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BS: Language Pet Peeves part II

MaJoC the Filk 08 Jan 24 - 10:31 AM
Joe_F 07 Jan 24 - 05:30 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Jan 24 - 03:33 PM
BobL 07 Jan 24 - 12:56 PM
Dave the Gnome 07 Jan 24 - 11:41 AM
MaJoC the Filk 07 Jan 24 - 11:29 AM
MaJoC the Filk 07 Jan 24 - 10:56 AM
MaJoC the Filk 07 Jan 24 - 10:40 AM
Mrrzy 07 Jan 24 - 09:29 AM
Lighter 07 Jan 24 - 09:22 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Jan 24 - 07:48 AM
Thompson 07 Jan 24 - 07:25 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 Jan 24 - 03:56 AM
Mrrzy 06 Jan 24 - 08:12 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 24 - 06:56 PM
Doug Chadwick 06 Jan 24 - 05:54 PM
Backwoodsman 06 Jan 24 - 05:37 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 24 - 05:32 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 24 - 05:06 PM
Doug Chadwick 06 Jan 24 - 04:21 PM
Mrrzy 06 Jan 24 - 01:54 PM
Thompson 06 Jan 24 - 11:18 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 24 - 10:43 AM
Backwoodsman 06 Jan 24 - 10:30 AM
MaJoC the Filk 06 Jan 24 - 09:56 AM
MaJoC the Filk 06 Jan 24 - 09:31 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 24 - 07:48 AM
Backwoodsman 06 Jan 24 - 07:01 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 24 - 05:25 AM
Doug Chadwick 06 Jan 24 - 05:00 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 24 - 04:50 AM
Doug Chadwick 06 Jan 24 - 04:27 AM
Thompson 06 Jan 24 - 01:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 05 Jan 24 - 01:33 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 05 Jan 24 - 12:23 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Jan 24 - 07:48 AM
Thompson 05 Jan 24 - 07:39 AM
MaJoC the Filk 01 Jan 24 - 03:28 PM
Backwoodsman 01 Jan 24 - 02:14 PM
Mrrzy 01 Jan 24 - 02:08 PM
Backwoodsman 01 Jan 24 - 12:58 PM
The Sandman 01 Jan 24 - 07:37 AM
MaJoC the Filk 01 Jan 24 - 07:00 AM
meself 31 Dec 23 - 07:10 PM
Backwoodsman 31 Dec 23 - 12:15 PM
Steve Shaw 31 Dec 23 - 11:49 AM
Backwoodsman 31 Dec 23 - 10:07 AM
The Sandman 31 Dec 23 - 08:13 AM
Backwoodsman 31 Dec 23 - 03:58 AM
Rain Dog 31 Dec 23 - 02:47 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 08 Jan 24 - 10:31 AM

Another angle: replace "0" by "negligibly small" with a hint of "we haven't ever seen it", and correspondingly for "1". Seeing one flying pig tells you they can fly after all; it takes at least two sightings on different days before you can start thinking about the cost-effectiveness of buying an umbrella.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Joe_F
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 05:30 PM

BobL: Other way around. "Almost certain" (as a technical term in probability theory) is defined as "with probability 1". A randomly chosen real number in a given interval is almost certainly irrational.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 03:33 PM

We should hang on to amoral/immoral, I think.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: BobL
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 12:56 PM

A probability of 1 was defined (to much laughter) as "almost certain", and 0 as "almost never".

That's almost reasonable, no level of precision has been assigned to those values.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 11:41 AM

Worth looking up the bullshit generator. Always good for a laugh when you can drop one of the phrases into a report or meeting.


Yes I did. More than once :-D


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 11:29 AM

"May vs "might": it's part of a worrying cascade misconception about probabilities; it's most likely to occur when the chances of this are vanishingly small, but the fallout is extreme.

This happening is next to impossible.
We cannot eliminate the possibility of this happening.
This happening is unlikely [so if it does happen, it hits the headlines].
This might happen.
This may happen.
This happening is likely.
We cannot eliminate the possibility that this will not happen.
This happening is next to inevitable.

In the first lecture of probability theory, a probability of 1 was defined (to much laughter) as "almost certain", and 0 as "almost never".


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 10:56 AM

"At this present moment in time": like "going forward", it's a simple space-filler, originally intended to give upper management the illusion that something's being said. Real Soon Now, I'll try to get hold of John Barry's Technobabble, which documents such linguistic atrocities, but it may well be out of print by now.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 10:40 AM

"The green is behind the pink": Confirmed: it was on Pot Black. I've seen the repeat.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Mrrzy
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 09:29 AM

Also amoral and immoral. Not the same, in jargon, but similar in usage. Misusage, ok.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 09:22 AM

"The language" has been "lessened" in various ways since the demise of Old English with no clearly deleterious effect. For every "lessening" there are innumerable additions and refinements.

The enforcement of the "may" and "might" rule is now pointless. Nobody is confused or misled by the "misuse," and, should they be, their interlocutor or editor can ask what precisely is meant.

Prescriptivism is usually a lost cause anyway, since by the time an alteration in usage becomes widely noticeable, it's generally too late to do anything about it.

Nor are the "misuser"s eager to accept correction.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 07:48 AM

You could say the same about uninterested/disinterested. I think there's a useful distinction between them but so many people use them interchangeably that we might as well admit that the fight may have been lost (see what I did there...?). Once when I was a form teacher, compiling the class reports from their subject teachers, I sent one back to the PE teacher who had written "This boy is disinterested in sport." The PE teacher refused to change it, and the headmaster, a graduate of Cambridge in English, backed him up!   

I'll never give up on alternate and alternative, though...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Thompson
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 07:25 AM

It's not a question of scolding people for misusages. May and might have different meanings, and wiping out might lessens the language.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Jan 24 - 03:56 AM

I can think of a phrase where may and might can be used together

Brian May might


I'll get my coat...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 08:12 PM

I wish I may I wish I might


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 06:56 PM

Well that resurrection happened at a very confusing time on Mudcat, Doug. My first few posts on the resurrected version are all very mild. and the whole thread for the last couple of months has been benign and free-rambling.

Nah then, Doug. You love to try to catch me out and that much I relish. But when it comes to the quirkiness of our beautiful but complex language, my record, if you'd care to trawl, suggests that I'm consistently on the side of ordinary users of our native tongue and that I care not a jot for casual human errors. I also consider that we should accept that the evolution of language is always in the hands of the billions of ordinary users and never in the hands of the grammar police. There are some red lines, of course. There are some errors that can't be excused as being in the realms of linguistic evolution but which should always be called out as simply pig-ignorant. Alternate for alternative (I blame the Monkees). Building to a crescendo. Awful stuff, those two. Most of all, the pretentious: at this moment in time. On a daily basis. Prior to. Albeit.

But singling out people for "misusing" may/might, less/fewer, who/whom, etc., unless the context is formal writing, is just nit-picking. No-one says you're wrong, but lots of people might ask why you bother. And, as I said, the last thing we need to be doing is to make people scared of opening their mouths lest they annoy the grammar police.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 05:54 PM

Well that's all great, but you're going to scare people into never wanting to open their mouths!


The question was asked. I simply provided an answer.

I have always held that the only requirement for good communication is that it should be clear and unambiguous, but this thread is specifically about the misuse of language that annoys people. If I remember correctly, it was your good self, Steve, who resurrected this thread in its Mk II version.

I would lay a pound to a penny that you know what word I would like to bring up when you complain about people dictating to others but I am going to resist the temptation.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 05:37 PM

Here in The Backwoods, ‘can I’ and ‘may I’ are accepted by the vast majority as interchangeable. The evolution of language…


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 05:32 PM

I have to stop myself from correcting 'can I' to 'may I'. It was hammered into me and old habits die hard but ffs - everyone knows what someone means when they say 'can I'. Don't they?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 05:06 PM

Well that's all great, but you're going to scare people into never wanting to open their mouths! Language is wot people speak, not wot the grammar police dictate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 04:21 PM

Is that it?

(i) Present tense vs Past Perfect:-

    Something may happen.
    Something might have happened.

(ii) Higher vs lower probability:-

    Something may happen. (higher)
    Something might happen. (lower)

(iii) Asking for vs giving permission:-

    May/might I do something? (either will do)
    Yes, you may.


DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 01:54 PM

May is have permission, as in, Mother may I. Might is possible, as in mother might say yes.

Is that it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Thompson
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 11:18 AM

I hold strong on may and might. Always.

Depict: the Roman invasion of Britain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 10:43 AM

Was the infamous snooker comment "For those of you watching in black and white, the green is the one behind the pink" not real either?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 10:30 AM

”Sadly, Johnners never actually said that”

No less funny for that though.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 09:56 AM

Argh. Someone on Radio Four* has just said "powerful", and I've just realised it was meant as "I accept you have just said something important, and I can't think of anything to say, but there's other callers, so let's move on".

* Ten bonus points (fifty for left-pondians) for naming the phone-in.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 09:31 AM

Johnners was commentating [sometime in the first century before Under Armour] when the batsman received the fifth ball of the over in a rather unkind part of his anatomy. He hobbled around the wicket awhile, then rather gamely elected to continue, at which Johnners said "And there's one ball left". Collapse of Bill Frindall.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 07:48 AM

Sadly, Johnners never actually said that, though we all wish he had!


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 07:01 AM

“The bowler is Holding, the batsman’s Willey” ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 05:25 AM

Thing is though, Doug, he was criticising a football commentator. Whatever you might think of those folk, they have to react quickly to what they see in front of them. You'll get a couple of howlers from them in every game, but as far as their grammar is concerned I think maybe we could cut them a bit of slack.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 05:00 AM

May and might is an awkward case, and, as long as the intended meaning is clear, I don't think it's worth picking anyone up for their "incorrect usage."

It is clearly a Pet Peeve of the person writing in The Irish Times.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 04:50 AM

I don't think it's worth sweating over may and might unless it's in the context of formal writing. In speech the distinction is lost, more often than not. Arguments that we should always preserve the useful distinctions in cases in which confusion is likely are generally lost as language evolves. May and might is an awkward case, and, as long as the intended meaning is clear, I don't think it's worth picking anyone up for their "incorrect usage."


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 04:27 AM

One of the more annoying grammatical errors of our time is a tendency to confuse “may” and “might” when speaking of the past.


I have just posted on the 'BS: Funny witticisms' thread and opened with:-
"That may have been ......."

If only I had opened this thread first, I could have avoided such a silly mistake. I will be more careful next time.

DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Thompson
Date: 06 Jan 24 - 01:52 AM

A quote from an old Irishman's Diary in The Irish Times - sadly subscriber-only - about the difference between 'may' and 'might':

"One of the more annoying grammatical errors of our time is a tendency to confuse “may” and “might” when speaking of the past. You’re watching football on TV, for example, and a striker attempts a volley, but instead balloons the shot high over the crossbar. Then the commentator notes that the player had time to control the ball first and adds that, if he had done, “he may have scored”.
"What the commentator means is that he might have scored. Whereas “may” implies that he possibly did score, but we don’t know enough about the incident yet to be sure.
"This even though the ball has just knocked the false teeth out of a pensioner in Row W of the stand behind the goal…"


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 Jan 24 - 01:33 PM

I thought disaster was when she sat on the bacon slicer?


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 05 Jan 24 - 12:23 PM

I could start to feel gruntled by some of these examples.

Robin


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Jan 24 - 07:48 AM

Disaster: what happened to a woman who tried to get up suddenly from a bathful of glue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Jan 24 - 07:39 AM

To deduce: to squeeze an orange.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 01 Jan 24 - 03:28 PM

(*ahem*) Herself speaks with forked tongue, Mrrzy. She goes on to say that the most common form of gorse (or furze) is in flower more-or-less the year round.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 01 Jan 24 - 02:14 PM

Fuggeddit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Jan 24 - 02:08 PM

Mistletoe. Kiss under that...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 01 Jan 24 - 12:58 PM

One of many in that post… ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Jan 24 - 07:37 AM

sorry, backwoodsman, typo


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 01 Jan 24 - 07:00 AM

MaJoC's €0.02: Herself maintains that you're only allowed to kiss when the gorse (or furze) is in bloom.


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: meself
Date: 31 Dec 23 - 07:10 PM

"Woman Killed After Nightclub Shooting" - a headline today. And, no, she was not killed after the shooting .....


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 31 Dec 23 - 12:15 PM

Who’s this ‘Bavck’ bloke, eh? Oh never mind, I’ve been called worse…


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 31 Dec 23 - 11:49 AM

"imo it is important to try and be positive rather than negative. Bavck has suggested a positive how to deal wth ticks.
the tile of this thread is imo a bit negative
so i am going to start a different thread .language positives, where people can give exerts of language that has had a goof effect on them"

Oh, the irony...


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 31 Dec 23 - 10:07 AM

”Mrs Backwoodsperson and I always carry a tick-twizzler”

Of course I meant ‘tick-twister’! Tired, ancient brain! ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Dec 23 - 08:13 AM

imo it is important to try and be positive rather than negative. Bavck has suggested a positive how to deal wth ticks.
the tile of this thread is imo a bit negative
so i am going to start a different thread .language positives, where people can give exerts of language that has had a goof effect on them


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 31 Dec 23 - 03:58 AM

Mrs Backwoodsperson and I always carry a tick-twizzler with us - we both have several, in our car, in both ruck-sacks, in her shoulder-bag and my man-bag, in her purse and my wallet - so that we are never caught out unable to remove those little bar-stewards from our own person and from our dog (who tends to be their main target).

I’d recommend anyone who’s involved in outdoor-activities, as we often are, to carry a tick-twizzler - an amazingly simple, but very effective, instrument for removing ticks without leaving their mouth-parts embedded in one’s skin.

Tick-twister


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Subject: RE: BS: Language Pet Peeves part II
From: Rain Dog
Date: 31 Dec 23 - 02:47 AM

Was that a case of you feeling ticked off?


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