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Old 06-20-2007, 12:06 PM   #11
NatCh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Well, my wife is from Scotland and she has also lived in Englad and Germany as well. I asked her about this and she said that "forty millions" and "practising" were incorrect.
I didn't mean to say they were correct, just that they may have been in common usage 210 years ago.

Technically speaking "ain't" ain't correct, for instance, but it's very common usage here-abouts.

Another example is the use of the word "they" as a singular gender-neutral pronoun. The usage isn't "correct," but because folks tend to get upset if they're referred to by the wrong gender, or as "it" (the only "correct" singular, gender neutral pronoun which the English language currently boasts), which leaves us trying to replace "he" (the "correct" usage for this circumstance) with something else. "He or she" is just too cumbersome, so "they" gets conscripted.

Thirty years ago, I would have been (and was) corrected consistently for using "they" this way. Now it's fairly commonplace, though still "incorrect." In another thirty years, I rather doubt anyone will even notice, and it may well have already moved into "correct" status.

Language is one of those rare things in which what's common is often much more important than what's correct. I mean that in reference to the fact that the whole point of language is to communicate ideas between sentient minds. It's often simply more important to be understood, than it is to be correct.

That being said, there is, of course, great value in being correct with your language, because 'well-spoken' folks tend to get taken more seriously, than those who don't speak correctly.

Which actually brings us back to the book under discussion -- the author may have been attempting to do something with the characterization of his character by way of the accent. It does have an effect on the way a character is viewed by the reader if that character's dialog is prominently dialectic or accented.
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