Author Topic: Cato's Grammar Grumble  (Read 556009 times)

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Offline John Copeland

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #740 on: July 07, 2009, 06:20:13 AM »
Laurel and Hardy movies are awash with "swell."   :D

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #741 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




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.

"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #742 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
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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

Offline Opus106

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #743 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... :)
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Navneeth

Offline owlice

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #744 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!

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #745 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.

Offline owlice

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #746 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!

Offline owlice

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #747 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)
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 03:15:03 PM by owlice »

Offline John Copeland

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #748 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' ?

Offline owlice

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #749 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.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 02:45:35 PM by owlice »

Offline John Copeland

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #750 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.

Offline owlice

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #751 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.)

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
« Reply #752 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.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 03:55:57 PM by Joe Barron »

Offline Cato

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
« Reply #753 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."
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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Joe Barron

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
« Reply #754 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.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 05:04:33 PM by Joe Barron »

Offline MishaK

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
« Reply #755 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.

Offline John Copeland

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #756 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.   >:(

 ::)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
« Reply #757 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".


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Offline MishaK

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
« Reply #758 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.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2009, 03:56:25 AM by O Mensch »

Offline Florestan

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble: Harder to Prosecute???
« Reply #759 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.

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