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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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Until a few days ago I had always seen this as "awhile" then while I was proofreading a text I noticed that the author continually used "a while". Am I the only one who's never done this? Never even thought of doing this?

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Avril
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I always thought it was "a while." Then I looked it up in my unabridged dictionary (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Updated Revised Deluxe Edition, 1996). Here you are:

quote:
The adverb AWHILE is spelled as a single word. ... As the object of a preposition, the noun phrase A WHILE is used, especially in edited writing, but the single-word form is becomming increasingly common.
I would therefore say that it depends on what the word/words is/are doing in the sentence.

Avril

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Ghost on Toast
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Tsk!

It is in the dictionary because over the years people have joined the words 'a' and 'while' together because they are too lazy to say it all out!

It's sloppy! It is clearly two words joined up.

You just wait - in a few years time in the dictionary will be 'alot' rather than a lot"

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Danvers Carew
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Ghost on Toast:
Tsk!

It is in the dictionary because over the years people have joined the words 'a' and 'while' together because they are too lazy to say it all out!

It's sloppy! It is clearly two words joined up.

You just wait - in a few years time in the dictionary will be 'alot' rather than a lot"

Are people who use 'although', 'altogether', 'always', and 'already' also guilty of being sloppy? They are all conflations of 2 words yet have long been accepted. What about 'nevertheless', 'nonetheless', 'albeit'?

My OED has
awhile: adverb for a short time: stand here awhile.
-ORIGIN Old English ane hwile '(for) a while'

It also has a separate entry at 'while':

(a while) for some time: can I keep it a while?

So according to the OED, both are acceptable.

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Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Ghost on Toast:
It's sloppy! It is clearly two words joined up.

You must really hate German, then.

pinqy

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Winter Solstice Hanukkah Christmas Kwanzaa & Gurnenthar's Ascendance Are Coming!

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Frenchy
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
When “awhile” is spelled as a single word, it is an adverb meaning “for a time” ("stay awhile"); but when “while” is the object of a prepositional phrase, like “Lend me your monkey wrench for a while” the “while” must be separated from the “a.” (But if the preposition “for” were lacking in this sentence, “awhile” could be used in this way: “Lend me your monkey wrench awhile.”)
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Ghost on Toast
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Don't even get me started on German - what a hard language to learn! Whats the world for youht hostel again, isn't it huge?

OK, OK, so I may have jumped the gun on the 'awhile' but trust me, I see so many letters written with sloppy English like 'alot' instead of 'a lot' and even "i might of done" rather than "I might have done"

Grrr.

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fictional lie
I Saw Three Shipments


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gramatically, awhile is INCORRECT and should not techinically be used. it IS just a sloppy way to say "a while" and is so universally used now, that has become proper, much the same way that contractions are common now-a-days

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I am nothing but I'm more than you will ever be

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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Actually, as has been shown, "awhile" and "a while" are similar, but not equal, and both can be correct.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Morrigan
Happy Holly Days


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Ghost...I always thought that German was pretty easy to learn.

Although, that could be because the first sentence I learned was "Das ei ist auf dem tisch."

Morrigan

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"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." Robert Frost, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

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Simonstrical
The Red and the Green Stamps


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fictional lie:
gramatically, awhile is INCORRECT and should not techinically be used. it IS just a sloppy way to say "a while" and is so universally used now, that has become proper, much the same way that contractions are common now-a-days
So what are you trying to say? That "correct" language doesn't change according to common usage? That argument is quite, quite untenable.

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LeaflessMapleTree
The twelve shopping days 'til Christmas


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quote:
gramatically, awhile is INCORRECT and should not techinically be used. it IS just a sloppy way to say "a while" and is so universally used now, that has become proper, much the same way that contractions are common now-a-days
Language evolves over time. "Cash" originally was used solely as a verb. (To cash a cheque). To call money "cash" was a slang term, such as calling a woman a "chick" today.

To say that something is incorrect when it has become proper is to remain ignorant of change. When something is done often enough that it is accepted by trusted dictionaries as correct, then for all intents and purposes, it is correct. Are you against adding words to the dictionary as they become part of "popular usage" because the weren't originally words?

(Edited for clarity)

Maple"Let's debate this 'awhile' "Leaf

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eakf
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by MapleLeaf:
Language evolves over time. "Cash" originally was used solely as a verb. (To cash a cheque). To call money "cash" was a slang term, such as calling a woman a "chick" today.

To say that something is incorrect when it has become proper is to remain ignorant of change. When something is done often enough that it is accepted by trusted dictionaries as correct, then for all intents and purposes, it is correct. Are you against adding words to the dictionary as they become part of "popular usage" because the weren't originally words?

(Edited for clarity)

Maple"Let's debate this 'awhile' "Leaf

Glad you didn't say "all intensive purposes" [Smile]

I mostly agere with your statement, except to say that Quebec english doesn't evolve - ever. (officially anyway) [Smile]

I'm mainly against old words taking on new meanings. My example is "galvanize", which was never intended to mean "burn a house to the ground" like a reporter once said. I believe the media have a responsibility to maintain socially accepted uses for words and not start making them up. That's my opinion.

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Simonstrical
The Red and the Green Stamps


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What, old words can never take on new meanings? So, for instance, it would be unacceptable to use man to mean "a male member of the human race," as distinct from a woman?

-Simetrical the Skeptical

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eakf
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Never say never. Using the example of "man" compared to my illustration, would be like changing the meaning to include tables. I'm not against any gradual "transition" of meanings in a logical form.

And to be more precise, I was mainly concerned about people in responsible positions relating to language or communication. It should be a part of their culture to be proficient in writing and communicating.

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Samuel Jones
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by eakf:
Never say never. Using the example of "man" compared to my illustration, would be like changing the meaning to include tables. I'm not against any gradual "transition" of meanings in a logical form.

And to be more precise, I was mainly concerned about people in responsible positions relating to language or communication. It should be a part of their culture to be proficient in writing and communicating.

If using the word "cash" as a noun would have seemed unusual at one time, then using the work "buck" to mean a US dollar would have seemed ludicrous. If you use the word "man" to mean table and your listeners understand the word "man" to refer to a table and agree that this is the best word to use to refer to the table, then that is exactly the word that you ought to use. Doesn't matter what "responsible position" you may hold.
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eakf
The Red and the Green Stamps


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{double post - deleted]
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eakf
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Samuel Jones:
If using the word "cash" as a noun would have seemed unusual at one time, then using the work "buck" to mean a US dollar would have seemed ludicrous. If you use the word "man" to mean table and your listeners understand the word "man" to refer to a table and agree that this is the best word to use to refer to the table, then that is exactly the word that you ought to use. Doesn't matter what "responsible position" you may hold.

I guess I'm not communicating my point properly. [Wink] You supported my point when you said
quote:
and your listeners understand the word "man" to refer to a table.
I've seen so-called responsible journalists (and the like) use words incorrectly - completely incorrectly, with no connection to the word's actual meaning.
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Samuel Jones
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by eakf:
I've seen so-called responsible journalists (and the like) use words incorrectly - completely incorrectly, with no connection to the word's actual meaning.

If you're arguing against linguistic chaos and journalistic incompetence, consider me a supporter.

If you're arguing for a static, non-inventive, prescriptivist approach to the use of language, consider me an opponent.

If you're arguing that "a_while" should be 1 word, consider me to be on your team. "Awhile" should not be split into 2 words any more than "meanwhile" should.

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eakf
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Consider me a a supporter of your first and third statements, with the caveat that "awhile" be allowed to naturally become one word (as it has been).

I'm not a proponent of simplifying our dictionary for simplicity sake. That is doubleplus ungood.

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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To the person involved in this discussion who emailed me: you really, really, really need to send me a PM. Not an email, but a PM.

We have something we need to discuss. ASAP.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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fictional lie
I Saw Three Shipments


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i am against putting words into the dictionary that are just people being fucking lazy in their speech...a la "ain't". that is stupid.

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I am nothing but I'm more than you will ever be

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snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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quote:
I am against putting words into the dictionary that are just people being fucking lazy in their speech...a la "ain't". that is stupid.
Yes, heaven forbid dictionaries should reflect language as it is actually used.

- snopes

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Simonstrical
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Is there any particular reason ain't is any more a case of people being lazy in their speech than, say, aren't?

-Simetrical

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Simonstrical:
Is there any particular reason ain't is any more a case of people being lazy in their speech than, say, aren't?

After all, what we really should be saying is amn't....

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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Don Enrico
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Ghost on Toast:
Don't even get me started on German - what a hard language to learn! Whats the world for youht hostel again, isn't it huge?

It's "Jugendherberge" - and that's by far not the longest german word! [Smile]

I do think that language does and should "evolve" and that a word that has changed its meaning or has been newly coined should be entered in dictionarys at some point. But what about spelling? In Germany, we've got quite a discussion about the rules for spelling being changed by a four-state-commission (Germany, Austria, Swiss and Belgium). A lot of people are opposed to that on the basis of the "it has always been that way"-argument...

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My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling, but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. - Pooh Bear

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Simonstrical
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I don't see anything inherently wrong with changing spelling systems—the trick will be getting people to listen. Of course, depending on what sort of changes you make, that could result in dictionaries doubling in size during a transitory period.

-Simetrical

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Don Enrico
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Simonstrical:
I don't see anything inherently wrong with changing spelling systems—the trick will be getting people to listen. Of course, depending on what sort of changes you make, that could result in dictionaries doubling in size during a transitory period.

-Simetrical

Neither do I. Obviously, a state commission can only change the way spelling is taught in school and used in official writing - ther is no "law" as such to tell all people how to spell correctly. Nevertheless, some people opposed to the change argue as if the police will arrest them for incorrect spelling.

By the way, we are in the transitory period right now: dictionarys have changed, and in school "old" spelling is noted, but has no influence on your marks. That will change in summer 2005, though.

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My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling, but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. - Pooh Bear

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Wizard of Yendor
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Four Hissing Kitties:
quote:
Originally posted by Simonstrical:
Is there any particular reason ain't is any more a case of people being lazy in their speech than, say, aren't?

After all, what we really should be saying is amn't....
That and the fact that it's used in place of
aren't, isn't, hasn't and haven't as well. That makes things too easy I guess... so it's considered lazy.

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Simonstrical
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Incidentally, Don Enrico, what sort of changes are occurring? The spelling's being made more phonetic?

-Simetrical

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Don Enrico
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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There are several types of changes:

  • some complex words become less complex by taking them apart: "sogenannte" (so called) becomes "so genannte"
  • some strange and special rules are abolished, for example the rule "If three similar consonants meet in a complex word, only two are written" ("Schiff" and "Fahrt" used to be "Schiffahrt" and are now "Schifffahrt")
  • some (but not all) words with greek ancestry change their spelling to german rules ("Photographie" becomes "Fotografie")

to name but a few...

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My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling, but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. - Pooh Bear

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