Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

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Saim
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Saim » Sun May 09, 2021 11:43 pm

Cainntear wrote:
tractor wrote:
Cainntear wrote:Asking a few people to enunciate their Ts and stop making baseball metaphors is a lot more straightforward than demanding a few dozen take on full-time English classes for a year or two, surely?

Do Brits understand baseball metaphors?

Not really, but they're such a part of business jargon that many of them appear frequently anyway -- touch base, raincheck etc etc.


Personally I didn't even know either of them had anything to do with sport. :lol:
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Le Baron » Sun May 09, 2021 11:44 pm

Adrianslont wrote:I’d love to know how well people here (both native and non-native English speakers) understand Cate (in this video).


Well I'm not Australian and I can understand her perfectly. Apart from quoll/blut(?) which are just regionalisms, but I've had that sort of thing 2 miles down the road from me.

How can anyone who claims to speak English as a first language not know what a knob (of butter) is? I've heard people in the US say 'stick' or 'pat/pad' (pat is also in UK, but is a flat piece specifically).

These non-accurate amounts of things seem to always be a problem. For instance the difference between a 'knob' of butter and a 'blob' of jam? I think I know, but lots of people seem to find this sort of thing a mysterious problem.
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Saim » Sun May 09, 2021 11:57 pm

Le Baron wrote:Apart from quoll/blut(?) which are just regionalisms,


As far as I can tell it's actually ablute, which is not a regionalism. I'll admit I couldn't decode it either (I parsed it as "a bloot") because she was saying the word in isolation and this root is most often used in the noun form - ablution.

As for quoll, can it really be classified as a regionalism? It just refers to something that only exists in Australia and most people aren't really aware of. In fact I'd wager that a substantial portion of Australians don't know what a quoll is.

How can anyone who claims to speak English as a first language not know what a knob (of butter) is?


Isn't a knob of butter less than a stick of butter?

Personally I don't believe I've ever used this term but it wouldn't through me for a loop either. I'm certainly surprised Ellen couldn't understand it. I'm also surprised about homogeneity and crèche, for me those are fairly normal words, although I guess the former is much more common in the adjective form (homogenous).
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Le Baron » Mon May 10, 2021 12:13 am

Saim wrote:As far as I can tell it's actually ablute, which is not a regionalism.


Ablute! Oh no, I've failed miserably. : :shock: I'm blaming the interlocutor for recasting it as a noun.

At this point I'll just get my coat. :arrow:
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby lysi » Mon May 10, 2021 12:18 am

Le Baron wrote:How can anyone who claims to speak English as a first language not know what a knob (of butter) is?


I've never heard anyone say a 'knob of butter' before. Most people just use exact measures here instead of approximations.
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Le Baron » Mon May 10, 2021 12:40 am

lysi wrote:
Le Baron wrote:How can anyone who claims to speak English as a first language not know what a knob (of butter) is?


I've never heard anyone say a 'knob of butter' before. Most people just use exact measures here instead of approximations.


It's not really something you measure. Just a blob 'to taste' on peas or corn or whatever it's added to. If I was baking a cake I would weigh it out - or use the handy separation guide they print on the packs now: 5 blocks/pats of 50g in a 250g pack.
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Adrianslont » Mon May 10, 2021 7:41 am

Jinx wrote:
Adrianslont wrote:I’d love to know how well people here (both native and non-native English speakers) understand Cate (in this video).

I understand all of her "special vocabulary", no problem. (Native speaker of American English here.)
But I'm a language professional – not to mention a language nerd ;) – and have known people who speak various varieties of English my whole life, so I may not be the average listener.

EDIT: After one more watch of the video, I have to correct myself: I actually didn't know one of the words: "quoll". I knew it was a type of Australian animal, but I was visualizing a quokka instead.


I’m impressed. We’ve got lots of word/language nerds here, myself included and I’m still impressed - mainly by you basically knowing what quolls and quokkas are.

No one has said they didn’t understand “corpsing”. This surprises me because it’s the only word I didn’t know. I made a logical educated guess and was wrong. And I have spent some time in theatres and with actors!

I really liked your long post above.
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Adrianslont » Mon May 10, 2021 8:31 am

Saim wrote:
Le Baron wrote:Apart from quoll/blut(?) which are just regionalisms,


As far as I can tell it's actually ablute, which is not a regionalism. I'll admit I couldn't decode it either (I parsed it as "a bloot") because she was saying the word in isolation and this root is most often used in the noun form - ablution.

As for quoll, can it really be classified as a regionalism? It just refers to something that only exists in Australia and most people aren't really aware of. In fact I'd wager that a substantial portion of Australians don't know what a quoll is.

How can anyone who claims to speak English as a first language not know what a knob (of butter) is?


Isn't a knob of butter less than a stick of butter?

Personally I don't believe I've ever used this term but it wouldn't through me for a loop either. I'm certainly surprised Ellen couldn't understand it. I'm also surprised about homogeneity and crèche, for me those are fairly normal words, although I guess the former is much more common in the adjective form (homogenous).


Yeah, ablute was a bit tricky because of the way the video is edited and the background graphic is grammatically misleading. I guess it’s not so common these days but I’m a bit older and even my phone’s autocorrect even puts a red line under ablute. You got it though and I know you are Australian. Maybe my phone speaks American English.

I too was shocked by the difficulty Cate’s interlocutors and some here had with “knob”. I guess the “knob” issue in particular shows how difficult it can be to predict where your interlocutor will have have trouble understanding you.

I think your autocorrect got you with “through me for a loop”. That made me search for the origins of “throw me for a loop” and I was surprised to find it is roller coasters!

The interactions are interesting to me.

Sometimes I think Cate could do more to accomodate the fact that she is in the USA - I mean how many Americans are realistically going to know what a quoll is. Surely she knows this.

And other times I think she is genuinely surprised/shocked that a university educated person, ie Sandra Bullock, doesn’t understand “homogeneity”.

And that reminds me of Professor C and Rodriguez in the original article. Could Sandra Bullock file a grievance against Cate if this happened in a workplace?

I see Cate’s reactions as a mixture of genuine shock, micro aggressions and grandstanding.

Cate Blanchett is Australian, has spent a lot of time in the USA and the UK and I think would be more skilled than many at traversing those varieties of English than many. Sometimes she makes misjudgements, sometimes she can’t be ar**d and sometimes she is provocative.

Modifying your language to be understood by non-native speakers is clearly going to be even harder - but I think it is well worth doing ones best to communicate effectively with anyone and everyone.

That said, I sometimes knowingly leave a metaphor in my posts that might be a bit tricky for some forum members - but I don’t want to undersell anyone and I’m pretty sure people here have great search literacy and don’t mind.
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby golyplot » Mon May 10, 2021 2:43 pm

Le Baron wrote:batting for both teams


I'm not sure that really counts as sports jargon, since the meaning is pretty transparent and not related to sports, at least in context. I was able to understand it the first time I saw it, despite knowing nothing about cricket, or even the fact that it was derived from cricket (I would have guessed baseball).


Adrianslont wrote:I stumbled upon this short video about Cate Blanchett, the Australian actress, and it seemed very relevant to the discussion.

It features native English speakers but different varieties of English, different levels of literacy, reference to native Australian animals and specialised professional vocabulary make it hard for people to understand Cate at times.



I didn’t know two of the words and made a correct guess at one and an incorrect guess at the other.

Cate and I are from the same hometown.

My biggest problem is how fast everyone speaks.

I’d love to know how well people here (both native and non-native English speakers) understand Cate (in this video).


I knew "corpsing", "homogeneity", and "illusionary" (the last two aren't even unusual words!) and had no idea about "knob" "blute" or "quoll". I'd never heard the term "lookie-likie" before, but the meaning was pretty clear. As for "creche", I'd heard the word before, but always with the French "eeh" pronunciation, so I didn't recognize it at all when she said it like "craaysh".

I only knew "corpsing" and "creche" thanks to the internet though.
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Re: Tower Of Babble: Non-Native Speakers Navigate The World Of 'Good' And 'Bad' English

Postby Le Baron » Mon May 10, 2021 3:45 pm

golyplot wrote:I knew "corpsing", "homogeneity", and "illusionary" (the last two aren't even unusual words!) and had no idea about "knob" "blute" or "quoll". I'd never heard the term "lookie-likie" before, but the meaning was pretty clear. As for "creche", I'd heard the word before, but always with the French "eeh" pronunciation, so I didn't recognize it at all when she said it like "craaysh".

I only knew "corpsing" and "creche" thanks to the internet though.


Yes indeed, she said crèche in an unusual way. In the UK people use the French pronunciation of the 'è' (though not the 'r'). So I assume hers is the Aussie way? Or just the Cate way. :lol:

I watched/listened again. The word she confirmed for Anne Hathaway "illusionary" is not a word as far as I'm concerned. The word is 'illusory'. People will cite dictionaries. I go for the Chambers usually because it is discerning. My Oxford has been nicked, but I have a shorter Oxford and it's not in there either. It may reside in a U.S. dictionary, which I will grudgingly accept. 8-)

On a classical music forum I'm on there is a thread with about 500 pages worth of jousting between UK, US and Australian English lexicons, spelling, grammar, etc. It never ends!
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