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Re: Decisions, decisons

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 29, 2008 at 20:29:

In Reply to: Re: Decisions, decisons posted by R. Berg on March 29, 2008 at 07:56:

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : Is decision-taking just as acceptable as decision-making?
: : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : The former has long been the British preference, and the latter the American, but television has melded them and now each may use either.

: : : : : : : : : : : : "Now each may use either": When did that change occur? I missed the announcement. "Decision taking" still sounds foreign to me. ~rb (U.S.)

: : : : : : : : : : : I agree. "Decision taking" is rare in the US. UK TV shows are not very commonly watched in the US, mostly segregated to BBC America cable channel (which is usually on the pay-more-than-the-minimum package) and late night PBS. If there's a really good UK show, we just make a horrible re-make of it instead of watching the real thing (e.g. Changing Rooms -> Trading Spaces).

: : : : : : : : : : There's a difference between using a phrase yourself and understanding it when used by others. When we hear some Britisher talk about "taking a decision," we don't ask "take it where?" We know what he means, even if we would never say it ourselves.
: : : : : : : : : : SS

: : : : : : : : : If someone said "Let's phlorf a decision - movies or skating?", you could figure that out too. It doesn't mean that phlorf is part of your vocabulary.

: : : : : : : : By "each may use either" I mean that the distinction of the two phrases no longer marks the speaker's national origin. Both British and American speakers have had time to hear one another repeatedly and to pick up the formerly 'foreign' style. Of course, some on either side resist the cross-Atlantlic usage, but many do not, and a few enthusiastically grasp the novelty, while yet more inattentively repeat what they so often hear. The result: this particular phrase divergence is no longer a sure-fire national marker. - Bac.

: : : : : : : Baceseras, I'll go along with your modified explanation, but I wonder whether "decision making" has spread to England. Does the cross-Atlantic current ever flow east? ~rb

: : : : : : I still disagree and I think your assumptions are backwards. More Brits have watched Dallas than Yanks have watched (or even heard of), for example, Coronation Street (which I haven't) or Eastenders (which I have) and that's actual numbers. Converted into percentage of population, difference would be even greater.

: : : : : rb: I don't know whether 'decision making' has spread to England, but the cross-Atlantic current does flow both ways --- examples of Americanisms in Britain are too numerous to mention. And in a larger sense, the 'spread' of the phrase is beside the point; what matters is that in both lands the formerly foreign style is now a live option. An American who adopts 'taking' now, or an Englishman who adopts 'making', need not consciously consider the phrase's provenance: each stands a fair chance of having heard it, if only occasionally, from his own fellow-countryman. This speaks to RRC's reasonable objection: although few Americans at large have seen Coronation Street, a great many of the select group of Americans most likely to chatter often on TV have long occupied the same echo chamber with chattering Brits. If I were inclined to consider linguistic purity an endangered value, here's where I would use the word 'insidious'. But I'm not, so I don't - Bac.

: : : : There's something insidious going on here, but it's not about linguistic purity.

: : : : If you say use "decision taking" in the US, you are right that no one will assume you're British. They'll just think you're weird or English is not your first language.
: : : : While many Americans are aware of trunk/boot, cigarette/fag, elevator/lift, etc. I wouldn't place decision making/decision taking in that category. "Decision taking" just isn't commonly found in anything that most USans are exposed to. Most Americans won't know that a bacon butty is a ham sandwich no matter how much Onslow goes on about them in "Keeping Up Appearances" because they don't watch PBS after 10pm on Sunday night.

: : : Did RRC just coin a word? I'm referring to "USans." How do you pronounce it? Like "us'ns"? I like it.

: :
: : RRC: "If you say use 'decision taking' in the US," [I agree with this] "... no one will assume you're British. They'll just think you're weird or English is not your first language." I hope it's understood, however, that a sizeable number of speakers are insensitive to how others regard them --- and 'insensitive' can be taken to mean *either* 'blissfully unaware' or 'couldn't care less'.

: : RRC again: "'Decision taking' just isn't commonly found" [with this I disagree] "in anything that most USans are exposed to." I think most of us US Americans at least occasionally watch a news broadcast. Since the 1980s when cable started cutting into audience share, all the networks have scaled back their staff of overseas reporters, often replacing them on an ad hoc basis with any English-speaking reporter who happens to be in the area of a breaking story. As a result most Americans have heard plenty of UK-inflected English seamlessly inserted into their daily stream of jabber. Among this population some are susceptible to repeating whatever they happen to hear --- not ham butty or pub legs, but witness the recent near-prevalence of us'ns who say 'rather' as if it rhymed with 'father'.

: : - Bac.

: My observations match Bac's on us'ns' familiarity with "take a decision." I see this phrase often enough in print and in pixels. It still looks British. I haven't heard "rahther" from Americans, though. ~rb

Plainly rb, and probably most of the other Americans, are familiar with "us'ns." But for the sake of our friends and cousins across the sea, who may not know this word, I offer this explanation, in hopes that it is not too far from the truth. The Oxford English Dictionary, comprehensive though it may be, does not include "us'ns." However, it includes "we-uns," sometimes spelt "we uns," as an American dialect version of both we and us. Supposedly "us'ns" is a contraction for "us ones." If "we uns" is a variant of "we ones," then plainly there's no contraction in use. "We'ns," pronounced "weens," just does not appear in the language. If anyone has anything to add (or perhaps subtract) I'd be glad to hear it.