E-Mail 'Mugged at a gunpoint' To A Friend

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  • “To begin with, my friend is British, so he wouldn’t have written traveled (the American English past tense)…”

    Unless you’re referring to the geographic proximity of England and Wales (which is unlikely in the context of “…my friend is British…”), then there would seem to be a “British English past tense” of travel(?). Perhaps you could enlighten those of us who have never, um, traveled much.

    Although that geographic proximity is a pesky thing for someone who wants his readers to believe he needs to fly home. You know what they say — in the UK, they think 200 miles is a long way, and in the US, we think 200 years is a long time.

  • Levi: you ask “there would seem to be a “British English past tense” of travel(?)”. Yes, there’s a more or less systematic difference in the case of verbs ending in -el: British English favours “consonant doubling”, so we say “I travelled” or ‘I’m travelling”. The same applies to verbs like label, cancel, quarrel and disembowel. To find these in the dictionary, you can go to the Options menu and togglke between American and British English settings. Then, at the relevant dictionary entry (say, “travel”) hit the Word Forms button. Good point about him not needing to fly home from “UK Wales”!

  • It does read non-native, possibly sounding a bit like a German writing in English? But then again you can’t be sure..as a non native speaker of English I do tend to take notice of small mistakes like the ones mentioned above. It sounds like your fake ‘friend’ read a lot but maybe practiced spoken/written English less..he/she might not even be aware of the subtle differences that local accents represent, not to speak of spelling variations such as those you mention here (British English v. American English). These are tell-tale mistakes which will spot even a good user of the English language as non-native! And they are not easy to correct either! But then I suppose you wouldn’t want to correct a fraudster! Cheers, Raffaella

    EFL Teacher, South of Italy

  • As a linguist who received an e-mail from a linguist friend just like this (same person?) it was extremely clear to me that it was a hoax for many of the reasons suggested in the article.

    No comment was made of the use of “i” rather than “I”. Surely a linguist would never do that even under the informality of an e-mail!