language? If a descriptive dictionary takes it upon itself to say that something is wrong, of all places, it definitely should NOT be this issue. Or perhaps, are they telling us it is wrong because they realize just how common this "mistake" is -- much more common for their comfort...Why, it's a damn majority -- so they gotta use stronger language to bring the masses back under their control and shepherd them into their own way of thinking?

This is not a "prescriptivist dictat," as though prescriptivists are somehow activists in language. In fact, it is opposite: prescriptivists are more likely passivists; they are a language anchor and accept (illogical) change only after it has become inevitable. But this is no where near the case here. The people are with us on this one. The dictat on this issue is clearly on the side of the true language activists who are constantly militating for linguist change, the faster the better, no matter what resulting effect it has on the efficiency of communication.
Quote:
There is nothing elitist about giving something a bit of thought and careful analysis, and I personally wouldn't say that 'didn't used to' is wrong so much as "not my own preferred choice, for the following reasons..."

I'm not really concerned about your personal choice, or anyone's personal choice. I'm concerned that dictionaries, which are often seen to be authoritative, concern themselves with the personal choice and preferences not only of professional editors but millions of common people and seek to correct them, though they are in the majority.

If everyone's personal choice was to drop the -d (and they came to this conclusion on their own and not because of strongarming by linguists and their sidekick dictionaries), then I would have to accept it despite logic, which is what we sometimes must do. But as long as a majority choose a certain path, and that path is the more logical to boot, the dictionaries are way out of line in telling us that our choice is wrong, no matter how seldom they say anything is wrong.

Quote:
Edit: one thing I thought I'd add is that I hadn't ever checked in the CamGEL for this. I found it calls the 'use' of 'used to' an "aspectual verb" (which could be a useful term) rather than a modal, but the main information it supplies (on page 115) is that 'Morphologically, use is highly defective: it has no present tense, no gerund-participle, and no past participle (except that the preterite perfect had used is occasionally found: When Arthur had been a boy at school, he had used to play football).'

Interesting this. Yes, "morphologically, use is highly defective," which is what I've been trying to tell you all this time...using hypotheticals. I'm glad you could find someone to back me up on this point at least. Morphology is just another word for stucturalism, I suppose. And it's issues like these that make us Americans mostly structuralists, while most descriptivists and British are functionalists. Interesting this.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be completely honest Jotham, I don't know why the data doesn't always support the 'didn't use to' position, so all I can really tell you is that 'didn't used to' doesnt make sense in (yes) structuralist terms. I suspect the answer to this puzzle has more to do with sociological than linguistic factors, though. But one thing is for sure: I would never have really considered it, let alone considered it an issue, were it not for the fact that I or somebody else just like me had been "corrected" about it! (It would however still be interesting to e.g. go back through samples of my pre-TEFL writing to see if there were any spontaneous uses of 'didn't used to'...I doubt though if that corpus is really large enough).

Jotham wrote:
This is not a "prescriptivist dictat," as though prescriptivists are somehow activists in language. In fact, it is opposite: prescriptivists are more likely passivists; they are a language anchor and accept (illogical) change only after it has become inevitable. But this is no where near the case here. The people are with us on this one. The dictat on this issue is clearly on the side of the true language activists who are constantly militating for linguist change, the faster the better, no matter what resulting effect it has on the efficiency of communication.

Fluffyhamster wrote:
There is nothing elitist about giving something a bit of thought and careful analysis, and I personally wouldn't say that 'didn't used to' is wrong so much as "not my own preferred choice, for the following reasons..."

I'm not really concerned about your personal choice, or anyone's personal choice. I'm concerned that dictionaries, which are often seen to be authoritative, concern themselves with the personal choice and preferences not only of professional editors but millions of common people and seek to correct them, though they are in the majority.

If everyone's personal choice was to drop the -d (and they came to this conclusion on their own and not because of strongarming by linguists and their sidekick dictionaries), then I would have to accept it despite logic, which is what we sometimes must do. But as long as a majority choose a certain path, and that path is the more logical to boot, the dictionaries are way out of line in telling us that our choice is wrong, no matter how seldom they say anything is wrong.

I doubt if many people truly professionally involved with language would recognize the "prescriptivists as passivists" of your description. And I'm not aware of anybody who militates for complete unintelligibility in the standard language (all that linguists do sometimes is point out how those who use non-standard forms seem to be communicating fine amongst themselves at least). As for my personal opinion, I would still be entitled to that even if I were a professional lexicographer; and I guess that if I became one, I would ally myself with those who had similar views rather than not (which again would be my prerogative). "Birds of a feather" and all that. The proof of the pudding would ultimately be in the number of punters pulled in, and ELT grammars and dictionaries have been selling pretty well from what I can tell, which suggests that they are reasonably well respected and of some use to quite a few people. Lastly, regarding whose position is the more logical, all you really seem to have been doing is insisting that the counterarguments are illogical without actually explaining why (other than by raw numbers, which never seem to clinch it with regard to umpteen other "contested" points when the numbers are in the descriptivist's favour instead. And here's a hypothetical for you: what if the majority began using 'of' rather than '[ha]ve' in expressions like '*could of done'? And would you then insist that the 'of' was not only now acceptable in that context, but also had to somehow be incorporated into the wider system too? (I'f [=I + contracted of = I've] bought a new grammar book! He/She_?_ bought a book)). Anyway, the ultimate fact of the matter is that the readers here will decide for themslves who is right. (I'd just like to point out though that there's been a lot of traffic over the years coming at you the "wrong way" down your "one way" street here on Dave's, Jotham! Doesn't it ever get a bit tiring for you? Smile ).

By the way, I had another look through Kirkness' survey of lexicography (in the Blackwell Handbook of Applied Linguistics) and the MLD (monolingual learner dictionary) treatments of 'used to' that he quotes, and found the Collins COBUILD English Dictionary interesting (if a bit wordy, and one could certainly quibble with the 'spoken' (more like 'informal')), in that it doesn't prescribe (though I would say the competing dictionaries only really "prescribe" in a very weak sense of the word) in favour of the most logical/consistent form...so it might (just might LOL) be your sort of EFL dictionary, Jotham! Wink
Quote:
[2] If something used not to be done or used not to be the case, it was not done in the past or not the case in the past. The forms did not use to and did not used to are also found, especially in spoken English. Borrowing used not to be recommended... At some point kids start doing things they didn't use to. They get more independent... He didn't used to like anyone walking on the lawns in the back garden.


You can (at the moment of typing at least) preview the relevant pages (73-77) of the Handbook on Google Books, but a quick perusal of the available online versions of more recent editions of the dictionaries quoted shows that the Longman has now also explicitly "joined the linguists" and added some usage advice:
http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/used-to

The COBUILD isn't available AFAIK, but the Reverso (which draws on Collins dictionaries) has this to say:
Quote:
The most common negative form of used to is didn't used to (or didn't use to), but in formal contexts used not to is preferred

http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-definition/used

One dictionary that hadn't been produced when Kirkness wrote his survey is the Merriam-Webster's Learner's:
http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/used%20to

But the most interesting fact that Kirkness provides (page 72) is that never used to would appear to be the default form ('141 tokens spread over 96 texts in the BNC', compared to 12, 17, and 25 instances of used not to, didn't use to, and didn't used to respectively. (I've quoted all those figures before, on one of the previous mammoth 'used to' threads)). It's certainly a good way to avoid the issue entirely (which no doubt helps explain its popularity), and sounds snappy/very spoken to boot.


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:06 pm; edited 7 times in total
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jotham



Joined: 16 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
but a quick perusal of the available online versions of more recent editions of the dictionaries quoted shows that the Longman has now also explicitly "joined the linguists" and added some usage advice:
http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/used-to

Don't make me laugh. We used to have a standing joke at work concerning Longman in which we utilized the difficulty for Chinese to distinguish the l and r, calling the publications (w)rongman. We had the dictionaries and referenced them, but definitely with a grain of salt and in balance with other resources, especially those more prescriptivist.

Longman didn't just join your ranks because of this issue. Longman and a majority of dictionaries have had a descriptivist mindset in their treatment of definitions, pronunciations, usage, and spelling for a while. This has been so for a longer period of time in the U.K., but more recently in the States, around 1961 to be exact with the third edition of Merriam-Websters, which caused a storm of fury when it came out on the American side, but was highly praised in the U.K. American dictionaries up to that time had all been prescriptive. Most American newspapers kept on to the second edition.

The dictionary actually said that cultured speakers in American used the word ain't. There was a cartoon in the New Yorker illustrating the back of a visitor in a plush lobby of Merriams expecting to see the descriptive editor. The secretary tells him with her businesslike face: "Dr. Gove ain't in."

Needless to say, editors have to rely on other special sources designed for good English and not so heavily on the dictionaries anymore as before.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I meant that it's "joined the linguists" by now adding/having explicit usage guidance for this particular item (used to), but sure, the Longman has been influenced by the best that descriptive linguistics can offer for quite a while now. Anyway, I'd be interested to know what sort of Advisory Committee you'd rate above the leading authorities (Quirk, Crystal, Leech, Biber, etc) on Longman's Linglex one, Jotham. And I wonder if by 'we had a standing joke at work concerning Longman', it was actually just you who made a standing joke of it, and your colleagues were too polite or busy to disagree with you much. (I mean, if you were teaching English then I find it hard to imagine certainly every native-speaking teacher agreeing with you - then again, ELT can be a pretty uniformed business, eh...that, or were you and your colleagues all Americans, brought up on only the sternest prescriptive fare or something). That isn't to say that the Longman will suit every user (and there are obviously competing titles, most notably the OALDCE7), but like it or not it is one of the very best dictionaries currently available for learners and teachers of EFL. (Usage guides designed for native speakers with inexhaustible appetites [patience?] for lots of argumentative detail don't have enough space beyond extolling or demolishing all the shibboleths to provide much coverage of the phraseological nuances of the wider language. Better then for the purposes of Dave's readers are resources like the COBUILD and Chambers usage guides, and obviously Swan's PEU, which are all pretty detailed and TEFL-oriented).

As for American dictionaries, I don't use them much (except for the AmE version of the Macmillan English Dictionary, First edition), and have no particular desire to intrude on your nation's grief over the permissiveness of the W3 etc. I doubt though if a British dictionary would ever say (or has ever said) that cultured speakers use ain't - Longman for example says "a short form of 'am not', 'is not', 'are not', 'has not', or 'have not', that many people think is incorrect": http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/ain-t . (So British works not only don't overdo the prescription, but also actually get the description right, whereas American works would appear to veer between extremes. Landau's Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography gives the source of the W3 line on ain't - I'll add it a bit later in an edit). Which is surely even more reason to use dictionaries like the (current) Longman, despite your apparent attempt to lump it in with the W3. (The W3 might however have been a good dictionary overall for all I know - it/1961 was a bit before my time really, and indeed before even the first edition of the LDOCE, published in 1978).


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