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Where do people learn "gonna," wanna," etc.? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2017-3-15 08:18:34 |Display all floors
I have been fascinated to see so many people using "gonna" and "wanna."  It is good to know pronunciations like "gonna," "wanna," "shoulda,""woulda," "coulda," "mighta," etc., because these pronunciations are used in informal English conversation, and knowing them makes it much easier to understand casual conversation.  But to use these words in writing is extremely informal -- such words are mainly used in writing to replicate the sound of casual speech, for example in dialogue in a novel.  So I have wondered, how are so many learners of English picking up these words?  I am sure that no teacher is teaching them in English class!

People might pick up these pronunciations from television programs, but how did they learn to use them in writing?

My guess is that they come from listening to popular songs in English, because many popular songs use very colloquial or conversational language -- incluidng in the written lyrics.  My guess is that people look up the lyrics of English-language songs they like, and that is where they see words like "wanna" and "gonna" used in writing. Did I guess right?

I am not saying people should not use these words in writing -- on the contrary, such informality can be charming.  People should just know that these usages are extremely informal.  But I am still wondering how people learn them in the first place, since they would never be taught in English class.

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Post time 2017-3-23 15:36:29 |Display all floors
This post was edited by iwater at 2017-3-23 21:11

Hi there,

I didn't know. I'm not sure if those would never been taught in English class. There are colloquial English classes taught by native speakers of English from some kindergartens to universities in China. Pupils and students are very likely to spot and pick up the pecularity of their own teachers. There are also cartoons, movies with which people learn English.

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Post time 2017-3-24 00:03:29 |Display all floors

Well, colloquial English classes do well to teach those pronunciations in conversation, at least to understand them because they are common pronunciations in casual conversations.  Using them in written English is another matter.  There's nothing wrong with using such words in writing if you intend to be very informal, for example in a forum post where you want to give the feeling of informal conversation with your buddies.  

But I would be very surprised if any English teachers are teaching students to use these words in writing.  That is why I am wondering where people learn that.  I am thinking that it is through popular songs.  They look up the lyrics and see those words in writing.

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Post time 2017-3-24 14:48:57 |Display all floors
This post was edited by iwater at 2017-3-24 14:55

Greetings again!

I forgot where I learnt those colloquial words i.e. wanna, gonna, when I was a Chinese pupil and or student.

With the availability of the Internet nowadays, it is easy for Chinese pupils and students to find native speakers to chat via text with Yahoo Messager, Skype, Wechat, etc. or exchange emails.

Except for song lyrics, there are aslo jokes, subtitles of movies, TV series that those pupils can learn. Does this make sense?

Yesterday I happened to read a knock knock joke on the Internet, and encountered "gonna" again.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Orange who?

Orange you gonna open the door?

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Post time 2017-3-24 15:11:33 |Display all floors
Family Album U.S.A. , which was sponsored by U.S. Information Agency, is a very popular tutorial of English with both book and videos, though I never learnt it.

I searched the Internet with the keywords- "gonna" and "Family Album U.S.A". , and I found many colloquial words in the book.

Here's the snippet.

she's, she's not my girlfriend. She's just a friend, and I'm sure she'llmake a decision quickly.So, what do you wanna do?
I don't have eight hundred dollars to spend on that car. I have to sellit. Is there any chance that you would buy it from me?Buy your car?
Yeah, how are you gonna get back to

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Post time 2017-3-26 11:39:47 |Display all floors
Except for song lyrics, there are aslo jokes, subtitles of movies, TV series that those pupils can learn. Does this make sense?

Yes, when you say subtitles of movies, do you mean English subtitles for movies in English (to help comprehension, which I think is an excellent idea)?  That makes a lot of sense because those subtitles would usually imitate the way people speak.  Also, jokes, of course, use informal language and wordplay.  "Yeah" is also very informal.

So then the question is, do people know that this is very informal language and know the difference?  You wouldn't want to use "gonna" or "yeah" in a business letter!

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Post time 2017-3-26 18:41:25 |Display all floors
Of course, some understand and some don't. It depends on the different level of English proficiency of each individual's. You would hardly spot that on English news reports of the China Daily  contriibutedby Chinese journalists, would you?

In some tutorials and English dictionaries, those are defined as informal. I assume many Chinese students / persons pay little attention to that, as they more focus on grammar and vocabulary, which they are still struggling to command, yet are being big challenges to them all the time, prior to the understanding of informal register, i.e. gonna, wanna, etc.

Indeed in business letter generally people should avoid using informal words as you pinpoint. Nonetheless many people would understand or try to understand and excuse us as their Chinese correspondents are neither native speakers nor linguists. Many of them would focus on content of writing per se.  Likewise, in business letter, we don't pick at foreigners if their Chinese lacks enough fluency and /or formalness, which are expected.

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