103,328 reputation
8120219
bio website caxton1485.wordpress.com
location United Kingdom
age 71
visits member for 2 years, 7 months
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.


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.
Mar
11
comment The meaning of “rack” or “rock” in “The Peasant Poet” by John Clare
Perhaps. The two relevant definitions in the OED are 'a mass of cloud moving quickly, esp. above lower clouds; a mass of such cloud' and 'a bank of cloud, fog, or mist; a wisp of cloud or vapour. Also as a mass noun: mist, fog; sea spray.'
Mar
10
comment Sentence with Present Perfect
But it would be found in a sentence that continued as The summer has been over for several weeks now.
Mar
9
comment Syntax for “doesn't do this thing” but “will”
Then you need to ask yourself whether a comma would help the reader in any way. I can't see that it would. That doesn't set itself automatically is a defining relative clause, and defining relative clauses are not set off by commas.
Mar
9
comment Syntax for “doesn't do this thing” but “will”
What, exactly, is your concern? (And why Car with an initial capital?)
Mar
9
comment Is 'my wife and I' correct English?
Where do you think the rules of grammar come from?
Mar
9
comment Is 'my wife and I' correct English?
He was not the sole author of CGEL. It is a variant nonetheless, however you care to explain it. The reason ‘Please have dinner with I and my wife’ is not found (if that is the case), I suggest, is that in a context such as a dinner invitation it would be normal, because courteous, for the speaker to place the first person pronoun, in whatever form, after any reference to anyone else.
Mar
6
comment Why does the word 'calculative' not exist in the Oxford dictionary?
I don't know. I would have expected are.
Mar
5
comment Why is “bloody” considered obscene in the UK but not in the US?
The OED’s etymological note ends with ‘In many cases in the late 16th and early 17th centuries . . . it is unclear whether “bloody” refers to real blood, bloodshed, or bloodthirstiness, or is an intensifier. It seems likely that the intensifying uses of “bloody” arose from semantic bleaching in formations of this type. Compare, with similar semantic development, Middle French “sanglant” covered with blood (c1100 in Old French), hateful, despicable, (as an extreme intensifier and pejorative) accursed, damned (both mid 14th cent.; also 15th cent. in various imprecatory formulae).’
Mar
5
comment Why is “bloody” considered obscene in the UK but not in the US?
The latest revision is March 2012, which postdates my answer. The etymology now begins ‘The origin of the intensifying use of the adjective and adverb is uncertain and disputed.’ But it rejects the idea that the usage ‘derives from oaths referring to the blood of Christ’ and that it ‘shows either a reduced form of, or a euphemistic alteration of, “byrlady”.’ The argument in both cases is that ‘none of these interjections is recorded in intensive use themselves, and secondly that a functional shift from interjection to intensifier would be highly unusual.’
Mar
3
comment Is “legit” a legitimate word?
Probably, just like natural, final and monthly.