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Hi,

This time I am not posting a question ... I just wanted to share something about grammar and coherence in "spoken English."
I'm writing a report about the impacts of a stadium on a city centre, and a part of the report is based on interviews I've done. I've transcribed all af them, and I can ensure everybody it was a nightmare!!! Here is an example -- it's not really typical, I've chosen it on purpose:

You know, ehrm, I think, you know, it does make an effect … it does have an effect, but … I’d say it depends on the match, if it’s a, I mean all depends, it does very much depend on the teams that are playing. If it’s international match, you know, and it’s like France or someone who’s coming down, you know, perhaps because you’ve got all the … you know, rather than … you got the whole team, you know, you have the European Championships and it’s not just, you know, it’s not just ehrm England and Wales, it’s, you know, Chelsea and whatever playing ...

("..." indicates a pause -- apparently, there are no missing words)

I might have made some mistakes in transcribing (not easy for a non-native to listen to "non-BBC English"!) ... but I was wondering, why on earth do I have to struggle so much and try to improve my grammar when native speakers speak like that???

Well, I hope someone will cheer me up and give me a good reason why ... Emotion: crying
Comments  
Hi Tanit,

Let me ask you this.

First, would speakers of your native language (Italian?) all speak perfectly constructed and complete sentences?

Second, Emotion: smile what is the Italian equivalent of 'ehrm' (which is usually transcribed in English as 'em' or 'er'.)

Best wishes, Clive
Hi Tanit,
I know you won't like my answer, but... what's wrong? That part of speech was ok. My goal is to talk like that. Ok, not really like that, but that was not "non-English", so it was ok in the end (I guess). You say, "Why do we struggle with grammar..."? I'd say learners shouldn't study prescriptive grammar. And the reason is simple, no one talks the way prescriptive grammars told you to talk. We should all see the English language from a descriptive point of view. And then you'll see that...
I ain't got no money - is ok, it is actually English.
Are you study computers? - is not English, as far as I know.
You'll succeed in understanding the English language only if you study descriptive grammar.

Ok, I think there aren't any good descriptive grammars. Because the real problem is that even prescriptive grammars are biased, imprecise, wrong. And it seems 90% of all the ESL material (grammars) there is available focus on some kind of British English.
So the only solution for a learner is moving to an English speaking country and find a "tutor" (a friend, someone) to copy. There is another solution, but it is not available yet. I had an idea some time ago, and wanted to post about it in the comment section of this forum. I haven't posted yet, but the idea was basically to create a wiki-grammar here, as a part of EnglishForward. A descriptive grammar of every kind of English, from formal British to African American English, from "subject verb inversions" to "I wish I was/were". I had that idea for two reasons:
- first, I noticed there aren't any good descriptive grammars that are not confusing and have a lot of examples in context;
-second, I feel most information written here in this forum is being wasted and forgotten. There are a lot of threads about the same subject, many good old threads are difficult to find, some threads are full of unnecessary and confusing information... So, in the end, this forum contains a huge amount of information, but it is not neatly arranged.

Ok, I'm done, lemme no watcha think. Emotion: wink

Edit to Clive: Italians? LOL, Italians don't know how to speak! Everyone says what they want, most people actually don't know what is correct and what is not. Some Italians also don't speak Italian very often (like me), so you are likely to hear very strange structures and strange words sometimes... Emotion: wink
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TanitHi,

This time I am not posting a question ... I just wanted to share something about grammar and coherence in "spoken English."
I'm writing a report about the impacts of a stadium on a city centre, and a part of the report is based on interviews I've done. I've transcribed all af them, and I can ensure everybody it was a nightmare!!! Here is an example -- it's not really typical, I've chosen it on purpose:

You know, ehrm, I think, you know, it does make an effect … it does have an effect, but … I’d say it depends on the match, if it’s a, I mean all depends, it does very much depend on the teams that are playing. If it’s international match, you know, and it’s like France or someone who’s coming down, you know, perhaps because you’ve got all the … you know, rather than … you got the whole team, you know, you have the European Championships and it’s not just, you know, it’s not just ehrm England and Wales, it’s, you know, Chelsea and whatever playing ...

("..." indicates a pause -- apparently, there are no missing words)

I might have made some mistakes in transcribing (not easy for a non-native to listen to "non-BBC English"!) ... but I was wondering, why on earth do I have to struggle so much and try to improve my grammar when native speakers speak like that???

Well, I hope someone will cheer me up and give me a good reason why ... Emotion: crying

Hi Tanit,

First, I think it's a misconception. Being a native is not a guarantee for the ability to use English properly. However, I completely understand your point because I personally experience it everyday. I have to go to a morning meeting everyday with a manager who is supposed to hold a Ph.D. in computer science. He is smart in the discipline he had studied. However, because of his cultural background, he lacks the ability to transmit and process ideas and thoughts in natural English. So in the process, he connects his thoughts with a lot of “you know, uh”...and ...but and “ok uh” in his speech. Sometimes, he is aware of his speech problem and he would get increasingly flustered which in turn aggravated the problem further. If he makes a 5 minute presentation, people, including me, will be completely lost at the end. I realize that he didn’t do it on purpose. Nonetheless, it makes it hard to conduct any kind of meaningful dialog with him, and quite frankly it’s quite a torture to sit through an hour long meeting sometimes.
Hi, Clive.
Clive
First, would speakers of your native language (Italian?) all speak perfectly constructed and complete sentences?

What I didn't say in my previous post is that the guy I interviewed is a sales manager, really kind and nice (and handsome, too! Emotion: smile ) in a famous (at least in the UK) chain store. In other words, I didn't interview the first person I saw in the street ... If I'd done that, I wouldn't have been so surprised.

As for the Italians, I don't know. I have to do some interviews with Italian civil servants during the summer. If you're interested, I'll let you know what kind of sentences they use when interviewed. Emotion: smile
Clive
Second, Emotion: smile what is the Italian equivalent of 'ehrm' (which is usually transcribed in English as 'em' or 'er'.)

Thanks for this! I thought I read 'ehrm' in a TV series' script but I was wrong! I'm changing immediately all of them (in Italian they would be 'ehm', I guess!!!)
Hi, Kooyeen,
KooyeenI know you won't like my answer, but... what's wrong? That part of speech was ok. My goal is to talk like that. Ok, not really like that, but that was not "non-English", so it was ok in the end (I guess).
I never said it's "non-English", I said it was ""non-BBC English." Besides all the interruptions, changes of subject, etc, the guy had a distinctive Welsh accent, which made it more difficult for me to understand and write down each and every word... It takes really a long time to get used to non standard (BBC like) pronunciation.

Is that your goal? wow, if it were also my goal, than I'd say I'm half way through speaking like that! Emotion: smile Just kidding, I don't want to speak that way!
Kooyeen
I'd say learners shouldn't study prescriptive grammar. And the reason is simple, no one talks the way prescriptive grammars told you to talk. We should all see the English language from a descriptive point of view ... Ok, I think there aren't any good descriptive grammars. Because the real problem is that even prescriptive grammars are biased, imprecise, wrong. And it seems 90% of all the ESL material (grammars) there is available focus on some kind of British English.

I see your point, but it wouldn't work for me. Research demands good writing skills, and what you call "prescriptive grammar" (I would call it simply grammar) is necessary for me.
Kooyeen
So the only solution for a learner is moving to an English speaking country and find a "tutor" (a friend, someone) to copy.

Yes, that's one reason why I'm here. The problem is, there seem to be at least two different languages. The difference between English as it is spoken inside the University (by teachers) and outside (in a store, a pub etc.) is kind of shocking, expecially at the beginning. I feel comfortable with the first one, but I'm still not used to the second.
Kooyeen
I haven't posted yet, but the idea was basically to create a wiki-grammar here, as a part of EnglishForward. A descriptive grammar of every kind of English, from formal British to African American English, from "subject verb inversions" to "I wish I was/were". I had that idea for two reasons:
- first, I noticed there aren't any good descriptive grammars that are not confusing and have a lot of examples in context;
-second, I feel most information written here in this forum is being wasted and forgotten. There are a lot of threads about the same subject, many good old threads are difficult to find, some threads are full of unnecessary and confusing information... So, in the end, this forum contains a huge amount of information, but it is not neatly arranged.

That's a nice idea. Whenever I find a good explanation about something I have problems with, I copy and paste it in a word document, so I've already done something like that, but it's only my little, personal archive Emotion: smile
Kooyeen
Edit to Clive: Italians? LOL, Italians don't know how to speak! Everyone says what they want, most people actually don't know what is correct and what is not. Some Italians also don't speak Italian very often (like me), so you are likely to hear very strange structures and strange words sometimes

It depends on where you go ... I've never spoken other than Italian (I mean, no dialects), as most of my friends. We do have an accent and we cannot differentiate pèsca and pésca, but our grammar is absolutely standard and clear ...

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Hi, Goodman,
Goodman
First, I think it's a misconception. Being a native is not a guarantee for the ability to use English properly. However, I completely understand your point because I personally experience it everyday. ... . Nonetheless, it makes it hard to conduct any kind of meaningful dialog with him, and quite frankly it’s quite a torture to sit through an hour long meeting sometimes.

glad to see I'm not the only one Emotion: big smile!