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Jun
24
comment Should we avoid using words that have alternate offensive meaning
This reminds me of this old CBC comedy classic: youtube.com/watch?v=W6iSk9vsK_E
Jun
24
comment What does “I was had” mean?
In this case, it could even be a mixture of the two: "I thought I had someone (a significant other) -- or maybe I was had (the relationship is/was a sham)." It really depends on the context.
Jun
24
comment “Can hardly wait” versus “can't hardly wait”
Nice to be linguistically semi-functional again. I take the abomination of prescriptivism personally -- the emphatic double negative never went away in fluent spoken English (nor did the split infinitive, prepositional sentence endings or compound subjects containing the object form of pronouns). The usage is correct, it's just not in accordance with the artificial grammar imposed by people who were oblivious to the actual grammar of the language. The 1300-year-old reference was an example of the age of the idiom; it was current when I learned to speak and is current today.
Jun
24
comment Where does “otay” come from?
+1: Murphy's Buckwheat character is the more probable source of the current (and recent) vogue usage. The Buckwheat Tangs ("Buckwheat Sings") album ad bit was probably longer than the original Buckwheat's entire cumulative screen time over the course of the series, and I don't remember going a whole day without hearing at least one "O-tay!" for a couple of years there.
Jun
24
comment Is using “fruits” as the plural of “fruit” acceptable?
It's also quite redundant, since "fruits" would be assumed unless you specified the flowers, leaves, roots or bark of the plants that bear the fruit. (Infusions of wood are, I suppose, possible, but extremely rare.)
Jun
24
comment Is “driving the reins” used as a deliberately erroneous phrase?
Oh, and that's what we live for. It would be better if people held their noses and ran screaming from the room, but that reaction doesn't translate well online.
Jun
24
comment Is “driving the reins” used as a deliberately erroneous phrase?
Geez, Louise, another slip. "Know" for "no". Dementia isn't as much fun as they said it would be in the brochure. I wouldn't mind if I couldn't notice it...
Jun
24
comment Is “driving the reins” used as a deliberately erroneous phrase?
@Martha - you disapprove of paronomasiacs? We really can't help it, you know, and there are know known drugs that don't make our condition worse. We especially transcend dental medication.
Jun
23
comment Speaking with a forked tongue
Much of that Hollywood Injun talk is actually derived from a real North American aboriginal English pidgin that extended back to the first English colonial settlements here, and except for the fact that the Hollywood version seems to have gained gender differentiation in personal pronouns (there were no "she" or "her" in the real pidgin), it's pretty faithful to the existing recorded examples. That's not entirely surprising, since mass (forced) acculturation didn't begin until the end of the nineteenth century, so elements of the pidgin were still on the ground when talkies came around.
Jun
23
comment “practitioners' community” or “practitioners community”
Your reasoning is identical to mine, it's merely phrased differently.
Mar
9
comment What is the distinction between “role” and “rôle” [with a circumflex]?
@Billare: There is no good reason to use rôle anymore. My comment in the previous thread sums it up: the rôle of rôle is now being played by role. The plain English spelling has entirely supplanted the old spelling in modern usage; I wouldn't be at all surprised if more than ninety percent of the occurrences of rôle in the past fifty years were in discussions of whether to use rôle or role when writing.
Mar
8
comment Is “whatsoever” a formal word in written English?
Well, it's not white tie formal, but it can get by in a morning coat or a tuxedo...
Mar
8
comment What is the distinction between “role” and “rôle” [with a circumflex]?
The other three definitions are extensions of the original meaning (a character of part played by a performer). Once a word has been sufficiently well-adopted to undergo semantic broadening, it's probably time to stop using funny foreign squiggles to write it. (The circumflex, by the way, indicates that one or more letters had been given the old heave-ho in the original French. It had been rolle -- literally, the roll of paper or parchment upon which the part had been written.)
Mar
5
comment Inversion in English
Also archaic, I'm afraid. (Even that meaning of the word so only holds in certain specific phrases.) Old forms hold on in frequently-used words and phrases even as the world changes around them. There are a few individual idiomatic phrases you just have to know -- like so do I and how to pluralize ox. There is no general rule of grammar to apply.
Mar
5
comment Inversion in English
Yes -- it's a quotation from Shakespeare's Macbeth (Act IV, Scene I).
Mar
5
comment What does “8/7c” stand for?
The scheduling habit is a holdover from the radio days, believe it or not. The old major AM networks only needed a small handful of transmission sites, some emitting as much as a quarter of a million watts, to cover all of the Eastern and Central time zone in the US (and really tear a hole in Canadian reception while they were at it, by the way). Although over-the-air television is much shorter range (so the common schedule wasn't necessary anymore), you try telling the people in Chicago that they're getting the "latest" news an hour later than New York from this day forward.
Mar
4
comment Why do many forms ask for initials instead of full names?
It gets particularly difficult with compound names. A person with a Dutch sensibility might not "see" the v in a van or vander/van der as an initial, while an American with the same name likely would. The same would apply for de, al and so on (not to mention the O's, Mcs and Macs of this world).
Mar
4
comment Isn't the word “uninstall” wrong?
"Install" is a verb -- all of your counterexamples are adjectives. You can no more "uninsane" people than you could have "insaned" them in the first place.
Mar
4
comment Singular form for “headphones”?
Why does it need to be current? Radios came with earphones when I was a kid (or you could buy earphones at places like Radio Shack). Some of them went in the ear, some were rather like supra-aural or circumaural headphones with one side abbreviated, others were a sort of cup that went over the pinna, but all were earphones.
Mar
4
comment Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?
Whether the use of the y is a deliberate concession to convenience by printers or a simple misreading by people unaccustomed to the thorn, it's still a corruption of the original form.