I asked a question on EL&U which was taken upon negatively. It is linked here: “Is "tell advice" not idiomatic over "give advice"?”
Let's look up the definition of "idiomatic" from the OED:
(1a) Relating to or exhibiting the forms of expression, grammatical constructions, phrases, etc. used in a distinctive way in a particular language, dialect, or language variety, formerly especially those considered nonstandard or colloquial. Now usually spec.: established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from the meanings of the individual words. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/91033?redirectedFrom=Idiomatic#eid>
From my research people did not accept Google books/websites/etc. to be a good reflection of ‘idiomacy’, so I consulted Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) where “tell advice” is being used.
I was challenging a statement that it was not used by native speakers at all. This is extremely misleading. It’s like saying Standard English is the best so we will ignore all other dialects. A person notes that this could be “hyperbolic”, that people do but only a small minority, “microscopic in fact”. However to me, exaggeration doesn’t mask a false truth.
Here are my arguments:
The OED definition mentions nothing about native speakers. So perhaps people should just focus on less on whether a person is a native speaker, but on the wider sense of “idiomatic”. How is idiomacy tested? Is it impossible for a non-native but fluent speaker to speak idiomatically?
My evidence does show that native speakers are using from COCA. Google also showed 50,000 cases of where “tell advice” is used. Of course there are some questionable cases. It’s almost impossible to validate every source, however I feel like among the mass of 50,000 that it would be wrong to predict that there is not a single native speaker out there. What is undetermined is the actual % of 50,000 cases is “tell advice” being used by a native speaker.
Some dictionary definitions of idiomatic mention “native speakers” but I feel this is too simplistic of a definition as mentioned above.
If only a minority of native speakers is only using it, does that make it negligible or removed as an option at all? Because people are alluding to the latter, completely disregarding the alternative and justifying their use of “give advice” only on the basis that it is used more, not considering other options; even though “tell advice” violates no grammatical rule.
- I would say: It is idiomatic in the community, that “tell advice” is being used. Perhaps not idiomatic in Standard English, but still in a community of native speakers or dialect - however small attesting its use. I think this fits in line with OED’s definition:
[...] Relating to or exhibiting the forms of expression, grammatical constructions, phrases, etc. used in a distinctive way in a particular language, dialect, or language variety [...]
Here is what CJ Dennis said in chat, which I complete agree with, particularly the second paragraph. :
There could arise some population of native English speakers for whom "tell advice" is idiomatic. It could become idiomatic in every English variety. However, it isn't at present and there's no evidence it ever was. "Long time no see" is ungrammatical but idiomatic, and therefore "good" English.
So there's no argument from a grammatical perspective to proscribe the use of a particular phrase, only the descriptive approach.
What baffles me is that people failed to see the merit of my question and just downvoted. If you look at the question I acknowledged from the get go that “give advice” was the most common variant, yet people focused more on disputing the evidence against “tell advice” as opposed to “give advice” saying it’s not natural and unidiomatic. COCA says otherwise.
I don’t understand why a perfectly good question is being treated like this. People are voting to close with no good basis or proper reason other than to incite that they do not like the usage of “tell advice”.
Clearly, it is a question well within the scopes of “English Language & Usage” but it’s not being given the merit of what it deserves.
Why do I have a reputation change on my reputation page that says "voting corrected"?
When a single user continually votes (up or down) on many of your posts within a short period of time, the system considers these votes to be invalid and removes them. This could happen for a variety of reasons, such as a user finding a user's great answer and visiting all of their posts to upvote them, or a user getting into an argument with another user and downvoting their posts indiscriminately in revenge. No matter the cause, this sort of systematic targeted voting is not considered normal behavior and the system will not allow it.
If such a voting pattern continues to happen between two users mutually or from one user towards another, or otherwise falls outside of normal voting patterns, moderators and/or developers may investigate the matter; intentionally voting merely to reduce or inflate another user's reputation is considered abuse.
Such votes will generally be invalidated as part of an automated process that runs every day, but may also be invalidated manually by the staff after an investigation. When the votes are invalidated, the reputation gain or loss from the votes is undone, which results in a record in the recipient's reputation history labelled "voting corrected".
I have had instances where my other answers have been downvoted simply because they did not like the question I asked above or that I was 'right'. If the down-vote are persistent and the down-votes are from the same group people - that can be construed as voting abuse.
Voting up a question or answer signals to the rest of the community that a post is interesting, well-researched, and useful, while voting down a post signals the opposite: that the post contains wrong information, is poorly researched, or fails to communicate information. The more that people vote on a post, the more certain future visitors can be of the quality of information contained within that post – not to mention that upvotes are a great way to thank the author of a good post for the time and effort put into writing it!
My post doesn't contain wrong information, is not poorly researched and does not fail to communicate information.
Even if it was to contain 'misinformation'* which is subjective, a user argues here:
I agree the wording "extreme cases" is very wrong here. A post providing misinformation is not an extreme case, it happens every day. That section in the help center wants to point out you can use down-votes as last resort when helping improving through comments doesn't help, and that is a good thing.
*My question does not 'misinform' anyone. I say that "give advice" is the most common usage and that the grammatical 'tell advice' is just as valid as its counterpart and I have used evidence to support this.
The help section says:
When you vote down, you are nudging that content "down" the page, so it will be seen by fewer people. Voting down answers is not something we want you to take lightly, so it is not free.
What are the alternatives to downvoting? The upvote privilege comes first because that's what you should focus on: pushing great content to the top. Downvoting should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.
Instead of voting down:
- If the post is spammy or offensive, flag it.
- If the question is duplicate or off-topic, flag it for moderator attention.
- If something is wrong, please leave a comment or edit the post to correct it.