Monday, 30 April 2012
My sources in the business world tell me that it is now common to get a "pre-warning", for example of things on the agenda for an upcoming meeting. This rather reminds me of other redundancies or tautologies that are now appearing in more formal settings. It used to be that "return back" was the sort of thing said by foreigners. I might even have pointed out that "back" wasn't really needed as "re-" contained that idea. They probably nodded politely, even expressed some interest - and carried on. Now it's common enough with L1 speakers too. And why not? Redundancy, or overkill, you might call it, is common enough in language and there ain't nothing wrong with it.
Friday, 20 April 2012
Googling "eltse" reveals a lot of talk about it. Mostly in the US, and mostly saying it's wrong because there's no t in the spelling, which I would never do, of course. Spelling pronunciation is increasing but I can't see it going the whole way and I don't think we can insist on it. Interestingly, one of the first sites to mention it references Labov's research and "intrusive t". I've heard it for years out on the tough streets, of course.
Thursday, 19 April 2012
I sometimes leave a deliberate mistake for my follower to pick up on. Sometimes I just make mistakes and sometimes the software, Spellcheck, and even hardware make them for me eg their /there or it's /its. But with Think of That, I meant, of course, that maybe the association of "though" with "although" may not be remembered in these cases. Or on the other hand, maybe it is remembered and contrasted in some way?
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
I think there are more words with "th-" that begin with the sound of "think" ( unvoiced, lighter-sounding? ), rather than the sound of "that" ( voiced, heavier-sounding?). Is that right? I always stand to be corrected ( don't even think about that expression.) I've noticed several people pronouncing "though" with the lighter sound lately. Peter Gibbs, BBC weatherman) usually does, for example. Listen out, go on, or is it just me? Is it an unconscious idiosyncrasy or perhaps some lurking feeling about "although", maybe the dropping of the first syllable and the l sound? I know most people don't think that much about pronunciation but maybe you do if you are a weatherman - people are always criticising things they say, like "organised rain", or even "bits and pieces" of it.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Monday, 16 April 2012
Of course, "What it is, is (a question of ...)" etc is a perfectly grammatical ( dare I say? ) and well-established structure in standard BrE. It usually has a comma in writing, which reflects speech, giving a pause for summing up. The two is's(izzis?) are together but separated by a pause or comma. However,grammatically, the first "what it is" is a clause which is the subject of the second is and so doesn't really need separation by punctuation. English doesn't usually (except for some relative clauses and so on) use commas for grammatical purposes so much as to represent speech. Just clearing it up in my own mind. I'll go and have a lie down now. Good night to my follower.
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Saturday, 14 April 2012
What happened to the post answering this question? Anyway, although pundits and managers rarely explain what they mean, I think I've worked out that it is something about playing in the gap between striker(s) and midfIeld. Right, Lawro? Jamie?
"If the changes that we fear be thus irresistible, what remains but to acquiesce with silence as in the other insurmountable distresses in humanity?" There seems no answer to that, or is there? No prizes but I might buy a drink in my local for anyone who could quote the next bit before next week.
Friday, 13 April 2012
After a request from our follower, there has been a retrospective regrading of some posts. After consideration "Fortuitous" has been regraded MCI and "Incidences" IW. It is not as yet clear how much extra workload this will generate and the IWS will be evaluated in due course. We will try to keep our follower in touch with all developments.
I really, really love some new usages, don't you? No, really. I suppose it's easier to love new vocabulary items rather than new grammar, yes, but I really, really do (ANIIAA)love things like "laters" for "see you later" (so concise). And things like "placky" for plastic bag. Really, really. IWS Note: following requests from readers for more clarity on the tone of these posts, it should be noted that a new Irony Warning System (IWS) has been put in place. This is being trialled with a five star rating system. Note: for technical reasons ?? have had to be used rather than stars. ? JW: joke warning, might not be as subtle as irony. ?? IW: irony warning, means the opposite of what it says. ??? MCI: may contain some irony. ???? NII: no irony intended. ????? ANIIAA: absolutely no irony intended at all (as in above item).
Thursday, 12 April 2012
We used to have "incidents" but "incidence" used to mean, I think, how often something happened. But now we have "incidences" for "incidents" (R4 News just now). "Incidences" used to be quite a technical word, used by sociologists and scientists. Now it has been democratised - how lovely - to be the plural of incident as well. See, I'm not just an old grouch.
There was no prize for spotting April's deliberate mistake, just checking to see if everyone was paying attention. Of course, as several people have pointed out, if Shakespeare had used Grammarcheck programs - no apostrophe please! What was that, a pedantic greengrocers you know what because it's short for programmes? - "bones are coral made" would probably go unchecked as they would parse bones as the subject of are, whereas we know that Shakespeare was probably using coral as an unmarked plural. Or he just didn't care because it sounded better. Or some actor copied it down wrong or misremembered it.
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
A: Have you got it? B: No, I don't. A: What? You don't got it, you say? B: No, I don't. I first heard this many years ago from a Northern Irish friend and he seemed to see nothing unusual in the construction. Time has proved him right and me wrong, again. Nowadays most US speakers and possibly most UK under 40s would agree with him. They say NI accents were a big influence in the New World and maybe that's where this grammatical construction and more common use of "don't have" rather than "haven't got" comes from? I still miss the distinction, as in the old joke about the American doctor working in Britain: Dr: Now Mrs Smith how many children do you have? Mrs S:( looking worried) Oh, dear, normally only one at a time, doctor!
Dr Johnson criticised Shakespeare more for things like the dramatic unities (whatever they were) than for grammatical howlers, as he might have seen them. But he did find a lot of inelegancies and wished he'd blotted a thousand - a bit harsh? But what about something like the famous lines from the Tempest: "Full fathom five thy father lies, Of his bones are coral made."? Shurely shome mishtake, Ed? Actually spellcheck corrected that old Private Eye joke the first time - I had to retype the shurely bit. But Shakespeare anticipated Grammarcheck programs by hundreds of years. He could make his own mistakes and even, see previous blog, other people's too. Or are coral like sheep, the same singular and plural? Or is it for the melodious sound? What about "mistakes" with me and I and other pronouns (of the with my friends and I type)? Are they acceptable in Shakespeare because it is poetry, or characterisation?
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
That Shakespeare, eh? Very elusive, or was he just an alias for secret agent Marlowe anyway? Dr Johnson criticised him for making thousands of errors but can we be sure these so-called errors were not made by someone else? Not by Bacon, perhaps, but by one of the characters in the play? He certainly produced things of the "between you and I" type, but was this an error or was this the sort of thing that character would say? Come on you Shakespeare corpus analysts, there must be thousands of you out there!
Is is is (the double copula, including was was, the thing being is etc) now more or less standard, or at least unremarked? John Humphrys on the Today programme on BBCR4 had a bit of a campaign against it a few years ago but now most people around him seem to use it unnoticed - and no, it is not just a hesitation-type reduplication as several linguist say, perhaps because they do not want to be thought prescriptive. Did it begin as an imitation of influential Americans like George W. Bush (but not, I guess, his father)and John McEnroe, two early users?
It seems almost standard to say in the broadcast media things like 'He was a former Cabinet minister' or even 'You were a former TV producer' (Woman's Hour just now). Surely this is a kind of double past and it should be 'you are' (still are, you are still alive). Why does this kind of duplication (redundancy, I think is the term) happen? Is it related to what I call 'word inflation'? Extra syllables, extra words, extra tenses?
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Er/ ee! We used to have a distinction between doer and doee, eg employer / employee. Now everything seems to take -ee, surely formerly the French past participle? So we have attendees at conferences but why not attenders? Seems a bit silly to me but I'm sure I'll be told that it's been happening for centuries and reminded of exceptions. But evacuees, for example, we're people who had BEEN evacuated. Is it another useful or meaningful distinction that is being lost?
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Firstly,secondly and thirdly seems to have given way to 'first of all, second of all [and on occasion]third of all', which smacks of word inflation. I wonder why people want to increase speech output - enough already. Do they think it sounds more important? Perhaps I'll ask the experts at Guardian style!