105,706 reputation
8139239
bio website caxton1485.wordpress.com
location United Kingdom
age 72
visits member for 3 years
seen 2 hours ago

I have spent most of my career in government service, much of it abroad. I have a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford and the Diploma in English Language Studies from the UK's Open University, and am qualified as a teacher of English to foreign learners. I have studied several other languages including French, German, Latin, Arabic and Old and Middle English.

My blog, Caxton, is mostly, but not entirely, about the English language.

Elsewhere on the web I have attempted to write in the constrained style of the 'Ouvroir de littérature potentielle' (OULIPO) in Variations on an Incident in Paris and in Variations on Jane Austen. I have also created a full set of 256 Syllogisms by figure and mood and showing which are valid and which are not.


Aug
25
comment Is it “a user” or “an user”
‘Vowel’ and ‘consonant’ describe letters that represent vowel and consonant sounds, but they also describe the sounds themselves. A vowel is a sound made from the throat without interruption by the other vocal organs. A consonant is a sound blocked or restricted by audible friction. The initial sound of ‘user’, /j/, is interrupted by the position of the soft palate and the tongue. It is convenient to group it with the other consonants, but, because its place and manner of articulation are a little different from them, it is also known as a semi-vowel.
Aug
22
comment “do the dishes” vs “wash the dishes”
It depends on who you live with.
Aug
19
comment “I was going to be called Kate if I was a girl”
The unsophisticated dialect is British English.
Jun
7
comment Is there a clear delineation between the usages of 'this' and 'that' in American English?
@Edward Ashworth. Thanks.
Apr
23
comment Are “this” and “next” demonstrative determiners?
The authors of the Longman Grammar call it, along with same and other, a ‘semi-determiner’.
Apr
21
comment Use of “you and I” in TS Eliot's Prufrock
If you do believe that Eliot is 'not following that rule', then the answer is in my last comment.
Apr
21
comment Use of “you and I” in TS Eliot's Prufrock
We must remember that the voice is not that of Eliot but of J Alfred Prufrock, who I can imagine saying ‘Let us go then, you and I’ rather than ‘Let us go then, you and me’.
Apr
21
comment One has to cook himself or themself?
@Tucker Thank you.
Apr
21
comment One has to cook himself or themself?
I wouldn’t use one at all, myself, but, if you have to, then One has to cook oneself might do. I imagine the context would make it clear that self-immolation wasn’t required.
Apr
21
comment One has to cook himself or themself?
Why would anyone want to prepare their own body for consumption? It seems self-defeating.
Apr
12
comment Here's — Plurality Question
Pam Peters in ‘The Cambridge Guide to English Usage’ (2004) probably got there before him: ‘These various uses of there’s with plural (or notionally plural) noun phrases show how the structure is working its way into the standard. It seems to be evolving into a fixed phrase, rather like the French C’est . . . , serving the needs of the ongoing discourse rather than the grammar of the sentence.’
Apr
11
comment A more formal word for “tech-savvy”, relating to IT technologists in particular
@IQAndreas. I agree.
Apr
3
comment What is the accepted stance on using “they” in a singular form?
@ivanhoescott. I know. I've written about it here: caxton1485.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/…
Apr
1
comment Is it ok to use 'before' at the end of a sentence?
@medica. You might like to try this: ucl.ac.uk/internet-grammar/home.htm
Mar
25
comment What is this construction?
You asked about the construction, not the meaning, but the meaning is I don't know for sure, but my conclusion from all the available evidence is that it was a good idea.
Mar
25
comment What is this construction?
Why? The the sentence can be exapanded as I can't tell, but I conclude that it was a good idea. (And please don't use the term 'grammar Nazi'.)
Mar
18
comment What is the English word for “street along a river bank”?
+1. I was going to suggest 'strand' myself.
Mar
14
comment “Hungry” is to “full” as “thirsty” is to what adjective?
As thirsty is to pissed.
Mar
14
comment Why is there no article in “The Child is father of the man”?
I'd never assume I was right, if I was you.
Mar
13
comment Why is there no article in “The Child is father of the man”?
You make a valid distinction, but I think my 'owner' example could occur, in BrEng at least, in certain contexts.