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Do you know what it is? I notice it frequently in comments, and communications with foreign friends. Even the most intelligent and proficient speakers of English as a second language often spell the term wrong. The word is "DEFINITELY", and the most common error is to spell it "definAtely", where an "a" is used instead of an "i". Phonetically, this makes sense, and even native English speakers periodically spell the word wrong.

I was reminded of this today when I began to read a post about studying English via Skype lessons. The blogger mentioned all kinds of tenses - present perfect progressive, past perfect, past perfect simple. I must have learned these tenses in school over 20 years ago, but what the hell do they mean? :) I don't even think about them now as a native English speaker, although the tenses are self-explanatory if you contemplate the basic essence of the words. When I studied Russian for a short time, I wasn't concerned about proper grammar or spelling, because the goal was simply to be able to speak basic phrases during travels and communicate with locals in their native tongue. Some things that still confuse me about Russian:

(1) In Russian, many words are not capitalized. For instance, book titles or titles of blog posts. In English, we use a lot of capital letters.
(2) I notice that in business communications with Russian companies, they put a period after their name at the end of a salutation, which we do not do in English. For example:

Kind regards,
Shannon.

The period looks totally out of place to me.

(3) The biggest - gender for words! I don't understand how you ascertain the sex of an object? :) I know it is determined by the spelling and ending of the noun in most cases. But logically, why are passports and bread masculine rather than feminine?

Just another quick English lesson from Shannon. :) You will recall we previously discussed improper use of "YAmmy" rather than "YUmmy" here, and overall complications with English words in this post. Good luck to those who continue to study my native language! If you have any questions, never hesitate to write me. I'm always happy to help, and I greatly admire the dedication and knowledge of the multi-lingual folks around the globe!

In informal communications in my blog and with foreign friends, I never point out wrongly spelled words or improper grammar, but it grates on my nerves when native speakers misspell words and use bad grammar! I think this is a global epidemic, now that newer generations speak in weird text lingo, and shortened phrases or acronyms. Humanity is doomed! :))

Comments

( 144 comments — Leave a comment )
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ivalnick
Aug. 2nd, 2016 11:54 am (UTC)
It's not as difficult as "выкарабкивающиеся". :-)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 11:57 am (UTC)
This is the problem with a lot of Russian words - too long!! I lose focus trying to figure out the pronunciation by the time I get to the last Cyrillic letter. :))
(no subject) - ivalnick - Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ivalnick - Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - narcolog59 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _kysya - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
real_marsel
Aug. 2nd, 2016 11:56 am (UTC)
My favourite theam!
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 11:58 am (UTC)
Glad to help! Btw, since this post focuses on English and spelling, I will make a rare exception and correct mistakes in comments. It should be "theme", not "theam". :)
(no subject) - real_marsel - Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - real_marsel - Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
boevoi_yozhik
Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:08 pm (UTC)
easy to translate, btw
"definAtely" = "опрИделенно" или "несАмненно" :)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the example! Things that confused me about Russian - (1) not using capital letters often; (2) periods at the end of salutations in business correspondence; and (3) gender for words. I updated the post to say this. :)
(no subject) - vw_patent - Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - luin_nsk - Aug. 3rd, 2016 04:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 3rd, 2016 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - luin_nsk - Aug. 4th, 2016 02:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 4th, 2016 02:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - luin_nsk - Aug. 4th, 2016 04:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - luin_nsk - Aug. 4th, 2016 04:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 4th, 2016 12:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
vw_patent
Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:50 pm (UTC)
I think if a person knows that "definition" is related to "definitely", she will not be able to misspell the latter.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:02 pm (UTC)
People are often in such a rush when typing words that they rarely think about their origins. :) I've always been a good speller. I think it's because my parents bought me this electronic toy when I was very young, and I couldn't put the thing down. :) It was called a "Speak & Spell." Very old school! :)) They also had a "Math & Speak", but I was never that interested in numbers. Only words, words, words...:) Maybe you had similar toys in Soviet times?

 photo speak_and_spell_incantor_zpstj0b0uap.jpg

Edited at 2016-08-02 01:03 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - vw_patent - Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
who read a lot, are good spellers - narcolog59 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 07:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
iklin
Aug. 2nd, 2016 12:59 pm (UTC)
English tenses and articles (a/an/the) are the most difficult things for Russians.
It's not hard to remember how they're constructed.
But it's hard to understand the logic of using.
Not "we use this... then..." but "we use this... then... because...".
verniy_leninetz
Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:09 pm (UTC)
"We use this WHEN *something*" :)
(no subject) - iklin - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iklin - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iklin - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - verniy_leninetz - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iklin - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
verniy_leninetz
Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:08 pm (UTC)
Seems strange, but I've used to spell it like "de'finitly", excluding last "e".
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:29 pm (UTC)
It doesn't seem strange, because if you are accustomed to spelling based solely on phonetics, then the way you wrote it is logical. When I used to work with illiterate adults, we taught word recognition by sight, flash cards, etc. Not phonetics. I'm not a linguist nor teacher, so I have no idea which method is more effective.
alexanderr
Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:43 pm (UTC)
English also assigns gender to some words. Like, ship is always a she and sun is a he. Makes no sense if you ask me, but those rules are pretty firm
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:51 pm (UTC)
Ship is the only example I know of. Never heard of the sun being referred to as a "he." Also, how do you refer to countries, by calling the country "he", "she" or "it"? America is beautiful! It is so diverse! He is so diverse! She is so diverse! :))
(no subject) - alexanderr - Aug. 2nd, 2016 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - boevoi_yozhik - Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - m1uccia - Aug. 2nd, 2016 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
iklin
Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:01 pm (UTC)
In Russian, the gender of a words is not a thing to ascertain. It's the thing to remember.
Sure, if native Russian speaker see the word he/she can make a supposition depending on all known words. But his/her supposition can be wrong in some cases. :)
I can be mistaken but I think that the gender of the words arose at an ancient times of spiritualism when people believe every thing have their own spirit, their own soul thus the gender. For now it makes no sense but some contemporary languages keep the memory of that times.

Edited at 2016-08-02 02:01 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:17 pm (UTC)
I do not study languages, and always wondered why gender distinctions were necessary. But the explanation you just provided makes sense. :)
(no subject) - iklin - Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iklin - Aug. 2nd, 2016 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 3rd, 2016 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
egorov
Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, nice to see the feedback in your blog ) I still have a plan to make English blog, but I cannot see now really good place to create this blog.

Edited at 2016-08-02 02:05 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:16 pm (UTC)
There is no good place to create an English blog - it must be a stand alone site. That is why I write here. :)
(no subject) - egorov - Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - egorov - Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - egorov - Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - narcolog59 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - egorov - Aug. 3rd, 2016 05:21 am (UTC) - Expand
3as7
Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:27 pm (UTC)
As I've mentioned on Facebook, the most common mistake is your/you're.

By the way, drivers in India and China are worse than in NYC.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:01 pm (UTC)
I seem to notice improper use of "their, they're and there" more. :) Hi Aleksey! It is nice to place people and faces with LJ usernames. Now I know who you are. :)
agathpher
Aug. 2nd, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC)
What happened to your move to Georgia, are you going?
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
I was offered the position, but only for a full year contract. And I had to leave in only a few weeks. It is too soon, and one year is too long to commit to living in a place I've never even seen. So, I will go to Georgia in October to explore, and join this teaching program later if I like the country. :) It is always an option, because they desperately need native speakers. Not too many Americans are rushing to live in Georgia...:)
creaze
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:14 pm (UTC)
> book titles or titles of blog posts. In English, we use a lot of capital letters.

In Russian, only the first letter of a title is capitalized. I've also noticed, that in English capital letters are used a lot more frequent. For example, every time a language is mentioned — even as adjective.

We make it up in commas, though.

> I don't understand how you ascertain the sex of an object? :)

This is a washtub:


As long as you use it as one, it remains, like all objects in English, neutral.

But put it afloat, and it becomes a she.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 05:09 pm (UTC)
Why are washtubs going afloat? People use them as rafts? :))
(no subject) - creaze - Aug. 2nd, 2016 05:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - narcolog59 - Aug. 2nd, 2016 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 3rd, 2016 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Aug. 2nd, 2016 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 3rd, 2016 03:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
sergechel
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:29 pm (UTC)
> I don't understand how you ascertain the sex of an object? :)

In most cases, if a word ends with consonant letter - it is male, with vowel letter - it is female, with letter 'o' - neutral
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, I understand but it is all very strange and still does not make sense to me from a logic standpoint to say that a table is male of female. :) And there are a lot of exceptions to the basic rule, which confuse non-native Russian speakers!
(no subject) - sergechel - Aug. 3rd, 2016 07:38 am (UTC) - Expand
livejournal
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
The most commonly misspelled word in the English language
User karbunkul_lug referenced to your post from The most commonly misspelled word in the English language saying: [...] Оригинал взят у в The most commonly misspelled word in the English language [...]
nkhaba
Aug. 2nd, 2016 03:43 pm (UTC)
Regarding the genders of nouns - it's the same problem with French as well :-) And, for a native Russian speaker it's even more frustrating because the noun meaning the same thing in Russian and French may very well have different genders :-), so you can't rely on your knowledge of genders in Russian when studying French and have to memorize the genders of French nouns :-( Just trying to say that Russian is not that unique in its difficulty, at least in some regard :-)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 2nd, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC)
At least French uses the same alphabet as English, with some similar sounds. :)
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