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BS: Language Pet Peeves

Charmion 13 May 20 - 11:55 AM
Mrrzy 13 May 20 - 11:49 AM
Mrrzy 13 May 20 - 11:37 AM
Charmion 13 May 20 - 11:11 AM
Backwoodsman 13 May 20 - 10:35 AM
meself 13 May 20 - 10:27 AM
Mrrzy 13 May 20 - 09:35 AM
Backwoodsman 13 May 20 - 07:57 AM
Backwoodsman 13 May 20 - 02:11 AM
leeneia 13 May 20 - 01:45 AM
Gurney 12 May 20 - 11:43 PM
Charmion 12 May 20 - 09:21 PM
Mrrzy 12 May 20 - 07:31 PM
Doug Chadwick 12 May 20 - 05:44 PM
Mrrzy 12 May 20 - 04:30 PM
Charmion's brother Andrew 12 May 20 - 01:58 PM
Charmion 12 May 20 - 09:52 AM
Charmion 12 May 20 - 09:27 AM
Steve Shaw 12 May 20 - 08:38 AM
Doug Chadwick 12 May 20 - 08:18 AM
Mrrzy 12 May 20 - 07:47 AM
Donuel 12 May 20 - 07:19 AM
Charmion 12 May 20 - 07:13 AM
Doug Chadwick 12 May 20 - 03:46 AM
Steve Shaw 11 May 20 - 10:35 AM
Donuel 11 May 20 - 09:42 AM
Mrrzy 11 May 20 - 08:54 AM
leeneia 08 May 20 - 10:37 AM
Mrrzy 08 May 20 - 08:48 AM
weerover 08 May 20 - 06:19 AM
G-Force 08 May 20 - 05:53 AM
BobL 08 May 20 - 03:23 AM
Nigel Parsons 07 May 20 - 02:10 PM
Steve Shaw 07 May 20 - 12:37 PM
Senoufou 07 May 20 - 12:07 PM
robomatic 07 May 20 - 11:23 AM
Doug Chadwick 07 May 20 - 11:22 AM
Mrrzy 07 May 20 - 11:13 AM
Steve Shaw 07 May 20 - 10:57 AM
Mrrzy 07 May 20 - 09:44 AM
Steve Shaw 07 May 20 - 05:48 AM
Steve Shaw 07 May 20 - 05:47 AM
Doug Chadwick 07 May 20 - 05:21 AM
Steve Shaw 07 May 20 - 05:10 AM
Backwoodsman 07 May 20 - 01:31 AM
robomatic 07 May 20 - 01:05 AM
Mrrzy 06 May 20 - 11:23 PM
Joe_F 06 May 20 - 09:43 PM
weerover 06 May 20 - 05:11 PM
Doug Chadwick 06 May 20 - 02:47 PM
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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Charmion
Date: 13 May 20 - 11:55 AM

In English, there is no collective generic noun *at present* to match the French "militaire". The American singular usage of "troop" is a good example of how some English speakers are still struggling to find one, and I imagine that a word will emerge to do the job sometime before I die.

Or maybe not. English is weird in many ways, and this is one.

(BTW, "soldat" is not generic in most of the Francosphere; it is the ground-pounding counterpart of "matelot". The accepted generic in French Canada is "militaire".)

In Canada, where the armed services have been a singular since 1968, the adjective "military" is approaching the status of collective noun for the services themselves, as in "the military is the biggest source of government spending", or, "he's in the military so he's never home". But we have no accepted generic noun for individual persons. "Serviceman" was the word in 1950, but that doesn't work any more with so many women in the ranks.

I don't like "in the military", but I'm an Olde Pharte and an editor at that. At least it's better than using "soldier" for everybody who wears the National Tweed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 May 20 - 11:49 AM

This from an old dictionary, online: look at def 1, first two clauses: A man engaged in military service, one whose occupation is military. Then yes in army, then back to just being anyone in the military.

SOLDIER, noun soljur. [from Latin solidus, a piece of money, the pay of a soldier ]

1. A man engaged in military service; one whose occupation is military; a man enlisted for service in an army; a private, or noe in the ranks. There ought to be some time for sober reflection between the life of a soldier and his death.

2. A man enrolled for service, when on duty or embodied for military discipline; a private; as a militia soldier

3. Emphatically, a brave warrior; a man of military experience and skill, or a man of distinguished valor. In this sense, an officer of any grade may be denominated a soldier


So, um, yeah. It really did not used to be limited to *army* military people. I am not making it up! It could, in usage, apparently exclude officers, but not, say, Marines.

If it is to become limited to army, what is the new generic? If nobody volunteered we could use Draftee, but that doesn't work right now.

I am *old* eh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 May 20 - 11:37 AM

I grew up overseas, mostly in African ex-French colonies, 60's and 70's. The English speakers did not distinguish among the various armed forces. We had Marines guarding the embassy (and partying, shooting pool, going to beaches), but they did not argue terminology when lumped in with other members of other armed forces if we used the term Soldier as a generic. Like I said, the first time I was corrected was in the aughties, in NC.

The French speakers also used "soldat" for any military person. Newspapers did not use "troop" to mean individual member of armed forces. That is newspeak, like the horribly oxymoronic, or just moronic, term Peacekeepers. Requiring a civilian (whether Quaker or other conscientious objector, or just ignorant -or uncaring- of details of uniforms) to know which branch some rando is in before referring to them is just plain silly.

Like I said, English (US, UK or whatever) needs a one-word, simple, generic term for "member of the armed forces" -so does French, and so do all languages whose speakers want to talk about those waging war. So if y'all don't want people to use the word Soldier, please propose something.

Next I'll be hearing that continuing to use Literally to mean Not Figuratively is incorrect. Sorry, but it's not, even though enough people use it to mean Figuratively that it's gotten into the dictionary. It may be common usage, but it is still wrong.

Now my use of Soldier may be common but still wrong, sure. What I ask is, what is right?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Charmion
Date: 13 May 20 - 11:11 AM

Mrrzy, look at it this way.

Cats and dogs and budgerigars and hamsters are all pets. No one says hamsters are cats because it's easier.

Jenovah's Witnesses and Amish and Mennonites and Doukhobors have an important thing in common: they believe that war is always wrong and refuse military service. No one uses the word "Quaker" to refer to them all collectively; we say "conscientious objector" or "pacifist".

So soldiers, sailors, aviators and marines are all ... what? Members of the armed forces. Military personnel (although sailors who studied Latin in school will wince at that). Service personnel. In French, des militaires.

If you know someone well enough to comment on her occupation, you know if she's a soldier or a sailor or a wrench-bender in the Air Force. If you don't, but still wish to comment, you say "She's in the forces, but I'm not sure what she does."

If it's the 11th of November and you're in Ottawa, and it's not raining too hard, you go to the Cenotaph for the ... military parade. The sailors are at the front, because the Navy takes the right of the line in a mixed contingent (NB: in British and Commonwealth forces).

But on the first Sunday in May, the people holding up traffic on Confederation Square are all in dark blue uniforms because it's Battle of the Atlantic Sunday. So it's a ... naval parade.

Journalists who don't know any better occasionally refer to a "military ship". Their editors, who do know better, promptly change that to "naval vessel" or "warship", depending on whether it's a destroyer or a diving tender.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 13 May 20 - 10:35 AM

Mrrzy, I think our common language is dividing us again, and you’re assuming that US-ian practices and standards apply elsewhere outside the US.

Sorry, but it just ain’t so! I can assure you that, in the UK, a soldier is a member of the army - the army only. Nobody here would call a member of the RN or the RAF a ‘soldier’ - it would be thought of as ridiculous. We would most likely use the term ‘Servicemen/women’ as a global descriptor for members of the armed forces.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: meself
Date: 13 May 20 - 10:27 AM

Mrzy, just wondering where you grew up, hearing "soldier" as such a generic term? I've never encountered it that way, so I'm assuming it is, to some degree, a regional usage ... ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 May 20 - 09:35 AM

Yeah, no, I'm way better at being explained to than being told!

The English language needs a one-word word for something as common as "member of the armed forces" - if we can't use Soldier any more, what is being proposed? Warrior doesn't work as it includes fighters who aren't in the armed forces. Patsy is an opinion, not a descriptor. So...?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 13 May 20 - 07:57 AM

Sorry, Leeneia, I should have said, “Are you sure you aren’t conflating The British Isles with The United Kingdom?”.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 13 May 20 - 02:11 AM

Geographically, The British Isles include Ireland. You seem to be confusing The British Isles with The United Kingdom. If you google ‘maps of the United Kingdom‘, the island of Ireland will be included, but the ROI will be indicated as separate from the UK- often by the absence of detail.

From britannica.com


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 13 May 20 - 01:45 AM

I just googled "maps of the British Isles", and google brought up 20 maps. Ireland was in every one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Gurney
Date: 12 May 20 - 11:43 PM

The members of a troop of service-men are troopers, not troops. They were still called that when I was one. -Good grief, 60 years ago.

A TV programme which I watch now and then is named 'Mysteries at the Museum (or its variant ...at the Monument')and I hope all we contributors to this thread will watch it. and hurl abuse at the presenters for their misuse of language. Some of them think a skeleton is an artifact. None of them seem to use the term 'exhibit.'


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Charmion
Date: 12 May 20 - 09:21 PM

Mrrzy, you won’t be told, will you? You remind me of my Uncle who used the pronoun “she” for all cats, including the tabby tomcat who slept on his bed every night, and English people of my grandparents’ generation who insisted Irish people are British.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 May 20 - 07:31 PM

So no single word. I'll stick with soldier, then.

Also an individual is not a troop. I hear on the news Three troops died when they mean three nembers of the armed forces (see, I did not say soldier!).

How many are in a brazillion again?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 12 May 20 - 05:44 PM

I am a non-military person but I would use "servicemen" as the generic term. If I wanted to be fully inclusive, I might say service men and women or, alternatively, service personnel.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 May 20 - 04:30 PM

I grew up using, and hearing other people use, the word soldier for any military person, sorry all. Vernacular, not jargon. Only people *in* the military differentiated soldiers by branch of military (jargon, not vernacular). The first time I was corrected was in the aughties, so for 40 years, and probably decades if not centuries before that, soldier was the accepted generic used by civilians.

As a non-military person I wonder, do y'all in the military have a generic word for person in armed forces? If not, then soldier it still is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Charmion's brother Andrew
Date: 12 May 20 - 01:58 PM

Members of Canada's Regular Force are barred from participation in party politics: "We're here to protect democracy, not practice it!" Members of the Reserve Force may take part, but they should try hard not to be noticeable. Our brother, a reservist on full-time duty, was a paid-up member of the Liberal Party and had a membership card, but did not sign it. (That did not stop Charmion and me from teasing him about it.) Participation in "an idiot stunt like that demonstration in Michigan" would get you shown the door if not tried for "conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Charmion
Date: 12 May 20 - 09:52 AM

Okay, Donuel, now it's your turn.

The armed yahoos you referred to as "citizen soldiers" are neither militia nor soldiers; they're wannabe Rambos who lack the discipline and good will to get through boot camp in the flipping National Guard.

The expression "citizen soldier" was coined in Britain early in the 20th century to get people used to the idea of the Territorial Army. Here's an example: "Working and Shirking" by Bernard Partidge

It means a Reservist, a person with a civilian job, or perhaps a student, who is also a signed-up, sworn-in member of the Army and subject to its discipline. A true citizen soldier would find himself in a heap of trouble if he pulled an idiot stunt like that demonstration in Michigan.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Charmion
Date: 12 May 20 - 09:27 AM

I'm sorry, Mrrzy, but it is indeed wrong to apply the word "soldier" to any member of the armed forces without distinction.

Every European language, without exception, has specific words to distinguish soldiers from sailors, even those serving in warships, and I'll bet money that Asian and Semitic languages do, too. The line between soldiers and airmen is a bit fuzzy, but only a bit; it is, after all, only a century since the first air forces were split off from their parent ground forces. But seamen have never been soldiers, even in antiquity.

We Canadians are rather more aware of the nomenclature issue that most people. Between 1964 and 1968, our armed services were first integrated and then unified to form the Canadian Armed Forces as they exist today, and the old rank and trade structure and terminology were swept away with the stroke of Parliament's pen. The Royal Canadian Navy was severely discombobulated; suddenly, no one knew what to call the person in command of the ship because, suddenly, a captain was a junior officer. I have a lovely photograph from 1965, showing a bearded man in a sailor suit with the crossed anchors of a Petty Officer 2nd Class on the sleeve as he hoists the new flag (the Maple Jack, as my Dad always called it) at HMCS Gloucester, a shore station. The caption, written in the politically correct form of the time, identifies the bunting tosser as Sgt(S) -- that is, Sergeant (Sea) -- John Doe.

Of course, it did not last. Most of the naval ranks never went away in real life -- by 1972, when I joined up, Petty Officers were Petty Officers again -- but ships never got their captains back; they had morphed into Commanding Officers, and their First Lieutenants had become Executive Officers, as in the U.S. Navy.

By the way, the fact that matelots of the Royal Navy (British, that is) were occasionally organized to fight more or less as infantry or artillery only proves the rule. There's a famous print from the Illustrated London News (I think) showing sailors in square rig attacking the walls of Lucknow ... with naval guns that they had hauled all the way from Calcutta.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 12 May 20 - 08:38 AM

I've been accused of coming the old soldier when I've suffered from man flu. I've never been in the armed forces.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 12 May 20 - 08:18 AM

If I refer to someone in the military as a soldier, I am not *wrong* even if they are in some other branch of the military than specifically in the army.

I may be imprecise, but not incorrect.


That is a matter of opinion. As far as I am concerned, you are wrong. For me, "soldier" only means someone in the army, not any other branch of the armed forces. The imprecise nature of the information leads to confusion and, thus, fails the basic requirements of communication.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 May 20 - 07:47 AM

If I refer to someone in the military as a soldier, I am not *wrong* even if they are in some other branch of the military than specifically in the army.

I may be imprecise, but not incorrect.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Donuel
Date: 12 May 20 - 07:19 AM

In the US, right wing armed militias are citizen soldiers of sorts.
but point taken


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Charmion
Date: 12 May 20 - 07:13 AM

I’m with Doug on the soldier/sailor thing. Some sailors are civilians, otherwise known as merchant mariners or yachtsmen.

Ain’t no such thing as a civilian soldier.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 12 May 20 - 03:46 AM

... anyone in armed forces is, in plain English, a soldier ...

In plain English, a soldier is not a sailor and a sailor is not a soldier.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 May 20 - 10:35 AM

I thought tough love was when you couldn't win any points in tennis for ages.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Donuel
Date: 11 May 20 - 09:42 AM

Tough love is usually torture


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 11 May 20 - 08:54 AM

That it is. Right along with This hurts me more than it does you.

Also correcting use of regular English to mean only what a jargon term means. For instance anyone in armed forces is, in plain English, a soldier, but in military jargon that term excludes the navy, air force, marines and coast guard.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 08 May 20 - 10:37 AM

Me, I'm sick of the phrase "tough love." It's been around since 1968, and I suspect it's used to disguise mean and immature behavior.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 May 20 - 08:48 AM

They keep reporting on coronavirus being in men's semen. I guess women's semen is still safe, and children's?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: weerover
Date: 08 May 20 - 06:19 AM

G-Force, this used to be one that really grated on me, but when I looked up Chambers Dictionary to prove my point I found it does have the word "toothcomb", defined as "a fine-tooth(ed) comb".


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: G-Force
Date: 08 May 20 - 05:53 AM

What about people who say 'fine toothcomb', with the stress on 'tooth', as if it were a device for combing teeth! What they mean is 'fine-toothed comb', with the stress on 'comb'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: BobL
Date: 08 May 20 - 03:23 AM

Referring back to earlier posts, "half a thousand" may well mean five hundred, but to an engineer, "half a thou" doesn't!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 07 May 20 - 02:10 PM

Robomatic:
You're probably right: "They were written during his lifetime by Rex Stout," I don't believe he wrote anything posthumously.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 May 20 - 12:37 PM

Yes but Doug, there is no such thing as "a per cent." "A quarter of a per cent" simply doesn't make grammatical sense. I know it's used, and we're accustomed to it. Saying "a quarter of one per cent" may sound like a lugubrious way of putting it, but at least it's grammatically correct. And I'm certain of that one hundred and ten percent...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Senoufou
Date: 07 May 20 - 12:07 PM

This may already have been mentioned - I haven't read through the whole thread. But it always makes me smile when people use the word 'literally' in the wrong context.
For example, "She was literally on fire with anger."
Or, "He must literally have been turning in his grave..."
Makes me literally foam at the mouth!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: robomatic
Date: 07 May 20 - 11:23 AM

There was a series of highly popular and historically well loved detective books following the career of highly sequestered master solver Nero Wolfe. They were written during his lifetime by Rex Stout, and in one of them, Wolfe is tearing apart a newly released dictionary for confusing 'infer' with 'imply'. He is then feeding it to his wastebasket in which he has a small fire. I'm pretty sure it was a real dictionary, a real conflation, and Rex Stout was putting his opinion into his work, probably justifiably (other than the indoor fire aspect).


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 07 May 20 - 11:22 AM

This one really is a "pet" peeve, as I suspect that it is me that is out of step, rather than everyone else, but it still irritates me when I hear it:-

If the Bank of England announces an interest rate rise from, say, 2.25% to 2.5%, I would say that there has been a rise of a quarter of a per cent. The BBC would announce that there has been a rise of a quarter of one per cent. All the other TV channels do the same, which makes me think that I am wrong but I don't care - I am going to carry on saying it the way I want to.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 07 May 20 - 11:13 AM

It *is* the job of a dictionary to define words correctly. They can say "often used to mean Literally" but not define it as such.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 May 20 - 10:57 AM

It's not the role of dictionaries to decide what is correct usage or misuse. They are there to reflect how people use language. They may refer to slang or colloquialism or informal use of words, but no decent dictionary ever passes judgement on what is "correct usage."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 07 May 20 - 09:44 AM

Since the dictionary decided to define literal as figurative rather than list that as a common misuse, I don't trust dictionary definitions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 May 20 - 05:48 AM

Or is that a mute point?


Grrr...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 May 20 - 05:47 AM

Was it I who rendered you speechless, Doug?

Don't get me started on the gross misuse of "alternate" when what is meant is "alternative." It's become so common that dictionaries are even including it as valid. I blame The Monkees. Them and their "Alternate Title"...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 07 May 20 - 05:21 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 May 20 - 05:10 AM

I find the confusion between singulars and plurals to be a very disturbing phenomena.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 May 20 - 01:31 AM

I wouldn’t say “A thousand and a half”, I’d say “One-and-a-half-thousand”.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: robomatic
Date: 07 May 20 - 01:05 AM

I'm not sure what is wrong with half-a-thousand.

On the other hand, if you say thousand and a half, do you mean:
1,500.
Or
1,000.5

???


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 May 20 - 11:23 PM

Good point about half a dozen v score!

There's a limerick there but that would be thread drift.

Anyway, also visualize is not see, it is imagine you see, or use technology to see. But seeing is seeing, not visualizing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Joe_F
Date: 06 May 20 - 09:43 PM

leeneia: "Alright" has been made into a mark of illiteracy, but this IMO is one case where the illiterates have the better of the argument. Just as "already" is not the same as "all ready", so "they were alright" (they were acceptable) is not the same as "they were all right" (all of them were right). Note the difference in pronunciation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: weerover
Date: 06 May 20 - 05:11 PM

"cast in stone" works for me. The mould could be carved from stone and molten metal poured into it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 May 20 - 02:47 PM


"Slightly less than two decades ago, she was the happy mother of four..."

The writer is a journalist and presumably has the facts. If it was 19 years, say so. Better yet, say "In 2001, she was the happy mother..."


It might not have been 19 years ago. 18 yrs and 9 months would still qualify as "slightly less than 2 decades". It might not have been 2001. Anything after June 2000 would be less than 2 decades.

Our language is full of synonyms. Just because you prefer one doesn't make the others wrong. As I said somewhere up-thread, life would be pretty boring if communication was restricted to an approved list of basic words. Variety is the spice of life.

DC


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