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ColoradoGuy
02-19-2008, 02:32 AM
I just been reading Winnie the Pooh to a five-year-old, followed by watching another Jane Austin movie, and wonder: does anybody else mourn the loss of the distinction between shall and will? Or was that distinction just something made up by huffy usage guardians?

P.H.Delarran
02-19-2008, 02:40 AM
Has the distinction changed? or is it just that use has become minimal, making it old-fashioned?
I seem to remember a poem crit here once where shall was used and comment was made that it made the poem sound out-dated.
I use it, but get funny looks.

JoNightshade
02-19-2008, 02:50 AM
Am I weird if I use this word regularly? (In speech?) As far as my brain's concerned, it's not lost.

Medievalist
02-19-2008, 03:01 AM
It's mostly a dialect marker Coloradoguy

Ruv Draba
02-19-2008, 03:06 AM
In some law and in IT documents 'shall' and 'will' still have the same meanings. 'Shall' is considered obligatory; 'will' is just an expression of intent. Most of the people I know who use these words in the traditional way are from law or IT.

But in other modern usage I've seen 'will' has supplanted 'shall'. Interestingly 'must' has almost disappeared too, and 'ought' is used more subjectively than objectively.

Meanwhile, the word 'oblige' which often saw reflexive use ("I felt obliged"), has been replaced with the more perpendicular verb 'obligate' ("They obligated me"). I wonder whether this means that we don't consider ourselves obliged much -- unless someone else 'obligates' us.

ColoradoGuy
02-19-2008, 03:29 AM
It's mostly a dialect marker Coloradoguy
Shoot. I was hoping it was cooler than that. I shall now drop it. No, wait--I will now drop it, and I shan't let it concern me any more.

HeronW
02-19-2008, 03:37 AM
I thought shall was used in asking permission or offering like may. Can is used as being physically able to do something. Will is offering to do something.

ColoradoGuy
02-19-2008, 06:45 AM
I thought shall was used in asking permission or offering like may. Can is used as being physically able to do something. Will is offering to do something.
Here's the distinction. (http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/056.html)
I just like having a way of showing emphasis, so I kind of like the distinction. But I suppose it does really boil down to a question of dialect.

josephwise
02-19-2008, 08:50 PM
I agree with HeronW.

"Shall I make pancakes?" still has an entirely different meaning than, "Will I make pancakes?"

In fact, there are echoes of the traditional distinction in that, regarding first v. second/third person. "Will I make pancakes?" is an odd question. Don't YOU know whether you'll be making pancakes or not? So, that use sort of displaces the "I" subject from first to third person.

Ruv Draba
02-19-2008, 09:17 PM
"Shall I make pancakes?" still has an entirely different meaning than, "Will I make pancakes?"
Yep. 'Dialect' sounds like a bit of an excuse to me.

'Stop trying to obligatificatorize me!'

'Stop what?'

'Don't you oppress my dialect too!'

I think it's actually a shift in values rather than a simple shift in dialect. The words still mean what they did but our intentions in using them have changed. We're more self-important than 150 years ago. We acknowledge less obligation and consideration. It's all 'will' and not much 'shall' -- and our usage captures that intention.

Dawnstorm
02-20-2008, 02:58 PM
Well, questions work differently from statements, even in the traditional mode.

Shall I make pancakes? You shall.
Will you make pancakes? I will.

For an example, look at the wedding vow, which is as traditional as it gets:

Will you, [name], take... - I will.

Or Shakespear:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Higgins
02-20-2008, 09:07 PM
Shoot. I was hoping it was cooler than that. I shall now drop it. No, wait--I will now drop it, and I shan't let it concern me any more.

I was taught that "shall" implied a future emphatic, so that "He did wander" would be translated into the future as "He Shall wander" and "He wandered" would be translated into the future as "He will wander."

So "He shall reign forever and ever" is more emphatic than "He will reign forever and ever." Or similarly in how "Thou Shouldst fear me" differs from "Thou wouldst fear me"...

Higgins
02-20-2008, 09:11 PM
I agree with HeronW.

"Shall I make pancakes?" still has an entirely different meaning than, "Will I make pancakes?"

In fact, there are echoes of the traditional distinction in that, regarding first v. second/third person. "Will I make pancakes?" is an odd question. Don't YOU know whether you'll be making pancakes or not? So, that use sort of displaces the "I" subject from first to third person.

Right. Substituting should and would will clarify (and maybe even shall clarify) what the difference between shall and will might be. Or should be or shall be.

davids
02-20-2008, 09:46 PM
I shall go to the bathroom because I know I will have to-sha'll-contraction of shall and will in lobsterese-hey colorado it just is my way of understanding the distinkchun-which i obviously have no idea about! Shall I research? Yes I think I sha'll-I read the Here's the distinction-thanks I am so easily cornfusipated but just go on writin'-ignorance is such sweet bliss-love Dave

Winnie the Pooh-ah sweet luscious heavenly writing!

dobiwon
02-20-2008, 10:20 PM
In fact, there are echoes of the traditional distinction in that, regarding first v. second/third person. "Will I make pancakes?" is an odd question. Don't YOU know whether you'll be making pancakes or not? So, that use sort of displaces the "I" subject from first to third person.This is the distinction that I was taught in elementary school.

I also know that in government regulations, "You shall..." means "You must..."

hammerklavier
02-21-2008, 08:03 PM
"Do you want me to make the pancakes?"
"I'm making the pancakes." (even though he hasn't started yet)
"Could you make the pancakes?"
"I felt like I had to do it." (obliged)

slcboston
02-22-2008, 10:38 PM
Anyone else hungry for pancakes now? :)

And while I can't speak to "shall" I have, for some reason, been using "ought" a lot more frequently these days. Now I'm wondering if it wasn't some kind of subconscious grammar protest on my part? Personally, I lament the passing of terms that allow for subtle shades of variation in meaning, just because John Q P can't be bothered to use them properly anymore.

(Then again, I miss "whom," too. :) )

job
02-24-2008, 03:05 AM
I dunnoh how real that distinction has ever been. I read stuff from 1800, or Shakespeare, and I just don't see the shall/will distinction. Is it really there?

I wouldn't be amazed to find this is something Victorian grammarians thought up.

Ruv Draba
02-24-2008, 05:27 AM
I dunnoh how real that distinction has ever been. I read stuff from 1800, or Shakespeare, and I just don't see the shall/will distinction. Is it really there?

I wouldn't be amazed to find this is something Victorian grammarians thought up.

From etymonline (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/www.etymonline.com):

shall : O.E. sceal "I owe/he owes, will have to, ought to, must" (infinitive sculan, pt. sceolde), a common Gmc. preterite-present verb, from P.Gmc. *skal-, *skul- (cf. O.S. sculan, O.N., Swed. skola, M.Du. sullen, O.H.G. solan, Ger. sollen, Goth. skulan "to owe, be under obligation;" related via past tense form to O.E. scyld "guilt," Ger. Schuld "guilt, debt;" also O.N. Skuld, name of one of the Norns). Ground sense probably is "I owe," hence "I ought." The sense shifted in M.E. from a notion of "obligation" to include "futurity." Its past tense form has become should (q.v.). Cognates outside Gmc. are Lith. skeleti "to be guilty," skilti "to get into debt;" O.Prus. skallisnan "duty," skellants "guilty."

will (v.) : O.E. *willan, wyllan "to wish, desire, want" (past tense wolde), from P.Gmc. *welljan (cf. O.S. willian, O.N. vilja, O.Fris. willa, Du. willen, O.H.G. wellan, Ger. wollen, Goth. wiljan "to will, wish, desire," Goth. waljan "to choose"), from PIE *wel-/*wol- "be pleasing" (cf. Skt. vrnoti "chooses, prefers," varyah "to be chosen, eligible, excellent," varanam "choosing;" Avestan verenav- "to wish, will, choose;" Gk. elpis "hope;" L. volo, velle "to wish, will, desire;" O.C.S. voljo, voliti "to will," veljo, veleti "to command;" Lith. velyti "to wish, favor," pa-vel-mi "I will," viliuos "I hope;" Welsh gwell "better"). Cf. also O.E. wel "well," lit. "according to one's wish;" wela "well-being, riches." The use as a future auxiliary was already developing in O.E. The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity. Contracted forms, especially after pronouns, began to appear 16c., as in sheele for "she will." The form with an apostrophe is from 17c.

job
02-24-2008, 11:56 PM
<>>>>The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity. <<<<<

Certainly this is the wisdom found in grammar books.
Does this express the language as actually used?
I look at, say, Shakespeare, and careful writers in 1800 and I don't see this distinction adhered to in any strict fashion.


JoB

rugcat
02-25-2008, 12:18 AM
Here's the distinction. (http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/056.html)
I just like having a way of showing emphasis, so I kind of like the distinction. But I suppose it does really boil down to a question of dialect.I learned that distinction in grammar school, but I think the usage was fading even back then.

Oberon
03-04-2008, 11:06 PM
We shall overcome sounds a lot better than we will overcome. More emphatic, indicates determination, which seems to be one of the differences between the two words, but even in the dictionary there is ambiguity. I guess either one can be used any way you want.