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Grammar is so funny

Switch Blayde

Grammar Girl says "alright" is not a word.

But when I googled "grammar girl all right" what did Google do? It returned:

Did you mean: grammar girl alright


yikes!

Replies:   awnlee jawking
robberhands

Thank you, SB. It's nice to know not all the links I provided were wasted on a bunch of ungrateful bastards.

Ross at Play
Updated:

My Oxford dictionary defines it as '[informal] = ALL RIGHT', then adds 'Some people consider that this form should not be used in formal writing.'

But "not a word"? Nope. Ms Grammar Nazi is dead wrong on that one.

sejintenej

@Ross at Play

Collins Concise is close to your Oxford Dictionary by saying it is disputed spelling but in common use

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Damn, now my feeble brain is going to thrash itself all day trying to remember a similar 'word' my usual (non-SOL) proofreader always complains about. (Or should that be all ways!) ;)

AJ

StarFleet Carl

From Miriam-Webster Dictionary:

all right or alright?
Although the spelling alright is nearly as old as all right, some critics have insisted alright is all wrong. Nevertheless it has its defenders and its users, who perhaps have been influenced by analogy with altogether and already. It is less frequent than all right but remains common especially in informal writing. It is quite common in fictional dialogue and is sometimes found in more formal writing.
⟨ the first two years of medical school were alright —Gertrude Stein ⟩


https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alright

awnlee jawking

Keep in mind, with that isolated quote, that Gertrude Stein never attended medical school!


Apart from the years she spent at Johns Hopkins, according to Wikipedia (spit)!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Stein

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Keep in mind, with that isolated quote, that Gertrude Stein never attended medical school!

Apart from the years she spent at Johns Hopkins, according to Wikipedia (spit)!

Never mind! That's what comes from speaking without Googling first. I knew she was accomplished, but never knew that included medical school.

Darian Wolfe

I've used both my entire speaking and writing life. I bet next you're going to say siegoggle isn't a word either. It means crooked. It's Appalachian.

sejintenej

@Darian Wolfe

siegoggle isn't a word either. It means crooked. It's Appalachian.

and K Pelle uses trade language (and perhaps inuit); Never having been traded I wouldn't know. I do know "uel" which is old South Hams - possibly Devonian or Breton in origin. It means good

Crumbly Writer

@Darian Wolfe

I've used both my entire speaking and writing life. I bet next you're going to say siegoggle isn't a word either. It means crooked. It's Appalachian.

Accents in dialogue, or 'regional speak' is entirely fitting. We're generally discussing what one would use by the supposedly objective 3rd-person Omni narrator (though that entire concept has been sliding into 'casual usage' as well).

Though personally, I always though 'siegoggle' is what Google does after they're attacked for misusing their users private data. 'D

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

But "not a word"? Nope. Ms Grammar Nazi is dead wrong on that one.


She doesn't make the rules. She references other sources. This is what she said:

At the top of the show I told you that one of the words isn't a real word. Is it "all right" as two words or "alright" as one word? Well, as grammarian Bill Walsh puts it in his book Lapsing Into a Comma, "We word nerds have known since second grade that alright is not all right" (4). He was talking about "alright" as one word. It's not OK.

Another style guide (5) agrees, saying that "alright" (one word) is a misspelling of "all right" (two words), which means "adequate," "permissible," or "satisfactory." So you might hear the two-word phrase in sentences such as these: "His singing was just all right" or "Is it all right if I wait outside?"

It seems pretty simple: go ahead and use "all right" as two words, and stay away from "alright" as one word. But the esteemed Brian Garner (6) notes that "alright" as one word "may be gaining a shadowy acceptance in British English." And the American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style (7) seems to contradict itself. It states that "alright" as one word "has never been accepted as standard" but it then goes on to explain that "all right" as two words and "alright" as one word have two distinct meanings. It gives the example of the sentence "The figures are all right." When you use "all right" as two words, the sentence means "the figures are all accurate." When you write "The figures are alright," with "alright" as one word, this source explains that the sentence means "the figures are satisfactory." I'm not sure what to make of this contradiction. The many other grammar sources I checked, including a large dictionary, reject "alright" as one word. Regular listeners of this show know that language is always in flux, so perhaps "alright" as one word is gaining a small footing.


And note the last sentence:

Regular listeners of this show know that language is always in flux, so perhaps "alright" as one word is gaining a small footing.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Regular listeners of this show know that language is always in flux, so perhaps "alright" as one word is gaining a small footing.


Gadzooks, how long ago was that written!

I've been using 'alright' for yonks, as have most of the other real-life Brit authors I know, apart from the one who proofreads some of my non-SOL stories.

AJ

Switch Blayde

The pod cast I found this in was really about "all together/altogether" and "all ready/already."

In those two, both are (grammatically) legitimate but mean different things.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

I've been using 'alright' for yonks, as have most of the other real-life Brit authors


As was I, as an American writer. So I don't understand the part about it gaining acceptance in British English. I grew up in the American education system writing it as one word.

But I don't anymore. Why? Because of what Grammar Girls suggested:

It seems pretty simple: go ahead and use "all right" as two words, and stay away from "alright" as one word.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

Just for fun, I used Google to ask Chicago Manual of Style. This is what came back:


Q. Which one is correct: "alright" or "all right"?

A. Dictionaries and style manuals still tend to indicate that alright is less legitimate than all right. The quasi- or nonstandard status of alright might be compared to that of the one-word forms of the compounds under way and a lot, both of which, to varying degrees, have had to resist the urge to merge. Context is everything. Alright is all right for rock 'n' roll, but if you're concerned about appearing to stand on the favored side of the "sociological divide," as Fowler's would have it, you will want to write all right (see the third edition, s.v. "all right," which notes, among other things, that alright seems to be popular in the personal correspondence of "the moderately educated young"). In the case of all right versus alright, however, all this is plainly rather arbitrary—as may already be altogether obvious.


Notice the "a lot." How often do you see people write it as "alot"? A lot!

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

And note the last sentence:
Regular listeners of this show know that language is always in flux, so perhaps "alright" as one word is gaining a small footing.

SB, Grammar Girl didn't change my mind -- but ngrams did.

I checked the ratios of 'all right' to 'alright', comparing both British to American, and fiction to all English.

Although the use of 'alright' is definitely rising, the only criteria I found where its usage has gone beyond 1 in 20 is British English. For BrE it crossed the 1 in 20 mark about 1980 but is still only approaching 1 in 10. I was surprised to find its use in fiction was significantly less than for non-fiction.

I've seen the light. Others may do as they wish but it's not all right for me to use anymore.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I suppose I should add that Ms Grammar Nightingale was dead right.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Notice the "a lot." How often do you see people write it as "alot"? A lot!

Er ... almost never, anywhere.

According to ngrams, there was a surge in written uses of 'alot' in America in the 1970s. It almost reached one-third of one percent.

In contrast, 'underway' as one word has surged from almost nothing around 1950 to approaching parity with the two-word form. That was more and earlier in AmE than BrE, but not by much.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Er ... almost never, anywhere.


I do it occasionally, though not deliberately and I correct it if I notice it.

PotomacBob

@Ross at Play

In contrast, 'underway' as one word has surged from almost nothing around 1950 to approaching parity with the two-word form.

It has been used in the U.S. Navy for a long, long time: "It's an underway ship."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

I've been using 'alright' for yonks, as have most of the other real-life Brit authors I know

OK, my writing was all technical or didn't call for that so-called word. Thinking back I don't remember ever using all right or alright in speech - I think I always used OK verbally and on paper. However I was well aware of it and innately disliked the unnecessary abbreviation

Replies:   awnlee jawking
PotomacBob

@Darian Wolfe

I bet next you're going to say siegoggle isn't a word either.


It means caddywhompus

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@PotomacBob

caddywhompus

Caddywhompus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Caddywhompus
Website Bandcamp
Members Chris Rehm; Sean Hart
Caddywhompus is an American band based in New Orleans.[1] The band originally referred to themselves as a "noise pop" band, although they later stopped using that descriptor.[2] The band members, Chris Rehm and Sean Hart, both grew up in Houston and have been friends since kindergarten.[3]

Replies:   PotomacBob
Crumbly Writer

@PotomacBob

It has been used in the U.S. Navy for a long, long time: "It's an underway ship."

That's the term they use when a ship that isn't fortified with sufficient steel is already sailing and it's too late to add it. 'D

REP
Updated:

All of the above is interesting but,

When does a string of letters become a word?

I would say that it is when 1 person uses a string of letters as a word, provides a definition, and another person accepts the spelling and definition.

awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

According to Wikipedia (spit), this TV show first aired in 1977

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27ll_Be_Alright_on_the_Night

A SOL search found 9000 results containing "alright" and 11000 results containing "all right".

The actual usage ratio is much closer to 50/50 than Google's out-of-date N-gram data might lead people to believe.

AJ

Replies:   REP
REP

@awnlee jawking

IIRC N-gram data is gathered primarily from formally written documents that are edited by professional editors.

SOL stories are written by average people and editors who have a degree of experience with the English language, but may not be professional writers and editors. We just use the English language according to what we call good grammar.

Perhaps the N-gram difference is due to the types of people doing the writing and editing rather than the age of the data.

Darian Wolfe

I was able to find several songs with alright either in the title or lyrics. :)

Dominions Son
Updated:

@REP


IIRC N-gram data is gathered primarily from formally written documents that are edited by professional editors.


It also has a number of different data sets to choose from

For our purposes, there are; English, American English, British English, and English Fiction. Then each of the above is duplicated with (2009) specified

ETA:

You also have to specify the date range you want.

The default is 1800 to 2000

If you try to set an end year after 2008, it will cut the end date back to 2008, so yes, their data sets are a bit out of date.

Looking at all 8, the lowest difference at 2008 is in the British English (2009) data set, at about 4:1 in favor of "all right".

Interestingly, this mostly appears to be do to a drop in the use of "all right" without much of an increase in "alright"

Dominions Son

@REP

IIRC N-gram data is gathered primarily from formally written documents that are edited by professional editors.


The Wikipedia entry on Google Ngram Viewer has some interesting information on issues in the corpora.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Ngram_Viewer#Corpora

The data set has been criticized for its reliance upon inaccurate OCR, an overabundance of scientific literature, and for including large numbers of incorrectly dated and categorized texts.[12][13] Because of these errors, and because it is uncontrolled for bias[14] (such as the increasing amount of scientific literature, which causes other terms to appear to decline in popularity), it is risky to use this corpus to study language or test theories.[15] Since the data set does not include metadata, it may not reflect general linguistic or cultural change[16] and can only hint at such an effect.

Another issue is that the corpus is in effect a library, containing one of each book. A single, prolific author is thereby able to noticeably insert new phrases into the Google Books lexicon, whether the author is widely read or not.[14]
OCR issues

Optical character recognition, or OCR, is not always reliable, and some characters may not be scanned correctly. In particular, systemic errors like the confusion of "s" and "f" can cause systemic bias. Although Google Ngram Viewer claims that the results are reliable from 1800 onwards, poor OCR and insufficient data mean that frequencies given for languages such as Chinese may only be accurate from 1970 onward, with earlier parts of the corpus showing no results at all for common terms, and data for some years containing more than 50% noise.[17][18]

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  REP
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Perhaps the N-gram difference is due to the types of people doing the writing and editing rather than the age of the data.

You mean, the difference between the people who know what they're doing, and those who are just winging it?

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for the 'alright' is an acceptable word argument.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Interestingly, this mostly appears to be do to a drop in the use of "all right" without much of an increase in "alright"

That sounds like a case of 'when it doubt, avoid the situation entirely'.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The Wikipedia entry on Google Ngram Viewer has some interesting information on issues in the corpora.

In other words: the chorus of objections to our data has grown so large, that we're forced to issue a weak statement asserting that we 'never intended this data to be taken seriously'.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

You mean, the difference between the people who know what they're doing, and those who are just winging it?


Given that the data set is very heavy in scientific literature, unless you stick to the English Fiction corpus, it's more people being deliberately pretentious than people who know what they are doing.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Interestingly, this mostly appears to be do to a drop in the use of "all right" without much of an increase in "alright"


Maybe okay/ok replaced it it modern times

PotomacBob

@richardshagrin

From the Urban Dictionary:
"caddywhompus - crooked, uneven, broken, ass-backwards and sideways.
After the car ran over the bicycle, the wheels were all caddywhompus."

REP

@Dominions Son

it is risky to use this corpus to study language or test theories


I seem to recall many discussions on specific words in which N-gram data was used as the sole support of many opinions. Sort of like Ross saying he was going to change his opinion based the N-gram analysis. Personally, I think it is a mistake to reply on one tool if there are others available.

The above seems to be saying that we should not use, or at least rely, on N-gram results. The article seems to be saying we should be suspicious of N-gram results.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@REP

IIRC N-gram data is gathered primarily from formally written documents that are edited by professional editors.

I agree with your point but would say 'formally published works' rather than 'formally written' ones. But yes, ngrams' sample seems to be limited to works 'edited by professional editors'. I did check their result for just fiction and didn't change things much.

That surprised me. I was surprised to even learn it was considered controversial at all. Anecdotally, from a small group of angry old white guys here, most seem to have no problem at all with using it. I remained in that camp even after learning what the "authorities" had to say about it. I only reconsidered my opinion because the ngrams result suggested its usage was so very low.

I'm not willing to accept the alternative AJ looked at, number of matches found by an internet search, but I want to see some other data. Could someone with premier access try the text search in the Advanced Search facility here?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

The above seems to be saying that we should not use, or at least rely, on N-gram results. The article seems to be saying we should be suspicious of N-gram results.


Not completely. The problem isn't in N-gram analysis per-say, it's a problem with the google books corpora, that is, the base data used for the analysis.

There are other N-gram analysis tools out there and better corpora, they just aren't available for free on the internet.

Replies:   REP
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ross at Play


Could someone with premier access try the text search in the Advanced Search facility here?


Done.

All right: 11625* stories

Alright: 9255 stories

*The all right results are over stated, because even using Exact match and putting all right in quotes it sill finds stories that have all and right, but where they aren't used together as one phrase.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@REP

Sort of like Ross saying he was going to change his opinion based the N-gram analysis. Personally, I think it is a mistake to reply on one tool if there are others available.

Please tell me what you suggest if you know of any "others available".

I do not like ngrams but it often seems like the only thing available. I did not change my opinion this time until after I checked its result for fiction only, and because that result was so heavily in one direction. I am not interested in what is "right" or "wrong"; I'm trying to avoid variants that would needlessly cause irritation to some readers.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Done.
All right: 11625* stories
Alright: 9255 stories
*The all right results are over stated

Thanks.

I'm going back to the opinion that there's no reason I should not use alright.

I try to rely on actual evidence, especially for things like which variant of some word/expression to prefer, and my objective is merely to avoid needless irritation to some readers.

I've never trusted ngrams and only relied on its results when they were overwhelmingly in one direction. I'll treat this one as evidence that is still not enough to rely on its results.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
REP

@Dominions Son

As they always say - garbage in, garbage out

Dominions Son

I decided to try testing the google ngrams corpus being built with faulty OCR by doing an Ngram for alright and a one letter substitution of airight.

Airight runs 4 to 6 orders of magnitude below alright, but it was non-zero.

Zom

Sheesh! You are all right, alright?

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Zom

alright

Al (Gore) was left, not right. It isn't correct to say Al right.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Zom
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Al (Gore) was left, not right. It isn't correct to say Al right.

But the Al egory (minus one "l") bends in either direction.

Zom

@richardshagrin

Al (Gore) was left, not right. It isn't correct to say Al right.

Some would allow that he was he was Allow.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I'm going back to the opinion that there's no reason I should not use alright.


I guess my opinion is: Why use alright when it's not universally accepted. This is what Writer's Digest has to say on the subject:

The biggest difference between all right and alright is that one (all right) is a commonly used phrase that's been accepted by dictionaries and grammar stylebooks for ages, while the other (alright) technically isn't, well, a word. Resources such as Garner's Modern American Usage deem all right "the standard," and make the case that the hybrid spelling alright should be totally avoided because it's nothing more than a spelling mistake.

It seems likely that alright will one day become an accepted form of all right, but that day hasn't come yet. So in the meantime, stick with the standard whenever your writing calls for it, and you'll be all right.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

This is what Writer's Digest has to say on the subject:


Since you don't provide a link, I have no idea when that is from. When referring to sources in regards to the evolution of language usages, when maters a great deal.

That quote would carry a great deal more weight if it was written in 2017 than it would if it dates back to 1980.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

That quote would carry a great deal more weight if it was written in 2017 than it would if it dates back to 1980.

Or 1880. I'm sure Mark Twain had his own pet peeves about language uses in his day too, though luckily he was wise enough to not waste too much time railing about them, instead focusing on more productive uses of his time. 'D

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

That quote would carry a great deal more weight if it was written in 2017 than it would if it dates back to 1980.


Oxford Dictionaries accepted it as a word sometime between 1974 and 1999.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Since you don't provide a link,


http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/alright-vs-all-right

Feb, 2014

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