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BS: Language Pet Peeves

Doug Chadwick 16 Jun 20 - 06:31 AM
Nigel Parsons 16 Jun 20 - 06:29 AM
Steve Shaw 16 Jun 20 - 06:24 AM
Nigel Parsons 16 Jun 20 - 06:19 AM
Steve Shaw 16 Jun 20 - 06:15 AM
Steve Shaw 16 Jun 20 - 06:03 AM
Doug Chadwick 16 Jun 20 - 05:48 AM
BobL 16 Jun 20 - 02:43 AM
Steve Shaw 15 Jun 20 - 08:41 PM
Mrrzy 15 Jun 20 - 08:17 PM
Reinhard 15 Jun 20 - 07:05 PM
Reinhard 15 Jun 20 - 06:43 PM
Reinhard 15 Jun 20 - 06:39 PM
Steve Shaw 15 Jun 20 - 05:21 PM
gillymor 15 Jun 20 - 02:24 PM
PHJim 15 Jun 20 - 02:18 PM
Mrrzy 14 Jun 20 - 11:39 AM
gillymor 14 Jun 20 - 10:35 AM
Steve Shaw 14 Jun 20 - 10:23 AM
G-Force 14 Jun 20 - 10:21 AM
Thompson 14 Jun 20 - 06:49 AM
Vincent Jones 14 Jun 20 - 05:43 AM
Steve Shaw 13 Jun 20 - 06:43 PM
Vincent Jones 13 Jun 20 - 05:10 PM
Nigel Parsons 13 Jun 20 - 02:45 PM
Steve Shaw 13 Jun 20 - 10:36 AM
gillymor 13 Jun 20 - 10:13 AM
Steve Shaw 13 Jun 20 - 10:02 AM
Steve Shaw 13 Jun 20 - 09:57 AM
gillymor 13 Jun 20 - 09:45 AM
Doug Chadwick 13 Jun 20 - 09:28 AM
Mrrzy 13 Jun 20 - 08:19 AM
Thompson 13 Jun 20 - 07:24 AM
Steve Shaw 13 Jun 20 - 04:34 AM
Backwoodsman 13 Jun 20 - 03:22 AM
Steve Shaw 12 Jun 20 - 04:55 PM
Mrrzy 12 Jun 20 - 03:21 PM
Backwoodsman 12 Jun 20 - 03:19 PM
Bill D 12 Jun 20 - 02:50 PM
Thompson 12 Jun 20 - 02:32 PM
Vincent Jones 12 Jun 20 - 01:59 PM
Steve Shaw 12 Jun 20 - 01:18 PM
Mrrzy 12 Jun 20 - 12:28 PM
leeneia 12 Jun 20 - 12:15 PM
leeneia 12 Jun 20 - 12:07 PM
Mrrzy 12 Jun 20 - 09:27 AM
Mrrzy 11 Jun 20 - 10:00 AM
weerover 11 Jun 20 - 09:23 AM
Donuel 11 Jun 20 - 08:45 AM
Nigel Parsons 11 Jun 20 - 08:12 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 06:31 AM

I don't see 'although' and 'albeit' as being direct equivalents. Depending on context, I feel that there are subtle differences. 'Although' acknowledges that there is an alternative or condition; 'albeit' is more of a reluctant acceptance of the same.

Even if the two words are directly equivalent, why is one better than the other. I do not accept that 'albeit' is pompous. Reverse snobbery is no justification.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 06:29 AM

Merriam-Webster on 'alright' Here
All right, everyone: listen up.
If you were listening when your English teacher said that, you probably learned that all right is the only way to write the word that is also sometimes spelled alright. Pete Townshend preferred the tighter version when he wrote the lyrics to The Who's famous song, The Kids are Alright, and James Joyce thought alright was better (in one instance out of 38) for Ulysses too.


Interesting that when they are trying to be correct they describe 'all right' as a word, rather than a phrase. Probably another example of variant American usage.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 06:24 AM

The thing on iPads that decides that it knows better than you do what you want to type often either inserts or omits apostrophes inappropriately, Nigel. Whether I spot such absurdities in my posts before sending them depends on whether or not I'm wearing my reading specs, which I oft misplace.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 06:19 AM

Doug:
Having said all that, the thread title is "Language Pet Peeves" - it's all about the words and expressions that you can't live with, the one's that make you miserable.

One of my pet peeves, which I share with many, is the misuse of apostrophes ;)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 06:15 AM

As for "I could care less," if you preface that with "it isn't possible that...." it makes perfect sense. I see the expression as an economical way of saying just that, though, arguably, it would be linguistically more efficient, and less likely to have the recipient doing some puzzled mental processing, just to say "I couldn't care less." But here's the rub: both variants are informal and both are widely used, so we just have to suck it up. In formal writing you wouldn't use either unless you were quoting dialogue. We sometimes have to let the lingo take wings and fly, though I'll always argue against pretentious words when there are perfectly good plain alternatives.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 06:03 AM

I agree with most of that, but the point about "albeit" (when you think about it, and look at the word closely, the stupidest word in the language) and "prior to" is that they are pretentious. Not only that, they both have perfectly plain and clear alternatives that may be used in every case, namely "though" (or "although" if you like) and "before" respectively. Whenever I see either of these horrors in print I go straight into prize cock red alert.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 05:48 AM

When millions of people say something, and have been doing so for a long time, then that something is standard English. Either live with it or make yourself miserable. Your choice.

So Steve, by that reasoning, will you accept 'prior to' and 'albeit' or are they still making you miserable?

Unlike physics, which is governed by laws, grammar is governed by rules. Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of fools. All that is required for good communication is that it is clear and unambiguous.

"I could care less" is the exact opposite of what is intended and is intrinsically wrong;

"British schoolgirls evacuated in their pyjamas ....", given above, is a good example of ambiguity. It seems to be a feature of headline writing;

Using 'who' instead of 'whom' is grammatically incorrect but the meaning would, in most cases, be perfectly clear

'Hopefully', for me, is a perfectly good alternative to 'it is hoped'.

Good communication should also be concise. Waffle and buzzwords suggests that the user doesn't understand the subject; deliberate obfuscation is the tool of the politician. Allowance should be made, however, for the poetry of the language. There is more than one way to skin a donkey and there are more ways to express ideas than being limited to a restricted set of approved words. Variety is the spice of life.

Having said all that, the thread title is "Language Pet Peeves" - it's all about the words and expressions that you can't live with, the one's that make you miserable.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: BobL
Date: 16 Jun 20 - 02:43 AM

Reinhard - same with Y and Þ (thorn), although that substitution can at least claim to be well established, dating back to Caxton's time.
Unforgivable though is printed cod Olde Englishe (Engli?he?) with a capital F - as in YE OLDE CURIOFITY FHOPPE...

You know you're getting into historic lettering when you read Psalm 8 with its reference to "sucking babes" and don't notice anything.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 08:41 PM

This is the trouble with grammar police who desperately try to cling to some past meaning that probably never existed anyway. Could care less and couldn't care less have nothing much to do with the individual words. You simply have to take the constructions as a whole. I won't dwell. The other thing is that both expressions are wot millions of people say. When millions of people say something, and have been doing so for a long time, then that something is standard English. Either live with it or make yourself miserable. Your choice.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 08:17 PM

But could and couldn't do *not* mean the same thing. What politician tried to argue that they did?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Reinhard
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 07:05 PM

Next try with that quote:

They which take ſhippe, & inſtead of paying their fare, do the duties of Mariners.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Reinhard
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 06:43 PM

well, in the preview of my post the long s was shown correctly. But in my post it's been replaced with question marks. Does anybody know if there's a HTML entity code for the long s?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Reinhard
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 06:39 PM

I absolutely hate it when someone wants to appear cute and learned by using the long s letter '?' in historic quotes but then actually substitues it with the letter 'f' ('eff'). For God's ?ake, it's a fake!

For example in the current thread 'Maritime work song in general', it's not

They which take fhippe, & inftead of paying their fare, do the duties of Mariners

but

They which take ?hippe, & in?tead of paying their fare, do the duties of Mariners.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 05:21 PM

"I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less."

Well, most Brits would rail against the former. The trouble is that both expressions are in use and have been for many a decade, the latter for longer, admittedly, and they mean the same thing. It's a another battle that you'll lose if you can be arsed to join it. Whether we like it or not, both expressions are standard English. Let's just enjoy life.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: gillymor
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 02:24 PM

Wha ever, Mrrzy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: PHJim
Date: 15 Jun 20 - 02:18 PM

"I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 14 Jun 20 - 11:39 AM

Gag me with a spoon, gillymor!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: gillymor
Date: 14 Jun 20 - 10:35 AM

Grant's childhood tormentors pronounced it "Useless".


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 14 Jun 20 - 10:23 AM

My Fowler is from the early 1980s and I can't find any reference to hopefully or sentence adverbs... :-(

I have a few guides to English usage (my favourite is Mind The Gaffe by the late Larry Trask). Each one of them has the infuriating habit of not containing at least some contentious point or other that I want to look up, and each one has its own hobby horses and various idiosyncrasies. My starting point is whether the expression in question is in common use and for how long it has been so, then the decision has to be made as to whether a degradation has taken place. The distinction between disinterested and uninterested is a valuable one and I'll fight to my last breath to keep it. I can't abide the (mainly American) habit of confusing alternate and alternative, and it will never be alright on the night... But English is not determined by professors or grammar police, and never has been.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: G-Force
Date: 14 Jun 20 - 10:21 AM

Regarding 'hopefully', many years ago I invented the word 'hopedly' (to be pronounced with three syllables). But I don't think it's going to catch on.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Thompson
Date: 14 Jun 20 - 06:49 AM

Ulysses S Grant? YOU or LISS?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Vincent Jones
Date: 14 Jun 20 - 05:43 AM

Ah, interesting, Steve (at least, I think so). And didactic. Ta. Your mention of Merriam-Webster made me reach for my Fowler, as I suspect what Fowler calls MWCDEU (Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage, 1995) is a little US-centric, possibly a prejudice of mine: Fowler treats it as an important resource. As you pointed out - MWCDEU's disjuncts (Fowler calls them sentence adverbs) are commonplace: actually, basically, usually, although thankfully and hopefully are contentious, perhaps because they differ in their formation, and in aspects of how they resolve grammatically.

Fowler's viewpoint (2013) differs from MWCDEU: in speech, "proceed with gay abandon" (I love Fowler!), but when writing or presenting then consider the audience, as rearguard actions exist against its use, not least by language faddists and by those who are simply irritated by it.

An even more authoritative resource, my missus, who teaches in one of the London University colleges, objects because it sounds ugly and can, on rare occasions, be ambiguous, and then she referred to the urban myth of it being a slapdash translation of the German "hoffentlich". Now, the good professor would not mark students down for using the word in that way, but she suspects that other academics may do so (presumably with a "see me" in red next to a mark out of ten at the bottom of the homework).

So I wouldn't agree (add sentence adverb of your choice here) that the battle is lost, but I wouldn't put money on a victory for the people who don't want it as a disjunct.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 06:43 PM

If you believe that standard English is wot people have been using for hundreds of years, you have to accept the use of "hopefully" in the sense we're arguing about. It's been used that way for at least three hundred years, though its use in that sense burgeoned in popularity in the 20th century. Here's an extract from Merriam-Webster's piece on the word:

Hopefully when used to mean "it is hoped" is a member of a class of adverbs known as disjuncts. Disjuncts serve as a means by which the author or speaker can comment directly to the reader or hearer usually on the content of the sentence to which they are attached. Many other adverbs (such as interestingly, frankly, clearly, luckily, unfortunately) are similarly used; most are so ordinary as to excite no comment or interest whatsoever. The "it is hoped" sense of hopefully is entirely standard.

I don't like it any more than you do, Vincent, but, hopefully, we can at least agree that the fight is lost...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Vincent Jones
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 05:10 PM

Steve, gotta disagree about "hopefully", e.g. "They'll get beaten tomorrow, hopefully." The word references the folk getting beaten, not the speaker. But what the hell... as mentioned above, language is not something under glass in a museum, innit?

Regarding "whom" disappearing. You may well be right in your prediction of the word disappearing in Britain, but in a country like, say, India, where the standard of English in all their English language newspapers is superior to that in any British news medium of any kind, "whom" will hang around a lot longer in such places.

Something that amused rather than peeved: The Daily Mail, when reporting things happening as a result of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010, had a headline "British schoolgirls evacuated in their pyjamas as Iceland volcano erupts during school trip", to which I thought, the filthy beasts.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 02:45 PM

YouLISSaise, may be the pronunciation which goes down in history. As used by Allan Sherman:
All the counsellors hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses

I can mentally 'hear' him singing it, with the emphasis on the second syllable.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 10:36 AM

Then there's the stating of the bleedin' obvious: way back in the annals, just as Jack Nicklaus was lining up a fairly short putt, the commentator declared in hushed tones: "Jack wants to hole this one..."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: gillymor
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 10:13 AM

Nobody tortures language like this nitwit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 10:02 AM

And years ago we had a weather presenter, Helen Willetts (who's still on telly) informing us that a passing cold front with its rain belt "had washed the humidity out of the air." :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 09:57 AM

My favourite sports commentator quote of all time was made by a diving commentator explaining why Tom Daley had scored below another diver even though Tom had done a good dive. We were informed that the other chap, in selecting a more technical dive, "had out-degree-of-difficultied" Tom. :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: gillymor
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 09:45 AM

I don't see language as something that needs to be placed under glass in a museum. I like it when it's free-flowing, improvisational and ever-evolving but one thing that grates on me is the way some news and sports commentators are not pronouncing t any more as in the word forgotten. It sometimes sounds like Valley Girl Speak is taking over.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 09:28 AM

.... unless it was some un-Greek-learned scholar who started it.

If is was some Greek-learned scholar, surely it would have been Odysseus rather than Ulysses.

Personally, I pronounce it as YOUliseese for both the hero and the book.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 08:19 AM

NPR this morning: he once had two horses shot out from under him. No, he twice had one horse shot our from under him, I would bet.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Thompson
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 07:24 AM

A particularly weird Joycean weirdness for the week that's in it: people refer to the Greek hero Ulysses as YouLISSaise, but the novel Ulysses as YOUlissaise. No idea why, unless it was some un-Greek-learned scholar who started it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 04:34 AM

"Normalcy." Aaaaaaargh!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 13 Jun 20 - 03:22 AM

“Thusly”. Aaaaaaaaaarrrggghhh!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 04:55 PM

Hey Vincent, I agree with most of what you say, but "hopefully" is beyond reproach. The other thing is that (minority of one stuff coming up...) I think that it won't be long before we lose "whom" almost entirely. The yanks love their awful "whomever," etc., I know. I reckon "whom" could be consigned to old literature before too long...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 03:21 PM

That is rock as in cradle. Transitive.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 03:19 PM

”Well... yesterday I tuned into the memorial service for George Floyd just in time to hear a speaker ask for God's help getting us through this time of "heart rendering" sadness.“

At least he didn’t say it was ‘heart-wrenching’.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 02:50 PM

?"Rock-a my soul in the bosom of Abraham."?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Thompson
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 02:32 PM

I like rockin' used as an admiring term, havta say. As for whom, I have a strong suspicion it was imposed by those tight-assed 17th-century grammarians who tried to turn English into a branch of Latin.
No, I like a living language, but I like it precise. Or when it's not precise, at least colourful.
I particularly like new slang formations.
There's a great book called The Hacker's Dictionary (or maybe Hackers') about the new language used by hackers - that term used in its original sense of excellent coders.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Vincent Jones
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 01:59 PM

I try not to let language peeves annoy me, as life's too short, although I can't stop myself from grunting "whom" when people use "who" as the object, or "fewer" when "less" is used incorrectly. And anyway, my English isn't so hot, despite a grammer skool educashun. I've also become used to the ubiquitous "hopefully", used instead of the more correct "I hope". Or, if you prefer it, "one hopes".

But I'll never get used to "proactive", which, as far as I am concerned, is a word invented for people who do not know the meaning of the word "active". Possibly this is a pet peeve because it was popular with people whom (who) I worked with in marketing (an industry from which I escaped), who also loved terms like "blue sky thinking", "ideas shower" and "brainstorming". At the end of one ideas shower I remarked that each and every idea in the shower was golden, but not one person picked up on it. Too subtle, me, by half.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 01:18 PM

"Ariana Grande rocks torn jeans at Coachella festival."

Well I might not want to hear that, but I wouldn't mind seeing it...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 12:28 PM

The headline I posted, I just realized, manages to be both oxymoronic and redundant.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 12:15 PM

I'm not sure what happened exactly, but my post about 'rock' is cut in half. Since the quarantine started, my hair has grown to twice as long as usual, and I've been looking at videos about hairstyles and personal appearance. In the course of that, I've grown really tired of the word rock. As in:

    She is really rockin' that ponytail!
    Ariana Grande rocks torn jeans at Coachella festival.
    etc etc

If the speaker is too lazy to say why he likes the ponytail, he puts the wearer in charge by saying she's rocking it. Duh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 12:07 PM

This thread is supposed to be about pet peeves, so it's all right to be trivial. One of my pet peeves is rock as a transitive verb. It is so over done.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 Jun 20 - 09:27 AM

Pléionasme du jour:

Scientists Have Discovered Vast Unidentified Structures Deep Inside the Earth


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 11 Jun 20 - 10:00 AM

Whether one possibility or another. If one possibility. No problem. Shorter to say if one than whether one or the other.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: weerover
Date: 11 Jun 20 - 09:23 AM

Nigel, I shared your opinion on "if" but rather than correct anyone in such a situation I always check that hasn't become accepted. The very authoritative Chambers Dictionary gives one definition of "if" as "whether".


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Donuel
Date: 11 Jun 20 - 08:45 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 11 Jun 20 - 08:12 AM

Pet peeves?
The use of 'if' in place of 'whether'.
"Can you tell me if it's going to rain today?"
If 'if' is being used correctly, and the intended meaning is "If it's going to rain today, please tell me" then no reply is required if it will not rain.
"Can you tell me whether it's going to rain today?" requires an yes/no answer ("yes, it will", or "no it won't", or even "I don't know")

Ok. For pedants a yes/no answer could be answering the question "Can you tell me?" so may not actually answer the intended question.


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