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Question for English English Speakers

awnlee_jawking

As an aside, I think the forum title should be extended to include Proofreaders.

I'm posing the question here because, in my experience, Proofreaders and Editors have a better grasp of the English language than most groups.

In a science fiction story, still in its early stages, my protagonist mentions being unable to intercede during a child abduction. An advance reader was unhappy because they understood 'intercede' to imply verbal rather than physical intervention. Although that seems to be true of the majority of its usage, I have been unable to find anywhere that stipulates it as a hard and fast rule. What do the Proofreaders and Editors here think - can 'intercede' be used for a physical intervention?

AJ

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@awnlee_jawking


As an aside, I think the forum title should be extended to include Proofreaders.


Here at SOL, most see Proofreading as part of the editorial function, in fact many editors only proofread.

Here's a website to keep a link to handy:

http://www.onelook.com/

This is a dictionary site that will provide links to many dictionaries for any word you search on. From:

https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=intercede

intr.v. in·ter·ced·ed, in·ter·ced·ing, in·ter·cedes

1. To plead on another's behalf.

2. To act as mediator in a dispute.

Collins and Miriam-Webster have the same meaning. Thus to intercede is limited to verbal interaction and not physical interaction at all.

For it to be a physical action to stop the event you need to:

in·ter·fere (ĭn′tər-fîr)

intr.v. in·ter·fered, in·ter·fer·ing, in·ter·feres

1. To be or create a hindrance or obstacle: The rain interfered with our plans to go on a picnic.

2. Sports To perform an act of interference.

3. To intervene or intrude in the affairs of others; meddle.

or

in·ter·vene (ĭn′tər-vēn)

intr.v. in·ter·vened, in·ter·ven·ing, in·ter·venes

1.

a. To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development: "Every gardener faces choices about how and how much to intervene in nature's processes" (Dora Galitzki).

b. To interfere, usually through force or threat of force, in the affairs of another nation.

c. Law To enter into a lawsuit as a third party to assert a claim against one or both of the existing parties.

2. To come, appear, or lie between two things: You can't see the lake from there because the house intervenes.

3. To come or occur between two periods or points of time: A year intervened between the two dynasties.

4. To occur as an extraneous or unplanned circumstance: He would have his degree by now if his laziness hadn't intervened.

..................

FYI: Words are the building blocks of stories and it may take time, but authors need to develop a very good understanding of the meanings and spelling of words so they can use them the best way they can - they are our arsenal of weapons in this work, our tools of the trade. We also need to be careful not to use big guns when the little pistols are best - use the simple to understand words where you can, not the fancy complex ones that have every reader reaching for a dictionary.

edit to add: The main difference between interfere and intervene is the level of impact you have on the situation. For example to slow down kidnappers but not stop them is to interfere, but to stop them and make them leave empty handed is to intervene.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Zom
Dominions Son
Updated:

@awnlee_jawking

I'm not an editor or proofeader, but a quick check of intercede on dictionary.com shows the following definitions.

1. to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition:

to intercede with the governor for a condemned man.

2. to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate.

3. Roman History. (of a tribune or other magistrate) to interpose a veto.

None of those definitions seems compatible with a physical intervention.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

The UK dictionaries I've consulted pretty much all say 'to intervene on someone's behalf', which doesn't preclude physical intervention. I wonder whether it's one of those words which has developed different connotations in the colonies.

Perhaps the easiest option is for me to change 'intercede' since the majority of readers are likely to be American.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

The UK dictionaries I've consulted pretty much all say 'to intervene on someone's behalf', which doesn't preclude physical intervention.


I'm an Australian and often run into US meanings that are a little at variance with what I learned and are in my UK based dictionaries (the US meaning and use of decimate being a classical one) and all my UK English print dictionaries align with the definition of intercede in my first post; being to plead or mediate - both verbal behaviours. The Cambridge on-line dictionary - you don't get much more UK than that, says:

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/intercede?a=british

to use ​your ​influence to ​persuade someone in ​authority to ​forgive another ​person, or ​save this ​person from ​punishment.
................

persuade and plead and mediate are all verbal actions not physical action.

The word interceded comes from two Latin words that translate best as between and go or go between.

Intervene would be a better word choice for physical action.

Replies:   Grant
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Thus to intercede is limited to verbal interaction and not physical interaction at all.

Ernest, I think what we have here is a more recent usage. I hear the physical use of 'intercede' from teachers all the time ("I interceded on the child's behalf", meaning we called the police, not "we talked to the abusive parents". Both are verbal, but it's an escalation beyond mere talking.

You subsequent definition, about it being a matter of degree, is a better distinction, in my opinion.

By the way, Awnlee, I agree with Ernest, most writers/readers/etc. see proofreaders as being a type of editor.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Ernest, I think what we have here is a more recent usage. I hear the physical use of 'intercede' from teachers all the time ("I interceded on the child's behalf", meaning we called the police, not "we talked to the abusive parents". Both are verbal, but it's an escalation beyond mere talking.


An escalation beyond mere talking is the end result, but the teacher is not going beyond mere talking. By calling 911, the teacher pleaded for a higher authority to intervene. Even using Ernest's original definition, the use of intercede by the teacher is correct.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Ernest, I think what we have here is a more recent usage. I hear the physical use of 'intercede' from teachers all the time ("I interceded on the child's behalf", meaning we called the police, not "we talked to the abusive parents". Both are verbal, but it's an escalation beyond mere talking.


To intercede means you talk to someone abut something on another person's behalf. Calling the police is talking to someone. Even my British Empire dictionary from the 1920s has the same definition for intercede as the latest on-line dictionary I quoted in my first reply.

intercede = talk to help
intervene = physical action to help

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

I tend to agree, editors can and do proofread, but that's not all they do. If all they do is proofread, they aren't editing. Not a conclusive or exhaustive list, but editors also consider continuity, style, when a scene is too short or long, or wordy or terse, and give advice about where a story should go or end. They catch errors that proofreaders are not concerned with. Their understanding of a story is greater than that of a proofreader. I may be wrong, I am only a proofreader, but at least some editors provide some of those services. If a proofreader starts to do the same, he has to put on his editor hat.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

Do proofreaders see themselves as editors? I do a significant amount of proofreading, some of it for SOL authors, but I don't consider myself to be doing a proper editorial job. However that would explain why some stories credit multiple editors yet still contain what a traditional editor would consider basic structural faults.

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

Do proofreaders see themselves as editors?


The ones I've dealt with do more than proofread, however, they all include proofreading as part of the process. I do know of some authors who want a proofreader only, but SOL doesn't have a Proofreader only group or area, so they get lumped in with the editors.

Like many authors on SOL I don't want a full professional style editing job done, but I do want the editor to point out areas where the story has errors or needs attention due to not being as clear as it should, along with typos and other proofreading items. In another thread I gave detailed list of what I look for.

I do not want the editor to suggest any plot changes or advancements unless I specifically ask them to look at that aspect.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Do proofreaders see themselves as editors? I do a significant amount of proofreading, some of it for SOL authors, but I don't consider myself to be doing a proper editorial job. However that would explain why some stories credit multiple editors yet still contain what a traditional editor would consider basic structural faults.

All I know is what the various editing group websites say. You can hire editors to do proofreading, other services, or do all of them with multiple passes thru the document. I can see wanted to include proofreaders, and I encourage you to vent here, but I feel if we did that, we'd need to list the four separate editing functions.

So, does anyone have any proofreading questions, or content or beta reader questions?

Grant

@Ernest Bywater

I'm an Australian and often run into US meanings that are a little at variance with what I learned and are in my UK based dictionaries

De-planed & de-trained are US terms that give me a headache.
For me people would just leave or exit the plane or train, or disembark.

Banadin

Deassesd?

Ernest Bywater

@Grant

De-planed & de-trained


I always felt this is how you said it when they left the vehicle while it's still moving fast, and when stopped they only disembark or get off it.

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

That wasn't intended to be a vent but a statement of fact. Since the authors who post here are amateurs, a hatchet editorial job, done to commercial standards, would in many cases be too discouraging. Readers enjoy the stories anyway, and that's what counts.

The few stories I've submitted to SOL I've edited myself and it shows - trying to edit your own stories is like trying to cut your own hair - it never ends well.

awnlee jawking

@awnlee jawking

Apologies Ernest, I don't know how that became a reply to you instead of CW.

Dominions Son

@Grant

De-planed & de-trained are US terms that give me a headache.


These are industry specific terms. I assure you that they give most of us in the US headaches too.

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

The few stories I've submitted to SOL I've edited myself and it shows - trying to edit your own stories is like trying to cut your own hair - it never ends well.


You'll get better with more experience, it's just the way things happen.

richardshagrin

@awnlee jawking

Depends on how much hair you have. The balder you get the less you want to pay a barber $20 or more to cut your hair. When I was very young, my dad would cut my hair, and give me a nickel if I didn't squirm, much. Of course when you are under ten you don't much care how your hair looks.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

The balder you get the less you want to pay a barber


I once told the guy who cut my hair that it should cost less because I have fewer hairs. He said it takes longer to find them.

That shut me up.

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

The stories I've submitted to SOL are experimental and mostly very short. Most of my oeuvre is science fiction, appearing under another name and not on SOL.

And I have no intention of getting more experience at cutting my own hair.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

And I have no intention of getting more experience at cutting my own hair.

No, when men get older, they experiment at shaving their heads. Instead of uneven bangs, they end up with nicks, pale skin and weird bumps and ridges.

Some people look good bald, and others should do whatever they can to keep their heads covered. (By the way, I'm one of the later, though I tried going bald for a couple years. When I did, everyone kept asking "Are you handling the chemo OK?")

Besides, I don't mind paying $20 for a haircut, and never have. It's the fancy schnoodle hair salons where the big-breasted hair stylist always leans over and flashes her boobs in your face. No matter how old you get, that's still worth the extra money you'd save going to an 80-year-old barber with shaky hands!

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Crumbly Writer

Besides, I don't mind paying $20 for a haircut, and never have.

Electric clippers & a #2 comb work for me.
I stopped paying for hair cuts after I shortened my hair length (it was about half way down my back).
The #2 used to be good for a couple of months, these days it seems to last for 6 months before I need another trim.

Replies:   anim8ed  tppm
anim8ed

@Grant

Electric clippers & a #2 comb work for me.


And they have worked for me for over a decade. I just keep it neat and even as there is no one for me to try and impress.

tppm

@Grant

I stopped paying for hair cuts after I shortened my hair length (it was about half way down my back).


I haven't paid for a haircut in decades. OTOH I haven shaved or cut my hair at all for decades.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@tppm

I've always had an exceedingly high forehead, but I was losing hair almost by the handful. However, when I left work in Manhattan (for health reasons), I stopped losing hair. I still have a bald spot strategically situated so I can't see it, but everyone else can, so I still think I'm gorgeous!

sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

The few stories I've submitted to SOL I've edited myself and it shows - trying to edit your own stories is like trying to cut your own hair - it never ends well.

You'll get better with more experience, it's just the way things happen.


Better is relative. Even after 20 years of writing (legal) documents I still missed some typos or wrong references when reading for mistakes.
There is one SOL author who seems to use a spell check without considering the word being inserted (or not corrected) - he/she badly needs someone to read through before publication.
I agree with those who feel a third party should do a final reading.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

I agree with those who feel a third party should do a final reading.

The idea is to have a Content editor (I'm not sure of the actual title) review the story before you do the final revision, so they can identify any plot holes. Once the story is finished, you get some general level editors to check for confusing passages. You then release the hoards of proofreaders, and then finally turn it over to the beta readers to determine how readers will respond to it.

Whoever said editing is easy never spent much time with one! Luckily, family members often serve as decent beta readers, if you story doesn't contain to many squicks for them. Each of my family members have trouble with different books.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

It can be difficult to find a content editor. So many of them are unhappy. You may be hoarding proofreaders. Some people have hordes of them. To deal with too many squicks you need at least two.

The homonym Police have inspected this email. It was posted on a site for Editors/Reviewers.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

It can be difficult to find a content editor. So many of them are unhappy. You may be hoarding proofreaders. Some people have hordes of them. To deal with too many squicks you need at least two.

Content editors are extremely hard to find, and usually require great sums to hire. I was describing the ideal situation, not the typical one.

A decent alternative to legitimate content editors is to utilize other authors. If they have time, they tend to specialize in pacing, foreshadowing, character development and dialogue. But they're also more likely to notice plot holes.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

It can be difficult to find a content editor.


Somewhere in the first hundred people to read the story you'll have a content editor write and tell you what you got wrong - law of nature.

richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

And probably by doing so it will change him from unhappy to content.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Somewhere in the first hundred people to read the story you'll have a content editor write and tell you what you got wrong - law of nature.

However, there's a big difference between someone who can identify and help plug plot holes, and someone who has a particular knowledge of a specific topic, which they know is covered incorrectly. Both are useful, but only one costs the big bucks!

Zom

@Ernest Bywater

We also need to be careful not to use big guns when the little pistols are best - use the simple to understand words where you can, not the fancy complex ones that have every reader reaching for a dictionary.

A point of view I have seen a lot, but I don't think it is universal. Methinks where you can isn't the same as where you should.

It will certainly make the work easier to read for more people, but sometimes a specific 'fancy complex' word will add a nuance of meaning that can be difficult to construct from a few simple ones. And besides, I revel in the richness of the language and delight in the entertainment strong complex wording can provide.

I know editors that try hard to include appropriate lesser known and used words, and I applaud them for their courage. If nothing else, it can broaden a reader's vocabulary.

awnlee jawking

@Zom

Going back to specifics, the nuance of intervening on someone's behalf was what attracted me to 'intercede' rather than straight 'intervene'.

The UK press, which has a long tradition of standing up for standards in English English, seems happy to use 'intercede' in contexts other than discussion. For example, the Telegraph used it when discussing how the Russian escalation in Syria affected the chances of the US military interceding.

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


The UK press, which has a long tradition of standing up for standards in English English


Some premier examples of the press here down under could also be relied upon to hold up the standards of the Queen's English, but sadly they no longer do so. US spelling, words in the wrong context, missing words, and just plain wrong words, now regularly appear in print even in the flagship rags.

In my far away youth I copy read for a newspaper, so I know what the pressure to get it right was like. I am confident the standards have slipped severely.

Some might say that due to modern social networking and other instant global communications, that the English language is undergoing some form of levelling at a rate not experienced before. If that is so, does it have to be at the expense of ALL the standards that have made the language so precise?

Sometimes I think I put Grumpy Old Men to shame.

richardshagrin

Newspapers seem to my USA eyes a lost cause. Might as well complain about texting, or not getting letters in the (snail) mail.

Most newspapers are going to go out of business as they are losing advertising revenue at the same time as almost all their costs are going up. Hint to college students, majoring in Journalism is a good way to get a job saying "Would you like fries with that?" Or maybe not, McDonalds is facing some major challenges in terms of profitability and number of stores internationally. I read on line, recently.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

It will certainly make the work easier to read for more people, but sometimes a specific 'fancy complex' word will add a nuance of meaning that can be difficult to construct from a few simple ones. And besides, I revel in the richness of the language and delight in the entertainment strong complex wording can provide.


Yes, there is the very rare time a fancier word carries a lot more meaning than one or two simply words, but most of the time they simply confuse way too many of the readers, which has them putting the book aside as for many reasons; the main one being the way it breaks them out of the story in an attempt to understand it.

One of the major downsides of using the fancier words is that a lot of readers will stop reading not only that story, but everything else you write. Most people read fiction novels for entertainment and relaxation, if they want an education in the complexities of the English language they'll take a college course on it.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

US spelling, words in the wrong context, missing words, and just plain wrong words, now regularly appear in print even in the flagship rags.


Two major causes of this downgrading are:

1. The use of US created software that has default setting of using US spelling and the company staff don't change the settings.

2. In order to cut costs and save money most of the print media did away with their copy readers and copy editors years ago, and it's showing in the results of unchecked material going to print direct from whoever wrote it, and they rely solely on the spell checker in the software.

Replies:   Grant  Zom
sejintenej
Updated:

@Zom


In my far away youth I copy read for a newspaper, so I know what the pressure to get it right was like. I am confident the standards have slipped severely.


Yes; very very severely. I read two London online versions of major newspapers and every day there are howlers. Sometimes it is howlers like mixing up stationary and stationery, too much reliance on spell check, the import of foreign words with incorrect use (like the misuse of billion), sometimes hyperbation and what looks like a catachresis but is still wrong order.

Replies:   Dominion's Son
Grant

@Ernest Bywater

and they rely solely on the spell checker in the software.

I suspect in many cases these days even the spell checker isn't used. I've seen things posted online & even printed that running a basic spell check (let alone a grammar check) would have picked up.

Dominion's Son

@sejintenej

(like the misuse of billion


What are you calling a misuse of billion? 10^9 or 10^12?

Technically both are correct as long as they are used in the correct scale.

In the short scale a billion is 10^9, in the long scale a billion is 10^12.

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

While technically the long scale is older, the short scale goes back to the 1600s. Apparently, prior to the 1600s numbers were punctuated in 6 digit groups (hence the structure of the long scale). However during the 1600s with the increasing use of large numbers, the punctuation of numbers shifted to the current 3 digit groups, and many started using the order of magnitude names for the three digit groups.

The linked article even has a handy reference who uses which scale.

If you were thinking 10^9 was a misuse of billion in London papers, you should know that the British government officially adopted the short scale in 1974.

Replies:   sejintenej
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

default setting of using US spelling

Never in the annals of human history was so much confusion and argument created by a single person for such a misguided and arrogant reason as was done by Noah Webster. I hate him most days.

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominion's Son


What are you calling a misuse of billion? 10^9 or 10^12?

Technically both are correct as long as they are used in the correct scale.

In the short scale a billion is 10^9, in the long scale a billion is 10^12.


Looking at my trusty American reference book (The Readers Digest) the correct name for one thousand million is a milliard and a billion is one million millions.

It goes on to say (and I remember this also being published by the Financial Times) that The Times wrote that in future they were going to use the American million (aka milliard).

The author goes on to write that this is likely to cause misunderstanding and it would be better to write "a thousand millions" or "a million millions" as appropriate. He or she then warns about trillions, quadrillions and so forth.

"the British government officially adopted the short scale in 1974
This is not France - there is no control over the use of words, otherwise I would not be afraid of using a three letter word starting ga to describe a young girl's joyful behaviour. What I quoted was first published in 1985.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@sejintenej


Looking at my trusty American reference book (The Readers Digest) the correct name for one thousand million is a milliard and a billion is one million millions.


If you read my link, that is a variant on the long scale that names the left out groups of three for the long scale. That does not make the use of the short scale incorrect.

1. Readers Digest is not a reference book and I would recommend against quoting it as an authoritative source for anything. The article you saw in Readers digest was likely explaining the Long scale for American readers who are unfamiliar with it.

2. The US has used the short scale since the 1700s.

3. I know that there is no control over words. However with the British Government officially adopting the short scale, all government documents such as budgets and press releases would be written using the short scale. The London Financial Times likely decided that it was easier to convert to the short scale than to keep translating government reports / budgets into the long scale.

Replies:   sejintenej
Dominions Son

@Zom

Never in the annals of human history was so much confusion and argument created by a single person for such a misguided and arrogant reason as was done by Noah Webster. I hate him most days.


Why? Do you imagine that Webster is some how responsible for variations in spelling between the UK and the US? Do you imagine that he is somehow responsible for default spell check settings in computer programs written a century or more after his death?

If so, you are wrong on both counts.

You want a word processor that doesn't default to a US based dictionary for spell check? Find a word processor that wasn't written by a US based company.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Do you imagine that Webster is some how responsible for variations in spelling between the UK and the US


Absolutely I do. His original Blue-Backed Speller contained lots of unilateral changes to English spelling for the US market. In fact 'As time went on, Webster changed the spellings in the book to more phonetic ones' (Wikipedia).

If Webster had retained the standard English spellings in his speller, we would almost certainly not have our current spelling schism.

I say misguided because he thought he was making things better, instead of worse; and I say arrogant, because he thought his specific audience was the only one that mattered.

And if you think the speller wasn't all that impactful, just consider that it is second only to the Bible in the number of copies sold in the US.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zom


Absolutely I do. His original Blue-Backed Speller contained lots of unilateral changes to English spelling for the US market. In fact 'As time went on, Webster changed the spellings in the book to more phonetic ones' (Wikipedia).


I doubt you can actually prove that those changes were unilateral. Most were likely already in common use in the Americas. If you actually look at texts written in the Americas in the early to mid 1700s there was a huge amount of variation in spellings, even by fairly well educated writers.


I say misguided because he thought he was making things better, instead of worse


He was making things better, its just that an already developing US dialect not "standard English" was his starting point


And if you think the speller wasn't all that impactful, just consider that it is second only to the Bible in the number of copies sold in the US.


No, it's not that I think it wasn't impactful as written, it's that I think it would have had far less impact if he stuck with standard English as you suggest.

I am sure that there were spellers published in England that did follow "standard English" available in the US at the time. You maybe need to think about why his might have been so much more popular.

Don't forget that this was the period immediately before and after the American Revolution. Things English were not all that popular then.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Dominions Son


I doubt you can actually prove that those changes were unilateral.


I can't 'prove' anything. I can only go on what history records as his motives. They did not reference anything other than his own ideas and beliefs.

One of those was his notion that spelling should be 'phonetic' without realising that would mean many significantly different spellings for the same English words all over the planet. A recipe for disaster if even thought about for a short time.

I have never entertained the notion that correct spelling should be popular. Just correct.

The main reason (again from the historical account) that his spelling book became so popular was because of the woefully inadequate availability of proper texts and tuition for the masses of students in the US at that time. Something not mirrored in other countries.

Remember that the US has currently fewer than one quarter of the English speaking population on the planet, and a much smaller percentage back then, but that the rest of us didn't see the need to rush headlong into rewriting the language. Neither it seems did any other American.

Righteous isolationism doesn't even begin to describe it. It is an emotive subject for me because I have to make adjustments for the insanity many times every day. And for no good reason that I can see.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

They did not reference anything other than his own ideas and beliefs.


Yes, but to claim he acted unilaterally, you have to show that those beliefs were uniquely his as opposed to being beliefs held in common with others in the Americas at the time.

Replies:   Zom
sejintenej

@Dominions Son

1. Readers Digest is not a reference book and I would recommend against quoting it as an authoritative source for anything. The article you saw in Readers digest was likely explaining the Long scale for American readers who are unfamiliar with it.

Article???? This is a reference book of 688 pages on the use of individual words and all the named contributors are lecturers or Fellows specialising in Linguistics or English at varied universities and are MAs or PhD or equivalent. In addition there are articles on the differences between the various brands of English worldwide and each holds as a minimum an MA in

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

Article???? This is a reference book of 688 pages on the use of individual words and all the named contributors are lecturers or Fellows specialising in Linguistics or English at varied universities and are MAs or PhD or equivalent.


Sorry, the only Readers Digest that I an most Americans are familiar with is a popular periodical.

https://order.readersdigest.com/pubs/RD/RDA/lp_rda_oad6_respcc_sem.jsp?cds_page_id=115170&cds_mag_code=RDA&id=1446738965039&lsid=53090956050032428&vid=1&atrkid=V1ADW5FDE06F5-18464402830-k-reader%27s+digest-61040745670-e-g-m-1t1&cds_response_key=IDYIA008

Replies:   madnige
madnige
Updated:

@Dominions Son

my trusty American reference book (The Readers Digest)


I certainly understood this to mean a real reference book; perhaps sejintenej could have made this more explicitly clear by adding 'from' after the open-bracket. OTOH, I have some refernce books from RD (various UK flora/fauna) so I was well aware of RD's reference books.

Edit: Snarky remark about US attitudes considered and rejected.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@madnige

RD reference books are common in the US as well though a large proportion of them are written as an easy read rather than an academic style. I use two or three for basic reference in the garden and know my local library stocks more than one of them.
In recent years they do seem to be aiming more down-market though, which may be why "most" Americans know them as a popular periodical.

Replies:   sejintenej  sejintenej
sejintenej

@ustourist

RD reference books are common in the US as well though a large proportion of them are written as an easy read rather than an academic style.


Mine is entitled "The Right Word at the Right Time" with a sub heading "A guide to the English Language and how to us it" (the latter being in block capitals). First edition (and copyright) 1985 - no mention of a later edition.

Zom

@Dominions Son

to claim he acted unilaterally, you have to show that those beliefs were uniquely his

Not sure about that.

Because unilaterally means 'undertaken by one party' and 'one sided' I would have though acting unilaterally meant that the side of the argument that aligned with his beliefs was the one he undertook exclusively, by himself, regardless of how many others may or may not have taken 'that side'.

The historical record shows that his motivations were his alone based on personal beliefs, and that he acted on them alone. Whether those views were held by others doesn't impact 'unilateral'.

Interestingly, he knew at the time that he was acting against the commonly held dogma, and probably revelled in it as 'a great reformer'.

sejintenej

@ustourist

In recent years they do seem to be aiming more down-market though, which may be why "most" Americans know them as a popular periodical

Well known over here for littering second hand market stalls, they seem to Bowdlerise books which have already been Bowdlerised. ( any alternative word for such a downbeat insulting word?)

Replies:   ustourist  sejintenej
ustourist

@sejintenej

( any alternative word for such a downbeat insulting word?)

Per Wikipedia (why anyone would give the various Wikis any credence is another matter), your options are:
Bowdlerize ‎
1.Alternative form of bowdlerize
or
Bowdlerise ‎
1.Alternative form of bowdlerize

Since it is a word derived from an English name and was developed in the UK, the implication by Wikipedia that the letter 'z' is the original does somewhat remove their credibility as a reliable source.

I think bastardisation is a good alternative though.
(Also spelt with a 'z' in Wikipedia).

sejintenej
Updated:

@sejintenej


Bowdlerised. ( any alternative word for such a downbeat insulting word?)


Bowdler was a kinky so-'n-so who lived at a time when any view of a leg was expected to cause men to commit rape or worse. One result was that skirts were put in tables etc. to hide their legs from lascivious male eyes (I kid you not). Bowdler himself was notorious for removing the slightest doubtful reference in written materials such as books.
A Franciscan Friar friend told me that with all the begats etc he considered the Bible one of the most pornographic books he had read - I wonder what Bowdler did to it

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@sejintenej

Well, he did somewhat shorten Shakespeare, but I don't know if he did any others.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Newspapers seem to my USA eyes a lost cause. Might as well complain about texting, or not getting letters in the (snail) mail.

I prefer the old tried-and-true methods. I still subscribe to a daily paper newspaper, and I subscribe the the NY Times electronic version (not giving up on it entirely). But then again, I still rely on email rather than Twitter!

Two major causes of this downgrading are:

1. The use of US created software that has default setting of using US spelling and the company staff don't change the settings.

Ernest,I beg to differ. What was described isn't limited to newspapers. Most published books have multiple errors. We went from a full stall of full-time editors to asking authors to proofread their own work, and that's purely an economic decision.

Never in the annals of human history was so much confusion and argument created by a single person for such a misguided and arrogant reason as was done by Noah Webster. I hate him most days.

Don't forget, the majority of changes suggested by Webster were rejected by the U.S. public. Those that stood the test of time did so for valid reasons (mostly simplicity of spelling). That's why they've been accepted by most other countries as well. No change will ever be universally accepted, but trying to change things used only because your fathers did is a valid enterprise.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Zom  Zom
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

That's why they've been accepted by most other countries as well.


Actually, US spelling was not well received outside of the US until the IT revolution and all the US based software using US spelling pushing everyone in that direction. It then became a case of people being too lazy to correct what the software did.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

the majority of changes suggested by Webster were rejected by the U.S. public

That is an interesting assertion, and one I haven't seen before. Are you referring to his blue-backed speller, or his later dictionary efforts? I would be grateful if you could point me to a source for that.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

That's why they've been accepted by most other countries as well.

Again, where does that come from? I think it is only the most recent generation or two (who can't spell anyway) that are beginning to "accept" US spelling outside North America, mainly because they don't care, and its easier to let the machine be right.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Zom

For a definitive analysis you'll have to go through the newspaper archives of all the English speaking countries. However, I've been working since 1970 and many of my jobs had me reading newspapers and industry publications from a number of countries with the bulk being Australia, New Zealand, England, USA, and Canada. Up until the 1990s only the US based publications consistently used US spelling while some Canadian publications had a mix of US and UK spellings and the rest used UK spelling except when reprinting or carrying a US written article. Then the electronic preparation of magazine and newspaper articles were being prepared on computers using US written software and software applications. As the use of the software spread you could see more and more US spelling creeping into the articles. In the mid 1990s one of the big universities did a report on the trend of the spelling changing and mixing - it was very interesting to see the way the authors of the report argued on which way things would go. That was nearly 20 years ago and I can't remember who did the report, I just remember seeing it as part of a business management course I did at that time and the report was used by the professor to show how outside events can shape what goes on within a business because he was pointing at how much extra effort was needed by UK businesses to ensure they used UK spelling as against the default US spelling offered in the software and how some of the early software didn't offer UK spelling options in the spell check software.

Edit to add: I almost forget, in the 1980s some people started putting together dictionaries for what they called International English which accepted both UK and US spellings as valid, this was done as an effort to legitimise both spelling versions in a wider range of countries and that move has expanded a lot in the last 20 years.

Replies:   ustourist  Zom
ustourist
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Slightly off topic, but possibly a factor.

In the 1960s the education profession started to introduce ita in UK schools. It is generally accepted it was a disaster since it relied on the children being (supposedly) taught to spell properly in middle school, and was eventually abandoned but it meant that those taught at home prior to entering school were told their (correct) English was wrong.

Thus many of those leaving school from the early 80s were functionally illiterate in the English language and never learnt spelling, punctuation, grammar or even capital letters.

It apparently happened in the US and Oz as well, though I have no idea how extensive it was, but may explain the rash of illiteracy from the 1990s onwards.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1523708.stm

The article includes a letter which comments on dialect, but I know for certain that spelling was different for various regions due to local dialect and accents.

sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

Actually, US spelling was not well received outside of the US until the IT revolution and all the US based software using US spelling pushing everyone in that direction. It then became a case of people being too lazy to correct what the software did.

You wouldn't get away with "color" here. I try to use American spelling here (and only here) because I judge that the majority of readers are American

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@sejintenej

Surely that is political speak for "dumbing it down to stop complaints about spelling"

:0)

sejintenej

@ustourist

The article includes a letter which comments on dialect, but I know for certain that spelling was different for various regions due to local dialect and accents.

Certainly within the UK there are regional uses of words and I was amazed to see an American writer use a regional UK word outside a UK context. An example is to steep, to mash, to make, to brew, to soak all describing how you prepare (liquid)tea in the UK (the author referred to above used "steep" in context.

As for that strange method of teaching writing it was one of many; my daughter learned with one using the 26 letters but different pronunciations of a letter used different colours. I put the problem down to four major factors:
1 Badly educated teachers who mark correct spelling as wrong
2 Laziness on the part of teachers and pupils
3 Poor discipline - teachers cannot enforce correct spelling and some parents get violent and/or legal if their child is marked down for bad spelling because "it doesn't matter"
4 Public examiners (GCSE / GCE equivalent to GED etc)cannot normally reduce marks for bad spelling or bad grammer. There was a big row when some examiners would not accept texting speak.

ustourist

@sejintenej

It is probably unfair in most cases to blame badly educated teachers, as it is the administrators who decide the curriculum, but having said that I do accept that teaching is often a career selected when a person can't do anything else (I come from a family of teachers and have been married to a couple of them).
The GCSE standards are a different matter. What I did for O level in the sixties is now at degree knowledge in some subjects, but once you exceed 50% going to higher education you are giving academic qualifications to those below average (the US rate is about 66%) and have to dramatically lower standards and devalue degrees and some will become teachers.
Unless academic standards are applied to students going to university, educational levels will continue to decline.

Replies:   sejintenej
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Certainly within the UK there are regional uses of words and I was amazed to see an American writer use a regional UK word outside a UK context. An example is to steep, to mash, to make, to brew, to soak all describing how you prepare (liquid)tea in the UK (the author referred to above used "steep" in context.


Anyone who's really into tea, even iced tea and sun tea, knows and uses the word steep to refer to the relevant part of the preparation of the tea.

Replies:   sejintenej
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Actually, US spelling was not well received outside of the US until the IT revolution and all the US based software using US spelling pushing everyone in that direction. It then became a case of people being too lazy to correct what the software did.

Ernest, I'm not sure I agree. It wasn't IT that pushed acceptance of American English, but economic strength. British English had a wider breadth, but must less push. However, the biggest influences were the massive American publishing houses and, more importantly, the ubiquitous American movies and television programs. New learners of English tended to pick up what they heard spoken in the media. The acceptance of IT terms was only a follow-up on the earlier trends.

That is an interesting assertion, and one I haven't seen before [regarding Webster's refuted English modifications]. Are you referring to his blue-backed speller, or his later dictionary efforts? I would be grateful if you could point me to a source for that.

Zom, do a simple Wiki search on Webster and you'll see a discussion of both his successes and failures.

As far as the widespread acceptance, it was a slow process. Most people stuck with what they learned in school (i.e. the colonies stuck with British English, while Americans stuck with American English). However, as the American media began taking over the international market (books, magazines, news reports) their word usages get more exposure. The widespread acceptance of popular U.S. movies accelerated the acceptances, but it's still slow. You change language in children, not in people who've used what they were taught as children all their lives.

Ernest, because of my widespread reading in my teens, I unintentionally picked up many British spellings (mostly for longer words). I didn't pick up the more obvious terms (steep, bonnet, etc.), but my writing ended up a composite of British and English spellings. However, I never noticed it until a couple editors started questioning which spelling standards I was using.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

It wasn't IT that pushed acceptance of American English, but economic strength.


CW, I have to disagree here, because some places I worked in when the use of word processing software with spell checkers were first being used in the general world had major issues with constantly having to change the spelling after the spell checker had done its thing and set everything to US spelling, then people had to manually correct the spelling because UK dictionaries weren't available yet. In the end a executive decision was issued to go with the US spelling because it was better to use US spelling than not do any spell checking, and that decision was copied in a lot of companies - especially those dealing with the US.

This was after the US push into control of the media and news was well established.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

You change language in children, not in people who've used what they were taught as children all their lives.


Last time I checked, about ten years ago, the schools here in New South Wales, Australia were still teaching UK spelling, but many companies were using US spelling because everything was done using US written software that used US spell checkers by default and it was too much trouble to go through and reset the default settings in the software every time they did a rebuild or major upgrade of the software. Thus the issue for down here is not what they're taught at school, but what's in use in the workplace.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

Anyone who's really into tea, even iced tea and sun tea, knows and uses the word steep to refer to the relevant part of the preparation of the tea.

No! The five examples I gave are all in current regional use in GB for that same operation. I have to assume the word steep was imported down under but is it used equally in Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Alice Springs?

Where I was brought up we had a spoken dialect far far different from Oxbridge English. For example the word pronounced close to euwel is very close to the old French öil and has almost the same meaning

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
sejintenej
Updated:

@ustourist


It is probably unfair in most cases to blame badly educated teachers, as it is the administrators who decide the curriculum, but having said that I do accept that teaching is often a career selected when a person can't do anything else (I come from a family of teachers and have been married to a couple of them).

The GCSE standards are a different matter. What I did for O level in the sixties is now at degree knowledge in some subjects, but once you exceed 50% going to higher education you are giving academic qualifications to those below average (the US rate is about 66%) and have to dramatically lower standards and devalue degrees and some will become teachers.


Since you did O level then of course you have a decent ability. What I was referring to was teachers who probably did GCSE who themselves cannot spell well and therefore can't teach spelling or correct bad spelling.

For non Brits O level was taken (in my school) at age 14 or 15 and five passes would get you a decent lower level job. Two years after that you did "A" or Advanced level which was slightly tougher. I heard one estimate that it was the same standard as after one and a half years at Yale but who knows?

A year after that was S (scholarship) level which was required by the better universities - a friend got six S level passes and still didn't get into Oxbridge.

We also had the situation that you could take one subject or ten - you got passes per subject (and the system was crazy - I got three O level passes in various types of mathematics!)

sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

many companies were using US spelling because everything was done using US written software that used US spell checkers by default and it was too much trouble to go through and reset the default settings in the software every time they did a rebuild or major upgrade of the software.


ie laziness. I would have thought that if the software was sold in Australia it would automatically come with Australian (ie British) spell checks. Certainly when I was working in England that was the case here. It is easy to get any major language spellcheck etc from Microsoft and from Apple; I have two languages from each, free of charge. (I do moan that messages from Apple are in two languages - part French, part English)

For a company, depending on its setup, a centralised spellcheck (as we had) can be a one-off installation, quick and easy for the IT department.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@sejintenej


No! The five examples I gave are all in current regional use in GB for that same operation. I have to assume the word steep was imported down under but is it used equally in Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Alice Springs?


My response before was in reply to your earlier one of:

Certainly within the UK there are regional uses of words and I was amazed to see an American writer use a regional UK word outside a UK context. An example is to steep, to mash, to make, to brew, to soak all describing how you prepare (liquid)tea in the UK (the author referred to above used "steep" in context.

Where I simply pointed out that anyone really into making tea will use the correct term of steep in regards to that part of the process. I know a lot of people (especially from the UK) refer to making tea as brewing tea. I also know that brew and steep can often be used in place of each other and have applications far outside of making tea, especially in the chemical and pharmaceutical and alcohol making industries.

To get technical about tea, when you make a pot of hot tea you brew the tea by boiling the water, pouring it into the teapot with the tea leaves and then let it steep to reach the right strength. If making sun tea you take put the water and tea leaves in a large glass container and leave it out in the sun for it to heat up and steep.

http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/steep_2

to leave something such as food or cloth in a liquid for some time

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/steep

verb

to soak or be soaked in a liquid in order to soften, cleanse, extract an element, etc

(transitive; usually passive) to saturate; imbue""


edit to add: down here we also use the word steep to refer to a sharp angle or incline - which is the other common usage.

Replies:   sejintenej
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

ie laziness. I would have thought that if the software was sold in Australia it would automatically come with Australian (ie British) spell checks.


In the early days there were no English spell check programs other than the US one, and when (after a few years) they did start making them available you had to download them and go through a process of adding them to be used then changing setting to use the added one, and as soon as you did an update of the software it reset to the US dictionary. An upgrade required a new download and addition of the UK dictionary - too much effort for many companies.

It was several years before the use of multiple dictionaries was a common option in the software, and then a couple of more years before the UK dictionary was a part of the basic installation.

The centralise spell check option was not an available option for many years because most of the workplace computers being used for document preparation were standalone computers. Only the very big companies used mainframes with a centralised software capability. It was many years before workplace local area networks with more service servers than file storage and perimeter protection were becoming common.

Dominions Son

@ustourist

It apparently happened in the US and Oz as well, though I have no idea how extensive it was, but may explain the rash of illiteracy from the 1990s onwards.


It couldn't have lasted long in the US. I was born in 1969, and I have never heard of ita.

Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

It apparently happened in the US and Oz as well, though I have no idea how extensive it was, but may explain the rash of illiteracy from the 1990s onwards.


I was born in 1954 and have no memory of ITA in my schooling. So either I never came across it or it was so horrible I've blanked it out.

One thing I found interesting from the article was the comment that some people feel texting spelling is an expression of a need to simplify the English language. I think they totally miss the details because texting spelling came about as a way to reduce the number of awkward keystrokes needed to send a message on the crappy texting systems available - another case of an academic reading what he wants to see into a situation instead of what's really there. Voice activated software is overcoming that, but few mobile systems have the capability to handle it properly. at the moment.

Replies:   ustourist
sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

Where I simply pointed out that anyone really into making tea will use the correct term of steep in regards to that part of the process. I know a lot of people (especially from the UK) refer to making tea as brewing tea. I also know that brew and steep can often be used in place of each other and have applications far outside of making tea, especially in the chemical and pharmaceutical and alcohol making industries.

You are using the technical terms whilst I was using the colloquial language used (in one case by a badly educated poor widow in a 2 up, 2 down by the side of the Lagan which at that time was an open sewer). The terms I used are more "go and mash the tea please" meaning the entire process from drawing the water to pouring the finished product. SWMBO has reminded me of a sixth regional (and also Commonwealth) word - "stew" which has the other meaning of an overcooked bitter tea based concoction

ustourist

@Ernest Bywater

One thing I found interesting from the article was the comment that some people feel texting spelling is an expression of a need to simplify the English language.

I found that interesting as well.
Isn't that the purpose of non scientific academia - to distort everything to meet the agenda of the person wishing to push their pet belief?
It does also cover up the ignorance of when to correctly use words like insure/ensure, affect/effect or dependent/dependant (which interestingly was flagged by the spelling software on SOL) so it makes me wonder if poor spelling is idiot driven or technology restricted.

Dominions Son

@ustourist

which interestingly was flagged by the spelling software on SOL


I rather doubt that SOL has any specific spell checking. Most likely your browser has a spell checker built in that gets invoked when you are typing in a text box.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@ustourist

which interestingly was flagged by the spelling software on SOL


No site spelling software. It's your browser's built in speller.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

And there I was giving you credit for another bit of unsung and barely noticed benefit (in most cases). :0)
Thank you for the correction. I will see if I can educate my browser to understand English.
Also thank you for everything you do here, which is much appreciated even if it isn't always openly expressed.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

I will see if I can educate my browser to understand English.


Most have an option setting to select which dictionary you want. Some rest that when there's an update, some don't.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Zom
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


dictionaries ... which accepted both UK and US spellings as valid


Many online dictionaries acknowledge spelling variants, and note where each variant is used, or whether the spelling/word is archaic for a given region/geography. I find these very useful when proofing, especially when an author is aiming for an international audience, or not.

A good recent example was an author that used 'waked' instead of 'woke'. Although 'waked' is used in some parts of the US, it is archaic elsewhere. See :

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/wake

The author insisted it was correct, so I guess he was aiming for a strictly US audience.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Zom

A good recent example was an author that used 'waked' instead of 'woke'.

OK, "waked" is another to go in my list of non words.
Woke, Awoke, Awoken ok, but Waked?
I'll pass thanks.

Replies:   Zom  Crumbly Writer
Zom

@Grant

list of non words

Yes, for me too, which is why it clanged in the first place.

But us proofers need to be careful. If they are aiming at an international audience, an author should not use it in unspoken narrative, but it could well be just fine in speech, depending on where the speaker learned their English.

It's also great fun proofing dialect speak, where an author wants to convey a speech pattern from, say, the deep south of the US.

It can be a real challenge to know the veracity of the words/terms/abbreviations valid in a particular place, and then to make sure they are consistently presented, especially in a looong work.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Most have an option setting to select which dictionary you want. Some rest that when there's an update, some don't.

Not only can you select a dictionary, but you can generally customize your own dictionaries (say by adding character names so you won't continually be told to correct the spelling of "Adrian").

Crumbly Writer

@Grant

OK, "waked" is another to go in my list of non words.
Woke, Awoke, Awoken ok, but Waked?
I'll pass thanks.

"I waked him up?"
Thanks, but I think I'll pass on this word choice too. There nothing wrong with the existing "woke" (other than some readers being too illiterate to recognize the word). "Waked" is a logical conclusion is you don't know the proper word, but it's still incorrect.

Replies:   ustourist  Zom
ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

Could "waked" be a description for how someone (not the main guest) feels the day after an Irish funeral?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@ustourist

Could "waked" be a description for how someone (not the main guest) feels the day after an Irish funeral?


I had the same thought. :D

Replies:   tppm
tppm

@Dominions Son

Waked is what whoever spilled the whiskey on him did to Finnigan.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

but it's still incorrect

Incorrect for whom is the question. In some places it is correct. It is spoken, and it is written, and it is in the dictionary. Noah again ... ?

Replies:   Grant  Ernest Bywater
Grant

@Zom

In some places it is correct. It is spoken, and it is written,

I personally don't consider things used in ignorance to be correct.
Over time they many become accepted, but it would take a very long time for them to be considered correct IMHO.

Replies:   Zom
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Zom


In some places it is correct.


Dat's rite, da Ho sed it waz gr8 and prfct curz it's txtn.

Edit to add: The above is an example of what's written and accepted in some places; and I disagree with it being a valid use of the language.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
tppm
Updated:

Waked is a part of the normal regularization of irregular verbs that's been going on for centuries and will continue for more centuries, till there are no irregular verbs left in English, however, for now, at least, woke is correct.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Grant


I personally don't consider things used in ignorance to be correct.


Me either, but that's not what I was saying.

I try to use solid references, and because 'waked' appears as a valid current word in the Oxford Dictionary, in the context that it is used in, then that is good enough for me.

That doesn't mean I would use it, and it doesn't mean that it should be used for an international audience, but surely it does mean that it can be used where it is appropriate.

Zom

@tppm

Waked is a part of the normal regularization of irregular verbs that's been going on for centuries and will continue for more centuries ...

Interesting then that 'waked' is listed as the archaic form.

Replies:   tppm
tppm

@Zom

I know of at least one example that's gone the other way. I don't remember, off hand, whether it's dove-dived, or drug-dragged, maybe this is another.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@tppm

drug-dragged

'Drug' as a past tense or past participle of 'drag' is a classic example.

'Drug' with this meaning does not appear in any mainstream dictionary I know of as an archaic or dialect form, except Webster's where, it is noted (only) as a US dialect form.

Again, it should never be used in writing with an international audience, and only used in speech where that dialect form is predominant.

And yet I see it all the time in writings, especially on SOL, in non-speech narrative. Sigh ...

dove-dived

Dove seems to be a US only usage according to non-US dictionaries, but Webster's equates dived and dove.

Thanks again Noah ...

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

'Drug' as a past tense or past participle of 'drag' is a classic example.


First few times I saw that in a story I thought they'd given the guy a Mickey Finn of some sort - sedative or poison in his drink. And the first few times I saw authors use dove instead of dived I wondered why they suddenly had to introduce a bird into the story because it didn't make sense.

Neither showed in most household dictionaries or a bigger International English dictionary, but I did find them in a couple of US dictionaries (but not a 2 book Funk & Wagnels) as a regional usage, and in a 1960s multi-book dictionary listed as a very archaic usage not used in English for centuries. Which makes you wonder about them.

Along the same vein is the use of slang terms for businesses and regional businesses. They confuse readers unless you find a way to explain them when you first use them in a story, then explain it again in the next story.

awnlee jawking

@Zom

'Dove' is reasonably common where I live - England - although my dictionaries claim it's mainly used in the US. It may just be old-fashioned.

'Drug' was new to me, and I still have to stop and think when I read it.

AJ

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

'Dove' is reasonably common where I live - England - although my dictionaries claim it's mainly used in the US. It may just be old-fashioned.

That seems to place you in the South Hams.

I also found the following from a Canadian source (though Steve Chrisomalis seems to be pretty international - I think he teaches anthropology in Wayne State University - just love his site for all the 10+ letter words)

"Like a nepheliad, the skydiver dove gracefully through the clouds".

Nephelmiad; a nymph 1818 - 1821

ustourist

@sejintenej

Dove was also taught to me at school (London) in the fifties as a past tense, though I have seen it used as a present tense as well and that feels incorrect.
One use I am not sure if it is US or archaic is when 'off of' is used in place of 'off'.
e.g. Taking the cat off of the table.
Never met it in the south, but used a lot in Ohio and Michigan when I was there.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@ustourist

One use I am not sure if it is US or archaic is when 'off of' is used in place of 'off'.

e.g. Taking the cat off of the table.

Never met it in the south, but used a lot in Ohio and Michigan when I was there.

I have heard it and instinctively didn't like it - it felt uneducated. You have caused me to look it up:
"This complex preposition is common in American English and in some British dialects" "It is non standard : off alone should be used here" (the word off being in italics)
extracted from Readers Digest "The Right Word at the Right Time"

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

'South Hams' doesn't mean anything to me - please could you elucidate.

But when it comes to North Ham, we've got tons hire.

AJ

Replies:   sejintenej
awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

IIRC 'off of' is grammatically correct in English English but it's rather formal and out of fashion.

AJ

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

'South Hams' doesn't mean anything to me - please could you elucidate.
But when it comes to North Ham, we've got tons hire.

Just as Yorkshire had Ridings, Devon had Hams but West Ham is in East London (which is now New Ham North East just to confuse)and another East London is in South Africa.

North Ham; the only one I found (apart from street names) is on South Havra in the Shetlands. All very Confucious

awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

Please forgive my poor attempt at a play on Northamptonshire :(

AJ

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@awnlee jawking

North Ham made me think of the Fat Slags from Viz, in which case 'tons' may only mean two or three, but it seems you were much kinder in your thought process than I was.

MarissaHorne

@sejintenej

"Ham" is a contraction of "Hamlet," a small village (and not a brand of cigars with one of the finest ever advert on UK TV).

There are both West Ham and East Ham in East London, both now part of the London Borough of Newham. Also see London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Replies:   sejintenej  madnige
sejintenej

@MarissaHorne

Also see London Borough of Tower Hamlets

A Hamlet just has to be a little ham. I don't want to even think about the tower version (you need to be in the UK to know about them)

madnige
Updated:

@MarissaHorne


the Fat Slags from Viz


in conjuction with


brand of cigars with one of the finest ever advert on UK TV


(which has incidental music of 'Air on a
G-string') raises the terrifying spectre of the Fat Slags in G-strings, something like


'ere, Trace, this string gets right up yer crack, dunnit?


Edit: why does the board insist on breaking the music title 'Air on a G-string' above?

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@madnige

I read that just before breakfast - so skipped the meal and am now trying to get that picture out of my brain!
Eye bleach isn't strong enough.

Replies:   madnige
madnige

@ustourist

OK, I got the name wrong - they're 'Tray' and 'San'.
Here's a copy of them on the beach at Skegness, mostly wearing skimpy bikinis. A point of clarity for non-UK readers - a '99' in the UK is an ice-cream cone with a Cadbury's Flake in it.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@madnige

And also for non UK readers, the MOT is an annual - and very thorough - compulsory vehicle maintenance inspection.
Brakes, lights, wipers, emissions, tires, horn, steering, seatbelts etc., that makes US inspections seem like a cursory check.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


Dat's rite, da Ho sed it waz gr8 and prfct curz it's txtn.

Edit to add: The above is an example of what's written and accepted in some places; and I disagree with it being a valid use of the language.


Newest thing in the news today (11/17/2015): One of the new words added to the dictionary (didn't catch which one) is a "crying with happiness" emoji! Now our dictionaries are adding pictugraphs as legitimate words in the English language! :(

One use I am not sure if it is US or archaic is when 'off of' is used in place of 'off'.

e.g. Taking the cat off of the table.


ustourist, I've never used "off of", but one that frequently messes me up is "into" and "onto". My software keeps flagging it as a redundancy, but I keep finding uses which don't make sense unless I use it (ex: "He dove into the moving train.").

Replies:   ustourist  Zom
ustourist
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I don't think someone would dive onto a lake or into a pavement, so it certainly isn't a redundancy and both remain valid.

There again the software writers are, I assume, more trained in computer science than english so they are a dubious source as a reference point in many cases. I know some are articulate, but by no means the majority of those I have met. I think relying on software is like relying on Wikipedia. too many inaccuracies to have credibility, but used often enough and loudly enough to kill off informed opposition.

Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

one that frequently messes me up is "into"


That messes a lot of people up because the word into has a different meaning to the phrase of in to and people often mix them up, despite some of the usages being the same or very close to the same. Even I get them mixed up and rely on my editors to help me straighten them out. The same is true for onto and on to.

sejintenej

@ustourist

I think relying on software is like relying on Wikipedia. too many inaccuracies to have credibility, but used often enough and loudly enough to kill off informed opposition.

I don't know what grammar check people use but those I use always give the option to "ignore". I suspect it is a case of either a) laziness of the writer to consider the computer's query or b) the writer's poor education

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Zom

@Crumbly Writer

"into" and "onto"

Generally, in that context, into is move to within an defined space or volume, and onto is move to the surface of an object, so you can dive into a train by moving through a door or other opening, and onto a train by hanging on to the outside.

And BTW, he dived into the moving train :-)

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Zom

into is move to within an defined space or volume, and onto is move to the surface of an object

But you crash a car into a tree, not onto a tree...
though it could be perceived as moving within a defined space to crash, rather than to impact the surface of the tree, though it would be a tortuous argument.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@ustourist


But you crash a car into a tree


Relatively speaking, the tree crashes into the car. It certainly moves into what was the volume occupied by the car :-)

But I think the generic term 'crashing into' that is used for many instances probably overrides the more correct 'crashing against' that is better used for essentially immovable objects. The waves, after all, tend to crash against the rocks, rather than into them.

Replies:   ustourist
awnlee jawking

@sejintenej


I suspect it is a case of either a) laziness of the writer to consider the computer's query or b) the writer's poor education


I always leave the grammar checking switched on. Usually I'm right and I ignore its complaints but occasionally it flags something which makes me reconsider. I regard it as a useful tool.

AJ

ustourist

@Zom

I think the generic term 'crashing into' that is used for many instances probably overrides the more correct 'crashing against'

Agreed, and that explanation helped clear the point in my mind as well. Thank You!
While thinking about it I also considered the difference between crashing into a planet and crashing onto one. The second - to my mind - implies an intended destination rather than an arbirary one, but that may just be my own mind creating context rather than proper useage.

Replies:   tppm
tppm
Updated:

@ustourist

Crashing into a planet = there you are tooling along not really paying attention and suddenly find you have collided with a planet.

Crashing onto a planet = you are trying to land on a planet and miscalculate the final vectors (and the old adage about any landing you can walk away from comes into play).

But none of that has any barring on the differences between into and in to, or onto and on to.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@tppm

Crashing into a planet = there you are tooling along not really paying attention and suddenly find you have collided with a planet.

"I crashed against the planet"?

Nope. I don't think so. The planet is definitely immovable (in human terms) and the ship ceases to exist afterwards, but it still doesn't apply. "Crashes on" or "into" the best best options.

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