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lunababymoonchild

Giving birth grammar

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This gets on my nerves because I think it's wrong and then I found myself doing the self-same thing today.

 

When a birth is announced on the news it's usually X celebrity has given birth to a baby boy/girl.  Given that a woman can't give birth to anything other than a baby is it not more correct to say that X celebrity has given birth to a boy/girl i.e. is the word baby not superfluous? 

 

I know that ordinary citizens are pleased to announce the birth of their boy/girl etc.

 

I'd like to hear members' opinions.

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Oh I hate this as well.  It should be "given birth to/had a baby/son/daughter"

But it isn't just celebrities; ordinary people give birth to baby boys or baby girls (usually beautiful ones) as well.

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Language is about communicating ideas. Things that help to get the idea across are welcome.

 

So.

 

We have an idea of a baby. It's small and screams. 

We have an idea of a boy. It is medium height, has scabby knees and goes to school.

We have an idea of a baby boy. It is small, screams and wears blue. 

We have an idea of a hamster. It is small and furry. 

 

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a baby, we have an accurate image but we don't know the sex. 

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a boy, we might have a mismatch between our idea of giving birth and our idea of a boy.

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a hamster, the mismatch becomes obviously comical and we can't process the information to create an idea.

 

So to help the idea along, we say Mrs X gave birth to a baby boy and it conveys the idea of the baby and the idea of maleness. 

 

Strictly speaking, we can infer the babyness, but we find it much easier to process the information and develop the idea if the baby and boy are both expressed. And I guess because everyone says it independently of one another, it demonstrates that we must find it useful at some level. 

 

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Thank you M Hg - that explains why I am perfectly happy to use "gave birth to a baby boy/girl". 

Although in most cases in which i would make such an announcement the imminence of the birth is usually known, and all that is needed is "It's a boy! (or girl as the case may be)

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11 hours ago, MisterHobgoblin said:

Language is about communicating ideas. Things that help to get the idea across are welcome.

 

So.

 

We have an idea of a baby. It's small and screams. 

We have an idea of a boy. It is medium height, has scabby knees and goes to school.

We have an idea of a baby boy. It is small, screams and wears blue. 

We have an idea of a hamster. It is small and furry. 

 

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a baby, we have an accurate image but we don't know the sex. 

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a boy, we might have a mismatch between our idea of giving birth and our idea of a boy.

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a hamster, the mismatch becomes obviously comical and we can't process the information to create an idea.

 

So to help the idea along, we say Mrs X gave birth to a baby boy and it conveys the idea of the baby and the idea of maleness. 

 

Strictly speaking, we can infer the babyness, but we find it much easier to process the information and develop the idea if the baby and boy are both expressed. And I guess because everyone says it independently of one another, it demonstrates that we must find it useful at some level. 

 

 

Yes, I see what you mean.

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On 23/09/2017 at 09:15, MisterHobgoblin said:

Language is about communicating ideas. Things that help to get the idea across are welcome.

 

So.

 

We have an idea of a baby. It's small and screams. 

We have an idea of a boy. It is medium height, has scabby knees and goes to school.

We have an idea of a baby boy. It is small, screams and wears blue. 

We have an idea of a hamster. It is small and furry. 

 

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a baby, we have an accurate image but we don't know the sex. 

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a boy, we might have a mismatch between our idea of giving birth and our idea of a boy.

If we say that Mrs X gave birth to a hamster, the mismatch becomes obviously comical and we can't process the information to create an idea.

 

So to help the idea along, we say Mrs X gave birth to a baby boy and it conveys the idea of the baby and the idea of maleness. 

 

Strictly speaking, we can infer the babyness, but we find it much easier to process the information and develop the idea if the baby and boy are both expressed. And I guess because everyone says it independently of one another, it demonstrates that we must find it useful at some level. 

 

 

Mmm, I'm not sure you're right here. Writers are taught not to use superflous words - I think it can generally be assumed that when someone gives birth to a boy it's a baby, not a six year old with scabby knees. Therefore 'baby' is redundant because it's pretty obvious the annuncement isn't referring to a toddler or a hamster for that matter.

 

Another of my bugbears is when people say that they're going 'horseback' riding.

Firstly what are they riding if not a horse? A cow? An elephant? A camel?  Someone going out on a machine will normally say 'bike ride' or 'out on the scooter'.

Secondly, okay, so it might be a donkey (but that's more usually known as a donkey ride) but where are you going to ride it if not on its back? The neck? Hangng off the tail?

 

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2 hours ago, Viccie said:

Another of my bugbears is when people say that they're going 'horseback' riding.

 

That's one that annoys me - not so much the "horse" part, because there are so many things one can ride these days, but definitely "horseback riding? - as you say, where else on the horse would you ride?

However, i don't think it's a word we use in the UK - unless it's been picked up from the movies - definitely more an American thing.

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I like the logic of your explanation Mr HG.

And perhaps highlights were spoken language uses words that are superfluous in writing but we find useful or preferable when spoken.

 

Around here we wouldn't say horseback riding. Going riding (leaving the listener to work out what was going to be ridden), Going horse riding or was riding a horse.  Although bareback riding is used.

 

 

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