The use of the preposition ‘about’ in a distinct sense

The ODE defines the preposition about in such a distinct sense that other dictionaries don’t: 1.1 So as to affect. I Just found one example of ‘about’ used in such a sense: ‘there’s nothing we can do about it’. What is meant by so as to affect in the subsense provided by ODE? I could … Read more

Bain’t = be not

Please read the passage taken from “A Few Crusted Characters” by Thomas Hardy: According to Wiktionary, “bain’t” is the contracted form of “be not” and it is a British dialect. Therefore, the question is “Aren’t we full already?”. In what part of Britain are we likely to hear “bain’t”? By the way, I can’t help … Read more

“Omm,” the shaming word

Some children use the word “omm” to shame their siblings when they catch them doing something naughty: “Omm, I’m telling Mother.” This is not the same word as “um”: it is pronounced differently (in American English, it rhymes with “mom”) and used differently (it means “Oh, now you’ve misbehaved” or some equivalent, and could be … Read more

The term “handy” in “Of Mice and Men”

[Candy] “That’s the boss’s son,” he said quietly. “Curley’s pretty handy. He done quite a bit in the ring. He’s a lightweight, and he’s handy.” “Well, let him be handy,” said George. “He don’t have to take after Lennie. Lennie didn’t do nothing to him. What’s he got against Lennie?” Of Mice and Men (1937) … Read more

Using “as” instead of “that” (I don’t know as this is valid)

When answering the ELL question “I can’t say as ever I was lost” quoted Daniel Boone, I said that having as instead of that in the cited context was a “dialectal, folksy” usage. Then I came up with these two examples… 1: Wealthy man that he is, John cannot buy happiness. 2: Wealthy as he … Read more

Is “give a party” regional?

This answer on the ELL SE says that "give a party" is interchangeable with "throw/hold a party:" What is the difference between "hold a party", "have a party", "give a party" and "throw a party"? I think they’re all pretty much interchangeable. Everyone on this forum thread takes the phrase in stride: You might give … Read more

Word for talking to a stranger with the purpose of befriending them

I’m looking to translate a word from my local dialect (Algerian) to English. The exact word is dsara which means trying hard to talk to a stranger with the purpose of befriending them with no mutual feeling. An example of this would be a taxi driver who tends to talk to his customers about personal … Read more

American dialects: Replacing the past-perfect participle with the simple-past form

I have come across some American media (The Alternate History Hub youtube channel comes to mind) in which the perfect participle and the simple-past form have been merged. For example, we would have: “We’ve driven there before” -> “We’ve drove there before” “I would’ve sunk” -> “I would’ve sank“ “I’ve swum that distance before” -> … Read more

Origin and of the phrase “problem that needed solved”

I recently listened to a podcast in which the narrator described an unresolved obstacle as a “problem that needed solved.” My initial assumption was that he had meant to say “problem that needed to be solved,” but had misspoken. However, he used the same phrase again later. I had never encountered this phrase before, so … Read more