Author Topic: Cato's Grammar Grumble  (Read 554207 times)

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Offline Novi

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #140 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
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #141 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!

Offline knight66

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #142 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
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #143 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.
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

Offline Florestan

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #144 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. :)

"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

Offline Florestan

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #145 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:)
"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #146 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:)
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #147 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:)

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #148 on: February 13, 2009, 01:30:24 PM »
Where does that leave continental philosophy? >:D
In the dust.  Deeds, not words, my friend.  ;)
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline Florestan

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #149 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
"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #150 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:)
 
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #151 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!
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #152 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:)
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #153 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
A day may be a destiny; for life
Lives in but little—but that little teems
With some one chance, the balance of all time:
A look—a word—and we are wholly changed.

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #154 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? 
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

sul G

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #155 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!

karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #156 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 . . . .

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #157 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)
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #158 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!  
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #159 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.
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher