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Peter Reynolds

Joined: February 22, 2014
Comments posted: 11
Votes received: 4

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But if you're an American "he" you'd be more likely to say "thaaat's me!" than either "this is he" or "this is him" so the days of women saying the female equivalent of either are probably numbered?

Peter Reynolds April 30, 2014, 1:45pm

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Recently I met a Ukrainian family. The wife is of Polish Jewish extraction, as were a whole couple of villages where everybody had the same two Polish Jewish surnames. This family live in Odessa and speak Russian, as I gather is true of a large part of the population of Odessa.

Peter Reynolds February 27, 2014, 12:49am

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@ Warsaw Will
What I am really getting at is that if I buy a phonics book for one of my children (such as Letterland's Beyond ABC) it is going to have pronunciations of individual elements in it that make no sense unless you live in certain parts of England - just because that is supposed to be "received". I'm sure you're right - it's just frustrating.

Peter Reynolds February 25, 2014, 12:13pm

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Warsaw Will - here's a screenshot - I find Google Books inter-country restrictions infuriating too - in my case they affect my access to 19th century material from Britain that is definitely out of copyright but Google in their ultra-cautiousness will only allow Americans (whose copyright laws are different) to view.

Peter Reynolds February 25, 2014, 12:07pm

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It seems that the term "Sensational Spelling" goes back to at least 1964 -

Peter Reynolds February 24, 2014, 10:31am

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Loch is the Scottish spelling, lough the Irish. Plough is the British spelling, plow the American - also British further back, as in at least some British printings of the Authorised (King James) version of the Bible.

My personal gripe with RP is that it is non-rhotic, and therefore, to me, states something to be correct which is manifestly slovenly. Despite being born in London, I have spent most of my life in Ross-shire (north of Scotland) and in Bristol (south-west England), so I have an appreciation of rhotic speech even if I am not necessarily consistent in using it.

Peter Reynolds February 24, 2014, 10:20am

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Don't worry about it. I'm not worrying (and I have before on the odd occasions when I've genuinely fallen out with folk on other forums). On this occasion I felt it was more of a misunderstanding (that we were at cross purposes) than anything else. And of course we British do tend to feel our version of English is superior, so that may in fact have come across. ;-)

And certainly don't feel you have to refrain from posting because of me. This was the first time I had posted here (as far as I recall) and I did so after a Google search revealed this discussion. So I butted in without knowing anything about the mood of the forum. I may well have been a pain in the ..........

Peter Reynolds February 24, 2014, 10:07am

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Now I'm confused. I'm sorry I came across as superior. I don't think I was really comparing "this is she" "with "this is her" - I would be unlikely to hear either except when phoning USA. If I heard "this is her" I would think it sounded a bit awkward/clumsy (wouldn't make a grammatical judgement); whereas uninformed as I was to the frequency of its US usage when I first heard "this is she" (a good number of years ago), it sounded to my uninformed British ear as though the person was being ironic and trying to sound like someone from the 19th century or further back.

I'm familiar with "whomsoever" as I was brought up on the King James Bible and still use that Bible. In Britain "whosoever" has become "whoever", and dictionaries and Google testify that "whomever" does exist even in UK, but I've never heard anyone use it in speech. I'd be vaguely aware that to use "whoever" as an object would be ungrammatical, but would feel it was too stilted to replace it with "whomever".

Peter Reynolds February 24, 2014, 3:33am

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@Jasper "ignorant judgment of another person" - only unaware of how some women on another continent speak - if a British woman spoke like that she'd have to be a very odd one - and I *have* had some genuinely odd reactions from US customers who thought I was a telemarketer, apparently a breed which the US is seriously more plagued by than here in UK (even here we get quite a few). In any case I have learned since then (and before participating on this forum) that "This is she" is not odd in USA.

@Joy How would the men in your life and background answer the same questions to which you answer "This is SHE"?

Actually I am somewhat aware of the pronoun issues since some 20 years ago I tried translating "It's me" into Dutch when speaking to my Dutch host's children (should be "Ik ben het", not "Het is mij" which makes no sense to a Dutch person). Of course correct English says "It is I" (as can be seen in the King James version of the Bible). Do you wonderfully correct people who insist on using "This is she" because of grammar also say "It is I" because of the same grammar? Or at least do you NOT say "It's me"? ;)

I learned a fair bit about grammar from learning Dutch, a language which is very similar to English, although English and Dutch have developed in different ways, even since the 16th/17th century English of the King James Bible.

Another instance of correct grammar being insisted on by Americans in actual common speech is the use of "whom" in a much wider variety of circumstances than we use it in Britain, even to the point of compound words such as "whomever". This too sounds stilted to a British ear, though some of us too are aware of the theoretical grammatical distinction.

On the other hand my Texan wife and in-laws frequently use adjectives in place of adverbs in speech (even though they know not to write like that), and use "a" instead of "an" before a vowel (though there again they probably wouldn't write like that.

Peter Reynolds February 24, 2014, 2:11am

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Excuse me Jasper but this thread started with the sentence "A common example is the phrase “This is she.” used to answer a telephone."

I am not discussing the pros and cons of "This is she" and "This is her" just saying that (a) no-one says either in British English (ever) and definitely not "this is she" which would sound so weird that if you'd only ever heard one American say it you would have thought they were being sarcastic
(b) in my experience of speaking to US customers over the past 13 years I have never heard a man say either "This is he" or "This is him".

That is all. I am just saying, for the benefit of foreign learners of English, that this is an American female usage (we Brits answer these questions on the phone in a totally different way, as in my limited but not inconsiderable experience do American males).

So my knowledge of formal grammar is irrelevant. I am talking about my knowledge of usage. OK?

Peter Reynolds February 22, 2014, 1:26pm

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In my experience of phoning US customers "This is she" is an Americanism spoken by women only - i.e. the corresponding "this is he" does not exist. In Britain we'd say "that's me", or "speaking", or even "I'm Peter". If the question was "Is that Peter" I would say "yes" or "yes, that's right". The first time I heard "this is she" I thought the customer was being ironic because she was being asked if she was, say, Janet, by an unidentified caller. But now I realise it is a perfectly normal answer from American women - no idea why they don't just say "Yes"!

Peter Reynolds February 22, 2014, 8:27am

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