That VS. what

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Cyrus the Great, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. Cyrus the Great Registered Senior Member

    I would like to review all that I learnt.

    I would like to review what I learnt.

    I would appreciate it very much, if somebody could readily explain the difference between those.

    In addition, I am wondering how you can distinguish such a difference?

    Thanks in advance
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    There really isn't very much difference between the two sentences. The first one stresses the idea that you want to do a complete, thorough review. But the second one does not imply that you don't.

    The difference is not between "that" and "what." The difference is caused by using the word "all."

    By the way, "learnt" is a very old-fashioned word. We understand it, but today we almost always use "learned."
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  5. Cyrus the Great Registered Senior Member


    Yet, I can not understand the reason why the following is incorrect!

    All what
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  7. aCookieJar Registered Member

    Well "all of what I learnt" makes sense.
    What interests me is when we use the word 'what' and 'all' in order to convey the same thought... our "what-sentence" requires the word 'of' for it to make sense. "All what I learnt" doesn't make sense.
    I think what would be interesting to know is why our what-sentence requires the word 'of' to make proper sense and how a 'that-sentence' works without the word 'of' while still conveying the same thought.

    I boycott the word 'that' whenever I remember to.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Languages evolve by usage, not by formula. So many times there are idioms that don't seem to make sense. There's no "reason" for this.

    All you can do is memorize them and use them correctly.
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    "Learnt" would not have been acceptable when I was in gradeschool nor highschool in Illinois. "Learned" would have been desired.
    I suspect that "learnt" came from those damned britians who don't seem to know how to use the language that(or which) they foisted off on us poor americans.

    (beware of british "english" it is a continuing abomination)
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Pretty sure that it's more correctly 'I would like to review all that I've learned'.

    And just for fun, here's a another variant.

    I would like to review that which I've learned.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    "Learnt" is indeed more common in the home of the English language as opposed to our former colonies.

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    It's just one of a number of irregular verbs, and I'm sure you haven't removed all of them from your version of our language:
    Do you still say "knelt" or do you always use "kneeled"?
    Spoil, dream, leap, lean, keep etc... and learn is just another of those wonderful things.

    As Oscar Wilde wrote in "The Canterville Ghost" back in 1887: "We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language."

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  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    In the USA we're more likely to shorten it to: "review what I learned."

    I doubt that you'll hear anyone say "learnt" in the USA, although we all understand it.

    However, we retain "learned" as a two-syllable word for "educated," as in "a learned man."

    Oh heavens no. In fact we've added more. Americans have long used "snuck" as the past tense of "sneak." Originally it was Hillbilly dialect, but it's spread out into the general population.

    Lately "dove" (with a long O) has been pressed into service as the past tense of "dive," on the model of strive/strove, drive/drove. Fortunately no one has yet invented "diven" as the past participle.

    Learned people

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    might say that, but the hoi polloi (an atrocity since hoi is, literally, "the," so the expression translates to "the the people") rarely do.

    The only one of those in universal use on this side of the Whaleroad is "kept." No one says "keeped," not even in AAVE (African-American Vernacular English or "Ebonics").

    Nobody says "leant" because it sounds like "lent," the past tense of "loan." And yes, Americans are more likely to say "loaned."

    No one flinches if they hear or read "spoilt" and "dreamt," but you'll probably never hear or read it in American dialect except when an old poem is being recited.

    It's interesting that these are all weak verbs--verbs that only have two forms: present and past. Most irregular verbs are strong verbs, with three forms for present, past and past participle, e.g., sing/sang/sung. The inflection is in umlauting the vowel rather than adding a suffix.

    But dream/dreamt and leap/lept have only two forms and they retain the "-ed" which is the inflection for weak verbs in the past tense, although it's changed from -D to -T.

    Someone else said that the U.K. and the U.S.A. are "two peoples divided by a common language."

    In the USA, regional dialects have virtually disappeared, and even regional accents are being leveled, due to two phenomena:
    • Radio and television. The synthetic Hollywood/Manhattan accent (from the country's two major broadcast centers) is heard in every home and children pick it up.
    • Mobility. These days the average American changes jobs every five years and this often results in moving to another part of the country. If you live in a city of any size, every day you'll hear the accents of all the major regions of the USA--not to mention Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Russian, Latin American, Arabic and diverse African tongues.
    Communication technology is even leveling the difference between American and British English. We've been listening to each other's rock'n'roll and watching each other's movies and TV shows for decades now, so we've adopted much of each other's slang. As I understand it, you guys no longer say "knock you up" meaning "come to your home and take you somewhere" since in American slang it means "get you pregnant."

    We both know that what you call a "bird" is what we call a "chick"--which is actually of Spanish origin: chica, a young girl, literally "small one" with the feminine inflection. We picked it up from the Caribbean jazz musicians who began forming a community in New York City in the 1940s. Along with "bebop," originally "rebop," a mis-hearing of arriba, meaning simply "(kick it) up."
  13. rcscwc Registered Senior Member


    But language should be evolved based on logic too. In India youngistan is slowly evolving an SMS language. It is based on English with very heavy doses of Hindi. Any amount of frowning by linguist fanatics.

    PS: Could you know what is youngistan. Realm of the YOUNG.
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    This is a contradiction in terms.

    There is no one out there telling anyone in what direction their language is supposed to evolve. It evolves, like life, by natural selection of what works.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Oft attributed to George Bernard Shaw, I believe, but it's also quoted as being two "nations".
  16. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    What are language smiths doing? What is the role of grammarians?
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    What is a "language smith"? That sounds like something you made up.

    New words are created by the people who need them. These days that's mostly scientists and engineers, although people in the government occasionally do it too--as do advertisers.

    Slang is created by the citizens, but most slang words die out in 20-30 years.

    Spain and France have academies that approve or disapprove of new words, but most countries do not.

    Nazi Germany had very strict language laws, to "protect" German from foreign influence. As a result, Germany is the only major European country that uses native words like Fernsprecher, Wasserstoff and Kraftwagen instead of internationally standard words like "telephone," "hydrogen" and "automobile."

    In authoritarian countries like North Korea, grammarians may have the power to influence the evolution of the national language. But in the rest of the world they simply record standard usage and advise writers, teachers and lawmakers on what is considered proper and acceptable.
  18. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Logic TOO. Literary language is different from SMS lingo that is evolving in India. Even that too has some logic behind it, the LOGIC of convenience.

    Language smith is one who shapes a language, as per its prevalent logic plus shaping new logical theories of language.
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I find no references to the phrase "language smith." Apparently it's a phrase that you invented.

    The "shaping of a language" is a communal process, not something one person does.

    Of course there have been many individuals who contributed disproportionately to the evolution of their language. In English, Shakespeare is the most famous. But these people usually contribute new words, or new usage for old words. They don't tamper with the grammar and syntax.

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