back to article Erm... what did you say again, dear reader?

Have you ever uttered the sound "erm" while speaking? More to the point, have you ever erm'd when answering politicians' questions during a scrutiny panel session? If you have, says one Reg commentard, you are bastardising the English language. Oh yes. Turn your eyes, dear reader, to our writeup of the London Assembly's …

  1. John Mangan

    Flame of the week?

    Much too well constructed and lacking the raging, slavering uncontrollable USE of RANDOM capital letters and an excessive provision of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    6/10 - See me.

  2. Mycho Silver badge

    Re: Flame of the week?

    What a load of Milton Keynes.

  3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Re: Flame of the week?

    A typical post by Bombastic Bob for example?

    Cheer up Bob, I'll treat you to a pint for your notoriety. =-D

  4. jake Silver badge

    Re: Flame of the week?

    Bob doesn't typically flame. He rants. Big difference.

  5. J. Cook Bronze badge

    Re: Flame of the week?

    Yeah. There were NOT ENOUGH CAPSLOCK in the rant and anti-obama/democrat/leftist boogeyman in the rant to implicate that he was the author.

    It's also possible that it was a master-class troll...

    *dons nomex suit and runs to the fire extinguisher storage bay*

  6. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Re: Flame of the week?

    What a load of Milton Keynes.

    <Holly>A load of tottenham, that is. A steaming pile of hotspur.</Holly>

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a splendid response. You should offer Norman a job.

  8. m0rt Silver badge

    I've missed FoTW.

    I agree with RichardT. Offer 'Norman' a job. A column, if you will. He can create a rant that mirrors, yet offsets, those with which I believe a one Alistair Dabbs dabbles (SWIDT?) with.

    I for one would consider turning off my add blocker, if you did.*

    * Lie.

  9. A K Stiles Silver badge
    Headmaster

    You were doing so well...

    " those with which I believe a one Alistair Dabbs dabbles (SWIDT?) with"

    If only you had left off the last "with", you would have crafted a sentence of excellent structure. (Well, that and the errant "a" between "believe" and "one Alistair Dabbs" )

    I have to agree though, FoTW can provide some wonderful entertainment.

    [edited to remove the suggestion you still had time to edit your post as that time has now expired]

  10. The First Dave

    "What a splendid response. You should offer Norman a job."

    I disagree, piss poor show from someone who failed in any way to quote "you know" when it should have been.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have something that blocks an 'add' operation? Doesn't that play merry hell with all your calculations and computations?

    Personally, I find my web browsing experience is improved by blocking advertisements (each of which is commonly known as an 'advert' or 'ad'.)

  12. msknight Silver badge

    Forsooth!

    Aye! To olde English thee must be true. To live, and breathe, and grow? Not us. We must, in time, be stricken as if in stone. I wager we would all be the poor, should our language change and we lose the meaning of things. Describe the new fangled? Never! That which is unfamiliar, should stay as the devil on the shore; an un-named mist, for it is not of our own loins.

    ie. Ask Norman where, in the time line of the English Language, he would prefer us to weigh anchor. And then poke fun at him for such a suggestion.

  13. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    *Thunderous standing ovation*

    Bravo! Bravo! Encore! Encore!

    *Showers you in roses & chocolates for a job well done*

    Congratulations! You just won the internet! =-)p

  14. msknight Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    I wouldn't call it a job well done.. it was something I threw together lest it be lost in the arse end of the comments :-D ... you know what we're like in here!

    Oh! Milk Tray! How DID you know :-)

  15. Mycho Silver badge

    Given his dislike of 'erm'

    It should be a minute-long podcast dismantling the latest tech jargon without hesitation repetition or deviation. Rehearsals are allowed but the recording must be made in one take.

  16. Kubla Cant

    Re: Forsooth!

    Ask Norman where, in the time line of the English Language, he would prefer us to weigh anchor.

    @msknight: I agree utterly with the sentiment of your post, but I'm bound to point out that to "weigh anchor" is to raise the anchor from the sea bed and, by implication, sail away. I think "drop anchor", or just "anchor" would make more sense in the context.

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Re: Forsooth!

    To olde English thee thou must be true.

  18. msknight Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    @Doctor Syntax - I believe "thee" is correct as I was using it - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thee - but I'm not an expert.

    @Kubla Cant - Totally correct.... I'll ask El Reg for an extra few hours window for post editing :-) ... tally ho !!!!

  19. John Sager

    Re: Forsooth!

    It all went downhill after Beowulf. And Guillaume le Bâtarde didn't help either.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Forsooth!

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thee

    Please cite an English dictionary when discussing English grammar

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Forsooth!

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thee

    Please cite an English dictionary when discussing English linguistics.

  22. Mycho Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    Who are these "Friends" that mer-web say use thee in the subjective case?

    I mean they're wrong but who are they?

  23. m0rt Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    I would guess these.

  24. Stevie Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    Thou art nought but a most coutellous bullyrook. Beware lest someone clapperclaws thy mazzard.

  25. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    I believe "thee" is correct as I was using it

    Nowt wrong wi' using "tha" an' all.

  26. msknight Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    I wonder what Shakespeare would have written like if he lived in modern day Halifax.

  27. Mycho Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    I have heard Scholars attest that the accent of Will's time was a lot closer to Yorkshire than to what we think of as 'proper' today. I think it was mostly based on which words rhymed.

  28. TimMaher

    Re: Forsooth!

    Could do you a Chaucer in Saarf London?

    “There was this young geezer in ‘is posse wearing a perm.

    What was ‘e like!?”

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Forsooth!

    "I believe "thee" is correct as I was using it"

    "Thee" is objective, like "him" or "me".

    "Thou" is subjective, like "he" or "I".

    Which would fit better in your original sentence?

  30. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: Forsooth!

    I believe "thee" is correct as I was using it - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thee - but I'm not an expert.

    MW says, correctly of course, that it's the objective form. You were using it as the subject. When I grew up in Yorkshire second person singular was still in current use by older gernerations so, give or take the dialect pronunciation, it's second nature.

  31. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: Forsooth!

    I 'goog'ing love the Register comments section :D

  32. Citizen99

    Re: Forsooth!

    I've read suggestions that, being from Warwickshire, his accent might have been Proto-Brummie.

  33. ArrZarr Silver badge
    Happy

    I, for one, am glad that Norman is undertaking efforts that put him in a similar light as the Académie française rather than putting his copious free time to use in some field that might hinder progress to have some stuck-up traditionalist clinging to the arbitrary rulebooks provided. He doesn't work in the public sector, does he?

    In the case of our wondrous mongrel tounge, the rulebooks were generally dreamed up in the 18th and 19th centuries by prescriptivist linguists who appear to have had very little basis for most of the rules they created and whose main objective appears to have been getting the English language to be neat and tidy rather than the ability to express ideas and have conversations.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] whose main objective appears to have been getting the English language to be neat and tidy rather than the ability to express ideas and have conversations.

    IIRC There was another tidy up much earlier. Someone decided that as there were the words "would" and "should" - then the perfectly correct "coud" should match them by changing to "could".

  35. 9Rune5

    then the perfectly correct "coud" should match them by changing to "could".

    Shirley, you mean "cloud"?

  36. alexdonald
  37. cat_mara
    Unhappy

    Don't get me started on the "inkhorners" that decided "iland" needed an "s" or "dett" a "b" just because Latin had them...

  38. Juan Inamillion
    Coat

    'In the case of our wondrous mongrel tounge, the rulebooks were generally dreamed up in the 18th and 19th centuries by prescriptivist linguists '

    Very cunning them linguists...

  39. cat_mara

    Wittgenstein, eh?

    Handbags pokers at dawn it is!

    I'm failing to see what a famously short-tempered 20th century Austrian philosopher has to do with it.

  40. Kubla Cant

    Re: Wittgenstein, eh?

    In Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein famously* said that "the meaning of a word is its use in the language". So "erm" has a meaning determined by how it's used: as a nonce-word.

    *for small values of famously.

  41. Mycho Silver badge

    Re: Wittgenstein, eh?

    The meaning of erm is "I'm pausing for thought but still speaking."

    Likewise, Oo-aar and variants thereof usually mean "I am listening, please continue."

  42. swm

    Re: Wittgenstein, eh?

    When I was in college we had a professor whom we taped weekly for a radio show. His speech was littered with "ums", and "ah"s and if we had time we would edit these out of the tape (with real scissors!). Someone spliced all of these tape fragments together and it sounded like someone with something to say but couldn't get it out.

  43. jake Silver badge
    Pint

    Obvious answer to grammar nazi:

    "In closing, might I implore you to stick to good old English. It will never fail you."

    Old English? Fair enough, I can do that:

    Sprec tō mē on Englice. Ic þancie þē.

    (Sārig, ic nāh geweald. Dǣdbōt: bēor.)

  44. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Re: Obvious answer to grammar nazi:

    Old English might get us in trouble.

    "Bird" meaning woman ( really "byrd", I believe ) is a Viking ( and therefore at some point in history, an English ) word.

    I also believe Norman would moan at my northern use of 'ta', from the Danish (and therefore English) "tak".

  45. cat_mara
    Coat

    Re: Obvious answer to grammar nazi:

    I'll get me mantle...

  46. Stevie Silver badge

    Re: Old English? Fair enough, I can do that:

    And the sāme tō yōu with knōbs ōn, you filthy swine!

  47. jake Silver badge
    Pint

    Re: Obvious answer to grammar nazi:

    The language of the Vikings was not Old English. It was Old Norse. The word for woman in ON is kvennalið.

    The word for "woman" in OE is frōwe (see: germanic frau).

    Both languages have other words and variations for the word woman depending on context. None of them are, or resemble, bird I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to discover them on your own.

    My BigDic says that (paraphrasing to avoid the OED's predatory lawyers) ta is the baby-talk version of "thanks" because babies have issues with th and nks. First appeared in print in 1772. And so I learn something I never knew, despite being a Yank who uses the word daily. Ta, disgusted! This round's on me :-)

  48. jake Silver badge

    Re: Obvious answer to grammar nazi:

    "I'll get me mantle..."

    Mantle is Middle English, from the Anglo-French mantel, and originally Latin mantellum. The OE word for cape or cloak is sciccing.

  49. jake Silver badge

    Re: Old English? Fair enough, I can do that:

    That's knöbs, you heathen. Have you never turned it up to 11?

  50. Someone Else Silver badge

    Re: Old English? Fair enough, I can do that:

    That's knöbs, you heathen.

    I always though that referred to someone that was relatively new and unsophisticated in the ways of the object under discussion...as in, "With regard to Python, he's just a knöb!"

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