Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Discuss about"

Lekshmy Rajeev, a Facebook friend who lives in India (she is an editor at Niyogi Books there), posted the following:

Although we often hear people say, ‘I would like to discuss about the problem’, it is not grammatically acceptable. You usually ‘discuss something’, you do not ‘discuss about’ something. The word ‘discuss’ is not followed by ‘about’.

Example, "we will not discuss what happened at the meeting."

The word ‘discussion’, on the other hand, can be followed by ‘about’. Example: There will be no discussion about what happened at the meeting.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ ( The Hindu) - November 13, 2007

Since I see/hear the same thing in English spoken by native speakers of German here in Switzerland, I decided to do some research.

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) has over 21000 uses of discuss, only 11 of which are followed by about. 0.05%

The British National Corpus has over 5000 uses of discuss, only 4 of which are followed by about. 0.08%

In the Corpus of Global Web-Based English, 110,000 uses of discuss, with 1223 followed by about. 1.1%

But in the India section: 279 uses followed by about, out of 5799 uses. 4.8%

And in Bangladesh: 198/2580 = 7.7%

Similar results for Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Just a quick doublecheck: in the Web-Based corpus, US hits for each: 68/21653 = 0.3%

So the US has a higher rate on the web than in the more carefully selected COCA, but the rate is still much higher in South Asia, where "discuss" is followed by "about" much more often than in other parts of the world where English is spoken. 

1 comment:

zeugma75 said...

This is something I've often pondered. Conversing with people from India and Bangladesh almost daily it appears this usage is the norm rather than the exception - at least in my work environment (corporate IT). Interestingly, it is also fairly common among the native French coworkers from across the border. I would assume this is due to their exposure to only the incorrect usage. In German speakers I suppose the case can be made for literal translation (i.e. über etwas diskutieren) - not sure if this applies to French though.