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"couldn't of found"

English translation: could not have found

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:"couldn't of found"
English translation:could not have found
Entered by: María Eugenia Wachtendorff
Options:
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01:21 Jan 21, 2004
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Linguistics
English term or phrase: "couldn't of found"
I just can't believe this... Please tell me that this expression is cockney and nothing else!

I corrected my cousin's own song lyrics, and couldn't convince him that he should write "couldn't have found", because he was spelling the sound of couldn't've.

He condescendingly said he liked my self-confidence...
So I searched English Web pages for "couldn't of," and found out that there are about 13,700 hits!

Thank you,
mew
María Eugenia Wachtendorff
Chile
Local time: 04:42
could not have found
Explanation:
Hi Maria, well you're absolutely right. He was spelling the sound not the contraction.
Selected response from:

Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 02:42
Grading comment
Thank you, Kim!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +23could not have found
Kim Metzger
5 +11If you search, you will find.Fuad Yahya
5 +9could/should/would (not) have + past participle, (correct) contracted form
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
5 +4couldn't of found
Gareth McMillan
5 +4goodenna fowndnyamuk
3 +5it is because of phonetical melting/mixing because of proximity of sounds+a dash of accent/sloppines
Jean-Luc Dumont
5 +3coulda, couldna, couldna've etc Faulkner James Joyce et aliaJane Lamb-Ruiz
5 +1could not have = couldn't'vexxxCMJ_Trans
4 +1My "too sents" with an accentxxxPaul Roige
4 +1couldn't 've found
R. A. Stegemann
3 +2over-correction?Charlie Bavington
5Couldn't havekipruss3
5 -3not Cockney
Monica Colangelo
5 -18It's popular EnglishxxxAlex Zelkind


Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +23
couldn't of found
could not have found


Explanation:
Hi Maria, well you're absolutely right. He was spelling the sound not the contraction.

Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 02:42
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 187
Grading comment
Thank you, Kim!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  RHELLER
5 mins

agree  Charlie Bavington
54 mins

agree  chopra_2002
1 hr

agree  2rush
1 hr

agree  Lesley Clarke
1 hr

agree  Asghar Bhatti
3 hrs

agree  xxxTatiana Nero
3 hrs

agree  Will Matter: absolutely right!
3 hrs

agree  Refugio: It is in the class of written language approximating the sound of condensed oral speech, such as gonna, gotta, lotsa, etc.
3 hrs

agree  J. Leo
5 hrs

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
5 hrs

agree  xxxIanW
6 hrs

agree  writeaway
6 hrs

agree  Pike
6 hrs

agree  Gordon Darroch
6 hrs

agree  Sabrina Eskelson
7 hrs

agree  Andy Watkinson: I would of thought it was obvious
9 hrs

neutral  Gareth McMillan: How do you know zhis will fit the notes?
9 hrs

agree  Nado2002
10 hrs

agree  Textklick: Common VERBAL only usage since long among the lesser-educated. Not as bad as recent developments such as e.g. "I was doing this job, which it was really difficult" When I hear that I want to get vicious.
10 hrs

agree  Hilary Davies Shelby: "couldnt of" and "couldnt have" sound EXACTLY the same in a LOT of dialects, mine (Ayrshire) being one
11 hrs

agree  Cilian O'Tuama: 13,700 hits? Sure that's nothing! Try 'occured' (927,000 hits) or even 'accomodation' (3,550,000 hits)
11 hrs

agree  Patricia Baldwin: Common USA verbal error among the lesser educated, Cilan & Textklick have it down pat!
12 hrs

agree  Jane Lamb-Ruiz: "'dialectall'= coulda, couldna etc. could OF is a mistranscription of the sound...couldn't've transcribes it correctly...see dialoque in a million novels..also, not a verbal error...everyobody speaks this way US and UK and all others
19 hrs

neutral  R. A. Stegemann: It is not clear that he was spelling the contraction. The narrator's cousin could've just as easily copied what so wrongly appears on the web or in the texts of other songs.
1 day2 hrs
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4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +11
If you search, you will find.


Explanation:
Just about anything you search for can be found. It does not mean it is correct. "Couldn't have" is pronounced almost the same as "couldn't of," hence the confusion.

Fuad Yahya
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 36

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  RHELLER: you are so right - people need to understand that the frequency of hits simply indicates usage not correctness
5 mins

agree  Charlie Bavington: wise words.
54 mins

agree  Jean-Luc Dumont
1 hr

agree  Lesley Clarke
1 hr

agree  Will Matter
3 hrs

agree  Refugio: The internet is littered with the corpses of misspelled words.
3 hrs

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
5 hrs

agree  Gordon Darroch: correct - the more common the mistake, the more likely Google is to turn it up
6 hrs

agree  rene_teews: espectially with the development of blogs - they don't come with spellcheckers and besides it's part of people's freedom to write as they please but it still hurts my eyes.
8 hrs

agree  Parrot: phonetically right
9 hrs
  -> phonetically close, if spoken fast enough.

agree  Nado2002
10 hrs
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14 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): -18
It's popular English


Explanation:
As far as I know this is not just cockney, such way of expressing oneself is also widespread in the US.
It's popular English. There was popular Latin, now there is a popular English.
There is no reason to panic about that. Languages change. It's easier to say "couldnt' of found" than "couldn't have found".
Popular versions always win over difficult grammatical structures. No one here today speaks "perfect" English. There is no "right" or "wrong" English. If you want to speak "right" English you have to speak like Shakespeare's heroes. And if you don't speak like one of them - you're not gramatically correct.
Voila tout. Saludos :)


xxxAlex Zelkind
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  kipruss3: not propper at all, sorry. some of us are purists. :-)
4 mins
  -> "Couldn't" is not "proper" as well. The proper way to say it is "could not". It's very interesting to see how people choose what's "proper" and what's "not proper". Language is not a private property, it belongs to everyone, not just to "purists"

disagree  RHELLER: English has a grammar structure which has changed and will continue to change. It would be incorrect to speak like Shakespeare in 2004.
7 mins
  -> Exactly, Rita. It's changing as we speak. English does not belong to English folks, it's time to realize this. They can no longer make the rules. If the majority of people in the world like "couldn't of" instead of "couldn't have" - the rules have changed

disagree  Charlie Bavington: With absolutely every syllable you utter starting from "It's easier to say...."
42 mins
  -> Charlie, it does not matter whether you agree with me or disagree :) Majority of people choose to speak that way, and your opinion can not change that. I'm sure you've heard of "ebonics". Children in USA now learn it in schools and prefer it to "proper" E

disagree  Agnieszka Hayward: yep. might even agree with you. even easier, let's not speak at all... at least not English, right? :o)
1 hr
  -> What's English? Wild, horrible mix of French and anglo-saxon jargons. You call it "proper" language? You can twist it and turn it as you please, just like the Englishmen themselves had a little worry about changing "proper" French, for example

neutral  R. A. Stegemann: Perhaps not "proper" English, but certainly common. I would not use Shakespeare as my standard for proper contemporary English, however.
1 hr
  -> What is the standard than? Is there one? And if there is none, let's not be so categorical about "right" and "wrong", "pure" and "dirty", "proper" and "improper" since we do not have any standard for judging. Let's not show off our "purity", it ain't cool

disagree  Will Matter: this spelling is incorrect, anyone who even considers that this is the correct way to abbreviate 'could not have found' is wildly mistaken.
3 hrs
  -> That's what Roman "sages" said about Latin. They said that Latin was a "holy" language and despised all who could not speak it "properly". Where are those "sage" Romans and their language today?

disagree  Refugio: You seem to have a great deal of contempt for a language you have yet to master. Perhaps it is like the fable of the fox and the sour grapes.
3 hrs
  -> I never claimed, unlike some others, to speak perfect English. I never wanted to "get personal" with you, Ruth, but it seems that you just can't stop your chauvinism from coming out. I can speak your language. Can you speak mine? Don't talk to me

disagree  xxxIanW: Just for the record, I can't speak your language either. That still doesn't make your answer correct though. This construction has nothing to do with Shakespeare or cockney - it's sloppy, incorrect English which is most definitely NOT taught in schools.
5 hrs
  -> I'm not here to give correct answers. The correct answer is obvious to anyone with elementary education. I don't care much about this particular question, but the issue is much deeper here. The issue here is pure chauvinism on the part of some "natives"

disagree  Angeliki Kaloudi: Seems to me the chauvinism here is not on the part of the natives!
6 hrs
  -> How long have you been here?

disagree  writeaway: English is not the free for all you seem to think it is.Why such haughty contempt for the English language and its native speakers?could of is just a transcription of sloppy SPOKEN language,which in most languages can differ greatly from the correct form
6 hrs
  -> It's free to me and I will speak it as I like. You can't make Russian speak like an Englishman, you can't make an Englishman speak like Russian. I do not want to speak YOUR version of English. You know why? Because I have my own

disagree  Gordon Darroch: It's nothing to do with chauvinism and everything to do with pig-headed ignorance. languages evolve, but that doesn't mean they don't have rules. "Couldn't of" is wrong because it makes no logical sense: why throw a preposition into a verbal construction?
6 hrs
  -> Again, you too have missed the point. Take any English word and you will see that this word is a corrupted form of the similar word from another language. I repeat, English is corrupted form of other languages. Why can't I corrupt English?

disagree  nyamuk: With all this negative sentiment you are certain to be ahead of your time, who am I to stand in the way when your are already kilo-miles ahead.
6 hrs
  -> I regret that you feel this way.

disagree  David Moore: Not popular with me, either; okay, so I'm a bit of a dinosaur anyway, but to me it is (and always has been) something spoken by the ill-educated.
7 hrs
  -> David, "of" is extremely overused in English, it might have more than 20 meanings, so why not invent another one? Why there is no problem with other 23 meanings of "of", but this "of" sets off such an "off-topic"?

disagree  anglista: a popular English spelling error, that's what it is
8 hrs
  -> OK

neutral  Gareth McMillan: Listen, you lot, the guy's just expressing his opinion and I agree with some of it- ther's no need to grind his face in the mud of your superior knowledge. English in twenty years will have changed in vast measure- it always was a bastard language.
8 hrs
  -> Thank you, Gareth. I love English for it's versatility and it's adaptability. I hope it will continue changing as fast as it was throughout it's history. Other languages don't have such adaptability. Yes, bastard language, but one tough bastard :)

disagree  xxxCMJ_Trans: this is teaching your grandmother to suck eggs and it SUCKS! From time to time we get people on the site whose sole aim is to be offensive and who offer rubbish advice to the poor benighted askers; Here we go again. Any moderators out there?
8 hrs
  -> Look, there are no "poor askers" here. If some asker is an idiot - he deserves an idiotic answer. It's not "Salvation Army" here. And stop saying "we" every time. On whose behalf are you speaking?

neutral  Textklick: Language lives and grows. Nevertheless when I hear recent developments such as "I was doing this job, which it was really difficult" I want to spew. But I am here to work with language; I don't claim ownership rights; it's just my mother tongue, innit?
10 hrs

disagree  Hilary Davies Shelby: This is actually a mis-spelling of "couldn't've" as so many others have pointed out, but what happened to "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?"
11 hrs

disagree  Andy Watkinson: Please read the following: "Origen de las lenguas occidentales, 100 - 1500 d.C." Philippe Wolff, followed by "Notions of Correctness" Prof. Jeremy Warbug, 1962. in any one of your multiple "working languages". Thanks. We may then have somewhere to start.
13 hrs

disagree  Richard Benham: If an expression (a) has no rational explanation as written and (b) has a perfectly rational phonetic explanation as a contraction of a standard English expression, then it is a spelling mistake. Internal consistency counts. And even Shakespeare erred.
13 hrs

disagree  Cilian O'Tuama: not very 'popular English' here either
14 hrs
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14 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
Couldn't have


Explanation:
You are of course, correct. The propper english is Couldn't Have done X. However, like all languages, english is growing and fully corruptable. People type what they *think* they hear, and don't bother to worry about correct grammer.

Course, go out to the net and look for correct usage of "there" and "their", or "you're" and "your", and you'll realize that most 'maricans don't "no" 'nuttin' bout know grammar. aint it a shame. :-)

kipruss3
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  RHELLER: Sorry, but your spelling mistakes are hurting my eyes.
10 mins

disagree  Will Matter: not only that, the implied or expressed anti-Americanism, whether humorously intended or not, is deeplyoffensive to this American but then again, hard to take anyone who misspells 'proper', & 'English' yet purports to be both a linguist & a native speaker
3 hrs

agree  Richard Benham: Despite the atrocious spelling. There is no reason why the songwriter could not write "couldn't have" and pronounce the sandhi / enclitic form of "have", which sounds just like unstressed "of". But please, spell better!
14 hrs
  -> grins, there is a resason I started to learn russian. Being dyslexic is a bitch when your native language is English. :-)
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27 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): -3
couldn't of found
not Cockney


Explanation:
Not Cockney, Mariu, but American UnEnglish.

Monica Colangelo
Argentina
Local time: 04:42
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in category: 7

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  R. A. Stegemann: Nothing unEnglish about it -- USAmerican or otherwise. It's probably the most common spoken form of what everyone has already mentioned in writing.
1 hr
  -> The fact that Americans misspell words using similar phonemes does not make these new words they have coined right. You simply cannot spell words as you please.

neutral  Will Matter: has nothing to do with "American" or "not American" it's fundamental ignorance, in this case, of spelling and grammar.
3 hrs

disagree  Angeliki Kaloudi: As an ex-school teacher in England, believe me, there's nothing exclusively American about the mistake. We Brits do it all the time. Time we stopped blaming the Americans for every error and every change in the language.
6 hrs

neutral  Gordon Darroch: Agree with willmatter and fani. By the way, where did we get this myth that "couldn't of" is how it's spoken? I always hear the last syllable as "uv" with a schwa, which falls pretty much halfway between "of" and "have"
6 hrs

disagree  David Moore: And I don't agree that it's AE (AUE?) either. I've been hearing this for almost 60 years - and deploring it....
7 hrs

neutral  Richard Benham: It's just an irrational phonetic respelling of a near-universal pronunciation. As to Gordon's comment, I would point out that the vowel in "of" is always neutralized too, when it has no stress (almost all the time).
13 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
over-correction?


Explanation:
I'm not sure what the proper linguistic term for it is, but it's a kind of over correction thing.
People say could've and couldn't've and similar things the world over (in fact, a cockney accent would be more likely to say coulda couldna). But then, with some speakers, when they have to emphasise the auxiliary, it comes as follows:
A - wouldcha've killed 'im (would you have killed him)
B - yeah, I would of (would have)
You can here this kind of exchange all the time in north London pubs. Not always about killing people, of course - first example I can think of !!
So anyway, then, when writing, such speakers will often make the mistake of expanding the " 've " into "of".


Charlie Bavington
Local time: 08:42
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 28

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Gordon Darroch: it's like adding an "h" to words that begin with vowels - "happy to be of hassistance, squire".
5 hrs
  -> hindeed !

agree  Andy Watkinson: "Hypercorrection" is the term, ain't it?
9 hrs
  -> I wouldn't of thought of that all by myself :-)
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
couldn't of found
My "too sents" with an accent


Explanation:
I hear quite a few people saying it ... and they're natives! As it happens, it's real, OK then. It's not an easy part of the speech for non-natives either. However, it's not grammatical and I hope it will never be accepted beyond the pal level when writing. One reason for this particular one: why write "of" (preposition) when it's just as simple to write "have" (verb) and, besides, we're dealing with a Verb Phrase here, not a Object? But, hey, stuff my linguistic knowledge, self-confident , wise boy!! OK.
Of course, it can always be labelled as "slang" and leave it at that. I would indeed accept some author or rock lyrics or whoever using "couldn't of", if it reeeeeeally need be.
Use with care. And kids: whether you do this at home or try to emulate Spiderman, parental advice is recommended. After all, they're more real than your CDs and online chats. It's cool too to be aware of both sides of the story, ya reckon??
P :-)

ps: Google no good here, there's quite a lot of "Englishes" out there!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 23 mins (2004-01-21 02:44:57 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Errata mundata: AN Object, not A

xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 09:42
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish, Native in CatalanCatalan

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Lesley Clarke: well expressed Paul, that was what I was thinking, I'm not uptight about different usages, but how this really just a spelling mistake, derived from different forms of pronunciation
46 mins
  -> I'm just imagining "couldn't of" becoming the norm within 25 years. 25 years on some R&R star will come up with revolutionary lyrics featuring "couldn't have" and then the world will go nuts about it! :-) :-)
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
couldn't 've found


Explanation:
A poor transliteration of common English speech.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2004-01-21 03:37:40 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Correction: transcription, rather than transliteration, is probably the appropriate word in this context.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2004-01-21 03:52:34 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Note to Alex: A unique English standard does not exist, and I am the last to claim that there is one. My goal is to limit the number of standards, else we will all finish by speaking two languages neither of which is understandable beyond our own national, regional, and local cultural and ethnic boundaries. Shakespeare is not a standard for any contempory English that I know, where native speakers reign.

Note to trixiemck: We appear to be talking past one another. I was not addressing the problem of proper transcription in my note to you, rather what the improper transcription was meant to transcribe.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2004-01-21 05:03:31 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Correction: contempory should have read contemporary.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2004-01-22 03:50:41 (GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

Correction: \"else we will all finish\", should have read \"else we all finish\".

R. A. Stegemann
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 16:42
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxAlex Zelkind: Yes, Hamo. I share your point of view, I share your goal
1 hr
  -> You have a friend among the jackals!
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +9
could/should/would (not) have + past participle, (correct) contracted form


Explanation:
http://www.proz.com/?sp=h&id=616780

Firstly, I agree with whoever pointed out that the number of hits on Google is just an indication that the term, phrase etc appears.

Secondly, and turning to your question, this is unfortunately a common grammar mistake uttered by a large number of native speakers of English, and one of the mistakes some non-natives pick up after spending a lot of time in an English-speaking country. Much more than a spelling mistake, substituting “have” by the word “of” which is not even a verb is of course quite a serious mistake when you think about it. Commonly mis-used with the modals could, should, would and must.

Here are some sources on the subject.

1 - http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000204.htm

Could Of or Could Have?
Could of does not exist. Neither do should of, will of, or would of as verbs.
Write could have, should have, will have, or would have.
If you want to emphasize the pronunciation, write it as a verb contraction: could've, should've, will've, or would've.
See also Verb Contractions.
Copyright©1997-2001 English Plus, All rights reserved.


2 - http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/errors/couldof.html


COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE, WOULD HAVE
This is one of those errors typically made by a person more familiar with the spoken than the written form of English. A sentence like "I would have gone if anyone had given me free tickets" is normally spoken in a slurred way so that the two words "would have" are not distinctly separated, but blended together into what is properly rendered "would've." Seeing that "V" tips you off right away that "would've" is a contraction of "would have." But many people hear "would of" and that's how they write it. Wrong.
Note that "must of" is similarly an error for "must have."

3 - http://www.mdx.ac.uk/www/study/grammarx.htm

(Comment about origin of this mistake which goes back to the time when the contracted forms started.

4 - http://www.ex.ac.uk/~damyhill/grammar/prepositionteach.htm

One of the most common errors in pupils' writing is using the preposition 'of' instead of the abbreviated verb 've'. So 'could of', 'should of', 'might of' are common manifestations in secondary exercise books! Help writers to see that their mistake is due to writing what the word sounds like rather than thinking about it means



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2004-01-21 09:47:05 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Often wondered how folks came up with \"could of\" based on the sound alone anyway, as the sound is \"could UV\"...


    Reference: http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000204.htm
    Reference: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/errors/couldof.html
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Local time: 09:42
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxPaul Roige: Great. Nikki's done the homework. Now, Maria, please ask your son to write a song for us on the subject, ie: "Wish you could of been here"!! :-) :-) :-)
30 mins

agree  Will Matter: absolutely correct. Thanks!
33 mins

agree  Refugio: Also, a lot of educated people who know better enjoy using incorrect English just for fun. But to enjoy it in that way, you have to know it's incorrect.
1 hr

agree  RHELLER: props to Nikki for providing good documentation :-)
2 hrs

agree  vixen
2 hrs

agree  Begoña Yañez
3 hrs

agree  David Moore: Brilliant!
4 hrs

neutral  xxxAlex Zelkind: This is not a message from G-d, you know. Humans wrote all this, and someday humans are going to change it. Someday... Why not today?
4 hrs
  -> Of course, just basic grammar. Yes, language is evolving all the time and should, but a verb is a verb after all.

agree  Nikita Kobrin
7 hrs

agree  Amy Williams
1 day6 hrs
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +4
couldn't of found
goodenna fownd


Explanation:
With the foolish intention of being showered with praise by my esteemed peers, I agree with your cousin 100% He is not promoting standard delivered English he is transcribing a song that he has written. Presumably he can also sing and mentally imagine the sounds of his own song when he is not listening directly. I would trust him to be able to ascertain the difference between the utterances 'couldn't have' 'couldn't 've' 'couldn't of' or 'couldna.' If he can't spell what he says, or sings, the problem is either a cognitive disorder or tyranny.

Correct or incorrect in terms of standardised written English the important question is does the transcription reflect the aural experience of the song. That is to say could one by reading the lyrics, without ever having heard the song, accurately reproduce the song.

Its one thing to encourage people to practice 'correct grammar and speech' its quite another to beat them over the head with OED when they are using non standard written language to more accurately portray oral/aural expression. We seem to accept vulgate dialogue in literature once the authors significance has been established. So lets give your cousin some latitude in the hopes that he will one day be famous for singinit lak itis.

To all the smarmy grammarians who are crawling in their skin now feel free to register your disagreement if it makes you feel better. I am quite certain that my ear-drums will not stop vibrating for a moment the next time someone says A-I-N-T
or mis-masticates the verb 'to be.' Thank the heavens above and the illiterate people below for reminding us that no one has a monopoly on language, and that language is collective property beyond the jurisdiction of the WTO.


    Reference: http://paul.merton.ox.ac.uk/language/
    Reference: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html
nyamuk
United States
Local time: 01:42
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  RHELLER: I agree that no one has a monopoly on language, not even you. asker posed the question in order to confirm her knowledge - isn't our purpose to help the asker? pronunciation and spelling are 2 entirely different subjects
1 hr
  -> "...monopol[ies] on language...not even [me]" I'm not even pretending to hold a franchise licence. I just thought while we are all commiserating on the abuse of English languish that someone should take up the songwriters cause.

agree  xxxAlex Zelkind: To Rita. Not very long ago Russian alphabet had more letters than it has now. After Revolution it was decided that one letter was absolutely useless, so we got rid of that letter. Do you see my point?
1 hr
  -> OMG a vote of confidence by a pariah, I'll be swimming to the top through the center of the earth only to emerge in the hamlet of Made in USA, Guangxiao China at the Hasbro® Speak and Spell® factory. ;P

agree  Nikita Kobrin: Yes, song lyrics present quite a special layer of English. Again, remember Slade (see above).
6 hrs

agree  Jean-Luc Dumont: Exactly !
10 hrs

agree  Gareth McMillan: Agree with you basic argument- it's for the writer to decide.
11 hrs
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
could not have = couldn't've


Explanation:
I don't wish to add fuel to the fire but all these rather vituperous exchanges have overlooked one point, namely that because people have contracted "could not have" to "couldn't've", it has been mistaken by many "ordinary" people (by "ordinary" I mean those with average education and no interest in language, rightly or wrongly spoken) for "could of". So far, nothing new. BUT what is now happening is that people are beginning to WRITE "could of" and, in UK English at least, it is gradually passing into the language as an accepted form of speech. In years to come philologists will be tracing back the evolution of this expression, the way we're going today. I actually read "could of" in a so-called respectable newspaper the other day. Sadly, I cannot quote chapter and verse.
This expression is similar to "they was" for "they were", which is creeping its way in as "correct".
I am a traditionalist and believe you should have standards and am fighting rearguard action against this sort of rubbish. In the past language evolved because there was little or no written communication so people repeated what they thought they heard (cf. the old example of "send reinforcements, we're going to advance" whispered down the line from one soldier to the next coming out in the end as "send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance".
Nowadays, with everybody (or nearly) able to read, this sort of thing should be less common. Sadly sloppy standards are having a counter-effect.
By the way, before anybody mentioned Russian, I actually have a quite good knowledge of the language. That is no excuse for letting my English slip!

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Note added at 2004-01-21 11:09:22 (GMT)
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TO GARETH - I mentioned \"moderators\" because I was surprised no-one had reacted. I take exception to some of the rather personal and racist remarks that are being made. That\'s all

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Note added at 2004-01-21 11:34:53 (GMT)
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also to Gareth: Whether you judge my standards worth having on the site or not is your affair but if the site is to descend to the level of no holds barred slanging matches then I, too, will be off on the heels of W. Stein

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Note added at 2004-01-21 14:20:01 (GMT)
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To Gareth: Why on earth are you taking up the cudgels on behalf of someone else? He seems more than big enough to fight his own battles. All I did was to express surprise that the moderators hadn\'t stopped the exchange. I don\'t know why that upsets you: after all, they stop every other wretched exchange that looks like getting interesting ! Censorship is in fact a big problem round here. But from there to having the coals of fury heaped on my head ........ If I wrote you a private note, it was because I did not wish to fuel the flames any further. As Ian confirms (thanks Ian) this guy has been making up translations in various language combinations for a week or so now, which is how he came to rattle the cages of those who have been gunning for him. There comes a point where one\'s patience snaps. Frankly, if I went off air, it was because I had had enough.
I only added my contribution to the debate anyway because it happens that this particular development in the English language is one I feel VERY strongly about. I won\'t bother again!
If you misunderstood my intentions, I apologise but I am not very happy with your insistence on going public. What good will it do?

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Note added at 2004-01-21 14:26:17 (GMT)
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re: your note on WS: I didn\'t know that and am very surprised to hear it. Who else has been suspended in the same way? That tallies with my comments on censorship and explains why you are so edgy over this. Well, some of us are equally edgy over AZ\'s behaviour. I would also add that I do not agree that AZ said nothing wrong here. I read all the comments (I think it was 12 contributions plus responses) before I added my bit to and I judged his efforts on the basis of every word he wrote........ Try doing the same and you\'ll see what I mean!

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Note added at 2004-01-21 14:28:17 (GMT)
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and I STILL cannot type properly in these dreadful boxes!

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Note added at 2004-01-21 16:14:39 (GMT)
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Gareth:one last and final point. When I am wrong, I will stand up and be corrected BUT if you take a step back, you will realise that we are coming at this from different perspectives, both probably equally biased but for different reasons.
If you look at some of the answers given by the person at issue here in other pairs, you will see also that, when I have been involved in the same questions, I have always tried to remain polite and courteous (and received nothing but flak in return!). I therefore take exception to being singled out for your \"special\" criticism.
And that is my final word - to quote a famous game show

xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 09:42
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  xxxAlex Zelkind: Should I count your mistakes, like you count mine?
21 mins
  -> I never claimed to be a typist ! It just shows that I cannot type in little boxes any more than I can think in them!

neutral  Gareth McMillan: You know very well the high regard I hold for your translation abilities- I openly said so on Ian's peace train forum. But these "contributions" are no more than thinly diguised personal attacks.
5 hrs
  -> you're entitled to your opinion, as I to mine. It so happens I'm being altruistic. I dislike contributors who seem to enjoying messing around and wasting askers' time. I am surprised too how vitriolic this all is.

agree  Jane Lamb-Ruiz: agree with the explanation why: BUT, everything has it's place; in novels, dialogue might include, couldn't've...it's a way of transcribing dialoque that's all, reflection of the real world: could of is just a written mistranscription of the sound
10 hrs
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +4
couldn't of found


Explanation:
If this is a song lyric, and the languge is meant to typically represent this style of speaking (and don't try to tell me it doesn't exist, it does) then you have no right IMHO to interfere with it.

Leave as is.

And try telling a Barnsley coal miner that his (to me highly attractive) dialect isn't proper English- but take out some insurance first.

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Note added at 9 hrs 20 mins (2004-01-21 10:42:28 GMT)
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See Alex Zelkind\'s answer above (although I don\'t expect anyone will notice me down here):

disagree CMJ_Trans:
\"this is teaching your grandmother to suck eggs and it SUCKS! From time to time we get people on the site whose sole aim is to be offensive and who offer rubbish advice to the poor benighted askers; Here we go again. Any moderators out there?\"

CMJTrans is way over the top here- I see nothing personally offensive in the answer offered but I see plenty in your disagree.

If you start calling for moderators, you run the risk of killing the good and the bad- like taking antibiotics. This is what\'s happened on the DE<ENG site and it\'s now about as exciting as a visit to the morgue.

Further, I find the above gang-rape a sad comment on all those participating who seem to think they\'re professionals.

We should maybe create a new site for them- AmateurZ.com

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Note added at 10 hrs 18 mins (2004-01-21 11:40:32 GMT)
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See below- comment to CMJ_Trans incomplete, for some reason:

I don\'t think it\'s anyone\'s prerogative to \"thought police\" emerging patterns in a member\'s contributions. We lost William Stein (an excellent translator) on the DE<ENG site though such childish over-reaction to occasional intellectual brawling which was far removed from the victimisation I see here.

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Note added at 12 hrs 38 mins (2004-01-21 14:00:36 GMT)
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CMJ_Trans:
I got your email, thanks, but as many people here seem to think this question presents a legitimate opportunity for public chastisement- lets keep it public- publish your email here as an added note to your answer and don\'t give me any bull about there being not enough space- if there\'s enough space for 15 people to comment on Zelkinds answer, then your mail shouldn\'t be a problem- look at all the supporters you\'ll have.

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Note added at 12 hrs 46 mins (2004-01-21 14:08:27 GMT)
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And since you mention it William Stein didn\'t \"withdraw his participation\", as you put it, he was suspended.

Gareth McMillan
Local time: 09:42
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxAlex Zelkind: Thank you again, Gareth
16 mins
  -> I just thought you were being treated unfairly, is all.

neutral  xxxCMJ_Trans: If this were AZ's first foray, I would way nothing but a pattern is emerging. As to your comments, one more nail in the Proz coffin for me
35 mins
  -> I don't think it's anyone's prerogative to "thought police" emerging patterns in a member's contributions. We lost William Stein (an excellent translator) on the DE

agree  jerrie: There is a world of difference between formal written English and song lyrics. I can't get any satisfaction?!
38 mins
  -> Ah cain't git no sah-tisfac-shun. Established Enlish lyrics- even a classic.

agree  Nikita Kobrin: Mama Weer All Crazee Now
2 hrs
  -> Thanks. B. Dylan- "don't criticise what you don't understand"!!!!!

agree  Textklick: I cuildnae agree more with your version laddie (that's Scots, which those of noble birth there call Scotch). Why don't people READ questions before they get into frenzied argument or Google themselves into the ionosphere???
2 hrs
  -> Thanks Text thingy.

neutral  xxxIanW: Sorry Gareth, I'm with CMJ on this one - trawl through the French sites and you'll see what he means.
3 hrs
  -> Ian, I couldn't give a toss about what he wrote on other sites, or on other questions. This question is NOT the forum in which to conduct witch hunts on an individual who has said NOTHING WHATSOEVER out of place HERE.

disagree  Richard Benham: "Couln't've", although ugly, is phonetically identical to "couln't of" and actually makes sense. Or are you postulating a verb to "of"? (If it's a hit it will be because people buy it on the basis of the sound, not the spelling!)
4 hrs
  -> I'm postulating the song writer's right to do it his way, and be accepted for it. If it becomes a smash hit the academics are going to have some egg on our faces. This is how language evolves. And well said Hilary- above.

disagree  TonyTK: Therint nor marners in't Baaarnsley nomore, lad!
5 hrs
  -> You almost make a point for me.

neutral  Refugio: I think our overreaction to AZ comes from a growing series of outrageous and/or wrong answers he has posted, including one in the French thread where he said he just made it up. Most of us probably agree about language evolution and songwriters' rights.
5 hrs
  -> OK, but like I say- hit him when outrages, not when he's being civilised- maybe he's already taken the point, now give him a chance to prove it.

agree  nyamuk: That coal miners and others should be allowed to speak in any manner they see fit is truly an offence that should be punished by a few torturous years in the academy where their language arts will be stripped lifeless.
7 hrs
  -> Absolutely- and maybe some of us would benefit from "go-yin' down thee 'ole for some coal" (South Wales- where my mother comes from).

agree  Jean-Luc Dumont: Thank you also for additional comments and info, then
10 hrs
  -> Thanks, but I'm not really so comfortable with the non-related comments. But I felt it was necessary to make a point here.
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +5
it is because of phonetical melting/mixing because of proximity of sounds+a dash of accent/sloppines


Explanation:
couldn't have found becomes couldn't'av'found then couldn't af'found then couldn't of'found

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Note added at 2 hrs 6 mins (2004-01-21 03:28:13 GMT)
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I am not saying this is good or correct - just that it is \"out there\"

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Note added at 4 hrs 33 mins (2004-01-21 05:55:32 GMT)
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I am just providing a phonetical explanation of how the verb and tense end up being pronounced then written the way they are and how the person decides to write it to translate the pronunciation. Sometimes it is necessary to write things the way they are pronounced to understand and feel better the way people speak or spoke - see Faulkner, Black (African-American) writers, etc...


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Note added at 15 hrs 42 mins (2004-01-21 17:04:23 GMT)
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This is the beauty of the English language that it is so creative and flexible not only in ts capacity to coining new words or taking words from other languages but in not being afraid to adapting its own writing form to be more expressive - even.

Jean-Luc Dumont
France
Local time: 09:42
Works in field
Native speaker of: French
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  RHELLER: the point here is to help the asker- not to justify but to correct. A singer can pronounce the phrase anyway he/she likes but it should still be written correctly, so that the words are understood; not the same as an apostrophe replacing an ending "G"
16 mins
  -> disagree - sure you have read books where English is "transcribed" to reflect ethnic or social background - the point was and is to explain how and where such a pronunciation exists and how it can be transcribed -

neutral  Will Matter: fact remains, the correct spelling of even the abbreviation, in this case, is grammatically incorrect.
3 hrs
  -> see my comment above - this can be called realistic writing - if I am Dickens and write how miners spoke I do not write it like an Oxford "Don" speaks

agree  Gordon Darroch: I think we've all been wound up a bit too much by Alex; of course people use "wrong" forms and you can't always be didactic about it if you want to render their use of the language accurately.
6 hrs
  -> Agree

agree  writeaway: wanna agree but dontcha think this site oughta become more academic and less political?
8 hrs
  -> Thank you - but nothing political on my part here.

agree  Nikita Kobrin: Yes, SOMETIMES it is necessary. Just remember Slade's humorously misspelled song titles "Coz I Luv You," "Look Wot You Dun," "Take Me Bak 'Ome," "Mama Weer All Crazee Now," "Gudbuy t'Jane," "Cum on Feel the Noize," "Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me," etc.
9 hrs
  -> Could not agree more - and English does it better than most other languages

agree  Gareth McMillan: And with Nikita- who's languge is it anyway?
15 hrs
  -> Thank you

agree  Jane Lamb-Ruiz: That right
18 hrs
  -> you betcha
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20 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
coulda, couldna, couldna've etc Faulkner James Joyce et alia


Explanation:
All the variants of the phrase are possible EXCEPT of to transcribe 've.

The grammar of WRITTEN English is not the grammar of SPOKEN English....

Ánd both UK, US and many others say:

"couldn't've" which is not incorrect, it is just a written way of putting spoken language and much used in novels (dialoque) plays etc. You would not write it in an academic paper; you would use it in a song, and OF in place of 've is just improper spelling of a spoken linguistic FORM.

This entire discussion with regard to right and wrong shows more an abyssmal lack of linguistic knowledge.

Sorry I missed the main discussion.

Jane Lamb-Ruiz
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Gareth McMillan: Right on.
1 hr

agree  Refugio: And then there's Cholmondelay (famous from the Battle of the Cows in the 16th Century). Do we write Chumley?
4 hrs

agree  GoodWords: It is written this way for one of two reasons (1) ignorance, as in all the above discussions (2) a deliberate intent to represent informal or uneducated speech, as Jane points out here.
54 days
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