More to be done with what is being said than what is actually being said, an academic study has found.
The findings are based on an analysis of an online survey that asked people to rate their knowledge of the English language, its structure and grammatical features.
The results, from the Oxford English Dictionary, are published today.
“It’s very interesting, I’m not sure that there is a clear explanation as to why this occurs,” Associate Professor of English at the University of Queensland, Peter Hinton, told News.
“We are not talking about any specific language, but I think we are just trying to understand what is happening in a linguistic context.”
The survey used the words ‘somewhat’, ‘much’, ‘very much’, ‘quite’, ‘extremely much’, and ‘very’ to describe how much knowledge people had about English.
It also asked participants to identify what they thought were the most common words that they did not know the meanings of.
Prof Hinton said the results showed that people tended to use words that were similar to words they were familiar with.
“There is a lot of variation in what people use when they are trying to describe their language,” he said.
“It might be the same word used in two different contexts, but in the same sentence it might be different words.”
Prof Hatton said people tended not to be aware of how the meanings were being used.
There were also differences in the way people said that they were using the word ‘very’, which he said might indicate that people were not sure how it was being used or what it meant.
“People tend to use the word to mean ‘quite’ or ‘very’.
It’s not very, so they may not know what the word means,” he explained.”
So when they say ‘slightly’, it’s ‘slight’ and when they use ‘much’ they’re thinking ‘a lot’.”
They’re not saying that it’s very much, but they’re saying ‘a bit’.
“So they’re not really sure whether the word is being used to mean something that’s very or that it could mean something different.”
ProfHinton said that while there was no evidence that the words used in a sentence were being understood as being related to one another, it was a very strong signal that people did not understand the meaning of the word.
“What this does is it tells you that English is a very, very complicated language and there are a lot more differences in what you’re saying than you’re actually saying,” he told News Breakfast.
He said this might be due to how words are used in different contexts.
“You have a lot, you have an average of four words that you can say in a single sentence and that’s the English word for ‘some’.”
And so it seems like there are more than one possible meaning for a single word in English.
“I don’t think we should just say, ‘Well, it’s just the English way’.”
We should look at how we use words and try to understand how we’re using them.
“Prof John Gaffney, a linguist at the Australian National University, said that the results suggested that people may have a tendency to “get a sense” of what people are saying when they type.
In other words, people might find it easier to say something than they might actually mean.”
The problem is that we can’t just assume that what people say is the truth,” he added.”
We can’t always rely on the fact that people actually mean what they say.
“Prof Gaffneys work has found that, although it is possible that a person’s perception of an action is more accurate than a sentence, the more accurate a sentence is, the less likely it is that the action will be taken.
Mr Hinton believes that this could have an effect on the way that we use the language.”
If we’re saying that ‘sometime’ is ‘very soon’, then it seems to me that we are talking about a much more precise and nuanced way of saying that,” he argued.”
Because there’s so many other ways that we might say ‘very quickly’ which is the opposite of what we are saying in English.