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Have we said goodbye to "probably"?
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Aug 17, 2014

Is it likely that we've said goodbye to "probably"?

Is it probable that "likely" will become accepted as the ugly successor to "probably"?

Why is this happening?

What are they doing to our English?

When did people stop saying "He'll probably come tomorrow" and start saying "He'll likely come tomorrow"? I find it horrible.

Why deprive ourselves of the much more mellifluous "probably"?

Is it likely that "likely" will take over completely?


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Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
To like or not to like Aug 17, 2014

It is high likely that "likes" is a consistent trend

[Edited at 2014-08-17 13:50 GMT]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:25
Italian to English
Chickens and eggs Aug 17, 2014

You raised the question earlier this year, Tom.

Just to add a little more information, while Wyclif used "likliche" as an adverb in 1380 or thereabouts, the OED can't find any examples of "probabili" (probably) until half a century later (c.1443).

So have we heard the last of "probably"? As they say in Yorkshire, "Appen".





[Edited at 2014-08-17 13:51 GMT]


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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:25
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not in my case Aug 17, 2014

'Probably' comes to my mind a lot more often than 'likely', but I suppose it's because I live in Spain and 'probablemente' exists in Spanish.

Last night I answered a question in KudoZ and I used 'probably' in my explanation.

Taken from my answer:

You probably already know but...

Emigrating to another country means that it can be difficult to keep up with the changes in a person's native language. When I was at school in Britain, it was normal to hear people saying things like 'Oh, jolly good', which I'm sure no one under the age of 40 uses today.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
I wish they'd say goodbye to наверно in Russian Aug 17, 2014

The Russian for "probably" is наверно or наверное (naverno or navernoye). The problem is, it also means "certainly", which is certainly not the same thing as probably, so whenever you come across the word, you have to try to work out which of the two meanings applies.

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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 21:25
German to English
+ ...
Criteria Aug 17, 2014

I'd like to know what criteria the asker used to determine that likely is ugly and probaqbly mellifluous.

Sure, for me the example sentence is ungrammatical, but for someone else it is apparently grammatical. Beauty in language is a very subjective matter - see the studies in which US and UK subjects were asked about the attractiveness of British accents - the differences are immense.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
I hope Aug 17, 2014

David Wright wrote:

I'd like to know what criteria the asker used to determine that likely is ugly and probaqbly mellifluous.

Sure, for me the example sentence is ungrammatical, but for someone else it is apparently grammatical. Beauty in language is a very subjective matter - see the studies in which US and UK subjects were asked about the attractiveness of British accents - the differences are immense.


I hope you're referring to criteria as a plural.

That's another one.

It is likely that changes are under way in the English language. Most probably.

That's "under way". Two words.

[Edited at 2014-08-17 16:45 GMT]


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Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
Member (2004)
English to Russian
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A bit different Aug 17, 2014

Jack Doughty wrote:
The Russian for "probably" is наверно or наверное (naverno or navernoye). The problem is, it also means "certainly", which is certainly not the same thing as probably, so whenever you come across the word, you have to try to work out which of the two meanings applies.

Hi Jack. I dare to correct you. In fact "naverno/ye" had the meaning of "certainly" (eg. "Eto ya vam navernoye govoryu" -- "This is for sure") only in the past (early/mid last century for instance), nowadays there is another (similar) word for "certainly" -- navernyaka.

[Edited at 2014-08-17 17:08 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:25
English to Polish
+ ...
... Aug 18, 2014

Case-by-case aesthetic considerations aside, I take 'probably' to imply a higher degree and more formal sort of probability than 'likely'. Which is not really what a British person means in colloquial speech but anyway.

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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:25
Japanese to English
+ ...
... Aug 18, 2014

I usually use "prolly" in my translations...it's shorter and saves time and space.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
Member (2000)
Russian to English
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To Radian Aug 19, 2014

Thank you very much for that explanation.

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Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
To Jack Aug 19, 2014

You're welcome! Indeed, the issue raised by Tom is interesting. It has always been surprising how human language unpredictably changes.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
My theory Aug 19, 2014

Radian Yazynin wrote:

You're welcome! Indeed, the issue raised by Tom is interesting. It has always been surprising how human language unpredictably changes.


I have my own theory as to how this happens.

As Michel Foucault, Noam Chomsky, and others, have made clear, language is exercised as a form of control. Either you control it, or others will control you by telling you how to say and how to think and what words to use.

So we need to be careful.

[Edited at 2014-08-19 13:34 GMT]


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Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Brilliant! Aug 19, 2014

This has something in common with many other (extra-linguistic) situations.

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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:25
Member (2008)
French to English
Whose English Aug 19, 2014

Tom in London wrote:

What are they doing to our English?



Whose English is it anyway?


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