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Any idiomatic expression that generates requests for clarification from native speakers has to be strictly local (in one sense or another) and not really idiomatic

Some of our disagreement, I think, stems from somewhat different takes on "idiomatic". To me, once you say "idiomatic", as in "good idiomatic AmE", I start thinking "what people actually say", not "what would be the highest standard, especially the highest logical standard, of speech".
Changing none of these is analogous to a changing a phone number, and I can only wanoder what you mean ... parties"; they are all ambiguous without a context, especially "regimes": you're ambidexterous, you've changed your spots, you've pulled a Nixon.

No, I've pulled a George Bush.
Do speakers really go through such mental gymnastics before making utterances, ...

Of course not. But I submit that, although often language as used is merely the application (sometimes inappropriately or illogically) of patterns of sound that have been heard from other speakers, these patterns are rarely without some kind of underlying logic at their source, some kind of sense, literal or figurative, behind what might at first sound like a fairly arbitrary combination of words. Indeed, your objection to "I changed my phone number" is that it paints the wrong picture.
Gary Williams
Let's take the comparison down a few notches from having the phone number changed versus persuading a jury to acquit ... I'd never say that "I painted my bedroom walls and ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

I didn't throw this in earlier because I'm not completely confident of it, but I wonder whether a factor in the decision whether to use a causative form is the degree of likelihood that one can do the thing oneself. If we hired a painter or a barber, we would say, "I had my room painted" or "I had my hair cut" just because "I painted my room" or "I cut my hair" says that I did it myself. Could it be that the frequency with which "I changed my phone number" is said has something to do with the fact that because the likelhihood of doing this oneself is so small, few are likely to be confused as to the real actor? Just as in "I transferred money to your account."
Could it be that a general can say, "I attacked the enemy's left flank" even though he personally spent the whole afternoon in his headquarters tent just and only because the listener can be, nowadays, quite certain that the general did not personally undertake a berserker assault on the position?
Gary Williams
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Let's take the comparison down a few notches from having the phone number changed versus persuading a jury to acquit ... I'd never say that "I painted my bedroom walls and ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

I didn't throw this in earlier because I'm not absolutely confident of it, but I wonder whether the decision to use a causative form may not have something to do with the likelihood of one's performing the action oneself.
Most people who had hired a painter or a barber would not say "I painted my room blue" or "I cut my hair" just because that will strongly suggest that the speaker did it himself. Maybe it is just the fact no one will presume that the speaker personally manipulated wires and switches that accounts for the prevalence of "I changed my phone number." Or "I transferred funds to your account."

Could it be that a general can say, "I attacked the enemy's left flank," just and only because nowadays we know that the general spent the afternoon in his headquarters tent, and that it was the poor schmucks in the nth Regiment taking the bullets, not the general making a solitary charge, berserker-like, at the enemy's position?

Gary Williams
Gary Williams wrote on 14 Jul 2004:
Let's take the comparison down a few notches from having ... ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

I didn't throw this in earlier because I'm not completely confident of it, but I wonder whether a factor in the decision whether to use a causative form is the degree of likelihood that one can do the thing oneself.

That sounds reasonable to me. In my former residence here in Taiwan, though, I had three telephone lines and did end up changing the numbers myself a few times, but only in the sense that I transferred one number from my wife's phone to the fax line, the fax number to my phone line, and my phone number to my wife's phone.
If we hired a painter or a barber, we would say, "I had my room painted" or "I had my ... few are likely to be confused as to the real actor? Just as in "I transferred money to your account."

When I punch in the proper numbers at the ATM or on the Internet, I cause the bank's computer to make the transfer, just as I cause my PC to produce these letters on my screen and then send them to the German server so that the rest of the world can read them. I don't see much of a difference there.
Could it be that a general can say, "I attacked the enemy's left flank" even though he personally spent the ... the listener can be, nowadays, quite certain that the general did not personally undertake a berserker assault on the position?

In the case of the general, I see his words as an expression of the strategy he employed rather than a statement of his own activities in the war. It's unreasonable for the general to take credit for the attack when his soldiers did the fighting and dying. I suppose that confirms my status as a pedant.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
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Sean O'Leathlobhair wrote on 13 Jul 2004:

But the context is different. What is required precision in ... everyday conversation, no one would want to speak to me.

I'd say that that was a pretty strong negative judgment about the willingness of native anglophones to engage in not ... their inability to say what they have to say without sounding, as Bill Walsh might say, stupid, ignorant, and illiterate.

Are you not a native speaker yourself? I didn't realise but I didn't wonder until now.
". . . fewer and fewer (or should that be "less and less"?) native anglophones don't care much . . ."
"fewer and fewer" since "Anglophones" is a countable noun. The following negative verb "don't care" makes the sentence a little hard to understand. If you are suggesting that things are getting worse (fewer people care) then omit the "don't". Taking your statement literally, "fewer don't care" so "more do care" which I guess is not your intended meaning.
The particular usage problem here is not, it seems to me, an inconsiderable one, even in casual conversation. Haven't you ... my car stolen on me"? I have. It doesn't mean what it says; it means "because somebody stole my car".

I have never heard a native say: "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen on me". It sounds very odd but that is because of the "on me" at the end. Drop that and get "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen" then it sounds entirely plausible. Also I don't see anything wrong with it (well I believe that theft is wrong but I expect you know what I mean). The "had" is used in phrases which mean "deliberately cause to happen" but this is not its sole use. It is the past tense and past participle of the very important verb "have" which means it has many jobs to do.
Japanese, a wonderful language, has a variety of verb forms to express all kinds of things that we can express ... I'd never say that "I painted my bedroom walls and ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

"I painted my house" when they really meant "I paid someone to paint my house".
I do think that the context matters. In most cases of phone number changing, the important message is: "If you want to ring me, you need to call a different number". How the change was affected is usually irrelevant. I would call it pedantic to be fussy about how this was said unless there was some reason why it mattered.
See above. Do you need that level of precision when ... phone company and no human at the company was involved?

That feels very much like "I'm writing this post" instead of "I'm using my computer to write this post". I'd ... 2:00 p.m. on Friday, the transfer won't be made until Monday morning and won't get there until Wednesday or Thursday".

I would be happy to say "I transferred the money to your bank" regardless of how I arranged the transfer. The likely context is that I owe you some money and a transfer is the way, or one of the ways, that you are expecting to be paid. I would expect you to care that you were paid and you may want to know how you will receive the payment. I would not necessarily expect you to care how I achieved it. I may have done any of these:
1. Used a web interface from my home.
2. Used an ATM outside my bank.
3. Walked into the bank and filled out a form.
4. Phoned an automated service at the bank.
5. Phoned the bank and spoke to a human.
6. Started to use an automated service but got transferred to a human.

Why would you care? Why should I give this detail if it does not matter?
Seán O'Leathlóbhair
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Sean O'Leathlobhair wrote on 13 Jul 2004:

But the context is different. What is required precision in ... everyday conversation, no one would want to speak to me.

I'd say that that was a pretty strong negative judgment about the willingness of native anglophones to engage in not ... their inability to say what they have to say without sounding, as Bill Walsh might say, stupid, ignorant, and illiterate.

Are you not a native speaker yourself? I didn't realise but I didn't wonder until now.
". . . fewer and fewer (or should that be "less and less"?) native anglophones don't care much . . ."
"fewer and fewer" since "Anglophones" is a countable noun. The following negative verb "don't care" makes the sentence a little hard to understand. If you are suggesting that things are getting worse (fewer people care) then omit the "don't". Taking your statement literally, "fewer don't care" so "more do care" which I guess is not your intended meaning.
The particular usage problem here is not, it seems to me, an inconsiderable one, even in casual conversation. Haven't you ... my car stolen on me"? I have. It doesn't mean what it says; it means "because somebody stole my car".

I have never heard a native say: "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen on me". It sounds very odd but that is because of the "on me" at the end. Drop that and get "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen" then it sounds entirely plausible. Also I don't see anything wrong with it (well I believe that theft is wrong but I expect you know what I mean). The "had" is used in phrases which mean "deliberately cause to happen" but this is not its sole use. It is the past tense and past participle of the very important verb "have" which means it has many jobs to do.
Japanese, a wonderful language, has a variety of verb forms to express all kinds of things that we can express ... I'd never say that "I painted my bedroom walls and ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

"I painted my house" when they really meant "I paid someone to paint my house".
I do think that the context matters. In most cases of phone number changing, the important message is: "If you want to ring me, you need to call a different number". How the change was affected is usually irrelevant. I would call it pedantic to be fussy about how this was said unless there was some reason why it mattered.
See above. Do you need that level of precision when ... phone company and no human at the company was involved?

That feels very much like "I'm writing this post" instead of "I'm using my computer to write this post". I'd ... 2:00 p.m. on Friday, the transfer won't be made until Monday morning and won't get there until Wednesday or Thursday".

I would be happy to say "I transferred the money to your bank" regardless of how I arranged the transfer. The likely context is that I owe you some money and a transfer is the way, or one of the ways, that you are expecting to be paid. I would expect you to care that you were paid and you may want to know how you will receive the payment. I would not necessarily expect you to care how I achieved it. I may have done any of these:
1. Used a web interface from my home.
2. Used an ATM outside my bank.
3. Walked into the bank and filled out a form.
4. Phoned an automated service at the bank.
5. Phoned the bank and spoke to a human.
6. Started to use an automated service but got transferred to a human.

Why would you care? Why should I give this detail if it does not matter?
Seán O'Leathlóbhair
Sean O'Leathlobhair wrote on 13 Jul 2004:

But the context is different. What is required precision in ... everyday conversation, no one would want to speak to me.

I'd say that that was a pretty strong negative judgment about the willingness of native anglophones to engage in not ... their inability to say what they have to say without sounding, as Bill Walsh might say, stupid, ignorant, and illiterate.

Are you not a native speaker yourself? I didn't realise but I didn't wonder until now.
". . . fewer and fewer (or should that be "less and less"?) native anglophones don't care much . . ."
"fewer and fewer" since "Anglophones" is a countable noun. The following negative verb "don't care" makes the sentence a little hard to understand. If you are suggesting that things are getting worse (fewer people care) then omit the "don't". Taking your statement literally, "fewer don't care" so "more do care" which I guess is not your intended meaning.
The particular usage problem here is not, it seems to me, an inconsiderable one, even in casual conversation. Haven't you ... my car stolen on me"? I have. It doesn't mean what it says; it means "because somebody stole my car".

I have never heard a native say: "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen on me". It sounds very odd but that is because of the "on me" at the end. Drop that and get "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen" then it sounds entirely plausible. Also I don't see anything wrong with it (well I believe that theft is wrong but I expect you know what I mean). The "had" is used in phrases which mean "deliberately cause to happen" but this is not its sole use. It is the past tense and past participle of the very important verb "have" which means it has many jobs to do.
Japanese, a wonderful language, has a variety of verb forms to express all kinds of things that we can express ... I'd never say that "I painted my bedroom walls and ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

"I painted my house" when they really meant "I paid someone to paint my house".
I do think that the context matters. In most cases of phone number changing, the important message is: "If you want to ring me, you need to call a different number". How the change was affected is usually irrelevant. I would call it pedantic to be fussy about how this was said unless there was some reason why it mattered.
See above. Do you need that level of precision when ... phone company and no human at the company was involved?

That feels very much like "I'm writing this post" instead of "I'm using my computer to write this post". I'd ... 2:00 p.m. on Friday, the transfer won't be made until Monday morning and won't get there until Wednesday or Thursday".

I would be happy to say "I transferred the money to your bank" regardless of how I arranged the transfer. The likely context is that I owe you some money and a transfer is the way, or one of the ways, that you are expecting to be paid. I would expect you to care that you were paid and you may want to know how you will receive the payment. I would not necessarily expect you to care how I achieved it. I may have done any of these:
1. Used a web interface from my home.
2. Used an ATM outside my bank.
3. Walked into the bank and filled out a form.
4. Phoned an automated service at the bank.
5. Phoned the bank and spoke to a human.
6. Started to use an automated service but got transferred to a human.

Why would you care? Why should I give this detail if it does not matter?
Seán O'Leathlóbhair
Sean O'Leathlobhair wrote on 13 Jul 2004:

But the context is different. What is required precision in ... everyday conversation, no one would want to speak to me.

I'd say that that was a pretty strong negative judgment about the willingness of native anglophones to engage in not ... their inability to say what they have to say without sounding, as Bill Walsh might say, stupid, ignorant, and illiterate.

Are you not a native speaker yourself? I didn't realise but I didn't wonder until now.
". . . fewer and fewer (or should that be "less and less"?) native anglophones don't care much . . ."
"fewer and fewer" since "Anglophones" is a countable noun. The following negative verb "don't care" makes the sentence a little hard to understand. If you are suggesting that things are getting worse (fewer people care) then omit the "don't". Taking your statement literally, "fewer don't care" so "more do care" which I guess is not your intended meaning.
The particular usage problem here is not, it seems to me, an inconsiderable one, even in casual conversation. Haven't you ... my car stolen on me"? I have. It doesn't mean what it says; it means "because somebody stole my car".

I have never heard a native say: "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen on me". It sounds very odd but that is because of the "on me" at the end. Drop that and get "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen" then it sounds entirely plausible. Also I don't see anything wrong with it (well I believe that theft is wrong but I expect you know what I mean). The "had" is used in phrases which mean "deliberately cause to happen" but this is not its sole use. It is the past tense and past participle of the very important verb "have" which means it has many jobs to do.
Japanese, a wonderful language, has a variety of verb forms to express all kinds of things that we can express ... I'd never say that "I painted my bedroom walls and ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

"I painted my house" when they really meant "I paid someone to paint my house".
I do think that the context matters. In most cases of phone number changing, the important message is: "If you want to ring me, you need to call a different number". How the change was affected is usually irrelevant. I would call it pedantic to be fussy about how this was said unless there was some reason why it mattered.
See above. Do you need that level of precision when ... phone company and no human at the company was involved?

That feels very much like "I'm writing this post" instead of "I'm using my computer to write this post". I'd ... 2:00 p.m. on Friday, the transfer won't be made until Monday morning and won't get there until Wednesday or Thursday".

I would be happy to say "I transferred the money to your bank" regardless of how I arranged the transfer. The likely context is that I owe you some money and a transfer is the way, or one of the ways, that you are expecting to be paid. I would expect you to care that you were paid and you may want to know how you will receive the payment. I would not necessarily expect you to care how I achieved it. I may have done any of these:
1. Used a web interface from my home.
2. Used an ATM outside my bank.
3. Walked into the bank and filled out a form.
4. Phoned an automated service at the bank.
5. Phoned the bank and spoke to a human.
6. Started to use an automated service but got transferred to a human.

Why would you care? Why should I give this detail if it does not matter?
Seán O'Leathlóbhair
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Sean O'Leathlobhair wrote on 13 Jul 2004:

But the context is different. What is required precision in ... everyday conversation, no one would want to speak to me.

I'd say that that was a pretty strong negative judgment about the willingness of native anglophones to engage in not ... their inability to say what they have to say without sounding, as Bill Walsh might say, stupid, ignorant, and illiterate.

Are you not a native speaker yourself? I didn't realise but I didn't wonder until now.
". . . fewer and fewer (or should that be "less and less"?) native anglophones don't care much . . ."
"fewer and fewer" since "Anglophones" is a countable noun. The following negative verb "don't care" makes the sentence a little hard to understand. If you are suggesting that things are getting worse (fewer people care) then omit the "don't". Taking your statement literally, "fewer don't care" so "more do care" which I guess is not your intended meaning.
The particular usage problem here is not, it seems to me, an inconsiderable one, even in casual conversation. Haven't you ... my car stolen on me"? I have. It doesn't mean what it says; it means "because somebody stole my car".

I have never heard a native say: "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen on me". It sounds very odd but that is because of the "on me" at the end. Drop that and get "I can't drive you to work any more because I had my car stolen" then it sounds entirely plausible. Also I don't see anything wrong with it (well I believe that theft is wrong but I expect you know what I mean). The "had" is used in phrases which mean "deliberately cause to happen" but this is not its sole use. It is the past tense and past participle of the very important verb "have" which means it has many jobs to do.
Japanese, a wonderful language, has a variety of verb forms to express all kinds of things that we can express ... I'd never say that "I painted my bedroom walls and ceiling blue" if I had someone else do the painting.

"I painted my house" when they really meant "I paid someone to paint my house".
I do think that the context matters. In most cases of phone number changing, the important message is: "If you want to ring me, you need to call a different number". How the change was affected is usually irrelevant. I would call it pedantic to be fussy about how this was said unless there was some reason why it mattered.
See above. Do you need that level of precision when ... phone company and no human at the company was involved?

That feels very much like "I'm writing this post" instead of "I'm using my computer to write this post". I'd ... 2:00 p.m. on Friday, the transfer won't be made until Monday morning and won't get there until Wednesday or Thursday".

I would be happy to say "I transferred the money to your bank" regardless of how I arranged the transfer. The likely context is that I owe you some money and a transfer is the way, or one of the ways, that you are expecting to be paid. I would expect you to care that you were paid and you may want to know how you will receive the payment. I would not necessarily expect you to care how I achieved it. I may have done any of these:
1. Used a web interface from my home.
2. Used an ATM outside my bank.
3. Walked into the bank and filled out a form.
4. Phoned an automated service at the bank.
5. Phoned the bank and spoke to a human.
6. Started to use an automated service but got transferred to a human.

Why would you care? Why should I give this detail if it does not matter?
Seán O'Leathlóbhair
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