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BS: Language Pet Peeves

Lighter 06 Aug 20 - 01:15 PM
Jeri 06 Aug 20 - 12:15 PM
Lighter 06 Aug 20 - 08:45 AM
Lighter 06 Aug 20 - 08:36 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Aug 20 - 08:02 AM
Lighter 06 Aug 20 - 07:54 AM
Lighter 06 Aug 20 - 07:41 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Aug 20 - 06:36 AM
Nigel Parsons 06 Aug 20 - 05:04 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Aug 20 - 04:38 AM
Mrrzy 05 Aug 20 - 11:46 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Aug 20 - 08:24 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Aug 20 - 08:01 PM
Lighter 05 Aug 20 - 07:49 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Aug 20 - 06:32 PM
Mrrzy 05 Aug 20 - 02:13 PM
Lighter 05 Aug 20 - 10:00 AM
Mrrzy 05 Aug 20 - 08:29 AM
Donuel 05 Aug 20 - 08:00 AM
leeneia 05 Aug 20 - 01:24 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Aug 20 - 07:59 PM
Mrrzy 04 Aug 20 - 07:15 PM
leeneia 04 Aug 20 - 06:05 PM
leeneia 04 Aug 20 - 01:01 PM
Mrrzy 04 Aug 20 - 10:52 AM
Steve Shaw 04 Aug 20 - 03:59 AM
Mrrzy 03 Aug 20 - 10:33 PM
Steve Shaw 03 Aug 20 - 02:29 PM
leeneia 03 Aug 20 - 01:45 PM
leeneia 03 Aug 20 - 01:39 PM
Lighter 03 Aug 20 - 08:56 AM
Donuel 03 Aug 20 - 07:44 AM
Nigel Parsons 03 Aug 20 - 07:20 AM
Steve Shaw 02 Aug 20 - 07:28 PM
leeneia 02 Aug 20 - 05:21 PM
Lighter 02 Aug 20 - 10:45 AM
leeneia 02 Aug 20 - 02:24 AM
Mrrzy 01 Aug 20 - 07:06 AM
leeneia 31 Jul 20 - 08:35 PM
BobL 29 Jul 20 - 01:59 AM
leeneia 28 Jul 20 - 05:54 PM
Mrrzy 28 Jul 20 - 03:27 PM
Nigel Parsons 28 Jul 20 - 12:47 PM
Thompson 27 Jul 20 - 05:52 AM
Doug Chadwick 27 Jul 20 - 04:20 AM
BobL 27 Jul 20 - 02:31 AM
leeneia 26 Jul 20 - 07:36 PM
Bill D 26 Jul 20 - 11:18 AM
Mrrzy 26 Jul 20 - 10:27 AM
Steve Shaw 26 Jul 20 - 09:06 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 01:15 PM

Jeri, you evidently received different advice than I did - quite likely, since my memory goes back to the Eisenhower administration.

Commas ordinarily do go between items in a simple series:

"funeralize, aircrafts, blaring, and fast." (The last is allegedly optional.)

But ("never begin a sentence with 'but'") a series connected with coordinating conjunctions is (or was) for some mystical reason distinct:

"funeralize or aircrafts or blaring or fast."

I find the commas useful for emphasis, but those who never learned the "rule" of omitting them won't even notice.

For some perspective, imagine how they felt in the tenth and eleventh centuries, when all those grammatical endings were falling off their words. Chaos! (Or did people even care?)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 12:15 PM

Somebody other than you said "Never place commas between phrases beginning with "and" or "or."

As you did with

"statements that are obscure to their intended audience, or needlessly wordy or convoluted, or disorganized, or ambiguous, are clearly a nuisance - or worse." (missed one).

Exactly where they SHOULD go, unless I misunderstood your meaning, which is entirely possible.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 08:45 AM

> "funeralize" is inelegant, and carries inappropriate connotations

Perhaps I should have added, "for many language-oriented people, especially with degrees."

For the rest of the world, who knows?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 08:36 AM

Probably applies to "and/or" as well. :^}


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 08:02 AM

"Never place commas between phrases beginning with "and" or "or."

Do both phrases have to begin with "and" or "or"? ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 07:54 AM

Two very useful lessons I learned were "Know your audience" and "Omit needless words.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 07:41 AM

I agree that "funeralize" is inelegant, and carries inappropriate connotations, and I'd avoid using it, but if other people want to say it all the time, that's fine with me.

"Funeralize" is briefer than the alternatives, as well as crystal clear. I have bigger things to worry about.

Many of the posts to this thread, I assume, are semi-humorous. Some seem to go out out their way to fail to understand what is obviously being said. They self-obfuscize (just made that one up).

However ("never use at the beginning if a sentence" said somebody in my schooling), statements that are obscure to their intended audience, or needlessly wordy or convoluted, or disorganized, or ambiguous, are clearly a nuisance - or worse.

I almost forgot another voice from my past: "Never place commas between phrases beginning with "and" or "or."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 06:36 AM

Do I really have to tell you every time whether I'm being whimsical or not, Nigel, or d'ye think you could work that out for yourself?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 05:04 AM

Civilisation greatly pre-dates "On the origin of species".


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Aug 20 - 04:38 AM

I agree that that isn't a great construction, but I suppose that if all around you are corrupt whilst you yourself are honest and incorruptible, you could still say that you are mired in rampant corruption. I think I might have chosen another way of saying it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 11:46 PM

From today's WashPo:

Many Lebanese have blamed the country’s political elite — widely seen as corrupt and mired in rampant corruption — for the economic collapse.

Have they also been corrupted?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 08:24 PM

Mind you, 1859 also saw On The Origin Of Species, the book that started civilisation and that began to see off God...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 08:01 PM

Yes I know. I found that out too but that doesn't make it not shit, does it? The people of that era also almost wiped out the buffalo and sent little boys into flues to scrape off arsenic to send to America so that cotton plantation workers could be slowly poisoned...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 07:49 PM

Oxford provides a number of quotes for "funeralize," transitive and intransitive, back to 1859.

It's marked "Chiefly U.S. colloquial and regional."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 06:32 PM

Well I heard today that the civil rights hero John Lewis has been "funeralised."


"Funeralised."


Fer chrissake...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 02:13 PM

Only sounds can be blaring. Only sights can be glaring. Colors can be loud, though, and also run, and bleed...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 10:00 AM

Seems like I've been familiar with "blaring headlines" (sensational ones) for decades.

As several people have observed, individual words commonly carry more than one meaning.

Nowhere does it say that images in a public space can't be blared.

Obviously a figurative usage, with the advantage of being brief and understandable.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 08:29 AM

Ah, like my second set of Ikea shelves, when I thought putting the first ine together right meant I didn't need to read the instructions again.

From Slate, today: billboards in a near-empty Times Square are going to blare images of the Hindu deity Rama and the Ram Mandir.

I am still trying to figure out how to blare, which is auditory, an *image* which is visual.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Donuel
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 08:00 AM

After being gob smacked he was whopperjawed.

Much of BS is about the 'price of tea in China'.
The phrase is believed to have begun in 19th century England where the actual price of tea in China was of interest. When someone in the British House of Commons said something others felt was irrelevant, it was met with this saying... meaning, the price of tea in China is a relevant topic, but yours is not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 05 Aug 20 - 01:24 AM

1. Steve, sounds delicious.

2. Mrrzy, whopperjawed means crooked. Supposed you had a bookshelf and the shelves were slanted while the corners were not right angles. It would be whopperjawed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 07:59 PM

In a ragù with pasta. Torn big leaves in the sauce a minute before the end, then the baby leaves sprinkled on the final dish, along with freshly-grated Canossa dairy Parmesan and a drizzle of the finest olive oil. If you haven't got fresh basil, just leave basil out altogether. Since you ask.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 07:15 PM

Imma use whopperjawed as soon as you tell me what it means, leeneia!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 06:05 PM

What are you going to make with aforesaid fresh basil, Steve?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 01:01 PM

Good question, Mrrzy. I suppose dementia, arthritis, obesity would be examples of unsuccessful aging, but still...

Success is something we work for and may obtain with a combination of effort and luck. Aging happens whether we want it or not, so I don't think it's reasonable to combine the two. In technical terms, the expression "unsuccessful aging" is whopperjawed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 10:52 AM

From today's zoom meeting:

Unsuccessful aging -isn't that living? I mean, isn't unsuccessful aging called death?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Aug 20 - 03:59 AM

Unless you're making pesto, all basil needs is fingers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 10:33 PM

Scissors, never a knife, for basil chiffonade, my mom said and did.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 02:29 PM

That happens to be true. And you caught me just as I was going outside to pick some home-grown fresh basil. Fancy that!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 01:45 PM

"you come across as rather stiff and judgemental about stuff at times..."

That's pretty rich, coming from the guy who thinks dried basil is going to destroy civilization.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 01:39 PM

I've never heard anybody say aircrafts or spacecrafts. You know, sometimes a word occurs in the language in only one form. For example, "jiffy." We always say "in a jiffy." (I'm ignoring the brand Jiffy Mix for now.) We don't say "He came in five jiffies." Or "It took a long jiffy."

I think the --craft words are like that. We only use them one way. We can say we flew in a Boeing aircraft, or we can say there were about 30 aircraft on the field when the tornado hit.

For a couple years, the DH and I would do the crossword together, and we added interest by spotting words which only occur in one form or in one phrase. I wish I could think of more of them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 08:56 AM

The current U.S. President seems to have no pets.

BTW, the latest usage prefers "spacecrafts" to plural-in-sense-but-singular-in-form "spacecraft."

The same goes for "aircrafts," "water crafts," etc.

Probably influenced by "arts and crafts."

So at this point in my life, I could care less, plural-wise.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Donuel
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 07:44 AM

Cats seems to bring out our humaness.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Aug 20 - 07:20 AM

In writing, I usually find that it's clearer to talk about things that are than things that are not. Now remember I said "usually."
Tax instructions used to be bad that way. "If line 48 is not less than $30,000, go to Section 4, unless AGI is no greater than $50,000."


The wording, though, is precise. To re-word it (keeping the same meaning) you would need:
"If line 48 is more than $29,999.99, go to Section 4, unless AGI is less than $50,000.01."
As a retired civil servant (UK) I prefer the original formulation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Aug 20 - 07:28 PM

Well we had cats for over forty years. We didn't replace our last one after he'd died as we had then both retired and wanted to be off on our travels, and we live miles from anyone who could see to our cats when we were away. But we always admonished our cats when they'd been "naughty" by threatening to tell "mummy" or "daddy" what they'd been up to. We'd pat our leg to invite the cat to "sit daddy's knee," etc. Bloody hell, we are both perfectly rational people! More like a nod and wink twixt me and the missus, it was. And we always had amazing relationships with every one of our cats down the years. Of course the daft talk was never serious and never intended to parallel human relationships. We are all different, leeneia, and I must say that you come across as rather stiff and judgemental about stuff at times...

By the way, when we were little up north in Lancashire, the older blokes and blokesses in the street, maybe your friends' parents or the people your mum worked with, we always called our aunties or uncles, even though we weren't related. I had an Auntie Hilda, Auntie Brenda, Uncle Charlie and Uncle Bill, among many others. None of them were remotely related! That tradition is maintained to this day, and long may it carry on.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 02 Aug 20 - 05:21 PM

The word "seems" covers a lot of things easily, in a manner that most people can understand. After all, the most frightened and suspicious people are the most likely to have poor reading skills and comprehension.
===================
Here's another peeve of mine. People who refer to the owner of a dog or cat as its mom or dad. No, a pet is an animal, and when push comes to shove, it is not as intelligent or valuable as a child.

Several years ago, the house next door to ours had a bad fire, and we had to get out of ours fast, because the houses are close together. I called to my cat, but she ran and hid somewhere. With flames shooting toward the sky and powerful fire engines rumbling in front of the house, I threw on a sweatshirt and fled, leaving her behind. I never would have done that with a child.

Fortunately, we all came out of it all right. We sustained some damage to our roof, and some plastic siding melted, but that was all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Aug 20 - 10:45 AM

> Why don't they just say "This seems to be a 'brushing scam'.

Because it's more definitive to say we have *no* evidence than possibly to imply, by omission, that we *might* have some, but if we do, we're ignoring it.

Compare:

1. "We have no evidence that alien spacecraft are real."

2. "Alien spacecraft seem not to be real."

The statements are not precisely equivalent - particularly if you're an official spokesperson (or a trial witness), whose statements may be scrutinized for weasel words.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 02 Aug 20 - 02:24 AM

In writing, I usually find that it's clearer to talk about things that are than things that are not. Now remember I said "usually."

Tax instructions used to be bad that way. "If line 48 is not less than $30,000, go to Section 4, unless AGI is no greater than $50,000."

I remember my confusion as a kid the first time I read, "He said, not unkindly."   What?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Aug 20 - 07:06 AM

Ooh I saw this there and thought it should be here!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 31 Jul 20 - 08:35 PM

Writing that says that something is not what it's not. A recent example:

"At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a 'brushing scam' where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales,"

That's from the US Department of Agriculture, about people receiving unsolicited packages of seeds. Why don't they just say "This seems to be a 'brushing scam'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: BobL
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 01:59 AM

True. But if a court case ensues, a reporter who anticipates its findings by saying a particular person was at fault could be in trouble.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 05:54 PM

Doug, I doubt if in hundreds of accidents there were no witnesses, no skid marks, no weather report, and nobody knows anything about what happened.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 03:27 PM

And a lot of people are apparently murdered despite surviving these accidents, as in headlines like Pedestrian killed after being run over by steamroller.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 28 Jul 20 - 12:47 PM

In the old days people were knocked down by drivers.
That seems to pre-suppose that the 'driver' was at fault, and caused the accident with the pedestrian/cyclist. That is not always the case. If a cyclist smashes into the side of a car they can rarely be describes as "knocked down by the driver".


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Thompson
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 05:52 AM

Ah yes, the autonomous vehicle. More signs of absent drivers: "A pedestrian/cyclist was in collision with a car/van/truck/train". In the old days people were knocked down by drivers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 04:20 AM

Here's another journalist's phrase I dislike. "Left the road"

There could be many reasons why the vehicle left the road: the driver might have been drunk; not paying attention; avoiding a stray animal; too fast round the bend; forced off the road by anther vehicle; a blow-out; a medical emergency.

The reasons ought to come to light during the subsequent investigation. The journalists are simply reporting the known facts and not dealing in speculation. They should be commended for their restraint.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: BobL
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 02:31 AM

Likewise "the vehicle went out of control" rather than "the driver lost control". But in this case, the reporter is simply describing what happened, not the cause.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: leeneia
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 07:36 PM

Here's another journalist's phrase I dislike. "Left the road" Yesterday two people, one driving a Lexus and one on a motorcycle, lost their lives because their vehicles mutinied, apparently. The Lexus left the road, went through a guard rail, down a slope, and rolled over. The motorcycle left the road and slammed into a building, all on its own.

Terrifying, ain't it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 11:18 AM

"fast"... when people compliment me by saying, about something I have done, "Gee.. you are fast!".... I usually reply something like, "Oh well, I am usually called 'half-fast'."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 10:27 AM

I like that Jon Freeman had a pet hat...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 Jul 20 - 09:06 AM

It has brilliant and unpretentious alternatives. If you say albeit instead of although, or though, and prior to instead of before (which is the perfect substitute every single time), you are trying to make yourself sound cleverer than you really are. If you're already clever enough you shouldn't need to do these daft things.


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Mudcat time: 6 August 9:41 PM EDT

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