Occasionally citizens and non-citizens alike ask my advice regarding finer, and coarser, points of usage of the English language. Why? I don’t know. Probably they’re bored and there’s no one else handy. My immediate answer to any grammatical question is, “Do what you like. Everyone else does.”
This usually doesn’t get them off my back, indeed, they might even look a little hurt.
”But what is the rule?” they ask plaintively. “There must be a rule.”
The answer to that question is the same as when it is asked in reference to the laws of Indonesia: “We have many laws. If there is one you don’t like, there are others you will like. So just do whatever you want and no one will bother you (as long as you have enough money to pay them if they get jealous).” Unfortunately, such correct and general arguments usually will not satisfy and I must finally seek refuge, like the scoundrel I am, in specifics. For example, recently I was asked, for the umpteenth time, about the difference between “advice” and “advices.”
That’s easy: one is a noun and the other is a popular Indonesian misuse of “advises,” which is a form of the verb. “Advices” is used in Indonesia (only, as far as I know) as an unnecessary plural, as in, “I am giving you lots of advices about this matter.” It’s unnecessary because in what was once known as “standard” English, “advice” was both singular and plural. Similar applies to the neologism “trainings.”
In the olden days, “training” was a verb, as in, “I am training some people in standard English.” It was also used as an adjective: “a training course.” If you had more than one event that involved training people in something or other you’d still have simply a “training course” because a “course” implied several linked sessions that made up a training curriculum.
Now, in Indonesia, we have “trainings,” in which, I suppose, people will be given plenty of “advices.” Curiously, I’ve noticed that the gods of language known as “native English speakers” also splash “trainings” about with earnestness in their writings. I suppose they received enough “advices” to convince them of the validity of such use.
I’ve never been a great fan of “standard” English, anyway, so I am rather fond of these examples of inventive use: it’s interesting to watch the language being wrestled into new forms. Given the quirkiness of English and its long history of stealing from, and mingling with, other languages, it’s entirely appropriate for contemporary users to do with it what they will.
So, enjoy giving “advices” and going to “trainings” and help build English into a new shape that suits its current global mandate.
Later, we’ll have to learn Chinese. I wonder how open the Chinese are to “advices” on the language?