Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2007 July 7

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July 7[edit]

english langauage[edit]

what is the difference in the ues of "few" and "a few" in sentances. 59.92.24.175 10:11, 7 July 2007 (UTC)Kalyan

When you say you have "a few" books, you mean you have some books; when you say you have "few" books, you mean you hardly have any books. Cheers.--K.C. Tang 10:34, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
The English Language Reference Desk would also be a great place to ask this sort of question. The Jade Knight 10:50, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Hardly. That's apparently moribund - there have been no postings to that Wikiversity site since 23 April. -- JackofOz 02:31, 8 July 2007 (UTC)
Hardly. Go look again. Questions always get answered promtply there. The Jade Knight 03:08, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

A few has a rather positive connotation, or an optimistic point of view, as in

Do you have any friends?

I have a few.

Few, on the other hand, has a rather negative connotation, or a pessimistic point of view, as in

Do you have any friends?

I have few.

In other words, a few has a meaning closer to "some", whereas few means something more like "hardly any."--El aprendelenguas 21:50, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Yes, that's a good way of putting it. DuncanHill 21:55, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
And quite a few means "many". —Tamfang 06:08, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
Quite. -- JackofOz 13:12, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
And not a few also means "many". The Jade Knight 03:10, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Subjunctive and Bob Dylan[edit]

In his song [License to Kill] Bob Dylan uses many times the subjunctive (or it seems for me to be so): "he can do with it as he please", "she just sit there...", "she say who..." I read the Wikipedia page Subjunctive and I did not find how to understand the Dylan's lyrics. Could someone be so kind to explain me the usage of subjunctive by Bob Dylan? (I know that The Jade Knight is lobbying for the English Language Reference Desk... Next time I'll ask there). AldoSyrt 16:46, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

I don't think those are subjunctives. I think those are nonstandard indicatives. AAVE, for example, does not usually use the -s marker on third person singular present indicative verbs. —Angr 17:19, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Compare with the Beatles' "Here come ol' flattop, he come groovin' up slowly." Tesseran 22:50, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. Thus, I am to understand that the usage of "non standard" indicative refers to such or such social group (in a large sense). — AldoSyrt 08:32, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
In a very large sense, yes. Basically, if you want your song to sound bluesy, you sing it in the dialect of English used by African-Americans, or at least in what you as a white Jewish boy from Minnesota (in the case of Dylan) or a group of white boys from Liverpool (in the case of the Beatles) believe to be the dialect of English used by African-Americans. —Angr 08:43, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test[edit]

Hello. I googled the title above; I can only find tests later than 2005 and a sample. Where can I find tests dated 2005 or earlier? If it is not possible to obtain these past tests, please let me know. Thanks in advance.