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Thread: The rules and regulations

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    People really get upset about what part of speech a word is'
    There can be a point to that too. We should have a good way of describing our language. The word "then" is often used EXACTLY like a coordinating conjunction:

    I picked up the book, then I threw it in the fire.
    I don't think there is any definition of coordinating conjunction that usage doesn't fit. Except if you define coordinating conjunctions by listing them, which people do, and then isn't on the list.

    I do note with pleasure that with the current definition, the above is a comma splice. It's hard to believe the comma-splice dislikers would notice. (story here) With sensible rules, it's actually not a comma splice.

    The word "plus" is the same, and I have seen one dictionary's example use it as a coordinating conjunction. To me, the use of plus instead of and, even as a coordinating conjunction, is very useful.

    So, to reiterate a theme, we can understand our language better by acknowledging the use of then as a coordinating conjunction. So there's a reason to care about the issue; it's the exact opposite of careless rule breaking. That is actually likely to happen, so this is the exact opposite of a hopeless cause.
    Last edited by EmmaSohan; May 19th, 2019 at 05:08 PM. Reason: corrected dictionarly's portrayal of "plus"
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  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    Remember when Tom Sawyer got the other kids to pay him to let them paint the fence? Twain writes "Tom was literally rolling in wealth". No confusion in my mind.
    Without reading the book, what does it mean?

    Another author said the same thing about this same sentence. "Chances are you understand exactly what he means."

    Chances are no one does -- I can't imagine anyone guessing correctly out of context, even though you both seem to think it makes perfect sense.

    And why couldn't it be taken literally? That makes more sense in context. Calling it an intensifier makes no sense to me.

    This is an unusual example. The usual problem with ambiguity is that it takes the reader more work to understand. Don't we want easy reading?
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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    This is an unusual example. The usual problem with ambiguity is that it takes the reader more work to understand. Don't we want easy reading?
    If easy writing was the yardstick for good writing then James Joyce would not still be in print.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  4. #24
    Wow, you never read Tom Sawyer? Mind, Huckleberry Finn is better, but they are both worth reading.
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  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    There can be a point to that too. We should have a good way of describing our language. The word "then" is often used EXACTLY like a coordinating conjunction:



    I don't think there is any definition of coordinating conjunction that usage doesn't fit. Except if you define coordinating conjunctions by listing them, which people do, and then isn't on the list.

    I do note with pleasure that with the current definition, the above is a comma splice. It's hard to believe the comma-splice dislikers would notice. (story here) With sensible rules, it's actually not a comma splice.

    The word "plus" is the same, and I have seen one dictionary's example use it as a coordinating conjunction. To me, the use of plus instead of and, even as a coordinating conjunction, is very useful.

    So, to reiterate a theme, we can understand our language better by acknowledging the use of then as a coordinating conjunction. So there's a reason to care about the issue; it's the exact opposite of careless rule breaking. That is actually likely to happen, so this is the exact opposite of a hopeless cause.
    'Bald' is a good example, an adjective not a verb. For an old man I still have a reasonable amount of hair, but I am becoming bald. I think it is reasonably acceptable nowadays to say someone in my position is 'Balding', but when it was first used it met a tirade of abuse because, 'Bald is not a verb, so there could be no such word.
    Ignoring the fact that to bald is a verb, albeit a not much used one, it is also perfectly obvious that 'balding' is a word, people say 'I am balding' and other people understood what they mean by it. To me that makes it a word and denying it is one is like standing on a railway track and denying that is a train coming at you because it isn't due for another half hour, that it defies the timetable does not mean it does not exist. In the same way a word that defies what some grammarian understands to be a 'correct' conjugation because it is not a verb does not cease to be a word for that. One person says it or writes it, another hears or reads and understands what is meant. It is as much a word as the train is a train, there is no point in denying its existence because they are always on time or late on this line, one needs to accept the physical reality and step aside. There is no point in denying a word because it is 'wrong', one needs to work with the reality of how the language is used.
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  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    'Bald' is a good example...
    Contrast it to someone declaring a word's usage is wrong with complete confidence about what is correct. In some contexts -- such as a parent correcting a child ("That's a dog, not a cat") or a teacher correcting a student's spelling -- that sounds good, right? And at the other end, it's literally difficult for me to believe someone criticized "balding."

    Did you know that the definition of kilogram changed just this monday?
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  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Contrast it to someone declaring a word's usage is wrong with complete confidence about what is correct. In some contexts -- such as a parent correcting a child ("That's a dog, not a cat") or a teacher correcting a student's spelling -- that sounds good, right? And at the other end, it's literally difficult for me to believe someone criticized "balding."

    Did you know that the definition of kilogram changed just this monday?
    It literally happened, Bernstein, 1965, 'The careful writer' "There is no need for such a world, why not 'baldish? '. Isaac Asimov described it as 'Distasteful but necessary.' and Katherine Anne Porter as ''Entirely vulgar'

    The same sort of thing happened over 'stupider' and 'stupidest', but they have become fairly acceptable. On the other hand although I might be wickeder, or even the wickedest, I can not be righteouser or the righteousest. Even if I reform I can only be more righteous or the most righteous, unless people startbending those rules again

    PS. So they finally realised that bar of uranium in Paris changes every time they get it out. It amuses me that the 'age of reason' produces a 'rational' system of measurement and then when it proves to not be quite right they cling to it just like the originals. I wonder if they will ever adjust meters?
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  8. #28
    So, to reiterate a theme, we can understand our language better by acknowledging the use of then as a coordinating conjunction. So there's a reason to care about the issue; it's the exact opposite of careless rule breaking. That is actually likely to happen, so this is the exact opposite of a hopeless cause
    Sorry Emma, but I can't resist, doesn't 'exact opposite' break the rules? Isn't 'Opposite' one of those absolutes that it is wrong to qualify?
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  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    Isn't 'Opposite' one of those absolutes that it is wrong to qualify?
    No, because the root word of opposite means 'to set against' (as in 'opposition') and sometimes one can find things 'set against' them in different ways and to different degrees of magnitude while all are still 'opposing'.

    For example, a firefighter is probably the 'exact opposite' of somebody who goes around setting people's houses on fire - they literally do the exact reverse of what the arsonist does - but arguably a detective whose job it is is to stop arsonists is also 'the opposite thing to an arsonist', as is the contractor who rebuilds burned down houses.

    There is a need to qualify the magnitude of 'opposite of an arsonist' in that example, because it is unclear and could mean different things depending on how you look at it. But I reckon only the firefighter probably meets the definition of EXACT opposite.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  10. #30
    Admittedly the detective 'opposes' the arsonist, but surely he is only 'the opposite' of him in that he does not set fires? After all 'opposite' won't take qualifying endings like 'oppositer' or 'oppositest'. There is also an issue with differentiating between people and what they do, what the builder does is the opposite of what the arsonist does, but they are both men and very similar (unless one is a woman).

    Which words should be included in that list of absolutes is another can of worms ruling. One of the nineteenth century grammarians lists hundreds of them. Do we include things like over and under, or above and below? He would have, but I can hear 'almost under' and 'High above' quite happily. The rule that appeals to me is that of the other nineteenth century grammarian W.H.Maxwell, talking about whether to put more or most before or -er or -est after he says, 'There is, however, no general rule for comparing such adjectives,. The ear is the best guide.' Trouble is some have a 'better' ear than others and some have English ears whilst others have American or Australian ears; what sounds right in a Jamaican accent might not sound right in mine
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