90,748 reputation
18154302
bio website english.stackexchange.com/…
location United Kingdom
age 61
visits member for 4 years, 3 months
seen 8 hours ago

I did my degree in English/French Language/Linguistics back in the '70s, but I only got a middling grade, and I've worked in software development ever since, so I'm really only an expert on English language in the same way any articulate native speaker is.

To save the trouble of repeatedly doing it on individual posts, I'll just say here that I don't come to EL&U looking for arguments. If I come across as contentious that will nearly always be inadvertent carelessness on my part.

Anyway - if you have been, thanks for reading.


8h
comment Does “on earth” replace “on the earth” in modern English?
Nothing on earth would persuade me to endorse a definite article in this sentence. Well, maybe I'd accept the definite article, but definitely not nothing on the earth. I don't think usage here has changed in my lifetime, so I think OP has just gotten confused about something.
8h
comment Education begins at home
I'd have thought the "where" aspect (in terms of language) would be that it's effectively a variant of charity begins at home. The earliest instance of the "education" version I can find is this from 1854, but it's just a natural English sentence, so I doubt many people read it and thought "Ah! That's a good slogan/maxim! I must pass it on!"
9h
comment What is a word that describes a belief (or nonbelief) in an afterlife?
@cowlinator: The question seems to have been somewhat altered. Maybe psychologists have a word for "refusal to accept one's own mortality" (which imho is essentially what believing in heaven, hell, nirvana, etc. all amount to), but I doubt there will be anything matching what you're looking for. The problem being, of course, that probably the majority of all people alive today "suffer" from this "condition".
10h
comment What's the rule behind the use of the articles to refer to something in general?
It's an excellent summary of the basics, but I'd still rather see this on English Language Learners
10h
comment Usage of commas before thus and though
This just looks like proofreading. Lose the hyphen in "in-depth" and the comma after "monosized" (is that a normal word in your domain?). You should probably start a new sentence at "thus". Someone else might want to proofread the rest of the text.
10h
comment What is a word that describes a belief (or nonbelief) in an afterlife?
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a philosophical issue that I think would long predate anything we could call "English"
10h
comment On the grounds that
@Parthian Shot: I'm not a statistician, but I know all about Benford's law, and I don't see how it relates to the matter under discussion. My gut feel is that in the real world when people talk about something being on the ground[s] of some reason[s] it's more likely there will only be one reason - but demonstrably it's more likely today to be referenced using "plural" grounds.
11h
comment phonics meaning the same
In my (BrE) experience, mothers usually give their baby a nap. Taking a nap implies a level of volition one doesn't usually associate with babies.
13h
comment On the grounds that
@Brandin: You seem to be just repeating the same (imho spurious) suggestion. I started my graph from 1900, but if you extend it back to, say, 1800, you'll see that the plural form was virtually unknown in the earlier century. Looking at the first page of recent instances for grounds, I find 8 that unquestionably cite a single "ground". Both the other two effectively cite a single reason, but using syntax that might feasibly (but imho spuriously) be taken to imply two reasons (I think in both, the second element just "amplifies" on the point already made).
16h
comment On the grounds that
@Brandin: Gimmie a break! Are you seriously suggesting that usage might have changed so much because we're more likely to be talking about multiple reasons today than a century ago? My guess is in the vast majority of cases, only one "ground" is or ever was cited by the following text, but it would be irrelevant exactly what the ratio is, since there's no reason to suppose that would ever change significantly over time.
16h
comment Is “also was” a correct construction?
@Marius: Yes, I think you, me, and mplunjan on the earlier question all have the same basic understanding here, but we're finding different ways of talking about it. Your point that it's more about the position of the word also than the presence of a [TO BE] verb form is key here though, so I've upvoted you to counter what I feel is a rather harsh downvote.
16h
answered On the grounds that
17h
comment Is “also was” a correct construction?
@Jim: I reckon the answer on that earlier question exactly and completely addresses the issue (and is also better than my attempt in the above comment! :)
17h
comment Is “also was” a correct construction?
Your examples seem to make it clear you understand two possible interpretations of also depending on whether it precedes or follows the verb - 1) In addition [to whatever else she was], Marie was also a killer, as opposed to In addition to Andrew [being a killer], Marie also was one. In many contexts this would be a fine if not meaningless distinction, but the general principle is simply that we expect to apply the sense of also to the nearest (usually, preceding) plausible candidate word. Except it sometimes doesn't work very well, as in your example.
17h
comment what does “to walk at grade” mean?
What Choster said. OED has this definition 11: Of a surface: Degree of altitude; level. rare. at grade (U.S.): on the same level. I wasn't really familiar with this "technical/engineering" usage, but after a pretty fruitless search in Google Books for fall/fell to grade, I'm far from convinced OP's second instance is idiomatically acceptable in any context.
17h
revised How common is the term “boondoggle”? And what are its origins?
added 1 character in body
19h
comment Comma Problem: I removed the commas from this sentence because I can't determine where to put them and was hoping for some help
It's a clumsy meandering sentence in the first place, and I don't think adding commas will do much to aid comprehension. The structure is so complex it's even led you the author to get confused about what exactly you're saying. Consider carefully why you've got with before the second occurrence of decisions (the only explanation I can come up with is your words are too complex for you to follow, regardless of any possible punctuation).
20h
comment What are the different uses of “of course?”
@oerkelens: "Oh, please!" (Which could often be short for Please don't insult my intelligence! :)
20h
comment What are the different uses of “of course?”
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about social manners in a potentially wide range of contexts.
20h
comment Origin of the word “couch”?
@dorothy: It's the same etymology for the thing you sit on and derived/figurative verb usages such as to express in an obscure or veiled way. It's only different for the type of grass (which I've just discovered has an associated verb form in OED: to clear [some ground] of couch [grass]).