Author Topic: Cato's Grammar Grumble  (Read 563561 times)

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Offline Harpo

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1080 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....
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karlhenning

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1081 on: March 15, 2010, 09:53:07 AM »
Yes, one of the tiredest of clich├ęs.

Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1082 on: March 15, 2010, 10:06:38 AM »
Ditto. It's on my never-to-be-used list.

Offline John Copeland

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1083 on: March 15, 2010, 10:47:59 AM »
Well, at the end of the day, people are still using it.

Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1084 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.

Offline John Copeland

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1085 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.

Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1086 on: March 15, 2010, 06:06:33 PM »
Wow, dude, you're like psyched.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1087 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)?
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Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1088 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).
"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

Franco

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1089 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.

:)
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 08:02:58 AM by Franco »

Offline Opus106

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1090 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
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Navneeth

Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1091 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.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 09:11:12 AM by Joe Barron »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1092 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...
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1093 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.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1094 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.
 
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 09:36:39 AM by Joe Barron »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1095 on: March 16, 2010, 09:20:25 AM »
Oh, that makes sense. Danke!
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1096 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.

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1097 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!  ;)
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

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Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1098 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? 

Spotswood

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Re: Cato's Grammar Grumble
« Reply #1099 on: March 16, 2010, 10:24:13 AM »
Speaking of grammar, here is a penetrating critique of Strunk and White.