88,536 reputation
16148296
bio website english.stackexchange.com/…
location United Kingdom
age 61
visits member for 4 years, 1 month
seen 11 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.


Jan
20
revised What is the difference between dialogue and dialog?
added 381 characters in body
Jan
20
comment Is there a word for something loved by the masses but whose true value is lacking?
I think it rather depends on exactly who you mean by "skeptics", and exactly how strongly people believe in their "popular misconceptions". It's very "popular" to say "Bless you!" when someone sneezes, for example, but I doubt many people today really think they're saving you from losing your soul. That may be a ludicrous belief, but arguably it's not so easy to dismiss on "scientific" grounds - not at all the same thing as believing the world/universe was created in 4004 BC (along with all the fossils and physical laws that "prove" a conflicting explanation).
Jan
20
comment “completely” usage confusion
Probably the best explanation is using two consecutive -ly forms sounds "awkward" to the native ear. Plus we often avoid "adverbial" -ly forms completely in contexts where the uninflected adjective can be used instead. So it's often "Come quick!" rather than "Come quickly!".
Jan
20
comment Would it be more professional if medical results were reported as people expect?
I think this may be off-topic because it looks like either a misguided peeve or an invitation to opinionated discussion.
Jan
20
comment Do you use the plural or singular when asking for a comparison?
I think both are fine. I might be a bit more inclined to use singular if I'm actually expecting them to be "the same" (since by implication there's actually only one "address"). In contexts where I know there are two ("Have you filled in your business and home addresses/phone numbers on the application form?") I'd be much more likely to use plural. But the verb would always be are, not is.
Jan
20
comment Is 'unassumingly' a real word?
@annnna: There's no need to go to any specific book. Just search for "unassumingly" in Google Books. Even if "About 17,100 results" is wildly inaccurate (I've no idea), that should be proof enough that the word exists.
Jan
20
comment Is there an incidental word for 'exchange'?
@Hall: In a somewhat less "surreal" context, "two people swap jobs" gets 184 hits, where switch gets only 9, and exchange gets none at all. Note that both switch and swap effectively make with each other redundant.
Jan
20
comment Is there an incidental word for 'exchange'?
Google claims over 30,000 instances of "two people switch bodies", but only 278 for "two people exchange bodies". I know which verb I'd use, and apparently a lot of other people think the same.
Jan
20
comment What do you call an abrupt, abstract ending to a sentence?
I don't really think so. Isn't all ellipsis "implicit"? What would explicit ellipsis even mean?
Jan
20
comment Does this “look out for” and “look in for” make sense?
OP has asked whether something like "He looked in to find the courage to deal with his problems" constitutes a "credible" usage. To which the answer is obviously No - but within is a perfectly normal usage. Rewrites that don't use any preposition at all are straying off into more general "writing advice" with no real relevance to the specific item being queried here.
Jan
20
comment What do you call an abrupt, abstract ending to a sentence?
In Lit Crit contexts you might consider staccato for an entire "writing style". Or in more "syntactic" terms applicable to a single construction, perhaps [grammatical] ellipsis. In your case the verb has been dropped, but it's much the same thing as Dropping the subject from sentences in an earlier question.
Jan
20
comment Does this “look out for” and “look in for” make sense?
We're not talking "great literature" here - OP has some ways to go before just to avoid advertising the fact of not being a native speaker. I upvoted your answer specifically for pointing out that in doesn't work at all well. But I don't think ELU is the place to offer writing advice, and I don't agree with your first point anyway (among people I converse with, it's perfectly normal to say you'll look out for a film, book, song, etc. that someone recommended, fully expecting it to be good).
Jan
20
comment Does this “look out for” and “look in for” make sense?
I agree "Looks in" doesn't fit well in OP's sentence. It's just "writing advice" anyway, but I wouldn't have any real problem with look within for this exact context (where there's supposed to be a juxtaposition between using both external and internal resources to address a problem).
Jan
20
comment “What's been up?” meaning
Native speakers in general (including those who use "What's up?" to ask about the current situation) don't use OP's cited past tense form. To ask about prior events, it's "What happened?", "What's been happening?", or "What's been going on?", for example.
Jan
20
comment What do you call an abrupt, abstract ending to a sentence?
The obvious classification is poetical. It's not really a characteristic of normal English speech.
Jan
20
comment when differences stand in the way of further contact
It really depends on what kind of differences you're talking about (cultural, economic, religious, philosophical, etc.). If you don't have any specific type of difference in mind the only truly "generic" adjectives would effectively be tautological (the differences are too different), but you could perhaps blur that point by focusing on magnitude/insurmountability rather than divisiveness (the differences are too great/extreme/deep-seated).
Jan
20
comment What does “pitting folk” mean?
This question shows no research. Merriam-Webster pit transitive verb 2b: - to set into opposition or rivalry —usually used with against
Jan
19
comment What tense is this?
I'm closevoting for lack of evidence of "prior research". Googling tense "are becoming", I note that three out of the first four "snippet view" results include Present Progressive and/or Present Continuous.
Jan
19
comment What's wrong with 'Bananas are unable to grow in cold countries'?
Yes, but it is curious that we can "more or less" reasonably say "The dictionary can't help you with this", but not "The dictionary is unable to you with this". Some things that can't be done can't also be unable to be done.
Jan
19
comment Does being described as a “Whirling Dervish” have a positive or negative connotation?
@Hot Licks: Chez moi, I'm well-known as the White Tornado - but if I'm honest, I have to admit it's probably a sarcastic usage! :)