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From marvellous to awesome: how spoken British English has changed

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Thomas Kis-Major  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 03:07
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Fantastic Aug 27, 2014

I think marvellous is really marvellous but I won't use it any more because at my age I don't want to sound old-fashioned at my age (I'm only 82)
I'll keep using fantastic, which is very Spanish.


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Phoebe Indetzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:07
German to English
+ ...
Left behind Aug 27, 2014

Yes, the language has moved on - but it's left me behind. My sister announced this summer that I sound very "quaint" when I talk English; I still talk just the way I did twenty odd years ago, when I left Britain. Marvellous, fortnight and cheerio all sound perfectly fine to me. And I've had to learn all the new vocabulary for mobile phones, internet etc much like learning a foreign language.

Any other ex-pats out there who have the same problem?


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
A others see us Aug 27, 2014

I wouldn't worry about it. The remark probably has more to do with your sister's worldview and how she pigeonholes you in her own little mental scheme of things. Perhaps she also think you're out of touch because you don't share the same cultural input.
For example, I believe that certain TV shows (naming no names) promote certain attitudes or lifestyles, foisting them on the native population at large, and ignorance of them might be deemed "quaint" by some.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11050695/Alan-Titchmarsh-our-evolving-English-language-is-amazeballs.html


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ilegitmi non carborundum Aug 27, 2014

Phoebe Ruth wrote:

Any other ex-pats out there who have the same problem?


People who turn up and blurt out inanities? Yes, I'm sure we all have out cross to bear in that sense to some extent. However, my advice is not to be defeatist. If you simply roll over after a mere two decades abroad and accept that "the language has left me behind", you might just as well curl up and accept all their other stupid opinions as gospel.

When living abroad, we often have to modify our spoken English when dealing with non-native speakers. We may tend to use slightly more formal constructions than we usually would when talking to family members, friends or other native English speakers, and perhaps also speak a little more clearly or slowly. Perhaps this is what the poster's sister found “quaint”. Coming from Glasgow myself, I have often been asked why I have “an English accent” when I go back home, but I'm pretty sure none of my English friends here would agree with that particular assessment!


[Edited at 2014-08-27 11:01 GMT]

As it happens, today I went for lunch to a friend's house to celebrate her birthday. She is English but has lived in Spain for almost 20 years and her husband is Spanish. Some friends were also there on 2 weeks holiday from the UK, as well as another couple of native speakers, from UK and New Zealand, so I put the question to them. It turns out that we all tend to agree that after living abroad for a while certain terms of phrase don’t spring so readily to mind - for example today we had to prompt my friend when she was trying to express “haves and have-nots” by paraphrasing, even though she was speaking in English to another UK native speaker. This may come about from having to paraphrase idiomatic expressions - which in a native speaker setting you wouldn't think twice about - when talking to a mixed group/ socialising with non-native speakers. My friend, who was recently back in England for six weeks, also commented how for the first few days back there she noticed that her sentence structures “weren't quite right”, and that it took a few days for her to get back into the natural way of speaking back in the old country. In the end, the consensus was that expats probably do end sounding “quaint”, but the phenomenon is natural and widspread, so we shouldn’t take it to heart or as a personal failing.

[Edited at 2014-08-27 20:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-08-28 08:15 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 17:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Forthnight Aug 27, 2014

It's interesting that 'fortnight', being nearly extinct in colloquial speech, persists in technical usage, as in e.g. fortnightly backups.

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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:07
English
+ ...
Two perhaps relevant quotations Aug 27, 2014

from my collection under the personal tab of my profile:

"Stability in language is synonymous with rigor mortis."
(Ernest Weekley, lexicographer; 1865-1954)



"Time changes all things: there is no reason why language
should escape this universal law."
(Ferdinand de Saussure, Swiss linguist and semiotician; 1857-1913)



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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:07
Russian to English
+ ...
This is cool. Aug 27, 2014

It is really cool that marvelous became awesome, especially that it is not that often used in AE anymore--just a nice relic. At least you can find it in BE now.

[Edited at 2014-08-27 12:30 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:07
Hebrew to English
Fortnight Aug 27, 2014

I still say this and I hear it quite regularly.

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Richard Henshell  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:07
French to English
+ ...
hogwash Aug 27, 2014

...or should that be BS?

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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:07
French to English
+ ...
? Aug 27, 2014

What has replaced "fortnight" for those people?

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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:07
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I quite agree Aug 27, 2014

Phoebe Ruth wrote:

Yes, the language has moved on - but it's left me behind. My sister announced this summer that I sound very "quaint" when I talk English; I still talk just the way I did twenty odd years ago, when I left Britain. Marvellous, fortnight and cheerio all sound perfectly fine to me. And I've had to learn all the new vocabulary for mobile phones, internet etc much like learning a foreign language.

Any other ex-pats out there who have the same problem?


The same thing has happened to me.

neilmac wrote:

When living abroad, we often have to modify our spoken English when dealing with non-native speakers. We may tend to use slightly more formal constructions than we usually would when talking to family members, friends or other native English speakers, and perhaps also speak a little more clearly or slowly.


Yes, I speak a lot faster in Spanish than in English.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
USA only Aug 28, 2014

Anton Konashenok wrote:

It's interesting that 'fortnight', being nearly extinct in colloquial speech, persists in technical usage, as in e.g. fortnightly backups.


AFAIK, "fortnight" is still common usage in UK English, unlike in USA, where it is apparently one of the giveaways of Britishness.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:07
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Ah, some Aug 28, 2014

The word" awesome" has a very clear meaning in the English language; the fact that it is currently misused by young and fairly illiterate people who really don't know what awe is, doesn't mean that it has taken over from all those other words, of which there must be many, that express great enthusiasm about something or other.

[Edited at 2014-08-28 19:27 GMT]


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George Hopkins
Local time: 17:07
Swedish to English
Dictionaries are... Aug 29, 2014

A good dictionary tells us that awesone is also slang for excellent or outstanding.

Many years ago on a visit "home" my younger brother told me that I spoke English like a bloody foreigner. "Quaint" is putting it kindly.
Yes, it does take a few ays to get back to a more normal way of speaking.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 21:37
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Quite interesting Aug 31, 2014

All these expatriates should perhaps stop translating into English as they seem to have lost touch with their language, and leave the business to those residing in their 'old' country.

I find it very interesting that many of you here were quite categorical in another (actually several other) thread that however long you stay out of the country of your origin, your language remains unaffected, and you have an edge over non-natives translating into your language.

What happened to that line of thought?

It only goes to highlight that whole native-only ploy is just to keep off competition.


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