ALREADY for Slovenes


The following passage was written in English by a very educated Slovenian person.  It contains one of the boo-boos I usually see in Slovenian English.


In the early studies of Adey and others it was corroborated already by the research that externally applied weak (non-thermal) EM fields may exert significant biological effects and influence behavioural responses in the nervous system.


Overpassive retrospectosuperfluoslovenianism grrr...enough "already" already...listen to me Slovenia: this "že" might be contextually adequate for a variety of meanings for you.


But how do you avoid its careless translation to "already" portraying you as a creepy idiot in English the Essex language popular with on-time developers and the sexually active? 


In the English world "already" is an important word in relation to topics as diverse as virginity, ejaculation, pregnancy, marriage, impotence and divorce, among others, where we are largely habituated to a modern view of sex as a repository of equality, intimacy and fun, as opposed to the Victorian options faced by unluckier, more spiritual cultures: shame, disappointment, children, or income.


Already and že come from different pasts, you might say.




Already?  It's about time.  English has modals for all the tense situations Slovene can describe, plus a few more, and the default zero-point, unless otherwise stated, is now.  "Already" refers to an action that has happened at an unspecified time before now, or a putative other now...viewed from now.  


It is easy to conclude that Slovene has other ideas.  Well for years I interrogate the locals to try to get to the bottom of this, yet a convincingly complete cross-linguistic exposition of this already/že malarkey has exhausted the best minds. 


In summarising my frustrated research, I make the following offering at the altar of pan-human consciousness. 





Already is never, in English, "yet".  These two are temporally opposite viewpoints: Did you get it already? No, not yet. 


Already is a Positive Polarity Item!


"Already" often implies that there is no need for repetition, and so should smell fishily final to open-minded, open-ended, and open-to-funding science. 


Already is an important word when Slovenia and foreigners do business together.


So it would be wise for already to mean the same to everyone.  For Slovenes aiming to impress in English markets, this is mainly a matter of




"Already" is nothing to do with your hotel room being all ready. 


"Already" is not devious or cunning, nor overeager to please, but a rather tidy, neat, and straightforward concept. 


Already is not "as early as", "earlier than" or "early"; it isn't "as soon as", "as long ago as"; it cannot refer to a "more quickly than expected" noun thing; it is not "suddenly", "by", "previous to", "prior to", "beforehand", "before", or "now" used as an adjective; it can never be "a long time ago". 


Already is not a time.  It cannot be used as a short cut to describe antecedent events.  One of many awful examples from The Slovenia Times: It will be possible to get customs clearance for goods brought to Slovenia via Croatia already in Croatia, and vice versa.


Že is obviously a flexible animal, but "already" can't do this.  Here's one correct way: It will be possible to get prior customs clearance for goods travelling between Slovenia and Croatia, before their departure from either country.


But if, like many Slovenglish writers, you are very keen to employ "already", please try to locate it SOMEWHERE USEFUL (which in this case is not near Croatia): It will be possible for goods travelling to Slovenia via Croatia or vice versa to be already cleared through customs, prior to their departure.


"Already" does not join forces with other words to make catchphrases, and therefore has nothing to do with "since". 


Discovering hens' teeth is more probable than finding an already next to a "used to be".


"Already" is not something that someone or something can be, without any additional concept at all. 


In our example about the research I can only hope you'd agree with me that we are not interested, here and now, in how the situation differed, between before and after this thing happened, or in what was about to happen next, back then, but only that it happened. 


Then what would we need with "already"?  As with the past, so with the present.  Likewise the future.


"Already" is NOT some lumpen verb-orbiting tense hardener, nor does it emphasise, de-stress, or relate directly in any other way to something's qualities.  So in this case it addresses NEITHER the earliness of, NOR this corroboration by, the research. 




"Already" is merely a Plain Jane adverb which belongs NOT to the subject, NOT to the object, but to the VERB, whom it likes to live nearby.  In this case the verb is "corroborated", but I would like to draw your attention to what is being done to this verb by the strong verb "to be" - and in this text by its simple past "was".  Don't worry...we're nearing the exciting bit now.


Čeprav zdi se to je bil že nikoli ni slovenskem načinom, pustim to na nevroznanstveniki in filozofi, ker medtem v angleščinem "was" is a PAST TENSE word telling us that something happened in the PAST and, I hope you can understand, no matter whatever it WAS that simply "was"...IT ABSOLUTELY HAS TO HAVE HAPPENED ALREADY...!!! 


For this mundane but profoundly important reason, and whatever your instincts tell you to the contrary, "already" cannot possibly serve any good purpose in this text.  "Already" is for simple statements like I am already late and the occasional temporal preamble (or postamble), e.g.:


Unless you're already publishing in the Journal of Go Do Yiddish Neurology Already, Slovenians should take care to just avoid unnecessarily bloating stuff by chucking in this helpful-looking word kot da bi bili hvaležni za razumevanje že. 




Rome was built in a day.  Rome was already built in a day.  If those look the same to you, you haven't yet grasped THE PERILS OF USING ALREADY WHEN YOU SHOULDN'T.


To deserve birth, every "already" MUST convey something EXTRA.  Compare these pairs, with and without already.


By the time I {finish/will be finished/am finished/was finishing/had finished} proofreading this sentence the deadline {will have/will have/will have/had/had} already passed.  


As I {had already been/am already going to be/will have already been/was already going to be} delayed starting it due to man-flu, it {was/will be (or is going to be)/will be (or is going to be)/was always going to be} finished late. 


All you need to notice here is that whether dealing with now, or the future, or the past, or the past in the future, or the future in the past, the zero-point in all these crummy examples remains doggedly anchored to the speaker's present perspective. 





We've seen "was" and "already" may or may not be tautologous.  In this text about the research they definitely are.  "Already" sits better between verbs anyway.  It was corroborated already by the research even manages somehow to make it sound like they'd made their minds up before they started.  This is the sort of foreign shiftiness which gets right up John Bull's nose!  But what makes this particular superfluoslovenglicism disturbing enough to have generated this tirade of mine? 


This already doesn't just add something unnecessarily extra to "was corroborated" but grabs all the attention for itself, as the weak passive is diminished to a verb-adjective, and the adverbial target "was" is just too mute to be the centrepiece


Meeting an "already" is therefore, and should be, an emotional alert.  The emotion here, though, is something like fainting, or that falling feeling in bed.


If there is a good reason for the passive to be employed and there is none in this example tacking on your time reference after the passive verb-adjective, or following a pair or trio of modals, is not necessarily wrong, but may expose your Latinate and not Germanic syntactical preferences with its burbling style.  Firing it off ahead of the main vector risks an even weirder, more foreign English.


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Already at the start or end is not so often seen:

The best already yet devised is already inbetween.


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To writers, as with the builders of houses, so it is with the builders of sentences. 


For Slovenians writing English, maybe you should avoid getting carried away, and not use it in the first gush of your missive… 


We were elated that the builders turned up bright and early at the beginning.  Without using ******* this tells us everything, and a bit more. 


By 7 they were working already.  A good past continuous state of affairs with a temporal reference point. 


We can take that reference point away.  But now we're saying something completely different: They were working already.  That is, they've stopped, from our point of view; or we're admitting we're not up to date on their activity.  Without further terms the reference point is the last we knew about these builders, and what we knew at that point, of events up to that time.




If we're still eating brick dust by tonight we will declare ourselves disappointed already/already disappointed.  A planned retrospective view - "already" belongs with our planned activity.


We have already been (emphasises more between multiple modals) wondering when the job will be finished.


But NEVER We have been wondering when the job will be already finished.   Because when it is finally finished it will be in the PAST, and therefore from the point of view that is being envisaged IT ALREADY HAPPENED. 


In simple future activities (I mean, not a past which is yet to occur in the future, viewed from now) you cannot use already on dynamic verbs: On Tuesday afternoon he will already start an official visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina.  (V torek popoldne bo že začel uradni obisk v Bosni in Hercegovini).


In Slovene, "že" brings some sense of urgency to the party, a sort of adverbial "as soon as".  But I can attest that in English, this already is definitely both superfluous and weird. 


This grammatical tragedy is due to us being expected to do something impossible: to view an action from polar opposite perspectives. 


Doubting your sanity, English readers will halt, question your storytelling abilities, and rightly demand to know how can it have happened already if it hasn't happened yet?


But!  The stative verb version On Tuesday afternoon he will already be starting an official visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina is allowable, if already is included for a reason - it's why he can't attend his neighbour's barbecue that day; or it qualifies other information that the visit's haste/urgency/earliness is oddly "surprising" - maybe Tuesday evening would be too late.


What makes already in this other type of future perspective much easier to handle is that we are observing a state of BEING - not a state of action. 


Alas, the word "be" itself is not the key, though - any stative condition will suffice, so that He'll have too much on his plate already next Tuesday to visit you is good.


But He will go somewhere else already is total Slovenglish pants: you must use the continuous He's going somewhere else already (next Tuesday). This has the big advantage of making sense, despite appearing to contain no future tense at all(!)




In this one a present perfect clashes horribly with an explicit time: Croatia has already liberalised its real estate market in 2009... It conflicts the zero-point (now) and a temporal reference (2009).  Here, "already" confused the writer.  Omit it, and it's easy to see what's up here.


Croatia had already liberalised its real estate market in 2009 is fine.  "Already" and 2009 are both in the past: this past was perfect THEN.  Total meaninglessness is averted by one letter.


But obviously Croatia has already liberalised its real estate market BY ITSELF reads OK: with no 2009 our perspective is clear, disjunction avoided. 


Without "has" is cool too.  Our adverb easily switches allegiance like a whore from the strongest the next nearest one. 


Slovenians!  If your adverb appears to be describing a time, a place, or any adjective or noun, you are very probably driving us bonkers.  Always double-check which verb "already" is describing.


He said they had been bankrupt already is ambiguous between said/bankrupt: correct is "already said" or "had already been bankrupt".  But what if both were true?  We need two alreadies: He (had) already said that the builders {were already/had already been} bankrupt - two (three, four!) reference points.




We should already have been paid and you should have been paid already both draw specific attention to the lateness, i.e. time itself, and the first more so.


We should have already been paid leaves more stress on the properness, i.e. the "should have" and the same idea applies to conditionality or likelihood - would have, possibility - could have, certainty - must have, and appropriateness - ought to have.


Already he/They already should have been paid, and I should have been already paid are positionally WRONG: it's bad usage. 


Somehow though, It (i.e. the bill) should have been already paid squeaks through OK.  It's because this time there can be no doubt that "paid" is not a verb-adjective, but a fully fledged adjective, as proven by the fact that the bill has received no money whatsoever.


They weren't already.  Impossible.  Strictly, not a proper sentence.  If your understanding of already is correct like mine it should be just about impossible to think of a story of your own to precede it.





Disobey any of the above and we will spot your foreign oddness straight away!  In business, grammatically vague or inaccurate claims about the timing of your expectations, intentions and achievements will lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings, doubts, and mistrust that damage Slovenia's reputation.


Time is the problem.  Sadly, as often with builders as with the Slovenglish "already" we {were already/had already been/would, could or should not already have been/will already be/will already have been/ought not to have already been} left dangling after not enough time has elapsed in the past/future. 




Use of "already" may collide with our present situation.  Tensions, from pushing and shoving around our temporal viewpoint, can jar. 


Attempt a present form such as We are already left dangling and a pile-up of now, up-to-now, passivity, and continuity makes you sound theatrical, a character from Shakespeare. 


Probably not what you wanted in your business brochure. 


Again, everything in English comes back to the present I: We have already been left dangling sounds much better and - oddly enough - means the same thing.




further cultural misunderstandings