[ExI] Whimsy or error?
lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Aug 25 06:00:01 UTC 2008
Damien was kind enough to correct one of my spelling
errors off-list, and we ended up talking about grammatical
>> An old friend of mine from South Africa once told me
>> that he was appalled that I had said something like
>> "There's far too many grammatical errors in everyday
>> American speech as would be detected by any
>> objective sample."
>> I cursed my mid-western roots, for I could see that it
>> was going to be very hard to ever extirpate that particular
>> error from my spoken discourse. [Well, I thought it was
>> a definite error: should be "There're" instead of "There's"
>> but Damien says not to get overly worried about that.]
And Damien replied
> I find "none of these politicians are worthy to run a 7-11 store" far
> more horrid, yet almost everyone does it. I *think* that if one were
> to change that to "not one of these politicians are worthy to run a
> 7-11 store", people might look askance, but maybe not.
Yes, surely a larger percentage of people would pick up
the error in the latter. Embarrasing to relate, I make the
former error a lot.
But consider: fill in the following sentence, i.e., what is
the correct form for sentence # 4 here?
#1 There <is|are> six people in the boat.
#2 There <is|are> four people in the boat.
#3 There <is|are> two people in the boat.
#4 There <is|are> zero people in the boat.
"There are zero people in the boat" sounds a lot more natural
> (You'll notice that I put the comma after the close-quotes,
> as a good UK/Aussie ought; since "..." tells us that what's
> enclosed is a quotation, or stressed as exemplary. I hate it
> when people drag in commas and semicolons---
Oh, me too. It was hard to believe that in Amercan grammar
books one reads that sentences such as
Central to topology is the concept of "limit point."
Choke! Actually, in fact, I found that particular sentence in
a math book written as
Central to topology is the concept of "limit point".
and I believe that the author's mathematical good taste simply would
not permit him to place the ending quote *after* the period.
> even while I agree that a sentence must finish with the period or
> exclamation mark or question mark inside closing quotes.
Traitor! Where is your fine UK/Aussie brainwashing when
you need it most? Well, so be it. I shan't ever change!
We will fight in the poetry, in the history, and on mathematics!
We shall never surrender! It *so* goes against logic.
> But I can fit in with the locals if I must.
Now what is logical in the following?
"That guy," he said, gesturing yonder, "must have
had a *bad* day."
I say that our usage, here, which <sigh>, now looks
rather normal to me, is in fact not logical, because no
one would say "That guy, must have really had
a bad day" unless one were out of wind or something.
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