Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Chilla » Mon Jun 20, 2005 10:39 am

I've noticed, more and more, people say they 'take' or have 'taken' a decision rather than 'make or 'made' a decision. Does anyone know a reason for this change?
Thanks
Lisa
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Phil White » Mon Jun 20, 2005 2:29 pm

Lisa,
There are a few discussions on various language forums on the web (but none so reliable or friendly as Wordwizard, of course), and most of these suggest that "take a decision" is British usage. If that's the case, then it's far from the only usage in the UK. If you Google "take a decision" and "make a decision" on UK sites only, you'll find 180,000 to 20,000 in favour of "make a decision".

"Take a decision" has been around for a long time, but strangely, the earliest examples I could track down in a hurry were from American writers.

John Lothrop Motley (American historian) consistently uses "take a decision" in the "History of the United Netherlands" (written 1860-1867)
Henry James uses it in "The Golden Bowl" (1909)

You'll also find it in the Maastricht Treaty (1992) of the European Union.

What I did notice (and this may also apply to the Maastricht Treaty) was that it appears to be quite common in translations from French (Zola, the Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, ...). It's thus not impossible that English has been influenced by the French "prendre une décision".

I know for a fact that I use both and don't distinguish any semantic difference.

A colleague suggested that he would "take a decision" when confronted with a discrete number of alternatives and "make a decision" when the options are more open. I suspect that this is over-rationalizing.
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by dalehileman » Fri Jun 24, 2005 7:53 pm

Here, wouldn't "take a decision" also mean to accept the consequences, as when the referee decides against one
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Jun 26, 2005 10:46 am

I have been running this through my mind since it was first posted. I am pretty sure that I have never taken a decision in my life, but I have made thousands. The friends with whom I have mentioned it seem to think the same, so I wonder if it is a translators' thing. I don't know.
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Phil White » Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:30 pm

Bob,
Many (or most) of the hits on the Web appear to be uninfluenced (directly) by French, but it's perfectly possible that it's crept into the language over many years as a result of translations from French, as I suggested above. If that's the case, I reckon it has settled down quite happily and will soon be applying for citizenship and an ID card.
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Fri Aug 05, 2005 12:31 am

The verbs "take" and "have" are often used almost interchangeably. Probably US usage leans towards "take" - as in "take a bath", "I take a drink now and again.", "take a break" - whilst "have" is often preferred in British English. Some constructions are of course non-optional: thus "take five", "take the waters" and "take heart" , whilst in "Have a heart." and "Have some sense!" you have to have "have".
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by overdrive » Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:28 am

As a Yank, I am compelled to inform you that I MAKE a decision, HAVE a drink and TAKE a bath, usually in that order.
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Fri Aug 05, 2005 2:32 pm

I'm tempted to ask if you take it with a pinch of bath-salt, overdrive.
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Aug 05, 2005 3:23 pm

What is bothering me Overdrive is, is the decision to have a drink actually in the bath? Because being a Yank, your drink would probably entail ice cubes, and that could be catastrophic, soapy hands and all that.
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:43 pm

If one drinks one's bathwater, is one having it or taking it?
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Aug 05, 2005 8:41 pm

Which reminds me of that old saw, “You can’t have your bathwater and drink it too!”

Ken – August 5, 2005
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by overdrive » Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:30 am

Gentlemen, don't be silly. I either finish my drink before I take my bath or I simply wear a drinking helmet. Safety first, I always say.
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:42 am

And, of course, for the extra safety of those who have a tendency to occasionally overindulge, only use the FDA approved helmet with the pressure release/drainage valve – no drinking helmet should be without one!

Ken G – August 5, 2005
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by haro » Sat Aug 06, 2005 8:49 pm

Ken, is that the one that turns you face up in the water in case you black out after getting too plastered in the tub?
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Do we 'make' or 'take' a decision?

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Aug 07, 2005 4:22 pm

Hans Joerg, No. I was actually thinking in terms of the full-monty-diving-style drinking helmet model with oxygen supply, liquid intake, and exhaust systems. Its operation is independent of whether one conks out faceup or facedown and that pressure release/drainage valve could just be the life saver you need in the event of an upchuck situation.

Ken – August 7, 2005
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