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Oct
24
comment Hypernym for “clock” and “watch”
@Izkata A watch is an analog device in the sense that the angle of the hands is analogous to the time - as the time increases so does the angle. What is analogous to what with a book?
Sep
30
comment Shoplifting vs. a word for “someone who orders, eats and sneaks without paying the check”
There is a distinction between stealing food and eating and not paying for it. If someone has a restaurant meal, planning to pay, and then when the bill comes they decides to run away, they haven't stolen the food. You can't steal something that you've already digested. In England and Wales, until the Theft Act 1978 created the offence of 'making of without payment' they wouldn't have been guilty of any crime, although they would be in debt to the restaurant.
Sep
29
awarded  Critic
Sep
29
answered Shoplifting vs. a word for “someone who orders, eats and sneaks without paying the check”
Sep
18
comment Can you be literal about non-literal things?
Since perhaps the 1750s, not 1950s literally has been used as an intensifier. See itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002611.html
Sep
18
comment Can you be literal about non-literal things?
I don't think it's possible to give a factual answer to this question, since it's asking whether things are correct. That would be a value judgement, not a statement about reality, and there isn't a clear consensus in this case among English language users.
Jun
2
comment Play piano vs. play the piano
Language log discussed the similar issue of the difference playing a violin and playing the violin, which are both correct and have subtly different meanings.
Jun
2
comment Terminology for expressing the scale of a measurement system
note that "base unit" isn't always the 'small' unit. The base SI unit of mass is the kilogram (defined as the mass of a particular metal object in France), while the gram is a derived unit defined as 0.001 kilogram.
Feb
19
comment Do you “hit” or “press” a button?
Why do you want synonyms? I think using elegant variation might make your manual harder to understand. Also of course, software users generally don't read the manual, or anything else.
Nov
8
comment What is a polite way to call something a conspiracy theory?
Can you explain what you mean by 'conspiracy theory' here? I think that might help.
Jun
26
comment Is there a word for a personal or informal definition?
Not only are we free to make our own definitions, we're also free to use words without attaching any definitions to them at all, and that's what we do in the vast majority of cases. I think we usually effectively decide whether a word is appropriate based analogies with how it was used in the past, not by using any definition.
Jun
26
comment Happiness only real when shared… isn't it?
Many rules of grammar still apply when writing notes to yourself, since you want to be able to understand the notes later. English always has grammar. It's just a different set of rules than you would use if you were writing to other people.
Apr
17
comment Difference between “does have” and “has”
@Sancho although your example with "she does have a car and a bike as well" sounds entirely natural and idiomatic, and probably the better choice, I don't think use of "she has a car" would seem wrong to me in that context either.
Apr
17
comment Polite way to refuse to answer a question
@FumbleFingers A reasonable expectation to explain a choice not to answer goes a lot wider than courts. For instance answering questions of one sort or another is part of many people's jobs.
Apr
17
comment Difference between “does have” and “has”
@jontyc: Good point. I think in that case you'd be suggesting that she might be hiding the fact that she has a car, or that she is hoping that someone had forgotten that she has a car, and so you want to emphasize that the claim that she does not have a car is wrong, even though it was never explicitly stated.
Apr
16
comment Difference between “does have” and “has”
@Sancho: Good question. I can't think of one right now, would be interested to know if anyone else can. I think "She says she doesn't but really she does have a car" comes close, but it doesn't seem completely wrong to me with "really she has a car".
Apr
16
awarded  Commentator
Apr
16
comment How to ask for a name of some thing?
@Andrey As a native English speaker, I think it's only polite to point out the errors that non-native speakers make if either they are serious enough to make communication difficult, or if I have been specifically asked to do so by the non-native speaker, or if I do it only very occasionally in a much longer dialogue. Otherwise its insisting on changing the subject to the use of the language when the other person may be much more interested in discussing something else. It's not polite to criticize people unless its either necessary or requested.
Apr
16
comment Polite way to refuse to answer a question
Someone who asked you to explain why you'd prefer not to answer might or might not be being rude, it depends entirely on the context. If the context is one where it was a reasonable question and not a personal subject then it might be reasonable for them to ask why you don't want to answer - especially if it seems that your role gives you a responsibility to answer that kind of question.
Apr
16
comment How to unambiguously ask a question with “OR”
I still read all these versions as ambiguous. I think it's unusual to need to make this distinction, since even if someone answers with either one of the two options then you should be able to understand that the answer you wanted is "yes", and probably for that reason the language hasn't really developed a non-ambiguous way to ask this. You can always add a sentence before or after the question to the effect of "I would like a single yes-or-no answer."