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shall then will
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 4:47 am Reply with quote
Bridget
 
Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 77


And what is the implied difference between shall and will here, in Frankenstein, if any?

In one part of the book:


Quote:
Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict.

Devil, cease; and do not poison the air with these sounds of malice. I have declared my resolution to you, and I am no coward to bend beneath words. Leave me; I am inexorable.

It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night.

I started forward and exclaimed, Villain! Before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe.



Then, a few sentence later:


Quote:
I would have seized him, but he eluded me and quitted the house with precipitation. In a few moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an arrowy swiftness and was soon lost amidst the waves.

All was again silent, but his words rang in my ears. I burned with rage to pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean. I walked up and down my room hastily and perturbed, while my imagination conjured up a thousand images to torment and sting me. Why had I not followed him and closed with him in mortal strife? But I had suffered him to depart, and he had directed his course towards the mainland. I shuddered to think who might be the next victim sacrificed to his insatiate revenge. And then I thought again of his words --

I will be with you on your wedding-night.

That, then, was the period fixed for the fulfilment of my destiny. In that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth, of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her, tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:53 pm Reply with quote
thegooseking
 
Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland


Functionally, there's little difference: will is used in the first-person in approximately the same way as shall in the second-person. There is a difference in implication, but it's subtle. "I will" is a statement of intent; it's something the speaker wants to do. "You shall" is also a statement of intent; it's something the speaker wants the other to do, but its context (specifically its usage with a verb like 'repent') suggests to me that it's a little stronger than that, more of a command with Biblical overtones.

A little off the question, it occurs to me, that the meaning of the first-person may have become almost opposite in the intervening years, in fact. Traditionally, 'shall' in the first-person expressed simple futurity, and was reserved for things that could be reasonably expected, whereas 'will' in the first-person meant that the force of one's will was behind it and that one would do one's best to make it come true.

Now, however, since that's been somewhat relaxed, it seems that whereas "I will" implies "I'll do my best to make sure this happens", "I shall" has become something of a stronger statement - since it initially expressed simple futurity, it's now akin to stating a possibility as a fact: a "nothing's going to stop me" attitude. Maybe that strength is borrowed from the second-person use of 'shall', as in Cinderella: "You SHALL go to the ball." And like the eponymous heroine, it's transformed from something quite innocuous into a word that makes people sit up and take notice.

Of course, that might just be my imagination working overtime.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:19 am Reply with quote
Bridget
 
Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 77


Thanks for that/those thoughts, the gooseking.

Michael Lewis has said that "shall" has the meaning of "will", but with the additional meaning "If it's anything to do with me (the speaker)". In questions it becomes "If it's anything to do with you (the listener)".

Lewis describes it as:

"Shall = According to my perception of the present situation, it is, if it's anything to do with me, inevitable that..."

What do you think?
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 5:33 am Reply with quote
thegooseking
 
Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland


I think that's in agreement with the 'statement of intent' sense of shall in the second and third person, so that would make a lot of sense. I assume Lewis (being British) was talking about British English? Certainly I tend to disagree with the dictionary.com rules about will and shall I posted in the other thread, at least insofar as it talks about British English, and think that in contemporary usage the rules are a lot more relaxed - which seems to be what Lewis is getting at. Actually, there seems to be little difference between American English and British English on this point today.

It's interesting that you mention questions, though, since it appears to change things (in terms of the traditional rules) somewhat. I would tend to use "Shall I get you a coffee?" rather than "Will I get you a coffee?" We're still talking about intentions, and the first-person, so that would suggest will, but it seems like "Will I get you a coffee?" translates to "Is it my wish that I get you a coffee?" which is nonsense. "Shall I get you a coffee?" seems to become "Is it your wish that I get you a coffee?" which makes a lot more sense.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 2:59 am Reply with quote
Bridget
 
Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 77


Quote:
I would tend to use "Shall I get you a coffee?" rather than "Will I get you a coffee?" We're still talking about intentions, and the first-person, so that would suggest will, but it seems like "Will I get you a coffee?" translates to "Is it my wish that I get you a coffee?" which is nonsense. "Shall I get you a coffee?" seems to become "Is it your wish that I get you a coffee?" which makes a lot more sense.


For me, "will I get you a coffee" translates to "will it happen". Sounds like asking the listener to predict the action, which is an odd thing to do in such a context.

Ok here though:

Son: Mum, can I go out to play?

Mum: Now, will I let you go out before you've done your homework? What do you think, son?


Son: Durrr!?
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Part I
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:00 am Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


"Shall" has specialized, also in other English varieties, like UK's. It was logical, considering, like my previous commentator says, the fact that most of its use was contracted.

Human language is very practical and if it can simplify (eliminate one form, for instance, because one is felt enough) PLUS communicate more effectively (specialize one form in whatever meaning), it'll tend to do that with time.

"Shall I/we...?" has no traces of disappearing anywhere because it's function is clear and unique (even though we can find other structures with the same language function).

According to functional grammar, "Shall I...?" indicates you offer to do something for someone (no other modal is as specific), and "Shall we...?" can mean that (for a group of volunteers) or a way of indicating making a proposal. None of those uses are connected to the future, really, I mean, time here is irrelevant, the issue is what you are doing with your message.

"I'll get you a coffee", whether you are thinking of shall or will, has the meaning of offering yourself to do something. We could even try to say it's connected to a spontaneous decision. Again, the future part is not meaningful, really, I believe.

"We shall overcome" will tend to remain the same, if the sentence keeps being used, as a symbol, so to say! But then, if people forget and decades later it is recovered, it would probably change to "We will overcome". Maybe it already has, among people who do not know the history of the quote and have never heard it pronounced by those who do!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:46 am Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


As a German teacher, it is very interesting for me to consider the German cognates of "shall" and "will."

"Sollen" translates into English as "ought to, should" (the latter showing the etymological connection). "Wollen" in German actually has nothing to do with futurity, but instead means "to want to."

With these in mind, it is possible for me to perceive a distinction in English. However, in everyday speech, I must confess that I cannot hear any significant difference at all most of the time. I think when I hear "shall" it usually sounds like a prescription or a specification (as in "This term paper shall be due on the 15th of December."), but I don't hear "shall" that often in everyday American speech.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:50 pm Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


I disagree with Dave. Let's see if we can analyze this a bit more, because it's very interesting.

In my view, daily language offers other information. US American varieties do use "shall" in the senses I was describing, which have no connection to the future, I agree, but which relate to offering to do things for other people and making proposals (kindness, in one word).

English speakers in the world today use and/or understand perfectly well that when you say "Shall I start?" "Shall I close the door/switch on the lights/open the window?", you're offering to do something for other people, to do something which other people could actually do, too, but which you offer to do (for all) because you're being generous, kind, nice, helpful, whatever. It's a way of performing verbally that very important language function. There's also "Shall we move on?", "Shall we wait for them?" in the same language function, and then "Shall we go to the cinema this evening?", "Shall we buy her an ipod?" for proposals. There's a 2004? US American movie called "Shall we dance?", with the same language function of making a proposal. Just came to my mind.

In both functions, the role "shall" has is to express an attitude, and that is connected mostly to oral speech, although also to written speech when the writer cares about the reader, when there's a human / personal connection. That's all in daily language, that is not alien to daily language. At least not as alien as Dave's example, which follows...

The example "This term paper shall be due on the 15th of December" is unconnected to the more daily use I was mentioning (the more personal), and I do see it as a tool to indicate futurity while creating the distance and impersonal atmosphere that that kind of formal language creates. Formal language of this kind is more loyal to those older uses of "shall", because formal language is always linked to arcaic uses, at least much more than more natural ways of communicating.

Supposing Dave's perception is true that in the USA people don't use "shall" in the function I was mentioning, it would be interesting to know why. And what language items/structure is playing the part "shall" plays in other English-speaking places, which structures US people use when they want to offer themselves to do something for other people, because people everywhere develop language for that communicative aim.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:21 pm Reply with quote
Dave
 
Joined: 08 Jun 2006
Posts: 357
Location: Washington, DC


Actually, doodah, reading your post I realize that you are right. It is more common in American English than I was acknowledging. I guess it's just not that common in declarative statements.

But in your examples: "Shall I start?" and "Shall we dance?", I believe the meaning actually does come closer to the sense of German "sollen." In such a deferential request as "Shall we dance?" there is an understood request for permission. These two questions are very much closer to "Ought we to dance?" than to "Will we dance?"

Now, here's the thing: I don't know that the response to either of those questions would be likely to use the word "shall." "Shall I start serving the dessert?" "Yes, we would love to have dessert!" [or] "Yes, we could have dessert now, thank you!"

(We just finished Thanksgiving dinner in our house, so such exchanges seem particularly current!)

Likewise with a question such as "Shall we dance?" the response is likely to be something like "Yes, I would love to" or "Yes, thanks" or "No, I'm not feeling well." I can't hear anybody responding--in a declarative sentence--"Yes, we shall."

Incidentally, in English, the subjunctive form of "shall" is "should." Hardly anyone is commonly aware of this connection, but the question "Shall I begin?" is really not at all far from "Should I begin?" The second form distances the request a bit; it tends to suggest a bit less that I intend to begin unless I'm stopped. It seems to ask a bit more strongly for permission.

Thanks for making me mindful of the everyday-ness of this usage, doodah.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 9:29 am Reply with quote
doodah
 
Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Spain


Hi, Dave!

Thanks for replying. I didn't understand why you spoke about "should" and now with this last post I understand better.

OK, so let me recapitulate: yes, I don't see "shall" connected to any future sense. And its uses are very restricted, because embedded in that specific structure it has a very specific meaning. "Shall" in these senses cannot be used as a regular auxiliary. And the point you raise about replying is therefore really interesting. Let me try to explain.

I see "shall" (in the uses I mentioned at least) as only possible in the structures I mentioned (not in short answers, or replies of any sort, I think...), and yes, because it is not a simple auxiliary but a magnificent modal (with all its amazing echoing, saying more that it is meant to express more literally), replies to questions with "shall" vary lots. We would never have "Yes, I shall" as you mention.

With a standard auxiliary (the verb assistant, empty of ideas, a tool for constructing the ideas of time and person) you have not much of an option: "Do you...", Yes, I do. / No, I don't. Even with modals which are less related to human relationships, like "can" for ability: "Can you cook?" - "Yes, I can / No, I can't". That's all possible and likely.

However, that's not the case with these amazing auxiliaries which are modals, at least those related to politeness (requests, offerings, proposals...). "Shall we dance?" "Shall I turn off the DVD player?" cannot be answered "grammatically" but functionally, because what rules (!) is not the time/person content that the auxiliary (with no content, otherwise) brings about, but a communicative purpose connected to relating to other people, the language function itself. "Could I possibly borrow your mobile phone?" wouldn't be answered either with "Yes, you could/No, you couldn't".

Gotta go! Hope the post is fine because I've got not time to read it through just now! Smile
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shall then will
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