56,022 reputation
365179
bio website umich.edu/~jlawler
location Bellingham WA
age
visits member for 3 years, 4 months
seen Mar 24 at 1:23

I'm a retired English grammarian. I enjoy answering questions.

  1. My Website at the University of Michigan
  2. My alt.usage.english English Grammar pages
  3. Details and handouts from some recent talks.
  4. A term paper about K-12 Language Science
  5. Two scanned coursepacks from my Intro Ling class. (each ~100 pp)
  6. Scanned teaching materials from my Etymology class
  7. Abstract of a recent talk (4/12/12) in Denton, TX.

Mar
23
comment “Have some reason you” or “Have some reason why you”
This is exacerbated in relative pronouns; how is a wh-word for manner or means, but even when it modifies manner, means, or way, it can't occur as a relative pronoun: *the way how it's done, *the means how to do it, *the manner how to curtsey, etc. It's not a matter of "redundancy", exactly -- redundancy is a feature of all language, and not necessarily a bug. In this case, the grammar has gotten all gnarly after so long without inflections, and relative clauses are very complex syntactically.
Mar
23
comment “Have some reason you” or “Have some reason why you”
Why is the relative/interrogative pronoun for reason or cause. And it's limited to relative clauses that modify reason. Consequently one or the other is frequently deleted, since each implies the other. Similar to conjunction reduction and hundreds of other deletion rules; English prefers to use context wherever possible.
Mar
23
revised Why are plural pronouns used for a singular third person?
edited title
Mar
23
comment When citing a French citation in the original, should the guillemets (angle quotes) be changed? What about punctuation order?
Literally. If it's inside the quotation, it stays, every jot and tittle of it. If the guillemets are internal to the quotation, they stay. But if they only show up enclosing the entire quotation, you can swap English quote marks for them.
Mar
23
comment Why are plural pronouns used for a singular third person?
It may be that you've only noticed them in the last 8-10 years. Singular they has been normal grammatical English for centuries. Only people who don't really understand English grammar worry about it. One of the signs of this is that such people often think that, of two ways to say something, only one can be correct. This is not true.
Mar
23
comment How would an English speaker pronounce “valid” with a circumflex over the A?
It is not a standard symbol in phonetics, nor in English phonology, nor in English spelling. There is no single way that English readers would pronounce it, since they would figure that it must not be the real word valid because that isn't spelled that way, so it must be a foreign word that's pronounced differently (and who knows what it means, anyway -- if it was really valid, they'd just say so, right?). So readers would hafta figure it out, and they'd each come to their own pronunciation. If they bothered to. Which most wouldn't; after all, it's just an ad.
Mar
23
comment Is 'log' (short for 'logarithm') considered too informal for an academic paper in the social sciences?
Well, for any social science, statistics is absolutely necessary knowledge, so you can probly say "log" confidently; but you should also be specific about exactly what transformations you've performed on the data, giving precise equations whenever necessary. To start with, for instance, do you mean ln (GDP) or log₁₀ (GDP)? And what units is GDP represented in, and what's your source for the data? Etc.
Mar
23
comment Can you use “same” without “the”?
Well, it would sometimes be included. Nobody's counting, and this is business/legal language, which is weird to start with. In any event, same is itself a shortening (or if you prefer, an equative pronoun) for the same Description as Definite NP; -- here, and we are responsible for any costs of the same house that is referred to in the preceding clause. I.e, it represents a complete equative construction, whose parts are understood in context, the same way we are responsible is understood.
Mar
23
comment What's the meaning of “I+verb+not+object1+the less, but+object2+more”?
And therefore useless for communication outside a self-selected speech community.
Mar
23
awarded  Nice Question
Mar
22
awarded  Announcer
Mar
22
comment What is the formality of “hard to read at spots”?
Hard to read covers any possible flaw that affects one's reading, from the ones @HotLicks cites to turgid prose, run-on sentences, blatant lies, ALL CAPS, etc. Whatever turns you off.
Mar
22
comment What's the meaning of “I+verb+not+object1+the less, but+object2+more”?
It's both a double negative (not, less) and a double comparative; it's archaic poetic language (i.e, nobody talks that way, ever, any more); and nobody will understand it if you say it or write it, either, because it's too bloody obscure. Even if you try to remember it, it's practically impossible to remember what it's really sposta mean.
Mar
22
comment Regarding Comma or Semi-Colon
Close your eyes and say the sentence out loud. Does it sound like a full stop after "I am curious"? If so, use a semicolon. That's how easy it is.
Mar
22
comment Is it rude to call a Lord, sir?
You should never call a Lord if the First Responders are available. Lords are only for emergency use.
Mar
22
comment Semicolon and comma placement
Semicolon instead of comma before however, and comma after however. Say it out loud and you can hear the difference in intonation; the clause before however gets a full stop intonation, but the clause afterwards takes comma intonation.
Mar
22
comment Is using a sentence as a subject grammatically correct?
It's OK, and thank you.
Mar
22
comment Where do I place 'only'
The intonation would have to be pretty distinctive for me to infer that sense, I think (since I know nothing about either irises or koi), but I'll take your word for it, @Edwin. Of course, it would be easy to intone it as a repetition: A) "You're off your form -- you only answered two questions." B) "I only answered two questions!?!?! I was lucky to do even that well."
Mar
22
comment Is using a sentence as a subject grammatically correct?
I already did and pointed it out to you in the link above. Why repeat myself?
Mar
22
comment “An example of you not knowing” or “An example of your not knowing”?
Either is correct. There is no difference. There happen to be two different complementizers for gerunds. Technically, they're called POSS-ing and ACC-ing, mnemonic for "possessive with -ing" and "accusative with -ing". As noted, they are identical except for the form of the subject. Simply put, any noun form at all can be the subject of a gerund, and any non-nominative pronoun form can, too. Many people feel that the genitive falutes higher, but (a) gerunds mostlly don't have subjects present, and (b) you can't tell possessive from accusative with some words (Smiths, her).