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John Cowan
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I don't think you've quite pinpointed it. A safety fence around a construction site keeps people from voluntarily entering in it easily; it's not the sae as a security fence, which is designed to absolutely prevent people from entering.
Toggle Commented May 7, 2015 on Security and safety at Lavengro
And yet people complain about impactful but not about insightful — or do they? I don't remember seeing such complaints.
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2013 on Why we don’t like ‘impactful’ at Lavengro
Culver City, California is officially the City of Culver City, due to an over-rigid pattern in California official city names. All municipalities in California are cities officially, save about two dozen which use Town of instead of City of in their official names for historical reasons — there is no other distinction. The City of Vernon (population 112, mostly factories) is officially as much a city as its near neighbor, the City of Los Angeles.
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2013 on A problem with articles at Lavengro
Anyway, The Gambia is the official name of the country, so it's not dated. Per contra, the official name of my country is United States of America, with no article, though nobody calls it that. (Good way to win bar bets.)
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2013 on A problem with articles at Lavengro
Nope, didn't work.
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2013 on A problem with articles at Lavengro
Because I left out an </i> after "the Vatican". Hopefully this will close it. The Bronx isn't a city by itself, like The Hague is, but it's fairly similar.
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2013 on A problem with articles at Lavengro
Merriam-Webster gives the penultimate-stress pronunciation of impactful first and the initial-stress second, which agrees with my own Sprachgefuehl.
Toggle Commented Jul 19, 2013 on Why we don’t like ‘impactful’ at Lavengro
He must be no true Scotsman, then. :-)
Not in German, certainly: one or two sentences and natural gender returns. There is an interesting case in French: the third-person plural pronoun is elles only if ALL the entities referred to are feminine in gender; otherwise it is ils. In legal language, parties to an agreement are often spoken of as les personnes, and this feminine noun demands elles by grammatical gender, but it will quickly become ils after a paragraph at most.
Some notes that may be helpful to your student: Geographical names that lack firm boundaries, or once lacked them, or are moving water, take the definite article. Thus, when the Ukraine was a vaguely defined borderland of the Russian Empire, we called it the Ukraine in English; now that it is a separate nation-state (and prodded by the Ukrainian government), we make it simply Ukraine. The Bronx and The Gambia, named after their respective rivers (moving water), retain their articles. I'm on less firm ground with institutions. It seems to me that adjective-noun forms like the National Theatre, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the United Kingdom/States generally take the article, but noun-noun compounds like Euston station, Canterbury cathedral (which in AmE would be capitalized in both words) do not. Note that American universities do not have the alternation of forms with and without the article: The University of Washington is a public university in the State of Washington, but Washington University is in St. Louis, Missouri (and in St. Louis has been part of its official name since 1976), and George Washington University is in Washington, D.C.: both are private. They are sometimes distinguished as WU, WUSTL, and GWU respectively. More commonly, state universities include the word State: the University of Pennsylvania (informally the U of P or Penn) is private, whereas The Pennsylvania State University (the article is optional; informally it is PSU or Penn State) is public. The former cannot be called Pennsylvania University, nor the latter the State University of Pennsylvania. (There is, however, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, located in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania, whose existence predates the State of Indiana.) Washington State University (WSU) is a distinct public university in the State of Washington. As for the Vatican, it is short for the Vatican Palace. The name Vatican City only dates back to 1929, and lacks the article because of its definite boundaries (there are quite a few cities in the U.S. with City in their names, though New York City is an informal name).
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2013 on A problem with articles at Lavengro
In addition, scores is mildly archaic in American English, whereas dozens is idiomatic everywhere.
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2013 on Tens and dozens at Lavengro
It's curious that Johnson makes no mention of "ch", "sh", "th" either under H or under the other letter. Well, even Homer nods. Two points are obsolete: that English words never end with "c" (the "ck" in learned words like "musick", "rhetorick" was stripped after Johnson's time), and that "r" is never mute (from which we see that Johnson's pronunciation was rhotick).
I simply cannot afford to have a student come back to me with a complaint that something that I have taught or tolerated has been criticised in no uncertain manner as a grammatical solecism by a native speaker. Then you are lost. In the age of the Internet, where the English that people read can come from anywhere in the world, there will always be people who will land on either a Briticism or an Americanism (or an Australianism or an Indianism) with all ten toes. Nor is it possible to always and everywhere avoid usages that are unacceptable to a large fraction of the anglophone population. Indeed, since there are only tens of millions of Britons to complain and hundreds of millions of Americans, the safest thing to do would be to teach all your students American spellings, American grammar, and American idiom exclusively, as by learning to write "criticized" instead of "criticised". :-) At least their work would present a smaller attack surface.
That's a thing that could happen to any man.
Toggle Commented Jun 2, 2013 on BBC English at Lavengro
The sentence looks quite American to me; we are generally speaking in a commatose [sic] condition compared to y'all. But I agree that a relative clause inside a relative clause is a sign of overpacking — which, come to think of it, is also a habit of American journalism, trying to get the whole story in a one-sentence lead. One wonders.
Toggle Commented May 31, 2013 on Keep it simple at Lavengro
At least some libraries would write "A guide to English language usage", capitalizing only the first word — but of course "English" is always capitalized, except when it refers to backspin.
Toggle Commented May 27, 2013 on Four once more: 27 May 2013 at Lavengro
I would say rather that donut is an informal or variant spelling of what is standardly doughnut everywhere.
Toggle Commented May 25, 2013 on It’s that myth again at Lavengro
I think the idea of the Bryson anecdote is that this sort of thing was typical of his father's interactions with Bob, though it's not explicit that this particular story is exemplary. The habits of a group may include things that most individuals do, even if each individual does them only once. "Muslims used to go on hajj by boat", for example, does not mean that each Muslim made a habit of doing so, but that collectively considered most Muslims did so.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2013 on I would in the past at Lavengro
The semantic distinction is the same in AmE, but it's true that both forms are h-less. As I understand it, all initial /h/ was lost in English before the BrE-AmE split (around 1700), and then erratically restored from the spelling in slightly different ways in the two regions.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2013 on Unaspirated ‘h’ at Lavengro
Strindberg's play is usually called Miss Julie in English. But in 19th-century Swedish, Julie is called Fröken because her father is a nobleman, and the translation really should be Lady Julie.
Toggle Commented May 23, 2013 on Spanish possessive adjectives and menus at Lavengro
There's a mystery here: Spanish carpeta is supposedly < French carpette, yet according to TLFI the French word means only 'carpet, throw rug', not 'folder'. Indeed, the OED says it's a borrowing from English, which got it from Old Norman carpite 'coarse cloth made from short fibers'; cf. French charpie 'surgical lint', which is the Central French equivalent of carpite. In southern South America, in fact, carpeta does mean 'tablecloth, billiard cloth', according to Wiktionary. In the U.S., of course, carpeta does mean 'carpet', as is typical of immigrant languages: the false friends become true friends: in American Swedish fitta means 'fit' (v.), whereas in proper Swedish it is an archaic word for 'farrow, give birth to pigs'!
Toggle Commented May 23, 2013 on Corpulence and false friends at Lavengro
In the street Spanish of New York City, because tu madre is short for a variety of well-known mortal insults, even speakers who normally never use usted for anybody automatically express 'your mother' as su señora madre, literally 'your lady mother', or even more literally 'her ladyship [your] mother'. Sometimes this carries over into English too.
Toggle Commented May 23, 2013 on Spanish possessive adjectives and menus at Lavengro
Well, it scans, which is more than most of these things do, but there are many instances of false declamation. Structurally, though, there is no "turn" between the sixth and seventh stanzas, corresponding to "In fact, when I know what is meant by mamelon and ravelin", where the protagonist admits that his knowledge isn't quite all it should be after all. Very few Major General parodies preserve this property, though Kevin Wald's Xena version certainly does.
Toggle Commented May 22, 2013 on The Ballad of the Amateur Grammarian at Lavengro
Likewise several hypocoristics: Nan, Nanny (> nanny goat, but probably not human nannies) for Ann, Ned for Ed(ward,mund), Nell, Nellie for Helen, and Noll for Oliver (notably Cromwell). This is probably from prefixed mine (used in Early Modern English before consonants in place of my) rather than prefixed an. Similarly, in certain dialects [nɒnt] 'aunt'.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2013 on Of adders, oranges and doilies at Lavengro
To which we Yanks add herb. The British pronunciation is mildly risible to us, as it is homophonous with Herb(ert); our dictionaries show an aspirated pronunciation as an alternative, but I have never heard it used.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2013 on Unaspirated ‘h’ at Lavengro