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clum
Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8:03:51 PM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
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Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
In the course of writing a story, it struck me that I didn't know the real difference between 'while' and 'whilst'. I have always used both and felt I knew instinctively when to use one or the other.

When I researched the topic further, I discovered that they are widely considered interchangeable and that 'whilst' is thought to be a more archaic word used only in Britain (and even then, decreasingly so). Even so, I can't help but feel that there is a subtle difference, that they each carry a certain nuance. Sometimes, when I read a sentence back, one feels decidedly more fitting than the other.

So, two questions:

Do any of you non-Britons use the word 'whilst', or is it just us?

If you do use the word 'whilst', do you use it as synonymous with 'while' or do you, like me, feel there is a (perhaps imagined) difference in their meaning (and can anyone pin it down)?

[Of course, I refer throughout to the subordinating conjunction, not the noun, 'while', lest there be pedants amongst (similar situation?) you.]

Every day is a school day.
MissyLuvsYa
Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8:15:59 PM

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Location: somewhere on the coast, United States
I have read "whilst" but never used it. It is not a popular word down on the bayou (Louisiana) where I come from. I think I have heard some Cajun's using a word that sounds like that but I am sure it has a different meaning. I have always loved to hear authentic Cajun, especially on a shirtless well muscled hunky rough guy.
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Jingle
Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 10:30:39 PM

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Location: In my favourite blankey.
They've meant the same for myself as well, and as for using them, it depends on the voice of the writing. Whilst is definitely more archaic and if I was writing something that should sound as though spoken from an era gone by, I'd use it.



DirtyMartini
Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 10:34:14 PM

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clum wrote:


Do any of you non-Britons use the word 'whilst', or is it just us?



I would have to say "no" to this one...your comment about it being somewhat archaic I think is accurate...

I might consider using it in my next lesbian pirate story though...happy8


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clum
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 1:18:52 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,592
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
DirtyMartini wrote:
I might consider using it in my next lesbian pirate story though...happy8


The horror!

Every day is a school day.
Guest
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:11:36 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 537,409
I think it is quite funny that many people here think "whilst" was archaic, because, in fact, "while" is older than "whilst".
“While” was in use in Old English and “whilst” is a Middle English development. There is no difference in meaning between them.
“Whilst” has died out in American English but has survived in British English. In the UK “whilst” is considered more formal and literary than “while.”

There are other words of this kind; “among” and “amongst” and “amid” and “amidst”. These pairs are also interchangeable.

God, I love my high school English teacher for teaching us something this useless.
clum
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:22:53 AM

Rank: Clumeleon

Joined: 5/13/2011
Posts: 4,592
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Thank you, "Alice", for shedding some well-informed light on the matter. I can't say my high school German teacher ever went quite so in depth when discussing the origins of words, but us Brits are notoriously bad at learning foreign languages (I'm not trying to cause a riot here, just stereotyping).

I think the subtle "difference" I thought I perceived was simply the formality of the word (I often get quite formal in my prose, even when writing smut). In which case, I feel justified in saying that sometimes one is more apt than the other.

The richness of language rarely fails to fascinate me. Perhaps I should have studied English or Linguistics rather than Mathematics (I take it back! I take it back! I love maths!).

Every day is a school day.
acicuc
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:31:49 AM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 2/28/2010
Posts: 66
Location: mumbai, India
yup i do use both while and whilst
whilst is synonymous with while,
i generally use while in formal and whilst in informal conversation
Boss01
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:59:00 AM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 5/19/2011
Posts: 87
All the Brits in/from London that I work (mostly Lloyd's people)with use "whilst", even those who have since moved to the US.

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flytoomuch
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 5:03:09 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/24/2011
Posts: 242
Location: Fremont, United States
Well there are subtle differences in usage between the two words and they are certainly NOT interchangeable in all circumstances. Both while and whilst can be used as conjunctions or relative adverbs, but only "while" can be used as a noun, so for example "stay here for a little whilst" would not work. Also in the context of "while away the hours" can never be replaced with "whilst away the hours". "Whilst" is an adverbial genitive. This means it is used to describe verbs.
Guest
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:26:03 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
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I never use it. Or know anyone that does. In fact, when I come across it when reading, I stumble over it and it slows me down.
Buz
Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 7:43:55 PM

Rank: The Linebacker

Joined: 3/2/2011
Posts: 5,824
Location: Atlanta, United States
Around here if you use 'whilst' they will know that you are not a local. HA

I had a teacher in high school that used 'whilst.' She also used 'hither' as in "come hither and take your seats."

Some student stuck a big long red plastic dildo to the front grillwork of her car and she drove around for 2 days without realizing it.

Michael
Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:05:47 PM

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Location: Expat in, Russia
I use both in a story, but never as one character using both.

clum
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 5:43:28 PM

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Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
fish

Every day is a school day.
RumpleForeskin
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:14:04 PM

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Clum, to my US ear, 'whilst' does sound a bit archaic. That may be part of the reason why to me it seems more past tense than does 'while' -- if that makes any sense, which I doubt.

The only time I'd consider using 'whilst' is in dialogue unless the story was historical.

Just FWIW.

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Magical_felix
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:49:43 PM

Rank: Wild at Heart

Joined: 4/3/2010
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Location: California
If I said whilst to anyone I know they would think I was being a douche.



Michael
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:56:37 PM

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Joined: 10/22/2011
Posts: 2,005
Location: Expat in, Russia
Magical_felix wrote:
If I said whilst to anyone I know they would think I was being a douche.


Hey, you said it...

Magical_felix
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:58:51 PM

Rank: Wild at Heart

Joined: 4/3/2010
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Location: California
FtLMale wrote:


Hey, you said it...


Elaborate.



Michael
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:12:53 PM

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Location: Expat in, Russia
Magical_felix wrote:


Elaborate.


Your words need no further elaboration.


Magical_felix
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:16:43 PM

Rank: Wild at Heart

Joined: 4/3/2010
Posts: 4,908
Location: California
FtLMale wrote:


Your words need no further elaboration.


That's what I thought. *fizzle pop*



Michael
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:21:08 PM

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Joined: 10/22/2011
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Location: Expat in, Russia
Magical_felix wrote:


That's what I thought. *fizzle pop*


*fizzle pop*


Yeah, I guess you hear that frequently as well.


Magical_felix
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:25:06 PM

Rank: Wild at Heart

Joined: 4/3/2010
Posts: 4,908
Location: California
FtLMale wrote:


*fizzle pop*


Yeah, I guess you hear that frequently as well.


You want my attention really bad don't you? Why, why is that? I really am curious.



Michael
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:31:10 PM

Rank: Author

Joined: 10/22/2011
Posts: 2,005
Location: Expat in, Russia
Magical_felix wrote:


You want my attention really bad don't you? Why, why is that? I really am curious.



Felix... I like you... you are funny



enjoy the moment.




LadyX
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:32:47 PM

Rank: Artistic Tart

Joined: 9/25/2009
Posts: 4,827
And the point of all of that was...?
Magical_felix
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:35:21 PM

Rank: Wild at Heart

Joined: 4/3/2010
Posts: 4,908
Location: California
Yeah FTL male, what was the point?

I'm asking you why you feel the need to bug me like this then back out and say "you like me" when you are questioned to elaborate on your fixation with me.



Shylass
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:38:35 PM

Rank: Gingerbread Lover

Joined: 1/6/2012
Posts: 3,595
Location: Trumpton, United Kingdom
I naturally use "whilst", whilst wondering if it should be "while". And now I know, and can use it without worrying.

And Magical_Felix, if I heard you use it, I'd not think anything of it, it's a real word and everyfink! sunny


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Michael
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:40:31 PM

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Location: Expat in, Russia
LadyX wrote:
And the point of all of that was...?


Self Entertainment...

The primary purpose of Lush...


Others are interested.....


Shylass
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:43:00 PM

Rank: Gingerbread Lover

Joined: 1/6/2012
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Location: Trumpton, United Kingdom
Whilst we're on the subject of entertainment, I'm not currently entertained, sadly.


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LadyX
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:43:38 PM

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Joined: 9/25/2009
Posts: 4,827
Entertainment for some, tiresome for others. Let's take this episode away from the forum, please. If there's more to this than passive aggressive sparring, please one of you let me know via PM. Thanks!
Shylass
Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:45:33 PM

Rank: Gingerbread Lover

Joined: 1/6/2012
Posts: 3,595
Location: Trumpton, United Kingdom
LadyX wrote:
Entertainment for some, tiresome for others. Let's take this episode away from the forum, please. If there's more to this than passive aggressive sparring, please one of you let me know via PM. Thanks!





Ut incepit fidelis, sic permanet.

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