Media Word Usage

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tubeman
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by tubeman » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:06 pm

I notice more grammar errors than special vocabulary! I constantly hear the use of present participles, which often creates fragments: "Today, the FBI investigating the cause of the explosion." A real verb would be nice...
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pogmoor
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by pogmoor » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:56 pm

lagartija wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:18 pm
Don’t forget that the word “data” suffers from the same problem. There are heated arguments about whether or not a plural Latin word that appears to native speakers of English to be singular, should be treated as such.
...and bacterium/bacteria!
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ddray
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by ddray » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:06 am

pogmoor wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:56 pm
lagartija wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:18 pm
Don’t forget that the word “data” suffers from the same problem. There are heated arguments about whether or not a plural Latin word that appears to native speakers of English to be singular, should be treated as such.
...and bacterium/bacteria!
It's good to know the distinction I guess to show your edyoomikation, but unless someone's a scientist I don't see much occasion to use the singular. A lot of this is just pedantry.
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by gitgeezer » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:33 am

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:40 pm
gitgeezer wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:20 pm
It seems to me that we occasionally fall into the error of demanding that usages be consistent within a system of grammar. We forget that systems of grammar do not create or justify usage, but rather accepted usage leads to systems of grammar.
I haven't read a book on general linguistics since the early 80s, and I didn't find it interesting enough to read any more on the subject, so I don't know if there's a quick answer to this.

You seem to be saying that we don't adhere to grammars directly, but nevertheless we adhere to them indirectly, since we adhere to usage, and grammars reflect usage? Do we gain anything from this distinction? Are you saying it because you want to be down with the people who are ignorant of Latin? That sounds rude. It's not meant to be.

You may be right: - although the Romans knew Greek, their system of declining Greek words deviated from Greek usage.

The same geography book I mentioned earlier used the plural "metropoli". That too is horrible. According to the OED, metropolus is a valid singular (but it doesn't list metropoli as one of the valid plurals). I don't believe that metropolus exists anywhere in any Latin text and don't know why the OED thinks it is valid.
I'm just saying that grammars, though ideally consistent, are sometimes inconsistent because accepted usage can override consistency. Here's an example:

A pronoun (or a noun) following a linking verb that renames the subject is a predicate nominative and must therefore be in the nominative case (I, you, he, she, we, they). By this rule, "it is I" is the grammatically correct usage. But "it is me" or just "it's me" has become acceptable usage, though inconsistent with the rule.

I also said that an "ungrammatical" usage that becomes acceptable in one context may be less so in another. For example, while "it is me" is now acceptable, perhaps even preferable, "it is I who wants to know" would probably still be preferable to "it is me who wants to know."

I'm not suggesting we should ignore good grammar, just that we should recognize accepted usage even when inconsistent with traditional grammar.

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by ddray » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:17 am

Otto Jespersen in A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles :
“It has been my endeavour in this work to represent English Grammar not as a set of stiff dogmatic precepts, according to which some things are correct and others absolutely wrong, but as something living and developing under continual fluctuations and undulations, something that is founded on the past and prepares the way for the future, something that is not always consistent or perfect, but progressing and perfectible—in one word, human.”

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Andrew Fryer » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:21 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:33 am
"it is I who wants to know" would probably still be preferable to "it is me who wants to know."
"It is I who want to know" although I'd probably say, "I'm the one who wants to know."

"It is I" is Germanic.
"c'est moi" (disjunctive pronouns) is French.

The correct forms of the relative clauses in German are: -
1st person "Ich, der ich wissen will"
2nd person "Du, der Du wissen willst"
3rd person "Er, der wissen will"

The relative "der" is deemed too 3rd person on its own to go bluntly with a 1st or 2nd person pronoun, so the person is repeated within the clause.
Last edited by Andrew Fryer on Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Andrew Fryer » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:57 pm

We all surmise what grammar books say, but I wonder how many of us ever look at an English grammar book that is the same size as some of the Greek and Latin grammar books we use. I know I never do. They are unwieldy, badly organised, and it can take an aeon to find what you want.

Something that is quite interesting is far, farther, further, furthest, farthest.

I once saw Jonathan Ross shouted down by a blue-stocking on telly. He had probably said "farther", and she shouted, "FAR, FURTHER, FARTHEST!" at him. The OED devotes a fair bit of columnage to this, and it doesn't tell you what the conclusion is - you have to work it out.
The trouble with the blue-stocking is, you can be drilled at school in a manner that convinces you (and one of the things you learn at a top school is that your view is superior to anyone else's) but that doesn't make it right.
Chambers has no preference between farther and further and farthest and furthest, and the OED is inconclusive, as I say. Onions seems to prefer farthest, so that's a start, but he doesn't say much about farther vs further.

I only decided that I grudgingly preferred "far, further, farthest" after reading the OED in conjunction with a book on Anglo-Saxon.
There is an Anglo-Saxon comparative "further" (not the original spelling), but according to the OED "farther" comes from an originally correct "farrer", which someone over-corrected to farther. So that took me an aeon to find out too, and if it turns out to be easy to find in your grammar book, then that's probably a coincidence!

This thread is probably a repeat thread, but just in case, I have a friend whose wife went to a posh girl's school and her English teacher one day said, in a voice like Joyce Grenfell's, "Remember, girls, it's LESS gin, FEWER cigarettes!"
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:22 pm

"Onions seems to prefer farthest, so that's a start"

What do the shallots think?
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Andrew Fryer » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:30 pm

By Onions, I mean this. I've always liked it. I'm not sure why the Amazon reviews aren't so good: -
51CTDNKVDQL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
I suppose it's just a cut-down version of bigger, better books, but since I got it for nothing from a junk shop decades ago, I'm fond of it.
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gitgeezer
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by gitgeezer » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:46 pm

The way I learned it in school is that "farther" is for literal distance and "further" is for figurative distance.

That restaurant is farther away than I thought. (far, farther, farthest)

French fluency is further away than I thought. (far, further, furthest; or as a backwoods Kentuckian might say it--fur, further, furthest)

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by ddray » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:17 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:57 pm
We all surmise what grammar books say, but I wonder how many of us ever look at an English grammar book that is the same size as some of the Greek and Latin grammar books we use. I know I never do. They are unwieldy, badly organised, and it can take an aeon to find what you want.
...
The thing is though that those weighty English grammar tomes are the result of 17th- and 18th-century pedants trying to superimpose the rigorous grammatical strictures of the Classical languages onto English to make it into something it isn't...trying to rescue it from being the medium of serving-wenches and stable boys. During the English language's most glorious literary period, it was a relatively free-wheeling, seat-of-your-pants thing.

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:50 am

Wikipedia has both "Farther Along" and "Further Along" listed as the title of that Gospel hymn--with no explanation. Which alters the significance of the lyrics, depending; that is, if gitgeezer is correct.

Wikipedia headlines Farther Along but lists Further Along in its references. This may have to do with the open source nature of Wikipedia, and suggests that common usage hasn't made up its mind.

It seems clear that the refrain should be "Further along..."
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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by gitgeezer » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:48 am

I have progressed to Book II, Chapter V in Tom Jones. The opening sentence of that chapter contains two nuggets: (1) the use of "transpire" in it's traditional sense of "to become known; and (2) an interesting use of "farther."

I believe it is a true observation that few secrets are divulged to one person only; but certainly it would be next to a miracle that a fact of this kind should be known to the whole parish, and not transpire any farther.

I said earlier that I was taught in school that "farther" is for literal distance and "further" is for figurative distance. But is the usage above literal or figurative? Any opinions?

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Rasputin » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:11 am

I had never heard that before - sounds like a post-hoc rationalisation to me... I think the real picture is messier but grammarians of the old school saw it as part of their function to impose order.

I mostly say further but I think I sometimes say farther if it sounds better in the sentence. Same for I-ther / E-ther

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Re: Media Word Usage

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:17 am

I think it's literal, and so follows your rule. a parish is a geographical designation in this instance, and so for the secret to not transpire beyond the parish to the next region etc. is meant. But of course, as a rumor, it could transpire further by changing and becoming more elaborate...

edit: actually a parish is comprised of a group of people; it's an 'administrative district' with fluid boundaries, I think. hmmm...although in Fielding's day, the term was probably tied more closely to a geographical area...? I have the flu and my thinking is worse than usual.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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