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What about "Might I...?"

That is commonly used by people who are older than I am.

Tadpole
 
Posts: 48 | Location: Avon, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
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Shifting onwards, if you telephone someone and a strange voice answers, what do you say?

'Who is this?'

or

'Who is that?'


My impression is that the first usage is American and the second British.
 
Posts: 15 | Location: S.W. UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Chielamangus:
Shifting onwards, if you telephone someone and a strange voice answers, what do you say?

'Who is this?'

or

'Who is that?'


My impression is that the first usage is American and the second British.

OK, I get many wrong numbers weekly. (Calling me, not the other way around!) I can tell you from my experience they usually say "Who is this?" How do you respond to a question like that when someone has just called you?

Depending upon my mood, they could get anything from "Who were you looking for?" (said in many different tones from nasty to concerned), or "Well, if my voice doesn't sound familiar, you must have dialed the number wrong!"

But I must say, it annoys me to no end when I answer my own phone with a pleasant "Hello" and get "Who is this?" back in my ear! Mad
 
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quote:
Originally posted by BobHale:
Imagine going into a shop and asking "am I able to buy stamps here?"


"Do you sell stamps?" if you really think "Can I buy stamps here?" might be misunderstood, but I don't think I can imagine any situation in which there is a real risk of may/can confusion.

And if you're contemplating "may I get a coffee" instead of "may I have a coffee" I think you're worrying about the wrong thing! Smile
 
Posts: 245 | Location: Surrey, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:

'Who is this?'

or

'Who is that?'



"That", definitely. If they ask me "who is this?", I'd have to guess. Why don't they know who they are?

(Doctor to confused elderly patient: "Who am I?"
Patient: "Ask Matron, she'll know.")
 
Posts: 245 | Location: Surrey, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of shufitz
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quote:
Originally posted by Morgan:
when I answer my own phone with a pleasant "Hello"

I've read that when the phone was first in use, people were unsure what word to use, and it took a while before convention settled upon "hello".
 
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Which is why, for many years, the GPO (then providers of the telephone service in the UK) used to print in their directories, "...Give your number when you answer, don't just say hello..."

The modern trend (influenced by the US, I am sure) is to say "hello". I do not so so since I think it's a bad idea.

The telephone greeting serves many purposes, one of which is to identify the person answering. "Hello" does not do that, and wrong numbers and misrouted connection still happen.

Thus those who just answer "hello" should expect to have their identity questioned since they have not made it clear to the caller!

Richard English
 
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I was told it was a security consideration - if one answers the phone with the telephone number, this could be used maliciously. I could never work out the logic behind that, after all, the caller has to have dialled the number first!

Ros
 
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I answer my phone "Hello, Alan Palmer" (my real name).

I might as well have saved my breath in many cases. If it's a telemarketer on the line they usually say something like "Can I speak to Mr Palmer, please?", totally ignoring that I have just announced myself. If it's a wrong number they'll usually ask to speak to the person they want, and act surprised and aggrieved when I say I've never heard of them. Sometimes I'll get asked "Who is that?" and I'll repeat my name. Very occasionally the caller will realise they've made a mistake immediately.
 
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Telemarketing predictive dialling systems only connect an agent to your call after you've answered it (can't have them wasting their time listening to ringing tone, you know), so the first second or so of the call (sometimes longer) is lost. They probably have no idea what you said! If you've ever answered a call and "there wasn't anyone there", that's the likely explanation -- no agent became available in time. The statistics of it are closely regulated in the U.K.

(I used to train people on the technicalities of phone systems. Sometimes still do, come to that.)

When I answer a call I listen for a second before I speak -- it's quite surprising what you hear!
 
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quote:
Originally posted by pauld:
quote:
Originally posted by BobHale:
Imagine going into a shop and asking "am I able to buy stamps here?"


"Do you sell stamps?" if you really think "Can I buy stamps here?" might be misunderstood, but I don't think I can imagine any situation in which there is a real risk of may/can confusion.


I believe there is a useful distinction between the two words that would be better preserved. Before anyone starts going on about languages evolving and changing I'd like to add that anything which reduces the number of expressible concepts in a language isn't - in my opinion - evolution.

You have jumped on the example rather than the point.

quote:

And if you're contemplating "may I get a coffee" instead of "may I have a coffee" I think you're worrying about the wrong thing! Smile


I wasn't. I was considering

"Can I get (or perhaps buy) a coffee here? " as an alternative to "Is it possible for me to buy a coffee in this fine hostelry ?"

"May I have a coffee ?" would be something that I use where I know already that the establishment sells coffee (i.e. I can buy one) and was asking to be served a cup.

I freely admit that this is a losing battle that I'm fighting, that the modern trend in speech is towards sloppy and inexact use.
Then again with a local college now running courses in txting (sic) and a recent report of someone (granted probably as a joke) handing in a school essay in txt, the modern trend in writing is towards a shorthand code in which a vastly reduced number of concepts and nuances are expressible. It doesn't mean that it's a trend we should be following.

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by pauld:
Telemarketing predictive dialling systems only connect an agent to your call _after_ you've answered ... If you've ever answered a call and "there wasn't anyone there", that's the likely explanation


Yes and this annoys me and confuses my elderly father. On average we get about two of these "silent" calls per week, usually as we are sitting down to our evening meal.

I am a firm believer that telemarketing autodialing systems should be banned - in fact I'd go further and ban all forms of "cold calling". Not only do I never buy anything from people cold calling but I make a point of finding out the caller's company and then explaining (as politely as I can - it isn't the telemarketer's fault) why I will never be buying anything from that company in the future.
Obviously I can't do this with a "dead line" call.

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
Posts: 9116 | Location: EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
I freely admit that this is a losing battle that I'm fighting, that the modern trend in speech is towards sloppy and inexact use.


Can't disagree with that. That's why we're clinging together for warmth here, isn't it?

A letter from a bank yesterday asked me to:

"Please send a copy of
- your birth certificate
- a copy of a recent utility bill"

Something wrong somewhere (unless they really wanted a copy of a copy) but I couldn't decide which bit was wrong. Specifically, did they want the original of my birth certificate? I still don't know (they got a copy of it).

On the other hand, a pack of washers I bought said it was a plumbers' pack, which cheered me up.

However, I still can't get worked up about can/may! I agree there's a distinction there, but it so rarely causes confusion, and it can be made so easily in other ways, that (for me at least) it is as irrelevant as split infinitives. But I will, of course, defend to the death your right to be troubled by it!
 
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I go away for two days and this gets going and excellent stuff it is too.

One thing I have always wanted to know is what Americans mean by a British accent. Who speaks with one? Is it everybody from these islands - the Irish, the Cornish, the Scottish. Or do you just mean Prince Charles?
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Thus those who just answer "hello" should expect to have their identity questioned since they have not made it clear to the caller!
Not sure I agree, Richard. After all, you called me! Your call to me should start with, "May I please speak with Kalleh?"
quote:
"Who is this?" How do you respond to a question like that when someone has just called you?
I agree, Morgan. Nothing infuriates me more. Often my kids' friends will do that. I may embarrass my kids in the process, but I always say, "Whom are you calling?"

As far as "may" or "can", a fair number of people over here still say, "May I please have a cup of coffee."

And, Graham, every single person I have met from England has an English accent. We have a good friend from Manchester who has been in this country many years. Not only does he still have an impeccable English accent, but he says it serves him quite well in the business world. As I have said previously on this site, we in America love the English accent. I went so far in one thread to call us "English wannabes"...but I got reprimanded by my American friends here! Wink
 
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Graham, agreeing with what Kalleh says, I'd add that most of us would, I think, recognize that there are many distinct accents from the British Isles. When we say "speaking with a British accent," that doesn't imply that we think there's only one such accent.
 
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Picture of C J Strolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Morgan:
But I must say, it annoys me to no end when I answer my own phone with a pleasant "Hello" and get "Who is this?" back in my ear! Mad

The proper response to that question is "Someone too damn busy to talk with morons incapable of dialing a friggin' phone!" (SLAM!)

Which brings up the question, do we still "dial" phones now that dial phones have pretty much gone the way of the dodo? When was the last time you actually "dialled" a phone? I don't think "push-buttoning a phone" will ever catch on so I suppose we're stuck with the outdated term.
 
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And on the can/may front, I'm totally with you, B.H. "Can I have a cookie?" clearly means "May I have a cookie?" (and, no, you'll spoil your dinner) and so in most cases there's little chance for confusion. Still, it is always better to be precise.

By way of illustration, there was a college a short while back that attempted to deal with the "date rape" situation through a ridiculous "Mother, may I?" ruling regarding student conduct.

(For those who may not be familiar with the term, "date rape" involves intercourse which results when either the woman [to use a heterosexual couple] is not clear enough regarding her desire not to have sex or the man is not bright enough to understand her feelings on the matter or maybe does understand them but presses on anyway. In any event, the distinction is that no actual physical force is involved but that other forms of force can result just as surely in rape.)

The college's answer to this problem was to direct the men to get specific permission for each step of the mating dance! "May I kiss you?" "May I place my hand on your thigh?" "My I please at least see you partly naked, we've been dating for three damn months?! etc etc. I doubt this program was successful but the Can/May distinction comes into play, as in:

Him: "Can I fondle your breasts?"
Her: "Yes, I assume so, but if you do I'll see you in court!"
 
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In fact, in the UK most forms of cold calling to private indivuals are illegal. However, it's very difficult to police and many companies disregard the law secure in the knowledge that few people will take any action.

If cold calls, faxes or even letters annoy, it's possible in the UK to register with the preference service for any or all of these and this will stop 99% of the junk. Those who still make unsolicitated contact can be reported to the appropriate preference service who will take action that can result in a substantial fine.

Richard English
 
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Picture of BobHale
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If cold calls, faxes or even letters annoy, it's possible in the UK to register with the preference service for any or all of these and this will stop 99% of the junk. Those who still make unsolicitated contact can be reported to the appropriate preference service who will take action that can result in a substantial fine.

Richard English


Do you know the procedure to do this by any chance ?
The one for junk mail would also be handy if you have it.

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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When was the last time you actually "dialled" a phone?
My kids' baby sitter used to have a dial phone, and none of the kids could figure it out! Smile
 
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When was the last time you actually "dialled" a phone?
My kids' baby sitter used to have a dial phone, and none of the kids could figure it out! Smile

I agree, CJ, that nowdays "can" is used instead of "may", and that use is probably accepted. However, technically I believe it is wrong, and isn't it considered impolite? Or am I just plain old-fashioned? Red Face
 
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Picture of Hic et ubique
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I agree, CJ, that nowdays "can" is used instead of "may", and that use is probably accepted.
The Cumberbunce and I object! Big Grin
 
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The fax preference service is at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/fpsR/html/default.asp

The mailing preference service is at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/mpsR/html/default.asp

The telephone preference service is at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tpsr/html/default.asp

Sadly none of them can do much about cold calls, faxes and letters that originate outside the UK. I suspect, in fact, that there are few other countries that offer such a service so even a reciprocal arrangement can't be set up.

I have registered with the fax preference service and now get no more than two or three junk faxes a year.

Richard English
 
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Picture of C J Strolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
However, _technically_ I believe it is wrong,
Yes, it is.
and isn't it considered impolite?
Yep, right again.
Or am I just plain old-fashioned? Red Face
And that makes you 3 for 3 but keep it up. Life isn't always easy being a role model.
 
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Yesterday I answered my home phone with a pleasant hello, and was greeted with "may I have your FAX number please?"

I must admit to being dumbfounded by that one! Since I do have a FAX at home, as well as one at work, I wasn't sure if it was a wrong number or not. I did inquire as to who she was looking for and it turned out to be a business one number off from my own.

I do find it highly annoying that those who dial a wrong number and get a private residence rather than a business, aren't swift enough to realize that homes answer with "hello" but a business would answer with "AAA Construction" or some such!
 
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And that makes you 3 for 3 but keep it up. Life isn't always easy being a role model.
Awwww, go suck an egg! Razz

How's that for throwing away my "role model" image! From now on it's, "Can I have a cup of coffee!
 
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Kalleh and I are attending our son's college graduation. Seen on a store in town:
quote:
Welcome to Donegal Square
Bringing you the very best from Ireland and the British Isles
 
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This is one helluva interesting thread! Where to begin??...

1. "Can/May I have a coffee? Ya'll are missing the point here. Am I the only tea drinker left on the planet?

2. Dial 'phones. Here's a tip...next time you call a business or government agency and you get a computerized voice giving you a list of options that you can get access to by pressing certain numbers, DON'T DO IT! You'll never get where you wanna go! But, if you press no numbers at all, the computer will assume that you have a rotary dial 'phone (remember them?) and will automatically connect you with a REAL PERSON and you can then actually get something done. Discovered this all by myself!

3. Cold calls.
I was once employed in the securities business. During training it was made perfectly clear that, in Canada, it is illegal to make unsolicited telephone calls for the purpose of selling securities. No matter. Every agent did it anyway. Absolutely no enforcement of the law in this regard.

4.Sloppy and inexact use of speech.
This will be with us always. A more annoying trend that I detect lately is evasive speech. Any pain-in-the-ass announcement is now preceeded by a softener. "TO serve you better..." is the one that boils me. Often seen in department stores. "To serve you better, we no longer accept personal cheques." "To serve you better, we do not accept debit card payments." How does that serve me better? I wanna know.ARRRRGGHHHHH.....
 
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2. Dial 'phones. Here's a tip...next time you call a business or government agency and you get a computerized voice giving you a list of options that you can get access to by pressing certain numbers, DON'T DO IT! You'll never get where you wanna go! But, if you press no numbers at all, the computer will assume that you have a rotary dial 'phone (remember them?) and will automatically connect you with a REAL PERSON and you can then actually get something done. Discovered this all by myself!



Ah, Duncan! This worked for me up until about 2 years ago. These days, when I just hold onto the phone, I usually get cut off the line with a message stating, "We did not understand your request. Please call again." or some such. I have also found where they have eliminated that loophole by directing you to either "press or say one"! DANG! Roll Eyes
 
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