Who invented this word?

One of the funny things about living in a country where English is the lingua franca, but not the mother tongue of most people speaking it, is that you end up using words and phrases that are not ‘standard’ English, but which everyone generally understands, or can easily come to understand even if their grasp of English is limited. It’s a kind of setting aside of linguistic quirks and inconsistencies and making language into a tool, rather than a work of art.

It’s not as extreme as a pidgin – it’s just a natural simplification of things, with various influences. The English spoken here – and in most of the Gulf – has, principally, influences from people who speak Urdu, Hindi, Tagalog and Arabic as their mothertongues.

Hence finding it normal, after a while, to say things like ‘go straight straight then signal right’, or ‘park in my backside, now now I am coming’. (Carry on down this road for now, old boy, then hang a right at those new-fangled traffic light thingies’ and ‘Park the Rolls at the rear of the premises, James, I shall be right down as soon as this G and T has worked its magic’).

A classic example of a word I’ve found myself using is ‘parking’. I’ve stopped saying ‘car park’ and now just say ‘parking’, even when back in England. I can’t explain why this doesn’t bother me. Perhaps it’s because I am used to saying ‘le parking’ in French, and the hideousness of having to say that wore off years ago – even if ‘le shampooing’ still makes my skin crawl.

One phrase I can’t bring myself to use, for whatever reason, is ‘a training’.

It’s not ‘a training’, it’s a training course, or a training day, or training in X. You can do ‘on a training course’ and you can ‘need training’. You just cannot, not, not, not, say things along the lines of ‘he needs a training’. I cannot ‘advice you’ on the ‘trainings’ we offer, or give you a ‘free training’ even if you will buy too much units if I do.

I can understand why it might be ‘a training’, if you’re not a native speaker, for the same reason that ‘a parking’ is used, as opposed to ‘a car park’ or a ‘place to park’, or something similar. ‘A training’ just annoys me. That’s not an insult to non-native speakers at all. My German’s all right, my French a bit worse, but I would struggle if forced to start writing business emails in either of those languages. However, I give native speakers of those languages free reign to correct any major, grating errors I regularly make in their languages.

Still, at least ‘a training’ is just used here (and possibly elsewhere, but not in the US and not in the UK) and certainly not in official emails from Corporate.

Or so I thought.

Today, however, I received an email, sent by a man in America with an American sounding name, which leads me to think he is a native speaker of English, even if his spelling lets him down and he might not be able to spell ‘colour’ properly. His email told me that –

Our NAS Divisional Process Owner for Quoting will be offering a training for NAS Hardware Sales (both OD and Field)’.

What leapt out ar me from this email was not the fact that I have no idea what a NAS Divisional Process Owner is, or what NAS Hardware Sales is, or whether I am OD or Field, or whether, if, or why I needed instruction in whatever instruction was being offered for.

What leapt out was the fact that he used the phrase ‘a training’.

A training? What does that mean?

Next, Almighty Corporate Americans will be telling us to ‘do the needful‘. This will be interesting for linguists studying how language changes, phrases are transferred and suchlike, but infuriating for me.


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10 Responses to “Who invented this word?”

  1. jfruh Says:

    Horrible as it may sound to British ears, “training” as a noun, meaning “a training session”, is very standard English in the U.S. Ditto “parking,” though not as a substitute for “parking lot” (the American equivalent of “car park”) but rather as a sort of abstract noun, i.e., “Will there be enough parking for everyone at the site where we’ll be conducting the training”?

    • christophersaul Says:

      ‘Where we’ll be conducting the training’ is fine, as it’s referring to the fact that training is going.

      You wouldn’t offer ‘a training’ though – or is that common parlance? It would sound wrong to say ‘where we’ll be conducting a training’, wouldn’t it?

      I need to work out the exact grammatical differences, as I’m relying on what sounds instinctive here (always shaky ground!)

      If I am wrong, I will happily eating my hats. And blame the Yanks for this particular nastiness 🙂

      • jfruh Says:

        Nope, sorry, “training” is thoroughly a noun in US English. My wife is a professional trainer, and the phrase “I have a training today at [such and such a school]” comes out of her mouth pretty regularly.

        This sort of stuff always sounds jarring to people for whom it’s not part of their native vocabulary (there are all sorts of Britishisms that sound bizarre to Americans, trust me) but really gerunds turning into nouns is a long-standing tradition in the English language.

      • christophersaul Says:

        How depressing. That does surprise me – I have not personally heard my American friends of colleagues use it that way.

        Fortunately I have banned the use of ‘a training’, unless in conjunction with ‘class’, ‘session’, etc, so that it may never offend mine ears or eyes again.

        Please let everyone know 🙂

  2. ThinGuy Says:

    I’ve never heard the term “a training” without session, day, class, etc.

  3. abid Says:

    a training is short for “training session”. This is standard US and Canadian usage.

  4. Nuppster Says:

    Ban the training…

    Please do the needful…

    …and revert BACK !!!

  5. Terry Collmann Says:

    “I give native speakers of those languages free reign to correct any major, grating errors I regularly make in their languages.”

    How about the major, grating error of saying “free reign” when you mean “free rein”?

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