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Jul
6
comment Are there meta-plurals beyond “peoples”?
"A couple of Jewish people" is a plural; so is "the Jewish people over there". "The Jewish People" is a collective. They're not the same thing, even if the same word is being used.
Jul
6
comment Are there meta-plurals beyond “peoples”?
But people, as a plural of person, is *not a collective noun. It doesn't fit this pattern at all.
Jul
6
comment Are there meta-plurals beyond “peoples”?
People is both a simple plural (the plural of person) and a collective. The two uses have different meanings.
Jul
5
comment What's the opposite of “enlarge”?
Ensmall is a common error. The word is ensmallen. It's the opposite of embiggen. And yes, they're both perfectly cromulent words.
Jul
5
comment Where did the expression “my two cents” come from?
Note, though, that at the time "two penneth" came into use, a farthing (an eighth of a penny) was a useful coin and ha'penny would bring cheer to a beggar at Christmas. "A penny for your thoughts" was a substantial bribe, and giving someone two penneth worth would be something the speaker assessed as being of some worth. Two cents doesn't have quite the same ring to it these days.
Jul
5
comment How would a native British speaker say “Betteredge”?
Either of the two-syllable variants is far more likely than either of the three-syllable versions unless the family attained status by purchasing a manor house and a prefab heritage in the eighteenth century (as parodied in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance: "Frederic, in this chapel are ancestors: you cannot deny that. With the estate, I bought the chapel and its contents. I don't know whose ancestors they were, but I know whose ancestors they are...")
Jul
4
comment Why is “fastly” not a word?
Thanks, but now my hat won't fit, and I need to find other people to share the burden of carrying my ego around :)
Jul
3
comment Footwear: Runners. Sneakers. Trainers
We Canadians will admit to a lot of oddness, but the use of gutties to describe this class of footwear is something even we would consider beyond the pale. Running shoes and runners are common here, but gutties? Not even in Newf'n'land, b'y.
Jul
2
comment “One of my friends” vs. “one of my friend”
Then again, if you only have one friend and a bent for self-deprecating humour...
Jun
30
comment What's the point of omitting the “e”, as in “sceptered” going to “scepter'd”, in English poetry?
And as late as the mid-Nineteenth Century, dropping the "e" would have been considered a little déclassé in "proper" society. English has always been going to the dogs.
Jun
30
comment Why aren't double quotes always closed?
Even in a typescript created on a manual typewriter, a change in the left margin (or begin and end block indications, if indicated in the style manual for a publication) would be correct. Even newspapers will use a call-out box in their narrow columns. Doing things otherwise is ignoring the convention for block quotations -- that doesn't make the dialog quotation style correct.
Jun
30
comment Why aren't double quotes always closed?
In a typeset document, extended quotations from another written source would normally be set as a block quotation without quotation marks.
Jun
30
comment A or an XML report?
+1 - Even if the reader expands the abbreviation to "Extensible Markup Language", it would still take "an". With some abbreviations, you'd need to consider what's being abbreviated and whether the abbreviation is normally pronounced in its abbreviated form or in its expanded form; with XML it works out the same both ways.
Jun
30
comment Why aren't double quotes always closed?
I think we're supposed to go through some sort of ritual now that involves one of us hitting the other for some reason, and claiming that returning the gesture is absolutely forbidden by the rules...
Jun
30
comment The meaning of “Even if I should”
"Even if I should ..." can be used either way -- as a subjunctive or as an indicator of liability/obligation. That part of the sentence is naturally ambiguous; you can't really tell which usage is intended until you get to the second half.
Jun
29
comment Using 'very' with a noun
I thought it likely that you did (it's hard to have been exposed to any of the Big Three -- Shakespeare, the KJV or the BCP without having noticed something going on). I was merely providing additional info to the OP.
Jun
29
comment Using 'very' with a noun
It may help to know that "very" was once an adjective meaning "true" and that the adverbial form was "verily", or "truly". The meaning and usage have slipped over time.
Jun
28
comment Is “Sheath” the right word for describing exterior covering of the plane?
+1, although you'll see the term "sheathing" or "sheathed" used in old documents (pre-WWII) especially in regards to doped-fabric-over-plywood construction. "Skin" seems to have been preferred for as long as the covering has been a stressed part of the airframe.
Jun
28
comment What does 'age out' mean?
It can also mean compulsory superannuation of any sort, like reaching mandatory retirement age (particularly in establishments like the military) or age-restricted fraternal and service organisations. And yes, in the "garbage collection" sense, its use is merely figurative.
Jun
28
comment What’s the meaning of ‘smooth chin’?
I'd go beyond "beardless" to "clean-shaven", indicating a certain habitual fastidiousness on the part of the character. Not wanting to spoil the plot or anything, but Bagman's appearances later in the book have him looking a little haggard and careworn for various reasons.