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Thread: Semantics: I know where you're coming from

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
    I would, uh, accept your perspective on this issue, except when does anyone ever use the phrase in the geographical sense? I have never experienced that. If you give me one example of a time that actually happened to you I'll happily say I understand why it bothers you.
    I admit it doesn't happen often, but the literal meaning has been used around me occasionally. A few weeks ago a team mate and I walked home from practice together, and it's a 30 min walk, so we talked about various things. We don't know each other that well and we come from different places in the country. One thing that was brought up was where we want to live when we are finished studying in the city we both live in now. I started with saying: "You might not remember where I come from, but it is a small town called Narvik and I don't want to move back there". And he answered: "Oh, I know where you come from. I haven't forgotten that".

    If I had said "I don't like Narvik, it's too small for me" and he had replied "I know where you are coming from, but I find small places calm and peaceful" I would of course have understood that he meant the phrase in a metaphorical sense, but it would still annoy me a bit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RageAndLov View Post
    I admit it doesn't happen often, but the literal meaning has been used around me occasionally. A few weeks ago a team mate and I walked home from practice together, and it's a 30 min walk, so we talked about various things. We don't know each other that well and we come from different places in the country. One thing that was brought up was where we want to live when we are finished studying in the city we both live in now. I started with saying: "You might not remember where I come from, but it is a small town called Narvik and I don't want to move back there". And he answered: "Oh, I know where you come from. I haven't forgotten that".

    If I had said "I don't like Narvik, it's too small for me" and he had replied "I know where you are coming from, but I find small places calm and peaceful" I would of course have understood that he meant the phrase in a metaphorical sense, but it would still annoy me a bit.
    The thing is, you say, "I am from/I know where you're from" in English. But even with this rather marked, uncommon way of saying it that I hear non-natives use, it's still a different tense, and therefore a totally different phrase. Kind of like, "I sleep" has a totally different meaning than "I'm sleeping", which doesn't make sense because if you're sleeping, you can't say that unless you're talking in your sleep
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    Quote Originally Posted by RageAndLov View Post
    And he answered: "Oh, I know where you come from. I haven't forgotten that".
    Sorry for perhaps being pedantic, but that's not the same thing. "Oh, I know where you come from" is entirely different to "I know where you're coming from". As Brianna stated, "I know where you're coming from" would basically never work. I can only think of one situation where it might happen. I used to work in hotels and sometimes people would call the hotel because they were driving around town trying to find us. In that situation we would ask them to tell us where they are currently with street names or landmarks and once you realized where they were at that moment you could, potentially, say "I know where you're coming from". But it still wouldn't be the best choice of words and I can't think of any other time it could even happen at all. Unless, as Brianna suggested, it's all simply a matter of grammatical differences in languages other than English, which seems likely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    The thing is, you say, "I am from/I know where you're from" in English. But even with this rather marked, uncommon way of saying it that I hear non-natives use, it's still a different tense, and therefore a totally different phrase. Kind of like, "I sleep" has a totally different meaning than "I'm sleeping", which doesn't make sense because if you're sleeping, you can't say that unless you're talking in your sleep
    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
    Sorry for perhaps being pedantic, but that's not the same thing. "Oh, I know where you come from" is entirely different to "I know where you're coming from". As Brianna stated, "I know where you're coming from" would basically never work. I can only think of one situation where it might happen. I used to work in hotels and sometimes people would call the hotel because they were driving around town trying to find us. In that situation we would ask them to tell us where they are currently with street names or landmarks and once you realized where they were at that moment you could, potentially, say "I know where you're coming from". But it still wouldn't be the best choice of words and I can't think of any other time it could even happen at all. Unless, as Brianna suggested, it's all simply a matter of grammatical differences in languages other than English, which seems likely.
    Yes you are both right. I am a bit tired and I screwed up. Let's try again.
    I was just going to use that example you provided, PIB. That is a legitimate way of using the phrase in a literal meaning.

    A: "Hey it's me calling, I'm driving down Road 12. I am a bit lost. I think I should turn to the right by the supermarket to get to Pete's Pizza."

    B: "No you should continue down Road 12 and take off the road by the hospital. Pete's Pizza is right behind the hospital"

    A: "I don't think you understand. I'm driving down Road 12 from North, the hospital is the other way."

    B: "No I know where you are coming from, the St. Bernard's Hospital is the other way. The hospital you are driving towards to is St. Lucy's. Pete's Pizza is behind St. Lucy's Hospital".
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    I imagine that people who work repairing watches and clocks might say "give me a hand" in a literal sense... I think that's probably about as common as saying "I know where you're coming from" in a literal sense :P
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    Quote Originally Posted by RageAndLov View Post
    Yes you are both right. I am a bit tired and I screwed up.
    Cool. So does the phrase still annoy you as much?

    For the record I am in awe of non-native English speakers like yourself who generally understand the language much better than most natives. You probably understand the grammatical rules far better than I do.

    Edit: But anytime you disagree with Brianna on a subject related to language just know you're probably wrong. It works for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    I imagine that people who work repairing watches and clocks might say "give me a hand" in a literal sense... I think that's probably about as common as saying "I know where you're coming from" in a literal sense :P
    Wouldn't they say "give me the hand"? You most likely tend to wear your watch on one wrist, so any hand won't do, but rather the hand. And "give me the hand" doesn't have a metaphorical meaning.

    But I am sure you could find just as many examples of when you say "give me a hand" in a literal sense as with "I know where you're coming from". Still, I find that phrase annoying, but "give me a hand" does not annoy me at all. Perhaps I don't even know why. Am I biased? I don't know how anyone could be biased to such a thing.

    But, you being an authority on English grammar, could you explain to me what the meaning or rather the reason for the phrase "I know where you're coming from" to mean "I understand your point of view" or "I can see why you think that"? As you said, "coming" would imply that an action of geographical movement is happening right now as we speak. How does "I know from which point you move to here is" translate to "I understand your point of view"? Wouldn't "I know where you come from" be a better phrase to carry such a meaning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
    Cool. So does the phrase still annoy you as much?

    For the record I am in awe of non-native English speakers like yourself who generally understand the language much better than most natives. You probably understand the grammatical rules far better than I do.

    Edit: But anytime you disagree with Brianna on a subject related to language just know you're probably wrong. It works for me.
    Yes, the phrase still annoys me for whatever reason. And I doubt I know English grammar better than native speakers. If I do not act cautiously, I make a lot of elemental mistakes in regards of English grammar. Especially in places where my native language and English have different rules. Like the English relative pronouns: who, whom, whose, which etc. My native language has only one word for all those relative pronouns, so if I do not think about the proper use I might screw it up.

    Also, I acknowledge that if llamas, being the English teacher from the US, says I am wrong about English grammar, I most definitely am. Like the use of the term "USAmerican". Llamas has pointed out that it is wrong quite some times and I don't dare to disagree with her, but it is a demonym I wish were widely used.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
    For the record I am in awe of non-native English speakers like yourself who generally understand the language much better than most natives. You probably understand the grammatical rules far better than I do.
    I agree that it's impressive when a non-native is able to analyze English at this level. I can't do that with any language besides my mother tongue.... doing that with a foreign language is impressive.

    Edit: But anytime you disagree with Brianna on a subject related to language just know you're probably wrong. It works for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by RageAndLov View Post
    Wouldn't they say "give me the hand"? You most likely tend to wear your watch on one wrist, so any hand won't do, but rather the hand. And "give me the hand" doesn't have a metaphorical meaning.
    Absolutely not. They might say, "Give me your hand", but "give me a hand" would be more likely than "the". When I go to a club, too, and they wanna stamp my hand, they say "give me a hand" sometimes (though again, "give me your hand" is a bit more common).

    But I was talking about the hands of a clock, anyway, haha. Give me a hand for this clock

    But I am sure you could find just as many examples of when you say "give me a hand" in a literal sense as with "I know where you're coming from". Still, I find that phrase annoying, but "give me a hand" does not annoy me at all. Perhaps I don't even know why. Am I biased? I don't know how anyone could be biased to such a thing.
    Yes, it's normal to have weird issues with various words and phrases. I hate the word "moist", and I don't know why, haha.

    But, you being an authority on English grammar, could you explain to me what the meaning or rather the reason for the phrase "I know where you're coming from" to mean "I understand your point of view" or "I can see why you think that"? As you said, "coming" would imply that an action of geographical movement is happening right now as we speak. How does "I know from which point you move to here is" translate to "I understand your point of view"? Wouldn't "I know where you come from" be a better phrase to carry such a meaning?
    Because you're coming at an issue from a certain metaphorical angle. So the background that leads you to your opinion is where you're coming from. I could say something like, "I think spanking children is bad, but then again this might come from my strict upbringing." My perspective and opinion come from somewhere. So I guess you could literally say, "I know where your opinion comes from", but that's just not how the idiom goes and it makes perfect sense to me how it is. Maybe it's just really hard to understand if you didn't grow up around it, and that's fair.


    Yes, the phrase still annoys me for whatever reason. And I doubt I know English grammar better than native speakers. If I do not act cautiously, I make a lot of elemental mistakes in regards of English grammar. Especially in places where my native language and English have different rules. Like the English relative pronouns: who, whom, whose, which etc. My native language has only one word for all those relative pronouns, so if I do not think about the proper use I might screw it up.
    You Norwegians tend to have awesome English, and I rarely see you make a mistake that makes it clear you're not a native speaker. Your English is really good.

    Also, I acknowledge that if llamas, being the English teacher from the US, says I am wrong about English grammar, I most definitely am. Like the use of the term "USAmerican". Llamas has pointed out that it is wrong quite some times and I don't dare to disagree with her, but it is a demonym I wish were widely used.
    Haha, yeah this stuff used to bother me, but I think it was just how you presented it :P There are tons of words in every language that are silly/dumb to an outsider, and English is no exception... didn't you once debate the usage of record/vinyl or something? And then there's soccer/football... well, to be honest, as an English teacher in a non-English-speaking country, it gets pretty tiring being asked all the time WHY a word is used in English, WHY we don't say xxx instead of yyy... I'm just like, "Fuck if I know! I just speak it; I didn't come up with it!"

    PS: As a semi-feminist, I dislike that the word "man" is in the word "woman", but I write "woman" and "women" and not "womyn", as many feminists write it. I see this as being quite similar to American vs USAmerican. But I *do* hate it when Americans call the US "America". Call it the US, call it USA, call it the states... there are plenty of other options besides "America" :P
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  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    Absolutely not. They might say, "Give me your hand", but "give me a hand" would be more likely than "the". When I go to a club, too, and they wanna stamp my hand, they say "give me a hand" sometimes (though again, "give me your hand" is a bit more common).

    But I was talking about the hands of a clock, anyway, haha. Give me a hand for this clock
    Oh, then I misunderstood you. I thought you meant when they put the mended watch onto your hand, and not the hands of a clock. My bad!

    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    Yes, it's normal to have weird issues with various words and phrases. I hate the word "moist", and I don't know why, haha.
    Any reason for that, or is it because it sounds weird? Because it sounds weird.

    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    Because you're coming at an issue from a certain metaphorical angle. So the background that leads you to your opinion is where you're coming from. I could say something like, "I think spanking children is bad, but then again this might come from my strict upbringing." My perspective and opinion come from somewhere. So I guess you could literally say, "I know where your opinion comes from", but that's just not how the idiom goes and it makes perfect sense to me how it is. Maybe it's just really hard to understand if you didn't grow up around it, and that's fair.
    So it is more about the angle you are approaching the issue from based on your background rather than where you geographically come from? That makes a lot more sense. I have always thought the phrase came from some historical setting like two people meet on a boat to the US from North Africa:
    A: "I believe in Allah"
    B: "I know where you're coming from: Morocco. Moroccans generally believe in Allah"

    Maybe that is why I dislike that phrase.

    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    You Norwegians tend to have awesome English, and I rarely see you make a mistake that makes it clear you're not a native speaker. Your English is really good.
    Well, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post
    Haha, yeah this stuff used to bother me, but I think it was just how you presented it :P There are tons of words in every language that are silly/dumb to an outsider, and English is no exception... didn't you once debate the usage of record/vinyl or something? And then there's soccer/football... well, to be honest, as an English teacher in a non-English-speaking country, it gets pretty tiring being asked all the time WHY a word is used in English, WHY we don't say xxx instead of yyy... I'm just like, "Fuck if I know! I just speak it; I didn't come up with it!"

    Yes, I did debate the usage of record and vinyl. That is another thing that bothers me. And don't get me started with soccer/football or football/handegg! Why American football has the privilege of being called "football" instead of associated football being called "football" in North America is beyond me. And I can understand how irritating it must be when everyone asks you about things like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Llamas View Post

    PS: As a semi-feminist, I dislike that the word "man" is in the word "woman", but I write "woman" and "women" and not "womyn", as many feminists write it. I see this as being quite similar to American vs USAmerican. But I *do* hate it when Americans call the US "America". Call it the US, call it USA, call it the states... there are plenty of other options besides "America" :P
    I have always wondered about the words "woman" and "female in English. Why "something-man" and "something-male" instead of independent words for that sex?

    And finally you agree with me about something! I also loathe the use of "America" as "The United States of America". That is a truly ambiguous word as it can easily mean both the continents and the country, especially in geographical or historical contexts. But if you hate that people call it "America", why doesn't it bother you that it's called "Americans"? In popular use it absolutely hasn't the same ambiguous meaning, but it is principally the same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RageAndLov View Post
    Any reason for that, or is it because it sounds weird? Because it sounds weird.
    Yeah I don't really know... maybe it does just sound weird :P

    Yes, I did debate the usage of record and vinyl. That is another thing that bothers me. And don't get me started with soccer/football or football/handegg! Why American football has the privilege of being called "football" instead of associated football being called "football" in North America is beyond me. And I can understand how irritating it must be when everyone asks you about things like that.
    Yeah, regarding football/soccer, that one I do know the history about, and it generally makes sense to me. I still do think it's funny that we call a different sport "football" than the rest of the world, and I change my vocabulary based on with whom I'm talking - if I'm talking with an American, I'll probably use soccer/football, and with a European, football/American football... but I think I've defaulted to "real football/American football" in general by now, just to avoid confusion Though usually it's obvious based on context. But yeah, having people constantly ask, "Why do you Americans call your sport football??" and generic, overdone jokes about "handegg" just get really old. That's probably why I've seemed defensive about it before.


    I have always wondered about the words "woman" and "female in English. Why "something-man" and "something-male" instead of independent words for that sex?
    Exactly - I'm not a fan, but that's just how the words are and I'm not out to try to change that because, well, I can't and it's a waste of energy

    And finally you agree with me about something!
    I think it's greatly been about how you present things - in this thread, it was very rational and calm, whereas you often seem upset or attacking. At least in the past, anyway. I actually love discussing stuff about English, but maybe you can understand where I'm coming from (lol) when I get defensive about attacks on the language.

    I also loathe the use of "America" as "The United States of America". That is a truly ambiguous word as it can easily mean both the continents and the country, especially in geographical or historical contexts. But if you hate that people call it "America", why doesn't it bother you that it's called "Americans"? In popular use it absolutely hasn't the same ambiguous meaning, but it is principally the same.
    Well, "American" is the only accepted, legitimate demonym for someone from the US. USAmerican is rather long and if you wrote that in a professional or academic setting, it'd be really weird. It'd also confuse a lot of people because it's just not a normal, accepted term. However, the US, USA, and the states are all real, accepted names for the country. Oh, and I think calling it "America" by now has become so parodied as what conservative patriots call it that it has a negative connotation for me - America, FUCK YEAH!

    Plus, I don't really have a problem with saying "I'm North American" or "He's South American". I've literally never encountered a situation where someone wanted to be so ambiguous as to say they were "American" if they weren't talking about the US. Hell, Europeans don't even typically call themselves Europeans - most people say which country they're from For me, language is about communication and clarity. While things like "woman" and "female" might bug me a bit, "America" as a country might be annoying, and "soccer/football" might be funny, it's all about communication in the end, and so these things don't really bother me on the grander scale.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmak84 View Post
    I do not drink alcohol and coffee

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    I just do bumpin in my trunk

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