Hey Y'all English Know-it-alls

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Explain for me, E. I cannot readily think of "I seen" being proper in any context.
I ain't thirsty. There's plenty of fish in the sea, but I don't want all of them, can I have some standards? Or do we just have to settle, for someone's who meh and will do.
"
Saying "I seen" sounds like you are missing the helping verb (have), which you are. "I have seen" is the present perfect expression, while "I had seen" is the past perfect.

I'm guessing E will explain it better.
Originally Posted by kayb
I could explain it in a more jargony way, but that would be a worse explanation in this context.

I would point out, though, that whether "I seen" is missing the helper verb really just depends on which English you're talking about. It's like talking about whether swimsuits are appropriate. They're neither appropriate nor inappropriate per se. It depends on the situation.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
I adore this. It is not something I hear people (gp) say often.
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When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

I seen is pretty notorious here for pretty much anybody who grew up outside of the city (that I've heard personally talk). Unless their parent's also grew up outside Utah or in the city...then it's iffy. People in the city say it too often for my taste. I cringe and want to correct them whenever I hear it. But you're much less likely to hear it in the city than the towns outside immediate Salt Lake City. And for some strange reason, when you get into the towns that tend to be smaller, they develop some strange Utah drawl. Kinda twangy. I don't understand how 30 miles can cause an immediate distinction in speech, but they accomplish it.
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Explain for me, E. I cannot readily think of "I seen" being proper in any context.
Originally Posted by kayb
"I seen" isn't incorrect per se. It's just not in the dialect of the ruling class, which is one version of English among many (I would guess hundreds). In a lot of versions of English, "I seen" is correct, while "X saw" and "X had/have seen" are wrong. If "I seen" is intrinsically improper because it's not part of Standard English, then Spanish is intrinsically improper as well.
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I would point out, though, that whether "I seen" is missing the helper verb really just depends on which English you're talking about.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
I adore this. It is not something I hear people (gp) say often.
Originally Posted by Fifi.G
Lol, it's one of my absolute favorite things to say! As many posters here can attest.
I would point out, though, that whether "I seen" is missing the helper verb really just depends on which English you're talking about.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
I adore this. It is not something I hear people (gp) say often.
Originally Posted by Fifi.G
Lol, it's one of my absolute favorite things to say! As many posters here can attest.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
I am used to hearing, "Are people here ignorant/inbred/stupid/dumb/hicks?" No, they use an earlier and less common form of english. Just because something else is deemed more proper does not mean that the old words/terms/phrases are forgotten, incorrect, and invalid.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

But I do kind of wish that English had some form of plural "you," like other languages. I feel like we're missing out.
Originally Posted by SCG
You're not. English grammar is wonderfully easy, and yet it is still a very rich and precise language. I can express ideas much more easily in it than in my native tongue.

Other languages have confusing pronouns too. In German, "sie" stands for either a formal "you", "they" or "she". In French, "on" can mean a generic person, like "one" (as in "One shouldn't talk to strangers"), or it can replace nous (we). You also have to guess if you're hearing someone say elle/elles or il/ils (sing. and plural feminine and masculine pronouns, respectively) because the s is silent unless followed by a word that starts in a vowel...usually.

Not to mention how complex verb conjugation can be and how you have to learn to distinguish between formal and informal pronouns...for instance, the rules for using tú/vosotros/vos/usted/ustedes change depending in which Spanish-speaking country you find yourself. You were wise to get rid of all that nonsense, you were!
Originally Posted by Dedachan
I think the English language is rather messy when it comes to pronouns and certain grammatical rules and appreciate the specificity of Spanish. It's very clear which "you" is meant in Spanish.
Explain for me, E. I cannot readily think of "I seen" being proper in any context.
Originally Posted by kayb
"I seen" isn't incorrect per se. It's just not in the dialect of the ruling class, which is one version of English among many (I would guess hundreds). In a lot of versions of English, "I seen" is correct, while "X saw" and "X had/have seen" are wrong. If "I seen" is intrinsically improper because it's not part of Standard English, then Spanish is intrinsically improper as well.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
OK. My English teachers would freak out if I ever said "I seen."
I ain't thirsty. There's plenty of fish in the sea, but I don't want all of them, can I have some standards? Or do we just have to settle, for someone's who meh and will do.
"
Explain for me, E. I cannot readily think of "I seen" being proper in any context.
Originally Posted by kayb
"I seen" isn't incorrect per se. It's just not in the dialect of the ruling class, which is one version of English among many (I would guess hundreds). In a lot of versions of English, "I seen" is correct, while "X saw" and "X had/have seen" are wrong. If "I seen" is intrinsically improper because it's not part of Standard English, then Spanish is intrinsically improper as well.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
OK. My English teachers would freak out if I ever said "I seen."
Originally Posted by kayb
I personally love the Urban Dictionary definition

http://m.urbandictionary.com/#define?term=I%20seen

^and the midwest is not the only place 'I seen' is widely used.

Throw out some oldies but goodies at your teacher and when he/she freaks ask him/her why Shakespeare is still considered acceptable. Hardy har.

Really, though. It is roots of the language, mixed with different dialects.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 12-13-2012 at 11:13 PM.
OK. My English teachers would freak out if I ever said "I seen."
Originally Posted by kayb
Well, their job was to teach Standard English.

Our society is organized in a way that relies heavily on having standard versions of languages. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are problems when "standard" is confused with "correct."

In the first place, it's inaccurate to say that the standard version is correct; it's merely privileged. From a cognitive and neurological standpoint, all dialects and languages are equal because they're all rooted in the same ability to create, learn, and use language.

Secondly, by designating the multitude of nonstandard versions as "incorrect," you're disparaging and disenfranchising the people who use them. Since the standard version is determined by the powerful, calling all other versions "incorrect" becomes a justification for that power.
OK. My English teachers would freak out if I ever said "I seen."
Originally Posted by kayb
Well, their job was to teach Standard English.

Our society is organized in a way that relies heavily on having standard versions of languages. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are problems when "standard" is confused with "correct."

In the first place, it's inaccurate to say that the standard version is correct; it's merely privileged. From a cognitive and neurological standpoint, all dialects and languages are equal because they're all rooted in the same ability to create, learn, and use language.

Secondly, by designating the multitude of nonstandard versions as "incorrect," you're disparaging and disenfranchising the people who use them. Since the standard version is determined by the powerful, calling all other versions "incorrect" becomes a justification for that power.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy

And this is why I love you.
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OK. My English teachers would freak out if I ever said "I seen."
Originally Posted by kayb
Well, their job was to teach Standard English.

Our society is organized in a way that relies heavily on having standard versions of languages. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are problems when "standard" is confused with "correct."

In the first place, it's inaccurate to say that the standard version is correct; it's merely privileged. From a cognitive and neurological standpoint, all dialects and languages are equal because they're all rooted in the same ability to create, learn, and use language.

Secondly, by designating the multitude of nonstandard versions as "incorrect," you're disparaging and disenfranchising the people who use them. Since the standard version is determined by the powerful, calling all other versions "incorrect" becomes a justification for that power.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
I as well, especially the second paragraph. I love hearing different versions. I could not imagine going to another state and telling someone that usages (let me add dialects/accents) typical to their area are ignorant, make my skin crawl, make me sick or ... They are beautiful.
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When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 12-13-2012 at 11:40 PM.
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I like to think that I've gotten more succinct at explaining my thoughts on language over the years
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Correct or not, 'I seen' just makes my skin crawl. Baby bunnies die when you say 'I seen'. Two die if you write it.

Ugh.
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Correct or not, 'I seen' just makes my skin crawl. Baby bunnies die when you say 'I seen'. Two die if you write it.

Ugh.
Originally Posted by redcelticcurls
Yeah, I hate it too, but E stated very eloquently why "correctness" is really just a socially constructed thing -- not some independent reality. Of course, I get into big fights with my editor friends on this one. Especially when I point out that, even when we talk about standard written English for publishing purposes, the rules for what is "correct" do change over time. They hate that, too. I once told my students that comma splices might not be considered an error in 50 years, and their heads practically exploded. Sometimes I need to just keep my mouth shut!
I'm with you RCC. I grew up saying I seen and youse guys but they both annoy me now when I spend any time with my family.
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I think the English language is rather messy when it comes to pronouns and certain grammatical rules and appreciate the specificity of Spanish. It's very clear which "you" is meant in Spanish.
Originally Posted by Saria
I was thinking how my Spanish teacher, who was Colombian, told me she grew up in an area where "tú" was considered formal. And anytime I started a semester with a new teacher, they'd complain I was adressing them by usted, which still confuses me. It's possible they had just absorbed the Brazilian way of adressing people informally, but it wasn't just that they didn't want to be treated formally, they acted like it was a mistake on my part. I had teachers from Argentina, one from Spain and the Columbian one I told you about.
Do you say it to people? Would you tell someone they sound ignorant when they are giving you directions, answering a question, etc? Imo, that crosses a huge line but I do not consider every single conversation, text, etc. to be formal. I am not submitting an application, giving a speech, or handing in a term paper to my friends and family, or any random person on the street. I think many can at least agree that people do not use different accents/dialects (in the day to day) that come natural to them, to get on someone else's nerves. It is simply the way a person talks. Due to pressure for 'correctness', and snarky to down right rude comments, nuances that make regions distinct are slowly disappearing. Peoples heritage and culture are disappearing so it doesn't 'offend' others (with non offensive terms). That, to me, is a complete and total shame.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

I'm with you RCC. I grew up saying I seen and youse guys but they both annoy me now when I spend any time with my family.
Originally Posted by missbanjo
Call me a grammar snob, but I cringe just reading "I seen". I feel like I have to flush my eyes with Visine now! And I can't hear "youse" without an image of Bobby De Niro popping into my head.

Y'all is different, since as others have noted, English lacks a distinction between "you" as a single or a plural form. So it's simply a contraction of "you all", which specifies that the speaker is communicating to a group.

But I am dead set against allowing the vernacular to be taught in schools, or permitted in verbal and written work in the classroom. (It calls to mind the debate over Ebonics in the 1990s, in which some educators sought to incorporate so-called black slang into the curriculum.)

Eilonwy is accurate (as usual) about the profound influence of the Scots-Irish on American society, particularly in the South. I just started reading Born Fighting, which tells this story in a very compelling way. (The author, Jim Webb, is a bit of a misogynist, having provoked controversy with his essay "Women Can't Fight", but that's a different topic altogether!)

Ah, fuhgeddaboutit!
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I don't tell people they annoy me or anything like that and fortunately I can switch dialects in my brain pretty easily no matter where I am. I have a coworker from Minnesota that says I seen sometimes and it doesn't bother me. It just does when I'm around my family but I don't think that's just their manner of speaking.
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