GMG Classical Music Forum

The Back Room => The Diner => Topic started by: Cato on February 08, 2009, 06:00:18 PM

Title: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 08, 2009, 06:00:18 PM
I have suffered far too long the slings and narrow-mindedness of outrageous morons mangling the English language!   $:)

Now Cato says: "Hold, enough!"  And undammed shall be the comments: let them flood in!

Cato is no doctrinaire scold: he will at times be inconsistent and contradictory in his grammar grumbles, since it is in the nature of languages to be so.  Yet ex cathedra will be his pronouncements!   0:)

My complaints shall arrive in no particular order, so let me just start, and you can see if you agree!

People trying to sound smart by using "I" all the time, even when it means it makes them wrong: the ubiquitous "just between you and I" is moronic.  "Between" is a preposition and therefore needs an object form, not a subject form.  Would you say "That package is for I" or "He stood in front of I" ? 

Then stop using "I" with the word "between" or any other preposition!!!    :P     8)    The script for the movie "Becoming Jane" contained the monstrosity "...by your father and I" at whose author the real Jane would have flung her inkpot, and maybe even that other pot in her chamber!   $:)

East Coasters and people on PBS using "Absolutely" instead of "Yes" drive me to the brink of pantocide!   >:D 
But I'll keep my shirt on!   :o 

People pronouncing the indefinite article "a" as if they were Canadians saying "eh?" make me want to throw bricks at nuns!   0:)  "That is eh very good book."  "This is eh book you must read."  Completely impossible pronunciation!   $:) 

It is the counterpart to "the = thee" being used in front of everything: "thee" for "the" is permissible only before vowels. 

Why are such things happening?  One can blame schools with hemidemisemiliterate teachers leading the ignorant into a perpetual wilderness of pseudo-educated ignorance.  One can blame a relativist society, where everyone is correct, especially in language, since aren't all grammar rules just "opinions" anyway?  Don't grammar rules stand in the way of personal expression and personal creativity?  Aren't grammar rules even perhaps ways to oppress people in the lower classes?   :o

The result of course is the growth of incoherence in private and public discourse, recent examples being past and present occupants of the White House in the last 20 years, Caroline Schlossberg and her infamous 99 "you knows" within 2 minutes of speaking, practically every "movie star" or "personality" jabbering on TV, etc.

Worse is the lack of music in their words: the most recent and risible public example was heard on January 20th in Washington D.C., a "poem" which was merely a concatenation of the most trite and unmusical syllables ever heard in decades. 

The lady's poetic license needs to be revoked!   :o

Another thing that drives Cato nutzoid are people referring to themselves in the 3rd person!    :o

So I will not really be doing that!   0:)

Feel free to list your own pet punctuation or pronunciation peeves: I will probably agree with you!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on February 08, 2009, 06:56:35 PM
Quote
Now Cato says: "Hold, enough!"  And undammed shall be the comments: let them flood in!
You're not supposed to start a sentence with the word "and".
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 08, 2009, 07:04:07 PM
You're not supposed to start a sentence with the word "and".

I do not follow that rule!   $:)

And neither should you!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Brian on February 08, 2009, 07:04:51 PM
I do not follow that rule!   $:)

And neither should you!   0:)
I agree with you!
But I am not to be trusted.  8)
Does this make you rethink your position?  :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on February 08, 2009, 07:08:10 PM
I do not follow that rule!   $:)

And neither should you!   0:)
Alright, then!
And I won't follow it, either.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 08, 2009, 07:09:07 PM
I agree with you!
But I am not to be trusted.  8)
Does this make you rethink your position?  :D

No!  It makes me proud!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 08, 2009, 07:12:54 PM
Alright, then!
And I won't follow it, either.  ;)

"Alright" and its genetically suspect cousins "Awright" and "Alot" are not words!   $:)

Please use "all right" and "a lot" instead: and for the latter "much" is preferable.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on February 08, 2009, 07:33:41 PM
How about I write however I want? You're not my teacher, so you can't give me any red marks!  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Coopmv on February 08, 2009, 08:37:28 PM
Perhaps making English the ONLY official language in the US will go a long way in addressing this problem ...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: XB-70 Valkyrie on February 08, 2009, 09:03:22 PM
Like, I think like the worst like problem currently facing, like the English language, is like the ungrammatical, nonsensical use of like the word "like". Try listening to any female under the age of 40, and you'll like see like what I'm like talking about. Like, I guess Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl" phenomenon is like to blame. Like. Like. And furthermore, like, like--like like like; like like. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Brian on February 08, 2009, 09:05:49 PM
"Alright" and its genetically suspect cousins "Awright" and "Alot" are not words!   $:)

Please use "all right" and "a lot" instead: and for the latter "much" is preferable.   0:)
Hopefully you will notice what's wrong with this sentence!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sarastro on February 08, 2009, 09:20:07 PM
Like, I think like the worst like problem currently facing, like the English language, is like the ungrammatical, nonsensical use of like the word "like". Try listening to any female under the age of 40, and you'll like see like what I'm like talking about. Like, I guess Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl" phenomenon is like to blame. Like. Like. And furthermore, like, like--like like like; like like. 

You know, I, like, think like it's like being without a handbag, you know. Like it's like being bare you know, like.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on February 08, 2009, 09:36:29 PM
Is this "English - United States" or proper English?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: XB-70 Valkyrie on February 08, 2009, 10:20:32 PM
Is this "English - United States" or proper English?

Wow, you must be Canadian (too wrapped up in kissing swishy, inbred, royal a55 to realize why your own country has zero identity of its own.). Eh?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 09, 2009, 05:55:38 AM
Perhaps making English the ONLY official language in the US will go a long way in addressing this problem ...

Don't think so;  these instances of sloppy grammar/usage have been rampant among US anglophones.  If anything, I find that non-native speakers who have immigrated, are rather more careful with their grammar.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 06:25:57 AM
This ain't no foolin' around...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 06:30:43 AM
Hopefully you will notice what's wrong with this sentence!

I notice many things hopefully!   0:)

I hope you will not do that again!

Concerning "like" and its cousin "go" when the speaker means "say": you should hear the "conversations" in my school among 7th and 8th graders!   :o

Scary, dudes!  Here is a recent comment from one of my middling girls: "I was like, 'well, yeah, okay, but then he goes, like, I dunno, like, and so I go, like..."

AAAAHHHH!!!!   :o

And yes, foreigners are at times better than native speakers!  In fact, some years ago we had a German exchange student visiting us for a semester, when I taught at an all-boy Catholic high school.  Guess who was the best writer in the class and received a top A.P. English score: the German exchange student!  

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 06:33:41 AM
I notice many things hopefully!   0:)

I hope you will not do that again!

Concerning "like" and its cousin "go" when the speaker means "say": you should hear the "conversations" in my school among 7th and 8th graders!   :o

Scary, dudes!  Here is a recent comment from one of my middling girls: "I was like, 'well, yeah, okay, but then he goes, like, I dunno, like, and so I go, like..."

AAAAHHHH!!!!   :o

And yes, foreigners are at times better than native speakers!  In fact, some years ago we had a German exchange student visiting us for a semester, when I taught at an all-boy Catholic high school.  Guess who was the best writer in the class and received a top A.P. English score: the German exchange student!  



Will you proofread my writing for me?  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 09, 2009, 07:00:37 AM
If that could be consoling for Cato, let him be informed that the Romanian language is subject to similar maltreatments, the worst perpetrators being the mass-media.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 07:26:31 AM
Will you proofread my writing for me?  ;)

Maybe losing that martini will brighten up your writing!   8)

Of course, then how would you brighten up your day in general?   0:)

Florestan: to think that Romanian, a descendant of Latin, should be abused by mass media!  O tempora, o mores!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 07:29:34 AM
Maybe losing that martini will brighten up your writing!   8)

I never drink before putting fingers to keyboard, sir!

Well, almost never.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 09, 2009, 07:34:24 AM
Well, hardly ever . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 09, 2009, 07:51:31 AM
People trying to sound smart by using "I" all the time, even when it means it makes them wrong.  Yes, misusing the subjective case in place of the objective in an attempt to sound educated is painfully commonplace these days.  How people so ill-educated that they can't even get something as simple (and telling!) as this right can presume to know better than the rest of us about anything is beyond my ken.

East Coasters and people on PBS using "Absolutely" instead of "Yes" drive me to the brink of pantocide! Trivial--doesn't raise my blood pressure at all.

People pronouncing the indefinite article "a" as if they were Canadians saying "eh?" make me want to throw bricks at nuns!   0:)  "That is eh very good book."  "This is eh book you must read."  Completely impossible pronunciation!   $:)  False.  The long "a" is a perfectly acceptable pronunciation.

It is the counterpart to "the = thee" being used in front of everything: "thee" for "the" is permissible only before vowels.  False.  See above.

Why are such things happening?  One can blame schools with hemidemisemiliterate teachers leading the ignorant into a perpetual wilderness of pseudo-educated ignorance.  Yes.  If good grammar were the only casualty, that might be acceptable.  Unfortunately it is only the tip of the iceberg and this situation has put our nation into dire peril.  Even higher education these days is churning out graduates too ignorant to know that they're ignorant!

My own pet peeves about rapidly declining standards of usage symptomatic of cultural decay include the objective/subjective confusion mentioned above and the now epidemic insertion of apostrophes when forming plurals.  Those incapable of distinguishing among possessives, contractions, and plurals can hardly be qualified to hold an opinion about anything.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 09, 2009, 07:57:04 AM
Florestan: to think that Romanian, a descendant of Latin, should be abused by mass media!  O tempora, o mores!

For many Romanian journalists, Romanian grammar is as exotic an animal as Latin grammar (they're actually very similar)...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 09:00:48 AM

People pronouncing the indefinite article "a" as if they were Canadians saying "eh?" make me want to throw bricks at nuns!   0:)  "That is eh very good book."  "This is eh book you must read."  Completely impossible pronunciation!   $:)  False.  The long "a" is a perfectly acceptable pronunciation.

It is the counterpart to "the = thee" being used in front of everything: "thee" for "the" is permissible only before vowels.  False.  See above.


Sorry, I will not and cannot agree.  Sister Mary Claude was not wrong about this!  You can use "eh" to talk about the first letter of the alphabet, otherwise not as a pronunciation for the indefinite article. 

And I don't care if you can find dictionaries which accept it!   :D
Editors of newer dictionaries who have acquiesced to this monstrosity should be drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, and smeared with peanut butter from Georgia factories.   :o

The = thee only before vowels: for its use before consonants, N.B. the penalty above for using "eh."   $:)

Florestan: Our joke in schools has been that the English teachers should be members of the Foreign Language Department!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 09:02:46 AM

My own pet peeves about rapidly declining standards of usage symptomatic of cultural decay include the objective/subjective confusion mentioned above and the now epidemic insertion of apostrophes when forming plurals.  Those incapable of distinguishing among possessives, contractions, and plurals can hardly be qualified to hold an opinion about anything.

Amen!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 09, 2009, 09:54:29 AM
Florestan: Our joke in schools has been that the English teachers should be members of the Foreign Language Department!

Nice one!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 10:37:01 AM
I was just reminded of some more monstrosities plaguing the English-speaking world: gangrenous ogres, usually produced by Bureaucrats in either government or business or (the worst) education to "importantize" their ultimately annoying "work" (i.e. paper-pushing).

I speak of monsters such as "prioritize" (how about "order" or "rank" ?) "incentify" (how about "enthuse"?) and "contextualize",  the latter word meaning "Please bonk the user's casaba with a ball-peen hammer!"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 09, 2009, 10:41:21 AM
"pro-active"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 10:47:46 AM
"pro-active"

I hate "pro-active"!

The Catholic clergy and assorted fuzzy religious types have been using "gift" in recent years as a verb!

e.g.

"We have been gifted by the Lord with so many things!"   ???

How about: "The Lord gives us so many gifts!" 

Gifts like rubber mallets to bonk some sense into fuzzy religious types!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 09, 2009, 10:55:05 AM
Like, I think like the worst like problem currently facing, like the English language, is like the ungrammatical, nonsensical use of like the word "like". Try listening to any female under the age of 40, and you'll like see like what I'm like talking about. Like, I guess Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl" phenomenon is like to blame. Like. Like. And furthermore, like, like--like like like; like like. 
The worst use of "like" is when someone's, like, "Oh, I was like, 'I hate that song,'" and she was, like, "Oh, I hate it, too." I admit to talking this way myself. I decided it was acceptable when I heard Meryl Streep be, all, "And I was, like..." on TV one morning. I try not to use it, but, I'm, like, "There's a certain on-the-tongue elegance to it," and then I'm, like, "If Meryl Streep can do it..."

And now, I'm all, "I'm not going to go back to see if I need to correct my grammar in that mess I just wrote."

God bless "She said..." and "She thought..."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 09, 2009, 11:00:04 AM
East Coasters and people on PBS using "Absolutely" instead of "Yes" drive me to the brink of pantocide! Trivial--doesn't raise my blood pressure at all.

I absolutely say "absolutely" a lot. Absolutely.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 11:03:43 AM
What about "indeed"? Everywhere on GMG: indeed!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 09, 2009, 11:04:50 AM
I absolutely say "absolutely" a lot. Absolutely.

The President used it recently.

Quote from: Howard Kurtz
Last Monday, Obama declined to take questions during a photo op with Vermont's governor as the controversy over Tom Daschle, his nominee for health czar, was heating up. Obama brushed off an Associated Press reporter who shouted a question on whether he still supported Daschle with one word: "Absolutely."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 09, 2009, 11:05:33 AM
I hate "pro-active"!

The Catholic clergy and assorted fuzzy religious types have been using "gift" in recent years as a verb!

e.g.

"We have been gifted by the Lord with so many things!"   ???

How about: "The Lord gives us so many gifts!" 

Gifts like rubber mallets to bonk some sense into fuzzy religious types!   0:)

Yeah. I'm like, "Did 'give' die, or what?" when I hear "gift" being used as a verb. It may come from the word "regift," with which we were gifted by Seinfeld.

I have come to hate "disconnect" used as a noun. It started in the DC chattering class (every time I hear the word, I think of Cokie Roberts), and now it's everywhere. I heard three people use it in a meeting on Saturday. It impacts me the way the verb "impact" made me have a disconnect 25 years ago.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 09, 2009, 11:05:46 AM
One of the worst atrocities plaguing Romanian is starting a non-conclusive sentence with "deci" (pronounced approximately detch) which means "therefore", as in I think, therefore I am.

For instance:

- What's your name?
- Therefore my name is ...


- What's your stance on this subject?
- Therefore I think that ...


- How old are you?
- Therefore I am 40.



Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 11:07:07 AM
One of the worst atrocities plaguing Romanian is starting a non-conclusive sentence with "deci" (pronounced approximately detch) which means "therefore", as in I think, therefore I am.

For instance:

- What's your name?
- Therefore my name is ...


- What's your stance on this subject?
- Therefore I think that ...


- How old are you?
- Therefore I am 40.





Romania? WTF?





;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 09, 2009, 11:07:19 AM
What about "indeed"? Everywhere on GMG: indeed!
I say "indeed" all the time. It makes me feel so gay inside.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 11:07:46 AM
I say "indeed" all the time. It makes me feel so gay inside.

That must be it.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 09, 2009, 11:08:56 AM
Romania? WTF?





;)

Just wanted to show English is not alone in being abused by native speakers. :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 11:12:27 AM
Just wanted to show English is not alone in being abused by native speakers. :)

I'm sure it happens everywhere. Because...people are the same wherever you go.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 09, 2009, 11:14:14 AM
people are the same wherever you go.

Agreed.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 11:28:01 AM
I say "indeed" all the time. It makes me feel so gay inside.

Indeed?

As a teacher of German, I can verify that Deutsch is infamous for its jargon: there are even special courses in "Business German" so that one can learn e.g. the 30 or 40 prepositions which will only be found in business memos!   :o

And then there are the compounds and acronyms! 

Kafka, I used to tell my students, was only possible in German, with his tales of out-of-control bureaucrats!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 09, 2009, 11:50:47 AM
Kafka, I used to tell my students, was only possible in German, with his tales of out-of-control bureaucrats!
Like that's never, you know, happened here--as if, Gogol, duh!  Whatever.

P.S.  I plead guilty to indeed!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 12:00:05 PM
Like that's never, you know, happened here--as if, Gogol, duh!  Whatever.

P.S.  I plead guilty to indeed!

I fear that all bureaucrats have a tendency to go out of control!  Is not the only entity growing in employment right now the...government, especially the FedGov?

More stuff coming in to my desk today:

Three words for one: Medical Care Center = Hospital

or Medical Care Outreach Center = Small Hospital
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 09, 2009, 12:12:21 PM
I fear that all bureaucrats have a tendency to go out of control!  Is not the only entity growing in employment right now the...government, especially the FedGov?

More stuff coming in to my desk today:

Three words for one: Medical Care Center = Hospital

or Medical Care Outreach Center = Small Hospital
Then I trust you do not specify a word count in writing assignments to your classes?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 01:54:10 PM
Then I trust you do not specify a word count in writing assignments to your classes?

The padded anorexic is always easy to spot!   $:)

Seen in Atlantan suburbs, when we lived there 2 years ago: "Caution: Traffic Calming Devices Ahead" = Speed Bumps!   :o

In Atlanta they were also known as "Speed Humps", which I always thought was a surefire route to Divorce Court!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 02:26:07 PM
Oh, and by the way:

The following hillbillyism seems to be spreading (my wife heard it on talk shows, and I have caught it on regular TV shows at least twice):

"I graduated high school"  or "I graduated Catholic schools."

NO! NO! NO!  $:)

You might be a graduated cylinder, but you need to graduate from high school, and if you don't use "from" with graduate, you should be sent to sit with the Kindergarten class! 

Yeah, I know, I'm a meany!  Just call me Isotope Feeny!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 09, 2009, 02:35:13 PM
Oh my, what a big load of fuddy duddy, arty farty, namby pamby anal stick-in-the-muds you all are...

Sure is good to be home  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 09, 2009, 02:37:06 PM
Oh my, what a big load of fuddy duddy, arty farty, namby pamby anal stick-in-the-muds you all are...

Sure is good to be home  ;D

The Mogster.  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 09, 2009, 02:57:46 PM
The Mogster.  8)

I expect i'll be spanked for not hyphenating "arty farty" and all that jazz. Grammar is important, granted, but i'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I feel comfortable enough with the rules to bend them to my will!  ;D

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 03:05:24 PM
I expect i'll be spanked for not hyphenating "arty farty" and all that jazz. Grammar is important, granted, but i'm not going to lose any sleep over it. I feel comfortable enough with the rules to bend them to my will!  ;D



No, you will be censured for using the phrase at all!   $:)

Scatology is always inappoopriate!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 09, 2009, 03:14:21 PM
Scatology is always inappoopriate!   :o

New rule folks. You turd the man.  >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 03:29:44 PM
New rule folks. You tarred the man.  >:D

I am sure you meant "tarred", and if you aren't careful, we'll add "feathered" as well!   :o

Some people have asked me for vocabulary which will not only increase their erudition, but also their paychecks!  To be sure, this is a niche market, and if it were more philosophical, it could be a Nietzsche market.

Anyway, today's word is "apodictic"  (aka apodeictic), meaning that a statement is so obvious, it either does not need to be proven, or is very easily proven. 

So when you show your report on X to your superior, you should say: "You will be happy to know that my conclusions are apodictic!"

If your boss is a Yale man, however, all bets are off!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 09, 2009, 03:32:50 PM
Sorry, I will not and cannot agree.  Sister Mary Claude was not wrong about this!  You can use "eh" to talk about the first letter of the alphabet, otherwise not as a pronunciation for the indefinite article. 

And I don't care if you can find dictionaries which accept it!   :D
Editors of newer dictionaries who have acquiesced to this monstrosity should be drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, and smeared with peanut butter from Georgia factories.   :o

I can certainly find dictionaries. I don't think you mean the acceptance to be a subsidiary clause. Therefore: And I don't care if you can find dictionaries that accept this. Sorry but this misuse of 'which' is one thing that particularly annoys me.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 09, 2009, 03:38:29 PM
Sorry but this misuse of 'which' is one thing that particularly annoys me.

Which old which?  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 04:43:05 PM
I can certainly find dictionaries. I don't think you mean the acceptance to be a subsidiary clause. Therefore: And I don't care if you can find dictionaries that accept this. Sorry but this misuse of 'which' is one thing that particularly annoys me.

Yes, I do!  "Which" refers to the dictionaries, and opens the subordinate clause "Which accept this."  Not a misuse!   0:)  If "that" is a conjunction, what then is the subject of "accept" ???

A very pure purist would say that "that" should only be used for indirect discourse, and never as a relative pronoun, which (!) is what "that" still is in your version.

But the very pure purists are not around!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 09, 2009, 05:17:20 PM
The wicked which!

Sorry, Ben..."arty farty" might be correct among the airy fairies in jolly old, but we couthless colonials call it "artsy fartsy" -- got a thing for plurals, I guess!

Another pet peeve:  using "was" instead of "were" in conditionals, i.e. "If I wasn't a gentleman, I'd tie your tongue in knots."  Obviously the speaker is NOT a gentleman.  If he were a gentleman, he would use the subjunctive case!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 09, 2009, 05:40:00 PM
"Full of scatological rock 'n' roll" . . . let's do The Strain!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 05:40:43 PM


Another pet peeve:  using "was" instead of "were" in conditionals, i.e. "If I wasn't a gentleman, I'd tie your tongue in knots."  Obviously the speaker is NOT a gentleman.  If he were a gentleman, he would use the subjunctive case!

Quite right!  And you hear supposedly educated people unable to use the subjunctive correctly, another failure of English departments across the country.

Teaching the subjunctive to adolescents throughout the years has produced befuddled stares and puddles of drool from many of my students.  My wife claims that they cannot understand such a concept properly, because their brains are still developing.

I am not so sure about that, in spite of the research.  Some students have grasped the idea of contrary-to-fact and future-less-vivid conditions, etc.  My present group of students (Grades 6-8) are the youngest I have had: I will admit that only a minority correctly understand the difference between e.g. "If he was at the party, then he saw my sister there" (A Past True Condition in the Indicative Mood) vs. "If he were at the party, he would see my sister there" (Present Contrary-to-Fact Condition in the Subjunctive Mood).

A quixotic quest!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sarastro on February 09, 2009, 06:01:01 PM
Another pet peeve:  using "was" instead of "were" in conditionals, i.e. "If I wasn't a gentleman, I'd tie your tongue in knots."  Obviously the speaker is NOT a gentleman.  If he were a gentleman, he would use the subjunctive case!

Oh, maybe the speaker is implicitly admitting that he might not be a gentleman. Anyway, when I asked my teacher about the subjunctive mood and if we were going to learn it, she replied that many students did not even know what it was, which meant they would never use it and therefore would never make mistakes. :D

Would anyone kindly explain how to use the construction "but for"? I learned it but have forgotten. "But for the dog, the house would be robbed"? Had I known I would move to an English-speaking country, I would have concentrated on more on grammar. But, like, it's not like too widely spread amongst students, this subjunctive mood, you know.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 09, 2009, 06:34:43 PM
Oh, maybe the speaker is implicitly admitting that he might not be a gentleman. Anyway, when I asked my teacher about the subjunctive mood and if we were going to learn it, she replied that many students did not even know what it was, which meant they would never use it and therefore would never make mistakes. :D

Would anyone kindly explain how to use the construction "but for"? I learned it but have forgotten. "But for the dog, the house would be robbed"? Had I known I would move to an English-speaking country, I would have concentrated on more on grammar. But, like, it's not like too widely spread amongst students, this subjunctive mood, you know.

That kind of teacher represents the morons against whom I have struggled throughout my career!   $:)

"But for" = If it were not/had not been for...

"If it were not for the (presence of the) dog, the house would be robbed" = We in fact have a dog, and are therefore never robbed.

Or: "If we did not have a dog, the house would be robbed."

Contrary-to-Fact uses the Subjunctive and assumes an unreal opposite to show a potential future.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 09, 2009, 07:44:30 PM
This appears all the world like a page (nay, running thread!!) straight out of Vroon's American Record Guide. ;D

But, yes, I sympathize with all the grammar grumbling.

But I'd happily trade a little bad grammar for the complete elimination of fad clichés. Clichés that leach onto the English (American?) language and won't let go. One such is "pushing the envelope". That darling media phrase which became so overused I wanted to pull my hair/teeth/whatever out.

Luckily for my sanity it's on the decline.

Though I wonder what's lurking... :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Brian on February 09, 2009, 07:44:56 PM
Was it my teacher, I would find another.'
No grammar grumble would be complete without a post by an apostrophe.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: imperfection on February 09, 2009, 08:27:46 PM
I have suffered far too long the slings and narrow-mindedness of outrageous morons mangling the English language!   $:)

Now Cato says: "Hold, enough!"  And undammed shall be the comments: let them flood in!

Cato is no doctrinaire scold: he will at times be inconsistent and contradictory in his grammar grumbles, since it is in the nature of languages to be so.  Yet ex cathedra will be his pronouncements!   0:)

My complaints shall arrive in no particular order, so let me just start, and you can see if you agree!

People trying to sound smart by using "I" all the time, even when it means it makes them wrong: the ubiquitous "just between you and I" is moronic.  "Between" is a preposition and therefore needs an object form, not a subject form.  Would you say "That package is for I" or "He stood in front of I" ? 

Then stop using "I" with the word "between" or any other preposition!!!    :P     8)    The script for the movie "Becoming Jane" contained the monstrosity "...by your father and I" at whose author the real Jane would have flung her inkpot, and maybe even that other pot in her chamber!   $:)

East Coasters and people on PBS using "Absolutely" instead of "Yes" drive me to the brink of pantocide!   >:D 
But I'll keep my shirt on!   :o 

People pronouncing the indefinite article "a" as if they were Canadians saying "eh?" make me want to throw bricks at nuns!   0:)  "That is eh very good book."  "This is eh book you must read."  Completely impossible pronunciation!   $:) 

It is the counterpart to "the = thee" being used in front of everything: "thee" for "the" is permissible only before vowels. 

Why are such things happening?  One can blame schools with hemidemisemiliterate teachers leading the ignorant into a perpetual wilderness of pseudo-educated ignorance.  One can blame a relativist society, where everyone is correct, especially in language, since aren't all grammar rules just "opinions" anyway?  Don't grammar rules stand in the way of personal expression and personal creativity?  Aren't grammar rules even perhaps ways to oppress people in the lower classes?   :o

The result of course is the growth of incoherence in private and public discourse, recent examples being past and present occupants of the White House in the last 20 years, Caroline Schlossberg and her infamous 99 "you knows" within 2 minutes of speaking, practically every "movie star" or "personality" jabbering on TV, etc.

Worse is the lack of music in their words: the most recent and risible public example was heard on January 20th in Washington D.C., a "poem" which was merely a concatenation of the most trite and unmusical syllables ever heard in decades. 

The lady's poetic license needs to be revoked!   :o

Another thing that drives Cato nutzoid are people referring to themselves in the 3rd person!    :o

So I will not really be doing that!   0:)

Feel free to list your own pet punctuation or pronunciation peeves: I will probably agree with you!


(http://www.singlesourcewriting.com/wp-content/sesame-street-elmo-loves-you-print-c12204840.jpg)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Coopmv on February 09, 2009, 08:44:55 PM
Don't think so;  these instances of sloppy grammar/usage have been rampant among US anglophones.  If anything, I find that non-native speakers who have immigrated, are rather more careful with their grammar.

That is if they speak English at all ...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 09, 2009, 08:49:07 PM
Oh, maybe the speaker is implicitly admitting that he might not be a gentleman. Anyway, when I asked my teacher about the subjunctive mood and if we were going to learn it, she replied that many students did not even know what it was, which meant they would never use it and therefore would never make mistakes. :D

Would anyone kindly explain how to use the construction "but for"? I learned it but have forgotten. "But for the dog, the house would be robbed"? Had I known I would move to an English-speaking country, I would have concentrated on more on grammar. But, like, it's not like too widely spread amongst students, this subjunctive mood, you know.
Where are you from?

I prefer to say "If it weren't for the dog..." or "If it hadn't been for the dog..."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 10, 2009, 04:23:49 AM
I prefer to say "If it weren't for the dog..." or "If it hadn't been for the dog..."

That's fine. My ear is accustomed also to Had it not been for the dog . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 10, 2009, 04:30:16 AM
That's fine. My ear is accustomed also to Had it not been for the dog . . . .
And to what might the dog's ear be accustomed?  Presuming, of course, that there actually had been a dog, and that said dog were present on the occasion in question?

(We are being paid by the word, aren't we?)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Herman on February 10, 2009, 04:39:41 AM
But I'd happily trade a little bad grammar for the complete elimination of fad clichés. Clichés that leach onto the English (American?) language and won't let go. One such is "pushing the envelope". That darling media phrase which became so overused I wanted to pull my hair/teeth/whatever out.

Luckily for my sanity it's on the decline.

Though I wonder what's lurking... :)

the envelope has already been pushed out by the box, as in: "thinking outside the box" as was clearly demonstrated by the election races last year. While McCain was pushing the envelope  Obama was thinking outside the box.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 10, 2009, 05:09:53 AM
Guardians of English (aka the Unicorn Hunters) at Lake Superior State University in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan publishes a list of abuses every year:

http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php

My favorite: "Winner of 5 Nominations!!!"

Orwell would love our era!

Thinking outside the box prevents you from knowing what might lurk inside the box!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 10, 2009, 05:27:02 AM
the envelope has already been pushed out by the box, as in: "thinking outside the box" as was clearly demonstrated by the election races last year. While McCain was pushing the envelope  Obama was thinking outside the box.
Who uses boxes for thinking in the first place?

And if your thinking should happen to fall outside the box, presumably the box is full, so shouldn't you go get another box to put your latest thoughts in?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 10, 2009, 06:01:46 AM
Orwell would love our era!

Linguistically speaking, he predicted it fairly accurate...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidW on February 10, 2009, 06:16:25 AM
What about "indeed"? Everywhere on GMG: indeed!

That's just me!  I'll tell you how it started: when I was an undergrad my roommate and I started saying it like hella because it was funny.  Hold on I need to infuriate the other posters on this board... it was like you know, like totally awesome, like how cool is it to use a cool word over and over? ;D

To other posters on the thread:
If you are an English teacher, you have plenty of opportunities to teach grammatical lessons even if you teach literature.  If you prefer to not do that and simply view your students' poor grammar as a private joke for you to snicker at, what does that make you exactly?  Not an educator, that's for sure.

I suffer from the same problem that my students do, and that was that we never received formal education in grammar.  It's all the fad to completely skip teaching grammar to race on to less important issues, such as symbolism in literature (btw there is a difference between appreciating common symbols, and thinking that fine literature spells out a secret code, and the true meaning only lies in the code).  Whether it's the fault of English teachers (pre-college level), or administrators making decisions that they force the teachers to, I can't say.  I can say that one of the two, if not both, are incompetent boobs that need to be held accountable for a decline in standards.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 10, 2009, 06:23:26 AM
Rumble in the Grumble!
(Jethro Tull?)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 10, 2009, 06:34:58 AM
Yes, I do!  "Which" refers to the dictionaries, and opens the subordinate clause "Which accept this."  Not a misuse!   0:)  If "that" is a conjunction, what then is the subject of "accept" ???

A very pure purist would say that "that" should only be used for indirect discourse, and never as a relative pronoun, which (!) is what "that" still is in your version.

But the very pure purists are not around!   $:)
I don't think you quite understand the implications. If you meant there to be a subsidiary clause your sentence means: I don't care if you can find dictionaries - but should you find one then it will accept this. Fortunately Microsoft Word has this right in its grammar checker and generally insists you but a comma before your clause. One useful rule is that if the 'which' clause is removed the sentence must still make sense, indeed it must be a sentence. Failure to leave a meaningful sentence is where most errors occur but in cases like the one we are looking at the meaning can be quite different to what was intended. I'm sure you meant that there are dictionaries that accept the point in question but that there are also others that do not.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 10, 2009, 06:38:57 AM

To other posters on the thread:
If you are an English teacher, you have plenty of opportunities to teach grammatical lessons even if you teach literature.  If you prefer to not do that and simply view your students' poor grammar as a private joke for you to snicker at, what does that make you exactly?  Not an educator, that's for sure.

I suffer from the same problem that my students do, and that was that we never received formal education in grammar.  It's all the fad to completely skip teaching grammar to race on to less important issues, such as symbolism in literature (btw there is a difference between appreciating common symbols, and thinking that fine literature spells out a secret code, and the true meaning only lies in the code).  Whether it's the fault of English teachers (pre-college level), or administrators making decisions that they force the teachers to, I can't say.  I can say that one of the two, if not both, are incompetent boobs that need to be held accountable for a decline in standards.



Cato's Rule of Education #3: Educational administrators are usually failed teachers, or coaches, who should be horse-whipped and sent to bag groceries at Kroger's.

I have come across too many "English" teachers who do not know grammar on the higher levels, and who lack any creativity in teaching technique, so that they can make grammar interesting: rules and charts will not enthuse students.

You are quite right: grammar can and should be approached by looking at the stories and essays of great stylists.  Instead, too often the teacher worries about pushing a certain political agenda through "interpretation" of the stories, or (more often) just wants to get through the day by going through the motions.

I have seen schools where English teachers relied on A-B-C-D tests, where the students rarely to never wrote anything themselves.   :o

But this was also true for History, Science, and other courses where students should be writing essays and reports.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 10, 2009, 06:44:23 AM
I don't think you quite understand the implications. If you meant there to be a subsidiary clause your sentence means: I don't care if you can find dictionaries - but should you find one then it will accept this. Fortunately Microsoft Word has this right in its grammar checker and generally insists you but a comma before your clause. One useful rule is that if the 'which' clause is removed the sentence must still make sense, indeed it must be a sentence. Failure to leave a meaningful sentence is where most errors occur but in cases like the one we are looking at the meaning can be quite different to what was intended. I'm sure you meant that there are dictionaries that accept the point in question but that there are also others that do not.

Bold I: Yes, I do!   0:)

Bold II: Sure!   0:)

Please review my previous comments on "which" vs. "that".  In German the comma rule is absolute: commas in English in my opinion can be a matter of the musical flow of a sentence, and not an absolute: inconsistencies can sometimes result therefore, but that is because musical flows are not the same!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 10, 2009, 06:52:30 AM
Bold I: Yes, I do!   0:)

Bold II: Sure!   0:)

Please review my previous comments on "which" vs. "that".  In German the comma rule is absolute: commas in English in my opinion can be a matter of the musical flow of a sentence, and not an absolute: inconsistencies can sometimes result therefore, but that is because musical flows are not the same!
This is precisely why you should have used 'that' instead of writing as you did:
I don't care if you can find dictionaries - but should you find one then it will accept this.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 10, 2009, 08:31:30 AM
This is precisely why you should have used 'that' instead of writing as you did:

No, I disagree!   $:)  I know that you are talking about the old distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.  I see my sentence as talking about theoretical - yet specific - dictionaries which might lend support.

But thanks for the discussion!   0:)

Today's Vocabulary building word: persiflage    8)

Trifling, watercooler talk!  Fluffy stuff found on other websites: not here!!!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 10, 2009, 09:07:38 AM
Fluffy stuff found on other websites: not here!!!   0:)

Oh I don't know about that...

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 10, 2009, 09:46:17 AM
Oh I don't know about that...



Would that be a Persian posting persiflage?   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on February 10, 2009, 10:12:28 AM
Indeed.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 10, 2009, 11:28:59 AM
Would that be a Persian posting persiflage?   :o
Nah, just a typical tabby typing.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 10, 2009, 03:03:35 PM

But thanks for the discussion!   0:)

Today's Vocabulary building word: persiflage    8)

Trifling, watercooler talk!  Fluffy stuff found on other websites: not here!!!   0:)

Splendid. I think we are on the same side, as is the cat!
I have come across airy persiflage.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 10, 2009, 03:10:55 PM
Splendid. I think we are on the same side, as is the cat!
I have come across airy persiflage.
Puts me in mind of a business card:

     Percy Flage
           Airy Fairy
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 10, 2009, 06:30:03 PM
the envelope has already been pushed out by the box, as in: "thinking outside the box" as was clearly demonstrated by the election races last year. While McCain was pushing the envelope  Obama was thinking outside the box.

 ;D

Yes, forget the election. What's important is who won out in the war of clichés.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sarastro on February 10, 2009, 07:33:40 PM
I suffer

There is not much to suffer. You can always start educating yourself. There is plenty of books on grammar and other opportunities to learn the language in depth. I am jealous to those whose vocabulary is sufficiently rich to produce elegant speech, might the meaning of the speech be fallacious. :P
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidW on February 11, 2009, 05:23:38 AM
Cato's Rule of Education #3: Educational administrators are usually failed teachers, or coaches, who should be horse-whipped and sent to bag groceries at Kroger's.

I have come across too many "English" teachers who do not know grammar on the higher levels, and who lack any creativity in teaching technique, so that they can make grammar interesting: rules and charts will not enthuse students.

You are quite right: grammar can and should be approached by looking at the stories and essays of great stylists.  Instead, too often the teacher worries about pushing a certain political agenda through "interpretation" of the stories, or (more often) just wants to get through the day by going through the motions.

I have seen schools where English teachers relied on A-B-C-D tests, where the students rarely to never wrote anything themselves.   :o

But this was also true for History, Science, and other courses where students should be writing essays and reports.

I agree with what you said Cato.  About the tests, many teachers are bound to teach to the EOI exams.  Those exams were meant to bring back standards, but in some cases the reverse happens since the teachers will be judged by their EOI pass rates they sometimes end up with tunnel vision.

As a science teacher, I see what happens when other science courses do not have their students write lab reports.  I have to deal with some of my students writing in flowery prose, and omitting important technical information simply because creative writing is the only type of writing they had prior exposure to (as opposed to technical writing).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidW on February 11, 2009, 05:27:46 AM
There is not much to suffer. You can always start educating yourself.

True, but what you've said still smacks of a lack of common sense.  One must have available time, and my job is a full time occupation.  Are you still a student?  That would explain everything.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2009, 06:33:44 AM
Full-time work takes over.  Then, one learns the art of getting other things done around the elephant in the room.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 11, 2009, 07:28:18 AM
I agree with what you said Cato.  About the tests, many teachers are bound to teach to the EOI exams.  Those exams were meant to bring back standards, but in some cases the reverse happens since the teachers will be judged by their EOI pass rates they sometimes end up with tunnel vision.

As a science teacher, I see what happens when other science courses do not have their students write lab reports.  I have to deal with some of my students writing in flowery prose, and omitting important technical information simply because creative writing is the only type of writing they had prior exposure to (as opposed to technical writing).

Aye!  State tests from education department bureaucrats!  The bane of the age!

Such tests usually have unintended consequences, precisely because they are designed by bureaucrats!

In Germany there is a compromise (or at least this is how it worked some years ago): the teachers design their own graduation tests, and then submit it to the bureaucrats for approval, who usually rubber-stamped it so they could get back to their 3-hour lunches.

I witnessed the following German graduation test in English: students had read during the school year various "dystopian" novels (1984, Fahrenheit 451, etc.).  Part I of the test had the students reading an article from a London newspaper about the future of slum dwellers: no dictionary allowed!   They then were given 2 hours to write an essay comparing and contrasting the article with at least two of the novels they had read.

Part II was an hour question-and-answer session in English about the topic of "futurism" and how and why optimistic views do not seem dominant.

How many of our American seniors could handle such a test?   8)

But we remain optimistic!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 11, 2009, 07:32:33 AM
Today's grumble: "There's" used with plurals!   :P

"There's thousands of dollars being wasted..."

NO!   $:)

There are thousands of dollars being wasted...!

Actually make that billions!

Or...trillions!   :o

Word for the day: one of my favorites!

Gadfly - an annoying person who runs around and bothers people about nonsense.  I think there is a Shostakovich work with the name!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2009, 07:45:07 AM
Gadfly - an annoying person who runs around and bothers people about nonsense.  I think there is a Shostakovich work with the name!

Based on the novel Овод, Ovod (metamorphosed into a film) by Ethel Lilian Voynich.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2009, 09:58:35 AM
Word for the day: one of my favorites!

Gadfly - an annoying person who runs around and bothers people about nonsense.  I think there is a Shostakovich work with the name!
Or a person who annoys the self-satisfied by pestering them about things they'd prefer to ignore.  Socrates was a gadfly.  It got him executed, but also made him immortal.  No one would remember him just for his deeds as a warrior in the Peloponnesian War or as a sculptor working on the Parthenon, but they sure remember him for that nasty habit of asking questions and making observations that made hypocrites uncomfortable.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 11, 2009, 10:05:11 AM

Word for the day: one of my favorites!

Gadfly - an annoying person who runs around and bothers people about nonsense.  I think there is a Shostakovich work with the name!

Begad!
When every one is somebodee (sic), then no one's anybody! (The Gondoliers)

Microsoft do not know that this is correct:
Hark! the herald-angels sing.
Yes, no capital letter after the exclamation! Exclamations and question marks may replace commas, semi-colons and colons, as well as full stops. When they do they are not followed by a capital. This is another grumble because Word tries to alter my typing, wrongly. :(
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2009, 10:12:08 AM
Yeah, Word's a bitch, always trying to enforce bad grammar.

Good grammar: the stuff that makes speech intelligible and precise or ambiguous as required.  ;)

Bad grammar: those stupid arbitrary normative rules that wacko pedagogue crammed down schools' throats in the 19th Century, like "never end a sentence with a preposition."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidW on February 11, 2009, 10:50:19 AM
Bad grammar: those stupid arbitrary normative rules that wacko pedagogue crammed down schools' throats in the 19th Century, like "never end a sentence with a preposition."

When I was a kid I would irritate my mother with that rule because she would always say "do you want to go with?" ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 11, 2009, 11:22:58 AM
Yeah, Word's a bitch, always trying to enforce bad grammar.

Good grammar: the stuff that makes speech intelligible and precise or ambiguous as required.  ;)

Bad grammar: those stupid arbitrary normative rules that wacko pedagogue crammed down schools' throats in the 19th Century, like "never end a sentence with a preposition."

Do you know Winston Churchill's famous pronouncement on that rule?

"That's a rule up with which I cannot put!"   :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2009, 11:30:29 AM
One of my favorite rules is George Orwell's Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 11, 2009, 12:25:49 PM
As a Germanic language, English should be quite allowed to end things with a preposition at times: German often uses prepositions as verbal prefixes.  In a normal sentence the prefix is sent to the end of the sentence.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2009, 12:39:23 PM
One of my favorite rules is George Orwell's Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
A rule to live by!

That, following Cato's Churchill quote above, reminds me of another Churchillism:

I forget the details, but at a dinner party one of the guests said, "Mr. Churchill, you're fat!"
Churchill replied, "I may be fat, madame, but I can diet if I wish.  You, however, are ugly."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 11, 2009, 12:40:42 PM
A rule to live by!

That, following Cato's Churchill quote above, reminds me of another Churchillism:

I forget the details, but at a dinner party one of the guests said, "Mr. Churchill, you're fat!"
Churchill replied, "I may be fat, madame, but I can diet if I wish.  You, however, are ugly."

I thought it was "you're drunk." Or was that Brahms?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 11, 2009, 12:50:31 PM
I thought it was "you're drunk." Or was that Brahms?

That ones goes something like:

"Mr Churchill, you're drunk!"
"Yes, but you're ugly and i'll be sober in the morning"

 ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 11, 2009, 12:57:34 PM
That ones goes something like:

"Mr Churchill, you're drunk!"
"Yes, but you're ugly and i'll be sober in the morning"

 ;D

Yep. That's the one. Hasn't this been attributed to Brahms as well?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2009, 01:09:37 PM
As a Germanic language, English should be quite allowed to end things with a preposition at times: German often uses prepositions as verbal prefixes.  In a normal sentence the prefix is sent to the end of the sentence.

Some days, it seems you can't throw a brick without hitting a character in Shakespeare saying, "Go to!"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2009, 01:11:08 PM
I also like the story of the woman who told him, "Mr. Churchill, if you were my husband, I'd give you poison!"

To which he replied, "If I were your husband, Madame, I would drink it."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 11, 2009, 02:35:59 PM
That ones goes something like:

"Mr Churchill, you're drunk!"
"Yes, but you're ugly and i'll be sober in the morning"

 ;D

In the W.C. Fields movie It's A Gift a man tells W.C.:  "Aah, you're drunk!"  To which W.C. says: "But you 're crazy, and in the morning I'll be sober, but you'll still be crazy!"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 11, 2009, 02:38:15 PM
In the W.C. Fields movie It's A Gift a man tells W.C.:  "Aah, you're drunk!"  To which W.C. says: "But you 're crazy, and in the morning I'll be sober, but you'll still be crazy!"

Maybe WC stole it from Brahms.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2009, 04:57:30 PM
Mozart stole from Brahms  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2009, 06:33:37 PM
Jokes involving Brahms put me in mind of the young attorney who said, "Please don't tell my mother I'm a lawyer...she thinks I'm a piano player in a whore house."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sarastro on February 11, 2009, 11:08:19 PM
True, but what you've said still smacks of a lack of common sense.  One must have available time, and my job is a full time occupation. 

No one argues with that. Though I strongly feel it depends on a person. I know a professor who has just completed her PhD and turned thirty, and by the time she defended her dissertation, she had married, born three children, divorced, learned a new language and on top of that worked full time throughout the entire period. But it's a rare case, I think I wouldn't ever be able to pull such a stunt. :o And definitely not bearing children.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidW on February 12, 2009, 05:12:19 AM
No one argues with that. Though I strongly feel it depends on a person. I know a professor who has just completed her PhD and turned thirty, and by the time she defended her dissertation, she had married, born three children, divorced, learned a new language and on top of that worked full time throughout the entire period. But it's a rare case, I think I wouldn't ever be able to pull such a stunt. :o And definitely not bearing children.

Yeah that's exceedingly rare.  But it's obvious she found the time by taking longer to get there.  Most people graduate between the ages of 26-28 and wouldn't have the time to work and raise a family at the same time.  To put it in perspective, I graduated at the age of 26, that is a four year difference.  Other people are not lazy in comparison to her, she simply took it slower, that is all.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 12, 2009, 08:04:10 AM
Allow me today to place the most mephitic POX    >:D    on morons who curse in public!

In this case freedom of speech ends where my ears begin!   0:)

Word for the day: mephitic.  (Extremely foul-smelling)

As in Mephistopheles!   >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 12, 2009, 08:07:09 AM
Allow me today to place the most mephitic POX    >:D    on morons who curse in public!

In this case freedom of speech ends where my ears begin!   0:)

Word for the day: mephitic.  (Extremely foul-smelling)

As in Mephistopheles!   >:D

Is it desirable to use words no one else uses? Are you really communicating then?

Swearing in public? No. How about at home or on message boards?  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 12, 2009, 08:34:05 AM
Is it desirable to use words no one else uses? Are you really communicating then?

Swearing in public? No. How about at home or on message boards?  ;D

Yes, you are communicating and expanding their vocabulary!   0:)

No!  $:)

Bad enough if it is mental!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 12, 2009, 10:33:45 AM
Jokes involving Brahms put me in mind of the young attorney who said, "Please don't tell my mother I'm a lawyer...she thinks I'm a piano player in a whore house."

I know that, but I cant think from where. Please put me out of my misery!

(and no kitty going to the vet to be put-to-sleep jokes!)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 12, 2009, 11:03:34 AM
As a Germanic language, English should be quite allowed to end things with a preposition at times: German often uses prepositions as verbal prefixes.  In a normal sentence the prefix is sent to the end of the sentence.


According to Fowler, prohibition of ending a sentence with a preposition is not a grammatical rule but a modern superstition.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 12, 2009, 12:27:40 PM
According to Fowler, prohibition of ending a sentence with a preposition is not a grammatical rule but a modern superstition.

I have read that it came from earlier English grammarians trying to "Latinize" the language, but if there are no grammar books where the rule can be found, then it is another myth!

Like the prohibition on splitting infinitives.

e.g. "To boldly go where no man has gone before!"

a proclamation splitting not only the infinitive, but also infinity!    0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 12, 2009, 06:44:52 PM
I know that, but I cant think from where. Please put me out of my misery!

I think it originated with a woman politician. During an impromptu(?) conference with reporters the subject somehow came up about politicians and their unhealthy fondness for double-talking and how it reflected bad on the profession.

Which in return prompted the woman politician to jokingly quip something to the effect: "Don't tell my parents I'm a politician. They think I'm a prostitute." Implying of course there's nothing more lowly than a politician. IIRC it got a hearty laugh. 

Quote
(and no kitty going to the vet to be put-to-sleep jokes!)

But couldn't a replicant kitty turn the tables on a vet clinic? ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 12, 2009, 08:42:47 PM
I know that, but I cant think from where. Please put me out of my misery
I don't know where you first heard it, Ben.  For me I think it was a student skit at Boalt Hall comprising rapid-fire lawyer jokes punctuated by rimshots on a drumkit:
What's the difference between a dead skunk on the road and a dead lawyer on the road?  (pause)  No skidmarks for the lawyer.
Ba-da-boom!
What do you call a hundred lawyers in a deep hole at the bottom of the ocean?  (pause)  A good start.
Ba-da-boom!
And so on.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 13, 2009, 06:02:02 AM
Heard on the radio:

Quote
Just like a child misses their blanket.

The way our tenth-grade English teacher instructed us, there are two errors here.  What is the consensus here? Jail term, $25 fine, or verbal reprimand?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 06:13:01 AM
Just like a child misses their blanket.

If you look attentively at the Who's Online layout you'll notice that

Someone [is] viewing unread replies since their last visit

or that

Someone [is] viewing their messages.

 :)



Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 13, 2009, 06:36:15 AM
Just like a child misses their blanket.

If you look attentively at the Who's Online layout you'll notice that

Someone [is] viewing unread replies since their last visit

or that

Someone [is] viewing their messages.

 :)

That are right.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 06:41:10 AM
That are right.

How come? Should it not be "Someone is viewing his / her messages?"

And should it not be "Those are right?"  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 13, 2009, 06:51:04 AM
 Florestan  06:50:26 AM Viewing Who's Online.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 06:53:38 AM
Florestan  06:50:26 AM Viewing Who's Online.

And your point is... ? :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 13, 2009, 06:54:07 AM
It should be "someone is viewing his messages."  Ever since the successful sexist attack on English and the PC hegemony it ushered in, those unwilling to risk attack by ignorant bigots have been handicapped by a number of poor choices, one of which is to use the awkward his/her construction.  Common usage seems to have determined that plural impersonals like their seem less egregiously awkward than such constructions.  And their is sufficiently indeterminate that it should survive assaults on the language as heinously "anthrocentric" by the deranged PETA sorts when the idea occurs to them.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 13, 2009, 06:55:09 AM
And your point is... ? :)

I have to have a point to post here?

Damn.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 07:03:55 AM
It should be "someone is viewing his messages."  Ever since the successful sexist attack on English and the PC hegemony it ushered in, those unwilling to risk attack by ignorant bigots have been handicapped by a number of poor choices, one of which is to use the awkward his/her construction.  Common usage seems to have determined that plural impersonals like their seem less egregiously awkward than such constructions.  And their is sufficiently indeterminate that it should survive assaults on the language as heinously "anthrocentric" by the deranged PETA sorts when the idea occurs to them.

Thanks. I suspected something of the sort. But should we talk and write politically correct or gramatically correct?  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 07:05:10 AM
I have to have a point to post here?

Damn.

Should it not be "Do I have to have a point to post here?"  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 13, 2009, 07:08:16 AM
How come?

I mean, right that if I look attentively at the Who's Online layout, I should notice it.  :)

Quote from: Andrei
And should it not be "Those are right?"  ;D

No, those were both wrong, as you queried (someone is singular, but their is plural). But that quibble of yours is right  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 13, 2009, 07:10:37 AM
But should we talk and write politically correct or gramatically correct?  ;D
Neither.  We should keep our mouths shut and not presume to think for ourselves but just obey the dictates of those who appoint themselves our masters.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 13, 2009, 07:11:22 AM
Or mistresses.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 13, 2009, 07:11:55 AM
Should it not be "Do I have to have a point to post here?"  ;D

It should be whatever the Hell I wrote.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 13, 2009, 07:12:27 AM
Or mistresses.
Now you're talking!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 13, 2009, 07:13:38 AM
The mistresses of the sort I should like, don't seem to be appointing themselves, though.

And the self-appointresses, well, I just might pass.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Novi on February 13, 2009, 07:30:09 AM
It should be "someone is viewing his messages."  Ever since the successful sexist attack on English and the PC hegemony it ushered in, those unwilling to risk attack by ignorant bigots have been handicapped by a number of poor choices, one of which is to use the awkward his/her construction.  Common usage seems to have determined that plural impersonals like their seem less egregiously awkward than such constructions.  And their is sufficiently indeterminate that it should survive assaults on the language as heinously "anthrocentric" by the deranged PETA sorts when the idea occurs to them.

I recently filled in a form that had three categories for 'gender': male, female, and transgender. As far as I recall, this was the first time I'd come across this option :).

Re: the above - I agree that PETA is deranged, but don't have a problem with recognising the intrinsic biases underlying the English language and don't consider this recognition an example of 'PC hegemony' $:) <--PCPC? hehe
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 13, 2009, 08:53:13 AM
...recognising the intrinsic biases underlying the English language....
Are there "intrinsic [gender] biases underlying the English language?"  Assuming that one discerns a bias in the language, as you obviously have been taught to do, how are you to determine whether the bias, if intrinsic at all, is intrinsic to the language or intrinsic to the point of view of the discerner?  It seems to me that the language itself is gender-neutral.  If one is determined to project gender-bias onto the language, then one could just as easily claim that using his, he, and him as non-gender-specific personal pronouns indicates an "intrinsic bias" against males, since the specifically masculine pronouns share double duty with the non-gender-specific ones, suggesting that masculinity is not a sufficiently valuable personal characteristic to merit its own distinct set of pronouns akin to those femininity enjoys.

Language shapes thought, culture, achievement.  The success of the English-speaking peoples and their gifts to the world arguably stem from a characteristic relationship to the phenomenal world that is embedded in the language.  One of the most apparent distinguishing characteristics of English, especially compared to its European cousins both Latin and Germanic, is the streamlined and flexible grammar--an evolutionary development that may well have much to do with the fecundity of ideas sprouting in minds relatively unfettered by the constraints of rigid, cumbersome grammars.  PC proscriptions of language use might well prove regressive, rather than progressive as their advocates imagine.

Addendum:  On further thought, it strikes me as extraordinarily short-sighted and ironic to attack English speakers and their language as intrinsically sexist when no other culture has done so much to advance the rights of women. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: The Six on February 13, 2009, 10:22:36 AM
But not afraid:
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Novi on February 13, 2009, 11:29:37 AM
Are there "intrinsic [gender] biases underlying the English language?"  Assuming that one discerns a bias in the language, as you obviously have been taught to do, how are you to determine whether the bias, if intrinsic at all, is intrinsic to the language or intrinsic to the point of view of the discerner?  It seems to me that the language itself is gender-neutral.  If one is determined to project gender-bias onto the language, then one could just as easily claim that using his, he, and him as non-gender-specific personal pronouns indicates an "intrinsic bias" against males, since the specifically masculine pronouns share double duty with the non-gender-specific ones, suggesting that masculinity is not a sufficiently valuable personal characteristic to merit its own distinct set of pronouns akin to those femininity enjoys.


Hmm, you're right - lazy posting on my part. I was thinking (at a superficial level) of usage at specific points in time which refer to the male by default - all that spokesman v. spokesperson business - and personally don't have a problem with these changes :). 

Quote
One of the most apparent distinguishing characteristics of English, especially compared to its European cousins both Latin and Germanic, is the streamlined and flexible grammar--an evolutionary development that may well have much to do with the fecundity of ideas sprouting in minds relatively unfettered by the constraints of rigid, cumbersome grammars. 

Where does that leave continental philosophy? >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 13, 2009, 11:42:09 AM
What a relief, that none of the world's women ever need fear a man-eating shark!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on February 13, 2009, 11:49:01 AM
I recall seeing a shop in Los Angeles that proclaimed it stocked, 'Clothes for ALL sexes.'

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Solitary Wanderer on February 13, 2009, 11:50:40 AM
I, too, find people saying 'Absolutely!' instead of 'Yes' irritating.

Also, I don't know if it happens in North America or Britian, but here in New Zealand and Australia there is an annoying habit of saying 'Yeah, no' when agreeing with someone.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 11:58:58 AM
I mean, right that if I look attentively at the Who's Online layout, I should notice it.  :)

No, those were both wrong, as you queried (someone is singular, but their is plural). But that quibble of yours is right  8)

Looks like a comedy of errors. :)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 12:01:29 PM
We should keep our mouths shut and not presume to think for ourselves but just obey the dictates of those who appoint themselves our masters.

 ;D

Or mistresses.

Spoken like a man, Karl!  :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 13, 2009, 01:01:31 PM
  PC proscriptions of language use might well prove regressive, rather than progressive as their advocates imagine.

Addendum:  On further thought, it strikes me as extraordinarily short-sighted and ironic to attack English speakers and their language as intrinsically sexist when no other culture has done so much to advance the rights of women. 


Amen!   0:)

There are reasons why English is the language of the Declaration of Independence, rather than Chinese or Sanskrit or any other, and one of them is the British Enlightenment developing the best of the Western Tradition, which began in one sense with the Athenian revolt against the dictator Isagoras and his Spartan allies.  The average people put their lives on the line for political freedom: the aristocrat Cleisthenes, whom Isagoras had exiled, was recalled by the people.  Cleisthenes realized that this unique (at the time) sacrifice had to be rewarded, and so he put into place the foundations of the Athenian Democracy.  The American Revolution can be seen as a distant echo of those Athenians booting out tyranny.

On indefinite pronouns: I have nothing against the plural "they" being used for indefinites.  "Somebody called for you."  "What did they want?"

And political correctness must always be at odds with basic notions of freedom of speech.  I recall decades ago, when "women's libbers" began complaining about "chairman" and "mankind" as excluding women.  The words never struck me as being or intending an attack against women!  One understood them in context as including women, especially "mankind", just like one understands the sound "current" could also be "currant" or the name Leslie/Lesley could be male or female.  What was the problem?

We now have monstrosities like the extremely doubleplusugly "Chairperson" and "Madame Chairperson."  :o

To which the only response can be: "I told ya!  I ain't a madame!  I'm a concierge!"   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 13, 2009, 01:27:19 PM
Heard on the radio:

Quote
Just like a child misses their blanket.

No one minds the preposition like used as a conjunction here?  0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 13, 2009, 01:30:24 PM
Where does that leave continental philosophy? >:D
In the dust.  Deeds, not words, my friend.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 13, 2009, 01:31:52 PM
No one minds the preposition like used as a conjunction here?  0:)

I think he wanted to say I just like a child [who] misses their blanket.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 15, 2009, 03:25:06 AM
Today's Grumble: Adjective Abuse!   $:)

Part I!

My wife (an assistant principal) heard one of the 20-something teachers at her school say the following with no obvious embarrassment: "That movie was a lot funner 'n' that Batman movie."

Yes, "funner", not funnier, "funner" spoken by a supposed teacher of the next generation of functional illiterates coming through our schools.    >:(

And I am sure the teacher would have written "alot" instead of "a lot."    :o

Actually, the misuse of more and most with monosyllabic adjectives also comes to mind here!  In general, most monosyllabic adjectives (and 2-syllable ones) should form their comparative and superlative degrees with -er/-ier and -st/-est.

I hear things like: "Her sunburn is more red than his."  "Redder" would be preferable.  "More red" is musically clumsy to my ear.

People look at me in confusion about the 2-syllable adjectives: "Aren't you supposed to say 'more' or 'most' with them?"  I quote one of the great writers of English at such moments:

"How do you like to go up in a swing,
             Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
             Ever a child can do!"

Robert Louis Stevenson

There are always exceptions: "more loyal" is more euphonious than "loyaler."   8)

And even though "rickety" is 3 syllables..."That car is the ricketiest bucket of bolts I've ever been in!"

And - in conclusion - even though "fun" is one syllable, "more fun" beats "funner" every time!   0:)
 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 15, 2009, 04:27:25 AM
At first read, I thought the rule for forming comparative adjectives based on syllable count was one of the goofiest things I'd heard...but the more I consider it, the more apt it seems.  The purpose of such usage rules to describe practice--not to put the language and its speakers into prescriptive straitjackets--and this it seems to do rather well.  As with most rules there must doubtless be exceptions, though none come quickly to mind...perhaps because I'm struggling to think of more 3- and even 4-syllable adjectives with a comparative form ending in -er.

And I suspect the same rule applies equally well to superlatives.  It's the best!

And now I'm going to have my morning oatmeal with dried fruit.  It's the scrumdiddliunchiest!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 15, 2009, 08:13:19 AM
At first read, I thought the rule for forming comparative adjectives based on syllable count was one of the goofiest things I'd heard...but the more I consider it, the more apt it seems.  The purpose of such usage rules to describe practice--not to put the language and its speakers into prescriptive straitjackets--and this it seems to do rather well.  As with most rules there must doubtless be exceptions, though none come quickly to mind...perhaps because I'm struggling to think of more 3- and even 4-syllable adjectives with a comparative form ending in -er.

And I suspect the same rule applies equally well to superlatives.  It's the best!

And now I'm going to have my morning oatmeal with dried fruit.  It's the scrumdiddliunchiest!

Not bad!  Parallel in sound to rickety is "persnickety" and I have heard things like "Our child is the persnicketiest eater!"   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 16, 2009, 06:58:15 AM


We now have monstrosities like the extremely doubleplusugly "Chairperson" and "Madame Chairperson."  :o
 
Shouldn't it be "Chairperoffspring"?  :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 16, 2009, 07:11:43 AM
Shouldn't it be "Chairperoffspring"?  :D

You're right!   :o    Or maybe "Chairbeing" ?

Today's grumble comes from the radio, where my wife was listening to an oldies station, and on came the very terrible song "Horse With No Name: with the incredibly ungrammatical line:

" In the desert, you can remember your name, 'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."  (Sic and Sick!)   $:)

LSD explains what the line means, but not the grammar of a rational mind! 

Any other bad grammar candidates from songs? 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 16, 2009, 07:20:30 AM
How did this slip through?


..."pushing the envelope". That darling media phrase which became so overused I wanted to pull my hair/teeth/whatever out.

Luckily for my sanity it's on the decline.


I'm so sorry to hear this!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 16, 2009, 07:26:05 AM
You're right!   :o    Or maybe "Chairbeing" ?

Today's grumble comes from the radio, where my wife was listening to an oldies station, and on came the very terrible song "Horse With No Name: with the incredibly ungrammatical line:

" In the desert, you can remember your name, 'cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."  (Sic and Sick!)   $:)

LSD explains what the line means, but not the grammar of a rational mind!

Or it could be authentically degraded grammar from the prairies . . . .

Quote from: Cato
Any other bad grammar candidates from songs?

Back in the deeps of GMG Time I must already have pointed out one of my pet grammatical quarrels with Sir Paul, the duplicate preposition which 007 is sent to eliminate in Live and Let Die:

. . . this ever-changing world in which we live in . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 16, 2009, 07:30:39 AM
Shouldn't it be "Chairperoffspring"?  :D
ROFL.

Although true political correctness suggests that the very idea of a chair-man-woman-person-or-perprogeny ought be verboten on at least two counts:

(1) The idea of anyone having any particular authority or role in relation to others is an affront to the egalitarian notions of equality which we, as the elitist arbiters of truth and justice, demand that everyone worship by shutting up and obeying our dictates!

(2) Intrinsic species-centrism must be abolished, thus any references that might be construed as perpetuating the unjustly privileged status of humans must be stricken; instead of chair-anything, only the neutral and PC term "being" may be used.

Edit: Ah!  I see Cato has anticipated me.  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 16, 2009, 07:33:30 AM
How did this slip through?

"Luckily for my sanity it's on the decline."
I'm so sorry to hear this!

Wocka! Wocka!   8)


This is a case where the brain skips the grammar rule ("it" should refer to "sanity" the last noun) and connects it to the obvious meaning in context ("it" = the phrase "pushing the envelope").

Sometimes however, the context is not always so obvious, so we should follow that rule about the last noun connecting to a pronoun, especially a vague "it."

I have received a claim (it will remain anonymous) that bad grammar is part of the low-class charm of pop music!  Hmmm!  
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 16, 2009, 07:34:26 AM
...bad grammar is part of the low-class charm of pop music!  Hmmm!  
Well it ain't necessarily so.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 16, 2009, 07:38:23 AM

Any other bad grammar candidates from songs? 
I don't have the exact wording to hand but there is one modern hymn (or religious song if you prefer) that proclaims that Jesus will knock all rulers off of their thrones. Where the possessive 'of' comes from I cannot imagine. There seems to be no logic for it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 16, 2009, 11:36:06 AM
Or it could be authentically degraded grammar from the prairies . . . .

Back in the deeps of GMG Time I must already have pointed out one of my pet grammatical quarrels with Sir Paul, the duplicate preposition which 007 is sent to eliminate in Live and Let Die:

. . . this ever-changing world in which we live in . . . .
Wasn't he singing "world in which we're living"?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 16, 2009, 12:01:47 PM
Wasn't he singing "world in which we're living"?

Nay. Doesn't sound like it, and the duplicate preposition is how it's always been printed.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 16, 2009, 12:46:33 PM
Nay. Doesn't sound like it, and the duplicate preposition is how it's always been printed.

That cinches it: The solution of "we're livin' " is charitable. But given the sloppy pronunciation of Sir Paul...   8)

Certainly he is not the only one in that boat: there is a reason why there is a website called "Misheard Lyrics."   $:)

"Off of" is heard everywhere, even from supposedly educated people.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 16, 2009, 12:53:26 PM
Lyrics were never McCartney's strong point.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 16, 2009, 03:08:58 PM
Lyrics were never McCartney's strong point.

Neither is music!   :o

But he was strong in "cuteness:" I believe he won the "Cutest Beatle Contest" every time!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 16, 2009, 03:17:50 PM
Neither is music!   :o

Don't go there. We will fight.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 16, 2009, 03:21:57 PM
Don't go there. We will fight.  ;D

Tee-hee!  ;D

Well, he did tolerably well so much of the time.  One cannot but admire the sturdy minimalism of:

Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us.


"Grinning a grin," though, sounds poor to me.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 16, 2009, 03:28:34 PM
That cinches it: The solution of "we're livin' " is charitable. But given the sloppy pronunciation of Sir Paul...   8)

Certainly he is not the only one in that boat: there is a reason why there is a website called "Misheard Lyrics."   $:)
I had to listen to that song a lot in 1979 (at work, in an ad agency, can't remember why). I guess I just had to have it say "in which we're livin'" if I were to make it through another day (no, not "Another Day," "Live or Let Die").
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 16, 2009, 04:05:34 PM
I had to listen to that song a lot in 1979 (at work, in an ad agency, can't remember why). I guess I just had to have it say "in which we're livin'" if I were to make it through another day (no, not "Another Day," "Live or Let Die").

Was that "agency" in Guantanamo?   $:)

What annoys me here on this subtopic is that many songs could be grammatically fixed with no problem:

Example: The very annoying Alanis Morissette and her "What If God WAS One of Us?"  (Subjunctive "were" works perfectly musically.)

Actually, Alanis Morissette should be fixed!   0:) 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 16, 2009, 04:09:09 PM
I don't think that was Morissette, was it?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 16, 2009, 04:18:26 PM
I don't think that was Morissette, was it?

Well, when I remembered the line, and then checked it on Google, her name came up as the singer.  But another "Googling" also brought up somebody named Joan Osborne.

Both stand accused!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 16, 2009, 04:36:56 PM
Well, when I remembered the line, and then checked it on Google, her name came up as the singer.  But another "Googling" also brought up somebody named Joan Osborne.

Both stand accused!   $:)

Yep. Joan Osborne. That's who had the hit.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 16, 2009, 04:41:55 PM
Example: The very annoying Alanis Morissette and her "What If God WAS One of Us?"  (Subjunctive "were" works perfectly musically.)

Actually, a lot of fiction authors do this too.  :-\

You can't pick on pop music though. It ain't cool to sing like a square, yo.  >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 16, 2009, 04:56:07 PM
Actually, a lot of fiction authors do this too.  :-\

You can't pick on pop music though. It ain't cool to sing like a square, yo.  >:D

I wrote earlier that bad grammar is part of its "low-class charm."  A true musica populi I suppose!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 16, 2009, 05:07:38 PM
Anyway, ought to be the world in which we live . . . the world in which we're living still rings a little colloquial.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 16, 2009, 05:08:29 PM
It ain't cool to sing like a square, yo.  >:D

The Pav made 'em melt, you know.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 17, 2009, 11:15:28 AM
Yesterday we drove 100 miles through the center of Ohio and counted 8 falcons on patrol at the edge of the highway!  We saw another one this morning right here in a suburban neighborhood of Columbus (Metro Pop. c. 1 million).

Tercel is the official name of a male falcon, coming from Latin for one-third: there was a belief that only 1/3 of the species at any given time was male.

Another good word struck my eyes today: blogobore!   :o

Anybody know a blogobore?   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 17, 2009, 06:01:49 PM
Luckily for my sanity it's on the decline.

How did this slip through?

I'm so sorry to hear this!

I misspoke - I should have said "it's" gone altogether.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sean on February 17, 2009, 06:14:41 PM
Cato

Quote
It is the counterpart to "the = thee" being used in front of everything: "thee" for "the" is permissible only before vowels.


Thee also seems appropriate sometimes when you're speaking slowly, the being such a short sound to leave hanging in the air.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 18, 2009, 07:36:50 AM


Thee also seems appropriate sometimes when you're speaking slowly, the being such a short sound to leave hanging in the air.


Sean is talking about the mispronunciation of "the" as "Thee" before consonants instead of vowels.

I have heard people use "Thee" when they are trying to emphasize something: e.g. That is thee best book I have ever read.

Not wanting to tergiversate,  0:)   I am not sure I should accept it, although I understand the impulse behind it.

Better to recompose the music of the statement in such cases: "That is the best book I have ever read!"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 18, 2009, 07:51:11 AM
Even when speaking slowly, it is possible to use the (avec schwa), and simply not give the definite article the same long duration as everything else.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 18, 2009, 10:56:37 AM
Even when speaking slowly, it is possible to use the (avec schwa)...

Mahler would say 'Schwangvoll'...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 18, 2009, 11:33:55 AM
Mahler would say 'Schwangvoll'...

I do believe Mahler said "schwungvoll" because "schwangvoll" comes close to meaning something like "full of pregnancy" !   :o

Of course, Mahler's works are full of ideas pregnant with meaning!   0:)

But not this time!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 18, 2009, 01:43:14 PM
Another grumble for today:  8)

The tendency to shorten words to monosyllabic mumbles and guttural grunts is annoying me more than ever!

"App" for application.  "Mum" for chrysanthemum.  "Tatt" for tattoo, and by the way...speaking of our piratesque Generation X...

Don't get me started on the pierced and tattooed members of our society, who are pierced and tattooed either because they are  in dire need of attention, even the negative attention of disgust and repulsion, or because they are so dissatisfied with themselves that they buy the delusion that attacking their bodies in this way will make them attractive somehow!   $:)

I immediately walk out of stores and restaurants as soon as I see that I might have to deal with some pierced or painted emetic.    8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 18, 2009, 04:25:20 PM
Don't get me started on the pierced and tattooed members of our society, who are pierced and tattooed either because they are  in dire need of attention, even the negative attention of disgust and repulsion, or because they are so dissatisfied with themselves that they buy the delusion that attacking their bodies in this way will make them attractive somehow!   $:)

I don't see the accumilation of body mods as any different to other costly hobbies (music included) - both involve paying for something to gratify yourself with. Even supposedly anti-materialist Buddhist monks often have tattoos to keep them from getting bored with life 0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 18, 2009, 05:09:43 PM
In my culture, self-mutilation is a cry for help, a sign of a soul in torment.  That this has become fashionable among the young shows just how far from sanity our values have strayed.  I can tolerate it in some circumstances, but not on employees of an establishment serving food.  I lose my appetite at the sight of metal studs and rings puncturing the flesh of innocent faces.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 18, 2009, 05:31:23 PM
In my culture, self-mutilation is a cry for help, a sign of a soul in torment.  That this has become fashionable among the young shows just how far from sanity our values have strayed.  I can tolerate it in some circumstances, but not on employees of an establishment serving food.  I lose my appetite at the sight of metal studs and rings puncturing the flesh of innocent faces.
I know someone around our age (I assume you haven't been a teenager in some time, either) who insists not only upon getting tattoos and piercings, but also on whipping out photos of said mutilations when he's somewhere he can't whip out the actual location(s) of those mutilations. I poured part of a cup of coffee on his hand and his picture when he showed one to me in a coffee shop. I couldn't believe it.

I think it was you who brought it up earlier, how some people, when they can't get positive attention, will settle for the other kind. I wasn't even gonna give him that.

And I am not a conservative.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 18, 2009, 05:33:53 PM
You seem to have an unusually inflexible definition of both what constitutes self-abuse and to equate some tattoos and piercings with lapsed values is IMO incorrect. Your calling it "mutilation" already hints that you are uninterested in understanding any other viewpoint, though.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 18, 2009, 05:59:35 PM
You seem to have an unusually inflexible definition of both what constitutes self-abuse and to equate some tattoos and piercings with lapsed values is IMO incorrect. Your calling it "mutilation" already hints that you are uninterested in understanding any other viewpoint, though.

Psychiatrists have identified one reason for piercings/tattooings: the person gets hooked on the endorphins involved from the pain.  I listened to an interview with a tattooed 20-something, who said he became depressed when the tattoo was finished, and started constantly worrying and wondering when he would be able to afford another, and where it would go!   :o

It is no different from 40-somethings tinkering with plastic surgery: dissatisfaction with one's looks so great that they spend thousands and risk surgical complications, just like their lower-class counterparts risk hepatitis, chronic infections, AIDS, and long-term disfigurement for the "cool tattoo"!

And the odds are good that the general public will end up paying for most of these self-inflicted health problems!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 18, 2009, 06:27:14 PM
Psychiatrists have identified one reason for piercings/tattooings: the person gets hooked on the endorphins involved from the pain.  I listened to an interview with a tattooed 20-something, who said he became depressed when the tattoo was finished, and started constantly worrying and wondering when he would be able to afford another, and where it would go!   :o

So essentially you can't distinguish between people in the first category, and people in the second? ;)

(http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/1500/95866266dm4.jpg) (http://imageshack.us) (http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/6667/60648754wu7.jpg) (http://imageshack.us) (http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/26/92853445qx0.jpg) (http://imageshack.us)

(http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/313/17047666jx7.jpg) (http://imageshack.us) (http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/5189/14687961yq2.jpg) (http://imageshack.us) (http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/3595/82330157yq0.jpg) (http://imageshack.us)

It is no different from 40-somethings tinkering with plastic surgery: dissatisfaction with one's looks so great that they spend thousands and risk surgical complications, just like their lower-class counterparts risk hepatitis, chronic infections, AIDS, and long-term disfigurement for the "cool tattoo"!

Yes, because everybody who has a tattoo gets AIDS(!). We are taking this kind of ad-absurdum, aren't we? :D

And the odds are good that the general public will end up paying for most of these self-inflicted health problems!   $:)

This sounds a lot like wishful thinking. "These people look strange, I wish bad things on them!"

Seriously, people find ways to be extreme in every area of life, and the extremists tend to be a minority. As a result, while someone with a few piercings can be made an easy target by some pissed off individuals, people who do even more egregious things (health-wise, and "morality"-wise) have no such problems.

While I don't have any interest in body modifications - and my closest friends don't either - from my experience people with body modifications tend to be normal on the most part. I.e., they care about their health and won't go to backstreet parlours to have anything done to them. Even the most drunk and drugged up young people generally seem to be smart enough to realised the health problems a bad practitioner can cause.

Edit: Anyway, apologies if I come across as obstinate in these posts, this has been simmering for a while. GMG can be infuriating at times. On one day the root cause of the collapse of civilisation is some impending ethnic infiltration/invasion of the west, and the next day it is somebody who wants to pierce their scrotum.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 19, 2009, 06:27:05 AM
Ad absurdum indeed!   ;D

Read carefully!  I wrote that the tattooed and pierced risk such diseases, not that there was a guarantee.  Certainly chronic infections are the biggest and most likely result.

Nobody said this is causing the Untergang des Abendlandes!   :o

I and others said we find it personally revolting, and that it is symptomatic of a "Look At Me!" kulcher.   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 19, 2009, 07:21:55 AM
ONLY THE ENGLISH COULD HAVE INVENTED THIS LANGUAGE

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Then shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England ..
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns
down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

I would like to add that if people from Poland are called poles then
people from Holland should be holes and the Germans, germs.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 19, 2009, 07:55:12 AM
ONLY THE ENGLISH COULD HAVE INVENTED THIS LANGUAGE

Dave, you get an A+ for posting that!

 :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Soooooooooooooooooooooo true!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 19, 2009, 08:13:39 AM
Dave, you get an A+ for posting that!

 :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Soooooooooooooooooooooo true!

I got it from a guy who got it in his email.  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 19, 2009, 08:16:58 AM
You seem to have an unusually inflexible definition of both what constitutes self-abuse and to equate some tattoos and piercings with lapsed values is IMO incorrect. Your calling it "mutilation" already hints that you are uninterested in understanding any other viewpoint, though.
I'm not sure that the post to which you're responding contains any evidence of the comparative flexibility of "my" definition of "what constitutes self-abuse."  In fact, it made no reference to the concept of self-abuse whatsoever.  It did, however, characterize "piercing" as mutilation--a term to which you also object and on the basis of which you mistakenly infer a closed mind.

Just so we can get our terms straight, let's not take my word for the meaning of the word:
Quote from: The American Heritage Medical Dictionary
Mutilation: Disfigurement or injury by removal or destruction of a conspicuous or essential part of the body.
That rending one's flesh to insert conspicuous chunks of metal is a form of mutilation is true by definition.  Being uncomfortable with that term and preferring to call it by some innocuous term like "body adornment" is simply double-speak--and that indicates the kind of prejudice that simply refuses to look squarely at the facts lest cognitive dissonance ruffle happily self-satisfied feathers.

The capacity of most humans to live with cognitive dissonance is amazing (albeit usually aided by liberal ingestion of alcohol and other mind-altering substances):  Consider those who object to scarification and other culturally prescribed forms of bodily mutilation practiced by other societies, yet who condone similar practices that are contrary to cultural norms in our own society.  Our species' endless capacity for self-delusion and self-justification is a wonder indeed!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 19, 2009, 08:24:51 AM
 That rending one's flesh to insert conspicuous chunks of metal is a form of mutilation is true by definition.

Surely only if it disfigures (which is eye of the beholder stuff) or causes injury. According to the definition you supply, that is. If one doesn't consider oneself disfigured or injured, why should one feel mutilated?

I speak as one whose taste doesn't extend to body piercings but with no issue with those who do. I'm tempted to make the pun that those with the more Victorian views on this thread ought to ponder the Prince Albert, but maybe I should steer clear of that issue...  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 19, 2009, 09:56:59 AM
Surely only if it disfigures (which is eye of the beholder stuff) or causes injury. According to the definition you supply, that is. If one doesn't consider oneself disfigured or injured, why should one feel mutilated?

I speak as one whose taste doesn't extend to body piercings but with no issue with those who do. I'm tempted to make the pun that those with the more Victorian views on this thread ought to ponder the Prince Albert, but maybe I should steer clear of that issue...  ;D


I hope somebody let him out of that can!   :o

The poem is on target of course: I think George Carlin used some of those lines in his early 1960's routines, before the routines became cruder.

I have been asked about the difference between tergiversate, which I used earlier in a response, and vacillate.

The former means constantly switching opinions and beliefs on a specific subject.  "Vacillate" means one is not very strong in holding an opinion, and might be thinking of switching, or maybe not!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 19, 2009, 10:35:38 AM
I have been asked about the difference between tergiversate, which I used earlier in a response, and vacillate.

The former means constantly switching opinions and beliefs on a specific subject. 

Ermmm.... not quite. It means to engage in tergiversation (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tergiversation). :)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 19, 2009, 11:02:58 AM
Ermmm.... not quite. It means to engage in tergiversation (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tergiversation). :)



Another reason to avoid Internet dictionaries!  8)

I recall William F. Buckley using the word as a noun decades ago while he was describing a politician: "flip-flopping" is perhaps less elegant, but punchier!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 19, 2009, 11:31:02 AM
Surely only if it disfigures (which is eye of the beholder stuff) or causes injury. According to the definition you supply, that is. If one doesn't consider oneself disfigured or injured, why should one feel mutilated?

Whether a practitioner feels disfigured or mutilated is beside the point, is it not?  Otherwise you find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to explain why stealing a little old lady's handbag is not theft if the purse-snatcher doesn't feel that it is.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 19, 2009, 02:09:13 PM
No, clearly they are not the same. The theft is done to a third party - it is what she feels that counts first and foremost. The 'mutilation', as you'd have it, is done to oneself, and only the party it is done to can determined whether they feel disfigured/injured and therefore, by your definition, mutilated.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 19, 2009, 03:36:54 PM
My goodness.  Theft has nothing to do with what the victim feels--at least not in the US, nor in other Common Law jurisdictions (unless something drastic has occurred in the past couple of decades!).  It is the taking of another's property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property without his consent.

Nor does the fact of mutilation have anything to do with feelings or intent--no more than whether it's raining out, or if the sky is blue.  Tearing holes in perfectly good skin to make orifices where nature doesn't is mutilation regardless of whether we approve or not.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 19, 2009, 04:02:25 PM
Not according to the definition of mutilation you provided, it isn't. Or if we are to go by this new definition - mutilation is the removal of good tissue when nature doesn't do so - then getting your hair cut or shaving are also mutilation.

And as far as the theft question goes, you're right of course, legally (though if the victim for some reason doesn't feel that they are a victim we get into other irrelevant byways). But that isn't the issue: you compared piercing (something non criminal one might to choose to do to oneself) to theft (something criminal one does - or hopefully doesn't - to others). The two don't seem to me to be at all comparable.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 19, 2009, 04:05:14 PM
All that said, I can't believe that I've got involved in a thread defending piercing - I who only a few weeks ago was saddened by my daughter's wish to get her ears done! I don't think that this wish was 'a cry for help [from] a soul in torment'. I'll have to ask her in the morning.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 19, 2009, 05:43:22 PM
Not according to the definition of mutilation you provided, it isn't. Or if we are to go by this new definition - mutilation is the removal of good tissue when nature doesn't do so - then getting your hair cut or shaving are also mutilation.
Wrong.  I've not shifted ground and the definition I provided most certainly does apply.  Look again:
Quote
Mutilation: Disfigurement or injury by removal or destruction of a conspicuous or essential part of the body.
Removing part of the body--the skin--especially in a place as conspicuous as a person's face, and then further calling attention to it by inserting one or more garish chunks of metal, fits this medical definition quite well.  Haircuts don't remotely qualify.  As for the notion of disfigurement, even if we exclude the objective standard of nature's perfection with only so many orifices in the human body and only in certain locations, and grant you the "eye of the beholder" standard you seek, then by our cultural standard as beholders it is still a disfigurement of the body--mutilation.

And as far as the theft question goes, you're right of course, legally (though if the victim for some reason doesn't feel that they are a victim we get into other irrelevant byways). But that isn't the issue: you compared piercing (something non criminal one might to choose to do to oneself) to theft (something criminal one does - or hopefully doesn't - to others). The two don't seem to me to be at all comparable.
You are not reading very carefully at all.  I did not compare piercing to theft.  You claimed that whether the victim felt mutilated or not decides the issue.  I used theft as an example to illustrate the untenability of your claim.  Theft is theft, regardless of whether the thief feels comfortable about calling it that.  I could have used any similar example:  A pitched ball swung at and missed is a strike, regardless of how the batter feels about it.

Finally, I doubt that your daughter's ear piercing is a cry for help--though if it were I wouldn't count on her telling you even if she knew!  On the face of it I'd say it's a normal teenaged expression of the desire to fit in, as well as to undergo a rite of passage they associate with growing up.  From a feminist point of view, of course, it's an abomination stemming from dominant males mutilation of their female chattel to display gaudy symbols of great disposable wealth--in other words, a legacy of ancient lunk-headed sexism using women as display pieces in lieu of whipping out their penises and measuring!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 19, 2009, 06:24:36 PM
Wrong.  I've not shifted ground and the definition I provided most certainly does apply. 

But you provided two definitions: the dictionary one (mutilation = disfigurement and injury) and your own (mutilation = removal of good tissue nature doesn't remove). These aren't the same thing.

Quote
Removing part of the body--the skin--especially in a place as conspicuous as a person's face, and then further calling attention to it by inserting one or more garish chunks of metal, fits this medical definition quite well.  Haircuts don't remotely qualify. 

Only as far as the injury clause of the first definition goes. A haircut could, however, be disfiguring (the other clause of definition one). And it fits your second definition (unnatural removal of good tissue) perfectly.

Quote
As for the notion of disfigurement, even if we exclude the objective standard of nature's perfection with only so many orifices in the human body and only in certain locations,

...as we have to for the 'haircut' reason just mentioned - because nature's perfection can't only be limited to earlobe, tongues and so on; your natural hair 'style' is equally perfect too...

Quote
and grant you the "eye of the beholder" standard you seek, then by our cultural standard as beholders it is still a disfigurement of the body--mutilation.

Aha. I was waiting to see when cultural standards came into it. That's a different issue - those with piercings would claim, I expect, that they have different cultural standards to you, and shouldn't have to conform to the cultural standards of those who have to look at them.

Quote
You are not reading very carefully at all.  I did not compare piercing to theft.  You claimed that whether the victim felt mutilated or not decides the issue.  I used theft as an example to illustrate the untenability of your claim.  Theft is theft, regardless of whether the thief feels comfortable about calling it that.  I could have used any similar example:  A pitched ball swung at and missed is a strike, regardless of how the batter feels about it.

No - because the baseball analogy and the theft analogy are either/or situations. But if 'mutilation' is to fit to your dictionary definition, and if the subject is not in medical harm (=injured), then we are left with the issue of disfigurement. And that, as we've said - and as you've 'granted' - is in the eye of the beholder. IOW, not an either/or situation.

Quote
Finally, I doubt that your daughter's ear piercing is a cry for help--though if it were I wouldn't count on her telling you even if she knew! 

No, of course it isn't! If you knew her - she's only little - you'd know how ridiculous the idea is.  ;D I mentioned her piercing wish only because you stated earlier that 'In my culture, self-mutilation is a cry for help, a sign of a soul in torment.' And I thought it best to suggest that this is not always the case; that in fact, it probably is only the case rather rarely.

EDIT - but enough - I left the forum originally because of the ridiculousness of finding myself arguing about issues I didn't really care about. I can't believe that so soon after returning I've got myself involved in a difference of opinions about body piercing of all things, for goodness sake!!  :o So let's call it quits on this one, if that's OK. I'm not bothered enough to worry too much either way!  :) :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 19, 2009, 07:25:35 PM
I'm not sure that the post to which you're responding contains any evidence of the comparative flexibility of "my" definition of "what constitutes self-abuse."  In fact, it made no reference to the concept of self-abuse whatsoever.  It did, however, characterize "piercing" as mutilation--a term to which you also object and on the basis of which you mistakenly infer a closed mind.

Just so we can get our terms straight, let's not take my word for the meaning of the word:  That rending one's flesh to insert conspicuous chunks of metal is a form of mutilation is true by definition.  Being uncomfortable with that term and preferring to call it by some innocuous term like "body adornment" is simply double-speak--and that indicates the kind of prejudice that simply refuses to look squarely at the facts lest cognitive dissonance ruffle happily self-satisfied feathers.

The capacity of most humans to live with cognitive dissonance is amazing (albeit usually aided by liberal ingestion of alcohol and other mind-altering substances):  Consider those who object to scarification and other culturally prescribed forms of bodily mutilation practiced by other societies, yet who condone similar practices that are contrary to cultural norms in our own society.  Our species' endless capacity for self-delusion and self-justification is a wonder indeed!

You say that I play with words, but you are using a term most commonly used to describe an accidental or involuntary action on person resulting in considerable traumatic damage (such as being assaulted, or from being mentally imbalanced and cutting skin in a haphazard manner) often in an uncaring fashion or on the spur of the moment to describe body modifications... The opposite attitude is the case for most people being tattooed or pierced, certainly those who use it responsibly - they tend to consider and plan it for a while before. If they don't plan it well, then that is their problem, and something that people must get used to in a free society. It also happens with poor investments ruining families. Using the same term to describe slashing arms with a stanley knife or having a picture of a flower added to a persons skin feels excessively combative to me.

Are these "cultural norms" you mention referring to Christianity and its concept of treating the body as a temple? Where I live people who claim to believe in that religion (much less practitioners) are becoming a minority, and some others water it down considerably. Non-practitioners pick and choose what they think is best from its influence on society until the second half of the 20th century, and I think that is a decent way of going about things - not denying its importance, but not adhering to something you do not believe. Given that culture is constantly in flux I am not sure how something relatively harmless when carried out properly and which has the ability to make a person feel happier (however much this may not apply to the moral majority) can have such negative weight given to it, to the extent that it is implied that people who do it are mentally deficient.

As an example of how somebody less affected by that teaching might think, I see a body not as a "perfect" object, but something functional. If a person has a disfiguring scar, a tattoo can conceal or offset it, if somebody is heavily into some kind of "lifestyle", then to modify it to enhance their experience of that shouldn't be a problem either. Any other attitude reminds me of religions bedroom snooping, that too often makes claims of things being morally wrong and dangerous.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 19, 2009, 11:47:09 PM
Good God! A page-long controversy of moral and legal philosophy to discuss tattooing and piercing! I can't believe my eyes. Those lads and lasses who look like deep-jungle savages couldn't care less about what others think about them. Much as I think they are mentally deranged, I also believe this is really a non-issue. If civilization will collapse, the guilt of the well-clothed, neat, freshly shaved and hair-cut politicians and academics will be much greater than that of those nose-pierced, head-tattooed crackpots.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 20, 2009, 05:55:42 AM
Good grief is more like it.  Piercings and such ain't worth the ink (or electrons  ;) ), but I have felt that trying to encourage others to read and write more carefully and think more clearly is particularly pertinent to the topic of this thread.  Look at the post immediately preceding yours, for instance, putting words into my mouth, projecting the writer's prejudices into my statements, playing Humpty Dumpty with the meaning of words, and ironically accusing me of some sort of moral fascism when it's bloody obvious who here is unwilling to tolerate opinions different from her own.  Surely we can do better...especially in cases like that one in which the writer's tone suggests that none of that was intended.

Wouldn't it be nice if all people were sufficiently tolerant to allow others to have different points of view?  If they could direct their efforts toward understanding rather than attacking?  And if they cannot restrain themselves from attacking, then at least refrain from attacking the person rather than the viewpoint?  (Reasonable self-defense excepted, of course.  ;) )

Lethe, you are mistaken on several counts.  I never said (neither explicitly nor by implication) that you "played with words."  You made an unjustified attack suggesting I'm intolerant because I used the word "mutilation" to describe piercing.  I provided a neutral definition of the term from a respected medical dictionary to help sort out confusion over its meaning in this contextual application (which definition has been stripped out of the passage quoted in your post--the forum software does that unless you override it).

People's freedom to embed objects in their faces--whether due to boredom, misguided notions of beautification, adolescent longing to fit in with the "cool" kids, or any other reason, and regardless of how "responsibly" or well-planned the operation may be--has nothing to do with the meaning of the term "mutilation."  You are certainly right to recognize the hyperbolic thrust in my use of the term, and you're free to regard that as "excessively combative" if you wish--but from my perspective it was a rather mild yet pithy and accurate characterization, and your own response here seems a much better example of "excessive combativeness."

Your views about Christianity seem a bit odd to express in this context, suggesting an axe to grind...yet I understand your point of view, admire the associative leap you've made, and think that discussing the role of Christianity in shaping American mores might make for an enlightening discussion.  (But note that such discussions have been tried in numerous threads here at GMG and they always seem to devolve into attacks on the beliefs anti-Christian bigots imagine other members hold, as well as attacks on the members themselves.)

Finally, I hesitated before using the word "perfect" (elsewhere, I suppose, since I don't see it in the quoted passage) since I imagined it would be misunderstood, yet thought the intended meaning should be clear in the context--at least, to those familiar with usage of the term to indicate something whole and complete, without flaws, bearing all the essential characteristics of a thing of its type.  A perfect child, for instance, is one born with four fingers and a thumb on each of two opposing hands and so forth.  It is not a moral judgment, but a description.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 20, 2009, 06:00:49 AM
I'll give what you said some thought, and I'm sorry that we can't seem to find some middle ground on the matter.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 08:07:23 AM
Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I.


Happens all the time in pop music;  I just think that Jim Morrison makes it a bit louder in this instance  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 20, 2009, 08:07:56 AM
Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I.


Happens all the time in pop music;  I just think that Jim Morrison makes it a bit louder in this instance  8)

He had to rhyme "sky".
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 08:11:50 AM
Folks before could both walk and chew gum rhyme and write grammatically.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 20, 2009, 08:13:24 AM
Folks before could both walk and chew gum rhyme and write grammatically.

Oh, reeeeeeeally???  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 08:13:57 AM
Oh, reeeeeeeally???  ;D

Does I . . . astonish you?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 20, 2009, 08:17:38 AM
A Romanian soccer coach boasting about his achievements:

The team was rescued from going to the second league by us together with me.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 08:19:50 AM
A Romanian soccer coach boasting about his achievements:

The team was rescued by us together with me.

Hah!  Must have translated literally.  The Russian for for you and me is something much like for us together with you.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 20, 2009, 08:20:07 AM
Till the stars fall from the sky
For you and I.


Happens all the time in pop music;  I just think that Jim Morrison makes it a bit louder in this instance  8)

One of the worst and clumsiest pop songs ever!   8)

David Ross wrote about the "perfect child" and reminded me of the old debate about absolute adjectives: in the American Constitution, written by men who knew the language well, there is of course the famous phrase:

"...in order to form a more perfect union..."

If something is perfect, how can it be "more perfect" ?   :o

What were the "Framers of the Constitution" thinking here?  Is it a mistake?

I was once chastised innumerable decades ago by a teacher for using the word "deadest" in a composition.   0:)

"That's the deadest body I've ever seen!" said the detective.   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 08:21:37 AM
Och, aye, degrees of perfection.

The way I was taught, I still cringe at "more unique."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 20, 2009, 08:22:13 AM
(http://chrisstubbs.com/images/Wikipedia-lolcat.jpg)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 08:24:18 AM
Can izz not!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 20, 2009, 08:27:53 AM
Hah!  Must have translated literally. 

No, he said it in Romanian (noi impreuna cu mine, literally us together with me) and in our language it's a ridiculous pleonasm, since us already implies me. :)

More true quotes from Romanian soccer players:

I didn't weep but I had tears flowing from my eyes.

A man is a human being.

It's all the fault of max-media

(After a match lost 1-3): Had we not received three goals, we could have won the match.

 :)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 08:28:56 AM
Oops, Andrei!  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 20, 2009, 08:30:50 AM
"...in order to form a more perfect union..."

If something is perfect, how can it be "more perfect" ?   :o

What were the "Framers of the Constitution" thinking here?  Is it a mistake?
I've always read that as a simpler way of saying "in order to form a union more closely resembling the standard of perfection that we cannot articulate clearly, nor whose particulars we may define to the satisfaction of all, but which we generally have little problem recognizing when we see it."  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 20, 2009, 08:39:38 AM
Footballers, eh? These courtesy of QI:

Well, Clive, it's all about the two Ms - movement and positioning.

He dribbles a lot and the opposition don't like it - you can see it all over their faces.

Goalkeepers aren't born today until they're in their late twenties or early thirties.

The Germans only have one player under 22, and he's 23.

If someone in the crowd spits at you, you just have to swallow it.

I wouldn't be surprised if this game went all the way to the finish.

We didn't underestimate them - they were just a lot better than we thought.

He's started anticipating what's going to happen before it's even happened.

If I had a blank piece of paper there'd be five names on it.

I don't think there's anyone bigger or smaller than Maradona.

I never make predictions and I never will.

Aston Villa are seventh in the league. That's almost as high as you can get without being one of the top six..

Chile have three options: they could win or they could lose.

Don't ask me what a typical Brazilian is because I don't know what a typical Brazilian is. But Romario was a typical Brazilian.

We don't want our players to be monks. We want them to be better football players because a monk doesn't play football at this level.

We must have had 99% of the match. It was the other 3% that cost us.

You're on your own out there with ten mates.

and so on - there's more where that came from. Worth pointing out that Kevin Keegan is responsible for many more than his fair share of these.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 20, 2009, 08:43:46 AM
 :)

A late Romanian maverick politician: My destiny has been marked by fate.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 20, 2009, 09:02:14 AM
:)

A late Romanian maverick politician: My destiny has been marked by fate.

And not by grammar!

Concerning the overuse of "I" as a prepositional object: I believe this stems from people again trying to sound more educated, and of course they end up being wrong.

"Just between you and I..."   BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!  10,000 VOLTS!   >:D

"Just between you and me..."

Visiting the haunts of the illiterati, I often hear e.g. "Me 'n' him went dow' there las' night..."

"He and I" is apparently too much to hope for in such cases!   :o

And then you have the mangling of verbs in broad daylight: "They must've went there last night." BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! 10,000 VOLTS!   >:D

"They must have gone there last night!"   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 20, 2009, 09:07:12 AM
Man, I'm glad I know all this stuff. However, don't be afraid to correct me if I ever screw up. Only fools get offended when they're corrected.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 20, 2009, 09:09:02 AM
Man, I'm glad I know all this stuff. However, don't be afraid to correct me if I ever screw up.

Would that be correction Cato-style?

Quote
BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!  10,000 VOLTS!   >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 09:13:29 AM
Quote from: Reg
If you really wanted to join the PFJ, you'd have to really hate the Romans.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 20, 2009, 09:41:56 AM
Oh Really?   0:)

Release the voltage!   >:D

As a Latin teacher (among other things), I must ask how anyone could really hate the Romans!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 20, 2009, 09:45:45 AM
The Cato-nater.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 09:50:26 AM
Man, I'm glad I know all this stuff.

There's always other stuff to learn. And that is an occasion for gladness, too.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 20, 2009, 09:51:04 AM
Man, I'm glad I know all this stuff. However, don't be afraid to correct me if I ever screw up. Only fools get offended when they're corrected.
Amen!  (The gates of heaven open and a chorus of angels sings.)
                                    (http://thefamilybiz.org/ezboard/emoticons/choir.gif)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 20, 2009, 09:52:00 AM
Wow! I feel so modern (or is it old-fashioned?? probably the latter ;D). I went last year! (There Will Be Blood)

Last year? Shouldn't that be There Was Blood? j/k  0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 20, 2009, 10:02:10 PM
How about the word (term?) "email"?

When we write to someone electronically we say "I sent him an email".

But when we write to someone using paper (a letter) we don't say "I sent him a mail". We say "I sent him a letter".

So when emailing someone shouldn't it be "I sent him an e-letter (eletter)"?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 21, 2009, 05:13:05 AM
How about the word (term?) "email"?

When we write to someone electronically we say "I sent him an email".

But when we write to someone using paper (a letter) we don't say "I sent him a mail". We say "I sent him a letter".

So when emailing someone shouldn't it be "I sent him an e-letter (eletter)"?

You have spotted another case where English has become inconsistent!  But this horse has galloped far away from the barn!

This has spread into German as well, where "E-mail" has been adopted as a feminine word, and so one can " eine E-mail schreiben."  In the early days of the Internet (10-12 years ago) I used "e-Brief" in German (e-letter) as you suggested, but the bias in German is that using English shows sophistication and sets a "cool" generation apart from the old fogies.  My German correspondents always told me "Nobody uses 'e-Brief,' everybody uses 'E-Mail'." 

I will still insist on using the hyphen, however, for the word "e-mail."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 21, 2009, 05:46:04 AM
I tend both to use the hyphen, and to resist using e-mail as the unit (I sent him an e-mail message).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 21, 2009, 05:47:50 AM
But then, to be sure, it was a long time before I assented to We're going out for a beer. (I still hold the line at cup of coffee.)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 21, 2009, 06:04:13 AM
...I still cringe at "more unique."
Aye.  On the other hand, it's useful in letting us know right away that the speaker is an idiot.  It's handy that way, like the nearly ubiquitous use of "surreal" to mean...well, I'm not sure what they think they mean by it.  (Fun?  Thrilling?  Unusual?  Unique?)  

(http://thefamilybiz.org/ezboard/emoticons/torquemada.gif)

As for "email", I've no objection to using it as a noun to distinguish electronic mail from snail, and care not at all whether it's hyphenated or the "E" is printed in upper or lower case.  Rapid coinage, assimilation, and acceptance of new vocabulary is one of the English language's greatest strengths (along with a streamlined and flexible grammar), a corollary (perhaps even the cause?) of the cultural open-mindedness and pragmatism that have guided native speakers in learning and exploring new things at least since the time when Sir Francis Bacon invented science.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 21, 2009, 07:12:51 AM
In our house we use the computer to send messages. An email is information written on the back of a used envelope, such as "Gone to the shop for some milk".
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 21, 2009, 07:13:17 AM
But then, to be sure, it was a long time before I assented to We're going out for a beer. (I still hold the line at cup of coffee.)

I drink neither, but will gladly head for any pop machine with Diet Dr. Pepper, which is why Arby's here in Columbus has become one of my favorite restaurants!   8)

Except I cannot eat much there: a 99% vegetarian in a roast beef joint has few choices!   $:)

Today's word is "hydrate" because of an incident in my school yesterday.  Two little first-grade girls ran past me and as they disappeared around the corner I heard a Munchkin voice saying:

"I must stay hydrated!"    :o    :o    :o

Disbelieving my ears, I turned around and headed around the corner, and there they were at a water fountain.

"Who said that they must stay hydrated?"
"She did," says the taller girl.
"And why must you stay hydrated?" I asked.
"Because I don't want to be dehydrated!" said the Munchkin with just a little disgust at needing to explain something so obvious to a pathetically dimwitted adult.
"Were you ever dehydrated?"
"Yes, when I had strep throat!  It was awful!  SO!  That's why I always want to stay hydrated!"  Unsaid at the end, but heavily implied by the tone of her voice, were the words "you dummy!"

The future of America!  Watch out for these 21st-century women: they are hydrated and ready to rule!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 21, 2009, 07:32:07 AM
This, too, strikes me as an example of the admirable flexibility of the language in accommodating and expressing new concepts.  Granted, hydrated has been used traditionally only as the past tense of the verb hydrate.  Using it as an adjective (akin to surprised or gobsmacked) seems inoffensive to me and is an encouraging indicator of increasing awareness of the virture of drinking adequate water...and, if you really want to split hairs, be reminded that our physical beings are mostly water, after all.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 21, 2009, 07:41:25 AM
Hydrated munchkins . . . what a wonderful world!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 21, 2009, 02:34:23 PM
Hydrated munchkins . . . what a wonderful world!

And you have should have seen them!  They were bona fide members of the Lollipop Guild and the Lullaby League!   0:)

Speaking of Oz, I will admit to not knowing until the mid '90's that the Australians slangily call their home country Oz.

Apparently the sibilants in the word "Aussie" deteriorated to a "z" sound, and led one to the conclusion that an "Ozzie" must come from "Oz."

But where did Harriet come from?   :o


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 21, 2009, 03:11:25 PM
So you know now what Strine is?  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 21, 2009, 03:41:49 PM
So you know now what Strine is?  ;)

Hoot mon!   8)

Once I stood in the main train station of Rome, the real Rome, not that punk town in New York state.

In front of me stands a 40-something American couple, complete with cameras around the neck, and in front of them stands an Australian.  I know he is an Australian because he is dressed in khakis, has the traditional Australian slouch hat with half the brim buttoned up, and has a kangaroo on a leash and a koala bear on his shoulder.  (Well, okay...)

He is speaking in the most Aussie accent imaginable to a woman, who is apparently his wife.  The American couple is overhearing the Aussies' conversation and the husband eventually blurts out:

"Hi there!  I couldn't help overhearing.  What part of England do you come from?"

At which question the Australian husband turns around as if he had just smelled the most mephitic rodent, curls up part of his mouth and nose as his gorge riseth, and snarls:

"OWSTRIYA!"

To which the American said in confusion, and in a very low voice: "Oh!"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on February 21, 2009, 04:38:57 PM
Aye.  On the other hand, it's useful in letting us know right away that the speaker is an idiot.  It's handy that way, like the nearly ubiquitous use of "surreal" to mean...well, I'm not sure what they think they mean by it.  (Fun?  Thrilling?  Unusual?  Unique?)

Awsum.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 22, 2009, 08:16:09 AM
Hoot mon!   8)

Once I stood in the main train station of Rome, the real Rome, not that punk town in New York state.

In front of me stands a 40-something American couple, complete with cameras around the neck, and in front of them stands an Australian.  I know he is an Australian because he is dressed in khakis, has the traditional Australian slouch hat with half the brim buttoned up, and has a kangaroo on a leash and a koala bear on his shoulder.  (Well, okay...)

He is speaking in the most Aussie accent imaginable to a woman, who is apparently his wife.  The American couple is overhearing the Aussies' conversation and the husband eventually blurts out:

"Hi there!  I couldn't help overhearing.  What part of England do you come from?"

At which question the Australian husband turns around as if he had just smelled the most mephitic rodent, curls up part of his mouth and nose as his gorge riseth, and snarls:

"OWSTRIYA!"

To which the American said in confusion, and in a very low voice: "Oh!"

Tangential Story: we had meetings with parents on Thursday, and our Math teacher came up to me with a question.  A father had a "really strange accent" like he is "from France or something".

No, I explained, for the father, complete with a Scottish last name, is from Australia!  aka "OWSTRIYA!"

But France???    :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 22, 2009, 11:52:56 PM
Tangential Story: we had meetings with parents on Thursday, and our Math teacher came up to me with a question.  A father had a "really strange accent" like he is "from France or something".

No, I explained, for the father, complete with a Scottish last name, is from Australia!  aka "OWSTRIYA!"

But France???    :o

Isn't "France" the epitome of a foreign land in the streets of America? I remember watching a youtube recording featuring people interviewed in the streets about the next country which is going to be attacked by the USA. France got the prize of a scaring percentage of ladies and gentlemen and guess what? Asked to locate it on the map, they pointed to...

...yep, OWSTRIYA!

Delendam esse Gallia!  :D

(BTW, that Kuehnelt-Leddihn quote is a gem.  8) )
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 23, 2009, 06:25:57 AM
Isn't "France" the epitome of a foreign land in the streets of America? I remember watching a youtube recording featuring people interviewed in the streets about the next country which is going to be attacked by the USA. France got the prize of a scaring percentage of ladies and gentlemen and guess what? Asked to locate it on the map, they pointed to...

...yep, OWSTRIYA!

Delendam esse Gallia!  :D

(BTW, that Kuehnelt-Leddihn quote is a gem.  8) )

The TV show Saturday Night Live had a skit called the Coneheads, which featured outer space aliens with huge coneheads trying to fit into American life.  They explained their strange heads and accents by saying that they were "from France."   :o

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 23, 2009, 06:31:08 AM
The TV show Saturday Night Live had a skit called the Coneheads, which featured outer space aliens with huge coneheads trying to fit into American life.  They explained their strange heads and accents by saying that they were "from France."   :o

At least they weren't "from France or something". :)

La Fayette and Tuffin de La Rouerie must be rolling in their graves...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 24, 2009, 10:26:25 AM
Today's Grumble: Trite Phrases found on TV shows...or in real life!   :o

My wife (too often) watches crime shows like CSI, Law and Order, etc. which seem to concentrate on the previously unimaginable national problem of murderous millionaires.   $:)

I find especially grating more and more: "I'm sorry for your loss."  If this has any basis in reality, it should not!

And then the other trite phrase: "With all due respect..." which means an insult is coming.  This is often heard on "24" right before Jack Bauer puts some hoity-toity bureaucrat or corrupt politician in his place! 

"Corrupt politician" may be redundant given the tax cheats in the news these days.

Feel free to add phrases of similar nails-on-the-blackboard nature!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 25, 2009, 05:11:09 AM
A question came up today about 2-syllable adjectives in the comparative and superlative degrees.

e.g. "trickier" vs. "more tricky"  or "clumsier" vs. "more clumsy."

In such cases the music in the one word is preferable to the clumsier music found in "more clumsy."  Certainly the illiterati are using "more" and "most" more and more, if not most and most!   :o

For words like "naive" one would go with "more naive."

Earlier, however, I quoted Robert Louis Stevenson's poem The Swing where he is not averse in a verse to using "pleasantest."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 25, 2009, 09:46:19 AM
And while I am grumbling, there is something that drives me crazy when it is advertised on TeeVee!

Some drug spelled "Humira."

Except that the narrator never pronounces an "i" after the "m"!!!   >:D

One hears in fact two pronunciations in the commercial: One is "Humayra"  and the other is more like a short "e" as in "Humerra".

Never does one hear a proper long "i" as in Hu-my-ra.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 25, 2009, 09:46:56 AM
We're all on fire for Humira!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 25, 2009, 10:11:59 AM
Grumbling is not an attractive trait, don't ya know...

;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 25, 2009, 11:19:56 AM
Grumbling is not an attractive trait, don't ya know...

;)

NO, but so cathartic!  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 25, 2009, 12:16:00 PM
Here's one of my favorites:

"I replied back to them."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 25, 2009, 12:36:42 PM
Here's one of my favorites:

"I replied back to them."
Yes, and  the following are also cringeworthy:
At this moment in time
From here on in

Of course it could be (?)
At this moment in space, or
From here on out

Writing is a good method for removing tautologies. It teaches you to eliminate all unnecessary words.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 25, 2009, 12:46:19 PM
No, I explained, for the father, complete with a Scottish last name, is from Australia!  aka "OWSTRIYA!"
But France???    :o

Ah, that can be tricky, trying to guess nationality from the name (not the accent). I've been reading a book on the Franco-Prussian War; the French Marshall, commanding the Army of Alsace, was named Pat MacMahon.  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: nut-job on February 25, 2009, 12:53:25 PM
Yes, and  the following are also cringeworthy:
At this moment in time
From here on in

Of course it could be (?)
At this moment in space, or
From here on out

"At this moment in time" is a variant of "at this point in time," which may not be high poetry, but which has some descriptive value since a "point" in time suggests a more sharply defined moment, equivalent to "at this precise moment."  I have no idea what "from here on in" means or whether it is better or worse than "from here on out."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 25, 2009, 01:26:09 PM
"At this moment in time" is a variant of "at this point in time," which may not be high poetry, but which has some descriptive value since a "point" in time suggests a more sharply defined moment, equivalent to "at this precise moment."  I have no idea what "from here on in" means or whether it is better or worse than "from here on out."


At this point in time = Now.  "Right now" could also be used.  "At that moment" could be used to emphasize a past event: using "precise" seems like overkill.

It has been a bureaucratic tic to use 4 and 5 words, rather than one, either to sound important or to send up a smoke-screen.

One should always eschew obfuscation!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 25, 2009, 02:21:08 PM
Not a grammar grumble but something I hear more and more often in common speech:

Prefacing remarks with the qualifier "honestly" always sets my BS detector off, i.e. "I honestly don't know what happened to the petty cash."  Using it implies that one's other statements are not honest, thus it's an admission that the speaker is a liar, and thus nothing they say should be trusted--especially the things they want you to believe so badly that they'll risk complete loss of all credibility by qualifying their statement with "honestly."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 25, 2009, 02:27:31 PM
Shampoo and hair colour are my personal pet peeves!

Firstly, I am not surprised that other brands do not contain Polyceramitium or [insert your own made-up compound here] as they did not invent it and could not add it to their own product even if they wanted to! I'm looking at you Pantenne!

And here's a wonderfully ill-conceived sentence from another shampoo advertisement:

"Unlike other brands shampoo x holds in the colour for longer"

Ok then! So other brands don't hold in the colour....for longer. Longer than? I think we need to refer to the international standardised measure of hair-colour-keeping-in, perhaps  ::)

[Sorry - I just had to vent somewhere!]
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on February 25, 2009, 02:28:31 PM
Not a grammar grumble but something I hear more and more often in common speech:

Prefacing remarks with the qualifier "honestly" always sets my BS detector off, i.e. "I honestly don't know what happened to the petty cash."  Using it implies that one's other statements are not honest, thus it's an admission that the speaker is a liar, and thus nothing they say should be trusted--especially the things they want you to believe so badly that they'll risk complete loss of all credibility by qualifying their statement with "honestly."

OK David, you can breath now!  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 25, 2009, 03:02:33 PM
Shampoo and hair colour are my personal pet peeves!

Firstly, I am not surprised that other brands do not contain Polyceramitium or [insert your own made-up compound here] as they did not invent it and could not add it to their own product even if they wanted to! I'm looking at you Pantenne!

And here's a wonderfully ill-conceived sentence from another shampoo advertisement:

"Unlike other brands shampoo x holds in the colour for longer"

Ok then! So other brands don't hold in the colour....for longer. Longer than? I think we need to refer to the international standardised measure of hair-colour-keeping-in, perhaps  ::)

[Sorry - I just had to vent somewhere!]

The comparative degree without a comparison is always the province of scalawags and carpetbaggers!

Private schools are notorious in this: e.g. a school which shall remain nameless states: "Our students have higher academic achievements in all subject areas!"

First, "subject area" is another example of educationalese using two words for one ("subjects").

But "higher" than whose achievements?  The word has no comparison: higher than that of public schools, or other private schools, or LaVerne and Shirley's Basement Kiddie Care?   8)


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 27, 2009, 06:27:04 AM
Not strictly a grammatical grumble, I suppose . . . from "The Cage":

Quote from: Peter Gabriel
And I cry out, 'John, please help me!'
But he does not even want to try to speak.

". . . does not even want to try to" . . . has always sounded clunky to these ol' ears.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 27, 2009, 06:36:10 AM
Orwellian Language Alert: The FedGov announces it will not "nationalize" banks.

It then buys controlling shares in CitiBank, c. 40%   :o

Maybe "nationalization" is defined as 50.1%!!!   0:)

Speaking of politicians and trite phrases, I am truly tired of all the "fighting" going on!

"Fighting for Working Families"  "Fighting for Better Jobs"  blah blah blah

Exactly how are you "fighting" when you are eating at 5-star restaurants at the udders of taxpayers, when you ride around D.C. in limos, etc. etc. etc.?

Show me the bruises at least!

Trite Phrase from Sports: "He stepped up and did a really great job in the second inning/second half/second quarter etc."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 27, 2009, 10:58:32 AM
English question! A friend asked me this and I didn't know the answer. Can "it scarcely matches" mean both of the following, or just one?

It rarely matches (acknowledging positives)
It hardly matches (dismissive, implying it never matches)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 27, 2009, 11:02:48 AM
English question! A friend asked me this and I didn't know the answer. Can "it scarcely matches" mean both of the following, or just one?

It rarely matches (acknowledging positives)
It hardly matches (dismissive, implying it never matches)

I would go with the second meaning: "scarcely" as a synonym for "rarely" is a real stretch.

e.g. "He scarcely attends concerts."   ???

No, better would be: "He rarely/ hardly ever/practically never attends concerts."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 27, 2009, 11:04:56 AM
I would go with the second meaning: "scarcely" as a synonym for "rarely" is a real stretch.

e.g. "He scarcely attends concerts."   ???

No, better would be: "He rarely/ hardly ever/practically never attends concerts."

Agreed.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 27, 2009, 11:07:33 AM
Better yet:  seldom.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 27, 2009, 11:08:31 AM
I would go with the second meaning: "scarcely" as a synonym for "rarely" is a real stretch.

e.g. "He scarcely attends concerts."   ???

No, better would be: "He rarely/ hardly ever/practically never attends concerts."

Thanks! I guess I got confused by the different meaning when used in phrases like "the items were scarce"...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 27, 2009, 11:11:33 AM
Better yet:  seldom.

Agreed.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 27, 2009, 12:02:52 PM
Thanks! I guess I got confused by the different meaning when used in phrases like "the items were scarce"...

Yes, in that case "rare" would be a synonym.

Seldom reminds me of the monstrosity "seldomly."

I once saw in a novel by late American writer John Gardner the word "sillily" which was one of the silliest things I had ever read!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on February 27, 2009, 12:10:08 PM
Yes, in that case "rare" would be a synonym.

Seldom reminds me of the monstrosity "seldomly."

I once saw in a novel by late American writer John Gardner the word "sillily" which was one of the silliest things I had ever read!   8)

I don't think there's such a thing as a perfect writer, is there?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on February 28, 2009, 01:01:46 AM
I will join in; but you need to hold onto the fact that I am fairly badly dyslexic. Despite it however, I have my standards.

Not grammar, but an abuse of language and concepts.

Phineas Fogg exotically flavoured crisps; these have a strapline of, 'Just arrived'.

Just arrived into the shop? Just arrived into my shopping basket?

What phooey; as though, because they may have such far flung flavours as cummin in them, they are somehow journeying further than the standard flavour Milton Keynes products.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 28, 2009, 05:40:05 AM
I will join in; but you need to hold onto the fact that I am fairly badly dyslexic. Despite it however, I have my standards.

Not grammar, but an abuse of language and concepts.

Phineas Fogg exotically flavoured crisps; these have a strapline of, 'Just arrived'.

Just arrived into the shop? Just arrived into my shopping basket?

What phooey; as though, because they may have such far flung flavours as cummin in them, they are somehow journeying further than the standard flavour Milton Keynes products.

Mike

They could always have used: "New!"  "Improved!"

But everyone uses those words for ancient brands trying to seem 21st century!  So the marketing geniuses making $75,000 a year come up with "Just Arrived!"

My 7th Graders have more creativity!   :o    And they will work for free samples of any food product!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 28, 2009, 08:35:52 AM
They could always have used: "New!"  "Improved!"

We've now got some chocolate bars and nut mixes for sale at the museum shop (folks do ask from time to time if we've got some kind of candy or other).  They're from a local-ish cottage industry, and rather pricey (what with musum-shop mark-up) . . . hey, if folks are in the shop, chances are they're fairly willing to support the museum.

Last night I found an info sheet for the candy, and one of the bullet-points was:

They are museum quality.

This set off my hype detector, so I said to Bill (the manager), "I have a technical question.  Just what is 'museum-quality candy'?"  Bill came through, piling hype upon hype with, "The very best candy that money can buy."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 28, 2009, 09:03:20 AM
We've now got some chocolate bars and nut mixes for sale at the museum shop (folks do ask from time to time if we've got some kind of candy or other).  They're from a local-ish cottage industry, and rather pricey (what with musum-shop mark-up) . . . hey, if folks are in the shop, chances are they're fairly willing to support the museum.

Last night I found an info sheet for the candy, and one of the bullet-points was:

They are museum quality.

This set off my hype detector, so I said to Bill (the manager), "I have a technical question.  Just what is 'museum-quality candy'?"  Bill came through, piling hype upon hype with, "The very best candy that money can buy."

Wow!  If that's true, it must mean your museum has all kinds of Thomas Kinkade paintings!!!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on February 28, 2009, 09:21:08 AM
Last night I found an info sheet for the candy, and one of the bullet-points was:

They are museum quality.

100 years old? :'(
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 28, 2009, 09:26:25 AM
For the Napoleon exhibit, we had tins of sugar-free mints.  My deadpan joke to a number of customers was, These are sugarless mints historically accurate to the Napoleonic era.

Had a few of them going with it, too.  Luckily, we don't have any snake-oil for sale in the shop . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on February 28, 2009, 09:31:02 AM
Damn, I could do with some of that. Though only if it's museum quality.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 28, 2009, 10:49:46 AM
Here's one of my favorites:

"I replied back to them."

Another one that makes me cringe is:

"Where are you located at?"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 28, 2009, 11:52:25 AM
Another one that makes me cringe is:

"Where are you located at?"

Dude, I'm where it's at!   8)

This might be a sort of reverse Germanicism: in German "wo" asks for position, but "woher" or "wo...her" asks about motion from, and "wohin" or "wo...hin" asks about motion to where.  (The old "whither" and "whence" are related.)

Woher/Wo kommst du her?  = Where are you coming from?

Wohin/Wo gehst du hin?  = Where are you going (to)?

Wo bist du? = Where are you?  and possibly by a phenomenon known in linguistics as attraction, the other two questions in English create an impulse to place something at the end.  Therefore "at" is plopped at the end. In German, however, as far as I know, there seems to be no impulse to add anything equivalent to the English "at."  So "attraction" has no effect there.

On the other hand, it might just be emphasis. 


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 28, 2009, 12:24:18 PM
And if they don't like Karl's chocolate, maybe they can return it back to him.  Does the store open at 9:00 a.m. in the morning?  How long has Karl worked there for?  
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 01, 2009, 05:08:32 PM
And if they don't like Karl's chocolate, maybe they can return it back to him.  Does the store open at 9:00 a.m. in the morning?  How long has Karl worked there for?  

Oh!  Wise guy!   $:)

In today's sermon I hear the priest say: "Thousands of years ago, in ancient times..."

Picky picky picky!  Maybe he was thinking of what to say next, and just threw in that last phrase for a split second of thought-time!

Last night, at a benefit dinner, I heard a fairly wealthy lawyer say with a shake of his head: "...and that was one of the most stupidest things that ever happened to me..."   :o

To be sure, this was spoken after 4 quickly quaffed bottles of imported beer.   8)
Title: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: Cato on March 02, 2009, 11:24:00 AM
Here is a mistake I often hear: "I could care less..." and it often comes from supposedly educated people.

"I could not care less" is correct, meaning that you have reached the bottom of being able to care about something.

If you could care less about something, then you still have some level (10% or so?) of caring above zero.
Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: Lethevich on March 02, 2009, 11:32:10 AM
Here is a mistake I often hear: "I could care less..." and it often comes from supposedly educated people.

"I could not care less" is correct, meaning that you have reached the bottom of being able to care about something.

If you could care less about something, then you still have some level (10% or so?) of caring above zero.

The strange thing about this is that it seems to have become "official" in US English. I keep seeing it over and over in presumably proof-read articles from major organisations...
Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: Cato on March 02, 2009, 12:02:01 PM
The strange thing about this is that it seems to have become "official" in US English. I keep seeing it over and over in presumably proof-read articles from major organisations...

The Triumph of the Illiterati!  Similar in acceptance - except by Cato!  >:(  - is the phrase "There is..." followed by a plural!   :o

"There's many reasons why the economy blah blah blah..." was spoken by a government official yesterday.

No, moron!  "There are many reasons why the economy..."

Of course, this comes from a government that...well, you know!   0:)
Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 02, 2009, 12:10:11 PM
The strange thing about this is that it seems to have become "official" in US English.

No. No, it's not.  :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on March 03, 2009, 01:20:10 AM
With regard to emphasis, 'really really' has become so pervasive that we must now say 'really really really really' to emphasize that something is real.  :(
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 03, 2009, 01:21:29 AM
I'm not sure that's really true. Not really really, anyway.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sydney Grew on March 03, 2009, 02:13:27 AM
The most hideous of the many hideous expressions current in northern America is "leverage" used as a verb!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 03, 2009, 05:52:07 AM
The most hideous of the many hideous expressions current in northern America is "leverage" used as a verb!


My dictionaries from even 20 years ago - surprisingly - do list this use as a verb: I would have at least added the note that it is "business slang/jargon."

Concerning "really really": is that a phrase from a movie or a Saturday Night Live skit?  Sometimes such things get picked up and are passed around like typhoid fever!

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 03, 2009, 06:04:52 AM


Concerning "really really": is that a phrase from a movie or a Saturday Night Live skit?  Sometimes such things get picked up and are passed around like typhoid fever!



A quick Googling found a website claiming that "really really" came from a moronic 20-something movie called Zoolander.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 03, 2009, 06:11:58 AM
My dictionaries from even 20 years ago - surprisingly - do list this use as a verb: I would have at least added the note that it is "business slang/jargon."

I am not surprised.  And, after all, commerce is one historical driver of the language's expansion.

In all events, the practice of verbing nouns has a pedigree reaching back at the least to Shakespeare.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 03, 2009, 07:32:58 AM
I am not surprised.  And, after all, commerce is one historical driver of the language's expansion.

In all events, the practice of verbing nouns has a pedigree reaching back at the least to Shakespeare.
At least.  This flexibility is one of the strengths our language shares with Chinese.  And the rapid conceptual expansion due to its innate flexibility, streamlined grammar, and ready assimilation of foreign words, contributes substantially to the technological and commercial success enjoyed by English-speaking peoples.  "Leverage" as a verb meaning "to apply the principle of leverage" (itself an abstraction based on concrete use of a lever) in subject areas other than mechanical physics makes a fine illustration of the process.

Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: Jay F on March 03, 2009, 08:14:41 AM
Here is a mistake I often hear: "I could care less..." and it often comes from supposedly educated people.

"I could not care less" is correct, meaning that you have reached the bottom of being able to care about something.

If you could care less about something, then you still have some level (10% or so?) of caring above zero.
Very well explained. I hope I remember this.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on March 03, 2009, 08:17:02 AM
A quick Googling found a website claiming that "really really" came from a moronic 20-something movie called Zoolander.
I would have thought it was Valspeak (often spelled phonetically: "rilly, rilly").
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on March 03, 2009, 10:28:59 AM
The ratio of grumbling about to praising of the use of language is becoming perversely skewed. I demand more grumbling!  $:)

In a recent battery commercial: "...for more longer-lasting batteries"  ::)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 03, 2009, 11:19:03 AM
The ratio of grumbling about to praising of the use of language is becoming perversely skewed. I demand more grumbling!  $:)

In a recent battery commercial: "...for more longer-lasting batteries"  ::)

Okay, when one uses more to modify the noun, but the noun is preceded by a comparative adjective, you have a choice: either slow down between the two, or use "and."

Example: "I would like more, tastier apples."  or "I would like more and tastier apples."

Third solution: "I would like more apples that are tastier."

A solution for the commercial: "For even/much/better longer-lasting batteries, buy..."

Here in my grade school I hear monstrosities like: "That videogame's a lot more funner..."   :o 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 04, 2009, 02:23:02 AM
William Hazlitt's On the Ignorance of the Learned has as motto some lines from a poem, the last lines of which read:

Yet he that is but able to express
No sense at all in several languages,
Will pass for learneder than he that’s known
To speak the strongest reason in his own.



Learneder?  :)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 04, 2009, 04:59:44 AM
William Hazlitt's On the Ignorance of the Learned has as motto some lines from a poem, the last lines of which read:

Yet he that is but able to express
No sense at all in several languages,
Will pass for learneder than he that’s known
To speak the strongest reason in his own.



Learneder?  :)



Wocka Wocka!   :D

Well, why not? 

Eons ago, when I was in college, I happened to be passing by the office of a professor of...(cue the sinister music)... Education!   :o

You should know that Education professors are considered the dumpster divers of academia, and not without reason!  So the good professor sees me and shouts: "Hey!  You would know this!" and he struggles to rise with a copy of a 2,000 page dictionary in his lap.

Such was Cato's reputation back then for omniscience, or at least polymathy, that even professors knocked on his brain's door for information!   8)

The good professor says: "We're trying to write invitations for the department's (i.e. the Education department's) cocktail party next week, and nobody knows how to spell hors d'oeuvres !" 

I revealed to him that the word was French, yielded to the temptation to make rude comments against the French, at which we both laughed heartily, spelled it for him, and retained the incident for future use as evidence against Departments of Edumbcation.

In America can you get a Ph.D. without any foreign languages in your background!
  :(

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 04, 2009, 05:43:27 AM
Edumbcation.

Nice one.  :D

In America can you get a Ph.D. without any foreign languages in your background!
  :(

I once asked an American girl (Californian, if I recall correctly) whether she spoke other languages than English. She replied: Why should I?  ;D

Slightly off-topic --- or maybe not --- I remember overhearing in Florence, Italy another American girl's complaint that her hotel room did not have a TV set. Coming to Florence to watch TV --- that is the top of tourism, methinks. :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 04, 2009, 11:55:52 AM
I get very irritated by the qualification of the word, 'unique', as in, almost unique, very nearly unique. It is either unique, or the word is irrelevant.

The great unwashed have an annoying way of using the word, 'pacific', when they mean, 'specific.'

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 04, 2009, 12:04:16 PM
I'm never sure if that isn't just mispronunciation, though, Mike - or, more specifically (  ;D ) the lazy can't-be-arsed British tongue which can't be bothered with the effort to articulate 'it's specific', so turning it into 'it's pacific'.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 04, 2009, 12:16:21 PM
It might be that, but neither word is likely to be in the lexicon of, 'The Sun'. So it would not surprise me if the word has been substituted rather than merely distorted.

I used to work with an accountant working for my government department and between us we would have day long interviews with other accountants. I would try not to cringe while he dropped expressions into the encounter such as...."We was wanting to ask you some questions." or, "I can't never get a handle on that."

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 04, 2009, 12:27:42 PM
Why don't they wash in the Pacific?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 04, 2009, 12:36:30 PM
They might if they knew where it was.

I once flew to Corsica from the UK. One girl, from Birmingham, was surprised everyone spoke a furrin language. She also wore two watches, because, one of them was broken.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on March 04, 2009, 01:01:04 PM
I encountered a real humdinger just now - a packet of crisps displaying the slogan "made with real ingredients".
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 04, 2009, 01:03:46 PM
That certainly does ding the hum!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 04, 2009, 01:07:50 PM
I encountered a real humdinger just now - a packet of crisps displaying the slogan "made with real ingredients".

Brilliant. I remember a DIY expert on TV once claiming he was going to make, 'almost something out of nothing.' Even God did not catch onto that trick.

Mike
Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: Bulldog on March 04, 2009, 03:52:34 PM
Here is a mistake I often hear: "I could care less..." and it often comes from supposedly educated people.

"I could not care less" is correct, meaning that you have reached the bottom of being able to care about something.

If you could care less about something, then you still have some level (10% or so?) of caring above zero.

Mistake or not, "could care less" is commonly used.  Most important, it represents understood communication.
Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: Bulldog on March 04, 2009, 04:20:30 PM
That is undeniable, as is the fact that it also communicates something that the speaker may not wish to convey.'



What might that be?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 04, 2009, 11:16:46 PM
I once flew to Corsica from the UK. One girl, from Birmingham, was surprised everyone spoke a furrin language. She also wore two watches, because, one of them was broken.

 :D :D :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 05, 2009, 04:52:49 AM
"Made with real ingredients" of course is an attempt to verify that nothing in the package is foaming with poisons.

"All Natural" is a big "buzz" word these days for food: I have even seen stickers saying so on bananas, to make sure you do not bite into one of those plastic ones! 

"Organic" drives me nutzoid: of course apples or carrots are "organic" !!!

And sorry to inform the aging hippies out there: poisons are also "real," "organic," and even "natural."   :o

And unless you have chemistry and physics from another universe in play, even the most virulent man-made chemicals are "natural" in essence, but that is a hair we do not need to stew over.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 05, 2009, 06:32:01 AM
"Organic" drives me nutzoid: of course apples or carrots are "organic" !!!

Don't know if it's any improvement, but in the Romance languages, the term is "biological"  8)
Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: sul G on March 05, 2009, 06:33:46 AM
Mistake or not, "could care less" is commonly used.  Most important, it represents understood communication.

Except that it doesn't make a smooth translation across the Atlantic - I don't think I've ever heard a Brit use the phrase ('I couldn't care less' is universal here, I think). So, though we might all know what you mean by it, it's impossible to hear it without thinking, quite simply, 'that doesn't make sense, you know' (well, that's my reaction in any case). IOW, it's a phrase which carries more baggage than its user might think.
Title: Re: Why, yes, I guess I could care less!
Post by: karlhenning on March 05, 2009, 06:37:21 AM
Except that it doesn't make a smooth translation across the Atlantic - I don't think I've ever heard a Brit use the phrase ('I couldn't care less' is universal here, I think). So, though we might all know what you mean by it, it's impossible to hear it without thinking, quite simply, 'that doesn't make sense, you know' (well, that's my reaction in any case). IOW, it's a phrase which carries more baggage than its user might think.

Gives one pause.  For some what are barking mad, may appear fairly normal most of the time, and it can be these little linguistic slips which tip yer off.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 05, 2009, 06:46:42 AM
Don't know if it's any improvement, but in the Romance languages, the term is "biological"  8)

Yes, and in Germany a "Bio-Laden" is a "health-food store" i.e. no pesticides ever used, the cucumbers were sung to, the tomatoes and melons were kissed and tucked in every night, and there's a joke growing here which we will avoid!   8)

On "could care less/could not care less" - The relativists want us to ignore such grammar mistakes, since, after all, something comprehensible is in fact communicated, and anyway, rules are just ways for oppressors to stifle people's expression and to make judgments about them!   $:)

Judgments like: "What a moron!"   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 05, 2009, 06:54:25 AM
On "could care less/could not care less" - The relativists want us to ignore such grammar mistakes, since, after all, something comprehensible is in fact communicated, and anyway, rules are just ways for oppressors to stifle people's expression and to make judgments about them!   $:)

Judgments like: "What a moron!"   0:)

In that sense, such uses of language serve a valuable function!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 05, 2009, 06:59:28 AM
The relativists want us to ignore such grammar mistakes, since, after all, something comprehensible is in fact communicated, and anyway, rules are just ways for oppressors to stifle people's expression and to make judgments about them!   $:)

The brand-new issued Romanian Ortographical Dictionary lists, alongside the right variant, several which are incorrect and brands them "accepted variant", (translation: this is the way some people --- usually illiterate or uncultured --- write or pronounce them).  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 06, 2009, 04:38:51 AM
One of my 7th Graders, in an attempt to spell the word "tragedy" for his translation from Latin, came up with the word "trageditty", and I thought that was a splendid word to describe certain operas!   8)

Things by Puccini perhaps?   :o

Or that German guy, Dick Wagner?   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 06, 2009, 05:37:39 AM
Lovely little neologism, that! (trageditty)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 06, 2009, 06:24:38 AM
Lovely little neologism, that! (trageditty)
Sounds apt to describe commercial jingles relating the dire consequences of using the wrong deodorant:

Alas my underarms
Were stained with sweat--
The boss didn't like my presentation
Or was it...my perspiration!

No more job
Woe is me
If only I'd used
New improved Sweat Free®
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 06, 2009, 11:14:14 AM
While contemplating the moronic lifestyles of many Californians and my junior-high students, who expect Life to smile upon them and drop raisins into their tender mouths without any labor or even the slightest effort on their part, a word from Ancient Greek came back to me, which I often Anglicized for my students.

καθαδυπαθέω = to squander your life in luxury and immoral living

"Cathadypathy" therefore may be the main disease of our day!    >:D

The practioner thereof being the "cathadypathist."   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 06, 2009, 11:28:03 AM
Questing for Cathadypathogens . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Save the G, Save the Have/Has
Post by: Cato on March 09, 2009, 04:24:41 AM
A certain high-rankin' politician has been drivin' your Grumbler Cato nutzoid on various levels, one of them bein' the Orwellian language employed, so far successfully, in callin' 3 trillion in tax hikes either "fairness" or actually "tax cuts." 

But let us not become too political!   0:)

Somethin' else is drivin' Cato nutzoid, and that is the refusal of more and more Americans, e.g. this politician and certain members of the faculty of Cato's school, to say the final G on the -ing endings.   $:) 

I suspect this is his way of showin' linguistically that he is just a member of the lower classes, a true man o' the peepul.  My fellow faculty members have no such excuse!   $:)

On this grumble is the related death of "have" and "has" with the present perfect progressive.

e.g. "We been lookin' at ways to help all Americans pay more taxes."   8)
 
"I was tellin' the 8th Grade they been slackin' off this past week."  A quote from a 60-year old flower child.  :o

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Save the G, Save the Have/Has
Post by: Benji on March 09, 2009, 04:39:49 AM
Somethin' else is drivin' Cato nutzoid, and that is the refusal of more and more Americans, e.g. this politician and certain members of the faculty of Cato's school, to say the final G on the -ing endings.   $:) 

I'm guilty of this, but it's just a function of my accent and upbringin'.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Save the G, Save the Have/Has
Post by: Cato on March 09, 2009, 05:19:46 AM
I'm guilty of this, but it's just a function of my accent and upbringin'.  ;)

Thank you for confessin', uh, confessing!   8)

Go and sin no more!   0:)

Related to the lack of "have" and "has" with the present perfect progressive is the use of the wrong past participle!   :o

Recently I heard: "Yep, that company was ran into the ground!"   :o

"Those cookies were all ate up by the junior high."    $:)

Anybody else hear such monstrosities?



Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 09, 2009, 05:22:57 AM
Do you hang out with hillbillies, or something?  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2009, 05:24:44 AM
Oof.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 09, 2009, 05:35:02 AM
Do you hang out with hillbillies, or something?  ;D

Ohio has been invaded by Kentuckians and Tennesseans throughout the last decades, and so yes, you do too often hear "briarhoppers" opining on God, the Universe, cheese, etc. when you are out in public.

"Briarhopper" being a rough term of affection, of course!   0:)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2009, 05:37:28 AM
Greg Incognito's thread was the occasion for remembering a Cat Stevens cover:

Quote
If I can meet 'em, I can get 'em,
But as yet I haven't met 'em,
That's how I'm in the state I'm in . . . .

File that under Dumb Tautologies in Pop-dom.

I'm in a state.
– What state are you in?
I'm in the state I'm in.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 09, 2009, 05:40:50 AM
Greg Incognito's thread was the occasion for remembering a Cat Stevens cover:

File that under Dumb Tautologies in Pop-dom.

I'm in a state.
– What state are you in?
I'm in the state I'm in.


I think lyrics play by different rules. Like repetition and what sounds good for the song.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2009, 05:44:49 AM
I think lyrics play by different rules. Like repetition and what sounds good for the song.

To an extent, yes.  I don't think the rules are utterly different, but one makes allowances.  There's never really any musical necessity for junk words.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 09, 2009, 05:48:20 AM
To an extent, yes.  I don't think the rules are utterly different, but one makes allowances.  There's never really any musical necessity for junk words.

This staaaaaaaaaaaate. This state that I'm iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. I'm in it, this staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate. That I'm iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin.

:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2009, 05:51:19 AM
You writin' a opry, feller?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 09, 2009, 05:52:09 AM
You writin' a opry, feller?

That would be fun.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2009, 12:13:58 PM
Quote from: on cbs.com
He has campaigned for Sen. John McCain in 2008.

No, no, no.  The present perfect here is no good as of 1 Jan 09.

Faugh!  A major news website!

It has got to be cast in the simple past now: He campaigned for Sen. John McCain in 2008.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on March 09, 2009, 12:52:18 PM
Aye.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 09, 2009, 12:58:56 PM
No, no, no.  The present perfect here is no good as of 1 Jan 09.

Faugh!  A major news website!

It has got to be cast in the simple past now: He campaigned for Sen. John McCain in 2008.

The illiterati are everywhere and have infiltrated areas one would hope are still pristine!  But no: one can no longer trust "better" newspapers to have good grammar or style as one of their missions!

I used to send my students of History to find articles in 1920's newspapers, or even ones from the 19th century, and then had them compare those to our sorry examples of contemporary journalism.  And our complaint goes beyond the simple sycophantic proskinesis which the media performs nowadays before the hemidemisemi-Lincoln wannabe of the White House.  

Even their flattery is flat!   $:)  And when it isn't, it's laughable!   8)

"How far have we fallen?!"   :o

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2009, 03:39:54 AM
Under the idea that, once one starts grumbling about a problem, one's ears will suddenly hear more examples of that problem, we can file this incident from last night:

At a craft store where my wife has deposited our life's savings, she was politely chatting with the more than plump, bearded, lisping 20-something cashier about the vicissitudes of life these days, like the plague of bicephalous deer in Franklin County, when suddenly I heard:

"There was this woman that just buyed a whole bunch of frames..."

My mind echoed instantly: "Buyed???  Buyed??? BUYED???"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on March 10, 2009, 04:36:11 AM
"There was this woman that just buyed a whole bunch of frames..."

My mind echoed instantly: "Buyed???  Buyed??? BUYED???"

So that's not one you can abuyed?  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2009, 05:05:56 AM
So that's not one you can abuyed?  ;)

Wocka Wocka!  And on top of that, I can't afford a Ford either!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 10, 2009, 05:12:36 AM
Lord love a duck.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 10, 2009, 05:23:43 AM
Just heard on radio, during a talk about football:

It's useless to make a comparison between Fergusson [pause] Fergusson is different.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 10, 2009, 05:28:25 AM
Well, between you, Andrei, I see nothing wrong with that  ::)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 10, 2009, 05:35:17 AM
Both me don't, but still thought it was funner.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2009, 06:38:11 AM
Lord love a duck.

I saw that movie!  c. 1967?  One of the worst ever, except for Tuesday Weld in those sweaters!   :o

A girl named Tuesday!  Reminds one of G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday!

Of course, The Addams Family had the daughter named Wednesday!

Don't get me started on people who give their children weird names!   $:)

Karl: Where is that picture from?  East Germany?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 10, 2009, 06:49:10 AM
Outside the Fenway entrance of the MFA.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2009, 08:44:25 AM
Outside the Fenway entrance of the MFA.

Aha!  Is that the "monster" wall of legend?

Concerning "between" and "I" one must reiterate that "I" is always wrong with prepositions: "Just between you and me..."  The affected illiterati, who use "I" here in an attempt to sound very correct, end up of course sounding like schnooks.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on March 10, 2009, 09:57:39 AM
It is interesting that language development is mostly driven by the illiterate. How often do we see new words invented by those unaware that a perfectly good word exists already!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on March 10, 2009, 10:13:46 AM
"Continuity IRA Shot Dead Officer"

Even when forced to limit a headline to 5 words, this reads strangely...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2009, 02:46:39 PM
It is interesting that language development is mostly driven by the illiterate. How often do we see new words invented by those unaware that a perfectly good word exists already!

I would change that to "deterioration" of course!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 10, 2009, 05:31:19 PM
To paraphrase Jeeves: There is no place where verbs do not matter.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 10, 2009, 05:49:02 PM
What Einstein said,
it does disturb,
how matter
can become a verb.'

Hah!

It's ancient usage, though, you know.

Somewhere I read a story that Sir Thomas More talked someone out of committing suicide by discussing the difference in grammar between nothing matters and nothing chatters.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 12, 2009, 05:24:36 AM
My son the mathematician asked me yesterday if "exponent" could be a verb!   ??? 

With the accent on the "-nent" !   :o

The answer is no, but he explained that while on a flight from the West Coast, the stewardess announced: "We can exponent our departure if you stay seated..."

She repeated the mistake later: "You can exponent your deplaning by not standing in the aisle until..."

She of course meant the airline-jargon word "expedite."   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 12, 2009, 05:56:22 AM
Malapropisms certainly are exponing these days!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 12, 2009, 06:01:00 AM
Here at work, some people say, "You minus this and plus that."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 12, 2009, 08:09:24 AM
Here at work, some people say, "You minus this and plus that."

Oy!  We hear that from younger kids in the Fifth Grade and below: do you have 10-year olds working there?  Child labor used to be banned!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 12, 2009, 08:17:22 AM
Oy!  We hear that from younger kids in the Fifth Grade and below: do you have 10-year olds working there?  Child labor used to be banned!

Ha. No these are adults.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 12, 2009, 08:25:55 AM
That's all happening because our children isn't learning anymore and are being taken hostile by illiterates posing as teachers, professors or presidents.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 12, 2009, 08:34:19 AM
I wonder what it's doing to me, being around all this "dumb".  :'(
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 12, 2009, 08:47:50 AM
I wonder what it's doing to me, being around all this "dumb".  :'(

It takes strength to swim against the current: one would hope that the civilized would raise the uncivilized (not to imply that people who use bad grammar are grutning, rug-wearing, Goths, but...) to a higher level.  That has always been the hope.  And it has worked in some cases throughout History.

Unfortunately, History also shows the opposite: witness the decline of civilization after 400 A.D. in Western Europe with the barbarian invasions.

Or the chaos occurring in certain areas today, where civilization is on the run, and the barbarians are in charge.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 13, 2009, 04:41:22 AM
At a craft store where my wife has deposited our life's savings...
Love it!

...the chaos occurring in certain areas today, where civilization is on the run, and the barbarians are in charge.
Business as usual?  Not sure that civilization is much of a blessing.  Arts aside I favor agrarian societies.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 13, 2009, 05:26:46 AM
Love it!
Business as usual?  Not sure that civilization is much of a blessing.  Arts aside I favor agrarian societies.

You are a true Jeffersonian!

Today our English teacher came to me in a quandary, complete with mag wheels and a 7-speed transmission!   :o

Here is the sentence she was asking about:

"The student wrote an essay about England during Victorian times."

The question: What does the prepositional phrase "during Victorian times" modify?

She said: "essay."  Some of our best students were insisting: "England."

Cato was called upon to settle the matter!   $:)

Point: Students!  The essay is not written during Victorian times.  The best I could do for the teacher was to say that in one sense, both prepositional phrases in a diagram would appear under "essay," so that in a very indirect fashion it modified "essay."  Otherwise, no.

But it was nice to see everyone worrying about such details of grammar!   0:)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 13, 2009, 05:41:05 AM
It can be such a wholesome worry  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 13, 2009, 05:45:39 AM
I like a good essay.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 13, 2009, 06:16:57 AM
You are a true Jeffersonian!
Yes, in many respects.  I live in farm country by choice.  Common sense is relatively plentiful here, but catastrophically scarce in the predominantly artificial environments where most are born and bred these days. 

 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on March 13, 2009, 07:35:14 AM
She said: "essay."  Some of our best students were insisting: "England."

Diagram this sentence: "She's an English teacher?"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 13, 2009, 08:25:07 AM
Diagram this sentence: "She's an English teacher?"

Yes, I know, but at least she asked!   8).

I have known worse ones!  One was a very nice lady at a high school, who gave me the blankest of expressions, when I asked her whether she taught the subjunctive in first or second semester to sophomores, since I would be dealing with the subjunctive in German II.

"Do you mean 'subjects'?"
"No, the subjunctive, the mood for contrary-to-fact conditions."

(Crickets, crickets, crickets)

"We do not use that term in English."
"Well, subjunctive is an English word," I said tactfully.  "Maybe your text calls it the 'conditional' or something similar."

(Crickets, crickets, crickets)

"Some other terms are 'optative' and 'conjunctive.'  For example, 'I wish he would go away'  or 'If he went away, I would be happy.'  The verbs 'went' and 'would' are subjunctive."
"Hmm.  In English we say 'went' is past tense.  And 'would' is future tense."

This was pronounced with an air of authority.  I explained that I was a born American, and not a Kraut who was misunderstanding English.  Then I added:

"No, actually 'went' is a present subjunctive, and so is 'would be'.  Or at least some books might call 'would be' a future subjunctive, but it is not the same as the indicative 'will.' "

(Crickets, crickets, crickets)

"No, that is not in our curriculum," she said finally, ending the conversation, and for years afterward she avoided any contact with me.
 $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 13, 2009, 08:54:52 AM
Cato--I admire your service as a teacher in public K-12 education.  I believe our nation is in desperate need of competent teachers qualified both by mastery of subject matter and by pedagogical aptitude.  My experience, however, indicates that conditions in most districts discourage the best candidates from pursuing teaching careers and encourage those who at best aspire to mediocrity.  The story you just related seems not at all surprising but rather sadly normal in the public schools.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 13, 2009, 09:26:40 AM
Cato--I admire your service as a teacher in public K-12 education.  I believe our nation is in desperate need of competent teachers qualified both by mastery of subject matter and by pedagogical aptitude.  My experience, however, indicates that conditions in most districts discourage the best candidates from pursuing teaching careers and encourage those who at best aspire to mediocrity.  The story you just related seems not at all surprising but rather sadly normal in the public schools.

Well, the above incident happened in a Catholic high school, a supposedly "high-powered" one!   8)

I have taught in public schools for several years, and your comments are on target for the places I experienced, even going back to the 70's!  Corruption was also a problem in one public school and in one Catholic 7-12 school: grades were fixed in the main offices in both, fraudulent claims were made to the College Board in the latter, pupil-teacher ratios were rigged by adding in non-teaching personnel in both, etc.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 13, 2009, 09:47:08 AM
Okay Master Cato,

When does the comma go inside the quotation mark and when does it not?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 13, 2009, 11:28:24 AM
(* shudders *)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 13, 2009, 11:40:31 AM
(* shudders *)

Why dost thou shudder?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 13, 2009, 11:51:40 AM
. . . The story you just related seems not at all surprising but rather sadly normal in the public schools.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 13, 2009, 12:02:12 PM
http://grammartips.homestead.com/inside.html
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 13, 2009, 01:20:33 PM
General rules are a matter of local custom, like Big Endian/Little Endian. American rules include some "exceptions". '



I keep everything inside, mainly because I write fiction and it's a habit. :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 13, 2009, 06:50:27 PM
I keep everything inside, mainly because I write fiction and it's a habit. :)

Welllll....the rule says to put everything inside, but there are times when I have broken it, depending on the look or what I might be using the quotes for.

Example: How would you define the word "peripatetic"?

I do not like the quotes including the question mark, since it seems to interfere with the concentration on the word itself.

But I suppose a purist would insist on: How would you define the word "peripatetic?"

It just does not "look" right to me!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 14, 2009, 04:01:43 AM
But I suppose a purist would insist on: How would you define the word "peripatetic?"

But this is plain wrong. There is no such word as peripatetic?. The question mark belongs to the sentence, not to the word itself.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 14, 2009, 04:39:58 AM
But this is plain wrong. There is no such word as peripatetic?. The question mark belongs to the sentence, not to the word itself.  ;D

Amen!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 14, 2009, 05:27:40 AM
If you're quoting a single letter or word in a sentence, I can see keeping the comma or period out of there.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 14, 2009, 05:30:43 AM
To say "the rule" is not accurate in a couple of ways. First, there are many different guides, and they vary in different ways, big and small. For example, among the many general differences between American and British guides is the tendency of British publications to favor putting end punctuation after the quotation marks, although you see this less in British newspapers.

There are many other rules about quotation marks and punctuation. The most exciting are those that focus narrowly on properly uniting quotation marks with colons and semicolons in different situations. They are as thrilling as a Raymond Chandler novel. Brace yourself: Many don't turn out the way you expect them to, but we have to learn to accept that this is how it is with maverick semicolons.

Not one who follows the Chicago Manual. Purists are pretty useless anyway, goobermenschen.

You are guided by good instincts.

'


Thanks for the comments!  I do not have a copy of the Chicago Manual, so maybe I should invest: it sounds sensible.

On punctuation: I tend to use it idiosyncratically (and, I hope, not idiotically!) as "musical instructions" of how fast to "play" the sentence.  

On semicolons: is there a case for eliminating the thing?  I have used it so rarely that I wonder how many consider it necessary.


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 14, 2009, 05:36:18 AM
Thanks for the comments!  I do not have a copy of the Chicago Manual, so maybe I should invest: it sounds sensible.

On punctuation: I tend to use it idiosyncratically (and, I hope, not idiotically!) as "musical instructions" of how fast to "play" the sentence.  

On semicolons: is there a case for eliminating the thing?  I have used it so rarely that I wonder how many consider it necessary.




I use semicolons to divide two closely related sentences; I do it all the time.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 14, 2009, 06:24:34 AM
Thanks again for the comments!

On scholarly articles and punctuation: have you noticed how the titles of such things almost invariably have colons?  The field does not matter!  From Aesthetics to Zoology, practically every title will have a colon!

Of course, maybe the authors think a colon will help the reader to digest everything better!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on March 14, 2009, 08:04:49 AM
Welllll....the rule says to put everything inside, but there are times when I have broken it, depending on the look or what I might be using the quotes for.

Example: How would you define the word "peripatetic"?

I do not like the quotes including the question mark, since it seems to interfere with the concentration on the word itself.

But I suppose a purist would insist on: How would you define the word "peripatetic?"

It just does not "look" right to me!   $:)
I was taught that it goes outside the quotation mark in this example.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 14, 2009, 08:07:13 AM
The copy editor can put it wherever they want. nyuk nyuk nyuk  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 14, 2009, 08:15:18 AM
A niggling n.b.

Many style guides (most?) would have you capitalize what follows a colon if it is an independent clause.'

That is a rule I do not follow!    8)   

And copy editors!   :o

I chose the quotation mark example because my brother was taught at the University of Oklahoma that ALL quotation marks always go outside other punctuation marks!  He was apparently mentally seared, branded, imprinted, and otherwise brainwashed by this idea, since he complains about it in my writings!

But...consider the source of his brain damage!   0:)

Changing topics...

Friday's Wall Street Journal has a letter-to-the-editor about a manager at the WSJ, who banned the word "upcoming" from appearing in the paper.  He considered it redundant.  When it appeared after his warning came out, he sent another memo which said: "If I see 'upcoming' in the paper one more time, I will be downcoming and someone will be outgoing."   :o

(p. A10 from Ted Stanton of Houston)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 14, 2009, 08:17:34 AM
A niggling n.b.

Many style guides (most?) would have you capitalize what follows a colon if it is an independent clause.'

Makes sense to me.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 14, 2009, 08:35:47 AM
An addition to the Wall Street Journal issue mentioned above (Friday's issue, March 13th):

The WSJ manager was named Barney Kilgore!  Great Name!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on March 14, 2009, 01:43:21 PM
I use semicolons to divide two closely related sentences; I do it all the time.
This is what semicolons are for - likewise colons. As neither is a stop, no capital is required.
Rules in England seem to differ from those in the US. The general rule for quotations here is that punctuation only goes inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quotation. In my view this the most logical approach.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 14, 2009, 01:46:48 PM
This is what semicolons are for - likewise colons. As neither is a stop, no capital is required.
Rules in England seem to differ from those in the US. The general rule for quotations here is that punctuation only goes inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quotation. In my view this the most logical approach.

"But you still put a comma here," he said.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on March 14, 2009, 02:10:13 PM
I would be curious to know the source.'
School, a million years ago. I've never heard of it being any other way until this thread.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on March 15, 2009, 01:19:13 AM
"But you still put a comma here," he said.
Precisely - the comma terminates the spoken sentence and is part of the quotation. On the other hand: 'Put your rubbish in this bin', the sign read, unless there actually is a comma on the sign!
Actually, in the latter case, I would always write : the sign read 'Put the full stop outside, please'.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 16, 2009, 10:24:26 AM
Precisely - the comma terminates the spoken sentence and is part of the quotation. On the other hand: 'Put your rubbish in this bin', the sign read, unless there actually is a comma on the sign!
Actually, in the latter case, I would always write : the sign read 'Put the full stop outside, please'.

I can accept that!

Orwellian language alert: the Catholic diocese of Cleveland announced the closing of over 10% of its parishes, and called the event "an occasion for joy" because it would lead to a better diocese.   :o

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: nut-job on March 16, 2009, 10:25:39 AM
I can accept that!

Orwellian language alert: the Catholic diocese of Cleveland announced the closing of over 10% of its parishes, and called the event "an occasion for joy" because it would lead to a better diocese.   :o

The real reason for joy, 10% fewer child molesters.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 16, 2009, 10:29:59 AM
Not a grammar grumble, per se, but . . .

One makes allowances for typos, no problem.  But when it's in the subject header, so that as the thread generates replies . . . and you see forty iterations of accesible and muscial . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 16, 2009, 10:49:26 AM
The real reason for joy, 10% fewer child molesters.


 $:)  "Personal foul!  Unsportsmanlike conduct!"   $:)

Karl: I keep hoping one of the moderators will fix those problems!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Brewski on March 16, 2009, 11:07:44 AM
Karl: I keep hoping one of the moderators will fix those problems!

*[waves magic wand]*

Voila!

 0:)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 16, 2009, 11:10:28 AM
O thrice-worthy waver of the wand!  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: LESS is not FEWER!!!
Post by: Cato on March 16, 2009, 04:54:13 PM
Okay, I just saw an ad about some so-called "energy drink" (Orwellian Language Alert: Energy Drink = Sugar Water) with "Less Calories."

AARRGGGHHH!

If you cannot count it singly, you want "less."  e.g. This puddle has less mud than that one.

vs.

This drink has fewer calories than that one.  The drink therefore must have less energy than that one.

This distinction is mangled daily by all sorts of people, with politicians being the worst offenders: "Less taxes for the bottom 95%!"

(Believe that, and then see me for a great deal on land in Nova Scotia!)   8)

(Grumble (Morons!) grumble grumble!)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 16, 2009, 04:56:02 PM
Yeah, that's a tricky one sometimes.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 16, 2009, 06:22:22 PM
The Daily Mangle
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: LESS is not FEWER!!!
Post by: knight66 on March 16, 2009, 11:18:08 PM
Okay, I just saw an ad about some so-called "energy drink" (Orwellian Language Alert: Energy Drink = Sugar Water) with "Less Calories."

AARRGGGHHH!

If you cannot count it singly, you want "less."  e.g. This puddle has less mud than that one.

vs.

This drink has fewer calories than that one.  The drink therefore must have less energy than that one.

This distinction is mangled daily by all sorts of people, with politicians being the worst offenders: "Less taxes for the bottom 95%!"
(Believe that, and then see me for a great deal on land in Nova Scotia!)   8)

(Grumble (Morons!) grumble grumble!)

Could you clarify here? I assume you mean the politician should say, 'Less tax...' rather than, 'Fewer taxes....' The latter has an altogether different meaning.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: LESS is not FEWER!!!
Post by: Cato on March 17, 2009, 04:05:20 AM
Could you clarify here? I assume you mean the politician should say, 'Less tax...' rather than, 'Fewer taxes....' The latter has an altogether different meaning.

Mike

It is the politician (a local one) who needs to clarify, because you are quite right!  Either he is guilty of incompetence, or deliberate obfuscation.

 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 17, 2009, 04:51:56 AM
Newspeak alert! (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1162384/EU-bans-use-Miss-Mrs-sportsmen-statesmen-claims-sexist.html)  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 17, 2009, 05:11:21 AM
dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1162384/EU-bans-use-Miss-Mrs-sportsmen-statesmen-claims-sexist

Our era is beyond satire!  We live in a satire!

Allow me to address a question on the other topic about English and double negatives.

Some are illiterate: "That won't do no good."   :o

But this is quite fine: "He is not inexperienced."  This allows one to say that the experience-level of the person is a slight step away from being "experienced."

"He is not unintelligent."   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 17, 2009, 05:25:39 AM
Our era is beyond satire!  We live in a satire!

That is nothing, actually! The EU has regulations for the curvature of bananas and the length of flowers' stalks...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 17, 2009, 05:26:37 AM
Newspeak alert! (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1162384/EU-bans-use-Miss-Mrs-sportsmen-statesmen-claims-sexist.html)  :o
Neither the titles nor their use is sexist.  Sexism is an attitude, these days apparent in those who deny real differences between genders just as much as in those who imagine false differences, and the essence of which is prejudging individuals as embodiments of stereotypical attributes of various classes (in this case, gender) to which they may belong, i.e. female, blonde, tattooed, gum-chewing, high-heeled, bejeweled, Hispanic, attorney.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: 20-somethings! Oy!
Post by: Cato on March 18, 2009, 06:37:28 AM
Neither the titles nor their use is sexist.  Sexism is an attitude, these days apparent in those who deny real differences between genders just as much as in those who imagine false differences, and the essence of which is prejudging individuals as embodiments of stereotypical attributes of various classes (in this case, gender) to which they may belong, i.e. female, blonde, tattooed, gum-chewing, high-heeled, bejeweled, Hispanic, attorney.

Amen!   0:)

And speaking of saints...

Every day our 20-something principal   ???   reads a mini-biography of a saint over the P.A.  (I politely term many of these hagiographical exercises "pious fictions."   0:)  )

The man means well, but...

Today he reads the students a life of "Saint Sy Rule."

Sy might rule until his wife Esther comes back home.  Otherwise...

There is no such saint in Heaven or elsewhere, but listed among The Elect might be a certain Saint Cyril of Alexandria.

Oy!  More evidence why nobody under 35 should be allowed to become a principal.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 18, 2009, 06:53:01 AM
A twenty-something principal?  Good God!  He must have started teaching at puberty to have gained the classroom experience qualifying him for the position.  Or maybe he's effing brilliant (although Saint Sy Rule suggests otherwise)...?

Hmmm...young, inexperienced, not brilliant (but not un-intelligent, either), and has good intentions...what next?  President?  (Or would the almost-real-world administrative experience in his present job make him overqualified for the position?)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 18, 2009, 08:35:32 AM
A twenty-something principal?  Good God!  He must have started teaching at puberty to have gained the classroom experience qualifying him for the position.  Or maybe he's effing brilliant (although Saint Sy Rule suggests otherwise)...?

Hmmm...young, inexperienced, not brilliant (but not un-intelligent, either), and has good intentions...what next?  President?  (Or would the almost-real-world administrative experience in his present job make him overqualified for the position?)

The danger of a democracy is that it receives the government it deserves. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 18, 2009, 08:41:16 AM
The danger of a democracy is that it receives the government it deserves. 
A sense of humor is essential if we are not to go mad.  And a sense that life is about personal spiritual growth--rather than progressive secular perfection--is essential if we are not to be mad (as in red-faced perpetually pissed-off apoplectically angry!--which, of course, is a form of madness in both senses of the word).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 18, 2009, 10:01:01 AM
That is nothing, actually! The EU has regulations for the curvature of bananas and the length of flowers' stalks...

Most of these infamous bonkers Euro-regulations are made up by the Eurosceptic press to scare/wind up a gullible public that likes nothing more than a good harrumph. The banana one is such a myth.  ::)

http://www.youtube.com/v/1_-jx5xTutU
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 18, 2009, 10:04:15 AM
The danger end of a democracy is that when it receives the government it deserves. 

Fixed.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 18, 2009, 10:09:30 AM
Most of these infamous bonkers Euro-regulations are made up by the Eurosceptic press to scare/wind up a gullible public that likes nothing more than a good harrumph. The banana one is such a myth.  ::)

Commission Regulation (EC) 2257/94: bananas must be "free from malformation or abnormal curvature," though Class 1 bananas can have "slight defects of shape" and Class 2 bananas can have full "defects of shape."

(emphasis mine)




Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 18, 2009, 10:19:11 AM
1) What's wrong with that? All sounds pretty sensible.

and

2) as the clip points out, the current EU definition is identical to the previous ones in individual member states (including Britain) and to that used by the UN and the OECD. The fuss is made because a) it is the EU, which we are all supposed to hate and b) it is bananas. Bananas are inherently funny.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 18, 2009, 10:27:11 AM
What's wrong with that?

Define "abnormal curvature" and "defect-free shape" of bananas.

It boggles the mind, besides being morally outrageous, that those bureaucrats in Bruxelles spend tax-payers' money to produce such monstrosities as trying to force nature in their narrow-minded standards and regulations.

I don't hate the EU idea as it was conceived by its Founding Fathers, i. e. Jean Monet, Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman and the likes. But what we have now is a supranational bureaucracy which is not accountable to anyone except themselves --- the very contrary of the original intention.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 18, 2009, 10:31:32 AM
See point 2 above. What boggles my mind is the keenness to see flaws where one wants to see them but to ignore precisely the same flaws where one doesn't. Like the UK press with this banana issue - kicking up a fuss because it comes 'from Brussels Eurocrats' where they never did when the same regulations came from London.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Kullervo on March 18, 2009, 10:36:36 AM
I have a reserve of my ire set aside for people who use "indicate" for "said" (as in "This person indicated to me that I was an idiot"), or "utilize" where "use" would be more apt.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 18, 2009, 10:38:25 AM
See point 2 above. What boggles my mind is the keenness to see flaws where one wants to see them but to ignore precisely the same flaws where one doesn't. Like the UK press with this banana issue - kicking up a fuss because it comes 'from Brussels Eurocrats' where they never did when the same regulations came from London.

I can assure you that in my own country there was absolutely no regulation regarding the curvature of bananas --- or of any other fruit or vegetable --- prior to EU issuing one, our national cohort of narrow-minded bureaucrats notwithstanding.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 18, 2009, 10:44:22 AM
I can assure you that in my own country there was absolutely no regulation regarding the curvature of bananas --- or of any other fruit or vegetable --- prior to EU issuing one, our cohort of narrow-minded bureaucrats notwithstanding.

Well, that's fine - we had them here, in the country which leads the world in Euro myth-making, that's my point. Does this banana-curvature-regulation issue seriously affect the quality of the bananas you're getting now that you're afflicted with it? Do you miss the old triple corkscrew ones?  ;D  ;)

(I'm joking, obviously - I just think that far too much fuss is made out of these issues, especially when, as shown, most of the more outrageous front-page splash regulations don't exist in the form pretended or already existed prior to the EU)

 :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 18, 2009, 10:44:59 AM
See point 2 above. What boggles my mind is the keenness to see flaws where one wants to see them but to ignore precisely the same flaws where one doesn't. Like the UK press with this banana issue - kicking up a fuss because it comes 'from Brussels Eurocrats' where they never did when the same regulations came from London.

There should be a fuss over both!

These things exist because, with bureaucrats, the old adage "idleness is the devil's workshop" is magnified 10X.  They come up with such things to justify their existence, when in fact they should be fired, publicly buggy-whipped, and sent to pick up trash along the highways.   8)

Corey: you are right!  "Utilize" and "indicate" are preciosities heard more and more from the morons, who are trying to puff up their wrens' feathers into peacock-plumage.   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on March 18, 2009, 10:48:37 AM
There should be a fuss over both!

Both, or neither. But not only over one - that's my point.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 18, 2009, 10:52:12 AM
There should be a fuss over both!

Or (possibly) a grumble.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 18, 2009, 10:53:54 AM
I just think that far too much fuss is made out of these issues

No fuss would be made if these regulations did not exist in the first place, right? If the idea is "let EU (or UK or whatever) bureaucrats make what regulations they want, that's their job and nobody's going to comply with them anyway" then the function of government, the concept of law and the civil duty are, in long run, subverted and distorted. There are numerous examples in history of political regimes that started playing with small and often risible issues and gradually grew to full-fledge tyranny, precisely because of the attitude described above.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 18, 2009, 11:20:19 AM
It's a matter, perhaps, of fussing to the right degree, and targeting the fuss aright.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Hypovehiculate
Post by: Cato on March 19, 2009, 06:07:25 PM
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal, while offering a report on how Sen. Dodd and the White House are trying to get their stories straight on why they both approved bonuses for AIG executives weeks if not months ago, and now pretend they had no idea this was happening, uses the term "hypovehiculate" to describe how the White House now finds Dodd expendable.

i.e. hypovehiculate = to throw someone under the bus/tank/truck   :o

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123747200979984843.html  "The Devil Made Me Do It"  >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 19, 2009, 06:55:53 PM
Please don't mention Dodd.  He, personally, bears at least as much responsibility for the financial mess we're in as any other public official, and yet hardly a day goes by when this hypocritical scumbag isn't on TV pointing the finger anywhere but where the blame rightfully belongs.  Just thinking about him puts me at risk for a stroke.

There are no punishments in Bosch's Hell heinous enough for retributive justice against such foul betrayers of the public trust...but literally throwing him under a bus--say on the Capitol Mall--and then dragging his sorry ass all the way back to his irate constituents in Connecticut might make a good start.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 20, 2009, 03:26:51 AM
Please don't mention Dodd.  He, personally, bears at least as much responsibility for the financial mess we're in as any other public official, and yet hardly a day goes by when this hypocritical scumbag isn't on TV pointing the finger anywhere but where the blame rightfully belongs.  Just thinking about him puts me at risk for a stroke.

There are no punishments in Bosch's Hell heinous enough for retributive justice against such foul betrayers of the public trust...but literally throwing him under a bus--say on the Capitol Mall--and then dragging his sorry ass all the way back to his irate constituents in Connecticut might make a good start.

"Here we go a-hypovehiculating..."

(Needs some work!)   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: snyprrr on March 22, 2009, 12:12:07 AM
Did youse guys mention "dude" yet?

My 1905 dictionary define dude as, basically Oscar Wilde...and when i saw that, I was like..."don't call me dude, fag." :o

When did "dude" change from Oscar Wilde to surfer guy?

And how can you convince ANYONE that it matters?  Their (just testing you)they're just going to call you dude anyway.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: snyprrr on March 22, 2009, 12:16:50 AM
IT'S ALL GOOD

every time I hear this i want to gut punch the person and say, "you're right, I feel so much better now. thank you for enlightening me that it was a GOOD thing i did."

I think this phrase originated at a backyard picnic concerning the FOOD. NOT an excuse for you not to take a stand on anything.

TOODLES!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 22, 2009, 04:38:40 AM
Many good grumbles there, Snyprr!   8)

"Dudde" is Medieval English for a cloak, and became a slang word for clothes, i.e. "duds."  This is possibly the origin for "dude" in the 19th century, as Easterners wearing "fancy duds" were easily spotted in the West, and were mocked as "duded" (dressed) as inexperienced newcomers.

One source indicates the word is picked up by African-Americans in the early 1900's and stripped of negative connotations, becoming a synonym for "man" or "guy" then.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Bill and Ted movies of the 1980's make the term a national tic!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 22, 2009, 05:06:02 AM
I don't know about the origins and history of the word in American slang, but when I was a child in Texas and Arizona it was a disparaging term heard mostly in Hollywood Westerns that was a virtual synonym for "urban male from the Eastern U.S."  Derivation from "duds" seems a likely story.  By the late '60s "dude" was in common use among the California youth culture (including surfers) as the masculine counterpart of "chick."

Thus it has been part of my vocabulary since the '50s and I use it unabashedly today, though rarely among those not of my generation (or near to it), and almost always with a wry undertone signaling (a) that we're not as young as we once were, (b) that sometimes we enjoy acting as if we were, or (c) that we should have learned something during the past four decades!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: snyprrr on March 22, 2009, 08:22:57 AM
and "chick" comes from "shiksa"?

for me, dude is like n***** in derrogotationality. It's like calling your spouse b**** (in that terms of endearment way- roll of eyes). How sweet.

and the "yo boy" talk of ANY kind.  There's a movie called White Boyz? about some, sorry, no other term for it, wh****** living in Iowa.  It is so dead on and infuriating- Iowa boys talking like dey be down wit da homiez in da hood.  One day they go to the house of their black friend, and his mother asks the main charac. if he comes from New orleans because of his accent, and he says, no, jus livin in the hood...arrfff ::)

Another thing that bugs me is the tendency of said group to also appropriate their granny's "church sayings" and use them as if that is all it takes to be "spiritual"...what I call the "I KNOW that's right" syndrome.

then: "I'm jus gettin my ______ on"

then: when people say "oh reeeaaally?" in that faux snooty "Hamptons" accent. corollary to "dahhh-ling"

and: "go" for speak, as mentioned...extremely annoying

personally, I overuse "huh" as a sign of "who bout that?"

and yes: putting "izzle" at the end of a word. :-X

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: nut-job on March 22, 2009, 09:35:49 AM
Define "abnormal curvature" and "defect-free shape" of bananas.

It boggles the mind, besides being morally outrageous, that those bureaucrats in Bruxelles spend tax-payers' money to produce such monstrosities as trying to force nature in their narrow-minded standards and regulations.

I don't hate the EU idea as it was conceived by its Founding Fathers, i. e. Jean Monet, Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman and the likes. But what we have now is a supranational bureaucracy which is not accountable to anyone except themselves --- the very contrary of the original intention.

It takes a very small mind to be "boggled" by something so innocuous. 

I looked up the regulation you cite is mainly concerned with requiring bananas to be free of fungal contamination, insect contamination, not rotted, not contaminated by foreign matter, not smashed, stem still intact, etc.  This is the sort of regulation which is necessary to facilitate trade and keep the food supply safe.  The part about abnormal curvature sound silly, until a food market in Germany orders bananas from one of the pseudo-medieval backwaters that are being admitted to the EU these days and received an unsellable shipment of deformed produce.  It is safe to assume that the US department of agriculture has similarly silly sounding regulations for produce.  It is the reason that buying food is safe and reliable in developed counties and gambling with your life elsewhere. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 22, 2009, 10:08:37 AM
The part about abnormal curvature sound silly, until a food market in Germany orders bananas from one of the pseudo-medieval backwaters that are being admitted to the EU these days and received an unsellable shipment of deformed produce. 

Hogwash.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: nut-job on March 22, 2009, 11:09:43 AM
Hogwash.

What you use to clean bananas in your neck of the woods?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 22, 2009, 12:41:03 PM
and "chick" comes from "shiksa"?

for me, dude is like n***** in derrogotationality. It's like calling your spouse b**** (in that terms of endearment way- roll of eyes). How sweet.

and the "yo boy" talk of ANY kind.  There's a movie called White Boyz? about some, sorry, no other term for it, wh****** living in Iowa.  It is so dead on and infuriating- Iowa boys talking like dey be down wit da homiez in da hood.  One day they go to the house of their black friend, and his mother asks the main charac. if he comes from New orleans because of his accent, and he says, no, jus livin in the hood...arrfff ::)

Another thing that bugs me is the tendency of said group to also appropriate their granny's "church sayings" and use them as if that is all it takes to be "spiritual"...what I call the "I KNOW that's right" syndrome.

then: "I'm jus gettin my ______ on"

then: when people say "oh reeeaaally?" in that faux snooty "Hamptons" accent. corollary to "dahhh-ling"

and: "go" for speak, as mentioned...extremely annoying

personally, I overuse "huh" as a sign of "who bout that?"

and yes: putting "izzle" at the end of a word. :-X
What are you?  12 years old?  This entire post is a suitable topic for this thread.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 22, 2009, 12:43:58 PM
It takes a very small mind to be "boggled" by something so innocuous. 

I looked up the regulation you cite is mainly concerned with requiring bananas to be free of fungal contamination, insect contamination, not rotted, not contaminated by foreign matter, not smashed, stem still intact, etc.  This is the sort of regulation which is necessary to facilitate trade and keep the food supply safe.  The part about abnormal curvature sound silly, until a food market in Germany orders bananas from one of the pseudo-medieval backwaters that are being admitted to the EU these days and received an unsellable shipment of deformed produce.  It is safe to assume that the US department of agriculture has similarly silly sounding regulations for produce.  It is the reason that buying food is safe and reliable in developed counties and gambling with your life elsewhere. 
Sounds generally correct, to me, except for the part about countries in banana-producing climes being admitted to the EU.  Has that actually happened?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: nut-job on March 22, 2009, 01:23:06 PM
Sounds generally correct, to me, except for the part about countries in banana-producing climes being admitted to the EU.  Has that actually happened?

Bananas are grown in territories of European states, such as the Azores, a territory of Portugal, for instance.

Here's the text of the regulation:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31994R2257:EN:HTML

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 22, 2009, 01:44:22 PM
Bananas are grown in territories of European states, such as the Azores, a territory of Portugal, for instance.
Duh! 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on March 23, 2009, 01:07:11 AM
Here's the text of the regulation:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31994R2257:EN:HTML

The following gem is particularly brilliant:

III. SIZING

Sizing is determined by:

- the length of the edible pulp of the fruit, expressed in centimetres and measured along the convex face from the blossom end to the base of the peduncle,

- the grade, i.e. the measurement, in millimetres, of the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis.

The reference fruit for measurement of the length and grade is:

- the median finger on the outer row of the hand,

- the finger next to the cut sectioning the hand, on the outer row of the cluster.

The minimum length permitted is 14 cm and the minimum grade permitted is 27 mm.



Translation: if nature doesn't conform to EU regulations, give it a finger!  ;D



Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 23, 2009, 04:00:30 AM
It takes a very small mind to be "boggled" by something so innocuous. 

I don't know.  I don't think lack of mental capacity is necessarily allied to bogglement.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: snyprrr on March 23, 2009, 07:25:31 PM
  12 years old? 

a-ha! You too, sir, are guilty of using phrases as sentences! 0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: snyprrr on March 23, 2009, 08:22:10 PM
how do I separate my reply from the "blue" quote?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 23, 2009, 08:27:34 PM
Sizing is determined by:

- the length of the edible pulp of the fruit, expressed in centimetres and measured along the convex face from the blossom end to the base of the peduncle,

- the grade, i.e. the measurement, in millimetres, of the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis.

The reference fruit for measurement of the length and grade is:

- the median finger on the outer row of the hand,

- the finger next to the cut sectioning the hand, on the outer row of the cluster.

The minimum length permitted is 14 cm and the minimum grade permitted is 27 mm. [/b]

So are these EU sizing regulations suggesting that it's true what "they" say about the size of a man's hands?  And BTW--14 cm maximum?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 24, 2009, 04:27:35 AM
how do I separate my reply from the "blue" quote?

Make sure your reply is after the "end-quote" indicator.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 24, 2009, 04:30:15 AM
Make sure your reply is after the "end-quote" indicator.

I.e., after this bit of code:

Code: [Select]
[/quote]
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on March 24, 2009, 08:56:41 AM
Did I catch a new piece of jargon? Something about short-stemming? Is this because short-stemmed roses are half the price of long-stemmed ones?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 24, 2009, 11:02:24 AM
Did I catch a new piece of jargon? Something about short-stemming? Is this because short-stemmed roses are half the price of long-stemmed ones?

"Short-stemming" from what I can tell is a term from quarry blasting for a fuse that is not long enough in a sequence of blasts.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Kullervo on March 24, 2009, 11:05:30 AM
I've posted it once before, but it seems apt for this thread:

Common Errors in English (http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html#errors)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: nut-job on March 24, 2009, 11:05:50 AM
I'm just outraged to learn that in Europe, short an abnormally curved bananas are apparently lined up and shot by a firing squad, or worse.  It's an abomination!   :'(
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 24, 2009, 11:13:46 AM
I've posted it once before, but it seems apt for this thread:

Common Errors in English (http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html#errors)
Looks comprehensive!  I checked only one entry, to see how this source dealt with a common error the nature of which still escapes some posters here, even after one or two clear and accurate explanations appeared elsewhere on this thread:

Quote
ONLY:
Writers often inadvertently create confusion by placing “only” incorrectly in a sentence. It should go immediately before the word or phrase it modifies. “I lost my only shirt” means that I had but one to begin with. “I lost only my shirt” means I didn’t lose anything else. “Only I lost my shirt” means that I was the only person in my group to lose a shirt. Strictly speaking, “I only lost my shirt” should mean I didn’t destroy it or have it stolen—I just lost it; but in common speech this is usually understood as being identical with “I lost only my shirt.” Scrutinize your uses of “only” to make sure you are not creating unwanted ambiguities.
They got that one right.  Let's hope it's not the only one.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Just Say No To Drug
Post by: Cato on March 27, 2009, 03:15:49 PM
A local TV reporter today regaled the audience, who usually just want to know if it will rain or snow or not, with a story about a robbery, during which the "victim was drug down the stairs to the basement and tied up."

"Drug" as the past tense of "drag" is no doubt a monster born by attraction from the German word tragen (carry), whose past tense is indeed formed with a "u", i.e. trug, in areas populated by the descendants of refugees from the Kaiser, Bismarck, or the constant smell of fermentation.   $:)

I also heard the word "boughten" today from a school principal, who said his school "hasn't boughten new textbooks yet."    ???

Vox clamans in deserto...   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Just Say No To Drug
Post by: Benji on March 27, 2009, 03:28:16 PM
I also heard the word "boughten" today from a school principal, who said his school "hasn't boughten new textbooks yet."    ???


Boughten zee noo textbuuks from Ikea?  ;D

(http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/muppet/images/thumb/f/f8/Swedishchef2.JPG/300px-Swedishchef2.JPG)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 27, 2009, 03:30:38 PM
"Snuck" instead of "sneaked" has become so common that it's probably entered the dictionaries by now, or will soon.  There are probably other examples.  They grate on our ears, but we must remember that our language is living and in flux.  Text messaging will probably accelerate some changes, don't you think?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on March 27, 2009, 03:50:50 PM
Text messaging will probably accelerate some changes, don't you think?
idk
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on March 27, 2009, 04:06:09 PM
idk
hcs
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 27, 2009, 04:07:53 PM
hcs
wtf
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on March 27, 2009, 04:11:35 PM
wtf

lol
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on March 27, 2009, 04:12:50 PM
lol
stfu
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 28, 2009, 04:34:25 AM
idk

Decades ago in the '70's, before tech gadgets were ubiquitous, a teacher came to me: it was early in the year and she was correcting her first History tests from a Freshman group, and several papers had "DK" as the "answer" for various questions.

What was "DK" supposed to mean? she asked in exasperation.

I deduced - and feared - it meant "Don't Know."   :o

So even then the plague was present!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 28, 2009, 04:51:25 AM
Decades ago in the '70's, before tech gadgets were ubiquitous, a teacher came to me....
Cato!  You're an antique!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on March 28, 2009, 05:29:20 AM
Decades ago in the '70's, before tech gadgets were ubiquitous, a teacher came to me: it was early in the year and she was correcting her first History tests from a Freshman group, and several papers had "DK" as the "answer" for various questions.

What was "DK" supposed to mean? she asked in exasperation.

I deduced - and feared - it meant "Don't Know."   :o

So even then the plague was present!   8)
interesting... i wonder why it went from "dk" to "idk", though... why add a letter?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on March 28, 2009, 06:10:08 AM
wtf
hoo can say
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 28, 2009, 07:21:12 AM
Cato!  You're an antique!

Aye!  And have been for some time, which means I  am becoming ever more valuable as well as voluble!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on March 31, 2009, 10:36:50 AM
I have a good one:

"You and me, both."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 01, 2009, 04:11:04 AM
I have a good one:

"You and me, both."

Well, I suppose we could be charitable and call it an "emphatic colloquialism."   $:)

We are not known, however, for being too charitable in things grammatical!

And yes, that is the imperial plural!   0:)

The word "We" was also involved in a TV news report here yesterday, which contained the most shameless Orwellian "klanguage" with no trace of irony:

(An approximate quote)

"We have to look at ways of enhancing the city's revenues, and so we are reviewing various options concerning the sources of income for the city."

i.e. we are scurrying around looking for new ways to create taxes and raise old ones.  This from a politician connected to a certain party recently infamous for raising taxes and going on a spending spree, not necessarily in that order!   0:)
Title: Re: Passive Voice vs Active Voice
Post by: Cato on April 05, 2009, 02:58:02 PM
An Associated Press Headline: "Obama Adviser Paid Millions as Hedge Fund Director"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090404/ap_on_go_pr_wh/white_house_financial_disclosures

SO ...how many millions received checks from the hedge fund directed by Lawrence Summers?

Hmmm...sounds like good practice for present-day policy, passing out checks using other people's money!   0:)

But as one reads, one sees that the man was paid millions, which also seems to be a crime these days!  $:)

Headlines should not be shortened by people who failed to pay attention in English class!


Title: Re: Passive Voice vs Active Voice
Post by: Jay F on April 05, 2009, 03:49:19 PM
An Associated Press Headline: "Obama Adviser Paid Millions as Hedge Fund Director"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090404/ap_on_go_pr_wh/white_house_financial_disclosures

SO ...how many millions received checks from the hedge fund directed by Lawrence Summers?

Hmmm...sounds like good practice for present-day policy, passing out checks using other people's money!   0:)

But as one reads, one sees that the man was paid millions, which also seems to be a crime these days!  $:)

Headlines should not be shortened by people who failed to pay attention in English class!




Should've said "made millions."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 06, 2009, 09:11:30 AM
Redundant Verbiage Alert in some things I have read today, the products of the educational bureaucrats    :P    of my diocese! 

Agree or Disagree:

"The parish faith community in co-operation with the school faith community co-operates with surrounding parish and school faith communities."

I was about to reach for my revolver by the end of that monstrosity!    $:)

A bureaucrat was paid to write that!!!   :o

A sensible statement would be: "The parish and school co-operate with other parishes and schools."

"Faith community" is another preciosity from people who think they are being broad-minded, but are also paid by the word to produce bloated surveys.

Any examples of such nonsense from other areas? 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Perplexing Preposition Problem
Post by: Cato on April 06, 2009, 02:33:54 PM
Quote:

"I think you're judging on the British people with your outdated morals."

This is another aspect of our illiterate and possibly Hunnish age   :o  Too many people are unable to handle the simplest phrases without adding mistakes in an attempt to...what?  Sound smarter than they are?  Sound cool?

Maybe if you start judging on people, they'll be putting the beat down on you!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 06, 2009, 02:41:28 PM
Could be Louisiana colloquial . . . part of the same syndrome observed when, towards the end of a presidential contest, the g's get dropped from the ends of present participles.  If you're too careful of your speech, you're being insincere!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 06, 2009, 02:49:38 PM
Could be Louisiana colloquial . . . part of the same syndrome observed when, towards the end of a presidential contest, the g's get dropped from the ends of present participlesIf you're too careful of your speech, you're being insincere!

Aye, now you're talkin' !   0:)    Millionaire politicians walkin' 'n' gabbin' 'n' actin' like they're reg'lar folk!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 08, 2009, 01:11:09 PM
Maciek (in another topic) had a comment about English using "me" rather than "I" when people refer to themselves.

"Who did that?"  "Not me!"  (= "Me did that" literally, rather than the correct "Not I" which few people would say.)

"Who's there?"  "It's me."  Again, few would say: "It is I," especially in America, mainly because it sounds...British!   :o      :D

What this might mean, self-reference in the objective/accusative case, about the collective linguistic unconscious is highly debatable!

It might also mean something about self-reverence, the disease of our day!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on April 08, 2009, 01:44:35 PM
Me agree.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 09, 2009, 03:11:51 AM
Me likey ← heard in New York  0:) ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 09, 2009, 03:45:16 AM
Me likey ← heard in New York  0:) ;)

That explains quite a bit!   8)

Local sports broadcaster yesterday was describing a baseball player "diving down" for a ground ball.

Exactly how one would "dive up" was not explained!   :o

At least boxing was not involved with the "diving down" comment!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on April 09, 2009, 05:52:21 AM
That explains quite a bit!   8)

Local sports broadcaster yesterday was describing a baseball player "diving down" for a ground ball.

Exactly how one would "dive up" was not explained!   :o

At least boxing was not involved with the "diving down" comment!   $:)

I've been hearing people talk about "doubling down" in the last year or two, though not in any sense having to do with a game of blackjack (21).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on April 09, 2009, 06:14:17 AM
I've been hearing people talk about "doubling down" in the last year or two, though not in any sense having to do with a game of blackjack (21).
An excellent metaphor for increasing the stakes in an already doubtful situation, risking throwing good money after bad.  Applied frequently these days in reference to a political agenda that has our masters in government claiming they'll solve an economic crisis stemming from excessive bad debts by legislating massive increases in taxpayer indebtedness.  True that we're a nation of risk-takers; but successful risk-takers don't bet unless the odds of success and the risk/reward ratio look favorable.

I know!  We may be broke and in debt but let's double down by maxing out our credit cards to buy lottery tickets! 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on April 09, 2009, 08:23:12 AM
An excellent metaphor for increasing the stakes in an already doubtful situation, risking throwing good money after bad.  Applied frequently these days in reference to a political agenda that has our masters in government claiming they'll solve an economic crisis stemming from excessive bad debts by legislating massive increases in taxpayer indebtedness.  True that we're a nation of risk-takers; but successful risk-takers don't bet unless the odds of success and the risk/reward ratio look favorable.

I know!  We may be broke and in debt but let's double down by maxing out our credit cards to buy lottery tickets! 
You just can't pass up an opportunity to turn things political, can you?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on April 09, 2009, 08:43:24 AM
You just can't pass up an opportunity to turn things political, can you?
Good grief!  You just can't pass up an opportunity to take exception to my posts and try to pick a fight, can you?  You are the one whose post about "doubling down" invited explanation of its recent usage in a political context.  And I don't recall you taking such exception to others' posts with a political edge to them, including several previous posts on this very thread.  What's behind this persistent needling?  What did I ever do to you?  Were you here in the past under a different name, or are you one of those knee-jerk liberal partisan bigots who populate CMG and think that everyone who doesn't agree with every aspect of your world view must be a hateful Republican ideologue deserving censure?  Inquiring minds want to know.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on April 09, 2009, 09:51:14 AM
Good grief!  You just can't pass up an opportunity to take exception to my posts and try to pick a fight, can you?  You are the one whose post about "doubling down" invited explanation of its recent usage in a political context.  And I don't recall you taking such exception to others' posts with a political edge to them, including several previous posts on this very thread.  What's behind this persistent needling?  What did I ever do to you?  Were you here in the past under a different name, or are you one of those knee-jerk liberal partisan bigots who populate CMG and think that everyone who doesn't agree with every aspect of your world view must be a hateful Republican ideologue deserving censure?  Inquiring minds want to know.  ;)

Of course, every liberal must be "knee-jerk" and a "partisan bigot."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on April 09, 2009, 09:57:19 AM
Good grief!  You just can't pass up an opportunity to take exception to my posts and try to pick a fight, can you?  You are the one whose post about "doubling down" invited explanation of its recent usage in a political context.

Actually, I didn't need an explanation of "doubling down." I know what it means and, believe it or not, didn't wonder how it might be used in a sentence, political or otherwise.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 09, 2009, 10:02:53 AM
In 10th grade we were taught that like — as in like a rat out of an aqueduct, not as in I like traffic lights, but only when they're green — is a preposition, not a conjunction, and that we should shun such constructions (as abound in the pop song literature) as like I knew you would.

Opinions?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Mark G. Simon on April 09, 2009, 10:20:25 AM
  Were you here in the past under a different name, or are you one of those knee-jerk liberal partisan bigots who populate CMG and think that everyone who doesn't agree with every aspect of your world view must be a hateful Republican ideologue deserving censure?  Inquiring minds want to know.  ;)

I don't know what CMG you're talking about, but the one I'm familiar with is populated chiefly by vassals of the loudmouths of the conservative media who haven't had a thought in years that wasn't vetted by Limbaugh first under penalty of having to make a public apology.  Who can explain such people?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on April 09, 2009, 10:23:33 AM
Of course, every liberal must be "knee-jerk" and a "partisan bigot."
Hardly.  You're doing it again.  

Actually, I didn't need an explanation of "doubling down." I know what it means and, believe it or not, didn't wonder how it might be used in a sentence, political or otherwise.
And again.

If you won't come clean about whatever has your knickers in a twist and makes you think I deserve your petty efforts to "put me in my place," then will you please get over it and stop behaving like a snotty brat spoiling for a fight?  Don't you realize that with each additional such post the picture you're presenting of yourself grows less and less flattering?  Enough, already.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on April 09, 2009, 10:54:55 AM
I don't know what CMG you're talking about, but the one I'm familiar with is populated chiefly by vassals of the loudmouths of the conservative media who haven't had a thought in years that wasn't vetted by Limbaugh first under penalty of having to make a public apology.  Who can explain such people?
Among the two or three conservatives who post there I've never seen any cite Limbaugh, and I cannot think of anyone who otherwise fits your description.  On the other hand, there are 4 or 5 frequent posters who fit the description I offered and several other avowed liberals who do not.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Mark G. Simon on April 09, 2009, 11:38:29 AM
Among the two or three conservatives who post there I've never seen any cite Limbaugh, and I cannot think of anyone who otherwise fits your description.  On the other hand, there are 4 or 5 frequent posters who fit the description I offered and several other avowed liberals who do not.

You obviously never learned to count. The place breeds conservative lunies like shit breeds flies. And of course they don't cite Limbaugh. They just take whatever he says as The Truth and proceed from there.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: bwv 1080 on April 09, 2009, 12:11:32 PM
Among the two or three conservatives who post there I've never seen any cite Limbaugh, and I cannot think of anyone who otherwise fits your description.  On the other hand, there are 4 or 5 frequent posters who fit the description I offered and several other avowed liberals who do not.

You cannot see it David because conservatism is a mental illness.  It is so overwhelmingly incontrovertible that any decent person hold mainstream liberal values that understandably enlightened people get frustrated.  Rush mentioned it in the morning talking points memo we all get (which you must have missed somehow)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Mark G. Simon on April 09, 2009, 12:19:25 PM
I knew it! I knew it!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 09, 2009, 03:24:16 PM
In 10th grade we were taught that like — as in like a rat out of an aqueduct, not as in I like traffic lights, but only when they're green — is a preposition, not a conjunction, and that we should shun such constructions (as abound in the pop song literature) as like I knew you would.

Opinions?

One source says that purist 19th-century grammarians were wrangling over the question of whether "like" can be considered a preposition.  "Like" used "conjunctively" has been around for 600 years, with purists shaking their fists at something "firmly established."

Concerning conservatism being proof of mental illness: one would need to prove therefore that e.g. Milton Friedman, James Burnham, Albert Jay Nock, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, Cardinal Mindszenty, Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Russell Kirk, and a host of others, who opposed leftism/socialism/communism and believed that the individual should be left alone as much as possible from government interference, and that therefore government should be as small as possible to protect the individual's freedom and dignity, were all dysfunctional and delusional.

Such proof will be very difficult to find!  One also wonders how mentally unstable the authors of the Federalist Papers were, who would all be quite properly appalled by the grotesque Brobdingagian monolith known as the U.S. Government, now set to swallow more productivity of the individual than ever before.

As a Catholic school teacher, I can attest that I am not a member of the overtaxed rich: I am a member of the overtaxed lower-middle class.   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: bwv 1080 on April 09, 2009, 04:49:28 PM


Concerning conservatism being proof of mental illness: one would need to prove therefore that e.g. Milton Friedman, James Burnham, Albert Jay Nock, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, Cardinal Mindszenty, Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Russell Kirk, and a host of others, who opposed leftism/socialism/communism and believed that the individual should be left alone as much as possible from government interference, and that therefore government should be as small as possible to protect the individual's freedom and dignity, were all dysfunctional and delusional.



conservative concepts of freedom, individual rights and limited government are simply ruses by the white patriarchal power structure to protect the status quo and continue its subjegation of the poor, women and people of color. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on April 10, 2009, 12:11:09 AM
conservative concepts of freedom, individual rights and limited government are simply ruses by the white patriarchal power structure to protect the status quo and continue its subjegation of the poor, women and people of color. 

I assume you're being ironic, just as in the other post. You can't be serious.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on April 10, 2009, 01:11:17 AM
Gents, This is primarily a thread about language and its uses. Obviously the cultural background and connections are integral; but let's avoid personalised argument, political or otherwise. The possibilities of bloodletting prompted by disagreements over language and grammar give more than enough scope for even the most combatate.

Remember what happened as a result of that iota!

Thank you.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 10, 2009, 03:36:34 AM
Amen!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Mark G. Simon on April 10, 2009, 04:03:16 AM
I assume you're being ironic, just as in the other post. You can't be serious.

BWV is the master of deadpan humor. His fame in this regard is worldwide. In China (or is it Japan) some people really believe that Elliott Carter has repented of his modernist ways, thanks to him.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 10, 2009, 04:34:10 AM
You mean — he hasn't?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 10, 2009, 04:37:19 AM
And then, amusingly, note lower left corner:
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 10, 2009, 04:48:55 AM
Karl: That is free enterprise at its Big-Brother spookiest!

When somebody a few weeks placed a topic about "adultery with the boss' wife" here, my computer suddenly showed a Google ad about a site for "cheaters," including one catering to adulterous Catholics!   :o   

An oxymoron to be sure!   $:)  (Emphasis on the "moron" part!)

Somehow it "knew" my computer was in a Catholic school?!  It never came back, perhaps my school's blocking software needed to "learn" what was happening.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on April 10, 2009, 04:58:06 AM
Karl: That is free enterprise at its Big-Brother spookiest!

When somebody a few weeks placed a topic about "adultery with the boss' wife" here, my computer suddenly showed a Google ad about a site for "cheaters," including one catering to adulterous Catholics!   :o   

An oxymoron to be sure!   $:)  (Emphasis on the "moron" part!)

Somehow it "knew" my computer was in a Catholic school?!  It never came back, perhaps my school's blocking software needed to "learn" what was happening.
Speaking of which, did you catch the discussion on the Lehrer News Hour last night about plans to create a national database for medical records?  It was good to note that at least some of the participants were hip to the enormous potential for abuse that would cause.  Personally I think that all forms of malware distribution, including tracking cookies, should be punishable by death or worse--forced attendance at an Andre Rieu concert, perhaps?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 10, 2009, 04:58:42 AM
--forced attendance at an Andre Rieu concert, perhaps?

Brutal!  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on April 10, 2009, 06:53:47 AM
And then, amusingly, note lower left corner:

How Annoying Is It When People Don't Know Which Letters They Should, And Shouldn't, Begin With A Capital Letter?!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on April 10, 2009, 06:57:24 AM
How Annoying Is It When People Don't Know Which Letters They Should, And Shouldn't, Begin With A Capital Letter?!
1 on a scale of 10?  On a par with not knowing when to write out numbers and when to use numerals....
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Kullervo on April 10, 2009, 07:07:36 AM
How Annoying Is It When People Don't Know Which Letters They Should, And Shouldn't, Begin With A Capital Letter?!

I've noticed that on several internet sites. It's strange because it actually requires more effort than the correct usage, whereas most grammar mistakes are due to sheer laziness. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on April 10, 2009, 07:29:45 AM
How Annoying Is It When People Don't Know Which Letters They Should, And Shouldn't, Begin With A Capital Letter?!
Don't You Mean "Words"?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on April 10, 2009, 08:14:45 AM
Grumble # 372:  people Who write "Letters" When They mean "Words?"  (Imagine the rising inflection now epidemic among the nation's youth and even catching on among those old enough to know better than to end statements with the inflection signifying a question.  Grumble #373.)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on April 10, 2009, 08:17:40 AM
Grumble 374: People who grumble.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Mark G. Simon on April 10, 2009, 08:33:52 AM
People who say "The thing about it is, is that....."

I've heard so many otherwise educated people say this, with absolute certainty of its grammatical correctness. At first I thought it was a hesitation on the speaker's part, but when I corrected this person, a librarian of all things, she thought about it and said "no, that's correct. That's how it's supposed to be".

Diagram that sentence, lady.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on April 10, 2009, 08:54:55 AM
Don't You Mean "Words"?

Yes, indeed. I was in such a rage that I completely forgot myself! I am ashamed and will pray for Cato's mercy.  ;D

Grumble # 372:  people Who write "Letters" When They mean "Words?"  (Imagine the rising inflection now epidemic among the nation's youth and even catching on among those old enough to know better than to end statements with the inflection signifying a question.  Grumble #373.)

Ah, shush!  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 10, 2009, 08:56:50 AM
People who say "The thing about it is, is that....."

I've heard so many otherwise educated people say this, with absolute certainty of its grammatical correctness. At first I thought it was a hesitation on the speaker's part, but when I corrected this person, a librarian of all things, she thought about it and said "no, that's correct. That's how it's supposed to be".

Diagram that sentence, lady.

Superfluous is!  Garn!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 10, 2009, 08:57:26 AM
Yes, indeed. I was in such a rage that I completely forgot myself!

Lesson:  Keep your cool.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Kullervo on April 10, 2009, 08:59:16 AM
Lisa: Just lay still.
Linguo: Lie still.
Lisa: I knew that. Just testing.
Linguo: Sentence fragment.
Lisa: "Sentence fragment," is also a sentence fragment!
Linguo: *glances from side to side* Must conserve battery power. *shuts down*
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on April 10, 2009, 09:00:34 AM
I can't stand it when cats ask, "I can has cheeseburger?" God, it drive me nuts.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 10, 2009, 09:01:39 AM
Make catburgers.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on April 10, 2009, 09:02:06 AM
Lesson:  Keep your cool.

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/03_02/cleeseDM2803_228x344.jpg

But it makes me...SO.......MAD!  >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on April 10, 2009, 09:02:38 AM
Make catburgers.

Careful now...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on April 10, 2009, 09:04:32 AM
I can't stand it when cats ask, "I can has cheeseburger?" God, it drive me nuts.

"I can haz cheezeburger?"

Don't clean it up on behalf of the thread! It is now an accepted meme and must be respected accordingly.  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on April 10, 2009, 09:05:08 AM
"I can haz cheezeburger?"

Don't clean it up on behalf of the thread! It is now an accepted meme and must be respected accordingly.  8)

 :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 13, 2009, 10:05:31 AM
Intrepid reporter Joe Queenan from the East Coast has filed an Orwellian Language update: apparently the new Administration's refusal to refer to the War On Terror as the "War On Terror" has had some effects"

An excerpt:

Quote
"A Taliban spokesman reached in Pakistan said that the new phrasing was being implemented as a way of eliminating the negative associations triggered by more graphic terminology. "The term 'beheading' has a quasi-medieval undertone that we're trying to get away from," he explained. "The term 'cephalic attrition' brings the Taliban into the 21st century. It's not that we disapprove of beheadings; it's just that the word no longer meshes with the zeitgeist of the era. This is the same reason we have replaced the term 'jihad' with 'booka-bonga-bippo,' which has a more zesty, urban, youthful, 'now' feel. When you're recruiting teenagers to your movement, you don't want them to feel that going on jihad won't leave any time for youthful hijinks."

And this:
Quote
Central Asia is not the only place where the coarse terminology of the past is being phased out. In Darfur, the words "ethnic cleansing" are no longer in use, either by rebels nor by the government itself. Instead, the practice of targeting a particular tribe or sect or ethnic group for extinction is being called "unconditional demographic redeployment." In much the same spirit, the archaic term "genocide" -- so broad and vague as to be meaningless -- has now been supplanted by "maximum-intensity racial profiling."

"We've got problems here, sure, just like any other society," explains a high-ranking Sudanese official. "But we're not talking about Armenia 1915. We're not talking about the Holocaust. The Eurocentric term 'genocide' gives people the wrong idea. And it really hurts tourism."

:o  or  :D

See:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123958305263912309.html



Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: bwv 1080 on April 13, 2009, 01:22:42 PM
Intrepid reporter Joe Queenan from the East Coast has filed an Orwellian Language update: apparently the new Administration's refusal to refer to the War On Terror as the "War On Terror" has had some effects"


Nothing orwellian, it just was a stupid name and a stupid idea that started with the "war on poverty" and "war on drugs".  Wars ought to be something that are actually wars - with a defined enemy and goals for victory.  Realistically, terror (or terrorism to be more precise) is not going away.  Moreover, the war on terror is a conflict with only certain terror groups, last I checked we never engaged the Tamil Tigers or the Basque Separatists
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 13, 2009, 02:40:17 PM
Nothing orwellian, it just was a stupid name and a stupid idea that started with the "war on poverty" and "war on drugs".  Wars ought to be something that are actually wars - with a defined enemy and goals for victory.  Realistically, terror (or terrorism to be more precise) is not going away.  Moreover, the war on terror is a conflict with only certain terror groups, last I checked we never engaged the Tamil Tigers or the Basque Separatists

An excerpt from a recent hearing in Congress concerning bureaucratese:

Quote
MR. MORRELL:  I've never received such a directive.  I think the White House and OMB for that matter have been very clear about this as well, that they have never issued such a directive.   
 
                I think they've explained that perhaps somebody within OMB may have been a little overexuberant and done so.  But I can just tell you, I'm the one who speaks publicly about these matters.  And I have never been told which words to use or not to use.  So I don't think there's anything to the story.   
 
                Q     You still use the phrase.   
 
                MR. MORRELL:  I think I have used it.  I think I have.  I don't avoid it.  I don't seek it out.  If it's appropriate, I'll use it.  I could be wrong, but I think the president has used it.  But, so I don't -- I was surprised to see that story, as well, because I know of no directive prohibiting the use of that term.   
 
                Q     What's your preferred nomenclature?   
 
                MR. MORRELL:  I don't really have one.  I mean, I don't think a whole lot about it.  I think that we are involved in global operations to protect the homeland and the American people.  And a large part of that is going after terrorists, seeking them out, wherever they are, wherever they're plotting, wherever they are training to launch attacks against us.   
 
                So -- 
 
                Q     (Off mike) -- GWOT, global war on terror, lumps together an entire -- you know, the entire Muslim faith and an entire region.   
 
                Do you see that as a concern?   
 
                MR. MORRELL:  Well, I don't think there's anything in that term that identifies any particular faith or ethnicity.  I mean, there are terrorists of all faiths, of all colors, of all races and ethnicities. And so perhaps a better -- another way to refer to it would be, you know, a campaign against extremists who wish to do us harm.   
 
                I mean, there's a variety of ways to describe this.  But I don't -- the point is, there has been no mandate from anybody as to how we should talk about this.   
 
                Q     How do you feel about overseas contingency -- 
 
                MR. MORRELL:  I think that is -- that is -- the new way of referring to war spending is that overseas contingency -- it's still new to me, so let me get it right -- overseas contingency operations budget.   
 

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4385

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on April 13, 2009, 10:20:48 PM
Moreover, the war on terror is a conflict with only certain terror groups, last I checked we never engaged the Tamil Tigers or the Basque Separatists

Because they never targeted US or US interests.
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 22, 2009, 05:25:45 PM
I have noticed throughout recent years a small, but growing, group of people talking through their noses and squeezing certain words with ugly pronunciations.  A local radio advertisement has a voice using such "diction" to push a restaurant.

Examples:

"Food" ends up sounding more like "fewd" i.e. like "feud" but without the "Y" sound.  "You" sounds more like "Yew".

"New" and many other words are pronounced with the nose basically closed.

I thought Ohio was immune from these mispronunciations, whose main practitioner, as far as I knew, was my stuffy, arrogant, evil sister-in-law in California, although a few denizens of PBS use it as well!  :o    But we have been invaded apparently!

Has anyone else noticed such strange variations?
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 02:47:16 AM
I have noticed throughout recent years a small, but growing, group of people talking through their noses and squeezing certain words with ugly pronunciations.  A local radio advertisement has a voice using such "diction" to push a restaurant.

Examples:

"Food" ends up sounding more like "fewd" i.e. like "feud" but without the "Y" sound.  "You" sounds more like "Yew".

"New" and many other words are pronounced with the nose basically closed.

I thought Ohio was immune from these mispronunciations, whose main practitioner, as far as I knew, was my stuffy, arrogant, evil sister-in-law in California, although a few denizens of PBS use it as well!  :o    But we have been invaded apparently!

Has anyone else noticed such strange variations?

Other annoying pronunciations: "IN-surance"  "FY-nance"  rather than in-SUR-ance and fi-NANCE with a short "i": these were always heard as Southern hillbillyisms here in Ohio, but now you can hear them on national television.
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Novi on April 23, 2009, 02:56:52 AM
I have noticed throughout recent years a small, but growing, group of people talking through their noses and squeezing certain words with ugly pronunciations.  A local radio advertisement has a voice using such "diction" to push a restaurant.

Examples:

"Food" ends up sounding more like "fewd" i.e. like "feud" but without the "Y" sound.  "You" sounds more like "Yew".

"New" and many other words are pronounced with the nose basically closed.

I thought Ohio was immune from these mispronunciations, whose main practitioner, as far as I knew, was my stuffy, arrogant, evil sister-in-law in California, although a few denizens of PBS use it as well!  :o    But we have been invaded apparently!

Has anyone else noticed such strange variations?

That also sounds like a nasty Australian accent :P.
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 04:13:35 AM
That also sounds like a nasty Australian accent :P.

Possibly the tragic result of watching a Crocodile Dundee movie marathon!   :o
Title: "French Forget They Smoked Alot"
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 10:51:50 AM
See anything wrong with the title?   $:)

"Alot" is  NOT a word, but a headline circulating through Internet news and newspapers has this monstrosity, which I have been decapitating for decades in my classes.

But it seems to grow back in multiple units every time I chop it off!   :o

Add this to other slurry demons   >:D   like "gotta," "gonna," "lotta,"  and "dunno"  (No, that has nothing to with Rilke's Elegies).

Although The Dunno Elegies could be a satirical epitaph for our post-literate era!   0:)
Title: Re: "French Forget They Smoked Alot"
Post by: karlhenning on April 23, 2009, 10:56:34 AM
"Alot" is  NOT a word, but a headline circulating through Internet news and newspapers has this monstrosity

Nooooo!!!!!
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: karlhenning on April 23, 2009, 10:57:51 AM
Other annoying pronunciations: "IN-surance"  "FY-nance"  rather than in-SUR-ance and fi-NANCE with a short "i": these were always heard as Southern hillbillyisms here in Ohio, but now you can hear them on national television.

I sometimes wonder if Britons grate their teeth when they hear us Americans say inventory . . . .
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 11:03:48 AM
I sometimes wonder if Britons grate their teeth when they hear us Americans say inventory . . . .

Hugh Laurie of House fame says getting our accent right is a torture for him.
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: bwv 1080 on April 23, 2009, 11:15:01 AM
Other annoying pronunciations: "IN-surance"  "FY-nance"  rather than in-SUR-ance and fi-NANCE with a short "i": these were always heard as Southern hillbillyisms here in Ohio, but now you can hear them on national television.

In proper (southern) english the accent is always on the first syllable
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: karlhenning on April 23, 2009, 11:16:27 AM
Hugh Laurie of House fame says getting our accent right is a torture for him.

In Dead Again, Branagh sweated getting "southern California" right, and purists may quibble, but the result doesn't get in my ears' way.

For Derek Jacobi's character, though, they had to resort to the "he went to school in England as a boy" gambit  0:) $:)
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: karlhenning on April 23, 2009, 11:16:56 AM
In proper (southern) english the accent is always on the first syllable

It's the Finnic heritage, I see.
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 11:29:59 AM
In proper (southern) english the accent is always on the first syllable

"Proper southern English" is an impossibility, beyond oxymoronic!   :o 

The southern accent likes to emphasize the first syllable so that the rest of the word can be slurred into incomprehensibility!   :D
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: bwv 1080 on April 23, 2009, 11:37:38 AM


The southern accent likes to emphasize the first syllable so that the rest of the word can be slurred into incomprehensibility!   :D

That's why we talk slower

But Southern accents is much preferable to Midwest or Northeastern accents which are grating and hard to bear

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: sul G on April 23, 2009, 11:43:04 AM
Isn't 'proper' southern English what they speak in the south of England, though? To be strictly accurate.
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 01:40:29 PM
That's why we talk slower

But Southern accents is much preferable to Midwest or Northeastern accents which are grating and hard to bear



Oh they is, is they?   :o

Check your History book, Reb!  Who won the Civil War anyway?    ;D

As to Southern England, I have never been there: is it not called Wales?   0:)
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: DavidRoss on April 23, 2009, 02:01:37 PM
That's why we talk slower

But Southern accents is much preferable to Midwest or Northeastern accents which are grating and hard to bear
Shouldn't that be "Southern accents is better'n...?"

Oh they is, is they?   :o
Yes, Cato--that grating nasality you complained about earlier is Midwestern--just ask MNDave about it.  ;)
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 03:21:34 PM
Shouldn't that be "Southern accents is better'n...?"
Yes, Cato--that grating nasality you complained about earlier is Midwestern--just ask MNDave about it.  ;)

I'll dew that, yew betcha!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: bwv 1080 on April 23, 2009, 04:20:07 PM
First, Southern English came from Southern England

Quote
Southern dialects substantially originated from immigrants from the British Isles who moved to the South in the 17th and 18th centuries. The South was predominantly settled by immigrants from the West Country[citation needed] in the southwest of England, the dialects of which have similarities to the Southern US dialects. Settlement also included large numbers of Protestants from Ulster, Ireland, and from Scotland. During the migration south and west, the settlers encountered the French immigrants of New France (from which Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and western Tennessee originated), and the French accent itself fused into the British and Irish accents. The modern Southern dialects were born.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_American_English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_American_English)

Second, y'all can take the Yankee test here:

http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/yankeetest.html (http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/yankeetest.html)

I passed:

Quote
85% Dixie.  Do you still use Confederate money?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2009, 04:57:12 PM
First, Southern English came from Southern England
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_American_English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_American_English)

Second, y'all can take the Yankee test here:

http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/yankeetest.html (http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/yankeetest.html)

I passed:


We expected nothing less!   :D
Title: Re: "French Forget They Smoked Alot"
Post by: Florestan on April 23, 2009, 10:50:16 PM
Although The Dunno Elegies could be a satirical epitaph for our post-literate era!   0:)

The Dunno Illegies, rather.  :)
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Ten thumbs on April 25, 2009, 12:30:04 PM
In proper (southern) english the accent is always on the first syllable

Wherever these people come from they clearly do not understand what doubled consonants are for.
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: Cato on April 27, 2009, 04:06:10 AM
Wherever these people come from they clearly do not understand what doubled consonants are for.

Or even single ones!  When I taught for a short while in Atlanta, Georgia, the students informed me they were learning "La' in" in my classroom, as if they were the limiest of limeys!   :o

So far this infection has not spread to my Ohio students!   0:)
Title: Re: Strange Nasal Pronunciations
Post by: karlhenning on April 27, 2009, 04:07:33 AM
Wherever these people come from they clearly do not understand what doubled consonants are for.

Bananna!  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble/Ads on lower left
Post by: Cato on April 27, 2009, 04:11:56 AM
My computer shows an ad at the bottom of the page from Google about "learning other accents."

Interesting - and slightly scary - the way Google "knows" what this topic is about!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on April 27, 2009, 08:34:10 AM
Something I have noticed regularly occuring in news interviews:

Saying "as I said" when you in fact have not said the thing previously. It appears to be used by flustered people to try to gain the "upper hand".
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on April 27, 2009, 09:11:11 AM
Something I have noticed regularly occuring in news interviews:

Saying "as I said" when you in fact have not said the thing previously. It appears to be used by flustered people to try to gain the "upper hand".

You are quite right!  The other similar thing that frosts my windshield is the tired phrase "the fact that" when e.g. the duplicitous taxitician speaking is asserting an opinion based more on fantasy than fact.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on April 30, 2009, 12:59:58 PM
TTT

Cato must be engaged in the ever-renewed struggle against brain-mush grammar.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: bwv 1080 on April 30, 2009, 03:31:30 PM
Quote
Southern American English (SAE) is the most widely recognized regional dialect of American English, but as most of its speakers know, widespread recognition is a mixed blessing. SAE is also the regional dialect that is most negatively evaluated. ...
 its users can anticipate at least polite (and often not so polite) condescension to their speech by non-Southerners. In spite of its low status outside of the South and of standardizing forces such as interregional migration and universal education that threaten many minority languages and dialects, SAE continues to persist.

Some Features of Southern American English


...

“I'm fixin to eat breakfast” means that I intend to eat breakfast in the next little while
Some of the grammatical differences between SAE and other varieties are well known. For example, most Americans immediately recognize you-all and yall as distinctively Southern second person pronouns, and many would know that fixin to, as in "I'm fixin to eat breakfast," is Southern as well. The latter represents a modification of the English auxiliary system that enables Southerners to encode an aspectual distinction grammatically that must be encoded lexically elsewhere: “I'm fixin to eat breakfast” means that I intend to eat breakfast in the next little while.
Other grammatical features are less widely known but are no less important. SAE also modifies the English auxiliary system by allowing for the use of more than one modal in a verb phrase. For instance, for most Southerners “I might could leave work early today” is a grammatically acceptable sentence. It translates roughly as “I might be able to leave work early,” but might could conveys a greater sense of tentativeness than might be able does. The use of multiple modals provides Southerners with a politeness strategy not available in other regional dialects. Although no generally agreed upon list of acceptable multiple modals exists, the first modal in the sequence must be might or may, while the second is usually could, can, would, will,should, or oughta. In addition, SAE allows at least one triple modal option (might shouldoughta) and permits useta to precede a modal as well (e.g., “I useta could do that”).

All three of these grammatical features remain robust in SAE, and migrants to the South from other parts of the country often appropriate both yall and fixin to. Multiple modals, on the other hand, are typically used only by native Southerners. Most of the phonological features of SAE are also typically used only by natives.

...


The linguistic impact that the new arrivals from outside the South will have is not yet clear, but some trends are already becoming apparent. In Texas and Oklahoma and in many metropolitan areas around the South, some national linguistic trends such as the merger of the vowels in caught and cot (both sound like the latter) are emerging, and in several of the larger metropolitan areas (e.g., Dallas-Fort Worth and Memphis) some traditional Southern vowel features such as the distinctive pronunciation of the vowel in words like way are beginning to wane. Even as these developments take hold in metropolitan areas, however, traditional grammatical features such as yall and fixin to are spreading to non-Southerners migrating to the region. While the long-term linguistic consequences of the new developments are impossible to predict, it is apparent that SAE is continuing to evolve -- just as it has over the last century and a half. The extent to which the results of that evolution yield something that is recognizably “Southern” remains to be seen

http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/southern/sounds/
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: The Six on May 01, 2009, 08:20:57 AM
Ever notice how nobody says "there are" anymore?

There's two pieces of pie left...
There's four things I have to do....

etc.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 01, 2009, 08:28:03 AM
Nobody?  I beg to differ. (Besides, there are never two pieces of pie left!)

How about "there're?"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 01, 2009, 08:43:39 AM
How about "there're?"

And two different schools of enunciation.  There are those who preserve a flutter of a vestigial vowel, so that the result is a little suggestive of Don's avatar.

And there are those who practically drop the vowel in the verb, and as a result the r in there is a little elongated, à la finnois.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 01, 2009, 09:09:57 AM
Ever notice how nobody says "there are" anymore?

There's two pieces of pie left...
There's four things I have to do....

etc.

Yes, I have noticed it, and have been quite properly grumbling about it for some time!   :D

"There are" seems practically dead for plurals these days.  David Ross and Karl Henning are correct about "there're" which I  heard much more often in the good old days than today!  To be sure, when talking faster, the "are" became much less pronounced, but was still there.

The onslaught of the illiterati and their dominance in our Ausonian Age will probably prevent "there are" from ever coming back, except among the few trying to preserve civilization.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on May 02, 2009, 07:42:48 AM
If I had to choose I would do so rather than make choices, which seems to be the current vogue.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 04, 2009, 04:20:49 AM
With evidence growing about global cooling it seems the global warming crowd is changing the vocabulary, according to a New York Times article.

"Global warming" is out: "Climate change" is in, which allows the extremists to blame humans for global cooling/warming/tepidizing/etc., even though sunspot activity and volcanic activity are most probably the direct causes.

Since nobody wants to breathe dirty air or drink dirty water, returning to an emphasis on not polluting is also advised.

"Environmentalist" is out: "Conservationist" is in.

See:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/us/politics/02enviro.html (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/us/politics/02enviro.html)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 04, 2009, 06:20:20 AM
Global tepidizing!  Is that where audiences don't boo?  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 04, 2009, 08:13:52 AM
Global tepidizing!  Is that where audiences don't boo?  8)

Could be!  And we know what Jesus said about being lukewarm!   0:)

(It was less than pretty!)   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 04, 2009, 09:11:46 AM
Could be!  And we know what Jesus said about being lukewarm!   0:)

Yes . . . Dostoyevsky quoted it as an epigram for one of his novels . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 04, 2009, 09:29:17 AM
Yes . . . Dostoyevsky quoted it as an epigram for one of his novels . . . .

Did you read it in Russian?

ZB

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 04, 2009, 10:23:28 AM
Did you read it in Russian?

ZB

No, but I ought.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble - EEmediately (?)
Post by: Cato on May 05, 2009, 07:49:21 AM
Today's grumble concerns the mispronunciation of the short "i" in "immediate" !

I have been noticing this for too many years: yesterday some bureaucrat on TV selling Swine Flu Panic Buttons demanded that we rush to a doctor "EEmediately" if we think we are coming down with this porcine disease.

I suspect the mispronouncers seem to think this emphasizes the urgency of their otherwise highly dubious commands.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 05, 2009, 07:53:06 AM
Maybe it's a computer utility: eMediately
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 05, 2009, 09:08:54 AM
Maybe it's a computer utility: eMediately

Wocka Wocka!   8)   But actually, somebody probably has a license for "eMediately" somewhere!

The 90's were big for "e-" prefixes.  My brother's business partner once proposed setting up a website for the "ePsychic" to deliver cheap prophecies to people for $3.95.  I always thought that had possibilities, until Miss Cleo went to jail!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 05, 2009, 09:37:02 AM
Did they pitch Miss Cleo into the slammer?

I foresaw that . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Let's Use the Proper Past Participles!
Post by: Cato on May 08, 2009, 11:55:22 AM
Over the past few days, I have heard things e.g.:

"He's ran those tests already."   :o

"I thought I had already drank a can of pop."   ::)

"I shouldn't' 'a'  ate so much."   >:(

"Yeah, they got beat real bad."   >:D

Correct Answers: run, drunk, eaten, and were beaten really badly !!!  (Okay, "got" is colloquially acceptable.)

And these monsters were mouthed by parents and faculty members at my school, not the students!   $:)

Anybody else hear similar gorgons of grammar?

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Let's Use the Proper Past Participles!
Post by: DavidRoss on May 08, 2009, 12:22:02 PM
Anybody else hear similar gorgons of grammar?
Constantly.  Civilization (a questionable idea to begin with) is doomed. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 08, 2009, 01:23:41 PM
In some circles, it is tragically unhip to be heard speaking in correctly conjugated verbs.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Frumaster on May 08, 2009, 01:39:38 PM
In some circles, it is tragically unhip to be heard speaking in correctly conjugated verbs.

Yes, but of course we are labeled as bigots for recognizing it or criticizing it.  We live in an age of liberal equivalency, baby.  Everything that is upside down and degenerate is actually preferred now.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Let's Use the Proper Past Participles!
Post by: Egebedieff on May 08, 2009, 01:50:12 PM
Cato: Anybody else hear similar gorgons of grammar?

DavidRoss: Constantly.  Civilization (a questionable idea to begin with) is doomed. 

A spotted gorgon:

"The only positive aspect to the collapse of our civilization is that i won't have to listen to this type of idiotic arguments ever again."

The congressman for our gerrymandered district has phone robots that dial us up for telephone Town Halls. Wednesday night we heard a citizen say "Like most people my age, I'm 27 years old." Her sentence didn't end there, but her nervous thought-gathering pause was long enough to make us think so.'

 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Frumaster on May 08, 2009, 01:53:38 PM
Ok guys, I need some help.   I'm writing 5 page essay, and I'd appreciate your input.  Is this a legitimate introductory paragraph? Should I add more peripheral information (do you know what the hell I'm talking about)....

David A. Bell’s concept of total war is contingent on numerous distinctions, some subtle and others not so subtle.  The point he tries to make often treads a fine line, but that is not to say it lacks ultimate credibility.  Three main periods are examined in the book, ranging from approximately 1750 to 1815: the Age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic era.  ‘Total war’ may seem like a misnomer when referring to such a broad span of time and events.  There is no single, all-encompassing front for Bell, nor would he have been justified in pinning all responsibilities a neatly confined episode.  Rather, he argues that extreme evolutions in ideologies and war practices coalesced so quickly as to constitute The First Total War.  Without in any way diminishing the other contributions, Bell suggests that ‘modern attitudes towards war’ most heavily rest on the legacy of Enlightenment ideals.  Some of the Enlightenment’s grandiose ideas ceased to be primary motivators of war after the French Revolution, but the very nature of war remained permanently transfixed by them.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Frumaster on May 08, 2009, 02:37:18 PM
Not clear exactly what "distinctions" refers to in the first sentence, and I can't tell whether you address them in this paragraph, esp. which are subtle and which are not. If those distinctions are described here, be explicit, if not, and if they are important, that information might be worth adding (otherwise, eliminate or at least move it out of the lead sentence).

Second sentence lets us know that he has a point that treads a fine line, but not what that point is. Third sentence would be stronger in active voice, especially if this has something to do with the point you refer to in sentence 2. The fine line seems like another loose thread.

Ok, I agree.  I'll try to connect them together with another sentence or two.

Fourth sentence has a dangling modifier and is missing a preposition. Seventh sentence seems to say something central to his thesis -- is this his point?

So perhaps making your connections explicit, eliminating any loose threads you don't intend to develop, and moving up the stuff about the Enlightenment (if it is the point) would allow you to set up the context with the information that is here.'


What is the dangling modifer? 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 08, 2009, 02:53:22 PM


What is the dangling modifer? 


Your Fourth Sentence:

‘Total war’ may seem like a misnomer when referring to such a broad span of time and events.

Who is doing the referring?  In theory, the last noun is modified by the participle, so how does a misnomer refer to anything?  Is "Total war" doing the referring?

Probably better: ...when one refers to...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Frumaster on May 08, 2009, 04:33:37 PM
Thanks a lot guys.  How's this?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Frumaster on May 08, 2009, 05:42:38 PM
This  is stronger and better integrated. The transition sentence " In his search for the ..." is especially effective. I have a couple of comments:

I find myself wanting some detail that explains the role that Enlightenment ideals play in the modern attitudes toward war. We know that you find aspects of the Enlightenment as grandiose and that they ceased to be prime motivators for making war after the French Revolution, but I can't tell what is of particular interest to Bell.

I don't know who your audience is, so it is hard to know how strictly it should follow grammar and usage conventions. Ever since Woodstock, it has been acceptable to let modifiers dangle, but for strict academic writing, you may lose a point. Likewise, the use of "while" in academic writing is reserved for its temporal meaning; "although" would be safer. If your reader is really hip to the Chicago Manual of Style jive, dazzle them with an endash rather than a hyphen in "military–civilian."' 

Thanks again!  The rest of the paper is written, I was just looking for a more effective intro.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 09, 2009, 12:52:25 AM
Thanks again!  The rest of the paper is written, I was just looking for a more effective intro.  The 'grandiose ideals' are really explored further in the paper....maybe this will act as a suspense builder!    Or maybe not, but I've made my final revisions for now.    You folks don't joke around here, do you  ;D

Cato especially never jokes around!   0:)

And I wondered if you are using in the opening sentence  "contingent" in the sense of "depends" ?  "Contingent" means "likely to happen" or "likely to apply, but perhaps not."

If however you mean "depends" then use "depends."   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Punctuation as Musical Direction
Post by: Cato on May 09, 2009, 01:06:01 AM
While working on a secret project, I penned the following piece of practically perfect prose:   :o

"But then he wondered if in fact somehow John had listened to everything!"

"Practically perfect," but not yet perfect!   $:)

I am always worried about the musical flow of the words in my writing, just like I worry about my meager bank account's monetary flow to Washington, all $37.15 of it, but that is another story!   8)

"But then he wondered if in fact somehow John had listened to everything!"

The monosyllables in the middle were put there to show the "Wait a minute!" moment in the wondering, but something was missing.

"But then he wondered if, in fact, somehow, John had listened to everything!"

The 3 commas make things clearer, and place emphasis on the mystery around the word "somehow" by slowing the pace down and making "somehow" the center of the sentence.

A small point, or comma actually   0:), but I thought it illustrated my - sometimes - idiosyncratic use of punctuation.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Punctuation as Musical Direction
Post by: Jay F on May 09, 2009, 03:40:49 AM
While working on a secret project, I penned the following piece of practically perfect prose:   :o

"But then he wondered if in fact somehow John had listened to everything!"

"Practically perfect," but not yet perfect!   $:)

I am always worried about the musical flow of the words in my writing, just like I worry about my meager bank account's monetary flow to Washington, all $37.15 of it, but that is another story!   8)

"But then he wondered if in fact somehow John had listened to everything!"

The monosyllables in the middle were put there to show the "Wait a minute!" moment in the wondering, but something was missing.

"But then he wondered if, in fact, somehow, John had listened to everything!"

The 3 commas make things clearer, and place emphasis on the mystery around the word "somehow" by slowing the pace down and making "somehow" the center of the sentence.

A small point, or comma actually   0:), but I thought it illustrated my - sometimes - idiosyncratic use of punctuation.
Do you really need both "in fact" and "somehow"? If I were writing this sentence, I think I might leave one out, probably "somehow," perhaps saving it for further clarification in the next sentence.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Punctuation as Musical Direction
Post by: Cato on May 09, 2009, 05:01:26 AM
Or you could perhaps move "somehow" closer to the verb:

"But then he wondered if, in fact, John had somehow listened to everything!"

But, if you think about it for a second, not having those words in succession, esp. with the commas, would destroy the pacing that I think Cato is specifically after. It's analogous to how the dominant is prolonged at various levels of musical architecture to prolong the resolution. I think of an example by Ives (nothing special about that, because examples abound, but Ives is always closest at hand and ear for me) taken from Vachel Lindsay: "Gen'l William Booth Enters into Heaven."

Lindsay's original:

"Yet in an instant all that blear review
Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new."

Which Ives punctuates much like Cato did, but giving a lot of space to the comma pauses.

"Yet,      in an instant,      all that blear..."

This sets up and prolongs the tension before to add a sense of release to the steady march Ives settles into for the next line. Ives does this sort of setup all over the place, often as a foil for the delivery a march or a hymn esp. at a recapitulation (end of Ives Second Symphony is a good example). More importantly, this is all rooted in the how Western tonality works, and not surprisingly, such a handling of musical expectation is all deeply and intimately intertwined with how expectations work in language. A writer who is sensitive to that relationship can give pulse to his or her writing.'


Thank you, Mr. Apostrophe!   You have described my reasoning exactly!!!  As you have written, the "pacing" leading to the "somehow" is most important. 

Excellent example with the Ives also!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble/Complete Words!!!
Post by: Cato on May 13, 2009, 05:42:11 PM
My wife was watching "Law and Order" (aka Murderous Millionaires) and I heard the following pile of monosyllables:

"She had to go for a psych e-val 'cause she went off her meds."

Also heard: "She had gave..."  "She done..."  spoken by characters who were supposed to be at least somewhat educated ( e.g. a taxation bureaucrat).

I REALLY hate the monstrosity "meds."   :o

This is the first time I had ever heard "e-val" for "evaluation."

Apparently for the TV writers: "Monosyllables Rule!"   8)

Ironically, "monosyllable" is not monosyllabic!   0:)


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on May 13, 2009, 05:45:11 PM
Dude, it's TV.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: bwv 1080 on May 13, 2009, 06:22:25 PM
So this Texan goes to Harvard and walking on campus approaches a group of students and asks, "hey, y'all know where's the library at?"

one student sticks his nose up in the air and replies, "At Harvard we do not end sentences with prepositions"

"OK, so where's the library at, asshole?" replies the Texan
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on May 13, 2009, 10:33:53 PM
In some circles, it is tragically unhip to be heard speaking in correctly conjugated verbs.

You're quite right. In a not so distant future, any correct speech will be called Historically Informed Pronunciation.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble/Complete Words!!!
Post by: Ten thumbs on May 14, 2009, 12:27:38 AM


Ironically, "monosyllable" is not monosyllabic!   0:)

Why not simply call one a 'mon'? ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2009, 02:56:45 AM
In Jamaica, they do . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on May 14, 2009, 01:04:07 PM
This isn't a grammar problem - it's just silly :P I heard this on the news yesterday:

"I'll take responsibility, but it's not all my fault"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2009, 01:17:19 PM
This isn't a grammar problem - it's just silly :P I heard this on the news yesterday:

"I'll take responsibility, but it's not all my fault"

That's nearly up there with, "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2009, 01:18:12 PM
And I am not at all surprised that that is one of those "Songs by Jim Steinman" marvels of wordcraft.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 15, 2009, 04:23:02 AM
This isn't a grammar problem - it's just silly :P I heard this on the news yesterday:

"I'll take responsibility, but it's not all my fault"

Must have been said by a Yale man!   8)

Today's outrage from a local newspaper telling of 5th Graders jogging for a Chinese charity after learning about Asia:
 "The charity run culminates Asian studies for them on Saturday."   :o    ???

Even if you assume that "in" was inadvertently left out after "culminate," the sentence still is ridiculous.

I think such bad grammar should "culminate" and terminate the reporter responsible!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Papageno on May 15, 2009, 04:20:19 PM
"There's a lot of people there" instead of There are -.  I hear it all the time, it makes my skin crawl.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 15, 2009, 04:59:09 PM
"There's a lot of people there" instead of There are -.  I hear it all the time, it makes my skin crawl.

I also find the perpetual singular simply lazy and sloppy.

Now it is a matter of hoping for an influx of pride and energy in how one speaks among a majority of people to effect a change!   8)

Mr. Apostrophe wrote:
Quote
This is the way some of our presidents "apologize." They say they are sorry and fob that off as an apology, but they accept no responsibility and admit to making no mistakes or to any wrongdoing. It's an "I didn't do it" covered in a thin candy shell.'

Amen!   0:)  Orwell would have a love-hate relationship with the political speech of our era! 

Some of course do not apologize, but keep twisting words and false, ignorant claims around until there is no way out but to hope the public is not paying attention, or that their attention span is ruled by AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder).

http://reformedpastor.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/catholic-cardinals-smack-pelosi-on-abortion/ (http://reformedpastor.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/catholic-cardinals-smack-pelosi-on-abortion/)
 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 17, 2009, 02:50:06 PM
My son was watching a hockey game and a reporter says to the goalie: "The other team is very young: how will you expose their youth?"   :o

The comment seemed almost obscene, until one realizes the reporter meant "exploit" their youth!

My son remarked: "What do you expect?  He's a hockey reporter!"   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 18, 2009, 02:44:24 AM
My son remarked: "What do you expect?  He's a hockey reporter!"   0:)

The acorn does not roll far from the tree.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 20, 2009, 01:29:30 AM
I think the Grumble should be pinned  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 20, 2009, 02:42:56 AM
"Who would of thought?"'
One of the more common means of signaling brain death these days. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 20, 2009, 08:25:45 AM
A former employer spent lots of money on a full-page ad in the NY Times. A third of the space was taken up with the words "Who would of thought?"'

I have seen the verbifying of "of" in novels, where one wonders if the author is sending a signal about the speaker's intelligence, or did the writer fall prey to plebeian-speak?

Using pronouns for possessives ("You age, they car") is found in dialect, although I have been told that some primitive languages allow it.

"Primitive" in the sense that such languages have small vocabularies, e.g. pronouns but no possessives.

English, however, is not supposed to sound primitive!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 20, 2009, 08:29:30 AM
Earlier this week I heard Diana Rigg speak the line "Me, Emma" in a 1966 episode of The Avengers
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 20, 2009, 08:37:15 AM
"There's a lot of people there" instead of There are -.  I hear it all the time, it makes my skin crawl.
Isn't "a lot" singular?  There are many people here, but there is a lot of people there.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 20, 2009, 10:20:21 AM
We need a ruling:

"thusly": a real word?

 8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 20, 2009, 10:54:09 AM
We need a ruling:

"thusly": a real word?

 8)

No!  Not a real word: it is an over-correction.  Thus is already an adverb and needs no -ly ending.

David Ross wrote: "Isn't "a lot" singular?  There are many people here, but there is a lot of people there."

And yes: "Lot" is a collective singular, although the phenomenon of "last-word attraction" is at work in your example, i.e. "people" forcing itself as the subject, even though "lot" is the subject, and "people" the object of the preposition "of."

I have tricked my (weaker) students with the following example:

The steaks my father is grilling, and that my mother says (has/have) too much fat, (is/are) very expensive.

Interesting results at times, with some students insisting on "has" while correctly choosing "are" at the end.  Others insist on singular verbs for both spots.


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 20, 2009, 10:59:34 AM
I just read thusly in a movie review . . . and it sounded desperately wrong, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't prejudiced by the textual environment  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on May 20, 2009, 12:15:45 PM
I have tricked my (weaker) students with the following example:

The steaks my father is grilling, and that my mother says (has/have) too much fat, (is/are) very expensive.

Interesting results at times, with some students insisting on "has" while correctly choosing "are" at the end.  Others insist on singular verbs for both spots.
You want "have" and "are," don't you?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 20, 2009, 12:27:34 PM
I just read thusly in a movie review . . . and it sounded desperately wrong, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't prejudiced by the textual environment  8)
Cato is right (as usual).  "Thus" suffices.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 20, 2009, 12:57:38 PM
You want "have" and "are," don't you?

Yes, the plural is correct in both cases!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 22, 2009, 03:19:14 AM
Not a grammar grumble at all, but linguistic ingenuity: I have a 7th-Grade boy, barely cracking 4' 10'', with a piercing soprano voice, both contrary to a last name indicating the toughest Viking heritage, who is running for Student Council President 2009-2010.

His slogan: "Think BIG, Vote small!"   8)

And he thinks he is indeed the biggest rooster around!  Napoleon complex extraordinaire!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 22, 2009, 03:20:52 AM
Oh, I've got to watch Ian Holm as Napoleon in Time Bandits again soon!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Papageno on May 22, 2009, 03:39:12 AM
No!  Not a real word: it is an over-correction.  Thus is already an adverb and needs no -ly ending.

But
(http://img43.imageshack.us/img43/1044/picture1bei.jpg)
Interesting...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 22, 2009, 03:42:47 AM
But, in that example, the 'unadorned' thus works perfectly suitably.

What was the source, Pap? (And at least sensibly, it is marked informal.)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Papageno on May 22, 2009, 03:59:46 AM
But, in that example, the 'unadorned' thus works perfectly suitably.

What was the source, Pap? (And at least sensibly, it is marked informal.)

Pap!?  That reminds of Pappy, or Pop... My god, my posts make you look at me like an old man.
Oxford Dictionary
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 22, 2009, 04:10:29 AM
Pap!?  That reminds of Pappy, or Pop... My god, my posts make you look at me like an old man.
Oxford Dictionary

The Random House College Dictionary states: "Since thus is an adverb, thusly is avoided by careful speakers as a grammatical tautology."

Marvelous explanation!   $:)

Another source says that "thusly" was coined by 19th-century British writers to mock lower-class speakers who were trying to sound educated.  (No specific writer was mentioned, however.)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 22, 2009, 04:25:18 AM
An old goof that's been making a comeback lately: "effect" used when the writer means "affect."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 22, 2009, 09:37:15 AM
An old goof that's been making a comeback lately: "effect" used when the writer means "affect."

I have heard teachers say they have given up on that one!   >:D

Cato is nothing if not Quixotic, and refuses to surrender to the windmills of the Illiterati Conspiracy.

One mnemonic device I have taught: "An effect is a result."

That has helped some students throughout the years to keep them straight.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on May 22, 2009, 12:29:55 PM
This isn't a grammar problem - it's just silly :P I heard this on the news yesterday:

"I'll take responsibility, but it's not all my fault"

Would that have been a politician?

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on May 22, 2009, 12:38:37 PM
Yip, no other human thinks like that (although I suppose corporate staff are similar). Sadly he wasn't frontbench so I can't remember a name ;_;
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on May 22, 2009, 12:54:15 PM
You remember the names of our frontbench! My hat off to you....especially as we will shortly experience the Labour version night of the long knives. Then you will have to start to remember all the new ones. The average minister lasts 10 months in the job.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on May 24, 2009, 04:11:30 AM
I like you signature, Cato!  :D
(although i don't watch that show anymore)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 24, 2009, 04:39:17 AM
I like your signature, Cato!  :D
(although i don't watch that show anymore)

This is the last year for King of the Hill despite good ratings.  Its subtle satire is often very poignant.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on May 24, 2009, 04:48:38 AM
Do you mean last year of reruns? (because i thought they stopped making new episodes a long time ago)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 24, 2009, 06:29:50 AM
Do you mean last year of reruns? (because i thought they stopped making new episodes a long time ago)

Well, not a long time ago, just last year!

The team behind the series has a new show coming out called "The Goode Family" which will apparently satirize politically correct radical enviro/vegan types.   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 26, 2009, 07:41:07 AM
Not a grammar grumble at all, but linguistic ingenuity: I have a 7th-Grade boy, barely cracking 4' 10'', with a piercing soprano voice, both contrary to a last name indicating the toughest Viking heritage, who is running for Student Council President 2009-2010.

His slogan: "Think BIG, Vote small!"   8)

And he thinks he is indeed the biggest rooster around!  Napoleon complex extraordinaire!   0:)

Results of the election show that The Little Rooster is now BMOC!   8)

And one of the tiniest, squeakiest hens in the roost, will be his Secretary!   :o

Both candidates defying the usual expectation that tall candidates have an edge!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 27, 2009, 05:37:32 AM
Results of the election show that The Little Rooster is now BMOC!   8)

And one of the tiniest, squeakiest hens in the roost, will be his Secretary!   :o

Both candidates defying the usual expectation that tall candidates have an edge!

I used BMOC yesterday to one of my 20-something colleagues while we were talking about the new Student Council regime, and he had no idea what it meant!   :o

Too bad!  One of the funniest skits on Saturday Night Live without Steve Martin had John Belushi as Samurai BMOC!

And just to be sure: BMOC = Big Man On Campus.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 28, 2009, 03:32:30 AM
Today's grumble comes from a TV ad for a car dealership (Hyundai).

The words "WHO'S DEAL IS THE BEST?" come roaring out at you!   :o

Yes, the ad agency is illiterate!  But apparently the dealer didn't notice either!   ???
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 28, 2009, 03:37:16 AM
That's one I've noticed quite often of late.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on May 28, 2009, 03:50:27 AM
I hear the annoying "sooner than later" on TV a lot (which reminds me that I had a nun in 7th grade who insisted that we say "television," not "TV," and
"telephone" rather than "phone," even if we were using it as a verb [which led me to choose the verb "call" instead]). I suppose it's the way to say "sooner rather than later" ASAP, though I've never liked "sooner rather than later" much, either. Oh, and I always pronounce "ASAP" as a two-syllable word, never pronouncing it as the four letters.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 28, 2009, 03:54:00 AM
. . . a nun in 7th grade who insisted that we say "television," not "TV," and "telephone" rather than "phone" . . . .

I hope she insisted on the unabbreviated violoncello, too!  8)

Quote from: n. schl.
. . . Oh, and I always pronounce "ASAP" as a two-syllable word, never pronouncing it as the four letters.

I always tell out the four letters, but, live and let live, says I.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on May 28, 2009, 05:02:35 AM
The words "WHO'S DEAL IS THE BEST?" come roaring out at you!   :o

Reminds of the days when I was in school (class 3 or something), when the class monitor used to pick up a pencil or some other piece of stationery found lying on the floor, hold it high above his or her head so that everyone could have a clear view of the object and ask, "Who is this pencil?" :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 28, 2009, 05:13:26 AM
Reminds of the days when I was in school (class 3 or something), when the class monitor used to pick up a pencil or some other piece of stationery found lying on the floor, hold it high above his or her head so that everyone could have a clear view of the object and ask, "Who is this pencil?" :D

Delightfully tangential . . . one of the composers I worked with in Charlottesville was Walter Ross, and one of his amusing pastimes was, he wanted to be able to speak at least one phrase in as many languages as possible.  For simplicity, might as well be the same phrase.  And since communication is not the goal of this project, it needn't be a particularly useful phrase.

So one day, Walter comes up to me and say, "I hear you're studying Japanese?"

"Yes, that's right."

"Boku wa empitsu desu."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Did you understand what I said?"

"Well, if I did, then you just told me that you are a pencil."

"Yes, that's right!" . . .

Edit :: typo
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 28, 2009, 05:31:49 AM
I was always fond of learning at least two phrases, both quite useful in different ways:

"The little dog listens to the fish,"

and, "Two cold beers, please."

A common error that aggravates me somewhat is the insertion of apostrophes in plurals, as seen on this site quite often in the plural of "CD," which appears more frequently as "CD's" than not.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on May 28, 2009, 07:30:47 AM
A common error that aggravates me somewhat is the insertion of apostrophes in plurals, as seen on this site quite often in the plural of "CD," which appears more frequently as "CD's" than not.

Same here. I don't even get the logic behind that.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 28, 2009, 07:34:27 AM
I was always fond of learning at least two phrases, both quite useful in different ways:

"The little dog listens to the fish,"

and, "Two cold beers, please."

As an English-speaker who has tried . . . I should be most interested in hearing your gamest efforts in Tallinn to order a beer in Estonian  :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 28, 2009, 08:19:39 AM
Reminds of the days when I was in school (class 3 or something), when the class monitor used to pick up a pencil or some other piece of stationery found lying on the floor, hold it high above his or her head so that everyone could have a clear view of the object and ask, "Who is this pencil?" :D

As a teacher with some iron in his irony, I have been known to ask in a similar fashion with an unsigned quiz or test in my hand:

"Who belongs to this?"   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on May 29, 2009, 08:00:20 AM
"Spiffy" or "spiffing"?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 29, 2009, 08:06:38 AM
Oojah-cum-spiff
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on May 29, 2009, 08:08:19 AM
I always hear "spiffy", but one person I know says "spiffing".
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on May 29, 2009, 08:09:44 AM
I always hear "spiffy", but one person I know says "spiffing".

I've never heard the latter.

But, I don't run with the pack, either . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 29, 2009, 10:44:10 AM
My sources indicate "spiffing" as an adjective is something found in England.  Americans say "spiffy" and so that must be right, since we bailed the British out of two wars!   $:)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on May 29, 2009, 10:44:50 AM
My sources indicate "spiffing" as an adjective is something found in England.  Americans say "spiffy" and so that must be right, since we bailed the British out of two wars!   $:)



Thanks, teach.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on May 29, 2009, 12:37:46 PM
“With an SPF 30 your getting just 3% of sun, with an SPF 50 your getting just 2%, so there is really very little difference you get beyond 30 SPF.” (http://www.wrbl.com/rbl/news/local/article/summer_sunscreen_myths_busted/74467/)

Even I suck less than this ;_:
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on May 29, 2009, 12:51:18 PM
“With an SPF 30 your getting just 3% of sun, with an SPF 50 your getting just 2%, so there is really very little difference you get beyond 30 SPF.” (http://www.wrbl.com/rbl/news/local/article/summer_sunscreen_myths_busted/74467/)

Even I suck less than this ;_:

The reporter's name is "Ashley."  That is a partial explanation!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on May 30, 2009, 01:21:57 AM
'Spiffing' is indeed English, but not contemporary, probably not used colloquially since just after the second of those two wars you kindly bailed us out of. Mind you, we did much to give you the gift of life; so it is still only a partial return on he outlay.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 30, 2009, 03:51:14 AM
Dat's a spiffing good spliff, mon!

(http://www.picturesofbobmarley.com/pictures/smoking-spliff-1973.jpg)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on May 30, 2009, 09:57:24 AM
What do we need "bemuse" or "bemused" for? Aren't "amuse" and "amused" sufficient?

I just read this sentence on another forum: "I still have one that never fails to bemuse me." I thought "amuse" would have worked better. Then I decided I didn't know why we have "bemuse" at all.

Anyone?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on May 30, 2009, 10:06:12 AM
Bemused implies an additional puzzlement (I have always felt, in its instances of usage, anyway).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on May 30, 2009, 10:08:50 AM
I just read this sentence on another forum: "I still have one that never fails to bemuse me."

This amusing use of the word bemuses me.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on May 30, 2009, 12:50:34 PM
Bemused implies an additional puzzlement (I have always felt, in its instances of usage, anyway).
Yep.  Bemused = bewildered, amused = entertained.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on May 31, 2009, 06:19:03 PM
Well, not a long time ago, just last year!

The team behind the series has a new show coming out called "The Goode Family" which will apparently satirize politically correct radical enviro/vegan types.   8)
I saw the previews. At first, I thought it was seriously politically correct, and not a satire, but not that you say it is, I'm relieved.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 05, 2009, 08:28:58 AM
Have we already run from whence they came through the gauntlet?

Is it genuinely as bad a redundancy as I feel it to be?  0:)

There seems to be a colloquial resonance to it, and I ran into it today in a column discussing the current "mashup mode" of news reportage here in the States:

Quote from: Howard Kurtz
There have always been serious news outlets and those that traffic in entertainment and gossip. The difference now is that so many are in mashup mode, sprinkling their nutritious fare with gooey treats, lest readers and viewers change the channel or click away in search of sweeter stuff.

In that context (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/05/AR2009060500949.html), I'm happy to yield Kurtz some grammatical leeway.

I couldn't possibly use it myself, however  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: When is a Stamp a "Meter" ???
Post by: Cato on June 06, 2009, 03:49:51 AM
Have we already run from whence they came through the gauntlet?

Is it genuinely as bad a redundancy as I feel it to be?  0:)


Yes, it is a bad redundancy, and the fight against adding "from" goes back several hundred years.  "Whence" already has "from" in its meaning (parallel with "woher" in German).

Word Grumble, courtesy of the United States Post Office:

This morning I went to the "Automated Teller Machine" at the Post Office to mail an envelope: 13.6 ounces.  The machine says: "Do you just want to buy the stamp?" or do I want any other additional services?  I push the button that says "Just Buy the Stamp."  Out comes a stamp with the exact price on it.

I then get a warning that because the envelope is 13.6 ounces, it breaks the "13 ounce Rule," which means that I have to hand deliver it to an employee at the counter!  I hate dealing with employees at the counter, which is why I went in at 7:00 A.M. to by-pass such an ordeal!

So I went back after the counter opened, handed the clerk the envelope, and said with a sigh: "This breaks the 13 ounce rule by .6!"

Clerk: "Oh, you can just drop it in the slot because it's not stamped."

I: "Yes, it is stamped.  I bought it at the machine."

Clerk: "That's not a stamp.  That's a meter." (Sic!)  ???

I (just slightly, but politely, annoyed): "But the machine called it a stamp!"

Clerk: "Yeah, I don't know why they do that.  But that's a meter.  If you put a real stamp on it, then you gotta give it to me.  But yeah, that's a meter, not a stamp." 

I stomped out...   :o

...and wondered again about the semiotics of civilizational collapse!  Of course, there is the whole nonsensical notion that if I really am an evil terrorist mailing an envelope smeared with plastic explosives or cyanide or something really lethal, like CheezWhiz, that I am so stupid that I will use over 13 ounces of the stuff, rather than 12.9!

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Jay F on June 06, 2009, 04:42:19 AM
2009's Internet Induced Phrase of the Year, "epic fail," an epic failure, linguistically speaking. I'm sorry, but verb does not noun.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=epic%20fail
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on June 06, 2009, 05:15:38 AM
The many and diverse contemporary uses of 'fail' are the shizzle, my nizzle! 0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 06, 2009, 08:23:09 AM
2009's Internet Induced Phrase of the Year, "epic fail," an epic failure, linguistically speaking. I'm sorry, but verb does not noun.
Some verbs do.  Stamp.  Smile.  Laugh.  Play.

"Epic" used in almost any context save the discussion of literature, especially when used other than as a noun, strongly suggests that the speaker/writer is less than fully conscious and probably an adolescent male who's played more than a few video games too many.

Yes, I know that's a prejudice.  We all have prejudices, formed without conscious intent.  The challenge is to recognize them and not let them determine our judgments about persons or even classes of persons.  Now I ask you:  is there anyone who uses "epic" in that way who does not fit that description?  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2009, 09:19:58 AM
Every now and then, one company will buy up all the ad boards at the Park St 'T' stop. 9 times out of 10, that of itself is rather a nuisance of saturation.  On top of that, though, the current boards are missing apostrophes, entirely (where two or three are necessary).

Not my business, they ain't gettin'.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Dr. Dread on June 08, 2009, 09:20:54 AM
Every now and then, one company will buy up all the ad boards at the Park St 'T' stop. 9 times out of 10, that of itself is rather a nuisance of saturation.  On top of that, though, the current boards are missing apostrophes, entirely (where two or three are necessary).

Not my business, they ain't gettin'.

Apostrophes are sooo 20th Century...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 08, 2009, 01:17:41 PM
Apostrophes are sooo 20th Century...

...which must mean the Apocalypse is nigh!   :o

Today my wife was watching a talk show where someone complained about nouns being used as verbs: since the show, of course, came out of Hollywood, the complaint was about a person who said his girlfriend was trying "Actressing" for a career.   :o

How that differed from "Acting" was unclear!   :o  Maybe you "act" in some productions, and you "actress" in others.  ???

Maybe when an actress "actresses," she simply stands sideways and breathes, like Raquel Welch used to do.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 08, 2009, 02:00:35 PM
...which must mean the Apocalypse is nigh!   :o

Today my wife was watching a talk show where someone complained about nouns being used as verbs: since the show, of course, came out of Hollywood, the complaint was about a person who said his girlfriend was trying "Actressing" for a career.   :o

How that differed from "Acting" was unclear!   :o  Maybe you "act" in some productions, and you "actress" in others.  ???

Maybe when an actress "actresses," she simply stands sideways and breathes, like Raquel Welch used to do.   0:)
That would explain the "actoring" of several contemporary heartthrobs.  I think you must have hit the nail on the head with this one, Cato--making the terms rather useful in distinguishing "acting"--the art of embodying a character in one's person--from "actoring" and "actressing"--mere posing as an actor.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 08, 2009, 03:10:31 PM
That would explain the "actoring" of several contemporary heartthrobs.  I think you must have hit the nail on the head with this one, Cato--making the terms rather useful in distinguishing "acting"--the art of embodying a character in one's person--from "actoring" and "actressing"--mere posing as an actor.

Any nominees?   $:)

Ben Affleck immediately comes to mind!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on June 08, 2009, 03:15:22 PM
Some verbs do.  Stamp.  Smile.  Laugh.  Play.

"Epic" used in almost any context save the discussion of literature, especially when used other than as a noun, strongly suggests that the speaker/writer is less than fully conscious and probably an adolescent male who's played more than a few video games too many.

Yes, I know that's a prejudice.  We all have prejudices, formed without conscious intent.  The challenge is to recognize them and not let them determine our judgments about persons or even classes of persons.  Now I ask you:  is there anyone who uses "epic" in that way who does not fit that description?  ;)
Yeah, for me- I hear it all the time. For me, it's almost like a sacred word, so to hear people so much kind of ruins it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 08, 2009, 03:51:40 PM
Any nominees?   $:)

Ben Affleck immediately comes to mind!   8)
That's the guy!  Followed closely by Leonardo diCaprio. And then, judging from the glimpses I get in TV ads, there must be a host of "actoring" professionals nipping at their heels. 

And we used to think Tony Curtis was bad!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2009, 03:58:25 PM
And we used to think Tony Curtis was bad!

No bottom to that trend . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Off-Topic Bad Actor/Great Actor
Post by: Cato on June 08, 2009, 05:24:51 PM
That's the guy!  Followed closely by Leonardo diCaprio. And then, judging from the glimpses I get in TV ads, there must be a host of "actoring" professionals nipping at their heels. 

And we used to think Tony Curtis was bad!

I do believe the correct form is Leonardo di Crappio.   0:)

On the opposite, non-heartthrob, under-appreciated real actor list: Steve Zahn, who can do wild cartoon voices (Runt the Pig in Disney's Chicken Little), dark comedy (Sunshine Cleaning), and drama (Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn): most impressive was Zahn's uncanny portrayal of Robert Duvall's Lonesome Dove character - 30 years younger - in Comanche Moon.  Zahn channels the character perfectly: head wobbles, intonations, gestures, everything is perfectly done in accordance with the Duvall character seen first in Lonesome Dove.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on June 08, 2009, 06:30:39 PM
Have I posted this? If so, my apologies for the repeat.

An email I got from Sylvan Learning Centers (a company which tutors students in school subjects and for standardized tests) included this:
Quote
Congradulations!

Eek!

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 08, 2009, 06:50:07 PM
Have I posted this? If so, my apologies for the repeat.

An email I got from Sylvan Learning Centers (a company which tutors students in school subjects and for standardized tests) included this:
Eek!
Oh, my!  Should it not have said, "Congradulations, Gratuate!"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 09, 2009, 02:35:56 AM
Have I posted this? If so, my apologies for the repeat.

An email I got from Sylvan Learning Centers (a company which tutors students in school subjects and for standardized tests) included this:

Congradulations!


Eek!



Eek is right!  It seems we have the blind leading the sightless most of the time: I attended a meeting of supposed English teachers last week, where I heard monstrosities e.g. "If I was you..."   :o   "...should 'a' went..."    :o    :o    and one that makes me want to throw a brick at somebody   "...did it on accident..."   :o    :o    :o

Aargh!    >:D

To correct them gently, I was able to use all three phrases - in corrected form -  in an extended commentary.  Maybe they took the hint!


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 09, 2009, 04:03:25 AM
Eek is right!  It seems we have the blind leading the sightless most of the time: I attended a meeting of supposed English teachers last week, where I heard monstrosities e.g. "If I was you..."   :o   "...should 'a' went..."    :o    :o    and one that makes me want to throw a brick at somebody   "...did it on accident..."   :o    :o    :o

Aargh!    >:D

To correct them gently, I was able to use all three phrases - in corrected form -  in an extended commentary.  Maybe they took the hint!

An interjection, in case anyone is still reading this thread who does not understand why some of us are so nit-picky:

Language is the medium for rational thought.  If one's language is muddled and imprecise, one's thought must be likewise muddled and imprecise, leading to error:  beliefs based on falsehood and faulty understanding.  People's actions are guided by their beliefs; if these beliefs are faulty, then people's actions entail unintended consequences, often contrary to the desired results.  At the personal level, this results in confusion, failure, frustration, unhappiness, regret, and so on.  At the group level, when large numbers of people act on faulty beliefs, the entire society suffers the consequences. 

So language and the grammar that determines the logical content of statements, not only matter, but matter more than anything else taught in our schools.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 09, 2009, 05:02:31 AM
An interjection, in case anyone is still reading this thread who does not understand why some of us are so nit-picky:

Language is the medium for rational thought.  If one's language is muddled and imprecise, one's thought must be likewise muddled and imprecise, leading to error:  beliefs based on falsehood and faulty understanding.  People's actions are guided by their beliefs; if these beliefs are faulty, then people's actions entail unintended consequences, often contrary to the desired results.  At the personal level, this results in confusion, failure, frustration, unhappiness, regret, and so on.  At the group level, when large numbers of people act on faulty beliefs, the entire society suffers the consequences. 

So language and the grammar that determines the logical content of statements, not only matter, but matter more than anything else taught in our schools.

Amen!   0:)

For a look at the latest Orwellian (ab)use of language by government, and how the media-sheep do not think logically about what is being claimed, (or just maybe do not want to think logically about what is being claimed) see:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124451592762396883.html (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124451592762396883.html)

An excerpt:

Quote
"The expression 'create or save,' which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius," writes Mr. Mankiw. "You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus."

Mr. Obama's comments yesterday are a perfect illustration of just such a claim. In the months since Congress approved the stimulus, our economy has lost nearly 1.6 million jobs and unemployment has hit 9.4%. Invoke the magic words, however, and -- presto! -- you have the president claiming he has "saved or created" 150,000 jobs. It all makes for a much nicer spin, and helps you forget this is the same team that only a few months ago promised us that passing the stimulus would prevent unemployment from rising over 8%."

(My emphasis above)

"Act of political genius" should be changed to "act of duplicitous arrogance."   0:)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 09, 2009, 05:24:14 AM
"Jobs created or saved" reminds me of the absence of tigers roaming midtown Manhattan "proving" that brushing with Crest® keeps tigers away.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 09, 2009, 05:26:50 AM
So much for plans to try any other toothpaste!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 12, 2009, 08:13:47 AM
As to this (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,164.msg319412.html#msg319412) . . . weird question, and I'm not sure where the impulse to ask this critical question comes from . . . but is &al. correctly used if it's just one other person?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 12, 2009, 05:16:44 PM
I have never seen a style that said so, and least in academic writing.

If there are two authors, both are named in all citations throughout.

If there are three, all three are listed on first citation (e.g., Howard, Fine, & Howard, 1948), after which only the first author is named and the rest are referred to as et al. (e.g., Howard et al., 1948).

I'll stop here.'


Right!  Et al is short for et alii (and others), so you would need at least 2: Mister Apostrophe is correct for the academic journals.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: The Six on June 12, 2009, 06:42:53 PM
Women are Outperforming Men in Universities
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on June 13, 2009, 03:41:58 AM
My employers were recently involved in a disagreement with the in-house media folk. As part of a campaign to encourage people to use their computers to maintain business records, they wanted to use a photo of a man clutching a laptop to his breast and the caption was to be, 'It is a great place to keep all your stuff up to date.'

My boss went into battle and the caption was altered and the word, 'stuff' removed.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 13, 2009, 03:57:11 AM
Right!  Et al is short for et alii (and others), so you would need at least 2: Mister Apostrophe is correct for the academic journals.

Urrah, I guessed that I was wrong!

I was lazy, of course; I just didn't know (nor could I be trounbled to investigate) who the second performer was . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on June 13, 2009, 03:59:43 AM
:: readies the wet noodle ::
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 18, 2009, 12:10:34 PM
Having seen it much too often in national examinations he has recently corrected, Cato hereby bans, eliminates, eradicates, and otherwise flamdoodles the moronic word "Majorly" and sentences anyone who uses it to be burned at the stake, drawn and quartered, and painfully disintegrated atom by atom!   $:)

A list of the ways to misspell most of the words in the English language, as gleaned from the examinations I have corrected for the last 7 days from high schools from every part of America, would take up too many terabytes.

But some are just incredible:

"opoin" = opinion

"distastation" = devastation (or so we believe)

"dafinnitly" = definitely

"throught" = throughout

"survile" = survival (again, we think: "servile" did not work in context)

Thousands more are possible: on top of this is the ILLEGIBLE and execrable "handwriting" we struggled with daily: "handwriting" should be replaced by "paw-smearing" to be fair to the term!  But this is the whirlwind reaped by moron teachers and parents who have been telling me "throught" the years that "Oh, yeah, but with computers, who cares?"

Recent research shows how wrong these morons are: legible flowing penmanship is connected to faster reading and deeper comprehension, since it builds a discipline of attention to detail at an early age. 

Okay, enough grumbling for today!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on June 18, 2009, 12:21:27 PM
Cato, might I inquire as to what national examinations you were grading? (I hope this is not too personal a question; if so, please ignore!)

Having a 15-year-old makes me aware of the importance (real or imagined) of standardized tests, and he currently awaits results for two AP exams (US Government and Computer Science) and three SAT II tests (Latin, US History, and English Literature). I assure you he did not use the word "majorly" in any of these!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on June 18, 2009, 12:23:09 PM
I've always had terrible handwriting. I've come to think of the computer as a kind of calligraphic prostheses. I don;t type very well, either, but at least the word processing software gives me the chance to correct and revise.

One word I've seen coming into vogue among kids is "funner" as the comparative form of "fun." This is wrong, of course, but there will come a time when it will not be. Indeed, I can think of no logical reason why the "er" comparative should not be applied to such a basic word.

When it comes to comparatives, English has always been an inconsistent cross between German, which uses "er" in all cases, and French, which uses "more" in all cases. Germans would say "intelligenter" where we would say more intelligent, and the French would say "plus comique" where we woud say "funnier." I feel sorry for people who have to learn English as a second language.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on June 19, 2009, 07:33:51 AM
My composition, counterpoint, and orchestration teacher often used the word wronger. I think of him when I use it.'

I presume this means wronger than right, as opposed to righter than wrong.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 19, 2009, 12:53:10 PM
Joe Barron is quite correct about the problems in the comparison of adjectives.  When all else fails, blame it on French!   8)

Ironic use of incorrect forms to make a point is allowed in Cato's grammar book!   0:)

But not if the speaker is thinking the form is correct!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 19, 2009, 01:31:25 PM
Just the plain old Merriam-Webster brand comparative adjective. Wrongest is the superlative.

"It would be wrong to speed, but wronger to speed in a stolen car."'

That depends on your frame of reference (as do most things, nicht wahr?): if running from the law in an effort to avoid capture, then from the car thief's perspective it would be wrong not to speed.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on June 19, 2009, 02:03:34 PM
Joe Barron is quite correct about the problems in the comparison of adjectives.  When all else fails, blame it on French!   8)

Ironic use of incorrect forms to make a point is allowed in Cato's grammar book!   0:)

But not if the speaker is thinking the form is correct!

Could we be any ironcer?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: Cato on June 22, 2009, 08:36:02 AM
Today's grumble comes from an all too true incident at a Verizon store populated by 20-somethings, who did not pay attention in school, but were told they are all winners instead of wieners, and who now labor for minimum wage under the delusion that they are all "high-tech" experts, when in reality all they have to do is put batteries in cell phones.

So...a few days ago my wife bought a recharger for our cell phones at this store.  When she opened the package, it bore the aroma of having been bought and returned: nothing inside seemed packed properly.

The recharger of course failed to charge or recharge anything except for our bank account.

So...today I am charged    :o    with the duty of returning the thing and dealing with the above 20-somethings.  I walk in and am greeted by a "phonily"  :o    merry 20-something male with a 40-pound sack of French fries hanging over his belt:

"Hi!  How ya doin' t'day?"
I : "Not too well, actually.  Where do I return defective merchandise?"
He: "Return what?"
I: (believing I used too many syllables to communicate: also possible is that he is practically deafer than my dead great-grandfather because of too many Norwegian Gruesome Slasher Death Rock Riots): "Stuff that doesn't work."
He: "Oh, uh, let's see.  Tyler over there is free right now." 

Of course: it had to be a Tyler, one of the worst possible names to hang around a manchild's neck!

Tyler is another plump but obsequious 20-something:

Tyler: "Hey!  What can we do for ya?"
I: "I would like to return this defective phone charger.  My wife bought it a few days ago.  It was disconcerting because it obviously had already been returned because it is defective."
Tyler: (long pause - I do talk a little fast) "It was disconnected?"
I: "No, I said receiving this was disconcerting."
Tyler: (looking at the charger in confusion) "Uh, so, uh, do you mean it doesn't work?"
I: "Right, it doesn't work, and somebody here knew it and put it back out for sale.  That's why it was disconcerting!  (spoken slowly).  Your store has wasted our time!"

So Tyler, I assume, learned a new word today!   0:)

Yes, the new charger does work nicely!   $:)

Mystery question: What kind of Disconcerting Music do you hear at a Disconcert?   :o

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: DavidRoss on June 22, 2009, 08:43:08 AM
Today's grumble comes from an all too true incident at a Verizon store populated by 20-somethings, who did not pay attention in school, but were told they are all winners instead of wieners, and who now labor for minimum wage under the delusion that they are all "high-tech" experts, when in reality all they have to do is put batteries in cell phones.
   ;D  ;D

Is that like laboring under the delusion that they are experts on politics and economics because they have a strong feeling that they're right about how things are and ought to be--and that's confirmed by the websites and cable channels and entertainers that tell them what to think?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on June 22, 2009, 08:51:14 AM
Mystery question: What kind of Disconcerting Music do you hear at a Disconcert?   :o

It is something written by a decomposer.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 22, 2009, 08:56:33 AM
It is something written by a decomposer.
Like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead?  (Wonder how he feels about it now...?)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 22, 2009, 09:29:16 AM
So, uh, did you mean it doesn't work?  ;D ::) 8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on June 22, 2009, 11:38:36 AM
Ding ding ding ding!! We have a winner!!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on June 22, 2009, 05:26:47 PM
Ding ding ding ding!! We have a winner!!


Amen!   0:)

Mr. Apostrophe wins a Poynter Sisters/BeeGees/Donna Summer CD!!!   :o

If we were giving anything away, which...we are not doing.   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on June 22, 2009, 06:06:44 PM

Amen!   0:)

Mr. Apostrophe wins a Poynter Sisters/BeeGees/Donna Summer CD!!!   :o

If we were giving anything away, which...we are not doing.   8)

I now have the Pointer Sisters' I'm So Excited playing on the radio in my head.... gee, thanks a lot!!



:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on June 26, 2009, 08:54:10 AM
I love how bureaucrats feel that they can escape any scandal without blame simply by using the horrible phrase "in retrospect".

The child is now dead, their life is in retrospect, it's not as if a living child is being hurt right now - stop talking about the past and leave us alone to pretend to make some changes to the system! $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on June 26, 2009, 10:18:48 AM
I love how bureaucrats feel that they can escape any scandal without blame simply by using the horrible phrase "in retrospect".

The child is now dead, their life is in retrospect, it's not as if a living child is being hurt right now - stop talking about the past and leave us alone to pretend to make some changes to the system! $:)
Ted Kennedy's drunk driving felony manslaughter of Mary Jo Kopechne, his leaving the scene of the accident without calling for assistance, his failure to report it to the authorities, and his wrist-slap two-month suspended sentence (issued in a closed hearing) due to his political clout and his family's wealth, in retrospect, could probably have been handled better.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 26, 2009, 10:50:09 AM
Quote from: Steven Spielberg
Just as there will never be another Fred Astaire or Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, there will never be anyone comparable to Michael Jackson. His talent, his wonderment and his mystery make him legend.

Not quite sure about that final encomium, but his talent, wonderment and mystery have certainly made Spielberg forget the value of the indefinite article . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: Cato on June 29, 2009, 07:13:52 AM
A quote from the Washington Post today from an article about a Supreme Court decision about reverse discrimination:

"The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide and make it harder to prove discrimination when there is no evidence it was intentional."

(My Emphasis above)

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/29/AR2009062901608_pf.html

So the implication is that lawyers can still prove discrimination with no evidence thereof !!!   :o   It is just "harder" to do so!

Can lawyers prove discrimination when there is no evidence that it was unintentional?   ???

Should lawyers be allowed to prove anything with no evidence?   $:)  (Cato is taking the word "no" in its absolute meaning: no evidence of any kind!)

Welcome to Cloud KafkaLand!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on June 29, 2009, 07:47:04 AM
Hah!  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on July 02, 2009, 12:55:12 PM
Re discrimination. I have read the link. I but am aware of such issues in the UK. There can be discrimination that is not intentional.

Example, it was ruled that for a theatre to supply the same number of toilet cubicles for females, as cubicles plus urinals for males was sex discrimination, as women took longer to get through 'the system'.

Thus the frequent queues right out of a female toilet at the interval and the comparative lack of queues for the men's toilets.

There was nothing deliberate about the discrimination, no evidence of deliberate discrimination, but it was proved. It seemed a fair judgement to me.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on July 03, 2009, 05:18:25 AM
Fuzzy words used to legitimise even more fuzzy businesses - solution:

Vivenet - The Internet Solutions Company.
Providing quality products with professional service.

Dial-up, dsl, web design & hosting, networks, POS, server & email hosting, VoIP telephone service & installation & maintenance solutions.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: Scarpia on July 03, 2009, 11:30:45 AM
Today's grumble comes from an all too true incident at a Verizon store populated by 20-somethings, who did not pay attention in school, but were told they are all winners instead of wieners, and who now labor for minimum wage under the delusion that they are all "high-tech" experts, when in reality all they have to do is put batteries in cell phones.

So...a few days ago my wife bought a recharger for our cell phones at this store.  When she opened the package, it bore the aroma of having been bought and returned: nothing inside seemed packed properly.

The recharger of course failed to charge or recharge anything except for our bank account.

So...today I am charged    :o    with the duty of returning the thing and dealing with the above 20-somethings.  I walk in and am greeted by a "phonily"  :o    merry 20-something male with a 40-pound sack of French fries hanging over his belt:

"Hi!  How ya doin' t'day?"
I : "Not too well, actually.  Where do I return defective merchandise?"
He: "Return what?"
I: (believing I used too many syllables to communicate: also possible is that he is practically deafer than my dead great-grandfather because of too many Norwegian Gruesome Slasher Death Rock Riots): "Stuff that doesn't work."
He: "Oh, uh, let's see.  Tyler over there is free right now."  

Of course: it had to be a Tyler, one of the worst possible names to hang around a manchild's neck!

Tyler is another plump but obsequious 20-something:

Tyler: "Hey!  What can we do for ya?"
I: "I would like to return this defective phone charger.  My wife bought it a few days ago.  It was disconcerting because it obviously had already been returned because it is defective."
Tyler: (long pause - I do talk a little fast) "It was disconnected?"
I: "No, I said receiving this was disconcerting."
Tyler: (looking at the charger in confusion) "Uh, so, uh, do you mean it doesn't work?"
I: "Right, it doesn't work, and somebody here knew it and put it back out for sale.  That's why it was disconcerting!  (spoken slowly).  Your store has wasted our time!"

So Tyler, I assume, learned a new word today!   0:)

Yes, the new charger does work nicely!   $:)

Mystery question: What kind of Disconcerting Music do you hear at a Disconcert?   :o

What disconcerts me is that you do not appreciate how rude you were in this encounter.  Tyler did not show up at an advanced English seminar trying to pass himself off as an intellectual, he was working at a phone store and trying to be helpful despite his limited vocabulary.  Your priority was trying to make him feel stupid for not understanding a word you used.  Despite that, he had the decency to honor your request.  Bravo for Tyler!  Too bad we can't find his twitter account and read his account of the encounter.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: DavidRoss on July 03, 2009, 01:15:58 PM
What disconcerts me is that you do not appreciate how rude you were in this encounter.  Tyler did not show up at an advanced English seminar trying to pass himself off as an intellectual, he was working at a phone store and trying to be helpful despite his limited vocabulary.  Your priority was trying to make him feel stupid for not understanding a word you used.  Despite that, he had the decency to honor your request.  Bravo for Tyler!  Too bad we can't find his twitter account and read his account of the encounter.
Rather than behaving rudely it sounds to me as if Cato behaved politely and patiently.  I do love the irony, however, of your presuming to give tips on manners to others.  FYI, as "nut-job" your posts were markedly more civil in tone.  Could it be that Scarpia's persona rubs off on you when you post under his name?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: greg on July 03, 2009, 03:06:39 PM
Rather than behaving rudely it sounds to me as if Cato behaved politely and patiently.  I do love the irony, however, of your presuming to give tips on manners to others.  FYI, as "nut-job" your posts were markedly more civil in tone.  Could it be that Scarpia's persona rubs off on you when you post under his name?

Reminds me of Iago.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: Cato on July 03, 2009, 04:58:30 PM
Rather than behaving rudely it sounds to me as if Cato behaved politely and patiently.  I do love the irony, however, of your presuming to give tips on manners to others.  FYI, as "nut-job" your posts were markedly more civil in tone.  Could it be that Scarpia's persona rubs off on you when you post under his name?


(My emphasis)

Thank you: yes, my tone continued to be one that he was mishearing, and not really misunderstanding or ignorant.    8)

I NEVER have a "priority" of making people "feel stupid" since that would prove nothing: "disconcerted" I do not consider a word found only in "Advanced English seminars" since it appeared in my 8th-Graders vocabulary lists.  The word is also considered part of a basic ESL vocabulary of 3,000 words. 

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 03, 2009, 05:13:29 PM
Quote
CATO: "disconcerted" I do not consider a word found only in "Advanced English seminars" since it appeared in my 8th-Graders vocabulary lists.  The word is also considered part of a basic ESL vocabulary of 3,000 words.


I empathise completely with Cato.  But the story has two points:

A]  Cato is able to communicate effectively at 'normal' or elevated levels.  The 'Phone' guy can't.
B]  The 'Phone' guy can fix mobile phones.  Cato can't.

Karma Police  $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on July 03, 2009, 05:40:04 PM
B]  The 'Phone' guy can fix mobile phones.  Cato can't.
Correction.  The phone guy is authorized by store management to exchange a defective battery charger for a new one that works.  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Broken Disconcert
Post by: karlhenning on July 03, 2009, 05:42:54 PM
He may also be authorized to restock the battery charger on the shelf whether it is operable or not  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 03, 2009, 05:49:56 PM
Correction.  The phone guy is authorized by store management to exchange a defective battery charger for a new one that works.  8)

And cato isn't.
Title: Re: Cato's Broken Disconcert
Post by: Scarpia on July 03, 2009, 10:01:33 PM
He may also be authorized to restock the battery charger on the shelf whether it is operable or not  ;D

I wonder what fraction of parts returned to the store as defective are actually perfectly fine.
Title: Re: Cato's Broken Disconcert
Post by: karlhenning on July 04, 2009, 03:34:32 AM
I wonder what fraction of parts returned to the store as defective are actually perfectly fine.

Not 1/1.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on July 04, 2009, 03:38:58 AM
My features after listening to Wagner.

I see we have at least one thing in common!  ;D 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on July 04, 2009, 04:09:08 AM
Who knew? (Apart from Cato must have known, I mean.) Title of this jazz classic (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,27.msg328099.html#msg328099) is a reference to Latin grammar.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on July 04, 2009, 04:56:21 AM
Who knew? (Apart from Cato must have known, I mean.) Title of this jazz classic (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,27.msg328099.html#msg328099) is a reference to Latin grammar.
As in "magnus ah um."

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat is, for me, the most beautiful, haunting, bittersweet tune ever written. 

http://www.youtube.com/v/MS7obQ7XNt4&feature=related
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Wanderer on July 04, 2009, 04:57:37 AM
"throught" = throughout

Or maybe throat?  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: Scarpia on July 04, 2009, 08:04:21 AM
(My emphasis)

Thank you: yes, my tone continued to be one that he was mishearing, and not really misunderstanding or ignorant.    8)

I NEVER have a "priority" of making people "feel stupid" since that would prove nothing: "disconcerted" I do not consider a word found only in "Advanced English seminars" since it appeared in my 8th-Graders vocabulary lists.  The word is also considered part of a basic ESL vocabulary of 3,000 words. 

Sorry if I misjudged, it is hard to tell what you tone was in this encounter.  Perhaps I mistakenly attributed the sarcasm of your recounting the encounter to the encounter itself.

I did not mean to imply that "disconcerted" is a particularly obscure word.  Just that it would be more justified to dress down a person who was making a pretense of being learned than a poor sap just trying to get through the day working in customer service.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: Cato on July 04, 2009, 01:37:30 PM
FWIW, I couldn't tell how much of the tone Cato used was to entertain and engage us and how much he might have used on the store clerk. I don't know him well enough to decide one way or the other.  When I read it though, I thought of a former coworker who would ask for 1.1 pound of sliced cheese as a test for the kid at the deli. Then he would come in the next day and happily complain to us all about how dumb the poor guy was.'

(My emphasis)

Aye, there's the rub, or the roob, as they say in Aberdeen!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 04, 2009, 02:18:27 PM
(My emphasis)

Aye, there's the rub, or the roob, as they say in Aberdeen!   0:)

Whit?
Folk in Aberdeen say "Edmund Roobra?"  That sounds more like a North East English pronunciation.  I think in Aberdeen (Scotland) if they said "Edmund Rubra" to you, you'd be pulling out your fists thinking they'd said something rude.   :-\
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Disconcerted by Disconcerting
Post by: karlhenning on July 04, 2009, 03:10:20 PM
(My emphasis)

Aye, there's the rub, or the roob, as they say in Aberdeen!   0:)

Aye, only there's some won't be entertained.

Thread duty:

Quote
Stay Awake
Take a Break
For Safety Sake
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on July 04, 2009, 03:53:25 PM
Whit?
Folk in Aberdeen say "Edmund Roobra?"  That sounds more like a North East English pronunciation.  I think in Aberdeen (Scotland) if they said "Edmund Rubra" to you, you'd be pulling out your fists thinking they'd said something rude.   :-\

Every rube in northeast England will no doubt agree!   :D 

And from Karl Henning:

"Stay Awake
Take a Break
For Safety Sake"

Our tax dollars at work on the road and in the schools!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sydney Grew on July 04, 2009, 04:32:49 PM
Why we wonder do the labouring classes of northern America feel the obligation to say "swell" when they really mean "good"? What numinous fear is it that holds them back from the Real Thing?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on July 04, 2009, 05:10:11 PM
Our tax dollars at work on the road and in the schools!   $:)

I'm grumbling for want of for safety's sake.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble - Swell, A severe case scenario
Post by: Est.1965 on July 04, 2009, 05:39:00 PM
"Swell" has a nice rising to it.  
But, it is a silly word because nothing is swelling at all.
John:  "Here's that $100 I owe you."  
A Cato the Elder Student: "Swell!"

Swell?  What, in fact, is swelling?  The $100 I just handed over to Catos student?  The air?  A large crustescean in the students belly after dinner at the local sushi bar where he discussed the latin for fish?  Is it the students mind, is that what is swelling in this scenario?  And what has the function of swelling has to do with the hundered dollars?  At the end of the day, nothing is swell, not even $100.    :(

Well.  Next time I give someone a hundred dollars, they might say "Dandelions" or "Trumpetscrews" - it's real-time meaning and impact will be the same as "Swell."

Still, I like "Swell."  It has a sincerity about it. :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on July 04, 2009, 11:35:17 PM
Swell is underrated. Groovy has also nosedived in popularity despite being far more recent. I think 'cool' killed it off :(
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Scarpia on July 05, 2009, 06:11:13 AM
Swell is an odd word.  In old war movies you will see soldiers refer to their heroic commanding officer as "a swell guy."  By the 60's 6 year olds were routinely referring to their favorite marble as "swell."  Now it is normally only used if you want to seem deliberately archaic or quaint.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on July 05, 2009, 05:07:18 PM
Or in those '40s and '50s movies, spoken by adolescents, following closely on the heels of the word "Gee." (an interesting word in itself -- a euphemism, Jesus->gee-whiz->Cheez-Whiz!)'


 >:D   The Devil's Fromage!   >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on July 05, 2009, 10:32:28 PM
"...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

This --- and indeed the whole rest of it --- is a poem in prose,compared with the "style" of contemporary political documents. ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 06, 2009, 02:17:33 AM
This --- and indeed the whole rest of it --- is a poem in prose,compared with the "style" of contemporary political documents. ;D

Cheez, that sure is swell!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Style And Idiocy
Post by: Cato on July 06, 2009, 05:02:28 AM
This --- and indeed the whole rest of it --- is a poem in prose,compared with the "style" of contemporary political documents. ;D

Many thanks for the comment!

"Style" in writing (and in speaking) by American politicians began fading away after Theodore Roosevelt!  Franklin Roosevelt also had his moments of course, but does anyone read e.g. the books of Nixon or Carter or Billy Jeff Clinton to find great examples of style?   :o

Hopping down the punny trail:

We recently saw new signs in an adjoining suburb warning us of a "Speed Bump" ahead.  Here in Ohio's central city that is the proper term.

But this reminded us of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where similar signs could be found: one area had signs calling them "Traffic Calming Devices," which is beyond satire: maybe the bureaucrats get paid by the word.   8)

Worse, however, was another area with signs saying "Speed Hump" which I always thought was a one-way ticket to a divorce court!   $:)



Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 05:07:10 AM
Traffic Calming Devices !! Probably, my Heedless Watermelon could use one of those . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Style And Idiocy
Post by: DavidRoss on July 06, 2009, 05:10:56 AM
re. "Traffic Calming Devices"

Stun gun, svp.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Style And Idiocy
Post by: Florestan on July 06, 2009, 05:34:54 AM
does anyone read e.g. the books of Nixon or Carter or Billy Jeff Clinton to find great examples of style?   :o

Did they write books?  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Style And Idiocy
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 05:42:11 AM
Did they write books?  :o

Nixon is the author listed for titles such as Leaders, Beyond Peace, Seize the Moment, In the Arena, and of course, his Memoirs.

Carter, listed for Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.

Clinton, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World and an autobiography.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Style And Idiocy
Post by: Florestan on July 06, 2009, 05:50:56 AM
Nixon is the author listed for titles such as Leaders, Beyond Peace, Seize the Moment, In the Arena, and of course, his Memoirs.

Carter, listed for Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.

Clinton, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World and an autobiography.

Many thanks. The titles themselves speak volumes... I especially like Carter's second and Clinton's first. :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Style And Idiocy
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 06:01:36 AM
Many thanks. The titles themselves speak volumes...

 ;)

(Fair disclosure: I haven't read any of them.)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Style And Idiocy
Post by: Florestan on July 06, 2009, 06:13:51 AM
;)

(Fair disclosure: I haven't read any of them.)

If I needed a good Science Fiction book I wouldn't turn to Jimmy Carter, that's for sure.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 07:00:31 AM
OTOH, if Carter wrote a book speculating on how Mozart supposedly didn't write his own music . . . that one, I'd read.

 8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on July 06, 2009, 07:59:47 AM
OTOH, if Carter wrote a book speculating on how Mozart supposedly didn't write his own music . . . that one, I'd read.

 8)

Wait!  Doesn't everyone know already that Mozart was actually Moe Zart, part-time baker and full-time stooge for the notorious Viennese parvenu and whipped-cream thief Ludwig Leiserlauter aka Lewd Louie aka Lou the 'Lude aka Louis the Wig aka Lou da Dude Wit' 'tude?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on July 07, 2009, 06:18:09 AM
Swell is an odd word.  In old war movies you will see soldiers refer to their heroic commanding officer as "a swell guy."  By the 60's 6 year olds were routinely referring to their favorite marble as "swell."  Now it is normally only used if you want to seem deliberately archaic or quaint.


A famous toy company in the 1950's had this slogan:  "You can tell it's Mattel: it's swell!"

And then there is "swell" as a noun, meaning a rich person, or at least stylishly dressed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU3robyaNAY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU3robyaNAY)


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 07, 2009, 06:20:13 AM
Laurel and Hardy movies are awash with "swell."   :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on July 07, 2009, 06:43:16 AM
A famous toy company in the 1950's had this slogan:  "You can tell it's Mattel: it's swell!"

And then there is "swell" as a noun, meaning a rich person, or at least stylishly dressed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU3robyaNAY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU3robyaNAY)




Fred Astaire was nearly 50 when he made Easter Parade.

John is quite right: usually "swell" is said in Laurel and Hardy comedies with great sarcasm.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on July 29, 2009, 07:47:32 AM
Cato has a little time - and Internet access - to return and grumble about something he has heard and seen in the past weeks!   $:)

I have not heard the following, since I left Georgia 3 years ago, and ceased stopping at gas stations on I-75 in Dalton, but that the speaker was from the South, and not a native Ohioan, was obvious from his accent:

Cashier: "So are you going to the State Fair?"
Southerner: "Ah might should, since we're here already, but gotta ask the waf fust."

Actually, he pronounced "might" as "mat" with a hint of a "yu" sound after the "a".  (And "waf" = "wife" and "fust" = "first.")

This curiosity comes from the mistake of equating "might" with "maybe" which replacement makes the idea clearer.

"Maybe" equaling "perhaps" obviously comes from the verb "may be."  In the good ol' days, we were taught the specific difference between "may" and "might" that today seems moribund.

"He may visit his grandmother today."  (The odds are above 50% that he will pop into Grandma's house for some pop.)

"He might visit his grandmother today." (The odds are less than 50% that he will pop into Grandma's house, and if he doesn't, she will take him out of the will!)   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on July 29, 2009, 07:59:03 AM
Cato has a little time - and Internet access - to return and grumble about something he has heard and seen in the past weeks!   $:)

Just as I was wondering where all the grumbling had gone... :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 29, 2009, 12:16:02 PM
Cato, I suspect that this construction is an old one, likely retained in certain pockets in Appalachia and possibly other relatively remote areas. I think the construction is becoming better known/spreading (sorry!); there is a writer who has used it, but I cannot think of the author's name at the moment.

Will research later; am curious now!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Sean on July 29, 2009, 12:21:15 PM
I used to post on another music board years back and even there people were particularly interested in issues in English- and I've been also for many years, something to do with the importance of expression, and music as a language no doubt.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 29, 2009, 12:27:21 PM
My quick look summary: this is a "double modal" which some theorize is not really a double modal, but one modal (the first one, "might") acting instead as an adverb.

Now I really have to get out of here; back later!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 29, 2009, 12:37:13 PM
From Wikipedia, this interesting tidbit: "Double modals also occur in the closely related Germanic language Scots." And Appalachia had a lot of "Scotch-Irish" settlers; these would likely have been from Ulster, which is one area in which Scots was spoken.

This is really interesting to me. I think it's an old construction, a holdover from immigrants to the area, as other constructions one might hear in Appalachia are. The above bolsters that notion.

And now, yes, I really really AM leaving!

(ET correct typo; had "here" instead of "hear."  :o)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 29, 2009, 01:01:42 PM
From Wikipedia, this interesting tidbit: "Double modals also occur in the closely related Germanic language Scots." And Appalachia had a lot of "Scotch-Irish" settlers; these would likely have been from Ulster, which is one area in which Scots was spoken.

This is really interesting to me. I think it's an old construction, a holdover from immigrants to the area, as other constructions one might here in Appalachia are. The above bolsters that notion.

And now, yes, I really really AM leaving!

Aye.
There is another 'american-ism' which I reckon isn't used nearly as much today.  Here is the word in action...
"Aww, shucks granny, I didn't expect you to be on top of Granpa."
Shucks is a great word.  Must come from 'shocks' ?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 29, 2009, 02:43:51 PM
Not from shocks. Etymology is unknown; one popular theory is that it is a combination of the injection that refers to excrement and an even ruder interjection that ends in "uck." This ignores the earlier use of "shuck" and "shucks."

When one strips an ear of corn, one is shucking it, and the refuse was referred to as "shucks." Oysters and clams are also shucked. I'm thinking this word is not used in Great Britain, hmm? That makes sense, corn being from the New World. So... I'm wondering now if perhaps "shuck" came from an Indian word; wouldn't that make sense?

A source: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shuck

One still shucks corn, clams, and oysters. Oh, and peas, too. I don't know of anything else off the top of my head that one would shuck. Well, I can think of things that one might shuck, but they are not things one would usually use that word for, I think. Does one shuck mussels, for example? I don't eat them (well, I did once, and shouldn't have, but it was in France and everyone was speaking French, so the word "shuck" never came up. But I digress.), so don't know.

And yes, it's still used! Maybe not often, but I heard it last week from someone I work with.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 29, 2009, 03:06:58 PM
Not from shocks. Etymology is unknown; one popular theory is that it is a combination of the injection that refers to excrement and an even ruder interjection that ends in "uck." This ignores the earlier use of "shuck" and "shucks."

When one strips an ear of corn, one is shucking it, and the refuse was referred to as "shucks." Oysters and clams are also shucked. I'm thinking this word is not used in Great Britain, hmm? That makes sense, corn being from the New World. So... I'm wondering now if perhaps "shuck" came from an Indian word; wouldn't that make sense?

A source: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shuck

One still shucks corn, clams, and oysters. Oh, and peas, too. I don't know of anything else off the top of my head that one would shuck. Well, I can think of things that one might shuck, but they are not things one would usually use that word for, I think. Does one shuck mussels, for example? I don't eat them (well, I did once, and shouldn't have, but it was in France and everyone was speaking French, so the word "shuck" never came up. But I digress.), so don't know.

And yes, it's still used! Maybe not often, but I heard it last week from someone I work with.

Aww, shucks owlice, what a great response.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 29, 2009, 03:09:37 PM
Shucks, John; nice of you to say so. :-)

Back to double modals (which I'd never heard of before today, though I'm sure I've heard them!):

HA! From here: http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20001120

"The use of the double modal is definitely not "illiterate," but rather typical of regional dialect. "

And:

"Double modals are quite common in Northern English (that's England English) and Scots. The settlement patterns of people of Scottish ancestry in the southern U.S. might would account for the concentration of the usage there."

And this:

"Other examples of Southern Highland grammatical forms which have their origin in Scotch-Irish or Scottish English include the so-called "positive" anymore ("He works at the Tyson plant anymore"), "existential'' they for there ("They was [i.e., there were] three boys hurt in the wreck"), double modal auxiliaries (e.g., might could), and a special use of the preposition till which indicates manner rather than time ("He puts it in the index till [i.e., so that] you can find it"). The existence of these forms in Ozarks English does not mean, of course, that dialects in the American Southern Highlands are like some earlier form of Scottish English, since the many other features in Ozarks English are American innovations or can be traced back to other British regional dialects. It does, however, suggest that the dialects of Scotch-Irish immigrants had a particularly strong influence on those grammatical features which are more or less unique to dialects in the Southern Highlands. "

is from http://thelibrary.org/lochist/periodicals/ozarkswatch/ow803j.htm
(Emphasis mine.)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: Joe Barron on July 29, 2009, 03:45:27 PM
A quote from the Washington Post today from an article about a Supreme Court decision about reverse discrimination:

"The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide and make it harder to prove discrimination when there is no evidence it was intentional."

(My Emphasis above)

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/29/AR2009062901608_pf.html

So the implication is that lawyers can still prove discrimination with no evidence thereof !!!   :o   It is just "harder" to do so!


No, Cato, the operative word here is intentional. Hiring practices may appear discriminatory when a particular test results a large number of white candidates at the top and a large number of applicants of color at the bottom, but a plaintiff must now prove that the person administering the test purposefully skewed it to eliminate the applicants of color. Ethnic disparities alone --- that is, statistics --- cannot prove discrimination. As a result, proving discrimination becomes harder because it is harder to argue from intent, which is often hidden, than from results, which are there for all to see. There's nothing grammatically wrong, or even semantically wrong, with the sentence you are objecting to. It's perfectly understandable.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: Cato on July 29, 2009, 04:43:47 PM
No, Cato, the operative word here is intentional. Hiring practices may appear discriminatory when a particular test results a large number of white candidates at the top and a large number of applicants of color at the bottom, but a plaintiff must now prove that the person administering the test purposefully skewed it to eliminate the applicants of color. Ethnic disparities alone --- that is, statistics --- cannot prove discrimination. As a result, proving discrimination becomes harder because it is harder to argue from intent, which is often hidden, than from results, which are there for all to see. There's nothing grammatically wrong, or even semantically wrong, with the sentence you are objecting to. It's perfectly understandable.

No, the sentence does not mean what the author wants.  Your interpretation is very nice and understandable, because you know what he wants to say.

It should say:

"The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide and make it harder to prove discrimination when it is intentional."

"No evidence" of intent is exactly that: "no evidence."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: Joe Barron on July 29, 2009, 05:00:23 PM
No, the sentence does not mean what the author wants.  Your interpretation is very nice and understandable, because you know what he wants to say.

It should say:

"The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide and make it harder to prove discrimination when it is intentional."

"No evidence" of intent is exactly that: "no evidence."


I disagree. "To prove discrimination when it is intentional" is redundant, since, by the court's definition, discrimination cannot be unintentional. One needs evidence of intent. Perhaps best would be to say, "One cannot prove discrimination unless one can prove intent." Thus, we remove degrees of difficulty.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: MishaK on July 29, 2009, 05:10:53 PM
No, the sentence does not mean what the author wants.  Your interpretation is very nice and understandable, because you know what he wants to say.

It should say:

"The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide and make it harder to prove discrimination when it is intentional."

"No evidence" of intent is exactly that: "no evidence."

Cato, you got it completely backwards. The sentence says that it will be harder to prove discrimination in the absence of evidence of discriminatory intent. I.e. the ruling has turned a question of discrimination in fact to a question of discriminatory intent, which is a mens rea issue which is notoriously hard to prove.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on July 29, 2009, 05:13:21 PM
When speaking English, it is recognised that the Scots CAN and sometimes DO speak better 'proper' English than the English do.  To find out for yourself, look at the phonetics of the word 'poor'.

pʊər
poor


Have someone from England say "I am poor," it would sound more like "I'm pooah," or whatever regional dialect comes into force.
A Scot saying the same thing is more likely to say "A'm poor."  The "I'm" part loses, but ther "poor" wins it every time.   ;D  ;D

 :-\

 :-\
And what a silly post I am making here.  Why did I bother?  I'm not even sure if I have wealth of spirit enough to pull myself back from making this pointless post for those who pronounce 'poor' correctly (be they from Scotland, Denver or Tokyo) for it occupies no recognisable place in Catos Grammar Grumble and does not follow in a recognisable sequential fashion from the last post by O Mensch.  Pah! And now I don't even know what I'm talking about.   >:(

 ::)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: Florestan on July 29, 2009, 11:42:55 PM
Quote
"The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide and make it harder to prove discrimination when there is no evidence it was intentional."

I'm with Cato on this one. The above sentence is completely nonsensical. If there is no evidence of intent, then there is no discrimination, period, because, as Joe Barron aptly noticed, there is no such thing as unintentional discrimination. Something for which there is no evidence is not "harder to prove", it is "impossible to prove".


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: MishaK on July 30, 2009, 03:22:15 AM
I'm with Cato on this one. The above sentence is completely nonsensical. If there is no evidence of intent, then there is no discrimination, period, because, as Joe Barron aptly noticed, there is no such thing as unintentional discrimination. Something for which there is no evidence is not "harder to prove", it is "impossible to prove".

That's incorrect, Florestan. Discrimination may be the result of inherent bias in e.g. testing methodology which the makers of the test took for granted without questioning and without noticing the inherent bias, or worse, because certain standards and actions which are de facto discriminatory have been considered so normal that the bias against the minority is not even noticed by the majority. Prejudice and bias are unconscious factors that have nothing to do with intent. Intent is a much stronger mental state than doing something inadvertently. Yet the results of inadvertent discrimination can be just as harmful. Again, the original sentence spoke not of an absence of proof of discrimination, it spoke of an absence of proof of intent.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
Post by: Florestan on July 30, 2009, 03:50:00 AM
That's incorrect, Florestan. Discrimination may be the result of inherent bias in e.g. testing methodology which the makers of the test took for granted without questioning and without noticing the inherent bias, or worse, because certain standards and actions which are de facto discriminatory have been considered so normal that the bias against the minority is not even noticed by the majority.

I'd appreciate it if you could provide examples for the highlighted part.

Again, the original sentence spoke not of an absence of proof of discrimination, it spoke of an absence of proof of intent.

Precisely. The very concept of "unintentional discrimination" is highly questionable. If I refuse to hire John Doe because he's black, this is clearly intentional discrimination. But if I refuse to hire him because he's not qualified for the job, I can still be sued for discrimination, albeit unintentional, because the whole methodology by which I decided he's not apt is unconsciously biased and discriminatory, or so they say?? I'm sorry, but it doesn't make any sense to me.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 30, 2009, 03:52:01 AM
',

I'd seen that article, which resulted in a comment I made here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,10977.msg339143.html#msg339143).

I'd like to see something more than a speculation by a linguist who hasn't studied this at all, though! :)

There are a lot of odd little constructions in various pockets; there are a number of them on the eastern shore of Maryland and other parts of the Delmarva peninsula, for example, or were, anyway, when I was growing up. (I would expect there would be many fewer of them now.) Many of these odd constructions can be traced back to a construction that arose either from another language or earlier English usage. The one Cato pointed out sounds like one such older construction to me; Appalachia came immediately to mind. (And dang; just now looking at a map, I see I-75 cuts right through Appalachia.)

Interesting info here: http://linguistlist.org/issues/5/5-241.html
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 30, 2009, 03:53:17 AM
:: pops popcorn ::

:: pulls up a chair to watch the other discussion ::
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MishaK on July 30, 2009, 04:04:27 AM
Florestan,

I take it you were never on the receiving end of a discriminatory society or ever had to prove intent. Good for you. I don't want to derail this thread any further. This is on grammar. The sentence Cato cited had no grammatical issues. Cato's and your issue is clearly with based on a misunderstanding of the entire phenomenon of discrimination as well as the concept of mens rea in law. If you want to discuss this in more depth, I suggest you start a new topic. Though, seeing the intellectual level of this forum in recent days, I have little hope that much good will come of it.

PS: You may want to try this to help you understand unconscious bias: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on July 30, 2009, 04:31:31 AM
Florestan,

I take it you were never on the receiving end of a discriminatory society or ever had to prove intent. Good for you. I don't want to derail this thread any further. This is on grammar. The sentence Cato cited had no grammatical issues. Cato's and your issue is clearly with based on a misunderstanding of the entire phenomenon of discrimination as well as the concept of mens rea in law. If you want to discuss this in more depth, I suggest you start a new topic. Though, seeing the intellectual level of this forum in recent days, I have little hope that much good will come of it.



Why this thinly veiled ad hominem, I don't know. All I did was asking you to provide examples of testing methodologies, standards and actions that are inherently biased and discriminatory --- and I'm still waiting. I'm sure Cato will not mind a little off topic on his thread.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MishaK on July 30, 2009, 05:03:10 AM
 ::)

It wasn't a 'veiled ad hominem' against you. Just a statement of disappointment with how political topics get debated around here. I really think this is off topic here.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on July 30, 2009, 06:33:39 AM
',

Well, how annoying! My apologies; I apparently don't know how to create an inline link, either!!  :(

I've fixed it; the post is here: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,10977.msg339143.html#msg339143

Just the comment about double modals possibly being not double modals, is all; wrote that after I'd read the article to which you'd pointed.

:: offers ' a chair and some popcorn ::
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on July 30, 2009, 07:24:06 AM
My quick look summary: this is a "double modal" which some theorize is not really a double modal, but one modal (the first one, "might") acting instead as an adverb.

Now I really have to get out of here; back later!

Right!  I don't agree with the double modal interpretation.   0:)

O Mensch wrote to Florestan:

"This is on grammar. The sentence Cato cited had no grammatical issues. Cato's and your issue is clearly with based on a misunderstanding of the entire phenomenon of discrimination as well as the concept of mens rea in law."

(My emphasis)

The Law often depends on grammar, which is one basis for thinking properly. 

One of the problems of proving racial discrimination is that it borders on thought crime, unless there is some sort of evidence, even indirect or symbolic.   

One could claim that the man who puts his house up for sale a few days after Afro-Americans moved in next door is a racist.  The evidence being the for-sale sign.  If he shows you, however, the transfer order from his company sending him to North Dakota, dated coincidentally 3 days after his new neighbors appeared, your evidence fades away.

To continue: if you on the other hand find his transfer request dated the day after the neighbors showed up, then that could be evidence of racism.

Or maybe not: perhaps he simply decided he wanted to move to Bismarck!   :o 

Again, no evidence = no evidence, not "little" or "hard-to-find" or difficult-to-prove" evidence, which is most probably what the reporter meant.  Imputing racism ipso facto because of skin color leads us to Orwellian thought crime.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on July 30, 2009, 07:32:48 AM
Right!  I don't agree with the double modal interpretation.   0:)

I keep "double modal" and "double-jointed" in the same folder  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MishaK on July 30, 2009, 08:12:21 AM
Right!  I don't agree with the double modal interpretation.   0:)

O Mensch wrote to Florestan:

"This is on grammar. The sentence Cato cited had no grammatical issues. Cato's and your issue is clearly with based on a misunderstanding of the entire phenomenon of discrimination as well as the concept of mens rea in law."

(My emphasis)

The Law often depends on grammar, which is one basis for thinking properly. 

One of the problems of proving racial discrimination is that it borders on thought crime, unless there is some sort of evidence, even indirect or symbolic.   

One could claim that the man who puts his house up for sale a few days after Afro-Americans moved in next door is a racist.  The evidence being the for-sale sign.  If he shows you, however, the transfer order from his company sending him to North Dakota, dated coincidentally 3 days after his new neighbors appeared, your evidence fades away.

To continue: if you on the other hand find his transfer request dated the day after the neighbors showed up, then that could be evidence of racism.

Or maybe not: perhaps he simply decided he wanted to move to Bismarck!   :o 

Again, no evidence = no evidence, not "little" or "hard-to-find" or difficult-to-prove" evidence, which is most probably what the reporter meant.  Imputing racism ipso facto because of skin color leads us to Orwellian thought crime.

No, Cato. No evidence of intent does not mean no evidence of discriminatory effect. There can be policies and practices that were not intended to be discriminatory by their makers, but ended up having a vastly discriminatory effect because certain unconscious biases were not taken into account. It is much easier to prove the discriminatory effect than it is to prove intent, and that doesn't make it a 'thought crime'. E.g. when you have a test that is meant to test mental aptitude, but all the examples are unconsciously taken from a white cultural milieu that could be completely foreign to a non-white, then that will throw off your results and discriminate against otherwise qualified non-whites even if the intent wasn't to discriminate.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: EWWWW!
Post by: Cato on September 03, 2009, 03:00:49 AM
On my list of Grumbles compiled during the last weeks is pronunciation!

You have maybe been noticing the invasion of the Bug-Ugly Syllable "eww" where it does not belong, replacing a clean "oo" sound.  Here in practically perfect Ohio, this is most disconcerting!   :o

I have no problem with "eww" (pronounced by squeezing the nose slightly shut to keep out odiously odiferous aromas) as an 8-year old girl's expression of disgust when she sees a bug or an 8-year old boy.

But I have been hearing local TV people and others pronouncing words e.g. "food" as is it were "lewd" or "feud" but without the "Y" sound after "F", which is the grade I would give this pronunciation!

"You" is becoming "yeww" with puckered sinuses,

Perhaps this is the result of too much PBS viewing, where such mis-speaking is rampant!   0:)  Or perhaps it is the result of all those people leaving California, where this nasty sound originated as part of the snooty Valley Girl patois, where a wrinkled nose of disgust was the proper response to everything that was not found at The GAP.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: EWWWW!
Post by: Egebedieff on September 03, 2009, 04:05:59 AM
But there is something to be said for the survival of unhomogenized regionalisms.

How do they pronounce orthoepy in Ohio?
'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: EWWWW!
Post by: karlhenning on September 03, 2009, 04:12:50 AM
But there is something to be said for the survival of unhomogenized regionalisms.

Something, yet not everything.

(And a friend of mine has opened for Todd Rundgren, yes.)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: EWWWW!
Post by: Cato on September 03, 2009, 05:50:35 AM
But there is something to be said for the survival of unhomogenized regionalisms.

How do they pronounce orthoepy in Ohio?
'

With a short "e" and no hidden "W" between the "o" and the "e" !   0:)

Let us now grumble about something linguistiic, which however will take us into the realm of semiotics and then to grumbling about the decline of western civilization.

Near my neighborhood is a large billboard with an ad from Nationwide Children's Hospital.  Yes, the Nationwide that "is on your side" runs the place, and has a nice nationally recognized reputation for its care.

In the largest type possible for a billboard are 3 words, the last all upper-case:




I hesitate to disgust the gentle readership here, but...





...it says: "We Know SNOT!"    >:(

No doubt Nationwide hired an absolute advertising genius to come up with this, and no doubt other managerial geniuses approved the ad!

The idiocy, the moronic crudity of this ad speaks for itself.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: EWWWW!
Post by: Cato on September 03, 2009, 06:16:40 AM
Did you really mean that hyphen?
'

Yes, with "upper-case" used an adjective the hyphen is correct.

The word "letters" is understood.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: EWWWW!
Post by: Egebedieff on September 03, 2009, 06:33:12 AM
Yes, with "upper-case" used an adjective the hyphen is correct.

The word "letters" is understood.
As long as you are certain. There are other conventions, such as Merriam-Webster's, for the use of uppercase or lowercase as an adjective that would make it one word. Likewise, there are other conventions, such as Garner's and others, that would not place a hyphen in a phrasal adjective unless the phrasal adjective precedes the noun, where, as Garner says, its primary purpose is to prevent miscues. But there are many conventions that I might not be aware of.'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble:Hyphens and Lowphens
Post by: Cato on September 03, 2009, 07:44:24 AM
As long as you are certain. There are other conventions, such as Merriam-Webster's, for the use of uppercase or lowercase as an adjective that would make it one word. Likewise, there are other conventions, such as Garner's and others, that would not place a hyphen in a phrasal adjective unless the phrasal adjective precedes the noun, where, as Garner says, its primary purpose is to prevent miscues.
But there are many conventions that I might not be aware of.
'

Right: I think "upper-case" is just easier to read.

"The upper case uses large letters."

vs. 

"Is that supposed to be an upper-case letter?"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble:Hyphens and Lowphens
Post by: Egebedieff on September 03, 2009, 08:33:48 AM
Right: I think "upper-case" is just easier to read.

"The upper case uses large letters."

vs. 

"Is that supposed to be an upper-case letter?"

We are each free to do what pleases us when it comes to such matters.
'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 09, 2009, 12:57:06 AM
Grumble-worthy? (http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/2009/09/let-us-edu-tain-you.html)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Egebedieff on September 09, 2009, 02:22:45 AM
Ha! I tend not to hyphenate the words I make up.

[Added edit]

I was curious as to whether Garner (Modern American Usage) addresses this. From his entry on -worthy: "As in the preceding examples [seaworthy vessel, crashworthy minivan, creditworthy loan applicant], the form is almost always closed up with its root, not hyphenated. Only a few newfangled -worthy terms [an article-worthy celebrity] have hyphens."

Gloatworthy?

(I would hyphenate ewww-worthy.)
'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 09, 2009, 08:03:28 AM
Ha! I tend not to hyphenate the words I make up.

[Added edit]

I was curious as to whether Garner (Modern American Usage) addresses this. From his entry on -worthy: "As in the preceding examples [seaworthy vessel, crashworthy minivan, creditworthy loan applicant], the form is almost always closed up with its root, not hyphenated. Only a few newfangled -worthy terms [an article-worthy celebrity] have hyphens."

Gloatworthy?

(I would hyphenate ewww-worthy.)

In journalism style, it's an evolutionary continuum. When new constructions arise, they are intiially hyphenated, then run together as they become more common. Here at the paper, we used to make "fund raiser" two words, with "fund-raising" hypehented as an adjective (as in "fund-raising goals"), but separate as a noun ("she is in charge of fund raising'). Now we just say fundraiser and fundraising in all cases. We follow AP style, and they take a while to catch up. I'm still waiting to be able to write "stormwater runoff" with no hyphens. In cases like this, though, it's not a question of right or wrong. It's a question of consistency.

BTW, I think it was Robert MacNeil, in his PBS series on the American language, who pointed out that Phildelphia was the  most important single city in the development of what we think of as the American accent, since it was the first city in the British empire in which people pronunced the r's as the ends of words, saying, e.g., water instead of Wat-ah. I wasn't too clear on the reason, but I think it had to do with the large German population here in the 18th century.
 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 10, 2009, 08:15:57 AM
I would be interested in how Germans would have influenced the -er pronunciation, since German has an "r" at the uvula, which would seem to be closer to the "waddah" pronunciation.

But in linguistics many things are possible: why you hear an "-r" added to a final "-a"  (JFK's (in)famous pronunciation of "Cuba" as "Cuber" is another mystery!

Today's grumble: hard to believe, but the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal printed the monstrosity "a ways to go last week!   :o

We might have a way to go, before we find Burger King, but there is no way that we would have a ways to go!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 10, 2009, 09:40:30 AM
Any of you fellows want to look over a novelette/novella?  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 10, 2009, 09:40:58 AM
Is it creepy?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 10, 2009, 09:42:13 AM
Gosh, I hope so.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 10, 2009, 09:45:08 AM
Well, it's not my thing, then.  Pity, for normally, I should like to be of service to you by looking the work over.  I don't do creepy, though.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 10, 2009, 09:45:52 AM
That's cool.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Szykneij on September 11, 2009, 01:31:55 AM
But in linguistics many things are possible: why you hear an "-r" added to a final "-a"  (JFK's (in)famous pronunciation of "Cuba" as "Cuber" is another mystery!

That's what you get with a heavy Boston accent -- a's get added er's, and er's get switched to a's. When I worked in a cover band, the MC would announce "and now a song by Aniter Bake-ah:.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 11, 2009, 02:49:09 AM
Thanks for arrrr the responses!   ???


Today's Grumble: Slang frum da 'hood on TV News!

Intrepid 20-something reporter Blondie Bubblehead on the local CBS station was reporting on the latest crackhead shooting.  30-something News Anchor Bubbles Blondiehead asks her (and I am not making this up, except for the names):

"So, Blondie, what's goin' down there?"

"Bubbles, a drug deal of some kind went down here, and it went down real bad: 3 guys shot..." etc.

Rule: Blondies from the 'burbs should not try to sound like they are from "da 'hood."   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 11, 2009, 02:59:19 AM
One of my favorite 'cultural artifacts' along these lines, is a bowdlerized line in the version of a Steve Miller song favored by a local radio station (apparently committed with Mr Miller's cooperation), wherein (we know) he does not want "to get caught up in any of that funky kicks goin' down in the city."

Personally, I defy funky kicks, wherever they be goin' down.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 11, 2009, 09:19:50 AM
I would be interested in how Germans would have influenced the -er pronunciation, since German has an "r" at the uvula, which would seem to be closer to the "waddah" pronunciation.

As I said, I was fuzzy on the details.

"A ways" is a common idiomatic expression. It's nothing to get upset about.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Egebedieff on September 11, 2009, 10:29:08 AM
As I said, I was fuzzy on the details.

"A ways" is a common idiomatic expression. It's nothing to get upset about.

I suspect that it comes out of the overlapping usage between ways and wise, especially as a suffix. For example, anyway /anywise or edgeways/edgewise.
'
 

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 11, 2009, 10:36:16 AM
. . . some are wise and some otherwise. They've got pretty blue eyes.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Harpo on September 11, 2009, 12:04:18 PM
OK, these phrases may be common usage, but they bother me:

If you say "I wonder where he went?" why is it punctuated with a question mark and not a period? You're stating what you are wondering about, not questioning if you're wondering or not.

What about the phrase "She went missing"? When you start out "she went," it sounds as if you know where she went. I would say "She is missing" or even "She disappeared."

Thanks for letting me vent.  :)


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Egebedieff on September 11, 2009, 12:26:59 PM

What about the phrase "She went missing"? When you start out "she went," it sounds as if you know where she went. I would say "She is missing" or even "She disappeared."

In 2003, I remember a news story on BBC World News (via NPR) about Beatles tapes that "went missing" (as in this http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2646921.stm). Within the next week or so, I was struck by the fact I began hearing the expression in other news stories, local and national, and thought it was an odd coincidence, so I Googled "went missing," and page after page, all of the hits were from the UK and Australia. Now try it.

Sort of a Beatlemania aftereffect? Like all of the British expressions and spellings we picked up in the '60s (Many [most?] of which we subsequently dropped: fab, groddy/groady, groovy, along with slang of the period).

I wondered (not arguing that it is so, but still wondering) if it could have in some way been due to the fact that after 9/11, NPR stations began picking up the BBC World News feed overnight.

'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Szykneij on September 11, 2009, 12:37:40 PM
OK, these phrases may be common usage, but they bother me:

If you say "I wonder where he went?" why is it punctuated with a question mark and not a period? You're stating what you are wondering about, not questioning if you're wondering or not.

Because that phrase is usually not used as a statement. When the inflection of the voice indicates it's a question, a question mark is used. I think you'll agree?     ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: The Six on September 11, 2009, 08:35:36 PM
The misuse of "literally" is really getting to me.

"I literally had to fly back to New York..."

Oh, really? You literally flew? You sprouted wings and flew? When did this word get to be so abused?
Title: Oh, literally? You really flew?
Post by: Egebedieff on September 12, 2009, 12:15:07 AM
The misuse of "literally" is really getting to me.

"I literally had to fly back to New York..."

Oh, really? You literally flew? You sprouted wings and flew? When did this word get to be so abused?

Coincidentally, there is a similar problem with the use of really, which is offered as a synonym for literally, even though we feel less need to use really literally.

The NPR interview transcript is especially enlightening on the topic.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4988053
http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wordroutes/1499/
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/literallygloss.htm

'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 14, 2009, 05:45:09 AM
Concerning the question mark for: "I wonder where he went?"

As explained above, yes, the question mark is wrong.  This is an indirect question.  All you need is a period.  The direct question would be: "Where did he go?"

"Literally" and the NPR interview: I do recall that from 4 years ago!  Many thanks to Mr. Apostrophe for the link!   0:)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on September 14, 2009, 06:04:06 AM
In 2003, I remember a news story on BBC World News (via NPR) about Beatles tapes that "went missing" (as in this http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2646921.stm). Within the next week or so, I was struck by the fact I began hearing the expression in other news stories, local and national, and thought it was an odd coincidence, so I Googled "went missing," and page after page, all of the hits were from the UK and Australia. Now try it.

Sort of a Beatlemania aftereffect? Like all of the British expressions and spellings we picked up in the '60s (Many [most?] of which we subsequently dropped: fab, groddy/groady, groovy, along with slang of the period).

I wondered (not arguing that it is so, but still wondering) if it could have in some way been due to the fact that after 9/11, NPR stations began picking up the BBC World News feed overnight.

'

Went missing through the years (http://www.google.com/search?q=%22went+missing%22&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=com.ubuntu:en-GB:unofficial&hs=bls&tbo=1&site=mbd&tbs=tl:1).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 03:31:52 AM
Not necessarily.  Use of the adverb focuses on the verb, i.e., on the action;  "eat healthily" to me suggests, e.g., chewing 30 times before swallowing.  I don't have any quarrel with "eat healthy," which I think is more a matter of ellipsis than of using an adjective where one really needs an adverb.

But, I should take this to Cato's Grumble Emporium  ;)

Cato, my neurons are slow this morning, or I should think I might find other examples of verb followed by adjective, as subtly distinct from verb modified by adverb.

Any enlightenment? Up to and including, you're just plain wrong, Karl  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidW on September 16, 2009, 03:52:14 AM
He's probably going to say "is this about DavidW?"  Sigh... ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: ChamberNut on September 16, 2009, 03:57:06 AM
The thing I struggle with the most is the apostrophe.  :-[
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 04:01:29 AM
The thing I struggle with the most is the apostrophe.  :-[

Man, I had a friend who was an English major who had frank trouble with its VS. it's  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on September 16, 2009, 04:22:53 AM
Whatever happened to healthful? One doesn't eat healthily if one is eating a nutritious diet, but does eat healthfully by doing so, yes?

Food is not healthy -- well, it can be, in that an apple doesn't have apple rust or some other apple disease is healthy -- but is healthful if by its consumption, it promotes good health in the consumer, correct?

Or was my mother wrong?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 04:27:37 AM
"Conducive to good health: healthful" is indeed one reading of healthy.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 16, 2009, 04:27:47 AM
Cato, my neurons are slow this morning, or I should think I might find other examples of verb followed by adjective, as subtly distinct from verb modified by adverb.

Any enlightenment? Up to and including, you're just plain wrong, Karl  ;)

Interesting: "Eat healthy..." would be obvious as meaning "Eat healthy food."

Without the 3 dots one must make a better effort to realize that "food" is understood, and that "healthy" does not modify "eat."

"Healthily" indeed is an adverb and you are quite right, despite slow neurons.   ;D

"Healthfully" also works: one must decide which word has the better music.   0:)




Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 04:36:39 AM
Separately (and I may have grumbled about this before) . . . I've seen a sign use the phrase beyond comparison, which had the look of someone "correcting" the (native) phrase beyond compare, because how can you have a verb follow a preposition, sheesh?!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 16, 2009, 05:37:14 AM
Separately (and I may have grumbled about this before) . . . I've seen a sign use the phrase beyond comparison, which had the look of someone "correcting" the (native) phrase beyond compare, because how can you have a verb follow a preposition, sheesh?!

My Random House dictionary lists (under the 7th meaning) "compare" as a late medieval noun, so everything is just fine!   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 05:46:40 AM
A noun, without fail  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on September 16, 2009, 05:54:52 AM
Quote
The thing I struggle with the most is the apostrophe. 

Strunk & White have the rule on the use of a possessive apostrophe:  's is always used.  Even for names ending with an "s" - although ever since I can remember I was taught to not add the 's with names like Davis. 

E.g.:

Wrong: Miles Davis' 1970s fusion records are not universally loved. 
Correct: Miles Davis's 1970s fusion records are not universally loved.

What say you?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 16, 2009, 06:05:41 AM
Strunk & White have the rule on the use of a possessive apostrophe:  's is always used.  Even for names ending with an "s" - although ever since I can remember I was taught to not add the 's with names like Davis. 

E.g.:

Wrong: Miles Davis' 1970s fusion records are not universally loved. 
Correct: Miles Davis's 1970s fusion records are not universally loved.

What say you?

Cato says: NO!   $:)

I hate the way it looks!   >:D  I agree that it matches the sound of the possessive, when a name ends in "s", but orthographically I think it looks ugly.

And "1970s" should have an apostrophe: 1970's.

Mr. Apostrophe I am sure will agree!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on September 16, 2009, 06:17:40 AM
Cato says: NO!   $:)

I hate the way it looks!   >:D  I agree that it matches the sound of the possessive, when a name ends in "s", but orthographically I think it looks ugly.

And "1970s" should have an apostrophe: 1970's.

Mr. Apostrophe I am sure will agree!   0:)

Yes, but on page 1 in Strunk he says otherwise:

Quote
1. Form the possessive singular nouns by adding 's.
Follow this rule whatever the final consonant.  Thus write,

Charles's friend
Burns's poems
the witch's malice

Exceptions are the possessive of ancient proper names in -es and -is ...

Does look odd - but is the correct way to do it.  At least according to S&W.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: The Six on September 16, 2009, 06:30:58 AM
Concerning the question mark for: "I wonder where he went?"

As explained above, yes, the question mark is wrong.  This is an indirect question.  All you need is a period.  The direct question would be: "Where did he go?"


I really don't mind that because the question mark has come to be used to indicate inflection. It's used that way in Japan, for example, like this: "It's just a joke, so don't worry about it?"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 16, 2009, 06:52:01 AM
I do, but there is the exception of Greek names (e.g., Achilles' heel). Coincidence, just last week I set up a friend, who is an editor, by asking him how to handle the apostrophe for names ending in s, and he, of course, agreed with you and me and he also gave the standard Greek exception.

Hooked!

Then I asked him the one I really wonder about: Descartes.

Stumped him too. Not a problem in French, but I haven't found it formally addressed for how to treat it in English.

Any takers?
'

Sure!

Like I said, I use only an apostrophe in such cases, so Descartes' Books would be the only indication you would need for a genitive ("Day carts").

You could avoid the problem: the books of Descartes.

Cato does not have a grammar book published with his name on it, but he finds that irrelevant!   0:)   Sister Claude  0:)   said just to use the ' and so - since she  0:)   was Sister Claude  0:)   and ipso facto on a higher level than Strunk, etc. - that is what I use!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 07:21:35 AM
Different than . . . ?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 16, 2009, 07:48:34 AM
Different than . . . ?

Oh, don't get me started!!!   8)

Everybody here knows "different from" is the correct phrase! 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 16, 2009, 08:14:57 AM
Cato, my neurons are slow this morning, or I should think I might find other examples of verb followed by adjective, as subtly distinct from verb modified by adverb.

Any enlightenment? Up to and including, you're just plain wrong, Karl  ;)

Verbs followed by adjectives are fine when the adjective refers to the subject and not necessarily to the verb. For example, "They swam nude" makes much more sense than "They swam nudely," which is just pretentious. (Jim Harrison used the latter construction in his novel Dalva, and I almost threw the book across the room.) In this case, it is "they" who are nude. They are not swimming in a nude manner, whatever that might be. Likewise, "to blow hot and cold" is the proper expression for equivocating, not "to blow hotly and coldly." You're not blowing in a hot and cold manner; you are, rather, blowing hot and cold (metaphorcal and unmentioned) air. And finally, there is "I feel good," a perfectly acceptable phrase. "I feel well" is OK, too, but you hear it more often as a question, as in "Don't you feel well?" I would say that feeling good probably refers to mood and feeling well to health, but that's not necessarily the case.  
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on September 16, 2009, 08:39:34 AM
However, in response to "How are you?" it is only appropriate for Superman to say "Oh, I'm doing good.  And you?"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 08:41:29 AM
I tugged on his cape once.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on September 16, 2009, 08:41:50 AM
Quote
Correct: Miles Davis's 1970s fusion records are not universally loved.

I think Davis's looks just fine in that sentence. Why people get all bent out of shape about the letter s, I do not know. It wants to be treated with the same respect given other letters! Let it have its apostrophe s!!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 16, 2009, 08:43:28 AM
Amen to Franco and Superman!

For example, "They swam nude" makes much more sense than "They swam nudely," which is just pretentious. (Jim Harrison used the latter constuction in his novel Dalva, and I almost threw the book across the room.)

And rightly so!

Your anecdote reminded me of a novel by John Gardner, a minor novelist who was big in the 70's and 80's for his novel Grendel.  (One of his novels, whose premise sounds great, and could have been great, was called Freddy's Book, but Gardner failed to carry it off.)

Anyway, the word he used was "sillily"  :o    :o    :o   and that stopped my eyes from reading one word more.

Now, yes, the word can be found in the dictionary.  Yes, it is technically correct.

But Cato is not so doctrinaire that he will not make exceptions!   0:)   

Musically the word "sillily" is a catastrophe: it should be avoided.  You can use it only for a flower in front of a window: otherwise cast it out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth!   >:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 16, 2009, 08:45:20 AM
I think Davis's looks just fine in that sentence. Why people get all bent out of shape about the letter s[/i], I do not know. It wants to be treated with the same respect given other letters! Let it have its apostrophe s!!

The letter "S" is all bent!  Maybe it wants to be an I !   8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 08:45:33 AM
Musically the word "sillily" is a catastrophe: it should be avoided.

QFT
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 08:51:28 AM
The letter "S" is all bent!

Yes, but you don't realize all the pressure it's under!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Egebedieff on September 16, 2009, 09:55:03 AM
I think Davis's looks just fine in that sentence. Why people get all bent out of shape about the letter s, I do not know. It wants to be treated with the same respect given other letters! Let it have its apostrophe s!!
Hogarth gave s the highest respect:

(http://www.library.ubc.ca/finearts/an_beauty.jpg)
'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 16, 2009, 10:20:30 AM
The use of 's for the possessive of a noun ending in s is, as with so many things, more a matter of style and consistency than correct or incorrect grammar. Strunk and White advocate using apostrophe-s in all cases, such as Charles's and Ives's, except those in which it will sound as bad as sillily, such as Moses's. AP, on the other hand, insists on using the apostrophe only, without a second s. It's a matter of preference. In personal writing, I prefer the apostrophe s.

To sound bad is another example of an adjective following a verb. It sounds better than "It sounds badly."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 16, 2009, 10:30:19 AM
Oh, don't get me started!!!   8)

Everybody here knows "different from" is the correct phrase! 

I was always taught it was "to differ from" but you are different than. From makes more sense to me, though.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Egebedieff on September 16, 2009, 10:35:05 AM
We need a word for when someone posts a response that was already covered on the previous page. Perhaps we could trade in healthily. '
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 16, 2009, 10:44:08 AM
To sound bad is another example of an adjective following a verb. It sounds better than "It sounds badly."

Thanks, an obvious ensample!  Just goes to show how desperately I needed caffeine this ack emma  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 17, 2009, 12:42:49 PM
Thanks, an obvious ensample!  Just goes to show how desperately I needed caffeine this ack emma  8)

Now that I think about it, I realize that verbs dealing with sense impressions or appearance take adjectives rather than adverbs. Things look, sound, feel, taste and smell good, rather than well. It may be that the sensory verbs substitue for the verb to be and take the adjective accordingly. We are describing the thing, rather than any real action.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 18, 2009, 12:40:13 PM
It is because these words are just short of being the "to be" verbs, which would take a predicate adjective. Sometimes it is perception and sometimes it is a situation where you can't claim something to be fact and use a "to be" verb.

If you are sure he is sick, you can say "He is sick." Otherwise, you say "He looked sick."

"The situation is bad." looks/seems/appears/sounds
 
"Her dress looked blue."
'

Very nice explanation!

An example I give to my students:  "He feels badly" would mean that the nerves in his fingertips are short-circuiting.   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Harpo on September 18, 2009, 05:07:20 PM
Notoriety when used to mean fame
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 19, 2009, 02:35:04 AM
Hear, hear.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on September 20, 2009, 07:57:44 AM
Quote
irregardless

Oh, dear God!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on September 20, 2009, 08:26:20 AM
No, it was the thud of a Owl, passed out cold from shock!!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 20, 2009, 05:53:14 PM
Has anyone here handled an actual lorgnette?  I ask only for information  0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 21, 2009, 08:44:31 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/6194031/The-Lost-Symbol-and-The-Da-Vinci-Code-author-Dan-Browns-20-worst-sentences.html
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 09:00:20 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/6194031/The-Lost-Symbol-and-The-Da-Vinci-Code-author-Dan-Browns-20-worst-sentences.html

Marvelous! Thanks, Dave!

Quote from: Tom Chivers
A silhouette with white hair and pink irises stood chillingly close but 15 feet away. What’s wrong with this picture?

And Brown mistaking the Amazon for el Río de la Plata. Might as well talk about Denver's wharves on the Mississippi.

And only "a keen eye would notice" those "large diamonds."

Crikey. You can both write idiotically, and be a best-selling author.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on September 21, 2009, 09:04:59 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/6194031/The-Lost-Symbol-and-The-Da-Vinci-Code-author-Dan-Browns-20-worst-sentences.html

Excellent, Dave! Thanks for posting it. :)

I might add that these are only examples of his execrable prose. Should we start to examine his history, religion and art related gaffes?

As JR Ewing used to say, if you look up in dictionary "bad writer" you encounter Dan Brown's picture. ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 09:08:27 AM
I might add that these are only examples of his execrable prose. Should we start to examine his history, religion and art related gaffes?

No! You don't want to shatter a Certain Someone's languorous, faun-like dreams! He thinks everything that Dan Brown wrote is so true!!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on September 21, 2009, 09:17:49 AM
Marvelous! Thanks, Dave!

Ditto.


Quote
And Brown mistaking the Amazon for el Río de la Plata. Might as well talk about Denver's wharves on the Mississippi.

Is anyone here a Wikipedia editor? :-\ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontana_dei_Quattro_Fiumi#cite_ref-4
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 09:23:24 AM
Done.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on September 21, 2009, 09:39:16 AM
Done.

Wherever I look, I don't see a reference to the Amazon at all, but more importantly I find only Rio de la Plata as the river in the Americas.

A few examples:

http://www.rome.info/bernini/fountain-four-rivers/
http://www.romanguide.com/baroquerome/fountain-four-rivers-rome.html
http://www.italyguides.it/us/roma/rome/renaissance_and_baroque/famous_squares_fountains/piazza_navona_square/fountain_of_the_four_rivers/4_rivers_fountain.htm
http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/b/bernini/gianlore/sculptur/1650/4_rivers.html
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 09:44:39 AM
Well, maybe that's right, then.  They might not have explored the Amazon until afterward.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 09:47:50 AM
Happily, it's an easy "undo."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on September 21, 2009, 09:52:31 AM
Happily, it's an easy "undo."

:)

Moreover, the article states that that phrase was taken from chapter 100(!) of the book; I don't think there were a hundred (or more) of those to endure in that book when I read it. ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 09:57:51 AM
Wherever I look, I don't see a reference to the Amazon at all, but more importantly I find only Río de la Plata as the river in the Americas.

Well, the Río de la Plata has such a broad mouth that it is an obvious feature of the coast.  And at least from the wikipedia article, I am not getting any clear idea of the timeline of exploration of the Amazon.  The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi was raised in 1651.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 21, 2009, 10:16:53 AM
I think the critic's problem was the fact that Brown referred to the Rio Plata as an old world river. Putting in the Amazon would have been just as bad. Or am I missing the point you're making?

I am now tempted to read Dan Brown: I am working on a short story now, done as a series of newspaper articles, and I really need to remind myself of what to avoid. Last night, I wrote that someone "gasped with a sharp intake of breath," and deleted it immediately since a gasp is to a sharp breath. It's redundant, and the word "gasp" is itself a kind of cliche anyway. How many times have you actually heard someone  gasp? Changed to "drew a sharp breath," though I miss the word "intake." Oh well, I'll save it for the description of a jet engine.

My point is that anyone can write badly if they're not paying attention. I try to pay attention. Brown apparently does not.

My favorite was "learned the ropes in the trenches." Mixed metaphors are a real temptation, and once the ball gets rolling, you can't stem the tide by spitting on the track.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 10:19:25 AM
I think the critic's problem was the fact that Brown referred to the Rio del PLata as an old world river. Putting in the Amazon would have been just as bad.

Hah! Of course. I went the wrong way entirely.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 21, 2009, 10:25:12 AM
I must say, though, I have trouble with this critique:

20. Angels and Demons, chapter 1: Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an ‘erudite’ appeal — wisp of gray in his thick brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete.

They say the first rule of fiction is “show, don’t tell”. This fails that rule.


Not to defend Brown's sentence, which is trite, but all descriptions in fiction tell without showing. If you say a man seven feet tall with size 18 shoes, that's telling. There's no no way to show it. A quick physical description is an acceptable way of introducing someone. And I don't know who "they" are.

Or consider this:

Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by the thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down – from high flat temples – in a point upon his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.

That's all telling. Nothing is shown in the sense of any action taking place. And it's well written to boot.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 21, 2009, 10:33:37 AM
Some of that article is nitpicking for humor's sake.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on September 21, 2009, 10:42:04 AM
Oui.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 21, 2009, 10:46:39 AM
Oh, pooh.  :-X
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 21, 2009, 10:50:27 AM
Not to defend Brown's sentence, which is trite, but all descriptions in fiction tell without showing. If you say a man seven feet tall with size 18 shoes, that's telling. There's no no way to show it. A quick physical description is an acceptable way of introducing someone. And I don't know who "they" are.

You could have him bend over to enter the room and step on everyone's toes (or be careful of them). Then you don't have to mention height or shoe size.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 21, 2009, 11:11:32 AM
You could have him bend over to enter the room and step on everyone's toes (or be careful of them). Then you don't have to mention height or shoe size.

But why bother? It wouldn't make the fiction any better.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 21, 2009, 11:12:09 AM
But why bother? It wouldn't make the fiction any better.

Well, depending on how it was written, it probably would.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 21, 2009, 11:41:02 AM
Well, depending on how it was written, it probably would.

I seriously doubt it. The best writers know when to be direct. Even the most lipidary stylists simply say a man is tall and has a white beard. They wouldn't get cute and try to work it into a conversation or have the guy pick hairs out of his soup.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 21, 2009, 12:22:48 PM
The best writers can be direct without exposition. That's what makes them the best writers. Though exposition does have its place.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 21, 2009, 12:33:05 PM
lapidary?
'

lapidarian?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 21, 2009, 12:40:32 PM
The best writers can be direct without exposition. That's what makes them the best writers. Though exposition does have its place.

The best writers work in many different ways, and it's not always possible to generalize among them. My own theory, recently formulated, is that if the verbs are stong enough and the action vivid enough, you can get away without describing a character at all. The reader will fill in the details. But that doesn't mean one has to work that way, and not everyone does. Jane Austen never decribes her characters' features. Neither does Hemingway. But Melville gave a vivid description of Ahab's appearance in Moby Dick, and Poe devoted several paragraphs to Ligeia's profile (though, in this case, the description has more to do with the narrator's obsession than with the woman herself).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 21, 2009, 12:54:03 PM
I tend to avoid much character description. Not that I make a point of it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on September 23, 2009, 06:22:31 AM
lapidarianation?

I'm used to seeing lapidary with wit, metaphorically "cutting stones." Lapidarian would be more like engraved in stone. Not clear to me which you were after.
'

My Random House Dictionary does not recognize "lapidarian."  I suppose you could coin the word, and it could also be used as a noun.

A "lapidary style" would mean a very exact and brilliant writing style, parallel therefore with cutting gemstones.

Amen    0:)    to Joe Barron's essay above!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on September 23, 2009, 06:27:22 AM
A "lapidary style" would mean a very exact and brilliant writing style, parallel therefore with cutting gemstones.

Yeah, that's pretty much the idea I was going for.

I've been thinking further about this whole "show vs. tell" idea. I don't believe the need to show precludes any sort of straightforward description. What it means, I think, is that you want to be specific about a character's traits or feelings. You shouldn't, for example, simply say a guy is cruel. You should show an instance of the cruelty. Or if someone feels sad, you don't just say he felt sad. You show the depressed behavior. Someone, I forget who (but yeah, it was the New Yorker), said that when Woody Allen, in his movies, wants to let us know a character is cold and distant, he'll have another character say, "You're really cold and distant." It's a lazy way of writing. One the other hand, there's a brilliant moment in Shaw's Man and Superman where one of the characters observes that whenever Anne wants someone to do something, she ascribes her desires to someone else. Almost immedately, Anne reponds with something like, "Don't talk like that. You know Violet doesn't like it." I always thought telling, then showing, is kind of a cool thing. It shows, to my mind, the author has a strong grip on what the character is about.
 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: owlice on September 23, 2009, 12:20:25 PM
Quote
You could have him bend over to enter the room and step on everyone's toes (or be careful of them). Then you don't have to mention height or shoe size.

I'd think a hunchback in clown shoes walked in if I weren't reading carefully, and if I were, I might think he bent over because he was in pain. Or weird! :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on September 23, 2009, 12:50:39 PM
I'd think a hunchback in clown shoes walked in if I weren't reading carefully, and if I were, I might think he bent over because he was in pain. Or weird! :D

 ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on September 24, 2009, 02:37:30 PM
"In the 7th century, the concept of England did not yet exist. Kingdoms with tribal loyalties vied with each other in a state of semi-perpetual warfare, with the balance of power constantly changing." (http://news.scotsman.com/uk/King39s-lost-treasure-unearthed-by.5678666.jp)

It's creative, I suppose... 0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on October 27, 2009, 09:26:54 AM
Cato my good man, would you let me know what you think of this little matter:

"Given the recent press coverage, we would therefore like to be clear Rangers FC is neither operated or run by Lloyds Banking Group"

The little man inside my head feels it should be nor rather than or. Or is it an either/or thing?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: secondwind on October 27, 2009, 12:42:22 PM
Cato my good man, would you let me know what you think of this little matter:

"Given the recent press coverage, we would therefore like to be clear Rangers FC is neither operated or run by Lloyds Banking Group"

The little man inside my head feels it should be nor rather than or. Or is it an either/or thing?
I'd say it's a neither/nor thing! ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on October 28, 2009, 05:37:58 AM
Handy.

http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/lit_terms_A.html
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on October 28, 2009, 06:12:32 AM
'Splain.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on October 28, 2009, 06:13:26 AM
Just as blue as I can be.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on October 28, 2009, 06:14:09 AM
Oh, I get it.  ::)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on October 28, 2009, 09:44:07 AM

"Given the recent press coverage, we would therefore like to be clear Rangers FC is neither operated or run by Lloyds Banking Group"

The little man inside my head feels it should be nor rather than or. Or is it an either/or thing?
There is also a 'tautology thing'. Given the word 'given', the word 'therefore' is redundant.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on October 28, 2009, 09:45:59 AM
Most inelegant.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on October 28, 2009, 11:04:52 AM
Anyone know any other cool lit sites?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on October 28, 2009, 12:28:37 PM
Anyone know any other cool lit sites?

I suppose you've already heard about Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page) and what a useful literary resource it is on the Internet? :)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on October 28, 2009, 01:01:18 PM
Cato my good man, would you let me know what you think of this little matter:

"Given the recent press coverage, we would therefore like to be clear Rangers FC is neither operated or run by Lloyds Banking Group"

The little man inside my head feels it should be nor rather than or. Or is it an either/or thing?

Yes, sorry for the late reply, but "nor" is what you want!

And it seems a colon is missing after the word "clear."

Yes, Project Gutenberg is one of the useful and positive aspects of the Internet.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on October 28, 2009, 02:48:06 PM
I suppose you've already heard about Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page) and what a useful literary resource it is on the Internet? :)

Indeed.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on October 29, 2009, 12:54:32 AM
Not sure if this fits your category, but I use this a lot
www.etymonline.com
'

Thanks. :) I have visited the site before but never bookmarked it. I won't make that mistake this time.

And here's another: http://www.phrases.org.uk
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on October 29, 2009, 11:21:15 AM
http://www.salon.com/books/review/2009/10/25/lexicographers_dilemma/index.html
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on October 30, 2009, 06:30:10 AM


 (But sometimes, as pointed out before, if you want to discredit the person speaking, you leave in all of the bad grammar, malaprops, etc.)

Also, the fact that this is a quote of someone speaking would be an argument for using Cato's colon instead of my that, since the first independent clause was setting up the second payload statement (even with its faulty or and specious distinction between run and operated). A colon here isn't meddlesome and does what punctuation is meant to do: interpret the pacing. Adding that puts a word in the speaker's mouth. This assumes, of course, it hadn't been there originally; that it is the sort of word that a transcriber is apt to accidentally cut out, as the Google folks are apparently well aware.
'

By quoting someone precisely, you do not discredit them: they discredit themselves!   $:)

The use of the Latin word Sic takes care of the problem of exactly quoting somebody's grammatical error(s).

Of course, you can push the discreditation by writing Sic!!! after the blunder.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on October 30, 2009, 08:14:32 AM
Also, the fact that this is a quote of someone speaking would be an argument for using Cato's colon

*Chortles childishly*

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on October 30, 2009, 08:55:13 AM

I can see where a prepared story based on casual interviews, or even formal ones, will want the subject's words to be clear: the subject therefore should be given a pre-publication draft, so that all quotations are satisfactory to him or her.


On the other hand...

I just read excerpts of a book purporting to show an "insider's view" of the last presidential campaign by an insider.

When I saw page after page of detailed conversations, which supposedly took place in hallways or restaurants or airplanes, etc. etc. etc., all written in dialogue form with quotation marks, I knew these were fictive, despite the quotation marks.

I find that dishonest.

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on October 30, 2009, 04:22:30 PM
This was never done, and I would be surprised if that's not standard at most papers. It was always the case for the three I worked for. Occasionally, when going over a tape, I'd find a need to contact them for clarification, but I never let the interviewee read the article beforehand.

Once someone asked for it as a condition for doing the interview, but my editors said no. They gave the interview anyway, and everything was fine.
'


Interesting: a former student of mine told me he usually let the subject approve the article.  I am somewhat sensitive about this: a local newspaper once interviewed me, and distorted a "quote" from me, complete with a grammatical error   >:D   which I had not made!!! 

You can imagine, therefore, how much Cato disliked the article, even though in general it was quite positive.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on November 02, 2009, 05:13:36 PM
I would be curious to know about the kind of publication and what sort of articles your former student was writing. I can see some areas where it would might be expected. If I were interviewing an expert who was talking about a very technical topic, I might want him to look it over just to make sure I got it right. But I did this for more than 25 years, and some of the interviews were for national publications.
.



The memory has faded: this was back in the late 1970's!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on November 05, 2009, 09:44:04 AM
I have a questions for you guys. I want to write a piece of fiction that includes famous quotations but I don't necessarily want to make it clear who originally said them. The quotations will be well-known enough in general that most people would know them, but I'm wondering if I can run into any trouble doing this plagiarism-wise. I mean, if it's an old quotation, does anyone care if it was Benjamin Franklin who said it?

[Another note: It will be clear within the story that these are in fact quotations.]

Thanks.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on November 05, 2009, 10:31:07 AM
If you have a publisher, and if so, you lucky bastard, they would have someone in their legal dept who can tell you where citations are necessary -- surely not for the old stuff, unlessit might be in a recent translation.

I'd start with the useful overview in the Chicago Manual of Style, too lengthy to copy by hand (besides, they might sue me if I did). Sections 4.60 & 11.3 in the 15th edition.
'



Thanks. I'll check it out. This story might be more of a headache than it's worth.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2009, 08:24:01 PM
Fewer headaches to you, mon vieux!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on November 06, 2009, 05:28:46 AM
Danke.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on November 06, 2009, 02:28:47 PM
You might include an afterword, like Thomas Mann did for Doctor Faustus, when Schoenberg complained about the use of the 12-tone system being used for a demonic pact in the novel.

Be sure to use the word "supererogatory" in your afterword to make sure that everyone understands your use of quotations is for an ironic structure, and not for content or lack of originality.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on November 06, 2009, 02:40:00 PM
You might include an afterword, like Thomas Mann did for Doctor Faustus, when Schoenberg complained about the use of the 12-tone system being used for a demonic pact in the novel.

Be sure to use the word "supererogatory" in your afterword to make sure that everyone understands your use of quotations is for an ironic structure, and not for content or lack of originality.   0:)

Thanks, but I've already decided against it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Joe Barron on November 06, 2009, 05:39:14 PM
I have a questions for you guys. I want to write a piece of fiction that includes famous quotations but I don't necessarily want to make it clear who originally said them. The quotations will be well-known enough in general that most people would know them, but I'm wondering if I can run into any trouble doing this plagiarism-wise. I mean, if it's an old quotation, does anyone care if it was Benjamin Franklin who said it?

[Another note: It will be clear within the story that these are in fact quotations.]

Thanks.

Anything published before 1920 is out of copyright and can be printed in full without  attribution or fees. People quote Shakespeare all the time without retribution: look at "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."

Plagiarism is not a legal concept. It is an ethical concept that can get you thrown out of academe, but there are no fines or jail time attached. One cannot be sued for plagiarism. The only legal question is copyright violation, and brief quotations, used for criticism or for parody, do fall under the fair use doctrine. Donald Barthelme, bless him, did something similar to what you're suggesting in the Viennese Opera Ball, when he quoted dialogue from "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" as though it were conversation at a party. To my knowledge, he did not suffer for it. You'll be fine.

I studied all this crap in communication law.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on November 06, 2009, 08:27:33 PM
Thanks, Joe. I appreciate that.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on December 08, 2009, 12:00:49 AM
What's the difference between obliged and obligated? I just realised that I never use the second...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 08, 2009, 07:48:36 AM
In US English, Obligate is strictly a transitive verb. Websters draws the distinctions pretty clearly. I ran across this, that, judging from your spelling of realised, may be germane:

"My English friends, however, use it all the time. As a matter of fact, they use it in every single instance that I would use the word obligated. So is this all another tempest in a teapot?"
 
http://belletra.com/written-english/on-posting-regularly-obliged-or-obligated/

'Lapin


"Much obliged" can be heard even today out West as "very grateful" or "Thank you very much."

We are "much obliged" for the link, which has an interesting story about the legal usage in America of "obliged" vs. "obligated."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on December 10, 2009, 02:10:17 PM
Forty-six pages and still going strong--who'da thunkit!?

What is the current state of GMG's collective wisdom regarding the use of "!?"--cool, obnoxious, or who gives a rat's nether parts?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on December 10, 2009, 04:34:39 PM
Forty-six pages and still going strong--who'da thunkit!?

What is the current state of GMG's collective wisdom regarding the use of "!?"--cool, obnoxious, or who gives a rat's nether parts?

Hmmm.... I wouldn't use !? but I like to use ?! if it's a particularly dramatic question.

Did you just touch my bum?!  :o

Who ate my kinder egg?!  >:D

Santa isn't coming this year?!  :'(





Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 11, 2009, 06:13:58 AM
Hmmm.... I wouldn't use !? but I like to use ?! if it's a particularly dramatic question.

Did you just touch my bum?!  :o

Who ate my kinder egg?!  >:D

Santa isn't coming this year?!  :'(



Agreed:"?!" for emphasizing the surprise element in a question is quite fine, but I would not reverse them.

For extreme surprise, I always three exclamation marks: I think that it simply looks better.

The child was chewing on the cat again!!!

The child was chewing on the cat!!

A purist would, of course, say that one exclamation mark suffices!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 11, 2009, 06:50:21 AM
I can see  it  for a case where you were questioningly repeating someone else's exclamation for clarification or as an implicit suggestion that they think twice about whether they meant it, such as in the following dialogue:

"B...!" shouted Bishop Sheen.
"B...!?" inquired 1956 Golden Gloves winner Albert Pell.

'Pan O'Beurre


I suspect Bishop Sheen never said that!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on December 11, 2009, 07:19:11 AM
Agreed:"?!" for emphasizing the surprise element in a question is quite fine, but I would not reverse them.

For extreme surprise, I always three exclamation marks: I think that it simply looks better.

The child was chewing on the cat again!!!

The child was chewing on the cat!!

A purist would, of course, say that one exclamation mark suffices!

Three punctuation marks does usually look better, though a friend of mine insists on using three question marks even when the question isn't in exclamation. E.g.

Do you want Italian for lunch???

Let's see...

Do you want Italian for lunch? No, thank you.
Do you want Italian for lunch?? I don't think so...
Do you want Italian for lunch??? MAMA MIA! OK ALREADY!

I think it adds a hint of aggression. One question mark establishes that it's a question; adding more should not make for a more probing question.  :P
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on December 11, 2009, 07:49:47 AM
It's the Internet's fault. With the ? ? ?.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 11, 2009, 08:23:02 AM
Three punctuation marks does usually look better, though a friend of mine insists on using three question marks even when the question isn't in exclamation. E.g.

Do you want Italian for lunch???

Let's see...

Do you want Italian for lunch? No, thank you.
Do you want Italian for lunch?? I don't think so...
Do you want Italian for lunch??? MAMA MIA! OK ALREADY!

I think it adds a hint of aggression. One question mark establishes that it's a question; adding more should not make for a more probing question.  :P

Interesting: the problem of conveying tone of voice and implied meanings through orthography.  Using three question marks would seem to indicate great puzzlement:

"You think two and two equal five???"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Benji on December 11, 2009, 09:00:33 AM
''Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the Prime Minister is getting right.''

Lord Mandelson, winner of the 2009 foot-in-mouth award from the Plain English Campaign.

Not a grammar thing, but it's a corker!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on December 19, 2009, 08:46:31 AM
While there is nothing wrong with the quote, I like these kind of sentences (the merging of the final two "aims") which can be read by different people to mean opposite things...

Quote
Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) is affiliated with the Conservative Party and states on its website that it is “one of the fastest growing political lobby groups.” It lists its objectives as supporting Israel, promoting conservatism, fighting terrorism, combating antisemitism and peaceful co-existence in the Middle East.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on December 19, 2009, 08:58:11 AM
So many political groups dedicate themselves to combating peaceful co-existence . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 19, 2009, 05:20:30 PM
So many political groups dedicate themselves to combating peaceful co-existence . . . .

And what would Herr Doktor Freud     0:)    say about such a mistake?   :o

Today I was involved in answering a question about "between...or..." and "between...and..."    $:)

"Between" needs two objects: therefore, choose "between...and..."

Example: "I have to choose between Suzy and Zoe for my prom date."

To say "or Zoe" would mean that you have two first choices, and no second choice for the "between."

My inquisitor was unfortunately unpersuaded.   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on December 19, 2009, 08:27:51 PM
"Between" needs two objects: therefore, choose "between...and..."

Example: "I have to choose between Suzy and Zoe for my prom date."

To say "or Zoe" would mean that you have two first choices, and no second choice for the "between."

My inquisitor was unfortunately unpersuaded.   :o

Good point. I hadn't considered this before.

And of course, it's between you and me, not between you and I. The latter is an affectation designed to make the speaker appear educated, and is grammatically wrong.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 20, 2009, 04:48:25 AM
Good point. I hadn't considered this before.

And of course, it's between you and me, not between you and I. The latter is an affectation designed to make the speaker appear educated, and is grammatically wrong.

Amen!   0:)

What is disconcerting is to hear such a monstrosity (along with similar ones e.g. "for my husband and I") coming from English teachers!!!  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on December 21, 2009, 05:30:33 AM

And of course, it's between you and me, not between you and I. The latter is an affectation designed to make the speaker appear educated, and is grammatically wrong.
Maybe this is because we are no longer spoken of as individuals but as though constituting collectively a bowl of soup. How often do we hear that dreadful expression 'the amount of people' nowadays?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on December 21, 2009, 10:07:05 AM
Maybe this is because we are no longer spoken of as individuals but as though constituting collectively a bowl of soup. How often do we hear that dreadful expression 'the amount of people' nowadays?

As a sidebar, the AMA manual of style has a neat way of remembering when to use a plural and when to use signular after a collective noun like "number" --- so neat that I've remembered it for years.

When you say "a number," the verb is plural, but when you say "the number," its singular.

For example: A number of patients have died of swine flu. BUT The number of deaths has decreased.

In the first instance, you're talking about the patients (numbers don't die), who are plural. In the second, you're talking about the number itself, which is singular.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on December 21, 2009, 10:21:06 AM
Quote
Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) is affiliated with the Conservative Party and states on its website that it is “one of the fastest growing political lobby groups.” It lists its objectives as supporting Israel, promoting conservatism, fighting terrorism, combating antisemitism and peaceful co-existence in the Middle East.

Problem with this sentence is that they got tired in the end and dropped the parallel construction. The last phrase needs a particple in font of it like all the rest, such as "supporting Israel, promoting conservatism, fighting terrorism, combating antisemitism, and achieving peaceful co-existence in the Middle East."

A serial comma would have helped, too, as shown.

On the other hand, if you do in fact want to  comabat peaceful co-existence, you need an "and" before the last pair:  "promoting conservatism, fighting terrorism, and combating antisemitism and peaceful co-existence in the Middle East."

Either way you want to read it, though, its ambiguous as it now stands and something needs to be done. Semantically, I mean. What really needs to be done is to combat conservatism.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on December 22, 2009, 03:52:38 PM
Question #3854: Is it okay to use two hyphens to make a triple-barelled word such as "anti-avant-garde"?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 22, 2009, 05:56:57 PM
Question #3854: Is it okay to use two hyphens to make a triple-barelled word such as "anti-avant-garde"?

Yes!  You can also use hyphens to turn phrases into adjectives, e.g: "He is a 'not-in-my-backyard' environmentalist."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on December 22, 2009, 07:00:24 PM
Yes!  You can also use hyphens to turn phrases into adjectives, e.g: "He is a 'not-in-my-backyard' environmentalist."

At the paper, we reguarly use multiple hyphens in measurements, as in "a 3-foot-long fence" and in ages, as in "a 12-year-old girl."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on December 22, 2009, 07:04:01 PM
Danke!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Egebedieff on December 23, 2009, 09:24:36 AM
Question #3854: Is it okay to use two hyphens to make a triple-barelled word such as "anti-avant-garde"?

Although, in the form you have given it, you wouldn't put the hyphen between avant and garde, unless the whole chain is intended to stand as an adjective: "anti-avant-garde programming policy." There are varying opinions about whether this hyphen is necessary in more familiar expressions or whether it is always necessary to string all of what amounts to a long group modifier together with hyphens.

There are also some formations for which some guidelines would have you use an endash: "pre–Civil War politics." (Acc to Chicago Manual of Style) and this example from Wikipedia: "High-priority–high-pressure tasks (tasks that are both high-priority and high-pressure)."
'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on December 23, 2009, 06:59:16 PM
Although, in the form you have given it, you wouldn't put the hyphen between avant and garde, unless the whole chain is intended to stand as an adjective: "anti-avant-garde programming policy." There are varying opinions about whether this hyphen is necessary in more familiar expressions or whether it is always necessary to string all of what amounts to a long group modifier together with hyphens.

There are also some formations for which some guidelines would have you use an endash: "pre–Civil War politics." (Acc to Chicago Manual of Style) and this example from Wikipedia: "High-priority–high-pressure tasks (tasks that are both high-priority and high-pressure)."
'

Interesting: similar to the "big hamburger sale" at White Castle.   ???

Is it a big hamburger...sale?  Or is it a BIG...hamburger sale?   $:)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Egebedieff on December 24, 2009, 04:19:17 AM
Interesting: similar to the "big hamburger sale" at White Castle.   ???

Is it a big hamburger...sale?  Or is it a BIG...hamburger sale?   $:)

Maybe. Not sure what you were referring to as being similar to the White Castle example, but sometimes the hyphen clarifies such things, as in "I saw a man eating shark" versus  "I saw a man-eating shark."

[edit: or "I saw a man-eating White Castle hamburger."]

But some guidelines would say that avant garde stands alone as an expression well enough to not need the hyphen: "anti-avant garde policy."

And, to be complete, "anti-" as a prefix doesn't automatically take the hyphen as a prefix to a single term: antipersonnel and antiboysenberry, but anti-American, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hero.
'

And, in time, sometimes anti loses its i: antacid.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Churchillian Christmas Present
Post by: Cato on December 24, 2009, 04:35:56 AM
Maybe. Not sure what you were referring to as being similar to the White Castle example, but sometimes the hyphen clarifies such things, as in "I saw a man eating shark" versus  "I saw a man-eating shark."


Precisely!  Many thanks!

And as a little Christmas present:

Quote
The saying attributed to Winston Churchill rejecting the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition must be among the most frequently mutated witticisms ever. I have received many notes from correspondents claiming to know what the “original saying” was, but none of them cites an authoritative source.
The alt.english.usage FAQ (http://alt.english.usage FAQ) states that the story originated with an anecdote in Sir Ernest Gowers’ Plain Words (1948). Supposedly an editor had clumsily rearranged one of Churchill’s sentences to avoid ending it in a preposition, and the Prime Minister, very proud of his style, scribbled this note in reply: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” The American Heritage Book of English Usage agrees.
The FAQ goes on to say that the Oxford Companion to the English Language (no edition cited) states that the original was “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.” To me this sounds more likely, and eagerness to avoid the offensive word “bloody” would help to explain the proliferation of variations.

See:

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/churchill.html (http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/churchill.html)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Churchillian Christmas Present
Post by: Egebedieff on December 24, 2009, 04:44:27 AM
Nice! Whenever I hear this, I always think of the extreme example:

"What did you bring the book that I did not want to be read to out of up for?

Another Churchill quote where he wasn't quite so conscientious:

http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0039.htm

'
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on January 26, 2010, 07:09:37 AM
My wife and I revisited the incredible Ferris Bueller's Day Off last weekend.

Usually we do not watch the "Special Features," but we decided to watch an interview with the cast recorded c. 5 years ago.

Director John Hughes, recently deceased, mentioned that one of the actresses, Mia Sara, at the time of the filming "had just graduated high school."   :o

I have noticed this phrase more and more: I would think that you cannot graduate anything much, unless you are a cylinder!   $:)

People should graduate from schools: they do not "graduate" the schools. 

The school can graduate you, but not vice versa.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on January 26, 2010, 07:28:52 AM
Aye, that's a corker.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on January 26, 2010, 11:22:04 AM
I recommend John McWhorter's "Our Marvelous Bastard Tongue" for thoughts on correct and incorrect usage. (Though it's about more about the history of the language than usage.) McWhorter argues that the rules of grammar are not rules at all (where do they come from? and who enforces them?), and that constructions we do not like (such as "graduated high school") change over time, just as the language does. Things that sound  natural to our ears now, such as the word "standpoint," for example, were opposed at one time with the same kinds of arguments we're seeing here --- illogicality, wordiness. In the 19th century, keepers of the style  gate said "standpoint" was illogical, because you're not actually standing at any point in space (really). "All the time" was also disapprobated, because it used three words where one word --- always --- would do. Same with split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions. Having read this book and similar articles over the years, I'm finding it harder and harder to get exercised over new locutions, especially since it's a losing battle.  By the time you hear the phrase in conversation, it is too late. McWhorter would argue (and I would agree) that "graduated high school" is fine, since it is now common usage, and everyone agrees on its meaning. 

The battle over "hopefully" has long since been given up.

Of course, I still say "he graduated from high school" out of habit, although to be absolutely correct, one should say "he was graduated from high school." It's not something you do yourself. It is an honor that is conferred on you once you complete the requirements.

But good luck, Cato. I'm rooting for you. ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on January 26, 2010, 11:34:18 AM
. . . Of course, I still say "he graduated from high school" out of habit, although to be absolutely correct, one should say "he was graduated from high school." It's not something you do yourself. It is an honor that is conferred on you once you complete the requirements.

I do feel like such a throwback, using that (traditionally-correct) usage.

Of course, I am not shy of seeming a throwback . . . .

 
Thanks for the McWhorter rec, Joe . . . I shall check it out.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on January 26, 2010, 11:40:47 AM
"graduated high school" is fine, since it is now common usage, and everyone agrees on its meaning.

There are a lot of things that are common usage and everyone agrees on their meaning yet they are profoundly wrong and immoral.  Governmental bailouts, for instance. :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on January 26, 2010, 11:53:33 AM
There are a lot of things that are common usage and everyone agrees on their meaning yet they are profoundly wrong and immoral.  Governmental bailouts, for instance. :D

Lifeboats should be bailed out, but I am not so sure about intemperate banks and investment companies.   0:)

Yes, thanks to Joe Barron for the reference to the James McWhorter book!

And speaking of losing battles: I just revealed to my 6th Graders in Latin the difference between "who" and "whom."

Talk about tilting at windmills!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on January 26, 2010, 12:22:38 PM
I think I might be the last person in the newsroom with a clear idea of the distinction between lay and lie. It has almost disappeared from spoken English, but I insist on sticking to it.

The McWhorter book achieved for me the rare feat of being very short and yet seeming twice as long as it needed to be. He makes the same points over and over, and he'll waste pages setting up strained metaphors. Still, the book contains some interesting information and useful ideas, and it's brief enough (despite being too long) that I didn't feel I wasted my time with it. I think it would have made a fine magazine article.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on January 26, 2010, 12:24:05 PM
I do feel like such a throwback, using that (traditionally-correct) usage.

Hyphens are not needed between adverbs that end in "ly" and the adjectives they modify. Yeesh! What's this country coming to?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on January 26, 2010, 12:27:53 PM
What's this country coming to?

As a character in American Beauty puts it: This country's going straight to hell!. :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on January 26, 2010, 12:37:47 PM
FTR: It's John McWhorter, not James. Corrected in my original post.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on January 26, 2010, 01:08:36 PM
I think I might be the last person in the newsroom with a clear idea of the distinction between lay and lie. It has almost disappeared from spoken English, but I insist on sticking to it.

The McWhorter book achieved for me the rare feat of being very short and yet seeming twice as long as it needed to be. He makes the same points over and over, and he'll waste pages setting up strained metaphors. Still, the book contains some interesting information and useful ideas, and it's brief enough (despite being too long) that I didn't feel I wasted my time with it. I think it would have made a fine magazine article.

When I taught German, "lay" vs. "lie" often arose for discussion: I gave the students the image of the "hen lays the egg," and I emphasized the movement of the egg into the nest.  After that the egg just   l i e s   there, not moving.  For some, that worked to keep it straight.

For others, they did not care!   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on January 26, 2010, 01:24:44 PM
Hyphens are not needed between adverbs that end in "ly" and the adjectives they modify. Yeesh! What's this country coming to?

Sorry to have hyper-hyphenated . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on January 26, 2010, 01:58:23 PM
When I taught German, "lay" vs. "lie" often arose for discussion: I gave the students the image of the "hen lays the egg," and I emphasized the movement of the egg into the nest.  After that the egg just   l i e s   there, not moving.  For some, that worked to keep it straight.

Garrison Keillor years ago did a funny bit about a grammar school teacher who drilled the distinction into kids' heads by rhyming lay with place and lie with recline, over and over and over. That did it for me. I've never confused them since, but I have noticed that lay takes an object and lie does not. That's the way I keep them straight now.

Of course, the fact that lay is also the past tense of lie makes it even more confusing, but that's a whole other bucket of worms.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on January 26, 2010, 02:16:20 PM
There's a strange way in which knowing that the simple past of lie is also lay, made the whole thing easier for me to subdue.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on January 26, 2010, 03:43:36 PM
All these people have my deepest symphony. (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=MEG&ei=e31fS5C5E4XIsAOMn8yuCw&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&ved=0CAYQBSgA&q=%22have+my+deepest+symphony%22&spell=1)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on January 26, 2010, 03:47:31 PM
All these people have my deepest symphony. (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=MEG&ei=e31fS5C5E4XIsAOMn8yuCw&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&ved=0CAYQBSgA&q=%22have+my+deepest+symphony%22&spell=1)

Very funny. I remember once in high school a kid ragging on me about the fact that I liked Beethovien. He tried to put me on, wanting me to believe he was into the music, too, but he kept saying he liked Beethoven's Sympathies and Concellos. I wasn't fooled.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on January 26, 2010, 03:49:45 PM
Very funny. I remember once in high school a kid ragging on me about the fact that I liked Beethovien. He tried to put me on, wanting me to believe he was into the music, too, but he kept saying he liked Beethoven's Sympathies and Concellos. I wasn't fooled.

Oh, and the snottas!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on January 30, 2010, 02:39:01 AM
I was once told he was the guy who wrote the "Erotica Symphony".

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on January 30, 2010, 03:47:59 AM
I was once told he was the guy who wrote the "Erotica Symphony".

Mike

In the movie Psycho, there is a scene where Vera Miles is snooping around the bedroom of Mrs. Bates.  A quick shot of an old record player with the "EROICA" symphony is seen.

Hitchcock said he put that in, believing that most of the audience would mis-read it as "EROTICA," since there is an underlying theme of (disturbed) sexuality in the movie.  I have read reports that many people insist the record does indeed say "EROTICA."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on January 30, 2010, 04:59:28 AM
Hah!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on January 30, 2010, 08:40:46 PM
Well, there is PDQ Bach's Erotica Variations. I'm surprised Schickele never unearthed the ms. for the Indistinguishable Symphony.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on January 31, 2010, 02:36:33 AM
Well, there is PDQ Bach's Erotica Variations. I'm surprised Schickele never unearthed the ms. for the Indistinguishable Symphony.

Maybe he could not because it was...indistinguishable!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on January 31, 2010, 05:54:18 AM
The TNT television network says:

MORE MOVIE

LESS COMMERCIALS

 ::)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 01, 2010, 10:04:35 AM
Again, the less-fewer distinction has always walked a fine line. We like to say the rule is "fewer" if we're talking about numbers, but of course that doesn't work if you're dealing with amounts like money or weight. "The new Chevy Malibu costs $5,000 less than the comparable Honda," is fine, for example. I would never say five thousand dollars fewer, though I would also never buy a Chevy.

Now, does one recipe call for five less cups of milk than another, or five fewer? My gut says fewer, but I could go either way.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 01, 2010, 10:08:18 AM
Five cups of milk less
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 01, 2010, 10:16:52 AM
Again, the less-fewer distinction has always walked a fine line. We like to say the rule is "fewer" if we're talking about numbers, but of course that doesn't work if you're dealing with amounts like money or weight. "The new Chevy Malibu costs $5,000 less than the comparable Honda," is fine, for example. I would never say five thousand dollars fewer, though I would also never buy a Chevy.

Now, does one recipe call for five less cups of milk than another, or five fewer? My gut says fewer, but I could go either way.

I think they should both be "fewer". Technically.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 01, 2010, 11:08:53 AM
I think they should both be "fewer". Technically.

Well, that's the thing: technically how? Where does this "technically" come from, and is it followed in all cases? No language is 100 percent logical. Inconsistencies always creep in. And even "five dollars fewer" is technically correct, you will never hear anyone use it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 01, 2010, 11:10:30 AM
Well, that's the thing: technically how? Where does this "technically" come from, and is it followed in all cases? No language is 100 percent logical. Inconsistencies always creep in. And even "five dollars fewer" is technically correct, you will never hear anyone use it.

Except me and a few English teachers.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 01, 2010, 11:13:38 AM
Except me and a few English teachers.  ;D

Wow, who wouldn't want to be a fly on the the wall in that conversation, huh?

But I definitely agree it should be "fewer commericals."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 01, 2010, 11:14:47 AM
Wow, who wouldn't want to I'd love to be a fly on the the wall in that conversation, huh?

But I definitely agree it should be "fewer commericals."

Yeah, that was bugging the hell out of me Saturday night and then my wife told me to get over it.  :-\
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 01, 2010, 11:29:07 AM
Tastes great, fewer fillings
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 01, 2010, 11:34:03 AM
Tastes great, fewer fillings

 :-X
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 01, 2010, 03:33:25 PM
Yeah, that was bugging the hell out of me Saturday night and then my wife told me to get over it.  :-\

No, whatever you do, don't ever get over it. If needs must, get rid of the wife.

Speaking of botherment: A few years ago, there was a public service spot on local news radio trying to get people to stop bagging their lawn clippings and throwing them in the trash. The tag line was, "It's OK to let it lay," which was memorable in part because it rhymed. Within a couple of weeks, however, the spots had changed, and the annoucer was saying, "It's OK to let it lie." Apparently there was a groundswell of protest, and it worked.

Anal retentives can make a difference.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 01, 2010, 03:43:24 PM
Another example: I think I might have told you before that the AP Manual of Style, under composition titles, lists "The Ring of the Nibelungen," which it says should be written in English. It bothered me for a long time, and when I finally found an e-mail contact, I pointed out that the title was incorrect as written, since the "en" was a genitive ending necessary only in the German, and the proper title in English was "The Ring of the Nibelung." They sent me a note back saying it would be corrected in future editions. So they must have looked it up and agreed with me.

This is kind of a big deal that justifies my continued existence on this planet. I am not personally acquainted with any other reporter who has pointed out a style error to the mighty AP. Bruce, you can buy me a club soda when we meet next week.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 01, 2010, 03:59:02 PM
You are truly awesome, sir.  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 02, 2010, 09:07:07 AM
Aw, shucks.  :-[
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Novi on February 07, 2010, 04:46:17 PM
(http://www.dweebist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/commas-480x384.jpg)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 08, 2010, 07:46:23 AM
(http://www.dweebist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/commas-480x384.jpg)

Love it!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Ten thumbs on February 08, 2010, 09:19:52 AM
I love those sets of accounts that show:
Income
Less Expenses

Wishful thinking: if only they were!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 10, 2010, 09:45:41 AM
Many thanks for those life-saving commas!

I have mentioned (many moons ago) that I have a somewhat idiosyncratic view of punctuation, where I use it "musically," i.e. as a way to increase or decrease the reader's speed.

Example:

I have mentioned - many moons ago - that I have a (somewhat) idiosyncratic view of punctuation where I use it "musically," i.e. as a way to increase, or decrease, the reader's speed.

And:

I have mentioned many moons ago that I have a somewhat idiosyncratic view of...punctuation, where I use it musically, i.e. as a way to increase - or decrease - the reader's speed. 

I also use punctuation to imply a certain tone.   0:)

But then...don't we all?   :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on February 10, 2010, 09:58:37 AM
Many thanks for those life-saving commas!

I have mentioned (many moons ago) that I have a somewhat idiosyncratic view of punctuation, where I use it "musically," i.e. as a way to increase or decrease the reader's speed.

Example:

I have mentioned - many moons ago - that I have a (somewhat) idiosyncratic view of punctuation where I use it "musically," i.e. as a way to increase, or decrease, the reader's speed.

And:

I have mentioned many moons ago that I have a somewhat idiosyncratic view of...punctuation, where I use it musically, i.e. as a way to increase - or decrease - the reader's speed. 

I also use punctuation to imply a certain tone.   0:)

But then...don't we all?   :o

Jack Kerouac was very good at using punctuation as a tool to mimic music (and speech) - in his case, Jazz  :-\ .   I think it is a useful and worthwhile method of communicating on a general level.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 10, 2010, 10:17:02 AM
I need to revisit Kerouac.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on February 10, 2010, 10:34:52 AM
Well Karl, Jack used to get around a bit as you know, so perhaps you should visit him before he visits you (even if he is dead, he's still on the road).
 ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 10, 2010, 05:38:01 PM
I also use punctuation to imply a certain tone.   0:)

But then...don't we all?   :o

Not. All. Of. Us.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2010, 01:13:55 AM
I need to revisit Kerouac.
Hmmm...it's been awhile for me as well (though I revisited On the Road back in the '80s).  Still, I'm very aware of how much he influenced my adolescence.  That vagabond hipster dharma bum lifestyle sounds more glamorous in print than it is in real life, but it is VERY addictive.  Desolation Angels was my favorite of his books.  It might be interesting to see how well it holds up. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on February 11, 2010, 03:33:00 AM
Hmmm...it's been awhile for me as well (though I revisited On the Road back in the '80s).  Still, I'm very aware of how much he influenced my adolescence.  That vagabond hipster dharma bum lifestyle sounds more glamorous in print than it is in real life, but it is VERY addictive.  Desolation Angels was my favorite of his books.  It might be interesting to see how well it holds up.

Not very well, at least IMO.  A few years ago I went back and reread most of the books and while parts of them are fun, in general they seemed less compelling than I remembered them.   
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2010, 04:41:50 AM
. . . That vagabond hipster dharma bum lifestyle sounds more glamorous in print than it is in real life, but it is VERY addictive.

QFT ; )
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2010, 06:18:56 AM
Not very well, at least IMO.  A few years ago I went back and reread most of the books and while parts of them are fun, in general they seemed less compelling than I remembered them.
So I suspect.  The things we find appealing in adolescence seldom retain that appeal after we've matured. 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Scarpia on February 11, 2010, 06:54:16 AM
So I suspect.  The things we find appealing in adolescence seldom retain that appeal after we've matured.

You mean Star Wars isn't the greatest film ever made?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2010, 06:55:40 AM
Well, to hear Poju tell it . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Florestan on February 11, 2010, 06:57:30 AM
The things we find appealing in adolescence seldom retain that appeal after we've matured.

Classical music excepted. :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2010, 07:02:01 AM

Quote from: DavidRoss
The things we find appealing in adolescence seldom retain that appeal after we've matured.

Classical music excepted. :D

Yes, my years of adolescence were when Real Music got its hooks in me but good.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 11, 2010, 07:14:49 AM
I have fond memories of the stuff I read as a kid but, yeah, it doesn't hold up.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2010, 07:16:03 AM
Well, to hear Poju tell it . . . .
I rest my case.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 11, 2010, 07:24:45 AM
You guys are mean.  >:(


 :P
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2010, 07:31:56 AM
You guys are mean.  >:(


 :P
Well, yes, it feels uncomfortable at times, almost like picking on the Down Syndrome kid, but he's so adamant about his intellectual and aesthetic superiority and so impervious to helpful criticism that poking gentle fun at him might actually be a kindness.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: secondwind on February 11, 2010, 07:53:24 AM
     I didn't know what to say; he was right; but all I wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was doing all over the country. --Jack Kerouac, On the Road, page 67, paragraph 3 of my September 1957 Second Printing (which I will consider selling when I am much older and grayer and need money to pay the electricity bill, assuming I have finished reading it by then).

Example of musical punctuation?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 11, 2010, 09:42:30 AM
     I didn't know what to say; he was right; but all I wanted to do was sneak out into the night and disappear somewhere, and go and find out what everybody was doing all over the country. --Jack Kerouac, On the Road, page 67, paragraph 3 of my September 1957 Second Printing (which I will consider selling when I am much older and grayer and need money to pay the electricity bill, assuming I have finished reading it by then).

Example of musical punctuation?

Apparently.  The second semicolon, according to the purists, is an error, because of the use of the conjunction "but."

But in a book about slacker, edge-of-society rule-breakers, you expect things like that!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Scarpia on February 11, 2010, 09:48:55 AM
Apparently.  The second semicolon, according to the purists, is an error, because of the use of the conjunction "but."

But in a book about slacker, edge-of-society rule-breakers, you expect things like that!   $:)

I read somewhere that for an anniversary of the publication of On The Road the original, unedited typescript was published.  The one Kerouac prepared by taping a ream of paper together into a continuous scroll, so he could type without interruption while in a drug-addled state.  If I remember correctly, there are no paragraph breaks, I don't know if he used punctuation.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2010, 10:19:11 AM
I read somewhere that for an anniversary of the publication of On The Road the original, unedited typescript was published.  The one Kerouac prepared by taping a ream of paper together into a continuous scroll, so he could type without interruption while in a drug-addled state.  If I remember correctly, there are no paragraph breaks, I don't know if he used punctuation.

We've got that anniversary edition at the Museum shop; I'll have a look at it tonight.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Scarpia on February 11, 2010, 10:33:41 AM
We've got that anniversary edition at the Museum shop; I'll have a look at it tonight.

It's possible to see excerpts on line at Amazon.  No paragraphs breaks, but punctuation.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: secondwind on February 11, 2010, 10:35:43 AM
Apparently.  The second semicolon, according to the purists, is an error, because of the use of the conjunction "but."

But in a book about slacker, edge-of-society rule-breakers, you expect things like that!   $:)
The comma also is not gramatically correct, coming as it does between two parts of the compound object. "All I wanted to do was x and y" would be correct, not "all I wanted to do was x, and y."  Rhyhmically, however, I prefer Kerouac's punctuation.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 11, 2010, 11:10:58 AM
The comma also is not gramatically correct, coming as it does between two parts of the compound object. "All I wanted to do was x and y" would be correct, not "all I wanted to do was x, and y."  Rhyhmically, however, I prefer Kerouac's punctuation.
I prefer it, too.  The thing to remember is that the "rules" of grammar are guidelines, distilled by analyzing practice, and are properly regarded as descriptive, maybe prescriptive, but never proscriptive!  Using punctuation--such as dashes, commas, and even semicolons--to break up written sentences and impart the rhythm and flavor of speech (as well as to render complex statements more intelligible), is not just an acceptable practice but an essential element of the writer's craft.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on February 11, 2010, 11:13:24 AM
The original scroll manuscript of On The Road, written over a three week amphetamine fueled marathon is not the same book that was published in 1957.  From most accounts it is longer, more lurid, and uses real names, but in essence recounts the same experiences.  In 2001 (I think) it was auctioned for over $2 million.

On The Road is probably his best book, although Dharma Bums, The Subterraneans and Desolation Angels are good too.  He wrote other scroll manuscripts, but instead of taping the pages together used teletype paper rolls.

I've got some recordings of him reading or improvising poetry with saxophone accompaniment, Zoot Sims on some - tres 50's cool.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Scarpia on February 11, 2010, 12:06:19 PM
The original scroll manuscript of On The Road, written over a three week amphetamine fueled marathon is not the same book that was published in 1957.  From most accounts it is longer, more lurid, and uses real names, but in essence recounts the same experiences.  In 2001 (I think) it was auctioned for over $2 million.

By most accounts?  That's what it says on the flap of the Original Scroll Edition, published by Penguin

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143105469/ref=s9_simi_gw_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0JENXH026MYMHE27SP1E&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: secondwind on February 11, 2010, 12:09:40 PM

I've got some recordings of him reading or improvising poetry with saxophone accompaniment, Zoot Sims on some - tres 50's cool.
Indeed! 8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on February 11, 2010, 12:11:56 PM
By most accounts?  That's what it says on the flap of the Original Scroll Edition, published by Penguin

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143105469/ref=s9_simi_gw_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0JENXH026MYMHE27SP1E&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

I haven't seen the Penquin book and was only vaguely aware of what was reported about the differences, hence my hedging.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 11, 2010, 05:29:52 PM
I prefer it, too.  The thing to remember is that the "rules" of grammar are guidelines, distilled by analyzing practice, and are properly regarded as descriptive, maybe prescriptive, but never proscriptive!  Using punctuation--such as dashes, commas, and even semicolons--to break up written sentences and impart the rhythm and flavor of speech (as well as to render complex statements more intelligible), is not just an acceptable practice but an essential element of the writer's craft.

That's a big 10-4, good buddy!   :o

Drugged-up (or drugged-out) writing is not my thing: one wonders how much more creative Kerouac might have been without fried, poached, roasted, sauteed, or fricasseed frontal lobes.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 12, 2010, 06:04:06 AM
Which is correct when I'm speaking to you and referring to my friend Bob?

Which is correct when I'm speaking to you and referring to my friend: Bob?

Which is correct when I'm speaking to you and referring to my friend, Bob?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 12, 2010, 06:08:48 AM
Makes me think of one of the timing/emphasis jokes in that Firesign Theatre classic:

Quote
I assume you've come to see my mistress, Mr Danger.

–I don't care about your private life, or what his name is . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: MN Dave on February 12, 2010, 06:10:40 AM
Hee. Exactly.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 12, 2010, 11:19:15 AM
Still, I'm very aware of how much he influenced my adolescence.  That vagabond hipster dharma bum lifestyle sounds more glamorous in print than it is in real life, but it is VERY addictive.

John Updike once said that he wrote Rabbit, Run as a sort of reponse to Kerouac. He wanted to show that the free-spirit lifestyle has consquences: that people get hurt.

Anyway, I'm plodding through Salinger's Seymour: An Introduction for the first and last time in my life. God, it's torture.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 12, 2010, 11:23:02 AM
John Updike once said that he wrote Rabbit, Run as a sort of reponse to Kerouac. He wanted to show that the free-spirit lifestyle has consquences: that people get hurt.

Anyway, I'm plodding through Salinger's Seymour: An Introduction for the first and last time in my life. God, it's torture.
Never read it.  Try Nine Stories.  Great.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on February 13, 2010, 05:02:08 AM
John Updike once said that he wrote Rabbit, Run as a sort of reponse to Kerouac. He wanted to show that the free-spirit lifestyle has consquences: that people get hurt.

Anyway, I'm plodding through Salinger's Seymour: An Introduction for the first and last time in my life. God, it's torture.

I plowed through "Seymour" and saw less as a result!   :o

Writers can be solipsistic and egotistical schmucks: feel free to throw off the shackles and take your copy back to the library before the thumbscrews are tightened even more.

And always remember:

Writers of fiction are liars, even if they do occasionally tell the truth.   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 13, 2010, 10:52:48 AM
Finished Seymour this morning, and that's that.  It did get more interesting and readable toward the end, which only reinforced my anger with the rest of it.

David, the only reason I read Seynour at all is that I have read all the rest of Salinger, including the Nine Stories. I guess I should return to that when I'm finished the other books presently in the queue. You're right: That is a good one. And CITR, of course.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on February 22, 2010, 11:05:39 AM
I have a problem. :o
Yesterday I heard a 13 year old boy refer to an older Scottish boy as 'bad ass'.  Pretty standard stuff, but this was spoken by a Scottish boy in a Scottish city, and if it was in Scots vernacular it would be something like "Aye, he's mental."  Instead, it was, "Aye, he's a bad ass."  Well, if he had been speaking in Scottish lexicon he would have said "Bad arse," but in literal terms that would be suggestive of something different than the behaviour of the "Bad ass."
Isn't 'bad ass' American in origin?  Why do Scottish kids adopt American things like this?  It's doubtful that in South Philadelphia you would catch a teenager saying:  "Och aye, that wee fany, we did away wi' him in last week"  but you're sure to hear it in Scotland...somewhere...depending on who you're talking to...hell, my argument is crumbling...
I want cross-atlantic linguistic equality!  So come on you Americans (other than Cato, Henning, and one or two I don't know about ::) ) - start using AYE !!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on February 22, 2010, 11:32:38 AM
I realize now that I should NOT have enabled viewing of users' avatars.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 22, 2010, 11:51:56 AM
So come on you Americans (other than Cato, Henning, and one or two I don't know about ::) ) - start using AYE !!

It's not just American English that's popular, but black American English. The slang is everywhere and is very attractive to people who want to feel freer and less contricted in their language and manner. George Carlin years ago perceptively noted that if you take five white guys and five black guys and let them hang around together for about a month, you'll find that the white guys are walking, and talking and standing like the black guys do. You'll never hear a black guy say, "Hey, golly, we won the big game today. Yes, sir. It was a doozy, too!" But you'll see guys with red hair and freckles named Duffy say, "What's happenin'? Nothin' to it. You got it, man. Right. Cool. See ya later baby.'"

There is no linguistic symmetry. It's just the way life is.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 22, 2010, 02:12:42 PM
George Carlin years ago perceptively noted that if you take five white guys and five black guys and let them hang around together for about a month, you'll find that the white guys are walking, and talking and standing like teh black guys to.

Depends on whether they're hanging out together in the board room or the bar room.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 22, 2010, 02:18:07 PM
Well observed!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on February 22, 2010, 03:40:34 PM
John, Where were you when you heard, "Och aye, that wee fany, we did away wi' him in last week"? I will avoid it.

How about this, once overheard. A young man in Dundee, as I passed him he put his arm round his girl and said, "Och....see us a rave at yer clump."

I feel that could surely translate across the pond to some black ghetto or other.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on February 22, 2010, 05:31:01 PM
John, Where were you when you heard, "Och aye, that wee fany, we did away wi' him in last week"? I will avoid it.
Mike

I was in Edinburgh.    ;D ;D ;D

No, I made it up.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on February 22, 2010, 10:37:10 PM
Oh, that's a bit unfortunate. Must have been a dubious area....not Morningside!

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 23, 2010, 09:20:05 AM
Depends on whether they're hanging out together in the board room or the bar room.

Don't think George really cared about board rooms.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 23, 2010, 09:30:16 AM
How about elevators?  Just met a chap there by chance this morning . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on February 23, 2010, 10:19:39 AM
How about elevators?  Just met a chap there by chance this morning . . . .

Well, he did say once that if there are two guys in an elevator and one of them farts, everybody knows who did it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on February 23, 2010, 10:20:40 AM
I don't like stereotypes, especially racial stereotypes.

Just sayin' ...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 23, 2010, 12:25:02 PM
I don't like stereotypes, especially racial stereotypes.

Just sayin' ...
But George (Carlin) did...at least enough to tell jokes that relied on them.

Just sayin'....
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 23, 2010, 12:33:21 PM
But George (Carlin) did...at least enough to tell jokes that relied on them.

Just sayin'....

To say nothing of Richard Pryor (e.g.).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on February 23, 2010, 12:40:31 PM
I have understood the humor of Richard Pryor and George Carlin to be exposing the flaws of stereotyping, not endorsements of it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on February 23, 2010, 12:55:45 PM
Very good.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on February 23, 2010, 01:15:48 PM
I have understood the humor of Richard Pryor and George Carlin to be exposing the flaws of stereotyping, not endorsements of it.
See the Carlin observation cited above.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: The Six on March 03, 2010, 08:49:53 PM
 literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally literally
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on March 04, 2010, 02:48:36 AM
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 04, 2010, 04:30:10 AM
What the heck do kids these days mean when they use the terms "surreal" and "epic?"
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 04, 2010, 06:44:46 AM
No knowing, no knowing . . . .
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Novi on March 04, 2010, 09:51:14 AM
What the heck do kids these days mean when they use the terms "surreal" and "epic?"

Breton and Virgil? ???
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: secondwind on March 04, 2010, 01:53:45 PM
What the heck do kids these days mean when they use the terms "surreal" and "epic?"
I can't say with certainty, but when I am left baffled by the alternative English of my younger students ("clueless," as it were), I turn for help to www.urbandictionary.com (http://www.urbandictionary.com).   I recently had recourse to urbandictionary to decipher "epic fail", and found this:
Quote
   
3.    Epic Fail    1175 up, 102 down

Epic- Anything great, spectacular, or large/monumental in nature

Fail- An inability to complete an objective, task or job either assigned or volunteered for.

Epic Fail -A mistake of such monumental proportions that it requires its own term in order to sucessfully point out the unfathomable shortcomings of an individual or group.

Jack: Uh, dude? I may or may not have wrecked 14 ferrari's with my moped after derailing a whole train carrying nothing but kittens and puppies...

Jim: Epic Fail, Man. EPIC Fail.

by Operative 668 Mar 24, 2008

Under "surreal," I prefer this definition:

Quote
3.    surreal    51 up, 20 down
   
Popular usage has transformed the word "surreal" into litle more than a synonym for "weird", and so rendered it useless. I'll use "surrealistic" if a film (or any work of art) exhibits mannered mimicking of superficial aspects of the visual style of the original Surrealists between the wars (commonly, cribs from Dali, Magritte, Chirico, Bunuel or Cocteau). In all other cases I prefer more specific terms, like "dreamlike", "Nightmarish" or "Bunuelesque". I'd reserve "surrealist" for the output of members of recognized Surrealist groups.
Everything is so surreal.
by elag Mar 5, 2004

Urbandictionary appears to be a highly democratic and participative endeavor.  People submit definitions, and the definitions are listed in order of the number of "thumbs up" votes received from readers.  There was a definition of "epic"  that I particularly liked, but printing it here would probably violate some "family and workplace friendly" requirement of the forum.  ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on March 04, 2010, 01:55:08 PM
Epic: everything pertaining to greatness! :3

http://images.google.com/images?source=hp&q=epic&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&oq=

Edit: it seems that some weird porn got past Google's moderate content filter. I guess they're not sufficiently interested in epic things to check the keyword for content :(
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Drasko on March 04, 2010, 02:37:00 PM
Edit: it seems that some weird porn got past Google's moderate content filter. I guess they're not sufficiently interested in epic things to check the keyword for content :(
You're thinking of the picture titled Balkan Erotic, right? It's not porn but performance/short film with full title Balkan Erotic Epic (that's why it got caught in your epic search) by rather well known performance artist Marina Abramović (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Abramović)

unrelated to that, this one had me in stitches:
(http://www.grouchyoldcripple.com/archives/epic%20failure.jpg) 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: "Epic Fail - ure"
Post by: Cato on March 04, 2010, 03:03:31 PM
Several sources claim it goes back to 1974 and the Dungeons and Dragons handbook, where a disastrous roll of the dice could cause an "epic fail."  Either the word "fail" was misprinted or the word was shortened on purpose for unknown reasons.

Others claim it goes back to 1980's Japanese videogames not using proper English.  Another claim is that early computer programmers used it to refer to crashing programs.  You might remember: "Abort?  Retry?"  If the computer still crashed or failed to reboot, it was an "epic fail."

Why those 3 last letters cannot be used...who knows?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on March 04, 2010, 03:12:53 PM
Fail is definitely influenced by poor translation from Japanese (like a lot of post 2000s nerd talk - it began to be used ironically, but then gained greater popularity, but still with that "we know this sounds absurd" edge to it) -

(http://img214.imageshack.us/img214/3332/bstarfail.png)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: greg on March 04, 2010, 06:00:19 PM
unrelated to that, this one had me in stitches:
(http://www.grouchyoldcripple.com/archives/epic%20failure.jpg)
That must suck having that on...
trying to figure what's so bad about it, if you cover up the bottom of the nose and the whole mouth, it's not too bad. I'm not sure how appropriate the shading is, though.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 04, 2010, 07:03:37 PM
John Singer Sargent, he wasn't.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 05, 2010, 06:41:58 AM
(http://www.grouchyoldcripple.com/archives/epic%20failure.jpg)

"In Loving Memory" -- Looks as if the artist wanted her remembered as a zombie.  (And I don't mean a member of the band that did "Time of the Season.")
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on March 05, 2010, 06:53:52 AM
The tattoo appears to me to be a tribute to a loved one who has died.  For sure, tattoo art is often crude and does not always portray a complimentary image from a photograph, but the artist did his best to respond to the wishes of this patron.   

This aspect of online activity, i.e. making fun of people we don't know, is one of the least positive.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 05, 2010, 09:35:32 AM
This aspect of online activity, i.e. making fun of people we don't know, is one of the least positive.

"In Loving Memory" -- Looks as if the artist wanted her remembered as a zombie.

I think, Franco, that this artist fully deserves his lumps.
 
John Singer Sargent, he wasn't.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 05, 2010, 12:03:58 PM
What the heck do kids these days mean when they use the terms "surreal" and "epic?"

They mean cool, boss, rad, gear, superbad and wicked. I did a column  once on the way every generation uses different words to say essentially the same thing: we like something or we don't like it. The words are different, but the sentiment never changes. Shame I can't find the thing online. It was epic.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 05, 2010, 12:22:14 PM
Straight from the fridge, daddy-o.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 05, 2010, 01:48:59 PM
John Singer Sargent, he wasn't.

She looks like she's decomposing.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 05, 2010, 01:49:36 PM
They mean cool, boss, rad, gear, superbad and wicked. I did a column  once on the way every generation uses different words to say essentially the same thing: we like something or we don't like it. The words are different, but the sentiment never changes. Shame I can't find the thing online. It was epic.
Hip mod a-go-go and groovalicious, slick.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: The Six on March 05, 2010, 05:57:14 PM
She looks like she's decomposing.

She is.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 06, 2010, 06:13:04 AM
Perhaps rather like Wilde's Portrait of Dorian Gray, the tat will decompose whilst the dear departed will remain fresh as the daisies she pushes up. We will revisit him in a couple of years and report back.

The former film director of 'Death Wish', Michael Winner, has for years been writing a weekly restaurant review in the Sunday Times. He abuses the word, 'historic' which is attached to any outstanding dish he is served. So, weekly there is a sentence or so along the following lines:

The treacle tart was exactly what was to be expected of this chef, truly historic.

Alternatively

Sadly, my quest for 'the' historic souffle turned into disappointment; as I sent back the better half of the congealed mess that was delivered to me.


You get the style of him, no doubt.

He has just started a TV show where he descends from his mansion and his chauffeur dumps him at the house of some 'real' person eager for 15 minutes of fame. He then proceeds to criticise everything from the foolish participants to their wallpaper and food. I am unclear whether watching it is less painful than going over your privates with sand paper, but this writer is unwilling to give either a try right now.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 06, 2010, 07:40:38 AM
He has just started a TV show where he descends from his mansion and his chauffeur dumps him at the house of some 'real' person eager for 15 minutes of fame. He then proceeds to criticise everything from the foolish participants to their wallpaper and food. I am unclear whether watching it is less painful than going over your privates with sand paper, but this writer is unwilling to give either a try right now.
Sounds historic.

As for your uncertain comparison, I suppose it depends on the sandpaper's grit.  Hmmm.  Reminds me of an episode of particular foolishness as a child when I spilled turpentine on my privates.  Sandpaper might be preferable to that.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 06, 2010, 08:03:12 AM
Yes, as an adolescent I discovered that after-shave was not a great, or historic, idea either.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 06, 2010, 08:30:56 AM
Yes, as an adolescent I discovered that after-shave was not a great, or historic, idea either.
Epic!  (Or should that be, "Surreal!"?)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 06, 2010, 08:34:00 AM
Not too sure what I exclaimed, but I think my eyebrows met my hairline.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 06, 2010, 09:12:53 AM
Off topic a bit but I'm grateful to Cato for this thread, on which I've often found the same playful spirit that attracted me to GMG in the first place.  I wonder what Nigel's up to these days.  Still seeing more opera in a season than I'll see in a lifetime, I imagine, and still cracking wise with admirable pith and dryness best shaken, not stirred.  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: knight66 on March 06, 2010, 09:51:12 AM
I am in a bit of contact with him, but don't hold a lot of info. He is still attending the opera and travelling around.

Mike
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 08, 2010, 07:54:02 AM
There are enjoyable grumbles in Why Begins With W, too (not surprisingly).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble - Australian Slang
Post by: Cato on March 08, 2010, 08:39:39 AM
Many thanks for the above comments!

My wife has been hooked on an Australian Horse Opera for Women called McLeod's Daughters, which ran for most of the last decade (2001-2008).

It features in every episode a minimum of 4 women under age 30, dressed in low-cut, very tight, and very sweaty T-shirts (they work on a "station" in the outback), who are trying to survive "epic" 44-minute dramas, all caused by incredibly incompetent and completely clueless males.

The young women wrestle pigs, sheep, horses, and cattle, and occasionally even one of the human bearers of Y-chromosomes, during which they become even sweatier,  :o
and during which one hears curious words.

Last night we heard a word, and it was discouraging, because we could not understand what it was!   0:)

After numerous attempts we heard "Jilleroo".

This apparently is the female version of Jackeroo, which I thought might mean "Jack of all trades," but means "tenderfoot" instead.

Jilleroo in the show was used as a verb!

"Buckaroo" - if you were wondering - comes from a corruption of Spanish vaquero (cowboy).
Title: Jacks and Jills
Post by: Spotswood on March 08, 2010, 08:52:13 AM

After numerous attempts we heard "Jilleroo".

This apparently is the female version of Jackeroo, which I thought might mean "Jack of all trades," but means "tenderfoot" instead.

This is not uncommon. I recently came across the phrase "to jill off," which, well ... oh, dear ...  :-[
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble - Australian Slang
Post by: DavidRoss on March 08, 2010, 09:56:39 AM
My wife has been hooked on an Australian Horse Opera for Women called McLeod's Daughters, which ran for most of the last decade (2001-2008).
Mine, too.  I wonder if there's a support group available...?
Title: Re: Jacks and Jills
Post by: Cato on March 08, 2010, 11:48:29 AM
This is not uncommon. I recently came across the phrase "to jill off," which, well ... oh, dear ...  :-[

Was this in writing or did some ne'er-do-well publicly proclaim it?   $:)

DavidRoss: Do you watch McLeod's Daughters with your wife?

The answer will reveal quite a bit about your marriage!   :D

A support group for the show's victims must exist somewhere!

Actually, there were episodes which were not half bad.  And as mentioned above, there are specific reasons to watch ... and ignore the plot!   0:)



Title: Re: Jacks and Jills
Post by: Spotswood on March 08, 2010, 01:41:54 PM
Was this in writing or did some ne'er-do-well publicly proclaim it?   $:)

Oh, it was written. If I knew a woman who used that phrase verbally, I'd try very hard to get to know her better.
Title: Re: Jacks and Jills
Post by: DavidRoss on March 08, 2010, 02:02:43 PM
DavidRoss: Do you watch McLeod's Daughters with your wife?  The answer will reveal quite a bit about your marriage!   :D
I've watched a few episodes with her.  They're a darned sight better than the horrid disaster flicks she enjoys!
Title: Re: Jacks and Jills
Post by: Spotswood on March 08, 2010, 02:13:24 PM
I've watched a few episodes with her.  They're a darned sight better than the horrid disaster flicks she enjoys!

And if there are a lot of women in tight, sweaty T-shirts, I should think it would be more popular among men and women, anyway, even if the men are portrayed as doofuses. On TV sitcoms, all men are portrayed as doofuses.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 08, 2010, 02:17:59 PM
And if there are a lot of women in tight, sweaty T-shirts, I should think it would be more popular among men and women, anyway, even if the men are portrayed as doofuses. On TV sitcoms, all men are portrayed as doofuses.

Writers for television have insufficient skill to craft humor with male characters who are not doofuses.
Title: Re: Jacks and Jills
Post by: DavidRoss on March 08, 2010, 03:03:32 PM
And if there are a lot of women in tight, sweaty T-shirts, I should think it would be more popular among men and women, anyway, even if the men are portrayed as doofuses. On TV sitcoms, all men are portrayed as doofuses.
True enough!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 08, 2010, 03:06:42 PM
Writers for television have insufficient skill to craft humor with male characters who are not doofuses.

I don't know why that should be, though.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 08, 2010, 03:17:00 PM
Writers for television have insufficient skill to craft humor with male characters who are not doofuses.
I don't know why that should be, though.
Perhaps they write only from their own experience...?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Ungrammatical Images
Post by: Cato on March 08, 2010, 06:08:57 PM
Off-topic but... here is visual evidence of what David Ross and I have experienced:

(http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2006/11/07/Daughters_060822094935377_wideweb__300x375,1.jpg)

Dusty, but not sweaty:

(http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/3800000/Drover-s-Girls-mcleods-daughters-3893615-897-596.jpg)

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on March 08, 2010, 06:37:26 PM
You're wives drag you to see this every week?
What a shame for you guys.    ::)

Aye, right...  8)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 09, 2010, 08:27:36 AM
So, men don't like this show?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 09, 2010, 01:19:08 PM
So, men don't like this show?

It is much better with the sound off!   $:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 09, 2010, 01:30:05 PM
It is much better with the sound off!   $:)

That's what they said about Charlie's Angels!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 09, 2010, 03:30:18 PM
An example of the writing:

Inconstant Australian Male attempting to woo Sweaty Tightly T-Shirted Australian Cowgirl:
"Yew know whut yew ah? Spam!"  (You know what you are?)

S.T.T.A.G: "Kind meat?"  (Canned meat?)

I.A.M. : "No.  Sexy, Praddy, 'n' Moin!"  (Sexy, Pretty, and Mine!)

Tolstoy never wrote stuff like that!  (And there's a reason!   ;D  )
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 09, 2010, 06:28:36 PM
That's what they said about Charlie's Angels!

And Wagner.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 09, 2010, 06:30:09 PM
Tolstoy never wrote stuff like that! 
But I undertand the original title of War and Peace was War---What Is It Good For?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 09, 2010, 07:46:08 PM
And Wagner.
Chortle!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2010, 04:49:24 AM
But I undertand the original title of War and Peace was War---What Is It Good For?

Wocka Wocka!   ;D

Which opens up all kinds of possibilities for sequels as well:
"War and Peace and Love and Dope" - The '60's version.

Maybe the lady who attempted a sequel to Gone With The Wind can handle that.


Back to Grumbling!   :o

I might have written about this some time ago: I really dislike T.V. news shows using slang words like "cops" rather than "the police," when reporting about the latest antics in the big city.

I have also heard reporters use "the guy said," when talking about a witness to the latest antics.

Probably the staff feels this makes them more comprehensible to the audience, or more like one of the "guys" down at the bowling alley, or at the local spa for elbow-bending.

We also have a Twinkie named "Megan" on one station, who acts like Godzilla is in the background trampling down skyscrapers whenever she reports on a story, and her stories usually involve rabid chipmunks or grandmothers victimized by junk-mail offers: she dazzles you with breathless, wide-eyed, monotonic hysteria!  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 10, 2010, 06:32:58 AM
Originally it was to be a tale of watermelon loss . . . Gone With the Rind.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 10, 2010, 08:15:20 AM
We also have a Twinkie named "Megan" on one station, who acts like Godzilla is in the background trampling down skyscrapers whenever she reports on a story, and her stories usually involve rabid chipmunks or grandmothers victimized by junk-mail offers: she dazzles you with breathless, wide-eyed, monotonic hysteria!  :o

Reporters simply live for the end of the world. This winter, as we experienced three snowstorms in a row, the warnings on TV got bigger as the snowfalls got smaller. The eyes glazed over as the dire predictons went on and on.

As for the cops and guys,  that's not so much a question of correctness as style --- what the editor is willing to live with. At our paper, we don't say cops or guys, nor do we  say kids when we mean children. But if a reporter is out on the street speaking off the cuff, it's harder to correct them. And some papers, particularly tabloids, like to go for working-class slang. I'd expect the word cops in a daily News column, but not in a NYT editorial. It's a matter of context.

I remember Letterman once did a top 10 list of words used in New York Post headlines, and No. 1 was "Slayfest/lotto (tie)."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 10, 2010, 10:59:30 AM
Slayfest?!  :o
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 10, 2010, 11:13:26 AM
Apparently they're really into news about the mob.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2010, 01:41:34 PM
Apparently they're really into news about the mob.

Life and Death In New York!

Another grumble: I have been hearing commercials and people in general mispronouncing "immediately."

It especially happens when they are emphasizing the word, e.g. the school's principal hits the P.A. and says: "I need to see Rappy Scallion in my office eee-mediately!"   :o

Has anyone else noticed this?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 10, 2010, 02:16:14 PM
Life and Death In New York!

Another grumble: I have been hearing commercials and people in general mispronouncing "immediately."

It especially happens when they are emphasizing the word, e.g. the school's principal hits the P.A. and says: "I need to see Rappy Scallion in my office eee-mediately!"   :o

Has anyone else noticed this?
I thought you were going to say "ĭ-midget-lee."
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2010, 02:40:44 PM
I thought you were going to say "ĭ-midget-lee."

Wow!  I have not heard that pronunciation here in Ohio!   $:)

Here in the heart of Ohio we do hear the contraction "Clumbus" rather than "Columbus."   ::)

And I have heard "Cincy Annie" for "Cincinnati."

Cincy Annie hangs out at a truck stop across the river in Covington!   0:)


Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 10, 2010, 03:07:13 PM
Cincy Annie hangs out at a truck stop across the river in Covington!   0:)
(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/16/22861315_aa2fb313e1.jpg)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 10, 2010, 03:41:48 PM
Here's the whole list:

TOP TEN WORDS USED IN NEW YORK POST HEADLINES

10. Co-Ed
 9. Tot
 8. Horror
 7. Straphangers
 6. Mom
 5. Weirdos
 4. Hizzoner
 3. Torso
 2. Herr Stienbrenner
 1. Slayfest / Lotto    (tie)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 10, 2010, 04:27:41 PM
So the Post can't count.  Why isn't that a surprise?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: secondwind on March 11, 2010, 05:52:02 PM
A friend sent me a copy of a newspaper article with the headline: "Republicans turned off by size of Obama's package".  Her comment:  "Think they're jealous?"   ;D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 11, 2010, 08:29:43 PM
"Republicans turned off by size of Obama's package".

Oh, that is an unfortunate chouice of words ...

Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Cato on March 12, 2010, 10:49:18 AM
Oh, that is an unfortunate choice of words ...

Herr Professor Freud just will NOT go away!   0:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 12, 2010, 01:04:11 PM
It's just, as an editor, I'm sensitive to bad headlines. One of our former editors used to say that every headilne should pass the 13-year-old boy test: If a 13-year-old would find something in it to laugh at, it should be discarded. This one fails that test.

Found this one once in a state parks publication: "Hunting and shooting up"

Truly an unbeatable combination.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: secondwind on March 13, 2010, 10:06:01 PM
It's just, as an editor, I'm sensitive to bad headlines. One of our former editors used to say that every headilne should pass the 13-year-old boy test: If a 13-year-old would find something in it to laugh at, it should be discarded. This one fails that test.

Yeah.  Epic fail.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 15, 2010, 07:47:48 AM
Yeah.  Epic fail.

Yeah, like, epic.  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on March 15, 2010, 08:34:43 AM
I like the use of italics as a means of word stress.  Italics make a word everything it should be in vocal context.
Italics are great!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on March 15, 2010, 08:38:22 AM
I like the use of italics as a means of word stress.  Italics make a word everything it should be in vocal context.
Italics are great!

This is a place to grumble, man!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 15, 2010, 08:51:50 AM
This is a place to grumble, man!

For sure, man.

Or: For sure, man.

Or: For sure, man.

Less often: For sure, man.

Even less often: For sure, man.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Harpo on March 15, 2010, 09:39:11 AM
Is anyone else bored with the phrase "at the end of the day" (meaning ultimately)? At first I thought the speakers meant the end of the end of the actual day they were speaking....
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 15, 2010, 09:53:07 AM
Yes, one of the tiredest of clichés.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 15, 2010, 10:06:38 AM
Ditto. It's on my never-to-be-used list.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on March 15, 2010, 10:47:59 AM
Well, at the end of the day, people are still using it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 15, 2010, 03:21:23 PM
Well, at the end of the day, people are still using it.

Which is why we grumble about it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Est.1965 on March 15, 2010, 04:45:26 PM
But Joe, at the end of the day, we do not grumble about it.  We grumble about it.
Grumble.  What a great word.  It could be so much more if it wasn't so negative.  Grumble.  We are the grumblers.  Did you hear about the grumbles?
I love grumbles.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 15, 2010, 06:06:33 PM
Wow, dude, you're like psyched.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on March 16, 2010, 07:40:36 AM
If exclamation marks can be used in mid-sentence, can question marks as well (in special cases, not in general)?
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 16, 2010, 07:56:19 AM
If exclamation marks can be used in mid-sentence, can question marks as well (in special cases, not in general)?
Damn straight!

You can use anything you want as long as it helps convey your intentions, right? (both cognitive and emotive).
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Franco on March 16, 2010, 08:00:17 AM
Is anyone else bored with the phrase "at the end of the day" (meaning ultimately)? At first I thought the speakers meant the end of the end of the actual day they were speaking....

During the last presidential campaign I think it was Terry McCauliffe who was debating someone on one of the news shows (I remember he was running for something himself) and used that phrase a whopping two dozen times in a few minutes.  Or some such ridiculous amount. 

Kind of like "on the other hand" used as if we were octopussies.

:)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Opus106 on March 16, 2010, 08:15:15 AM
Kind of like "on the other hand" used as if we were octopussies.
:)

*Reminds self: now is not the time for such jokes*

:D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 16, 2010, 08:39:13 AM
If exclamation marks can be used in mid-sentence, can question marks as well (in special cases, not in general)?

Could you give an example? I'm trying to think of one, and I can't. I've never used an exclamaition in mid-sentence.

One thing I've noticed and try to correct is the use of question makers at the end of declarative sentences, usually following the verb ask to wonder, as in, "Some of us were wondering where the children went?" This is not a question and does not need a question mark. It is a statement about what the people were wondering. You could rephrase it to read something like,  "Some of us wondered, where did the children go?" but there's really no need to.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on March 16, 2010, 08:57:42 AM
@DavidRoss - I guess it might be an English thing on my part. I need rules - without rules there is anarchy, like drinking tea before 11am or after 7pm - almost antisocial :-*

Could you give an example? I'm trying to think of one, and I can't. I've never used an exclamaition in mid-sentence.
I think that I have seen it several times in pre-20th century writing, and when looking it up I found "Hark! the hallowed angels sing" used as a common example affirming its correctness -- it may have even been somewhere in this thread. It could be one of those things which became outdated, but as there is no book of English language LAW as with many other languages it has never become... illegal.

One ting I've noticed and try to correct is the use of question makers at the end of declarative sentences, usually following the verb ask to wonder, as in, "Some of us were wondering where the children went?" This is not a question and does not need a question mark. It is a statement about what the people were wondering. You could rephrase it to read something like,  "Some of us wondered, where did the children go?" but there's really no need to.
It makes me uncomfortable how widespread this has become. It makes many things people say sound as if they are being sarcastic when spoken with that rising sound at the end of the sentence...
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 16, 2010, 09:03:40 AM
@DavidRoss - I guess it might be an English thing on my part. I need rules - without rules there is anarchy, like drinking tea before 11am or after 7pm - almost antisocial :-*
I think that I have seen it several times in pre-20th century writing, and when looking it up I found "Hark! the hallowed angels sing" used as a common example affirming its correctness -- it may have even been somewhere in this thread. It could be one of those things which became outdated, but as there is no book of English language LAW as with many other languages it has never become... illegal.
It makes me uncomfortable how widespread this has become. It makes many things people say sound as if they are being sarcastic when spoken with that rising sound at the end of the sentence...

Some of us might think otherwise?  >:(

J/K. I agree.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 16, 2010, 09:16:51 AM
"Hark! the hallowed angels sing" used as a common example affirming its correctness

I don't see this as being the middle of a sentence. It's actually two complete thoughts. The exclamation --- Hark! --- stands alone, followed by the sentence proper, "the Hallowed angels sing."  There would be less confusion if the "t" in "the" were capitalized, thus:
Hark! (pause) The hallowed angels sing.

In this case, Hark! may also be considered a single, independent sentence, since it expresses a one-word command, like "Listen!" or "Hsst!" If we think of "Hark the herald angels sing" as a single sentence, it's only because we're used to running it all together in one breath when we sing the carol. 

In any case, the exclamation point is fine. In fact, it's indispensible.
 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Lethevich on March 16, 2010, 09:20:25 AM
Oh, that makes sense. Danke!
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 16, 2010, 09:25:53 AM
@DavidRoss - I guess it might be an English thing on my part. I need rules - without rules there is anarchy, like drinking tea before 11am or after 7pm - almost antisocial :-*

The problem with rules, of course, is that there aren't any. In language, what's correct is what is. Of course, in my own writing, I do follow restrictions based on my own and others' ideas about what consitutes good prose, as well as the prescribed style guide, but all of them are subject to change, and others may ignore them entirely. It's like tea etiquette: a social construct, not a rule of nature, and we obey or ignore the construct as we see fit. I have drunk tea before 11 a.m., but no one was around to see me do it.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 16, 2010, 09:37:51 AM
@DavidRoss - I guess it might be an English thing on my part. I need rules - without rules there is anarchy, like drinking tea before 11am or after 7pm - almost antisocial :-*
Ahhh...now we're onto something:  Rules!  Some folks regard them as boundaries--inviolate, with imaginary border guards ready to wag their fingers and cluck their tongues at any transgression.  Others see them as guidelines--general principles we use to check our bearings, somewhat as an overland traveler will pull out the compass now and again to make sure he doesn't stray too far off course.

When you were a child did you always color within the lines? 

Second something, even more in need of discussion:  anarchy!  Anarchy is not utter chaos and disorder; it is self rule, with no kings or parliaments or exalted grand poobahs forcing everyone else to obey their will.  'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

Finally--I cannot speak for English English, but the American variety is a pretty darned flexible instrument, despite the efforts of a pompous 19th Century schoolmaster to extract grammatical rules from his own usage and to impose them upon generations of helpless schoolchildren as one more set of ridiculous practices to cripple their creativity, replace understanding with rote learning, and enable others to determine in moments one's social class, educational level, and relative intelligence.

Hah!  ;)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 16, 2010, 10:02:28 AM
What's interesting about David's post is that it is grammatically and orthographically perfect by all the standard rules. In language,  what's imortant is not so much what the rules are but that everyone agree on them. True anarchy would mean gibberish.

Making up my own rules, I could say of David's post, "Agree mim me no.  Incorrect no the thing bad right rule dude." I know what I mean. Do you? 
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 16, 2010, 10:24:13 AM
Speaking of grammar, here is a penetrating critique (http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497) of Strunk and White.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: DavidRoss on March 16, 2010, 10:38:14 AM
Speaking of grammar, here is a penetrating critique (http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497) of Strunk and White.
After you've read the linked article, there will be a brief quiz, followed by several sentences for you to diagram, such as the one in italics here. (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,15974.msg399214.html#msg399214)
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Scarpia on March 16, 2010, 11:09:32 AM
Speaking of grammar, here is a penetrating critique (http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497) of Strunk and White.

The Elements of Style contains mostly sensible advice, and I don't find the critique all that "penetrating."   From the introduction of "The Elements of Style" by E.B. White himself

Quote
Style rules of this sort are, of course, somewhat a matter of individual preference, and even the established rules of grammar are open to challenge.  Professor Strunk, although one of the most inflexible and choosy of men, was quick to acknowledge the fallacy of inflexibility and the danger of doctrine.

I subscribe to the old adage, that before you break the rules you have to know the rules.  If we could get access to Dick Cheney's cache of intercepted e-mails I'm willing to bet that 99.9999% of rule breaking by our citizens is due to ignorance rather than artistic license.   :D
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: Spotswood on March 16, 2010, 01:04:13 PM
I disagree. I knew writing instructors who, following S&W, objected to any use of the verb to be as passive, as the article describes. I remember one prof actually red-penciled the phrase "He was going" as passive. I also like the observation that White keeps breaking his own rules, eg., "The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place." That's actually a good sentence, and yet it violates four of the rules S&W lay down. The disclaimer doesn't quite cut through the white noise, and in any event, I don't think White intended his grammatical rules to be broken. Rather, he was giving what he called geniuses license to cut loose.

The rule that you should know the rules before you break them makes sense only if the rules are valid to begin with.


Not that I think the book's influence is entirely bad. It was the first style book I read, and it did, at least, get me thinking about stuff like this. And I do like some of the rules, including the that/which distinction, which I do follow, even though it's pretty clear EB White made it up. But there are some rules in the book, like the one about split infinitives or avoiding the use of "people" as a plural or person, or avoiding "fix" when you mean repair, that no good writer adheres to and no good writer has ever adhered to.
Title: Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
Post by: karlhenning on March 16, 2010, 01:24:23 PM
A senior member of the House Rules Committee is quoted as saying:  And I hope