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July 07, 2012

Infeasible Or Unfeasible? How Do We Address Others?

There are at least two sets of categories of English. One set is the almost parallel pair of Englishes we call American and British. There is also the set of linguistic distinctions between...

...formal and casual (or familiar).

Thanks to our global, and essentially borderless economy, British and American English collide on a regular basis.

Here's an example (based on an article from The Economist) you can see it here - http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2012/07/variation?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/infeasibleorunfeasible.

The choice between infeasible or unfeasible is one of many that emerges as those with (slightly) different linguistic traditions work together. If you look at the article you will see that there may be a consensus for a while and then, who knows why, the cultural preference might shift - or even reverse.

My personal policy is to use words as easily and universally understood as possible. In the case of infeasible vs unfeasible, I use the even more basic 'not feasible". You can't fail with a simple term like that.

There are many words, phrases and pronunciations that have changed over time - and across the world. And what amazes me most is that there always seems to be some little corners or people groups who hold onto what most of us have long forgotten.

Conversational norms and expectations change as well. And when it comes to addressing people, there's no need to be pretentious or solicitous, but we should all be, at minimum, respectful. Here's a good article which explores this - http://www.npr.org/2012/07/07/156384121/a-little-mr-and-mrs-can-go-a-long-way.

As always, send us any words or phrases that make you crazy and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Also, Morf just might be available to visit your school or agency this coming September. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at July 7, 2012 12:15 PM


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