Steve Long Salinas17 at AOL.COM
Mon Jan 27 23:17:56 UTC 2003

In a message dated 1/27/03 2:58:23 PM, MFATSDPZ at FS1.ART.MAN.AC.UK writes:
<< On a slightly different note, I have observed the use of 'when' in some
examples of Hong Kong English and Singaporean English used with the function
of a generic 'if' (e.g. 'When there is a fire, do not use the lift'). This
seems to be the reverse of what Matt and Steve are describing. >>

"when there is a fire" sounds a bit more ominous to me, obviously because
"if" certainly coveys that an event is conditional as to eventuality (e.g.,
"if and when...", "when, if ever...").  "When" makes the fire just a matter
of time -- an assumption that is more motivational as a warning?

"Whenever there is a fire..." -- on the other hand -- would certainly imply
the expectancy of a regular event.

which makes me think that --- "Trudgill and Hannah (1985-2002 - International
English) note that it is a feature of Northern Irish English, and give the
example: 'Whenever my baby was born, I became depressed' --- might also be
explained by a transfer from the plural events -- from "whenever [every time]
my babies were born,..." reassigned or, more accurately, generalized to apply
to a single event.

Also related maybe are the two signs we saw on the eastern shore of Maryland
a decade ago.  The older, smaller, rusted one said, "Slow down when driving
on the ferry."   The newer slick one said, "Proceed with caution while
driving on ferry."   Neither was fully conditional (...if driving on the
ferry), which made sense since you were already on the wharf and committed to
going when you read the signs.  The newer "while" versus "when" may have
seemed to be more "official" governmental English to the sign writer.
Likewise, perhaps "whenever" may just seem more thorough.

Steve Long

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