English language peeves

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
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pogmoor
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Re: English language peeves

Post by pogmoor » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:09 pm

woodenhand wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:01 am
..."This broccoli is healthy"...
Reminds me of the (now common) "This door is alarmed"!
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lagartija
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Re: English language peeves

Post by lagartija » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:00 pm

:shock: How alarming! I've never heard that before. Our signs say, "Emergency Exit Only-alarm will sound if door opened." If it is a security alarm system protecting an exterior door, it will say, "Premises Protected by Security system", or some such thing.

It makes me smile to think of that poor door of yours in a state of alarm! :-)
pogmoor wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:09 pm
woodenhand wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:01 am
..."This broccoli is healthy"...
Reminds me of the (now common) "This door is alarmed"!
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pogmoor
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Re: English language peeves

Post by pogmoor » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:03 pm

lagartija wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:00 pm
:shock: How alarming! I've never heard that before...
Must be just in the UK then - clearly Americans have more sense :lol:
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hpaulj
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Re: English language peeves

Post by hpaulj » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:23 am

woodenhand wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:13 am
And here is another example of why the distinction is important. I was just reading something on agriculture, and came across this sentence.

"With smart use of crop rotations, cover crops and green manure, compost and animal inputs, the soil has all it needs to produce healthy crops."
....
If it really is about agriculture I'd have no problem interpreting the 'healthy' as applying to the state of the crop. If the author was really pushing some mumbo-jumbo about organic production methods and how much better the resulting food is, then the use might be ambiguous. It might even be intentionally so, conflating the ideas that certain methods both produce abundant and 'more nutritious' crops.

Without context I would interpret 'healthy broccoli' to be short for 'healthful', mostly because is I'm used to food writers and their claims that certain foods are 'healthy' in the sense of 'health promoting'. Not that I necessarily believe them.

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Re: English language peeves

Post by hpaulj » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:26 am

'The door is alarmed' makes as much sense as 'the gun is loaded' or 'the alarm system is armed'. Signs are often written in the shortest, but clear (in context) fashion.

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Re: English language peeves

Post by lagartija » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:09 pm

hpaulj wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:26 am
'The door is alarmed' makes as much sense as 'the gun is loaded' or 'the alarm system is armed'. Signs are often written in the shortest, but clear (in context) fashion.
To me, 'the alarm system is armed' does not mean the same thing as 'the door is alarmed'.

The first implies that a security system is in place and it is currently set so that an alarm will sound if the door is opened.
The second is ambiguous; a security system may have been installed, but it is not clear if it is armed at the moment.
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Re: English language peeves

Post by hpaulj » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:00 pm

For the ordinary user, 'the door is alarmed' is enough to warn that a alarm will (probably/may) sound if the door is opened. Yes, the alarm installation and/or activation might be incomplete or faulty, but I'd only attempt to use it in an emergency. I don't think I've ever seen such a sign, but it's as clear as the common (in the USA) 'Alarm Will Sound If Door Is Opened'.

Looking at Google images for 'door is alarmed' indicates it is most common in the UK, and maybe Australia. And plenty of people try to turn it into a pun ('the window is just startled'). But to Americans, British phrases like 'in hospital' sound just as odd. Where's the missing 'the'?

Looks like the Swedish equivalents are 'Dörren är larmad' and 'dörr larmad' or 'larmad dörr'.


Here's a discussion of the phrase 'door is armed' in the aviation context:

https://aviation.stackexchange.com/ques ... o-be-armed
Last edited by hpaulj on Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hotsoup
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Re: English language peeves

Post by Hotsoup » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:39 pm

khayes wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:53 pm
One I hear in the southern US frequently is "I seen ..." instead of "I saw ..."
I'm starting to notice this even where I live, in Washington.

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Re: English language peeves

Post by Rasputin » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:46 pm

hpaulj wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:00 pm
For the ordinary user, 'the door is alarmed' is enough to warn that a alarm will (probably/may) sound if the door is opened. Yes, the alarm installation and/or activation might be incomplete or faulty, but I'd only attempt to use it in an emergency. I don't think I've ever seen such a sign, but it's as clear as the common (in the USA) 'Alarm Will Sound If Door Is Opened'.

Looking at Google images for 'door is alarmed' indicates it is most common in the UK, and maybe Australia. And plenty of people try to turn it into a pun ('the window is just startled'). But to Americans, British phrases like 'in hospital' sound just as odd. Where's the missing 'the'?
Yes it's clear enough, just funny.

I have wondered about in hospital / in the hospital before. In the hospital can sound funny if you are not used to it - as though there is only one hospital, or the point is that the person is in a particular one, not just any old hospital... but usage does not seem to be consistent. We can't say 'in hospice', for example. We can say 'my parents got married in church' (well not many people can...) but we can't say 'my parents got married in cathedral'.

To me there is a definite difference in that in the version without the the, the point is the same regardless of which particular hospital or church it is - so maybe it is more like a missing a than a missing the.

When we say 'in the pub / down the pub' it sounds like banter. Somehow this seems to work by playing on the fact that we are implying it's always the same pub, when we know it isn't... I haven't worked it out any more coherently than that though.

Even in the US people say 'my son is in college', I think. Try out the sentence 'my son is in the college' and you'll see how it sounds to us when you say 'my grandma is in the hospital'.

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Re: English language peeves

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:51 pm

Do you say "my son is in loo"? A yank would answer, in lieu of what? a daughter?
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Re: English language peeves

Post by hpaulj » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:06 pm

With 'in college' the focus is on the stage of ones education, not the institution. 'in pre-k', 'in high school' are other stages. It's the same as 'he's a college student'. 'at college' or 'at university' is more likely to be used when particular institution is obvious from the context. For example in the Seattle area they probably mean the Univ. of Washington. Other examples are 'in the army' (the local national one) and 'in jail' (doesn't matter whether it's local, state or national).

Admittedly 'in the hospital' has something of that state quality; i.e. sick enough to require hospitalization. Which hospital probably isn't important. 'in a hospital' almost expects a 'which one?' response.

I took graduate level linguistics classes years ago, so I still think like a descriptive linguist - what does this mean to the native speaker? What's the difference between this use and that? There's no real right or wrong usage as long as people can communicate with each other.
Last edited by hpaulj on Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: English language peeves

Post by Evocacion » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:05 pm

hpaulj wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:06 pm
... There's no real right or wrong usage as long as people can communicate with each other.
But the type of misuse mostly described in this thread tends to block communication. One I've met several times recently is the use of 'bring' when the speaker really means 'take'. For example: 'I'm going on holiday next week. Do you think I should bring my swimming trunks?'

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Re: English language peeves

Post by Rasputin » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:19 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:51 pm
Do you say "my son is in loo"? A yank would answer, in lieu of what? a daughter?
We don't... and we would pronounce that lyoo, except in lieutenant, when it is pronounced lef. Can't fault our consistency.
hpaulj wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:06 pm
With 'in college' the focus is on the stage of ones education, not the institution. 'in pre-k', 'in high school' are other stages. It's the same as 'he's a college student'.
Yes, I see it that way too.
Admittedly 'in the hospital' has something of that state quality; i.e. sick enough to require hospitalization.
Yes, I think that where it is possible to omit the 'the', doing so is a way of conveying that it is the state quality that matters. Putting it in conveys that it's something else that matters, which may leave the other person wondering what it could be. Interesting though that it is only possible to omit the 'the' in certain cases, and these differ betwen UK and US English.

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Re: English language peeves

Post by Andrew Fryer » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:11 am

Recently a product I often buy has been affected by "shrinkflation". I don't mind this word, it's just that "penny loaf syndrome" was there already for those who knew it. Although perhaps PLS also contains the idea of deterioration in quality, and shrinkflation has been invented to deny that our society could permit of deterioration in quality of products aimed at the poor.

Oooh, I've never seen a webpage like this before: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1898 ... af-smaller
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Re: English language peeves

Post by woodenhand » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:37 am

"Solutions"

How many companies out there are offering "solutions"? They are legion. There are solutions for this problem, solutions for that problem. Solutions for problems you've never heard of. With so many "solutions" available, you'd think we'd have a shortage of problems. But since we have so many problems, perhaps the "solutions" aren't actually very effective...

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