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Is 'couple of' dying?

Zom

I have noticed that the usage 'couple of' to denote two of something seems to be dying, and is being replaced with 'couple' without the 'of'.

For example, instead of 'a couple of hundred items' I am seeing 'a couple hundred items' instead and more often.

All the dictionaries I have referenced show the usage as 'couple of'.

Is this something that has been around for a while and I am just coming to the party? Is it a regional thing, mainly US? Or is it generally aberrant usage that should be stamped out by the zealots?

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

Is this something that has been around for a while and I am just coming to the party? Is it a regional thing, mainly US? Or is it generally aberrant usage that should be stamped out by the zealots?

It's been pretty popular in the U.S. for some time, though, as always, there are plenty of 'zealots' who continually decry the lack of the older formality.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

I haven't really been looking, but I think some of this is context relevant. Two people can become "a couple." But you can grab "a couple of beers."

Basically you will see "of ______" when they're specifying or clarifying what the "couple" pertains to. If the writer, or speaker thinks that isn't needed then it gets dropped.

Grant
Updated:

@Zom

Is this something that has been around for a while and I am just coming to the party?

It's definitely a US thing. I've sort of gotten use to it, but from time to time it still has me going back & re-reading it mentally putting the "of" there so it makes more sense.

robberhands
Updated:

@Zom

All the dictionaries I have referenced show the usage as 'couple of'.


Merriam-Webster(online) lists 'a couple' omitting the 'of' as informal usage.

Merriam-Webster:

Definition of a couple

informal

1 : two or a few (of something)

Can you give me a couple more examples?

This one costs a couple dollars less than that one.

In informal U.S. English, a couple can be used like a couple of

I lost interest in the book after a couple chapters.

We met a couple years ago.

2 : two or a few

"How many drinks have you had?" "Oh, just a couple."

Replies:   Grant  Zom  Not_a_ID  joyR
Grant

@robberhands

In informal U.S. English, a couple can be used like a couple of

Informal US English.

Zom

@robberhands

Merriam-Webster(online) lists 'a couple' omitting the 'of' as informal usage.

Thanks. So it is US and still informal (this week). I suspect it will be mainstream very shortly. I pine for the language.

robberhands

@Grant

Informal US English.

I'm German; every version of English is informal to me.

Dominions Son

@Zom

Thanks. So it is US and still informal (this week). I suspect it will be mainstream very shortly. I pine for the language.


All languages everywhere change over time. Get over it.

Replies:   Zom  PotomacBob  Midsummerman
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

I have noticed that the usage 'couple of' to denote two of something seems to be dying, and is being replaced with 'couple' without the 'of'.


I think it's worse than that. I've noticed the word 'of' seems to be disappearing from general usage in a lot of US authored writing. Check the next several stories you read you'll often see things like 'all the people went to the show' instead of 'all of the people went to the show,' and similar types of usage without the word 'of' where you would normally expect it.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

... 'all the people went to the show' instead of 'all of the people went to the show,' ...

Unless there is a specified group of people referred to, the formulation 'all of the people went to the show' sounds awkward to me. I wouldn't write it this way either, but 'all the people went to the show' sounds at least less stilted to me.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@Zom

I suspect it will be mainstream very shortly.


I suspect not. There are too many instances where omitting the 'of' introduces ambiguity. It makes reading less 'comfortable' because the reader has to stop and resolve the potential ambiguity using context.

I've noticed in US TV dramas that when speakers omit the 'of', they frequently substitute something, which can't adequately be described in writing, in its stead, so what comes out is more like "a couple a-hundred" (where the 'a-' is a cross between a pause, an aspiration and a sort of grunt).

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Dominions Son

Get over it.

No.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Zom

@awnlee jawking

I suspect not. There are too many instances where omitting the 'of' introduces ambiguity

I would agree, except I have seen little evidence that ambiguity is a deterrent to informal usages. The understanding seems to be assumed.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Grant

Informal US English.

As opposed to 'Infernal U.S. English'. 'D

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

Thanks. So it is US and still informal (this week). I suspect it will be mainstream very shortly. I pine for the language.

Just be glad all the stories here aren't in Twitter-speak (or text-speak, or any of the other 'speaks').

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@robberhands


Merriam-Webster(online) lists 'a couple' omitting the 'of' as informal usage.


Merriam-Webster:

Definition of a couple

informal

1 : two or a few (of something)

Can you give me a couple more examples?

This one costs a couple dollars less than that one.




Pretty much, this is one of those weird cases where informal speech takes the slightly longer way of expressing things. (Although it is still shorter than the more formal way of expressing it)

Instead of simply saying "two" they instead say "a couple." "Of" or "a/ah" only is appended if the speaker decides to clarify what there was two of.

Of course, informal usage can add a curveball into the mix, as it is not terribly unusual for someone to switch to "a couple" instead of "two" because they're not sure of the actual count. It might be one(very unlikely), it probably is two, but it could be three, or more.

Generally speaking though, if the count is (strongly) suspected(by the speaker) of being three or more, it a becomes "a few" instead.

Basically "a couple" being used by certain English speakers in present usage could indicate they're speaking imprecisely as it regards to the accuracy or reliability of the count itself.

Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

Instead of trying to nit pick the specific example given, just keep the use of the word of, or lack therein, in the next few stories you read. I'm not saying the use or lack there of is a better or worse way of presenting the phrase, just the the dropping of the word of is a lot more common today than it used to be - some other examples in a story i read while soaking my sore back are: ... all the dive boats went ... - ... I took all the papers ... - ...I took all the money ...

In the past the word of would normally have been between all and the, but since it seems to be dropping out of usage in those situations I'm not surprised it's dropping out of usage it others.

robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

Instead of trying to nit pick the specific example given, just keep the use of the word of, or lack therein, in the next few stories you read.

So I'm nitpicking when I comment on the one example you stated for your assessment but a general lament about the downfall of the English language is OK?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

The situation with 'all' is slightly different in that it doesn't have alternative meanings.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@Zom

The understanding seems to be assumed.


That's where a good editor is important. When an author is checking their work, because they wrote it they implicitly understand what it says. An editor reads with a fresh eye and should spot ambiguities and garden-path sentences missed by the author.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

So I'm nitpicking when I comment on the one example you stated for your assessment but a general lament about the downfall of the English language is OK?


I suggest you go back and read the comments. The OP mentioned one specific case, to witch I replied it's bigger than that and gave a single example of another type of dropping of the word I've seen of late - simple observation which you then started to nit pick. If you want to start a fight, try elsewhere, I've no concern on either side of this issue.

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

The situation with 'all' is slightly different in that it doesn't have alternative meanings.


AJ, I didn't say it gave an alternate meaning, nor did I say it was good or bad, I just pointed out it's happening to more than just the one phrase mentioned at the start.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I just pointed out it's happening to more than just the one phrase mentioned at the start.


True, but I think that the different circumstances make the case of all 'all' less of a contravention of good writing practice. I drop the 'of' myself quite often and there's a good precedent dating back to the eighteenth century: "All the king's horses and all the king's men..."

Perhaps driven by mobile phone usage and text-speak, I'm sure there are plenty of other words or phrases where 'of' is being elided, and each needs to be assessed on whether it has a deleterious effect on the reader.

AJ

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@Dominions Son

Maybe so, but don't the French put you in front of a firing squad if you "violate" their language?

Replies:   robberhands
PotomacBob

@awnlee jawking

I once had a long conversation with the editor-in-chief of a popular dictionary, who said there are many changes occurring all the time to English. For each one that draws protests from people who don't want to see the change, there are 100 or more that happen without anybody noticing. We all have our pet peeves.

robberhands

@PotomacBob

Maybe so, but don't the French put you in front of a firing squad if you "violate" their language?

That sounds worse than it is. The French never hit anything.

awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

I once had a long conversation with the editor-in-chief of a popular dictionary


Did they say how often each existing entry was rechecked?

AJ

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Not sure what you're aiming at. Lemme answer this way: They leave "old" entries there, and in this particular dictionary the oldest (not what is "correct") definition is listed first. Any meaning that falls into disuse may be labeled "archaic," but is kept for historical reference. The dictionary makes no effort at establishing what is correct. To get into the dictionary, a new word (or new meaning) must show repeated use by "educated people." Some make it in with other labels, such "dialect." The word "ain't," comes with this warning: "Used regularly in the South by even the most highly educated people, a practice that is spreading to other areas." So much for Mrs. Higginbotham's 6th grade teachings that "ain't" is not in the dictionary and is always wrong. They are constantly checking for word uses; the staff (in the hundreds) uses "citations," usually printed but sometimes oral if the citation is from a broadcaster. They keep all those citations on file, and will, if pressed, display the citations in defense of their entries.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

Not sure what you're aiming at.


Dictionaries have to contend with new words and new uses of existing words. The Oxford English Dictionary compilers get most of their new words from user submissions, and existing words are re-checked every ten years.

I was wondering how the dictionary you're referring to compares in such times of austerity.

AJ

Replies:   PotomacBob
tendertouch

@PotomacBob

I once had a long conversation with the editor-in-chief of a popular dictionary, who said there are many changes occurring all the time to English.


And in my mind it's mostly a good thing. Not that some of them don't bother my ear when I hear them - the subject of this thread is one of those. I'm glad, though, that as the people, their circumstances and their culture change the language can change to accommodate them rather than being locked in place by those of us who will be gone in a few decades. Change is frequently uncomfortable and it may violate our sense of what is 'right' but absent one, holy, official arbiter of what is or is not correct change will happen.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Dominions Son

@Zom

No.


Suit yourself, but it's a war you can never win.

Replies:   Zom
richardshagrin

@tendertouch

change will happen.


If you don't owe an exact dollar amount, you will get change.

Zom

@Dominions Son

a war you can never win

I don't have to fight it just because I disagree with it. Unconventional, I know.

Replies:   Dominions Son
PotomacBob

@awnlee jawking

This dictionary does not depend on user submissions (though they accept them), but on "citations," that is printed (in newspapers and magazines, et al) or is broadcast (they get - as other media do - written transcripts of TV network news programs and some scripted programs), and they monitor online uses as well. Their "library" is all entered into a database, but every entry is backed up by a hard copy of that citation.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

Thanks for the information. It's interesting to know how dictionary compilers differ in their approaches.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I ran into an interesting example of dropped 'of's while writing today.

The others didn't bother reminding her that her fur was inside her suit.


I tried writing the "of", but it just sounded wrong. I supposed part of it was context. When you're talking about astronauts risking their lives on a mission, it's hard to remain formal when advising them.

I think that's the real cusp of the problem, that using "of" seems too formal for informal uses. Since most uses don't impact the meaning, the inclusion of the word seems optional, so most authors will forgo it if it sounds right. However, as usual, most ngrams won't show just how frequent the use is, since they mainly track formal language uses in published academic reports.

Now, anyone interested in arguing over whether Brit. English users tend to write more formally than us 'Yank' authors do?

Replies:   Grant  awnlee jawking
joyR

@robberhands

We met a couple years ago.


So, did you meet a married couple years ago?

Or did you meet 'someone' two (or a few) years ago?

It seems that what Merriam-Webster lacks in integrity it replaces with inexactitude.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Grant

@Crumbly Writer

I think that's the real cusp of the problem, that using "of" seems too formal for informal uses.

Yet in Australia, New Zealand, Canada & Brittan it's not considered formal, it's just considered normal to not leave out the of.

so most authors will forgo it if it sounds right.

And to the rest of us (not in the US) it doesn't sound right.
It's a US thing.

Like where they say "Should of" where everyone else says "Should've" (Should have). When the word is used, it's not used correctly (for those of us that speak a more English form of English).

For us, speaking like a BBC newsreader of the 1950s is considered formal, most people use contractions. But leaving out words is something people that speak English as a second language generally do.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I ran into an interesting example of dropped 'of's while writing today.
The others didn't bother reminding her that her fur was inside her suit.


I'm fine with that one. There's no possibility of ambiguity and it's not a garden path sentence. I'd even write that myself ;)

AJ

awnlee jawking

@joyR

Well spotted. I missed it.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Zom

I don't have to fight it just because I disagree with it.


Complaining about it in the forums is trying to fight it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Zom
PotomacBob

@Grant

Like where they say "Should of" where everyone else says "Should've" (Should have). When the word is used, it's not used correctly


Really? You would have us write "he should of gone" instead of "he should have gone"? "Of" is a preposition, not a verb.

Replies:   Grant  Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Grant

Like where they say "Should of" where everyone else says "Should've" (Should have). When the word is used, it's not used correctly (for those of us that speak a more English form of English).

While I frequently leave out "of"s, that's a line I won't cross, as 'should have' rarely fits in place of 'should of'. Also note, I only skip the 'of' frequently, when I feel it doesn't change the meaning. But then, I'm mostly writing about Americans, in American settings, and while I have a few readers from other parts in the world, the vast majority (well in excess of 90%) are Americans. Having them speak as Australians wouldn't fit any better.

But, in the end, this ends us as a 'PC vs. Mac', 'Apple vs. Samsung' or 'Coke vs. soda' argument. If you prefer one form, anything that doesn't cater to your own views will seem like an affront.

Replies:   Grant
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Well spotted. I missed it.

That's the type of ambiguity you hope your editors will catch, as the original writer obviously didn't.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Complaining about it in the forums is trying to fight it.

In D.S.'s defense, he wasn't fighting about it, he was merely throwing more kindling on an already towering flame (war). 'D

Grant

@Crumbly Writer

as 'should have' rarely fits in place of 'should of'

What you mean to say is that 'Should of' never fits in where 'should have' should be used. Same for 'would have', and 'could have'.

Grant

@PotomacBob

Really? You would have us write "he should of gone" instead of "he should have gone"? "Of" is a preposition, not a verb.

Which is why, as I thought I pointed out, i said it should be 'should have' (hence the contractions usually used; should've, could've, would've).

Zom

@Dominions Son

Complaining about it in the forums is trying to fight it

I think you must live is a predominantly combative place.

Where is the complaint? I was simply asking a question, and later expressing sadness.

Are you suggesting that anyone that doesn't agree with something is automatically fighting against it? That is a bit binary. It might also explain a very aggressive attitude, if true.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

and later expressing sadness.


You might as well be sad about the sun setting or the tide rising.

Are you suggesting that anyone that doesn't agree with something is automatically fighting against it?


No, but you can not agree with something without putting time and energy into that disagreement.

Someone is always complaining about some aspect of change in language in this forum. It gets tiresome.

Every language changes over time, even French, despite the French government fighting it tooth and nail.

Changes to language are as inevitable and unstoppable as the rising and setting of the sun or the rising and falling of the tides.

Absent extraordinary circumstances being unhappy/sad/angry about it isn't worth the effort. Disagreement with it beyond ignoring it isn't worth the effort.

Replies:   Zom  tendertouch  Capt. Zapp
Zom

@Dominions Son

Disagreement with it beyond ignoring it isn't worth the effort.

There are despots all over the world, past and present, that would laud that philosophy mightily.

I will maintain my view that not all change is good or inevitable, and 'get over it' is not a command I will accede to any time soon. I'm not yet at the 'anything for a quiet life' stage.

And I wasn't complaining …

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

There are despots all over the world, past and present, that would laud that philosophy mightily.


It's not a philosophy that applies to them, so no, if they understood it at all, they wouldn't.

I will maintain my view that not all change is good or inevitable


I completely agree with this.

However, change in general, while neither good nor bad, is inevitable. And with changes in language, by the time people start really complaining, typically, the change at issue has already built up enough momentum to be unstoppable.

And I wasn't complaining …


As long as you seem to feel the need to publicly express a value judgements about this particular change, I am not going to believe that. And yes, being sad over it is a value judgement.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Dominions Son

And yes, being sad over it is a value judgement.

An interesting point of view. So if I am sad over somebody's passing, that is somehow a value judgement about them, and not their death? Can I not be sad about mortality in general? I am pining for the language, not the changing of the particular usage.

Replies:   Dominions Son
tendertouch

@Dominions Son

Every language changes over time, even French, despite the French government fighting it tooth and nail.

Changes to language are as inevitable and unstoppable as the rising and setting of the sun or the rising and falling of the tides.


Well said. I see trying to fight it, beyond taking care of my own writing and anything that I might edit, as little more than tilting at windmills. Of course I suppose the same might be said for other things I'm willing to fight for - we each get to pick our own lost causes.

Capt. Zapp

@Dominions Son

Every language changes over time,...


Wouldn't it be interesting to find that ancient texts mean the opposite of what the translators think they mean because of that?

Dominions Son

@Zom

So if I am sad over somebody's passing, that is somehow a value judgement about them, and not their death?


1, I don't think that's directly comparable.

2. To a degree yes, you are sad because you valued their presence in your life. You could also be making a value judgement over the circumstances of their death.

I am pining for the language, not the changing of the particular usage.


A pointless waste of emotional energy.

Replies:   Zom
Dominions Son

@Capt. Zapp

Wouldn't it be interesting to find that ancient texts mean the opposite of what the translators think they mean because of that?


It's a possibility, but the types of people who translate ancient texts study not just languages as a static things, but they explicitly study the ways that languages change over time.

awnlee jawking

@Capt. Zapp

Wouldn't it be interesting to find that ancient texts mean the opposite of what the translators think they mean because of that?


Cool! Wicked! Sick!

AJ

joyR

@Capt. Zapp

Wouldn't it be interesting to find that ancient texts mean the opposite of what the translators think they mean because of that?


Would that explain how a woman screaming, "get away from me you misogynistic bastard" gets translated into "fuck me now" by Harvey Weinstein ??

Not_a_ID

@Grant

For us, speaking like a BBC newsreader of the 1950s is considered formal, most people use contractions. But leaving out words is something people that speak English as a second language generally do.


And the United States, being a nation of immigrants, most of whom did not hail from the British Isles, has a long history of ESL-types with which to maul The King's(or Queen's) English in the intervening centuries.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@PotomacBob


Really? You would have us write "he should of gone" instead of "he should have gone"? "Of" is a preposition, not a verb.


"Should of gone" should only appear within quotation marks indicating somebody spoke it. While it happens in spoken english, it still lies within the same realm as "Ain't" for the most part. The problem with that is "Should've" also sounds a lot like "Should of."

So if it isn't a speaker saying it, it would be "should've" or "should have." Otherwise it's either a typo, or a poorly trained writer/editor.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Grant
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Capt. Zapp


Wouldn't it be interesting to find that ancient texts mean the opposite of what the translators think they mean because of that?


Something close to that is already happening in some cases with a certain book. There were things which were implied or otherwise left to inference using "common knowledge" of the time. Knowledge of which isn't particularly common today, or 400 years ago in many cases, for that matter.

For example, when your MC goes into town to do something, how exactly did they get there? What kind of ground did they traverse? What were they (likely to be) wearing?

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

And the United States, being a nation of immigrants, most of whom did not hail from the British Isles, has a long history of ESL-types with which to maul The King's(or Queen's) English in the intervening centuries.

You mean immigrants from such places like France, Germany, Poland and other European countries—where we derived most of our language variants from—which the British were supposedly never exposed to?

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

"Should of gone" should only appear within quotation marks indicating somebody spoke it. While it happens in spoken english, it still lies within the same realm as "Ain't" for the most part. The problem with that is "Should've" also sounds a lot like "Should of."

That should be: "should of gonged", for whenever the act is so bad, it shouldn't have been allowed to continue.

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Not_a_ID

"Should of gone" should only appear within quotation marks indicating somebody spoke it.


Yet someone speaking English would have (notice that?) said "Should have gone" hence the abbreviations "Should've", could've", would've". "Should'f", could'f", would'f" don't exist (even my spell checker doesn't like them, but it accepts the 've without complaint.

While it happens in spoken English

In America, ok. Just not the rest of the English speaking world (at least not yet).

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Grant

@Crumbly Writer

That should be: "should of gonged",

"Should'f gonged" isn't a valid abbreviation, "Should've gonged" is. Because the words used should've been "should have gonged".

Zom
Updated:

@Dominions Son


A pointless waste of emotional energy.


Oh dear. Nothing is worth preserving. Clarity and form have no value. I would hate to be in your world, although it does sound simple and easy.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zom


Nothing is worth preserving. Clarity and form have no value.


Some things are worth preserving, but not everything is.

Clarity has value. Form does not.

I would hate to be in your world, although it does sound simple and easy.


As opposed to your world, where everything must be preserved, no matter the cost?

Replies:   Zom  awnlee jawking
Zom

@Dominions Son


As opposed to your world, where everything must be preserved, no matter the cost?

Good one :-) That's really humorous, in a bizarre way.

Replies:   madnige
madnige

@Zom

That's really humorous, in a bizarre way.

-- and that also reminds me of Monty Python

Safe_Bet

Just because it seems to fit this discussion...

Freud defined being "Anally Retentive" as being overly obsessive concerning small details and preoccupied with achieving control.

On another related note, some people here should check with their local pharmacist/Chemist to see which laxative they would recommend.

No need to thank me. I consider this post to be a public service message.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Clarity has value.


Given the value 'of' in helping readers discern the meaning of a usage of 'couple', I think clarity is justification for retaining the 'of'.

I've noticed that authors who drop the 'of' after 'couple' tend to make other readability mistakes too, such as dangling participles and inadequate dialogue tags. At a recent writers' group meeting, the issue was discussed of how difficult it is for authors to objectively read and edit their own stories. The author knows what they meant and their brain 'adjusts' what's actually written to conform.

One recommendation was to get a third party to read the story aloud from cold.

AJ

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

Given the value 'of' in helping readers discern the meaning of a usage of 'couple', I think clarity is justification for retaining the 'of'.


Maybe in some cases, but certainly not in all cases.

Personally I don't see any lack of clarity in "a couple hundred widgets" that would in any way be addressed by the addition of "of" between couple and hundred.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  awnlee jawking  Zom
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Personally I don't see any lack of clarity in "a couple hundred widgets" that would in any way be addressed by the addition of "of" between couple and hundred.


Agreed, although the statement remains slightly ambiguous, the inclusion of the word "of" into the sentence doesn't make it less so.

And would that be "a couple of hundred widgets" or "a couple hundred of widgets" in that case? =P

madnige

@awnlee jawking

One recommendation was to get a third party to read the story aloud from cold.


Maybe instead use a text-to-speech programme; I find I often read the missing word so if I was reading aloud, I would insert it without realising. A computer, however, does exactly what you tell it to, and wouldn't.

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

When the reader hits 'of', their brain knows to expect and process a noun. Without the 'of', the brain doesn't know whether to expect a noun or a verb, say. A small difference maybe, but it is more readable.

AJ

Zom

@Dominions Son

Personally I don't see any lack of clarity in "a couple hundred widgets" that would in any way be addressed by the addition of "of" between couple and hundred.

And therein lies the problem. Try looking at it from others' perspectives.

Crumbly Writer

@Grant

In America, ok. Just not the rest of the English speaking world (at least not yet).

Just wait until the Avengers and a few Jedi masters start using it. 'D

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

The author knows what they meant and their brain 'adjusts' what's actually written to conform.

It's not just authors. Since I used several authors, I've observed that they do the exact same thing. Luckily, with multiple editors, each will catch something the others didn't, so among a bunch of us, we'll eventually catch most of the unnoticed errors, something you likely won't catch with just one, unless they're really, really good! But then, even my best still miss a couple of (or couple've) blatant one.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Crumbly Writer

couple of (or couple've)

And there is another whole thing :-) but reversed. How usages like 'should have' shortened to 'should've' have been mondegreened into 'should of'.

[I know mondegreened isn't a word and mondegreen isn't even a verb, but it replaces a bunch of words so I used it anyway. Everybody else seems to be doing it.]

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

And there is another whole thing :-) but reversed. How usages like 'should have' shortened to 'should've' have been mondegreened into 'should of'.

[I know mondegreened isn't a word and mondegreen isn't even a verb, but it replaces a bunch of words so I used it anyway. Everybody else seems to be doing it.]

How about 'amalgamizing'? 'D

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


How about 'amalgamizing'? 'D


Yeah. That's a gooden. My favourite, 'trendify', is thankfully still listed as informal. Sadly, amalgamize/ed/ing is no longer 'informal'. Sigh …

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Zom

amalgamize/ed/ing

The amal game eyes are watching you.

Replies:   Zom  awnlee jawking
Zom

@richardshagrin

amal game eyes

Are those of a dentist?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Zom

More like a geologist with that one.

Some of the people around here would probably prefer their methods too, at least until they decide to use a hammer.

Most of what they do "in the field" consists of biting, scratching, and sniffing. :)

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

amal game eyes


I always wondered whether her marriage to George had an element of convenience about it.

AJ

Midsummerman

@Dominions Son

So much more acceptable, when those changes are made by the people that own the language though!

Ross at Play

@Zom

I know mondegreened isn't a word and mondegreen isn't even a verb, but it replaces a bunch of words so I used it anyway. Everybody else seems to be doing it.]

Everybody does do that. The rule is you may use any noun as if it was a verb, and they are always conjugated as regular verbs.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Everybody does do that. The rule is you may use any noun as if it was a verb, and they are always conjugated as regular verbs.

In that case, I'm doorstopping this conversation! 'D

Replies:   sejintenej
PotomacBob

@Ross at Play

Everybody does do that. The rule is you may use any noun as if it was a verb, and they are always conjugated as regular verbs.

NOT everybody! The wire services have a stylebook rule that goes something like this: "Turn nouns into verbs with the same enthusiasm you would use in seeking a reduction in salary."

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@PotomacBob

NOT everybody! The wire services have a stylebook rule that goes something like this: "Turn nouns into verbs with the same enthusiasm you would use in seeking a reduction in salary."

Did you google that? Or do you insist I must ask, "Did you use Google to look that up?":-)

I cannot agree it should never be done. I only said it "may" be done and I'd agree there are many times when it's better not to.

In fact, I overstated the real situation. There are many nouns that may be freely used as if they were verbs, but it doesn't work with all nouns. As far as I can tell, nouns that already end with some suffix sometimes, perhaps always, will need another suffix to create a verb. The result can get pretty ugly. However, I think it's always grammatically acceptable to treat nouns which only consist of a root word as if they are verbs.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

There are many nouns that may be freely used as if they were verbs


One common one in stories on SOL is "pistoned." (Although the browser spellchecker put a red line under it.)

Replies:   robberhands
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

In that case, I'm doorstopping this conversation! 'D

Are you presidentising again? Careful or you will get Trumped.

robberhands
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

My favorite is 'boned', although 'to bone' actually is a verb. Quite confusing. Maybe some native English speakers can enlighten me whether 'to bone' someone with the meaning of 'to fuck' is derived from the noun 'bone' or another meaning of the verb 'to bone'.

Switch Blayde

@robberhands

'to bone'.


To bone something is to remove the bones from the meat, like boning a fish.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Grant
Updated:

@robberhands

Maybe some native English speakers can enlighten me whether 'to bone' someone with the meaning of 'to fuck' is derived from the noun 'bone' or another meaning of the verb 'to bone'.

A slang term for "erection" is "boner", although you don't hear it used much these days.
So you use your boner to bone.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Grant

So you use your boner to bone.

That's what I thought. So 'to bone' with the meaning of fucking has nothing to do with the verb 'to bone', right? Somehow that still sounds weird.

Replies:   Grant  awnlee_jawking
Grant

@robberhands

So 'to bone' with the meaning of fucking has nothing to do with the verb 'to bone', right?

Correct.
The first is about sex, the second about food preparation.
In the first the bone is going in (and out, and in & out..), in the second the bones are being removed.

awnlee_jawking

@robberhands

So 'to bone' with the meaning of fucking has nothing to do with the verb 'to bone', right? Somehow that still sounds weird.


And then there's the verb 'to t-bone' ;)

AJ

richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

root word

In the Cheer: "Root, Root, Root for the home team" is Root a root word? "If they don't win its a shame. Take me out to the ball game..."

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

My favorite is 'boned', although 'to bone' actually is a verb.

That's an odd one, because I suspect that 'deboned' came first (as in preparing chicken, not taking you lovin' back from your bitch ex), and if deboned is considered legit, then 'boned' sorta automatically becomes OK.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

To bone something is to remove the bones from the meat, like boning a fish.

Technically, 'boning' a fish means to 'add bones' that weren't there before. Using 'boned' in a sexual context means that you're giving someone 'the' bone.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

That's an odd one, because I suspect that 'deboned' came first...

Nope. 'Deboned' is a relatively recent addition to the English word pool, and probably only the US English vocabulary at that. According to Merriam-Webster, its first known use is from 1944, whereas the Cambridge Dictionary doesn't list the term at all.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@robberhands

I've occasionally heard the term in UK English, but it's not in the dictionary next to my desk (of the Oxford stable).

Its recent origins are probably testament to the poor quality of contemporary school education, with millennials too poorly educated to have the word 'fillet' in their vocabularies ;)

AJ

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

Its recent origins are probably testament to the poor quality of contemporary school education, with millennials too poorly educated to have the word 'fillet' in their vocabularies ;)

Your unruly youngsters might learn the importance of filleting when you give them some fish and chips with fishbones ... or something else they'd like to bone.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I've noticed more and more canned fish (eg sardines, pilchards) no longer contain bones. Yet probably the second most important health reason for eating them, after the Omega-3, is the calcium from eating the bones.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Its recent origins are probably testament to the poor quality of contemporary school education, with millennials too poorly educated to have the word 'fillet' in their vocabularies ;)

Filleting is something you do with fish, based on the meats tendency to lay flat, it doesn't apply to removing small bones from chicken, or other land-based animals. It's a more specific term than 'boning' or 'deboneing'. I could be wrong, but I've never heard of anyone filleting a chicken!

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I've noticed more and more canned fish (eg sardines, pilchards) no longer contain bones. Yet probably the second most important health reason for eating them, after the Omega-3, is the calcium from eating the bones.

I remember eating 'sun fish' in the Caribbean, where you'd eat the entire first, bones and all, as the bones were incredibly delicate and were easily chewed and swallowed without the risk of impalement. Unfortunately, each island had a completely different name for the fish and I never learned the official Latin species name for it.

Zom

"Hello, welcome to America. You are going to like it here. I'm Randi."

Actually said to an Australian by a host on arrival in the US. She couldn't understand why the Aussie broke down laughing.

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