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Jul
17
comment Shalln't vs. Shan't in British English
"Shall" and "shall not" (in any form) are pretty much restricted to explicit speech and formal writing in North American English now (the "will" future marker has almost completely displaced it in common usage). In explicit use, the not is stressed, so it's rarely heard as a contraction except as an affectation.
Jul
16
comment Two types of sound for letter L?
If you record someone saying "oil" and play it backwards, it sounds almost exactly the same. The terminal ell is essentially a vowel; it only assumes "ellness" when it's immediately followed by another vowel, which initiates the release.
Jul
15
comment When to use the abverbial form of maximal: maximally?
I agree, @tchrist, but there is a fine distinction in this case. Maximal would not work, even though it can be argued that it is somehow "legal" as a modifier of value. It really feels as if the word needed is playing the part of a noun in this sentence, and I can't articulate why. (That's why systematic descriptions of the grammars of natural languages are hard. There is very likely a way to tree this sentence that makes maximum obviously necessary if you invoke enough rules and corollaries.)
Jul
14
comment Laid—Had Laid … Which is correct?
@joeblow That's just a little bit weird in literature. We almost never write in the present tense; even if the action is "right now", it's almost always in the immediate past except in dialogue (and then we'll put the dialogue into the past with something like he said).
Jul
13
comment How did nominal come to mean “within acceptable tolerances”?
(Please forgive and in place of an in my original comment. My typing-related parts will get a stern talking-to later.)
Jul
13
comment How did nominal come to mean “within acceptable tolerances”?
The question here is: "How and when did definition #4 arise?"
Jul
13
comment How did nominal come to mean “within acceptable tolerances”?
@Frank - Exactly, and I'm saying that that use of nominal was probably extended by familiar usage within the engineering community, which is why it now means "within specs".
Jul
13
comment How did nominal come to mean “within acceptable tolerances”?
It is very likely (but not certainly, thus this being a comment rather than an an answer) and extension of its use in describing parts and so forth. A nominal "6 volt" battery will only provide exactly 6V under certain specific load, temperature and age conditions, a nominal "2 by 4" is 1½ by 3½ inches (more or less) and may never have been 2 by 4 even before dressing, and so on.
Jul
11
comment 'as of' in ‘Excusal as of right’
Just as a general comment here: many of the terms and turns of phrase you are asking about here have very narrow, specific and technical meanings established of hundreds of years of legal use; they don't necessarily correspond with ordinary usage in any way (and you may even find "false friends" in common use). They often give trouble to native speakers of English who have never delved into legal language. Use legal references/dictionaries, not common English language references.
Jul
11
comment What is the origin of “dox” and “doxing”?
Old newsgroup/BBS stuff lost in the mists of time, usually to do with software (and, more than occasionally, the cracks thereof) followed by the less-sociable practice of exposing personal/confidential information on 4chan and similar fora. As a noun, it's "documents"; as a verb, it's "dropping (posting) documents".
Jul
10
comment Why is there “Black English” but not “White English”?
Those dialects don't differ significantly in terms of grammar; the grammar of North Preston is almost indistinguishable from the grammar of black Georgia. The vocabularies differ significantly, but not the grammar.
Jul
9
comment English Translation of “Umay”
Languages all have their quirks; no doubt there are many things you can say in one word of English that would take several words in Tagalog, Ilocano, or what have you, and words in each of those languages that take half a paragraph of English to express.
Jul
9
comment Why do we say “Hear! Hear!”?
"Hear him" or "hear ye [this]"? Oyez! Oyez! goes back an awful long way.
Jul
8
comment American English: poor vs. pour
Which American English? There are several dialects, each with its own pronunciation quirks.
Jul
7
comment There are seven days in a/the week
+1, but the difference I see between days in a week and days in the week is that the former would normally be a simple accounting (the period of time we call a week is seven times the length of the period we call a day), while the latter would normally be used leading up to an enumeration of the days (and they are called Monday, Tuesday,...). Or, to put it slightly differently, the a version refers to a generic week (which could be any of many) while the the version refers to the Platonic essence of The Week (of which there is but one).
Jul
7
comment Pronunciation of “accepted”
It's not the most common pronunciation, and it's not likely to become the most common pronunciation. That's not because too many people will consider it wrong, but because except sort of beat it to the punch. An initial unstressed schwa is just begging for eventual deletion, and 'cept (or, regionally, 'ceptin') is already taken. That will generate some push-back against any tendency to elide the "K" sound in accept.
Jul
7
comment How to use “of which”?
@ColinFine - Okay (he said is "no true Scotsman" fashion), no sane person's sensibilities.
Jul
7
comment What does “soda” mean in places where it doesn't mean soft drink?
And, depending on the context, it may also refer to things like washing soda (where, of all of the substances that have tradionally been referred to as [something] soda — whether that compound contains sodium or not — it's obvious that you mean only one of them).
Jul
7
comment How to guess/divine definitions from etymology?
@MattGutting - I again raise silly as an objection here. In OE and early ME, it was used to mean "blessed" (often in missals and breviaries). By late ME it meant something like "innocent" or "lowly", depending on context. Shakespeare used it to mean "defenceless" (Two Gentlemen of Verona IV.i.73–75). While it might be handy to know the then-current meaning and usage when reading old texts (and who among us doesn't enjoy fun facts in general), silly carries none of those meanings, even as the barest hint of connotation or implication, into its current meaning and usage.
Jul
7
comment Question about the proscribed use of “have” along with “get” or “be”
Idiomatically, we'd expect laces to have come undone rather than to have become undone, even if become would work for most other hands-off state changes that would require a reflexive formulation in other European languages. English grammar is mostly simple, except where it is fractally complex, and the hard parts are more likely to be found in homely usage than in carefully crafted formal writing. (That usage of homely is somewhat archaic, by the way, but there is no good modern substitute.)