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27

If you want informal, you can go with "Can't say", which is short and concise (though, it might be a bit ambiguous if someone interprets it as "I'm not allowed to say"). You could also go with the classic "I don't know" or "I have no idea". Formally, I usually go with "That is outside of my area of expertise".


27

How about simply translating née into English, giving born? "Jane Smith (born Doe)" For an example of usage, see this web page Additionally, see this definition (1b): used for saying that someone had a particular condition, personal quality, name, or social status at the time when they were born [...] e.g. Elton John, born Reginald Dwight.


25

When I learned this “rule” (in first grade, I believe), it was explained that and separates the whole part from the fractional part: 2⅔=two and two thirds. The word and would only represent the decimal point in decimal numbers when they are read out in the formal “fractional” reading of decimals, as 2.3=two and three tenths, or 1.75=one and seventy-five ...


24

The closest thing might be the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliet Kilo Lima Mike November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey Xray Yankee Zulu


24

I'd love to help you @user129811, but I can't think of anything right now.


22

From the various tongue twister collections you can find (English Tongue Twisters, alpha dictionary English Tongue-Twisters, English club Tongue-Twisters, ...), one of the hardest is the classic: The sixth sick Sheik's sixth sheep is sick. But that will obviously vary depending on your accent and region. As illustrated by this college exercise, it can ...


22

You could say: (It) beats me! thefreedictionary (It) beats me. and (It's) got me beat.; You got me beat. Inf. I do not know the answer.; I cannot figure it out. The question has me stumped. Example1: Bill: When are we supposed to go over to Tom's? Bill: Beats me. Example2: Sally: What's the largest river in the world? Bob: You got me beat. ...


21

The practice of doing so is actually a field of research and the use of these words in such a manner can be classified as fillers, used while someone is busy grasping what they want to say and so on. From Wikipedia we get a general overview of this: Fillers are parts of speech which are not generally recognized as purposeful or containing formal ...


20

This is more a linguistics question than an English language question in my opinion. The quality of Yoda's speech that makes it sound strange to English speakers - and the speakers of the majority of earth's langauges is that it uses a very uncommon linguistic typology or word ordering known as Object-Subject-Verb (OSV) or sometimes Object-Agent-Verb (OAV). ...


18

This is a touchy and complicated issue. There is no simple answer. I'm gay and I probably would be far more offended by the use of "retarded" than by the use of "gay" that you're describing. The problem is not if you are offending anyone but if you might offend someone, and where and when. I personally don't mind people using the word "gay" that way, in ...


17

I'm not sure I understand your question, but I believe the speakers are using this Native American word. From the Wikipedia article on the Lakota language: "Hau kola", literally, "Hello, friend," is the most common greeting, and was transformed into the generic motion picture American Indian "How!", just as the traditional feathered headdress of the ...


17

I plead the 5th. The privilege against compelled self-incrimination is defined as "the constitutional right of a person to refuse to answer questions or otherwise give testimony against himself


17

I think you is the polite form (u). The less polite form is thou (jy), but us Brits, polite as ever, now call everyone by the the polite form and thou fell by the wayside a long time ago. Thou barely ever surfaces in normal English unless you want something to sound historical, but it is still in Holier than thou and used to be (20th century) common in ...


15

Here is an article on Yoda-speak at the Language Log. One way to look at Yoda's syntax is that it shows signs of favoring OSV syntax (Object-Subject-Verb) as the basic order in the simple clause. In fact one could call it XSV syntax, where the X is whatever complement would appropriately go with the verb, whether it's an object or not. And then: ...


15

The armed services (and their veterans) really have this engrained in my mind as such: Rendezvous at 0600 [O-Six-Hundred] hours! Drop point is X degrees north, at 1200 [Twelve-Hundred] hours! Otherwise, where more precise in terms of declaring minutes, you can just split them and speak each unit of time individually: Your meeting is at 1530 ...


14

I used to feel the same. I'm not a native English speaker either. I think I got used to reading the subtitles when I was younger and didn't speak English. And even when my English became good enough to understand most of what was being said in the movies, I would still turn subtitles on because I didn't want to miss any lines. That's how you become ...


14

Just saw a question about the topic not too long ago ;P "Hyperbaton and Anastrophe" Hyperbaton: An inversion of normal word order. A generic term for a variety of figures involving transposition (see below), it is sometimes synonymous with anastrophe. Anastrophe: Usually synonymous and occasionally referred to as a more specific instance of hyperbaton: ...


14

In 24-hour notation you never say o'clock. Say the value of the hours part first, then the minutes. If the hours or minutes are less than 10, say Oh (for zero) first. Non-military people don't usually say the "Oh" before hours, especially if the minutes are non-zero. If the minutes are zero, say (hours) hundred. People (esp military) often say hundred ...


13

What you're talking about is known to linguists as the High rising terminal (HRT), and referred to informally as uptalk. This is a relatively recent phenomenon in spoken American English, and its origins are unclear. What is clear is that it doesn't signal a question, and is perceived by many people to be sub-standard and irritating. For that reason you ...


12

I speak Canadian English and over here I'd say both usages are common and nobody ever says "and" when they mean "decimal" or "point". As far as nohat's answer, where the "rule" is that you can only use and for fractional parts, I've never been taught that rule as far as I can recall.


12

This figure of speech is called hypophora. If you visit the Wikipedia entry for figures of speech or this web page about rhetoric, you can find more information about this and other devices.


12

Using "like" as in "this is, like, uncool" used to be strongly associated with Valspeak: Many phrases and elements of Valspeak are stable elements of the California English dialect lexicon, and in some cases wider American English (such as the widespread use of "like" as a hedge). This use of "like" is again mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on ...


12

From your comment, the scenario seems to be that you have some knowledge under NDA, and are facing queries about it (e.g. new project feature for a hot product etc.) Informal: My lips are sealed Its hush-hush, sorry Can't say, under NDA Formal: Due to contractual reasons I cannot answer your questions Unfortunately, due to agreements with I can't ...


11

You haven't stated where you are currently located (if not in South Africa); how your question should be answered will depend both on your location and your social setting. So I will respond in general terms. You should be aware that in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at least, expectations of social deference and the conventions of ...


10

Since it is spoken, it is a mispronunciation of "I thought", often called th-fronting.


10

As other commenters have stated, it's a mock-American-Indian greeting. Westerby uses the metaphor of an American-Indian tribe to loosely refer to the British Intelligence Service. Smiley chooses to follow his lead, and so responds with the stereotypical response how to the stereotypical greeting how, hence the "echo". There isn't any deeper meaning or usage ...


10

Same in Dutch when I was growing up. That's been disappearing rapidly in the past two decades. I started noticing when my mom insisted that she wanted to be addressed as jij instead of U. Took me a while to get used to :) "You" in English used to be the equivalent of U, 2nd person plural pronoun (jullie in Dutch). Same idea as the French "Vouz". "Thou" ...


10

You can't really read the first 2 sentences out loud. They are clearly written to be read rather than listened to because they are showing you what a percent sign looks like. If you were speaking, and trying to tell someone what the percent sign looks like, you might start by saying something like "The percent sign is used to represent percent," but then ...


9

Instead of "I've never seen..." answers, how about some actual references? Like this: LINK When saying or writing out numbers, the British insert an and before the tens and units, as in one hundred and sixty-two or two thousand and three. In the United States it is considered correct to drop the and, as in one hundred sixty-two or two thousand three.



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