Submitted by stan on July 24, 2009

Pled versus pleaded

Anyone notice the banishment of “pled” about 5 years or so ago? The newspapers used to say “The defendant pled not guilty.” Suddenly, everything became “pleaded.” I contend that this is an improper imposition of some kind of twisted “grammar correctness,” except it is incorrect. “Pled” is a less emotional word than “pleaded”. I plead when I am begging for something. Unless the defendant is on his knees weeping, he is not pleading, he is entering a plea. In the past tense, he pled, not pleaded. What do you think?


Sort by

I don't agree that "pled" is less emotional than "pleaded." I think they carry equal "emotional" weight, if any. Only context can increase or decrease the emotional impact of either, as in your on-his-knees example.

In the context of legal defense, Merriam-Webster defines "plea" as:

(1) : a defendant's answer to a plaintiff's declaration in common-law practice
(2) : an accused person's answer to a charge or indictment in criminal practice

To plead, in this sense, is simply to enter a plea. No begging is implied. Regarding the past tense of "plead," Bryan A. Garner, in his excellent A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, has the following to say:

"Traditionally speaking, 'pleaded' is the best past-tense and past participle form."


"'Pled,' dating from the 16th century, is nearly obsolete in British English, except as a dialectical word. Nor is it considered quite standard in American English, though it is a common variant in legal usage."

That the word "pled" has fallen out of favor is unlikely part of some “grammar correctness” putsch. It seems far more likely that American news organizations are simply adapting to the global marketplace by adopting the more widely accepted usage.

18 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Douglas Bryant - I find it disheartening and sad that our news organizations feel the need to "adapt to the global marketplace" instead of using correct grammar and setting a higher standard. I actually get goosebumps when I hear someone say "that's so fun!" as our local news anchor did recently.

I remember, when I was a child, even Ralph Cramden on the Honeymooners used correct English - if he didn't, Alice corrected him. People used to strive to speak well and properly. That isn't the case anymore.

Our youth cannot spell or write and they certainly cannot speak properly. Our media is very much to blame for this as they "adapt" instead of lead the way. It is yet another black mark against our school systems in the US that these university graduates (and they almost always are if they are practicing journalists) have managed to obtain a degree without first obtaining an education.

A rerun of a foolish sitcom was on last night and the running gag of the show was the majority of the friends making fun of one whenever he spoke well, quoted literature, or referenced something other than drinking beer, chasing women, and "robot wrestling." I turned off the sitcom. If, however, I turn off everything that offends me in the same manner, I will be left with nothing but the History Channel.

78 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I noticed this irritating change (pled to pleaded) around the time of OJ, the Menendez Brothers, and the advent of "Court TV". It seems to have been a conspiracy in the media to all shift usage at once. This irritates me almost as much as “pre-owned”.

Okay, a language is living and breathing (and wheezing and coughing) entity. I get that. But speaking for myself, I will *never* accept “pleaded” in any context.

Of course, I must disclose that I grew up with, and still use an old English form that can be demonstrated by the words “gotten” and “boughten”. I also am recognized (derided?) for having a penchant for creating new words and idiomatic phrases which should exist but that do not. So take my pled/pleaded song and dance with a shaker of salt.

39 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Of course the problem is that is is grammatically a real puzzle:

The question popularly asked in court is "How do you plea?"
The answer is "I plead" innocent or guilty (at least in most cases.)

The proper form of past tense for "plea" would certainly be "pled" not "pleaed". If one considers the root to be "plea", then "pleaded" is some oddly redundant construction. If you consider "plead" to be the root, then "pleaded" may be correct.

Of course, the wrench in the works is that "plea" is a noun, the verb is "plead." While we have a general tendency to conjugate nouns (after all, I googled my way here), that doesn't make it correct.

However, when we look at similar verbs, we quickly see that the past tense of read is "read" (pronounced "red") and the past tense of "lead" is "led." If you add to that meet/met, feed/fed, and the like, it is hard to see any undue confusion here. Leaving the past tense of "plead" as "pled" directly conforms to the pattern of at least one other common verb, thereby following the rule, not creating yet another exception.

Then again, we could go with he rules of "tread" which is arguably the closest thing: that would mean that "plea" is gone in favor of "plead", and the past tense becomes "plod"; oops, that one's taken, too.

I humbly submit "pled" should be preferred above "pleaded" rather than adopting "leaded," which is how you spell the phonetic word "leded" (see lead[2].)

76 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I started to notice this shift (i.e., pled to pleaded, etc.) a couple of years ago. I decided to Google for an "answer" and here I am. I am equally irritated with lighted versus lit. This change is inconsistent insofar as we don't use readed in place of read ... and so on. Who started this shift anyway?

32 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Personally, it drives me nuts... It's become like nails on a chalkboard. Every time I hear it or read pleaded, I liken it to someone saying "I runned-ed away".

72 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Here hear! I hearded the shifted use of the passeded tense, too. And I don'ted liked it then, and I still don't likeded it now. To my ears, it sounded do much like an "Ebonics" form of translation. I vote to drop it, in favor of "pled" (or maybe pronounced as such, but spelled [or spelt] "plead"). Was that well saided?

51 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

'bepleden crys' is definitely more poetic therefore emotional than 'bepleaded crys'

7 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

oops *cries*

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

As one who drafts opinions daily, this is a subject of great interest.
Most (if not all) the balance of my nine-member intermediate Court of Appeals
uses "pleaded". All but myself and one other Justice have never stepped foot in a criminal courtroom as counsel to either the State or the citizen accused.
I've insisted my staff use "pled". But, let's face it, it looks weird.
I'm with Uncle Bob (April 13, 2011, 8:06pm)...and think it makes best sense to use "pled", pronounce it "pled" and spell it "plead".

19 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I looked this up because I wanted to know for sure. So obviously I have only preference to fall on. I giggle at some of the comments on the redundant sound of pleaded... Like runned-ed. Everyone knows it's ranned-ed :)

Indeed plea is the root of plead, but plea is a noun, and cannot be conjugated. So I can't really 'hear' the redundancy of pleaded unless it's pronounced pled-ed, because plead (pleed) is not plea-ed. Confused yet.
I'm not saying one is right and the other is wrong, I just can't find a straight answer. It's all a matter of opinion

Sure read and read, lead and led, bleed and bled...
What about need and ned, heed and hed, seed and sed? Oh wait...

16 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Pled should be the correct form of the word used. Pleaded doesn't sound correct and until recently was not used most often. I don't care what any of the so called "professional word" people state. It's common sense, not rocket science.

29 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This has been driving me crazy for a few years, along with the phrase,"revert back to"; (how many times are you returning?) and the use of the word "a" in the place of the word "an". "An" will be the next word to disappear. I hear the media skipping over it on a regular basis as well as everyone promising to send someone a e-mail. Nails on the chalkboard for me!

32 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

While we're at it, how about another of my pet peeves? The word "the". It's pronounced "th-uh" before a hard consonant, but pronounced "th-ee" before an open vowel sound. As in:

Thuh beginning
Thee end

When I hear "thuh end", I think I'm listening to a two year old. I really cringe when it comes from one of my kids' teachers.

28 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Can't understand who or why some of these gramatical pundits think that all of the the sudden, pleaded has replaced pled. The media happily decided that this is the correct form of the word and has since used only pleaded when speaking about crimes. This is just some random person's idea so why do we need to follow and correct a word that has been used as long as pleaded? Another word, that drives me crazy is axed instead of asked. People were simply not corrected when they fell into this lazy tongue derivative. One more thing, is the ly term that is not used anymore with verbs. Such as serious?

10 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Can't understand who or why some of these gramatical pundits think that all of the sudden, pleaded has replaced pled. The media happily decided that this is the correct form of the word and has since used only pleaded when speaking about crimes. This is just some random person's idea so why do we need to follow and correct a word that has been used as long as pleaded? Another word, that drives me crazy is axed instead of asked. People were simply not corrected when they fell into this lazy tongue derivative. One more thing, is the ly term that is not used anymore with verbs. Such as serious?

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Leapt vs leaped, crept vs creeped, trod vs treaded, lead vs leaded, the trend is indeed vexacious.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Many years ago in Canada, where I went to school, the present and past tense were both "lead." The past tense was not spelt (spelled?) "led." Also, the present and past tense were both "plead." We never heard (heared?) nor read "pleaded" or "pled."

13 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@lloyola - How ironic that your post extolling the virtues of grammatical correctness would itself contain a grammatical error. The correct usage is "our media ARE," not "our media IS." The word "media" is the plural form of "medium."

And the name is spelled Kramden, not Cramden.

11 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Or is this a singular VS plural issue?
He plead
they pleaded?
But then i am dyslexic.. I think i spent around 4 terms in collage to get past freshman comp.. so take what i say with several grains of salt.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

A curious thing.... I happened on this in searching for some background for some advice I was preparing to give a non-native English speaker regarding a piece he'd written. In it, he had written that a character "bargained, plead and cajoled with" another character. I started off trying to communicate that cajoling is something that the actor does alone - one doesn't cajole with someone - one merely cajoles someone. But then I got lost on "plead." It was obvious that he needed the past tense, but which one? To my thinking, "pled" works better on its own, while "pleaded" works better with the prepositional phrase - one pled, or one pleaded with another. I wasn't certain though that that was the case, so I went out onto the web looking for some sort of verification. Instead, I found this, so I thought I'd just drop it in here for comment.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

As a child in Canada, I was taught that "plead" and "plead" [pled] were both present and past tense, similar to "read" and "read" [red], and to "lead" and "lead" [led]. I suppose this is just the difference between the British way of speaking and spelling and the American way. Of course, it is their language.

8 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I was taught "pled" growing up in the 90s. "Pleaded" sounds like something a kid would say when they haven't learned the proper usage yet.

21 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@JusticeJim ... Pet peeve alert! ... "All but myself and one other Justice have never stepped foot in a criminal courtroom..." Hold out your hand and let me slap it! "Myself" is wrong, no matter which way you look at it ... and you need commas to clarify. Here's a quick webpage on reflexive pronouns:

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Alice ... Let me consult my medium circa materiam ... Hmmmm, she's says that treating media as a collective noun has been around since the 1920s and that it and data both can take a singular verb.

The general rule of thumb is that once a loanword is taken into a language then that language can, and usually does, treat it according to its own grammar rules and usage. It may be plural in Latin but it can be used as a collective noun in English. We do the opposite with information. In English it is a singular noun with no plural (we don't say informations) ... We took it from French ... and there is a plural in French!

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@In Fact ... What about need and ned, heed and hed, seed and sed?

Here is why they aren't strong verbs with with a vowel change and don't follow the pattern ...

Heed ... OE hedan, WEAK verb ... even in OE! And as you can see, it only had one 'e' to start with. Ic hede ... short 'e' sound as in red. So as you might guess, the past tense was 'ic hedede' (heeded).

Need and seed were nouns in OE. The verbs were from them ... Thus, they are week verbs.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

OK, finally to the post itself. While I like pled, etymologically speaking, it should be pleaded. Why? Because it is yet another Latinate from French and, typically, imported verbs or verbs made from imported nouns are weak verbs. However, this was made to fit a strong verb pattern likely do to the sound as others have pointed out. So, both past tenses are valid and correct. I like pled and will stick to it.

There is another imported French Latinate that also has an alternate strong ending ... prove ... The past participle can be proved or proven. I prefer proven but both are correct.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

AnWulf - due?

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@mmmmmm ... I'm really tired right now so I'm not understanding your question. I don't know what you're asking about that isn't already explained. Mind expanding the question and referencing what you're asking about?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


I'm with you. Pleaded does seem to imply some grovelling and in a legal case particularly, there should be no bias. It is simply the the plea which is subject to proof.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I teach in a graduate program and gave my students a writing skills test. They were supposed to correct grammar errors in sentences. More than half the students thought that "sneaked" (as in "she sneaked into the house after her curfew") was incorrect and changed it to "snuck." Argh.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

They weren't wrong to do so.

From OE: snîcan to sneak along, creep, crawl, ['snike']
snícan Strong sv/i1 ... a strong verb changes the vowel in the past tense!
ic sníce present
ic snác past
ic gesnicen part.

My ME wordbook doesn't conjugate it. However we know it was a strong verb coming out of OE so it isn't surprising to find that many continued to change the vowel in the past tense. I could argue, etymologically speaking, that snuck is more correct than sneaked.

Regardless, snuck is acceptable. And I prefer it.

sneak verb \ˈsnēk\
sneaked or snuck, sneak·ing

Definition of SNEAK

intransitive verb
1: to go stealthily or furtively : slink <snuck out early>
2: to act in or as if in a furtive manner
3: to carry the football on a quarterback sneak

transitive verb
: to put, bring, or take in a furtive or artful manner <sneak a smoke>
— sneak up on
: to approach or act on stealthily

Usage Discussion of SNEAK

From its earliest appearance in print in the late 19th century as a dialectal and probably uneducated form, the past and past participle snuck has risen to the status of standard and to approximate equality with sneaked. It is most common in the United States and Canada but has also been spotted in British and Australian English.

Examples of SNEAK

They tried to sneak into the movie without paying.
She sneaked some cigars through customs.
He snuck a few cookies out of the jar while his mother wasn't looking.
They caught him trying to sneak food into the theater.
Can I sneak a peek at your quiz answers?

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Without reading through all the posts here...

My theory is that reading the past tense "plead" off a teleprompter while presenting the news is likely to cause the talking heads to misread it and say the present tense "plead" instead. "Pleaded" (it hurts me to even type that) is obviously much less likely to be misread.

Maybe the spelling should be changed to "pleed" (like "bleed") and "pled" (like "bled"). Bleed/bled don't seem to give people any trouble. Or even "plead" and "pled", maybe?

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Pled is not a word.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Marian ... of course pled is a word. But in case you don't believe me:

From M-W:
plead, verb \ˈplēd\
plead·ed\ˈplē-dəd\ or *** pled ***also plead\ˈpled\plead·ing ... ***emphasis mine.

If that isn't enuff ... It's worth seven points in Scrabble

8 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

There's no such thing as "correct" English. All languages change and adapt. Read English from 50, 100, 500, or 1000 years ago and you'll know what I mean. This is just a small example of one of those changes. I wonder what it was like when English began to lose its gender distinctions. The older generation probably got upset, but the younger folks just talked how they felt comfortable and didn't give a rat's ass.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

You are using an American dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary says "pleaded, North American English also pled."

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

So what's the past tense of to dive? It is dived, not dove - that's a bird.
Past tense of sneak is sneaked.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@AndyAlm ... Just because that the rules can change doesn't mean there isn't a "correct" English. Otherwise, the tongue will fall asunder into sundry tongues as happened to Latin after Rome had fallen or happened to Anglo-Saxon after the Takeover. English has a lot of room in its rules for flexibility (such as pled, pleaded) but it does have rules!

You have trouble reading stuff from 100 years ago? That's likely just a wordstock problem.

If you don't know the spelling of 500 years ago, I can see how that might be a little hard. Otherwise, it is just the wordstock that might trip you up. Many of those words are still in the wordbooks, just not used nowadays ... like anfald (one-fold ... simple), umbe (around), both as standalone preposition and a forefast (prefix) as um-, wanhope (despair) ... forefast wan- (lacking) +hope, wantrust (distrust), asf.

Going back 1,000 years takes one to the fore-Takeover (pre-Conquest) days when Latinates were few, pronunciation and grammar rules were unlike today, and there were sundry dialects tho grammar anfaldness (one-foldness - simplification) was happening albeit slowly. That takes some swoting! lol

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

From OED: plead |plēd|
verb ( past pleaded or pled |pled|) ... interesting that the online "world" version of OED lists pled as North American or Scottish ... regardless, it lists the word so therefore, it exists.

From OED: pled |pled|
past and past participle of plead

So the word exists and is an acceptable past tense. As I pointed out above, plead is a Latinate and the normal is for outlander words (verbs) to be treated as a weak verb. But this one wasn't and hasn't been for many, many years.

From OED: dive |dīv|
verb ( past dived or dove |dōv|; past part. dived) [ intrans. ]

Pled and dove are acceptable past tenses.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I calmly count to Ten when I hear the term "PLEADED".
I finally had the chance to ask a Lawyer what he thought about this issue.
He smiled and said that the talking head lawyers and commentators on TV are F@$KTEDED!!

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

GEE WIZ did I spell that right :)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Ann ... When you gave your class the assignment to correct the "grammar errors" in sentences, did any of them redefine the assignment, i.e. to correct the "grammatical errors" in sentences? Can a noun describe another noun? Not yet. But, "the times, they are a changin'." I just had to sneak this in. The Devil made me do it.

6 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Reply to lloyola:
"I turned off the sitcom. If, however, I turn off everything that offends me in the same manner, I will be left with nothing but the History Channel."

This year, I have become quite annoyed by numerous factual and grammatical errors in lots of programs on The History Channel. Many of the programs are clearly cheaply made, and they are cheaply made in countries like the U.K., Ireland, and South Africa. The owners of The History Channel are also too cheap to have new narrations written and produced to replace the (factually) erroneous and poorly-spoken ones that came with the cheap shows.

Hence, we in North America are also stuck with narrations that say, "The team are...", "The crew are....", and "The team decided....". Yikes. Clearly, a team cannot decide anything because a team does not have a mind or a brain. The leadership of the team does have a mind and a brain, so it can made decisions, but the producers of those programs are too lazy to have the narrator say, "The leader of the team decided," or "The leadership of the team decided."

You better watch out for that infernal, imprecise British English. They say things like "The Government are", and they call a whole ship of the navy a "who" rather than an "it" or a "she".

I reply to all of those people that "Pie are round and cornbread are square...."
If you don't recognize this punchline of a joke, do look it up on the Internet or ask some people about it -- preferably mathematicians and engineers.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I suspect this occured because writers in the newspaper business could not remember how pled should be spelled, so they decided that it was easier to take the safe route and spell it pleaded.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

HLN is using the word plead "Joran Van Der Sloot will plead guilty... since he hasn't yet plead wouldn't it be he will plea guilty? I hate pleaded but this words is a tough cookie!!

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

No, you enter a plea by pleading, as oppose to pleaing. Plea is the noun and plead is the verb. But it's an understandably confusing word

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Pled is most certainly a word.

Pled: past participle, past tense of plead (Verb)
Verb: Make an emotional appeal. Present and argue for (a position), esp. in court or in another public context.

Direct from the dictionary. Pleaded drives me insane when I see or hear it. I will stick to pled thank you very much.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I will continue to use pled. It just sound better. When I hear the media using pleaded it irritates me almost as much as hearing "who'd a thunk". I know my sixth grade teacher is rolling over in her grave over that one! She made us stand and recite any word she called out in all tenses or we had to stay after school and write them a number of times. Only when she was satisfied that we knew how to properly use tenses, did we get to go home. I am fairly positive that she would have said pled is correct. Who would have thought it would become an issue to be debated..oh yes, who'd a thunk it?

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Wow, I've been thinking it was me. I'm so happy to realize I'm not alone. It's gotten to the point that when I see the word 'pleaded' I change it to 'pled'. I've even had argument about it tonight. I just cringe at the way our language is being destroyed just to make it 'easier' for others to butcher it.

5 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Bryan Garner, quoted earlier, author of both Modern American Usage and editor of Black's Law Dictionary for over 20 years, is an excellent guide. Recapping somewhat, for those under the impression that pleaded is somehow newfangled when what they really mean is that the word sounds irksome to them:

"Traditionally speaking, pleaded is the best past-tense and past-participial form. Commentators on usage have long said so, pouring drops of vitriol onto 'has pled' and 'has plead':

[Then he cites usage books from 1893, 1905, 1906, 1926 "The past tense is pleaded. The use of pled or plead is colloquial", 1928, 1940, 1943. All of which fall rule pled as either wrong or slang.]

"The problem with these strong pronouncements . . . is that pled and plead have gained some standing in AmE, as noted in the 1950s: 'In the United States pleaded and pled are both acceptable. . . . In Great Britiain, only the form pleaded is used and pled is considered an Americanism.

"Indeed, pled . . . is nearly obsolete in BrE, except as a dialectical word. Nor is it considered quite standard in AmE . . . though it is a quite common variant. . . .

"Still, pleaded is the predominant form in both AmE and BrE and is always the best choice. . . ."

So, plead is a regular verb as of the 13th century, but 300 years later there was introduced the dialectical form and it was sometimes an irregular verb, which has lingered, dropped out of British English almost entirely, but gained a toehold in American English around the 1950s. Even so, it remains a lesser variant.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I don't believe what Editirixrex said one bit. Also, it is beside the point. The original question was raised about what is said on AMERICAN TV STATIONS, so British English is irrelevant here in this discussion. Why is it that you felt like going off on a tangent?

To top it off, the Americans and the Canadians have the British and the Irish outnumbered by a very wide margin. Just on a statistical basis, American English is far more important that any other kinds - which merely express minority views.

There is no reason for Americans to imitate British English.

From reading Australian newspapers, I have also seen that Australians are far more likely to adopt words from American English than from the others. For example, I saw the word "yuppy" in the Sydney newspaper w/o any explantation for what that means because Australians already knew.


1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Quoting the 2009 edition of a preeminent reference called MODERN AMERICAN USAGE's entry titled PLEADED; PLED; PLEAD (which cites American sources for all those examples pronouncing it a colloquialism or slang), seems relevant to the topic at hand.

The use of "pled" in American English gained some ground circa the 1950s, but that form is both newer and lesser used in this country than the predominant "pleaded"; the claim that pleaded is either ungrammatical, newfangled, or incorrect has no basis. While pled is common enough, it is in fact the upstart and less used variant here in the States.

"Correct" and "proper" or even "prevailing American usage" are rather slim (if not false) defenses of pled. "Sounds funny," however, is a perfectly fine personal motivation.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"How do you plead?" - "He pleaded not guilty". Correct English. "I sentence you to be taken ...and hanged by the neck ..."
Not pled, not hung. English law court language. Pictures are hung, convicted criminals hanged.
Your correspondent says you have to cry or weep while pleading. That must be in the US. In England you just wring your cap in your hands, and look shifty and apologetic. In 1970s South Africa you tried not to make jokes or seem frivolous, but it was hard.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes, those are both proper American English as well. The first has a variant (pled, the subject of this thread) that is used in the States, but less often; the second, hanged, is utterly correct on both sides of the pond.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

DAWood is right to talk about the terrible quality of English being used in Britain today. Errors involving number just for one: for example as you say, "the government are..."
The telephone will tell you "the caller did not leave their number" (whose number, who are these people with a number?). It is in every paragraph of every newspaper. The words "he, him, she and her" have all been replaced by "they" and "them". I believe the speakers' defence is that they do not wish to risk being seen as sexist. Instead, they prefer to remain incomprehensible. Even when the gender of the person is known. "The boy left their socks in the box". Whose socks? Who are the owners of these socks? Oh! the boy's! You mean "the boy left HIS socks ...".

Newsreaders, reporters, politicians. Written and spoken language. They don't care and tell you that you are a grumpy old pedant if you complain. Is it that bad in the USA? I doubt it. Frasier and Niles always get it right. or do they ...?

The occasional cock-up with "I" and "me", ... In England it is almost regarded as correct to say "Daphne invited Frasier and I to dinner". How about Frasier wasn't included: "Daphne invited I to dinner". I subject, me object.

It's bad, isn't it?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

That problem with speakers and writers, especially British ones, not being able to distinguish between singular and plural is an especially ghastly one.

Here is an example that I read in a news article recently:
A group of about 10 trapped miners had already been identified as being all men. Then, a paragraph or two further down came a statement like "One of the rescued miners died on their way to the hospital." Holy hell. He died on HIS way to the hospital.

Another news article that was from the United States told of a driver who abandoned HIS passengers on an intercity bus. A couple of paragraphs down, the driver was identified as a woman. So SHE abandoned HER passengers. What happened in detail was that she parked her bus in a small town, where someone picked her up in a car and drove away, never to return. So her passengers were abandoned in a small town somewhere, rather than being taken to St. Louis, as promised when they bought their tickets.

Getting back to "pled": Shorter, one-syllable verbs are always better and more efficient than multisyllable verbs, just as long as their meanings are clear.
Hence: { pled, lit, ate, bit, dug, fought, rode, sung, and wore }

We do not need verbs like {pleaded, lighted, eated, fighted, rided, and singed}, because they are inefficiently long in syllables. This is besided the fact that "singed" has a totally different meaning. I have seen humorous copies of old ads that say, "Would you like your beard singed?"

No, thank you, I do not want any fire anywhere near my face!


2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Just on a statistical basis, American English is far more important that any other kinds - which merely express minority views"

I realize you may not have tried to make that comment sound as ignorant as it does; it is true America is the country with the largest population of English speakers. The problem is that this statement presumes that America has one common dialect, a presumption which isn't even close to accurate. By that logic, one may conclude that India, the second largest population of English speakers, with about one fifth the number of dialects represented in the USA, is statistically "far more important" than "minority" US dialects.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Although I otherwise agree with much of what you've stated.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hello, "Why Bother",
It sounds like you never have met many Indian people in person, I have.

1. Many Indians, Pakistanis, etc., THINK that they speak English, but they do not.I have heard this with my own ears, and they are incomprehensible. BROKEN English does not count as "speaking English".

2. The vast majority of such people (as above) do not speak English as their primary language. They simply do not. Broken English is their second, third, or fourth language. Broken English does not count.

3. In Western countries like the United States, Canada, and ,maybe more, it has been necessary to create a standardized and thorough test called the TESL = Test of English as a Spoken Language to be given to all overseas students who come here for graduate school and professional schools in colleges and universities, and some of the others, too. NOT passing the TESL rules out those students from employment as assistant teachers of undergraduate students, or from professional programs in medicine, dentistry, etc. -- because they are unable to communicate clearly with their genuinely English-speaking students, patients, and colleagues. Sorry, but many of them could go to school here, but they cannot earn money by working at their schools. Many cannot afford to pay for their schooling.

4. At many different American colleges & universities, there are intensive programs in English (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) for undergraduate and graduate students who come here for education, but their proficiency in English is very low. Many of these came here from Asia, with the dominint groups being from India, China, and Southeast Asia. Those programs in English are time-consuming, taking about a year before the students can pass the TESL and go on into their chosen majors.

5. I am an American, but I know all about being a graduate student and the travails of many overseas students. I have been a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech, Tennessee Tech, and the University of Alabama myself, and after that, I have been a full-time faculty member in Maryland, Illinois, and Arizona. Hence, I have known a lot of foreign students, especially ones from India, and I have witnessed their struggles with English. What they said was often incomprehensible.

6. Personally, I knew a fellow faculty member, originally from India, who when he had arrived in the U.S. years ago was fluent in Telegu and Malayam, BUT he told me that back then his English was No Bloody Good (NBG), even though he has studied it in school back home. Nobody here could understand what he was saying. Hence, as he told me, he had to learn real English from scratch, in parallel with all of his other undergraduate courses. He could understand, but he could not speak it.
He did well because he earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in electrical engineerig in Illinois, and then he found a teaching position in Missouri. He has now been an American citizen for a number of years, and he is married, too.
It all took a lot of hard work on his part, and he has told me that now English is his favorite language -- and he has to mentlly "shift gears" to speak anything else, such as with his mother, father, and brother.

Finally, so summarize again, speaking broken or incomprehensible English does not count!

D.A.W. .

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Also, strong dialects of English in the U.S. died out during the 1940s and 50s. The experience of World War II, the Korean War, and the advances in telecommunictation -- and especially television, killed them off.

Men and women who served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and those who moved (often long distances) across the country to work in defense factories had to start speaking a common, unified language. Then listening to the radio and watching TV cemented down the process.Watching motion picture helped, too. Everyone learned to understand what Clark Gable, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Jimmy Stewart were saying, and to imitate them, too.

Then, there was "Me Tarzan, you Jane", but that doesn't count!
D.A.W. .

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Synesis doesn't really bother me, but I do edit it out of American texts especially when it's inconsistently applied. The usage is not, however, an error.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Synesis may not bother you too much, but I sure am pleased to learn that in America you edit it out when it isn't wanted. I have not lost that many nights' sleep over it either, but I make it a point to show it the door whenever an example comes my way and I am in a position to do so. Otherwise I just grumble about it. Syneses! Don't you just hate them!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am really pleased to catch on to your much earlier correspondence on "sneak" and "snuck". As emigres returned Scotsmen, regularly visiting the ancestors in the Highlands, we amuse each other there on winter or rainy nights by conversing in wide-ranging variations on Standard English, telling tales maybe, for example, about how grandpa snuck grandma into the cinema without paying, using this wonderful word, picked up in 1950s Southern Africa, from what we assume is American. We also talk about torriential rain (pronounced torry-en-shul) because one of said it as a child and we thought it was funny, like "anyweny" in place of "anyway". You may shake your heads in disapproval, but in Celtic circles we do this sort of thing for fun. And drink whisky. Which may explain it.

4 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

D.A. Wood,

You have made some valid points and have expressed opinions formulated from legitimate experiences. I'm not trying to attack you. I was making a comment on your statement based on statistics of English speaking populations and recognized dialects, and I was exaggerating the truth just as much as it seemed you had in that specific point.

I have met many Indians, several who speak better English as their second language than many North American born, first language English speakers, and that is neither more nor less valid than your experience.

I've seen no evidence to support the notion that the vast majority of any English speaking country's population speaks a standardized English, whether as their first language or otherwise. Communications and exposure have helped immensely in unifying dialect, but you don't have to drive very far to hear variations, and that doesn't mean the people who don't live in your state are wrong or uneducated, they've just accepted a slightly different regional standard.

We're all language lovers in this thread, I'm sure. Those who don't care probably wouldn't be here. I'm for proper English as we all are. But I recognize that absolute rigidity is not a reasonable or attainable goal. The standard must have room. English is not the same today as it was in some centuries old rule book, nor will it be, in years to come, the same as rules today. Dictionaries are revised, and language evolves. English has adopted many words from other languages, brought to it no doubt equally by speakers of broken English. Groups you may have dismissed a little too quickly brought us words like "grammar."

There is no reason for Americans to imitate British English.

Perhaps not. There are already huge differences, so why go back? But it's this room for growth and the acceptance of the regional standard that allowed this to happen in the first place. Otherwise, somewhere today, an American teacher would be adding a u in red ink to the word "color."

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Pleaded" always makes me do a double take when I see it, but the switch does make sense in light of the long term trend in English to eliminate apophony and make irregular verbs regular (or strong verbs weak if you prefer). This trend started as far back as the transition into middle English; if it has sped up in recent decades then I blame literacy (I always thought of apophony as friendlier to the ear than the eye). At any rate, while I am as nostalgic as the next fellow, regularizing our verbs will aid the spread of English as a global lingua franca.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Matthew: Except that pleaded is the both the prevailing usage and older than pled. It's not so much a new hack as commenters claim in this thread but both a throwback and signs of a lesser variant starting to lose even more ground.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Matthew ... editirixrex is right. Go back upthread and read my earlier post. Plead is a Latinate and the wont is for outlander verbs to be weak. The same happened with prove ... it now has a proven as a past participle. Truly folks, it's not something to get worked up about. Pleaded or pled, both are ok.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I agree fully. This is an example of the uneducated bastardization of the English language by those who would inform us of our daily issues. "Pleaded" as opposed to "pled" would be as malfunctioning as "Leaded" vs "led". Its 4th grade stuff which is about where I would put today's journalism. Its right up there with "nucular" (ph. new-que-ler) as opposed to "nuclear" (ph. new-clear). That is actually 3rd grade stuff but seems to be all the rage now. He "pleaded" that our leaders have "leaded" us to "orientate" ourselves to policies destroying the "nucular" family. Its all so low brow

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Tim, you are so right about "pled".

However, when it comes to "nuclear" there are three syllables. See this Web page:

The pronunciation of nuclear is roughly new-clee-ar, with the accent on the second syllable. Oddly, people who know anything about the subject know how to say "nuclear physics" (five syllables in all) -- but knowledge of the sciences (and history) has been dwindling to nearly nothing in the general public.

The pronunciation of the ending of "nuclear" is roughly the same as in "la-min-ar", but this is another word from physics and engineering. The big advance in the aerodynamics of the great P - 51 Mustang fighter plane of WW II was its laminar-flow wings. Those were first put into use by the new North American Aviation Company of Los Angeles County, and laminar-flow wings cut down greatly on the turbulance generated by wings. Thus, the drag on the P - 51 was much less than on earlier figher planes, and it had much higher speeds and a much longer range.

That long range was what made the P - 51 to fly all the way from England to Berlin and back, for example. They were also able to fly all the way from Iwo Jima to Tokyo and back, for example, escorting B - 29 bombers.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Note: "able to fly". I left out a word.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


"Lowbrow" has been one word for a long time, at least in North American English. says that it came into use in about 1902 in the United States.

Speaking of lowbrow, I just saw "alrite" in print on the Internet. Where I went to elementary school during the 1960s, it was emphasized in the textbook and by the teacher that the phrase is really "all right".

I have also seen another insulting word in novels and short stories: "slopehead". It means about the same thing as "lowbrow", and it refers to cavemen, and especially Neanderthals, with their sloping foreheads.

Oh, well, it is difficult to deal with all of the lowbrows and slopeheads that we have now.

Interestingly, the expression "O.K." has been traced by linguists all the way back to President Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States, and a man from a Dutch-American family in New York State. Dutch was his first language, at home, and he learned English later. "O.K." was Van Buren's abbreviation of the Dutch phrase "Oll Korrekt", which meant about the same as "all right". As the President, whenever Van Buren finished reading an official document (something the President did a lot of), he marked it with "O.K." in acknowledgement -- whether he found it to be good, bad, or indifferent. It was just his way of keeping track of things. (Back then, the President had very few assistants as compared with a century later.)

The word "okay" is just a back-formation from Van Buren's "O.K."

By the way, Van Buren was the first President of the United States to have been born after the Independence of the United States from Great Britain. He was born in 1782 in Kinderhook, New York, and he died at the age of 79 in Kinderhook, too.
One theory about "O.K." that has now been discredited was that O.K. stood for "Old Kinderhook", supposedly a nickname for Van Buren.

Van Buren is the only President whose first language was not English -- though in my opinion, the same thing applied to George W. Bush, whose only language was Broken English. I used to cringe every time he made a speech.


1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I once knew a man from Indonesia who had lived in the United States for years. He was earning a B.S. at the college where I taught, and he was the husband of one of the other members of the faculty.

He told me that his parents spoke Dutch at home, and of course there is a national Indonesian language, too, which is the language of schools, businesses, government, etc.

He laughingly added that he spoke three languages: Broken Dutch, Broken Indonesian, and Broken English !! Somehow, he could make himself understood here.

I also taught electronics engineering to an old, white-headed Vietnamese man. His
English was nearly incomprehensible, but I noticed that when he was speaking with students from places like Morocco and Algeria, he spoke fluent French, and so did they. So, for them, French was their lingua franca.

Oddly, after the Communists took over South Vietnam, they sent the old man to a "re-education camp". After many months there, the Communists decided that "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," so they let him go. Then, he and his children made it to the U.S. as refugees. Next, when I taught him two courses, he was very close to completing his B.S. in electronics engineering, so he wasn't such an "old dog" after all.

I was lucky in that in both of the classes that I taught him, his daughter was a student, too. Whenever the Dad asked a question in very broken English, and I stood there with a blank look on my face, his daughter would "translate" his question into her fluent English. Then I could answer it -- and he understood English well. I look at what he did as quite courageous because his English was so bad.

I had way, way too many student who refused to ask any questions even when they didn't understand something -- and I made it abundently clear that I believed that asking questions and getting answers was a GREAT way to learn. I encouraged it. I usually answered questions then and there, but occasionally I had to say either
1. We will talk about that after class, or
2. That is a great item for graduate school. (And undergraduates do not have the background for it.)


2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It is well-known among linguists and child psychologists that most small children (ages two through four, or so), go through a period when they think that all verbs are regular verbs.
I noticed the same thing about my own daughter when she was two or three.
Learning about irregular verbs come a little later.

This is why small children say things like { breaked, comed, doned, eated, flyed (two syllables), gived (two syllables), growed, knowed, maked, runned, singed (two syllables), taked, telled ...}

Oddly, we have college and high school graduates nowadays who are stuck at the same level with such words as { flyed, growed, layed, pleaded, sayed,...}

I wish that I had $5.00 for every time an adult said or wrote "layed" insted of "lain" and "laying" instead of "lying".
This is despite the fact that "layed" and "laying" have "off-color" meaning.

Just think of this statement by a woman, "I was laying on the beach all morning."
Well, at least that one sounds like a lot of fun and a pleasant experience.
My question is just, "With how many men?"


2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

LOL, when it comes to using "pleaded" instead of "pled".

I recently saw an episode of Gilligan's Island from a DVD that I bought. In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack washed up on the beach that the Air Force had lost. Before trying it out, the Professor expressed his concerns about the age of the rocket fuel in the pack.

This gave Thurston Howell III the opportunity to say, "There's no fuel like an old fuel."

Are the journalists who say and write "pleaded" old fuels ?
Likewise for "sayed" and "layed"?


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Horrified to read "the beach that the Air Force had lost." Surely you mean "the beach which the Air Force had lost"?

We really don't want to hear how the Air Force could lose a beach.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Aye, D.A., ye're fair going your dinger the nicht, as we say in Scotland. Are you on the malt too?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Brus, if I may suggest, using "which" instead of "that" really doesn't clear up any ambiguity suggesting that the Air Force has lost a beach. Instead, I would suggest the following phrasing: "the castaways found a jet pack that the Air Force had lost, washed up on the beach."

Oh, and while we're at it, I think that in this case, "that" is preferred over "which". Traditionally, "that" is used in a restrictive sense, while "which" is used in a non-restrictive sense. Presumably, the Air Force has lots of jet packs. The one mentioned is a particular jet pack, identified restrictively, as having been lost, so "that" would be appropriate.

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Porsche, you suggest "the castaways found a jet pack that the Air Force had lost, washed up on the beach." Well I suggest that the relative pronoun "which", referring to the jet pack, should ideally follow the antecedent (the word to which it refers) as closely as possible, so if it is the castaways:"the castaways whom the air force had lost ...", if it is the jetpack then "the jetpack which the air force had lost" and if the beach, then "the beach which the air force ...".
We think the writer meant the jet pack: so your version is left with two problems, first the dangling participial phrase "washed up on the beach" which also wants to be as close as possible to "the jet pack". As the position immediately after "jet pack" is now occupied by the relative clause introduced by "which", we place it immediately before: "The castaways found washed up on the beach the jet pack which the air force had lost."
The second problem is using "that" as a relative pronoun. it is all the rage now, and is wrong. Earlier research on this site discovered that the blame may lie with Microsoft whose grammar checkers underline "who, whom and which" with wiggly green lines, tempting users to succumb and just shove in "that" instead regardless, much to the annoyance of readers and listeners who know better.
"Who, whom, whose" and "which" are relative pronouns, "That" is used to introduce indirect statements. So "The spokesman said that (about to report a statement made earlier) the police had arrested the suspect who (referring back to the suspect, so 'who' is a relative pronoun, relating to 'suspect') was hiding in the house which (referring to house, so relative pronoun) they had surrounded".
Relative from Latin "re-fero" = carry back, ... referre, retuli, relatum. 'Relate' from the 4th principal part of the same verb. The relative pronoun refers. The antecedent is the word to which it refers. In English we have a set of words "who, whom, whose" for people, "which, whose" for things. Germans have a grid of these words to sort out: wer, wie, was, wessen, wem, etc, and can cope. The French have 'qui' and 'que' and can manage it. So why can't the English learn to speak? pleaded Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady.

Ah yes, 'pleaded' ...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I had realized that there was something awkward about what I wrote before:

"I recently saw an episode of 'Gilligan's Island' from a DVD that I bought. In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack washed up on the beach that the Air Force had lost."

However, I did not expect this to spark off a discussion of relative pronouns and subordinating conjunctions (that, which, although, because, since, so that, such that, though, unless, until, when, where, while -- and a good many more). Do not be confused that many of these can also be used as other parts of speech.

Now, I have thought of some ways to modify my sentence somewhat for clarity:

1. "In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack -- washed up on the beach -- that the Air Force had lost."

2. "In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack, washed up on the beach, that the Air Force had lost." (simply inserting two commas).

3. "In that episode, the castaways found a jet pack that the Air Force had lost and that had washed up on the beach." (Aha! Parallel construction, and what a fine thing it is!)

There are doubtless other ways to rephrase this sentence for clarity.
I do not think that using "which" helps, but it could be used.

Speaking of the German language, it has subordinating conjunctions, too.
The most common one is "dass", which is commonly written with the German "ez-set", a special letter that looks like a Greek "beta". "Dass" means "that".

Also, German has something in this area that does not exist in English anymore. (It probably did in Old English.)
German has three definite articles -- because it has nouns of three different genders. These are { der, die, das } in the nominative case. However, these are also commonly used as subordinating conjunctions, too, and those usually translate into English as "that". Subordinate clauses are also ALWAYS set off by commas in German.

Here is an example: Das Flugzeug, die rote streichende Fluegel haben, gehoert Von Richthofen.
This means, The airplane that has red-painted wings belongs to Von Richthofen.
Yes, the Red Baron.

In certain cases in German, the words "das" and "dass" can mean exactly the same thing.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I don't guarantee that I got all of the endings on the German adjectives right.
Sorry, but in German the usage of nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs are all a lot more complicated than they are in English.
On the other hand, adverbs, conjunctions, and predicate adjective are all easy.

Also watch out for those notorious German compound nouns.
My favorite one is "Farbfernsehgeraet" = "color television set", but I am an electronics engineer, after all.
For many years, Germany had three different systems for color TV.
West Germany used the PAL system, which came from Britain.
East Germany used the SECAM system, a French one that had been adopted by the USSR and its satellite states.
Also, there were American Army and Air Force bases in West Germany that had their own TV stations, and those used NTSC - the American system, of course.

Years ago, some of the American stations started showing HOGAN'S HEROES, but within a month, the local governments said, "Please don't broadcast that one anymore!" No matter what kind of a TV set you had, you could still pick up HOGAN'S HEROES in black & white, and the German governmentss didn't want all of those Nazis (and idiots, too) on TV.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Aye, D.A., ye're fair going your dinger the nicht, as we say in Scotland. Are you on the malt too?"


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Presumably, the Air Force has lots of jet packs."

In reality -- and on "Gilligan's Island" -- the jet pack was completely experimental and those were never widely produced.
Also in reality, I don't think that the Air Force ever experimented with jet packs. Those were items that the U.S. Army experimented with, so a jet pack belonging to the Air Force was a piece of fiction on "Gilligan's Island".

The idea for the Army was that some soldiers could conceivably use jet packs to fly over the battlefield** and then land in the rear of the enemy lines, either for sabotage or for scouting. This turned out NOT to be practical.

**For many decades, the two places that the Army worried about and made big plans for defending were West Germany and South Korea. Thus, the Army's high commanders and their staffs were continually planning on
1) Fighting the Soviets, the East Germans, and the Czechs in West Germany.
2) Fighting the North Koreans and maybe the Red Chinese in South Korea.

Almost any small advantage that they could think of in the Army was worth considering. Large advantages, too, including cannons and rockets that could carry nuclear weapons and chemical weapons. We are very, very fortunate that a war like that never broke out.

I have read that the U.S. has not had any nuclear weapons in South Korea since 1992. However, the Air Force has them on Okinawa and Guam, and the Navy has them on aircraft carriers and submarines in the Western Pacific -- not too far from Korea.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It occurred to me last night that some people do not know the humor behind
"There's no fuel like an old fuel."

This is a twist on a saying that has been around for centuries:
"There's no fool like an old fool."

Old fools do things like these: spending a lot of their money on much-younger women; telling false tales about their younger days; trying to grab too much power; spending a lot of their money on alcoholic beverages; spending a lot of their money on fast sports cars; eating too much; going out and catching VD; et cetera.
I think that you should get the picture.

I have known a good number of old fools in my life!
I just don't want to become one!

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Is that right, D A Wood?

Well, at least I have never tried to grab too much power.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

So, are you an "old fool" or not? LOL

You remind me of a happening in "The Incredible Hulk" TV series.
David Banner had hitched a ride with a man on a motorcycle.
Then, they went to a pub near a college campus.

In that pub, they met a young woman who said, "When I went to college, my Daddy told me don't smoke, don't drink, don't mess around with men, and don't ride on any motorcycles."

Then, in a really saucy tone of voice, she added, "I've never ridden on a motorcycle" -- implying that she had already done all of the other three!"

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Yes, DAW.
That's what she was implying, was it?
Oh dear.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

A typical date for Brus:
He spent a lot of his money on much-younger women; took her for a ride in his expensive sports car; took her out to dinner at an expensive restaurant where he ate way too much and told false tales about his younger days; spent a lot of money on expensive alcoholic beverages and got drunk; and continued by catching VD. Then while driving her home, he got arrested by the highway police.

Finally, he PLED guilty to driving while intoxicated -- and then he got sent to jail for four months and fined 5,000 pounds sterling. [Was that enough? I am unfamiliar with British criminal law, except that they do not whip or hang convicts anymore.]

That sounds like an "old fuel" -- an "old fool" -- to me. Just do not let it happen again!

LOL, Dale

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hi there, D A Wood.

Now, I think you need a wee rest and a holiday. One can tell: you wrote 'pled' again, when you meant 'pleaded'. Carlsbad is nice at this time of year.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

PLED, PLED, PLED! Four letters rather than seven, and one syllable rather than two -- much more efficient on both counts.

Also, here in the U.S.A., we have two famous and scenic Carlsbads:
Carlsbad, California, in the far south, and Carlsbad, New Mexico, Come on over, see them, and enjoy them. Take your choice, and then buy airline tickets either to San Diego. Albuquerque, or to El Paso, Texas (immediately south of New Mexico).
If you go to southeastern New Mexico, you can also visit Roswell, the home of weird tales about flying saucers in the 1940s and 50s.

Carlsbad, N.M,, has a spectacular National Park, and Carlsbad, Calif., has spectacular views of the coast and the Pacific Ocean.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

So many people are so passive nowadays, and they accept this w/o any complaint:


On the SUNDAY MORNING program today,

NOT "more risky" as your man said, but rather "riskier".

This is basic elementary school English, and it has been in use for at least 500 years.

Dale A. Wood


Note that I have also heard these on broadcast TV this year and last year:

"more free" rather than "freer"
"more safe" rather than "safer"
"more happy" rather than "happier"
"more grave" rather than "graver"
"more hungry" rather than "hungrier"
"more clean" rather than "cleaner"
"more pure" rather than "purer"
"more rare" rather than "rarer"
(If a $2.00 bill is rare, then a $3.00 bill is even rarer. If an American $2.00 bill is rare, then a Canadian $1.00 bill is even rarer. They do not print these in Canada anymore.)

The next thing that we know, they will say "more corny" rather than "cornier", "more bad" rather than "worse", "more ugly" rather than "uglier", because their language on TV in the United States is getting worse, uglier, and cornier.

Alas, the phrases "more unique" and "most unique" just "gag me with a spoon" (to use some slang English). Nothing can be "more unique" than "unique".
(The experimental airplane "Voyager" made a unique flight around the world. That is true.)

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Here is some good news about language from this morning:

Nora O'Donnell on the "Face the Nation" TV program said: "Let's listen." - which is a very fine phrase that has stood the test of time.
Too many others say the completely awful "Take a listen."

For strong historical reasons, when it comes to the five senses, one can say or write:
1. "Take a look," or
2. "Take a taste."

But not
3. "Take a listen,"
4. "Take a feel," (Wow, this one sounds "off-color".), or
5. "Take a smell."

Things have been this way for a long, long time, and I cannot see any good reason to change now. I believe in changing things when there are positive benefits to this.

On the other hand, "Take a sniff" and "Take a whiff" have been in use for a long, long time.
Also have been, "Take a leap of faith," "Take a shot at it," "Take a seat," and "Take a nap."

On a different subject, in American slang English "Take a p***" and "Take a c***" have been in use for a long time. Do people say these things in other places? As for Canada, the answer is probably "Yes".

"Take a jump off the top of the Empire State Building" is not very nice, either.

I once had a date who objected when I told her to "Take a 270-degree turn at the next interchange," but I am an engineer, anyway.
Within an hour or so, I decided that she and I didn't have much in common, and I never saw her again.

"Take a 270-degree turn is just the way that I think," and it is the way that a good number of other people think. Lots of other people don't mind "90-degree turns", "270-degree turns", etc.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Now, I am reminded of a comedy routine in the "Get Smart" TV series when someone was giving Agent 86 directions on how to drive somewhere. These included:

"Go over the underpass and then under the overpass...", but someone interrupted to argue, that it was actually:
"Go under the overpass and then over the underpass..."

I thought that this one was hilarious, and then a couple of decades later I found out that this one was a spoof of the difficulties of driving around in Washington, D.C.
I know, I know! That is hard!

I once took a taxi to the National Airport just south of Washington, and I swear that the driver drove a figure-8 to get to the right part of the airline terminal to drop me off. There was a place in the middle where one road went on a bridge over the other. So, I really have been "over the underpass and then under the overpass," or was it the other way around?
I must PLEAD ignorance on this one because I don't remember. I was thinking about "Get Smart" and Agent 86 at the time.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am a son of American TV from the 1960s, especially.

When it comes to programs like these, if it happened, I usually remember it:

Emergency!, Get Smart, Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heroes, The Invaders, The Outer Limits, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Star Trek, The Time Tunnel, and Voyage ot the Bottom of the Sea.

I also remember a lot about some fine British TV series, such as The Avengers and The Prisoner, that were broadcast here. Later on. Danger: UXB was a fascinating British series. I remember the main character, Lieutenant Brian Ash, very well, too. This was a series of the 1980s.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


A reporter for NBC - TV news in the U.S.A. said this morning:

"He has pled not guilty to charges of ..."

The sweet sound of good, concise English, well spoken, entered my ears!
This was a reporter who is based in Los Agneles, but he was reporting on events in Washington State.

There is no need to use two or three-syllable words when one-syllable words work just as well in their places.

This reminds me of people -- whom I brand as attempted CHROME DOMES -- who say and write "individuals" (five syllables) now, when "people" (two syllables) works just as well, if not significantly better.

Likewise, they say and write "individual" (five syllables) when "person" (two syllables) significantly better.

Then, there are those people in law enforcement, etc., who say "gentleman" when "jackass", "cretin", or "slopehead" are a lot more appropriate to the situation.
"Neanderthal" would also fit, but that is a four-syllable word.

There was the man who was very rude to Taylor Swift, and then - away from microphones - President Obama was overheard calling him a "jackass". That word was so appropriate to the situation that nobody could complain, except for the five percent of people who will complain about anything.


2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It was always fun to think about Agent 86.

If you're looking to save a syllable or two then note folk or folks instead of people.
You can bind to the internet rather than connect if your binding (connection) is good then you can swiftly cruise the net!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The words "surf" and "browse" are just as short as is "cruise" (in syllables), so there is no efficiency in using "cruise".

I also "link" to the Internet, so one cannot do any better than this in words.

I have had a very long, ongoing dispute with my Internet company (AT&T), which was clearly in the wrong. Finally, someone conceded that there was a "network" problem. I told them, "No, not network, and you listen to me - a heck of an engineer from Georgia Tech. What you have is a LINK problem, and that is in the LINK between my apartment and the rest of the Internet system." I do not give one iota about the "network" of AT&T - you just get my LINK working, and things will be fine. After many months of this, a technician from AT&T started looking at this link, and he found a circuit box that birds or small mammal had broken into. That let rainwater into the box, and that rainwater was spoiling a splice between two cables.

The whole purpose of that box was supposed to be to keep that splice dry. If the administrators of AT&T had merely listened to me -- many months ago -- then they could have sent a technician over to examine everything in my LINK to the network. The whole problem would have been repaired long ago.
Get the chewing tobacco out of your ears, I say to them!


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I wasn't putting out "cruise" to bestead (or instead as a verb) "surf" or "browse". Surf and browse are both good words as well.

Link is also a good short word. In your case, it was indeed a physical link problem. I too hav link problems. In my case, they say the tower ... and thus the antenna ... needs to be raised to get a better signal. Altho it only became bad after the swapped their antenna. (Alignment?) The link to net started working again during a recent storm. It's still weak but better than nothing! Maybe the wind nudged their (or my) antenna a bit.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Quoting from Garner's Modern American Usage:

pleaded; pled; plead. Traditionally speaking, "pleaded" is the best past-tense and past-participal form. Commentators on usage of long said so, pouring drops of vitrol onto "has pled" and "has plead":
"Plead, sometimes wrongly used as the pret. of plead. The correct form is 'pleaded.'" John F. Genung, Outlines of Rhetoric 324 (1893)
[Seven other cites spanning the years 1905 to 1943]

The problem with these strong pronouncements, of course, is that "pled" and "plead" have gained some standing in AmE, as the Evanses noted in the 1950s (although they mentioned only "pled"): "In the United States 'pleaded' and 'pled' are both acceptable for the past tense and for the past participle. In Great Britain only the form 'pleaded' is used and "pled" is considered an Americanism." (DCAU at 372)

. . .

Still, "pleaded" is the predominant form in both AmE and BrE and always the best choice. . . .

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"pleaded"... in both AmE and BrE and always the best choice...

Whoever considers that to be true does not known anything about Information Theory.

Of course, the British have a great deal against Information Theory since this science was founded and developed by an Irish - American, Claude Shannon. Shannon was with the Bell Telephone Laboratories when he started, and then he moved on to become a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Irish and American! Holy cow. Is that anything like being Cockney and Australian, or French and Canadian? I don't think that upper-class British like any of these...

Information Theory is the science of efficient communication.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, said to a group of agents of KAOS:

1. In one hour, this island will be invaded by General Ridgeway and 50 crack paratroopers.
2. Would you believe by J. Edgar Hoover and ten G-men?
3. Would you believe by Tarzan and some of his apes?

The agents of KAOS didn't believe any of these. They just walked away with skeptical looks on their faces.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Agent 99 never had another name besides "Agent 99".
Also, I don't think that The Chief had another name besides "The Chief".

On their first meeting, Agent 99 and Agent 86 were supposed to meet in an airline terminal in New York City. Their contact code was supposed to be "The New York Mets have defeated the Yankees in the World Series." Well, it turned out that in an amazing event, the Mets really had defeated the Yankees in the World Series, and nearly everyone in the terminal was excited by this.

So, when Agent 99 said that to Agent 86, he replied, "Yeah, yeah..."
Then Agent 99 added this, "But the score was 99 to 86."
So, she finally got through to Maxwell Smart.

In a baseball game, a score of 99 to 86 would be absolutely incredible. In fact, it never happens. 99 to 86 is a possible score of a basketball game.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Great news on cable TV news in the U.S. this afternoon:

"Three indicted co-conspirators have PLED guilty..."

This was concerning a plot to commit an act of large-scale terrorism in New York City. The cretins had plotted to set off a large explosion in a subway tunnel there.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am one of those people who tries to find another way to say something in lieu of sounding offensive or ignorant. This is especially true if I am unsure of the audience.

Therefore, I give you: HE ENTERED A GUILTY PLEA.

'nough said??

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

That onethat you wrote, Angie's, is quite wordy and full of syllables. You must have missed out on everything about communicating efficiently.

That is just like the current craze for saying "correctional facility" instead of "jail" or "prison"; "high-level health care facility" instead of "hospital", "governmental headquarters" instead of "capitol" or "capital city"; "educational facility" instead of "school", "weapons testing facility" instead of "firing range" or "proving ground".

Give us a break, You want to make every paragraph twice as long as it needs to be.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It's true that some people will try to sound more intelligent by attempting to be verbose. This can cause quite a distraction during conversation. I believe, by simply altering the sentence slightly, that a distraction can be avoided, and no one will then be left to argue over the usage. I think a good question would be: at what point do we slip from common sense into laziness? A few extra syllables, in a good-natured attempt to avoid confusion, argument, and distraction, couldn't be too much for anyone to handle, surely. I prefer a simple conversation also, but I don't like a lazy one. There is something to be said for grammar etiquette, and the fact remains that in my sentence, at least I will have the comfort of knowing that no one could be offended, and no one will later be debating over my usage instead of my topic.

He pleaded guilty.
He pled guilty.
He entered a guilty plea.

At least I know mine is correct, without doubt or debate.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"It's true that some people will try to sound more intelligent by attempting to be verbose. This can cause quite a distraction during conversation."

During a conversation?? No, they WRITE IT ALL DOWN, and that is the big problem!

When I used the word "saying" before, I should have used "stating", which covers both written and verbal communications.

This leads us to a recenty-developed and serious problem that is especially from companies like the Associate Press: "said in a statement".
WHO decided that this one was needed -- because "stated" means exactly the same thing.

The people of the Associated Press have decided that they will do as they please, no matter how much evidence and history is to the contrary. Its writers do not want to call ships of the sea "she" and "her". I pointed out to them that this goes all the way back 2,000 or more years to the Roman Republic, where the word for "ship" in Latin is a feminine noun.

All spaceships and starships are feminine, too. All you have to do is to watch STAR TREK, in which Captain Kirk referred to the USS ENTERPRISE as "she" and "her".

The Space Shuttles COLUMBIA, CHALLENGER, ENDEAVOUR, etc., were all "she", too.

(It is true that in German, the word das Schiff is neuter, but so what? In German, the words for most modern forms of transportation are neuter, including das Auto, das Flugzeug, das Raumschiff (spaceship), das Fahrrad (bicycle), and das Boot (boat), Unfortunately, der Eisenbahnzug (train) is masculine. Most words in English that have a gender use the gender that comes from French and Latin.
"I love driving my Jaguar. She is a car that comes from England.")


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I noticed this morning that I was using a spell-checker that does not recognize the word "catsup". It flags this as a misspelled word -- and most users jump to the conclusion that it really IS misspelled. ("Ketchup" is in there.)

Also, missing in the same spell-checker are the words "gauge", "venusian", "jovian", "saturnian", and many other scientific and technological words. Also, Yahoo steadfastly refuses to add any words whatsoever to its spell-checking dictionary, including "Las", "Los", "Angeles". Hence, if you are writing to someone about your trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, you run into a slew of supposedly misspelled words.

"Air gauge", "gas gauge", "pressure gauge", and gauge theories in physics cause real problems. Also, these problems are caused by sheer laziness.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Most words in English that have a gender use the gender that comes from French and Latin.
"I love driving my Jaguar. She is a car that comes from England."

Oh dear. You mean "I love driving my Jaguar. She is a car which comes from England."

Does the fact that the French for a boat (un bateau) is masculine, mainly because of its sound (ends with -eau) bother you? Ship=navire is feminine because it sounds feminine (ends in -silent -e). If we followed your suggestion that the French & Latin dictate the gender of nouns we would have hardly any neuter nouns at all in English. In Latin they are a small minority and in French non-existent. In English about 99% are neuter.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

That criticism of spell-checker is well made. These tools are discouraging folk from using proper language, marking good practice as wrong. I think I am coming to the conclusion that this is the reason for the sloppy language we read and hear now, such as people using "that" to replace "who", "whom", "whose" and "which".

Pleasingly it does not seem to mind the use of "he" and "she", or "him" and "her" when referring to singular people, so I suspect that when folk say "they" when they mean "he" or "she" etc it is not so much laziness as a misplaced belief that political correctness is somehow a good thing, and that it dictates that references to gender are somehow very naughty and must be avoided at all costs.

How are the French, Spanish, Italians ... supposed to deal with such a daft view (other than, wisely, to ignore it, possibly with a Gallic shrug) when they have no choice but to use masculine and feminine? Resorting to a neutral plural (they) does not help, as eg in French it is "ils" or "elles" depending on masc. & fem., and so neuter is not an option.

Masculine and feminine are facts and it is a fine thing when language reflects this. Indo-European languages have used it for thousands of years. In ancient India the Buddhist language Pali has it. They sing songs about it. As the Frenchman said, "vive la difference". So far spell-check has left it in peace.

Oh, and "pleaded" is the correct term when applied in the court-room sense. I know this; I used to ask criminals in the court house how they pleaded, and if they said "not guilty" my job was to try to prove otherwise. Not a lot of fun, but it was a living.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I said: "Most words in English that have a gender"
Most nouns in English do not have any grammatical gender at at all.

That is something that was disposed of during the couple of centuries following the Norman Conquest, when the common people of England were left to their own devices concerning their language, while the Normans spoke archaic French with each other.

Hence in English, we don't have any gender (besides "it') for those common things in German that do, else we use the natural gender, such as for apple, boy, chair, dog, door, egg, eye, floor, foot, girl (neuter in German), hammer, hat, knife, leg, nose, peach, plate, road, slave, street, table, tooth, train, wall, wagon, ball-point pen (der Kugelschreiber).
Grammatical gender must be good for something, but for those of us who grew up on English, it all seems like a terrible mess of complication for nothing.

As an engineer, I was highly amused to read that the French were having deep discussions about whether it should be "la microchip" or "le microchip". Very tough, since French does not have neuter.

The French Academy finally decided to accept "bulldozer", but they decided that the pronunciation should be a lot different than in English -- with four syllables instead of just three, to start with.

In English, there is a big difference between having no gender at all and having neuter gender. For example, my computer doesn't have any gender at all.
In contrast, "Der Computer" in German is masculine.

Maybe computers ought to be feminine because of the many times and many ways that they simply act CONTRARY !
I often want to put mine in the dunking stool. If you have never hear about one of those, you have to read about them in the history of Colonial New England - LOL !

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh, dear. You mean "I love driving my Jaguar. She is a car which comes from England."
I don't see any point in using "which" instead of "that'. In North American English, "that" is a perfectly-good subordinating conjunction. In reading recent publications from England, it is apparent that a large of writers there have been innoculated agsainst the word "that". They just begin subordinate clauses w/o any subordinating conjunctions OR subordinating pronouns there.The independent clause just runs into the dependent clause with no kind of a connector at all.

Let me let you in or something. We Americans and Canadians have you outnumbered by a great majority. You might as well yield on some points.

Back during World War II, there was a big push by some over there to make a Briton the Supreme Commander in the West. However, President Roosevelt would not hear of it - not at all. That is how General Eisenhower of the U.S. Army became the Supreme Commander in the West. The U.S. Army provided twice as many troops and aircraft as all of the others put together.
Then Field Marshal Alexander in Italy was sent to Burma, and the American General Mark Clark took over as the Supreme Commander in Italy.
There are just lots of things that Americans have done the best.

"I love driving my Ford Mustang. She is a car that comes from Detroit."
No more British, French, Italian, or Japanese cars.
"I also fly everywhere in a Boeing 767."


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Brus - only the French would give a Gallic shrug; the Spanish would give a Castilian shrug and the Italians a Roman shrug.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

'In North American English, "that" is a perfectly-good subordinating conjunction.' So be it.

My argument is that it isn't perfectly good over on the eastern side of the Atlantic and it is hugely to be regretted that it is making its appearance everywhere now in the English-speaking world. I concede that it is everywhere to be found in the writings of PG Wodehouse even as far back as the 1910s and 1920s, and if he could do it, we can ...

So we can take the view, yeah, yeah, whatever, so long as we all understand each other and most folk get the drift of what we're saying, yeah, life goes on, know what I mean, gotta be honestand so on. But what is this site for, if note to grumble about "Pain" in the English?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

D.A. Wood makes a most interesting point about the gender of nouns which do not relate to male or female 'things' in English as being not so much neuter as of no gender at all. When compared with all other Indo-European languages this would be a novel concept indeed.

By the way, 'das Madchen' (sorry about the missing umlaut, I know it should be there, but I don't know how to do it on my computer at this minute) is neuter in German because it is a diminutive: all -chen and -lein words are neuter. I don't know why, they just are. Even though it means "girl". So neuter in German is not a third gender, not non-masculine or non-feminine, just no gender at all, maybe? Same as what I thought about neuter (linguistic) gender in the first place? Excuse me while I go for an ice-bag to stick on my head while I think about this. Or not.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Well, which is it ??

A news announcer on the CBS station in Birmingham, Alabama, said,

"The headquarters are..."

I tend to disagree. "Headquarters" is a collective noun, and hence it is singular even though it ends in "s".

I would be a lot more likely to say,

"The headquarters of NATO is in Brussels, Belgium," or
"The NATO headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium."

"The fictional Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation (SHADO) is in London, England."

The above name seems to have been modeled directly on the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE), which is in the area of Brussels, too. Fortunately for us, SHAPE does not have too much to do anymore.

(Back during the mid-1960s, the Belgian government asked that SHAPE be built at least 30 kilometers outside of Brussels. On the other hand, from the pictures that I have seen, SHADO seems to have been built right in the middle of London.)

"The headquarters of the Department of State is in Foggy Bottom in Washington, D.C."

"The headquarters of the British Commonwealth is in London, England."

Here are a couple of double ones for you:
"The headquarters of the United Nations is in New York City."
"The headquarters of General Motors is in Detroit, Michigan."

"The headquarters of the American Department of Defense is in the Pentagon Building in Northern Virginia."

"The headquarters of the British Ministry of Defence is in London."


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Most German words that are moden creations have been given "natural" grammatical gender. Hence there are lots of modern words like these:
das Auto, das Bakterium, das Benzin (gasoline or petrol), das Fahrrad, das Fernrohr (telescope), das Flugzeug, das Foto, das Gebaude (building), das Geschütz, das Golf (the sport), das Problem, das Mikroskop, das Radio, das Radar, das Steuer (steering wheel), das Tennis, and das U-boot. .

However, "Fahrrad" (bicycle) is a compound word, and its last piece (meaning wheel) was neuter to begin with. Likewise, the word for television set is neuter, but it is a compound word, and its last part is a word that is always neuter. Compound words get their genders from their last parts, and not from their first parts.

On the other hand, there are words whose spelling demands a different gender, such as der Laser, der Transistor, and der Motor, and some seem to have been given a different gender through just stubbornness, sucn as der Microchip amd die Kamera.

When the verb "senden" means "to transmit", it is a regular verb.Otherwise, it is an irregular verb. There are some other verbs in German like this with an old meaning and a new meaning.

The names of most chemical elements are neuter. See: das Eisen.
However, der Stahl (steel) is maculine. .
The names of most countries are neuter, but some of the Middle Eastern countries are masculine, it could be argued that "die Schweiz" is plural, and "die Vereinigte Staaten" is definitely plural (even though it is singular in English).

The German word for "banana" is feminine, no matter how much it looks like it ought to be masculine! The words for "pear" and "cucumber" are feminine, and the words for peach and apple are masculine, so there is no rhyme or reason for these.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

D A Wood, "headquarters" is considered to be a plural noun with both plural and singular construction considered correct; but the plural construction is more common. I wouldn't say it's a collective noun (compare water and waters. both may seem "collective" but clearly waters is plural). Rather, I'd say it's more like pants or scissors, a singular entity today, whose etymology indicates an item originally conceived of as plural. Usually, as mentioned in several sources, the singular is reserved for cases when headquarters refers to authority rather than physical location, as in "Headquarters is sending us to the front lines". While not necessarily wrong, may I suggest that some of your examples use "is" by mismatching the verb case to the adjectival clause? "The headquarters of the British Commonwealth is in London, England." may sound correct because "is" is incorrectly associated with the adjacent "British Commonwealth" instead of "headquarters". Just a thought. Of course, in the UK (but not in the USA) one would more likely hear "The British Commonwealth are..." In the UK, entities like comanies, organizations, etc., are treated as plural even when they seem singular grammatically .

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Porsche, I agree with you entirely, until the last few lines. The Commonwealth is an entity, one singular entity, and you would not use or hear "the Commonwealth are" in the UK. I have lived here for some decades, and never heard companies or organisations thought of as plural. "BP is putting up its prices again." If you do hear it used as plural "Shell are putting their prices again" it would make you suppose that it is the people who run Shell who did that. 'The House of Commons has voted'... even though it involves several hundred members. I cannot think I have ever heard of it being thought plural. If it were, it would be by elipsis, as "(members of ) the House of Commons have debated ..." but I have never heard it used this way.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"The headquarters of the British Commonwealth is in London, England."
Of course, the subject of this sentence is "headquarters", but I am pleased to read that even in Great Britain, "the Commonwealth is".
I suppose that the United Nations, Parliament, NATO, the European Union, the U.S. Congress, SHAPE, and SHADO are all singular there, just as they are in North America.

However, I have read or heard these in British publications: "the RAF are", "Rolls Royce were", "the Royal Family are", and (EGAD!) "the United States are".

As for "waters": "The waters of the Atlantic Ocean became his final resting place after his ship sank," where each of the nouns in this sentence is singular.

A great ways to compose sentences are:
1. Make all of the nouns and pronouns singular in the main clauses.
2. Make all of the nouns and pronouns plural in the main clauses.

We have a big problem in the USA about the following, especially among people who are on TV or on the radio. (They are professionals,mind you, who are being paid for their work. I am not picking on laymen.)
In the midst of their sentences that otherwise had all singular nouns and pronouns, suddenly there appears one of these words { they, them, their } -- which are plural pronouns. We listeners are left to guess what is the antecedent of the pronoun.

I have written e-mail to some TV stations in Alabama about this, and the response that I got (if any) was "fiddle-dee-dee", or words to that effect.

I wrote the person back to tell him / her, "Well, then, you will never get a better and higher-paying job in a big city like Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, or Washington, D.C."
Furthermore, "Reach for the stars. You might not get there, but you will go a long way." I think that there are millions and millions of people who do not have any ambition.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I have written to a TV station in Birmingham, Alabama, that has made a commercial that "toots on a big horn" about the supposed abilities of its people who appear in its broadcasts (news, weather reporting, etc.) This one has been broadcast ad infinitum!

That commercial has the wretched sentence, "... your team, whoever it is...."
This short span of words has multiple, glaring problems in it.
1. A team is not a "who", but rather, an "it", and that statement concedes this fact with "it is". (The word "whoever" is really grating here.)
2. The writer of that commercial could have lapsed all the way into British English wiith "your team, whoever they are." Instead, what we got was a hodgepodge of different varieties of English -- a hodgepodge that is grating on our ears.

Finally, I will correct everything with "... your team, whichever one it is...."

Wow! This version has clearly singular nouns, pronouns, and subordinating conjunctions all the way through, and it treats "team" as a collective noun, as it should be in the American Language.

We also need this, "The manager of the TV station has PLED guilty to multiple misdemeanors, and he has resigned from his position."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh, I ought to mention: the response that I got from that TV station was words to the effect of "fiddle-dee-dee".

I did point out that Birmingham is the location of a major state university, an important private university, and two junior colleges. College courses in English and journalism are readily available in Birmingham for anyone who wants to improve his or her abilities. If one is working in Birmingham, all it takes is the will to do so.

In Birmingham, one can also study mathematics, chemistry, biology, psychology, economics, engineering, business, and many other subjects if one only has the gumption to do so. I never took any courses in Birmingham, but where I live is about half-way between Birmingham and Huntsville. I liked the course offerings in mathematics at the Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville better, so I took a lot of graduate courses there, and I earned my master's degree there.
(The University of Alabama actually has three campuses in three different cities. It is a bit funny: My daugher and I studied in Huntsville, my sister studied medicine in Birmingham, and our father earned his doctorate in education in Tuscaloosa. Our uncle also earned his M.S. in engineering in Huntsville. Hence, we have a lot of ties to the Univ. of Alabama - though I also earned a master's degree in Atlanta, Georgia.)

One time on the JEOPARDY TV quiz show here, they said, "This university has campuses in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville," and the contestant was supposed to name the university. I said, "Give me a break! That one is too easy!"

We have some public universities in the U.S. that have 10 or more campuses in different cities and towns. Check these out: New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Brus, I haven't spent as much time as you in the UK, but numerous sources confirm that collective nouns, specifically in the UK, are often treated as plural, even when their construction is obviously singular. "IBM are...", "The Parliament are...", even "The corporation are..." This applies when an organization can be thought of as a group of individuals. I have also heard it frequently in the UK media. And DA wood, "The waters of the Atlantic Ocean became his final resting place..." illustrates nothing. "Became" is the same for singular and plural cases. In your example, "waters" is plural. You would never say "the waters of the Altantic is deep"; it's "the waters of the Atlantic are deep". Even clearer, "the Atlantic's waters are deep."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"The waters of the Atlantic Ocean became his final resting place..." illustrates nothing ???
Well, nothing but a sentence with singular nouns all the way through from beginning to end.
As for your hearing singular subjects used with plural nouns, there is the distinct probability that you have been listening to undereducated and lazy people. Those people should plead guilty as charged. "But Your Honor, I thought that one plus two equaled four.")

Don't argue about collective nouns. The VERY DEFINITION of collective nouns includes the fact that they are all singular. Hence, if you don't want a noun to be singular, then it cannot be a collective noun.

If the noun is plural, then call it something else.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

A new TV commercial, written by the uneducated and the lazy, has just been telecast in North America. One of its sentences says, "Everyone deserves our best."

Our? Our? Our? That is not only wrong in "number", but it is wrong in "person".

"Everyone" is third person singular, but "our" is first person plural.

In an earlier TV commercial, the writers wrote "we" (first person) when "they" (third person) was what was needed to agree with the antecedent.

I hope that those writers pled guilty and threw themselves before the mercy of the court.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Note that I wrote "North America" for a reason because anything that is broadcast across the United States automatically arrives in Canada, too, and especilly in the big Canadian cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor, Winnipeg, and Vancouver.

The cities of northern Mexico are covered by broadcasts from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California -- both in English and in Spanish. I have read of Mexican children who learned English from watching American TV from San Diego, Laredo, etc.

I have read that DBS satellites have made broadcasts, especially from Miami, quite popular in Cuba -- despite the fact that DBS receivers are illegal in Cuba.Cubans hide their DBS antennas in attics, barns, thickets, and so forth.
In the Bahamas, satellite TV receivers are all quite legal, and the language there is generally the same.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Everyone deserves our best." I hope they pleaded not guilty to your charge. Everyone (the audience) deserves our (the station's best), surely? Everyone (else) and 'we' are not the same person, so the number (singular/plural) need not match.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"IBM are...", "The Parliament are...", even "The corporation are..."

No! These solecisms are unknown upon these islands on the eastern side of the herring pond. Dreadful.

The British have enough horrors to put up, Americanisms mostly. For example "he was tasked to source his (probably 'their, rather, owing to the naughtiness of the sexist term 'his') key materials from ... "

Fingernails scratching down an old-style blackboard sound sweeter.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

DA Wood: you have today written this in your lengthy and multiple harangues about singular and plural in our mutual language:

"A great ways to compose sentences are:" followed by two rather odd ways to do so.

I suggest a break. Perhaps a sentimental trip to Toosaloosa? It sound nice and quiet.

A propos of nothing, but the name rings a bell: a cartoon in the UK during the time when the late Mr Gaddhafi was on the run and presence unknown to US and UK forces;

a figure with the unmistakable haircut and wearing shades, carrying a bag at a dusty, deserted railway station in the mid-Sahara asking a youth sitting idly in the sun by the tracks:

"Pardon me boy, is that the Ouagadougou choo-choo?"

Memory of this, to me, classic prompted by the name Toosaloosa. Must Google it. Is it on the railway network, as we in the UK call it?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It seems Toosaloosa is a kind of garment or clothing, and not a place at all. Sorry.
Will check your earlier remarks about where you all got your college education and all those degrees.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Tuscaloosa. Still sounds great for that song, "Pardon me, boy, is that the Tuscaloosa choo-choo?". Will check it out.

PS: it's pleaded, not pled.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Re: "the Atlantic's waters are deep."

Something that so many people cannot grasp -- and especially British people -- is that inanimate objects do not have any possessive case because inanimate objects are incapable of possessing anything. Wow, that requires some logic.

Hence: the cold water of the North Atlantic, the blue of the sky, the center of gravity of the beam, the carbohydrates of the corn, the boundaries of Switzerland, the warmth of the sun, the warp drive engines of the starship USS "Enterprise".

However: the cow's bell, the wolf's sharp teeth, George's lance with which he slew the dragon, the dragon's fiery breath, Achilles' heel, Homer's epic poems, the kukaburra's call, which causes him to be called the "laughing jackass", the President's power of the veto, the turtle's shell, Captain Ahab's obsession with the great white whale. Tolstoy's long and difficult novels.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Aha, we have places here that were named by the Native Americans, including cities and entire states where they lived.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was named for a courageous Indian chief of western Alabama. Another city with a native name is Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the popular song of the 1930s and "40s was "The Chattanooga Choo-Choo".
As for everyday railroads, Tuscaloosa has long been on a main railroad line that connects Birmingham, Ala, with Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Some of our states with Native American names include Massachussets, Connecticut, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Utah, and Arizona.
As for cities with such names, those are a little harder to find because so many of them received their names from Europe or Africa (yes, Alexandria, Memphia, and Cairo). Let's think: Native American names for cities Cheyenne, Chattanooga, Biloxi, Miami, Tuscumbia, Minneapolis, Omaha, Topeka, Walla Walla, Tucson,

Otherwise, we have a gross number of cities and towns with European names, including Albany, Amsterdam, Athens, Augusta, Birmingham, Bristol, Boston, Champaign (spelled the American way), Charleston, Cleveland, Cumberland, Dover, Frankfort (spelled a little differently), Georgetown, Geneva, London (or New London), Manchester, New Bern, Newcastle or New Castle, New Orleans, Paris, Portland, Portsmouth, Rome, Sheffield, Stuttgart, Vienna, Washington, York and New York, and dozens more.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Thank you for all that, DA Wood. Very interesting indeed. But I think perhaps that Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Annapolis and indeed all ~polis name places are from the Greek 'polis', roughly speaking a community or city, with its own customs, rulers, style of Greek dialect, etc. From which 'politics'.
Tuscaloosa, great name, great place. And with a railway, there can indeed be a Tuscaloosa choo-choo.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh, there are place names here that were crafted by white people out of components from both Native American and European components. There are also some that white people created "out of thin air" just to look like Indian names. I don't know which are which, and if you would like to know, I will leave it up to you to find out. Some of the possibilities include
Ohio, Indiana, Indianapolis, Kentucky, Iowa, Iowa City, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City,

"Annapolis" is obviously European all the way -- named for some Queen Anne or Princess Anne of England. That city is located in Anne Arundel County, too, but I don't know who she was.

"Philadelphia" comes from a Greek phrase, but I think that it might refer to something in Egypt.

We have a Prince William County, Virginia. This one was named for Prince of Wales who was outlived by his father, George II, but William had already fathered a son for whom Prince George's County, Maryland, was named. Then when the British crown passed directly from grandfather to grandson, he became the bloody King George III -- never a popular one in America. He was on the throne for a long time, and he outlived his wife, too. Their son became King William IV, who didn't have any children or nephews. Hence, he was followed by his young niece, Victoria, in 1837.

There is a period of British history that is called the Georgian Era (so something similar), which created Georgian architecture, among other things. Most historians lump William IV in with the Georgian Era, anyway. Next came the Victorian Era, which ended in 1901, and then after after that, things like Edwardian architecture arose. Oddly, the name of the Prince of Wales (Victoria's oldest son) was actually Albert (born in 1841), and he was called "Bertie" by the members of his family,

For some reason, they (and he) did not want a King Albert, so he chose the name Edward VIII. There was a Prince Albert in Belgium, who became an heir apparent when his older brother died in 1891, and his father died in 1905. ("an" heir apparent because the situation was complicated, especially since King Leopold II didn't leave any legitimate children Albert became King Albert I in 1909.
Perhaps the British thought that the possibility of having two King Alberts in nearby countries would have been too confusing.

The province of Alberta in Canada is not named for any of those Alberts, nor for Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. That province was named for a woman named Alberta who was the wife of the Governor General of Canada. Alberta and Saskatchewan both became provinces in 1905.

King Albert of Belgium, his wife, and their son had also visted the United States in 1919, a long time before any British monarch visited here (King George VI), who traveled to Washington, DC, to visit President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his family.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Re: "Everyone deserves our best." I hope they pleaded not guilty to your charge. Everyone (the audience) deserves our (the station's best), surely?

Let me be clear and confirm the fact that "our" did not refer to any TV station or any corporation at all. "Everyone deserves our best," was in a commercial that was telecast nationwide. Also, when one hears the entire commerical, the only possible antecedent for "our" is "everyone".
"Guilty, guilty, guilty," the verdict must be, no matter what the defendants pled.

The statement should have been "Everyone deserves his best," (singular!),
or by making an wide stretch of things: "Everyone deserves your best."
The salient problem here is a third-person subject with a second-person possessive pronoun in the sentence.

I have come to the conclusion that the writers of such things (incl. TV commercials) have a basket with many slips of paper in it. On each slip is a pronoun. Then when the writer needs a pronoun, he or she simply draws out a slip of paper at random and then copies the word on that. Then he or she tosses the slip back into the basket.

The same thing applies for prepositions, as I have noticed before.
Let's color code it all: a red basket for prepositions and a blue basket for pronouns.

We have a pharmaceutical company in the U.S. that uses the phrase "imagine you" several times within 30 seconds. Natually, "imagine yourself" is needed. I believe that the writers there omitted all of the reflexive pronouns from their basket(s).

{ myself, yourself, himself, yourself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves }

Oh, well, at least this eliminates the atrocity of "theirself". Or does it?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I have visited the Embassy of New Zealand in Washington, D.C. I went there because I want to look through a newspaper from Auckland, and the staff members there were most happy to let me do so. [I have had the same experience at the Australian Embassy when I wanted to look at newspapers from Sydney and Melbourne. This was in the time before the Internet came into use, of course.]

There is a nice plaque in the New Zealand Embassy that states that the cornerstone of this building was lain by Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Washington in 1976. Besides her official visits, the Queen has also made unofficial visits to the U.S. She and Prince Phillip simply wanted to go to Kentucky to shop for some horses.

There was a time back in the 1930s and before when none of the Dominions, Commonwealths, etc., were allowed to have any foreign embassies or consulates. If you had diplomatic business with any of those, such as to get visas to visit those countries, you were expected to visit the British Embassy or consulate.

I was happy to read that when they were allowed to establish embassies of their own, the first Canadian Embassy was in Washington, D.C., of course. A little more surprising is that the first Australian Embassy was in Washington, too, rather than being in Wellington, Tokyo, Peking, London, Ottawa, etc.

By far the largest embassy in Washington is the Canadian Embassy, which is located on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol Building and the White House. Pennsylvania Avenue is a very long and important one there, and in fact it extends a good way into Maryland, too. The only embassies on Pennsylvania Avenue are those of Canada, Mexico, and (interestingly) Spain.
The British Embassy is locted on Massachusetts Avenue in an area called "Embassy Row" because of the many Embassies there. Just to name a few, there are the embassies of Australia, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, the PRC, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the U.K.

The Embassy of New Zealand and those of several other countries are just a few blocks off Massachusetts Avenue.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Many of the important (and long) avenues of Washington, D.C., are named for various states of the Union, but not all of them. For example, there are major avenues named for Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

There are also Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, and avenues whose names are just letters of the alphabet, such as Avenue K.

I just wonder why there aren't important ones named for Delaware, either of the Carolinas, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and especially Virginia. This list includes a lot of the oldest states.

Back when the site of Washington, D.C., was chosen and the city was laid out (in its streets and avenues), Virginia was the most populous and wealthiest state, topping New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
When the site was chosen, it consisted of 100 square miles of land that were donated by Maryland and Virginia -- but in 1846, the part in Virginia was given back because the Federal government was not using it. Hence ever since then, Washington, D.C., has all been on the northeastern side of the Potomac River.

(I wonder when the first bridge was built over that part of the Potomac -- because that is a big river there, and bridging it was not easy. It could be that the first bridge there was a railroad bridge.)

Dale A. Wood

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Great history lesson, DAW, and very interesting esoteric information. But: !! "the cornerstone of this building was lain by Queen Elizabeth II" !! Lain? Lain?? Arghh! You mean "the cornerstone of this building was laid by Queen Elizabeth II". Lain?! Worse than pled, even. Much, much worse.
Discussed today with some learned friends the man who leaped (leapt?) from a plane wearing a strange suit with wings and descended swiftly to earth, landing unharmed among a pile of cardboard boxes set up for the purpose.

I said he glided, m'learned friends said fell, and I think you would say "glid".

Well? I am sure your answer for which we out east wait with baited breath, will be swift in arriving and fit stuff for chewing over at our next meeting.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

""We have a pharmaceutical company in the U.S. that uses the phrase "imagine you" several times within 30 seconds. Natually, "imagine yourself" is needed."" needs some work upon it:
"We have a pharmaceutical company in the U.S. which uses the phrase "imagine you" ...

Now, do you mean, "Imagine that you .." with the "that" elided, as in "imagine you were a turnip ...".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Philadelphia" comes from a Greek phrase, but I think that it might refer to something in Egypt, you say.

'phil-' love, as in 'bibliophile, francophile, etc. 'delph-' as in brother, eg "Adelphi". Is not Philadelphia well known as the city of brotherly love? I am sure a wee peek at Google will dispel or confirm any suspicions of its roots coming from Alexandrine Egypt during the Hellenistic period. More likely to be a modern construct to do with puritan idealists coming to make a fresh, clean start in the New World two thousand years later, in the 17th century, I suspect. I may well look it up on google if I remember after the repeat of 'Dallas' which starts in a few minutes.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

That is a pharmaceutical ad having to do with pain medication.
"Imagine you, feeling no pain." (Ugh!)

Of course, your Irish and Scottish have their ways of feeling no pain:
Irish whiskey and scotch, they are.

I have been told that there is a distilled liquor made and sold in Germany that is more like "white lighting" than anything else that is made in North America.
Feeling no pain, indeed!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The Egyptian connection with that or those Greek words has to do with the old, old practice of Egyptian noblemen marrying their sisters, impregnating them, and having children with them. EGAD! That was something that was all the way back in the time of the Pharoahs.

I worked with an Egyptian engineer, "Mo". back in 1983 - 85. Then along came a pop song by The Bangles called "Walk Like an Egyptian" (with a music video), and I asked Mo if he had ever head of those Mo had not, so I demonstrated how to walk.
Mo exclaimed. "Oh, like back in the time of the Pharoahs!"
"Walk Like an Egyptian!"

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Concerning: "More likely to be a modern construct to do with Puritan idealists coming to make a fresh, clean start in the New World two thousand years later, in the 17th century."

Sorry, but Pennsylvania was not settled by Puritans. Those came farther north.
Beginning in 1620, the place that became Massachusetts was settled by two groups that had axes to grind with the Church of England. The Puritans thought that the Church could be "purified" and set onto a righteous path. The Separatists were more extreme. They thought that the Church was ruined beyond redemption, and that all they could do was to scrap it and to start over with something new. Neither one of these groups thought much as the Church of England and its lifestyles.

Some time later, there were residents of Massachussetts who were irked by the rule of the Puritans and the Separatists, so they decided to move south. One group of them, lead by Roger Williams, established Rhode Island, and the other group, lead by Thomas Hooker, established Connecticut. Both of these places were created with a lot more religious and political freedom than the people in Massachusetts had, and in these two new colonies, they even established much more liberal churches, including the Unitarian Church and the Universalist Church.

Massachusetts also received another very conservative group of settlers, the Presbyterians -- who were much more conservative than Presbeterians are nowadays. Read about the history of the Presbyterians, and you will probably find that some of their ideas were quite shocking.

As for the Puritans and the Separatists, I believe that those groups vanished into other groups of Protestants a long time ago. Nobody lives like a Puritan anymore, though I think that there are plenty who think like Puritans!

When William Penn established Pennsylvania, he set that colony up as one with widescale religious freedom, and Pennsylvania was settled by a wide variety of different religious groups, including Anabaptists, Calvinists, Catholics, Lutherans, Jews, and a variety of different kinds of Protestants -- and nonbelievers, too. Many Mennonites from Switzerland, southern German, and Austria settled in Pennsylvania, too, and they got the nickname of "Pennsylvania Dutch". However, they weren't Dutch at all, but rather they were "Deutsch" - the German word for "German". German was their primary language for a long time. Many Amish people also settled in Pennsylvania because of the religious freedom there. For a large cluster of Amish settlements, look at the area around Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (There is another important town in that area called Intercourse, Pennsylvania -- no kidding. There is also a place with a wild and similar name in Colorado.) .

Maryland (named for the Catholic Queen Mary of England) was established as a refuge for Catholics, but Maryland was actually settled by people of all religions. Maybe the Baltimores had something to do with that.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

An excellent brief introduction to the settlers of the eastern seaboard of the USA in the early 17th century. Thank you for that. Hellenistic Egypt? Pharoahs before Ptolemy, Alexander's general whom he made king of Egypt, thereafter kings, and the last Queen, Cleopatra. Yes, incest all the vogue because no one else was of high enough rank to match, so seen as the only way forward.

What has all this to do with plead and pled and pleaded? And by the way, the folk down at the pub ('bar') next door are waiting with baited breath (well, not really) to hear if the folks down Alabamy way say "glided" or "glid", like the man with the wings and the cardboard boxes.

If you say it is glid then I shall book my tickets on the Tuscaloosa choo-choo and come on over to find out if it's true.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

More people who should have pled guilty to the gods of language:

The people who wrote a new TV commercial about how a certain model of car is "bringing the future forward".

Holy Cow. What I want are these:
1. Devices that will make time stand still.
2. Devices that will take me back into the past in order to witness things like:
a) the signing of the Magna Charter, b) Columbus setting foot in the Bahamas,
c) Galileo dropping weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa,
d) Isaac Newton visiting an apple orchard
e) the signing of the Declaration of Independence
f) Lord Cornwallis's assistant handing over his sword to Washington in Yorktown, Virginia,
g) The Wright Brothers making their first flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Also, we have way too many people who say "going forward" at the ends of sentences, instead of "in the future". This weird habit can be traced back to one VIP who repeated "going forward" over and over again: Hilary Clinton while she was running for the Democratic nomination for President.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Now, we have to put up with mangled English like this:

"Man plunges I - 85 overpass outside Atlanta"

The writer(s) had no idea that "to plunge" like this is an intransive verb.

On the other hand, "to plumb" is transitive, as in these sentence, "I went to the doctor to have my innards plumbed. He found nothing."


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The people should have pled guilty to this.

I had some kind of a problem with the services of some company.
(Actually, this has happened with numerous companies.)

When I made contact with the people there, they set about blaming their problems on their computer. I replied, "No, not whatsoever. That computer is your underling, and whatever it does is YOUR responsibility."

Their response: words to the effect of "Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, ..."

We do have serious problems with people's not taking responsibility for things, and my friends in England have told me that the same problem is widespread there.

We have had serious problems in the courts with "Big Wheels" such as two Governors of Illinois, a congressman from California, and a former senator from North Carolina who have pled "not guilty" to long lists of Federal crimes. The two governors and the congressman are now serving long sentences in prison, and the jury is still deliberating about the former senator.

I believe that those who have pled "not guilty", and then been convicted anyway, should next face the additonal charge of perjury, which is lying to the courts. Somehow, this is not prosecuted in the United States. Why not?

I think that the punishment for serious perjury should include at least seven lashes in the courthouse square at high noon. Then, we should have a good deal less lying in court.

I have read that in Germany, perjury before the courts is not a crime. Defendants are more or less expected to lie in their own defense. This is doubtless the case in many other countries. Shame !!


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Why is that many writers, expecially ones who live in the low numbers of longitude, go about writing long words like "further" and "additional" when the short words "more" and "extra" work just fine?

Is it just because they want to appear to be "chrome domes" instead of mere mortals?

For example, "When Eisenhower saw that the Germans were trying to break through at St. Lo, he sent 100 more tanks into the fray."
There is not any need for "a further" or "an additional" in this sentence.

Who has pled guilty to that?

Here is another example -- a peaceful example.
"While they were laying the transatlantic cable, they discovered that they needed 100 more miles of cable to complete the job. Who made an error this large?"
Dale A. Wood

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Please look at this news headline carefully

Italy are better than England, says Bonucci
By Mark Meadows of Reuters

into shark-infested waters.

They should be made to chant "Pie are square," along the way, too.

Note: Reuters is a British company that got its start in Holland and Germany years ago. How that happened, I do not understand. (The move to England.)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

What? You mystify me. I am baffled by your latest contribution.

And it's Magna Carta (it is in Latin: it means 'great Charter'), not as you put it Magna Charter. You have your languages confused. Runnymede, King John, share power with the barons, 1215 and all that.

And it's "pleaded" not 'pled' when used in the legal sense of claiming to be not guilty (or indeed guilty). Check the Law Reports.

Time for you to take a break on that Tuscaloosa choo-choo, away from all the pressure.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Casenote Legal Briefs: A man ***pled*** guilty to a charge of kidnapping.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am so glad that none of DAW's posts on this thread are on paper.
Think of the trees he'd have wasted!
I am also in awe of his typing stamina.
Or was some use made of copy and paste?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Should have typed "I am so glad that none of DAW's posts on this thread is on paper."

We all make mistakes. :-)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

WRT DAW's dissertations:-

If spoken they would certainly be classified as verbal diarrhoea.

Is there a term for the written equivalent?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

So strongly in agreement with you, Hairy Scot, that I didn't even notice your typo, if such it be. I too consider none as a singular notion, but my dictionary says it couldn't care less either way. But those trees have been saved, and that is the thing, and A Good Thing.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I tend to use both "pled" and "pleaded" depending on the context.
"The accused pled not guilty."
"He pleaded with his sister not to tell mother."

I also prefer "sneaked" and "dived" to "snuck" and "dove" on the basis of both personal preference and the existence of like verbs such as streak/streaked, live/lived, heave/heaved, hive/hived, leak/leaked etc etc etc.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

You are, of course, correct in the first cases, but wrong in the second part.

Pled is past tense, and pleaded is the intransitive. Where there is an object, pleaded is grammatically incorrect. Oddly, concise dictionaries seem to ignore this, while the unabridged versions do not.

(I haven't actually checked "snuck" vs. "sneaked", but I will say "snuck up" with or without an object. :-))

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Transitive and intransitive do not come into it. You can plead not guilty or guilty, (but not plead innocent) or you can plead for something. Neither is transitive. Guilty is an adjective, not even an adverb, so when you plead 'not guilty' that is an elliptical way of pleading (that you are) innocent, and a special construction in English. Guilty/not guilty are not the object of 'plead'.

Plead/pled, sneak/snuck, dive/dove are charming and diverting Americanisms. In an English courtroom one is described as having pleaded ...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse



Last time I referred to something as an Americanism on this site JJMBallantyne accused me of petty snobbery.


BTW: Pled is quite widely used in Scotland.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Thanks, Hairy Scot, for the warning about petty whatever you said. I am psychologically prepared for the shock of the blow if and when it falls.
In Scotland, as you know, there are so many variations on Standard English that there is a Scots dictionary - Scots is a different language, and great fun it is too. I have the dictionary and when in Scotland, as I am several times a year, I enjoy hearing the diverting vocabulary (which I look up afterwards, if necessary) and phraseology. In Invernessshire is the most wonderful quirk of all: when the speaker has just delivered a remark of self-considered great insight and wisdom, she (always a she) then concludes with "Aye, aha" (reflectively) while inhaling the words. Remarkable, and indeed unique. I can picture the scene in the dock now, in the courthouse in, say, Dalwhinnie: (exhale) "Not guilty, your majesty", (inhale), "aye, aha." Wonderful.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


I left God's country in 1981 and there are still some things that I miss.
One has to be aware that in Glasgow and the south-west some phrases should not be interpreted literally.
For example, if during a discussion someone says "Aye, very good" it does not mean that he is agreeing with you. It is in fact a subtle warning that you should choose your next words very very carefully.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I ended up here because I heard Bill Curtis on American Justice (Dahmer: Mystery of a Serial Killer) mention 'pleaded guilty'. It obviously sounded very wrong and I just had to make sure I wasn't missing something. The way I see it is, when you begged someone to go back to school, for example, you pleaded with them. When you entered a guilty plea, you pled guilty. (Wow. Spell check just told me 'pled' does not exist. Amazing).

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

AP Stylebook says NEVER use the colloquial term pled. So you will see "pleaded" in newspapers, but often "pled" is used in magazines and everyday conversation. Neither is wrong, either is right. When I receive a court document saying someone "pled", I change it to "pleaded" when writing a news article. For the court reporter, pled is correct. For the newspaper writer it is not. The term plea is a legal term in these instances meaning simply an answer to a claim made by someone in a civil or criminal case under common law using the adversary system, and as such should not be confused with common language definition of the word, such as beg.
As in many words, the American English language has ignored logic. However, I join my colleagues above who cringe at some of the current generation's colloquialism.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"AP Stylebook says NEVER use the colloquial term pled."

The so-called "AP Stylebook" and thus its editor(s) is frequently INSANE and not to be trusted. I do not trust it any farther than I could throw it, so you should not trust it either.

For example, those editors refuse to concede that a ship or a spaceship is a "she" or a "her". (This is just a case of "political correctness" gone wild.)

Ships and boats have been feminine all the way back to the time of the Ancient Romans, and earlier. (I have studied some Classical Latin, but never any Greek.)

On TV, the Starship USS ENTERPRISE is a "she". You just listen to how Captain James T. Kirk talks about her.

Many important newspapers in the United States do not use the AP Stylebook, either.
You just check with the NEW YORK TIMES and the WASHINGTON POST, which have their own reference books and their own editors. This is probably true for the major newspapers in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, too.
I lived in the area around Washington for years, and I seldom or never had any trouble with the language in the WASHINGTON POST. I am an electrical engineer, too.

Among many other problems, the AP Stylebook cannot get technical English right.

The area called the "Space Coast" of Florida for a time, too, and the daily newspaper there (actually a countywide paper in a large county -- Brevard County), and that newspaper is outstanding in its use of technical English in astronautics and electronics.

The AP Stylebook, in its ignorance, has decided to use an awful work in place of "Web page", despite the fact that "Web" is a shortened form of a proper noun: the World Wide Web. Hence "Web page", just like "British chips", "Canadian bacon", and "START treaty".

Besides writing broken English concerning subjects like the law, education, and medicine, the Associated Press makes one mistake after another on the subjects of engineering and the physical sciences, and on anything concerning military, naval, aeronautical, or aerospace subjects.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Wikipedia says of the AP Stylebook that "for nearly a quarter century it assumed its reader had a "solid grounding in language and a good reference library" and thus omitted any guidelines in those broader areas ..." but that in 1977 it felt it was necessary to start laying down diktats on this or that matter.
While I agree with DA Wood on what a bad business it is that ships and so forth are not to be referred to as 'she' and 'her', in the view of this book (best ignored on this one) it has certainly got it right on "pleaded": it would never do if we saw the colloquialism 'pled' to emerge in print with reference to the goings-on in courtrooms.
However I am all in favour of comic colloquialisms such as "dove" when referring to more light-hearted matters such as sport. Does this book allow it? What do they say in Tuscaloosa? I shall be thrilled soon to read in some newspaper "Tom Daley dove into the pool and surfaced waving another Olympic gold medal to add to his collection" and I won't care what the AP book says.
Rules were made for our guidance and should not be followed slavishly or mulishly. The great English judge Lord Denning knew that and was always in trouble for it but he is remembered as the greatest judge of the 20th century. (I doubt if he would have allowed 'pled' though if any barrister should have tried it on.)

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Collins, Chambers, and OED seem to be unanimous:-
(Scots law, US) a past tense and past participle of plead

As a Scot who was once in an occupation having daily dealings with Scottish courts I will stick to using "pled" as the past tense of plead when referring to legal proceedings and "pleaded" in all other contexts.

You will note that I completed this post with relatively few words.
Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it does have its place in other areas. :-))

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

South African courts "plead / pleaded" or "ploeg / geploeg" in the 1970s, and now about a dozen proper African words saying the same to deal with as well.

Succinct, hey!

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

On the phone today, I dealt with a customer service representative who insisted that she had "resetted" my cellular device... :-)

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Maybe that is why she is a customer service representative.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It is interesting that we see that "ge" prefix on the past participles of some verbs in Afrikaans (which is based on Dutch/Flemish). That "ge" prefix is still used in modern German, too, and it was in Anglo-Saxon-Jute. The "ge" is just never used on verbs that have a prefix already, such as "vergessen".
"Ich habe vergessen" means "I have forgotten," or just "I forgot."

However, over 600 years ago, English disposed of the "ge" prefix, and we never have missed it since then! I guess that this disappeared sometime during the time of Middle English

Also, we haven't missed these very much: {thee, thou, thy, thine, ye}. We also disposed of most words that start with "pf", such as "pflug", "pfeiff", and "pfeffer".
I once thought that the crewment of the Starship Enterprise should carry "pfazers", but that turned out to be "phasers".

English has a way of disposing of unnecessary complications, such as shortening "pleaded" to "pled". Hence cutting two syllables down to just one.

German also has a rather strange conjugation of "essen" = "to eat". Its past participle needs the "ge", but to make the form pronounceable, they tossed in another "g", so they got "gegessen". Hence, "Ich habe gegessen" = "I have eaten."

How about, "Gigi hat gegessen, Ga-Ga!" ?
That sounds rather tongue-twisting to me.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Maybe that is why she is a customer service representative."

LOL, correct!
However, we should add, "she's just a customer service representative", instead of a schoolteacher, a technologist, a chemist, a biologist, a physician, a dentist, a surgeon, a clinical psychologist, an engineer, an accountant, an attorney, a forensic scientist, a nuclear physicist, a seismologist, etc.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hi, Katie,

I agree: That one is astonishingly bad!

Just this afternoon, I told someone in customer service on the Web that he / she must have been taking "too much LDS".

This was no typographical error: if you know anything about the film STAR TREK IV: The Voyage Home, there is a scene in which Captain Kirk says that Mr. Spock got brain damage from taking too much LDS while he was living in Berkeley, California.

I have long been rather mystified or astonished that nobody from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a.k.a. the "LDS Church", or the Mormons, has publicly complained about this. Perhaps the members of the LDS Church wisely decided to remain quiet and to lie low about this one because complaining about LDS would simply give free advertising for the film.

One could reason that Mr. Spock's "real" problem came from hanging around with too many members of the LDS Church while he was in Berkeley. Berkeley is not in Utah, but there are a lot of Mormons in the Western States like Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Getting back to "resetted", there are far too many people who say "verbs" like these { beated, bidded, casted, cutted, fitted, forgetted, gifted, hitted, hurted, letted, presetted, putted (not in golf), quitted, setted, shutted, and slitted }. These are all irregular verbs with unusual features of their past participles.

Note that "cast", "broadcast", "forecast", and "telecast" are all irregular verbs in English.
German has an unusual feature. "Senden" is usually an irregular verb that means "to send". However, when "senden" means "to broadcast" in the modern meaning for radio and television, then "senden" is a regular verb.

Some people still have a hard time understanding that in English, in the technical / engineering uses, the plural of "antenna" is "antennas". The classic textbook on the subject, ANTENNAS, was published by John D. Kraus of the Ohio State University in 1950, for example.
As Dr. Kraus explained on page one of his book, insects have antennae, but ships, aircraft, radio stations, etc., have antennas.
Dr. Kraus was simply expounding on the word that had been used in electrical engineering and physics for many years before -- such as all the way through World War II.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


I read an article recently concerning developments in nuclear physics, and I was puzzled to read that Peter Higgs was described as a SCOTTISH theoretical physicist. Hence I double-checked about his biography.

Peter Higgs (who is still alive) was born in 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne, ENGLAND.
Higgs spent most of his early years in Bristol, ENGLAND, under the care of his mother, while his father had to live elsewhere while he worked as an engineer helping to fight off the Nazis.

Peter Higgs moved to London while he was 17 -- hence it was about 1946 -- where he went to school at the City of London School and the Kings College London, earning his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees.

Then Higgs had a short sojourn at the University of Edinburgh, but he returned to work at the University College and the Imperial College in London.

Do you smell something here? Peter Higgs is ENGLISH, and even if he spent 70 years at the University of Edinburgh after this, that does not change anything.

Albert Einstein was a Swiss-German and the fact that he moved to the United States during the 1930s and then resided here for the rest of his life does not change the fact that he was Swiss & German. Einstein was born and raised in southern Germany, but he went to college in northern Switzerland, and then he worked in the Swiss Patent Office for a number of years. Finally, he got a university position in Berlin in 1914, and he held this until 1932. He was working temporarily in the United States in 1933 when Hitler took over Germany. He did return to Europe to live briefly in Belgium and in England, but never again in Germany. Quite soon he emigrated to the United States permanently, where he resided mostly in Princeton, New Jersey. He became an American citizen in 1940 -- probably as soon as he was eligible to do so.
Einstein was still Swiss-German by heritage and nature.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


My favourite German tongue twister is "Zugang zu den zugen".
Also love the way German comes up with wonderful compound words like "mietwaggenruckgabe".
My apologies for the lack of the appropriate umlauts.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh, well, I was born in 1954, back when TV was still a new thing in much of the United States and Canada**, and by the time time I was three, I was crazy over TV. Later on, I became a telecommunications engineer, and then I found out that in German
"das Farbfernsehgeraet" means "the color television set". Wow!

**The first TV station in Canada started broadcasting in Montreal in 1952, and it broadcast part of the day in English and part in Frence. Eventually, it became an English-only station. (Nice for people like the Shatner family.)
Earlier, parts of southern Canada started receiving American TV broadcasts from two cities in Maine, one or two in New Hampshire and Vermont, some in upstate New York (e.g. Syracuse, Rochester, Plattsburg, and Buffalo), and maybe some from all the way across Lake Erie in northern Pennsylvania and Ohio. The stations in Detroit and in Buffalo covered large parts of southern Ontario, including Toronto.
Then, there were some broadcasts into Canada from northern Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington State as soon as those places got TV stations.

As for me, what did I like to watch? Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Sky King, Highway Patrol, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside Siix, and especially movies about Robin Hood! (Yeah! Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) Those movies and Zorro had lots of swordfighting in them, and somehow I was fascinated by swordfightiing. Thank you, Nottingham and the Sherwood Forest! Also, anything with airplanes or spaceships was a fascination. Also, anything with an exotic setting like Hawaii, California, Medieval England, or "Where is it?" - Surfside Six is in Miami Beach!

Unfortunately, I don't remember anything about DRAGNET at all.
Sgt. Joe Friday - "Just the facts, ma'am."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

When you are typing in German and you are lacking umlauts, etc., do this:
"a umlaut" becomes ae
"o umlaut" becomes oe
"u umlaut" becomes ue
The "ez-set" symbol becomes "ss".
Hence, we can type these: {Fueher, Goering, Schroedinger, Fernsehgeraet, Jaeger, and Duesseldorf }.
"Buendchen" probably should be spelled like this, but that is not the way that they do it in Brazilian Portuguese. In the United States, "Mueller" has been spelled "Muller" at times, but for millions of immigrants, it got changed to "Miller".

Also, the ez-set symbol is not so popular in Switzerland, though people know what it is, so for example, in that country you see highway and railroad signs with "ss" in them. This is especially true in signs in which all of the letters are capitalized.

Jaeger is an interesting word with so many different spellings from German (including variations in Austria and Switzerland), Anglo-Saxon-Jute, Danish, the United States, and so forth: Jaeger, Jeager, Jaager, Yaeger, Yeager, Hunter -- and probably Jagger, too!

"I can't get no satisfaction," even though I hunted for it, and I hunted for it, and I hunted for it - but "I can't get no satisfaction!"


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


Yes I am aware of the construction, just too lazy to type it.

Taking a leaf out of our American cousins' book and eschewing double vowels where possible.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

LOL, double vowells!
In North America, we have disposed of (altered) all cases of THREE vowels in a row, usually seen as three different vowels:

"oea" as in "amoeaba" or is it "oae" as in "amoaeba" ?

I can't even remember the odd triple vowels in "maneuver" and "maneuverability", but somehow most Brits find room for an "o" in these words.
It seems that "manoeuvrability" is probably misspelled no matter where you live.

People who use this one should plead guilty and throw themselves before the mercy of the courts.

In American English, the letter combinations "ae" and "oe" have practically disappeared, except in some technical words, proper nouns, and acronyms. See "ameba" - GOOD.
technical: aerodynamics, aeronautics
proper nouns: Baer, Caesar, Yaeger
acronyms: SHAEF = Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force,
which was General Eisenhower's command in Western Europe during WW II
During World War I, there was an AMERICAN Expeditionary Force under the command of General John Pershing in France, but I do not think that Pershing ever called his location a Supreme Headquarters. Otherwise, we could have had two different SHAEFs in history,
Of course, during WW I, Pershing never was the Supreme Commander over all of the troops and airmen from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, and Belgium the way Eisenhower was. However, Pershing was also a German-American general who defeated the Germans, since Pershing's family name was orignally "Pforschung" from Germany, but that got Anglicized to Pershing.

Still, one of my favorite American leader's names from WW II was General Vandenberg, the commander of the 9th Air Force in England, France, etc. His family was orginally Dutch, and it was spelled Van Den Berg.
His commander, who was also over the 8th Air Force in England, was General Carl Spaatz, who was a German-American. Hence the U.S. Army Air Forces had a Dutchman and a German who commanded the aviators who held defeat the Luftwaffe. Spaatz was technically under an Englishman, Tedder, but Tedder worked directly for Eisenhower.

Spaatz's family name was originally Spatz, but they changed the spelling to make it easier for Americans to say it right. The word "Spatz" also means "sparrow" in German.

General Vandenberg is sometimes thought of as an intelligence officer -- because he was the head of the CIA for three years during the 1950s, but calling him a career intelligence officer is silly. Vandenberg had a long combat command in Western Europe during 1943 - 45, and he was commanding men to fly out to live or to die. That is a job with a whale of a lot of pressure in it. I sometimes wonder how Eisenhower, Tedder, Montgomery, Spaatz, Vandenberg, and Omar Bradley were able to stand it.
The same goes for Admiral Nimitz, Spruance, and Halsey in the Pacific.

As for Generals MacArthur, Patton, and LeMay somehow they were born for it. Strange men.


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I see you are a Trekkie, DA Wood. Does this mean you have antennae, or antennas?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Living beings such as Andorrans can have living antennae, and that should be obvious.
After all, these other creatures have antennae: lobsters, scorpions, most kinds of insects, some kinds of arachnids.
However, Earthlings (human beings from the planet Earth) do not have antennae of even an antenna. On the planet Earth, vertebrates do not have antennae - no mammals, no birds, no reptiles, no amphibians, and no fish -- but some species of fish, amphibians, and reptiles do have "whiskers", which is something quite different from antennae. For mammals, whiskers are not even alive, since they are long, dead hairs. Groups of mammals that are notabile for having whiskers are rodents and felines.
"Antennas" are products of human technology, and so far we haven't met anyone else who has antennas. I would dearly love to meet those beings who do: for example ones similar to Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Tellurites, Tholians, the aliens of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, the species of E.T., etc.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Living beings such as Andorrans can have living antennae, and that should be obvious.
After all, these other creatures have antennae: lobsters, scorpions, most kinds of insects, some kinds of arachnids.
However, Earthlings (human beings from the planet Earth) do not have antennae OR even an antenna. On the planet Earth, vertebrates do not have antennae - no mammals, no birds, no reptiles, no amphibians, and no fish -- but some species of fish, amphibians, and mammals do have "whiskers", which is something quite different from antennae. For mammals, whiskers are not even alive, since they are long, dead hairs. Groups of mammals that are notabile for having whiskers are rodents and felines.
"Antennas" are products of human technology, and so far we haven't met anyone else who has antennas. I would dearly love to meet those beings who do: for example ones similar to Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Tellurites, Tholians, the aliens of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, the species of E.T., etc.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Why is it that this Web site has such aggravating problems?
When I have visited a page of it, and then I want to go look at a different Web page, and then go back to a page that I have visited before, I WANT TO GO THERE INSTANTLY. After all, that page is supposed to be in the Temporary Internet Files of my PC already, and there is NO NEED to download that page all over again. None whatsoever: it is here already. There is no need for all of that hesitation.

For some Web pages, the owners are SO DAMN EAGER to bombard me with ads that they go into slow motion. However, this Web page does not seem to have many ads on it.
Also, if some some pages have had something new added to them, why not present me with what is new and leave the rest of it alone?

I have made this suggestion to other Web sites before, but the reaction was as if I were speaking Belorussian or Sanskrit. The people simply could not understand a word of what I was saying. The idea of doing things in an efficient manner simply did not compute.
As for my writing in Greek or Korean, I might have done better!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

We get the messsage, "Your comment is successfully posted. Thank you."
Well, then, why cannot I look at it RIGHT NOW, and I mean INSTANTANEOUSLY.
Why cannot we be told the truth, as in, "Your comment is in the process of being posted. You can look at it when we get around to it."

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I blame auto-correct and spell check. Try typing pled vs pleaded, it will without a doubt be underlined. So, blame Microsoft on the downturn of the English language.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Well, Ethan, people are supposed to be using spell checkers, and not robots using spell checkers. People are supposed to use their own brains and get things RIGHT.

Today I wrote an e-mail on Yahoo and I mentioned former Senator Sarbanes of Maryland. The spell checker suggested to change this to Senator Sawbones of Mayland. Holy, cow I did not accept that!

It also wanted to change "Los Ageles" into "Laos Angele's"
To shift from Los Angeles to Laos is about 9,000 miles !

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The spell checker for Yahoo also does not know how to spell "gauge".
It wants to change this into "gage"???
I have known how to spell "gauge" since about 1965.
Back in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, we knew what these were: air gauge, barometric pressure gauge, gas gauge, pressure gauge, and a thickness gauge were.

What do they use now? Radioactivity?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Something that seems to be lost on many posters is the fact that the "pled/pleaded" usage revolves around its specific legal ramifications: it's a peculiarity - if you will - but pleaded, contrary to many posters' ideas, is the older of the two spellings, and as one poster said "pled = upstart". Without wishing to open a debate (well, provocatively perhaps I do!) on the virtues or not of the American take on "English", I think I should say how much "gotten" grates, to me, along with many other Americanisms: fibre/fiber, metre/meter (meteric?), centre/center (centeral) and colour/color are just a few (oh, and aluminum and labratory - along with Bush's "nukular" always leave me very puzzled). Ah well, c'est la vie, I suppose.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh, nobody ever spells it "labratory" - except perhaps some dolts. The word is "laboratory", Then the typical American pronunciation is more like "LAB-ruh-TOR-ee". We have collapsed just just one syllable.
I have been told that the British pronunciation of "Farnsborough" is more like "Fan-shaw". Then there is Middlesbrough, East Yorkshire, which only gets three syllables, but Middleborough, Massachusetts, and Middlesborough, Kentucky, get four.

Don't ever pay attention to the way that George W. Bush said anything because he as a well-known loser when it came to pronunciation.

The really funny one was the way that Jimmy Carter said "nuclear" with only two syllables, instead of three, but Carter had been an officer in nuclear engineering while he was in the U.S. Navy. Carter worked directly under Captain Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear navies of the U.S. and its allies, too. (Carter did not serve on nuclear submarines at sea, but rather he helped to design and build them.)

Then there came a time when the higher-ups in the navy wanted to get rid of Rickover for some odd reason. Then Congress passed a law that established a position for one rear admiral in the Navy who was a fully-qualified nuclear engineer for its ships.Rickover was the only captain in the Navy who remotely qualified for that position, so the Navy had to promote him to it. That was how he became Admiral Rickover.

Rickover had two problems with the higher-ups in the Navy - the ones who sat on the promotion boards and made the decisions.
1. Rickover was Jewish, and some of them didn't care for this at all.
2. Rickover was far smarter in nuclear engineering than any other admiral or captain in the navy, and he had the way of letting everyone know this even when it insulted them. Hence, Rickover rubbed some of his superiors raw! Drove them crazy!
D.A.W. .

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Nevertheless, Rickover had a lot of support in Congress, and he eventually got promoted to Vice Admiral, too. He also had a submarine named for him, the USS HYMAN G. RICKOVER, a member of the LOS ANGELES class.
Also, Jimmy Carter got along well with him. Carter only left the Navy when he did because his father died of cancer (too young), and Carter needed to go back to Georgia to take care of the family farm, his mother Lillian Carter, his younger brother Billy, and his three younger sisters.
Oddly, Billy and their three sisters all died of cancer of the pancreas, and I bet that there father did, too.

Jimmy Carter and his four chilren have been fortunate that none of them has inherited that dreaded disease. I didn't know much about the sisters, but I really miss Billy Carter. He had a way of not taking bullcrap from anyone.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

As for the metallic chemical elements, watch out for aluminum, molybdenum, lanthanum, tantalum, and platinum, none of which have an "i" in the third-from-the-last position.

American metallurgists also have a way of calling an element "columbium", and after all, it WAS discovered in Connecticut.
(In other places, they want to call it "niobium" for no particular reason.)

By the way, the way to produce large amounts of aluminum was discovered independently by an American and a Frenchman in 1886.

The world's largest deposit of molybdenum ore is located in the Rocky Mountains at a place called CLIMAX, Colorado. It is a ghost town now. Molybdenum is valuable in making the turbine blades for jet engines (of all kinds) and gas turbines.

Platinum was discovered by Spanish explorers in the area of the Rio de la Plata in Argentina and Uruguay.

The chemical compound called tantalum carbide has the second-highest melting point of any substance, and it retains lots of its strength at extreme temperatures. This compound is also used in turbojet engines. The only substance that does a little bit better is hafnium carbide, but hafnium is a less-common element, and it is also very useful in nuclear reactors - so that it where it goes.

Lanthanum is the first element in the long series of "rare earth elements", called the "lanthanides", even though lanthanum is not exactly very rare. On of the elements in the lanthanides is europium, and the artificial element right below it in the Periodic Table is named americium.
Then then next element heavier than europium is gadolinium, named for a chemist & mineralist, and the element right below it in the Periodic Table is named CURIUM, for two of the most famous chemists & physicists of all time.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

God, you're a veritable font of knowledge DA!
Nice to have a little bit of repartee without rancour - even if "I" am obliged to spell things correctly!
Not sure who told you about those British place-name spellings/pronunciations but, Farnsborough doesn't exist - unless you mean Farnborough (as in Air force) - and it is definitely a three syllable word ( I live about thirty miles from it): god knows where you got Fanshaw from!
Sloppy speakers might only have three syllables in Middlesborough, but it definitely has four. One slightly odd one is Edinburgh - it's not a "burg" like you might have in Amish county, but a fully-fledged four syllable word.

There are posters - and others - who are picky about English just for the sake of it, but I enjoy language and only comment when I feel genuinely moved. In my opinion Noah Webster's got a lot to answer for - but what do I know, as I only speak a language which, along with Chinese (all variants), is spoken the world over, albeit bastadised by some.
Keep up the good work!
Best wishes from the UK.
Cheers, les.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hello again, Dale.
Bit boring, but I thought you might like to know about "ium" versus "um", and the Noah Webster input. Cheers, Les.



This section



Section indexes







Free weekly e-magazine






Ancillary pages






Author links




Finding things





Following up a Topical Words piece on the international spelling of what British English writes as sulphur, many American subscribers wrote in to ask about another element with two spellings: aluminium.

The metal was named by the English chemist Sir Humphry Davy (who, you may recall, “abominated gravy, and lived in the odium of having discovered sodium”), even though he was unable to isolate it: that took another two decades’ work by others. He derived the name from the mineral called alumina, which itself had only been named in English by the chemist Joseph Black in 1790. Black took it from the French, who had based it on alum, a white mineral that had been used since ancient times for dyeing and tanning, among other things. Chemically, this is potassium aluminium sulphate (a name which gives me two further opportunities to parade my British spellings of chemical names).

Sir Humphry made a bit of a mess of naming this new element, at first spelling it alumium (this was in 1807) then changing it to aluminum, and finally settling on aluminium in 1812. His classically educated scientific colleagues preferred aluminium right from the start, because it had more of a classical ring, and chimed harmoniously with many other elements whose names ended in –ium, like potassium, sodium, and magnesium, all of which had been named by Davy.

The spelling in –um continued in occasional use in Britain for a while, though that in –ium soon predominated. In the USA, the position was more complicated. Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 has only aluminum, though the standard spelling among US chemists throughout most of the nineteenth century was aluminium; it was the preferred version in The Century Dictionary of 1889 and is the only spelling given in the Webster Unabridged Dictionary of 1913. Searches in an archive of American newspapers show a most interesting shift. Up to the 1890s, both spellings appear in rough parity, though with the –ium version slightly the more common, but after about 1895 that reverses quite substantially, with the decade starting in 1900 having the –um spelling about twice as common as the alternative; in the following decade the –ium spelling crashes to a few hundred compared to half a million examples of –um.

Actually, neither version was often encountered early on: up to about 1855 it had only ever been made in pinhead quantities because it was so hard to extract from its ores; a new French process that involved liquid sodium improved on that to the extent that Emperor Napoleon III had some aluminium cutlery made for state banquets, but it still cost much more than gold. When the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus in London was cast from aluminium in 1893 it was still an exotic and expensive choice. This changed only when a way of extracting the metal using cheap hydroelectricity was developed.

It’s clear that the shift in the USA from –ium to –um took place progressively over a period starting in about 1895, when the metal began to be widely available and the word started to be needed in popular writing. It is easy to imagine journalists turning for confirmation to Webster’s Dictionary, still the most influential work at that time, and adopting its spelling. The official change in the US to the –um spelling happened quite late: the American Chemical Society only adopted it in 1925, though this was clearly in response to the popular shift that had already taken place. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially standardised on aluminium in 1990, though this has done nothing, of course, to change the way people in the US spell it for day to day purposes.

It’s a word that demonstrates the often tangled and subtle nature of word history, and how a simple statement about differences in spelling can cover a complicated story.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Hi, there, Les,

Please do look up "Middlesbrough" in .
Then, given the right kind of software, there is a place near the top of the page where you can click and it will give you the pronunciation of " Middlesborough".
The software format is something called .ogg , so you have to have the right software with your sound system.

I have been assuming that from the sound of it, they had found a native speaker from those parts to say the word. He surely did not sound like an American, a Canadian, an Aussie, or an Irishman.
That word in the recording has three syllables.

As for "Fanshaw", perhaps:
1. The author heard that one several times while he was visiting the pubs of Farnborough! Hence, he wrote it down, and I read it.
2. There is a different place in England named "Farnsborough", and the people there say that name "Fanshaw". Check it out.

I recently found out that the world-famous Farnborough Air Show is only held in even-numbered years. Then in the odd-numbered years, it is interleaved with the world-famous Paris Air Show. Maybe some years ago, they held both of these every year?

I would like to see a Lancaster Air Show. Well, that one would be in Lancaster, California, which is one of the two gateways to the world-famous Edwards Air Force Base. That is one that is all about flight testing, and the Space Shuttle landed there on many occasions - before they started making most of the landings in Florida at the KSFC. Also, ONE time, the weather was bad both at Edwards and in Florida, so they landed the Space Shuttle at it's #3 air base in New Mexico.

The other town that is next door to Lancaster is Palmdale, and all of this is in Los Angeles County. Also, the famous British model Adele Stephens has a house in Palmdale or Lancaster. She has a house in England, too, and her hometown is in West Yorkshire, not too far from Sheffield.
(There is also a Sheffield in northern Alabama, not terribly far from the space center of Huntsville, Alabama.)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

We have places in the U,S,A, with quite similar names, but a little bit different, such as Middleborough, Massachusetts, and Middlesborough, Kentucky.
So, perhaps England has Farnborough and Farnsborough.

As for Adele Stephens, I pled for her to visit me and spend some time with me, but perhaps she was having too much fun with astronauts! - LOL !

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Speaking of astronauts, the famous American astronaut Sally Ride has recently died of abdominal cancer. She was only in her early 60s, too.

Dr. Ride was the first American woman to take a flight into outer space, and she made a total of two flights. She was scheduled to make her third flight, but the the CHALLENGER blew up in January 1986, and Dr. Ride's next flight was cancelled.

One of the astronauts who was killed in the CHALLENGER was the second American woman astronaut, Dr. Judith Resnick, who was a real favorite of mine because her doctorate was in electrical engineering, and I just thought that she was a cool person, too.

Three of the Space Shuttles were named for British sailaing ships of of exploration: the CHALLENGER, the DISOVERY, and the ENDEAVOUR. (Notice the correct spelling of "Endeavour", the name of the ship.)


0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oops, DISCOVERY -- which was also the name of the huge spaceship in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

According to the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry), the official spelling of SULFUR is as I have just spelled it.
Likewise: "sulfuric acid", "hydrogen sulfide", "sulfur and dioxide".
However, I think that this is something of hair-splitting, and we should be prepared to handle it either way. Also, COMPUTERS should be programmed to accept either one.

D.A.W. .

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The small, metallic pyramidical cap on the very top of the Washington Monument was made of aluminum back in the years before that metal could be make by the Hall - Herout process (invented in 1886). That was back when aluminum was a semiprecious metal.
Do not get confused about the larger pyramid that forms most of the top of the Washington Monument. That is made mostly of stone, and the aluminum part is just the tip-top of it.
That aluminum tip is solidly-grounded via copper wires from the top of the Monument to its foundations. That was a good idea, too, because the top of the Washington Monument has been struck by lightning many times. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of electricity.

The tip of the Washington Monument gets struck by lightning regularly, just as the top of the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower do.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

DA Wood: Fanshawe is the pronunciation among the cognoscenti of "Featherstonehaugh", ridiculously but truthfully enough. Farnborough is where they have the air show.
I worked as a teacher with a fellow called Fanshawe. A colleague was overcome with mirth when she heard two kids looking at the timetable and saying "Oh no! We have double Fanny today". This was not helped by the fact that in England Fanny does not mean what it does in the US. (Here it is round the front, er, enough said).

I'm really sorry I said all that, but I am pressing submit anyway.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I'm not sorry for two reasons.
The first is that a bit of levity brightens the day, and secondly it goes some way to show DAW that he's well, bizarre, with his posts. Cheers, Les

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Brus and @D.A.Wood. As a Briton who regularly says 'the government are' and 'singular they' - 'If anybody has a question, they should put their hand up', I'd like to say that it has nothing to do with us not knowing about number, that's just your (unjustified) intellectual snobbery talking.

It's that in the first case we prefer to use notional agreement (which I think is being called synesis here), rather than the formal agreement that is preferred by Americans. Neither is more correct than the other; it's just a different way of thinking.

And for singular they, I happen to think it's a lot more elegant than any of the alternatives:he/she, he or she, alternating he and she. And 'he' when gender is unknown is simply not acceptable nowadays. Again in the UK singular they is absolutely normal and is used in government publications, for example passport application forms. And not everyone in the US despises it either:

These arguments of 'my English is better than your English' are frankly ridiculous and get us absolutely nowhere apart from pissing off the other side. And endlessly parroting rules without thinking about how language actually works doesn't help much either. We have in English an incredibly rich and diverse language. Why not enjoy it for what it is?

@Les R - I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on these borough / burgh pronunciations - Middlesbrough, in North Yorkshire, is not only definitely pronounced with three syllables, it's spelt with with three syllables - it's brough, not borough. And as a native of Edinburgh, I can tell you it's usually pronounced something more like Ed'nbrugh - about two and a half syllables; there's usually a glottal stop after the 'd'. Only very posh people (and possible the English) would use four syllables. Just listen to the pronunciation on Wikipedia, which is spot on.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

In using your opening phrase - I hope you don't mind - I'm afraid I have to.............I do actually have to disagree with you - too.
Having covered many hundreds of thousands of miles as an HGV driver - over more decades that I care to remember - across the UK and elsewhere, I've experienced many takes on the pronunciation of said places: Middlesborough is four not three syllables as is Edinburgh. Maybe pockets of the country have slightly different pronunciations- Kircuddy would confuse all but the locals - but the majority has to rule, or there would be much confusion and woe.
Listen to any TV newscaster to hear how they butcher place names.
There has to be consensus. That being so, I suppose we'll just have to agree to differ:
I offer no such concessions to the likes of DAW, though.
You may disagree as is your right, but my experience of many other folk's take on the pronunciations is how I've said - and I agree with them.
Anyone's personal idea is just that - not a majority view: nor is is just poncy Englishmen who appear to speak in a bizarre manner.
If I had a pound for every inaccuracy I've spotted on there, then I'd have enough for a nice long holiday in the Cairngorms!

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I have included a "Captain Mannering"ism - ust to see what response is generated.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Typo - not ust but just.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Response to "Captain Mannering-ism": shouldn't that be "Mainwaring-ism?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

That is an excellent observation and explanation. "The defendant pled guilty" is simple past tense. "The defendant pleaded for his life" does sound more important. The subtlety of the English language is one of it's charms. Think Shakespeare. Unfortunately many computer programs do not recognize "pled" as a correctly spelled word as the red squiggly under it is now indicating to me as I type this.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

This subject has been bothering me for about 2 years. I asked some of my friends, all college grads, they acted as if they didn't notice any change. So I finally googled it and found myself here, surprise, surprise! I am not the only one bothered by this shift from "pled" to "pleaded."

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It is bated breath, not baited breath, unless you refer to a person who has a mouth full of rotten fish.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

D A Wood "Why is it that this Web site has such aggravating problems?" You may mean annoying or exasperating. Aggravate means to make worse.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Do not, under any circumstances as Mr. Wood if he wears a watch unless you want to hear the origins of time from the dark ages to the present. That said, I am enjoying these comments.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

sorry, I meant to type ask Mr. Wood...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I have never in my life heard 'pled' being used by a Brit. It's not wrong - it's just not British English.
Yes - I just got a squiggly line.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I just have to say that I hate when I see the word "pleaded" in relation to any legal or crime article. It just sounds so wrong. I was actually watching "Facing Evil With Candice Delong" and during the show they put on a clip of a newspaper article that had to with the case being talked about and it mentioned that both criminals "pleaded" guilty instead of taking the risk of going to trial, which didn't sound right to me, so I looked it up to see if it was even grammatically correct and that brought me here. I don't really mind the media using certain grammar or going with certain words because it's what everyone else is doing basically because I just don't really care and I'm not even really a grammar stickler myself because let's be honest, I'm sure I've probably made a bunch of grammatical errors in this very comment (lol). But why on earth would anyone use that over "pled" because it's what other media outlets are doing?! I don't care how popular the word is, it sounds AWFUL, using "pled" in a sentence as opposed to "pleaded" is just so much more pleasing to the ear. Just needed to throw that out there because even as non-caring I am about perfect grammar, there are some words that when used incorrectly or just sound bad, that make my skin crawl for some reason, and that's definitely one of em. :)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Skeeter Lewis - I totally agree with you as far as England (and no doubt Wales) is concerned, but not for Scotland, at least not in the legal sense (we have a separate legal system):

"The defendant pled guilty to stealing the egg of an Arctic tern, possessing 30 wild birds eggs and possessing equipment capable of being used to commit wildlife crime offences." (Scottish Government website -

"Defendant pled no contest to transporting heroin" (

"Michael Voudouri pled guilty to charges last month" (Glasgow Herald -

'On sentencing Lord Glennie made the following statement in court: “You have pled guilty to a charge of attempted rape on the night of 11 September last year."' (

You can find many more examples by googling: "pled guilty" Scotland. Interestingly googling: "pleaded guilty" Scotland gets about the same amount of hits.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The change really started creeping in when as newspapers dropped a paid position, in lieu of Spell Checker. A person reading the article would read 'pled', and let it stand. Most Spell Checkers, flag it as misspelled,
Every time I see 'pleaded' in an article, my brain automatically translates it to 'pled'.

Too bad they didn't use an unabridged dictionary for Spell Check.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I stumbled in here because I can't decide whether to use pled or pleaded in a sentence. I'd love to say that the matter is decided, but I can't :) Still a good post, I've been wondering when 'pleaded' became a thing. Thanks

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I still vote for pled in the context of "how did the man plea? He pled guilty. I'm actually getting a red line under pled when I am typing it. How crazy is that. I also am noticing the word agreeance instead of agreement. How bizarre.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jan - I'd never heard of agreeance before, (and its being red-lined by Firefox), but there's an interesting piece on it at - - and quite a bit of discussion on forums etc.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Agreeance? No!
By the way, "pleaded" did NOT replace "pled".
Pled is not a word in English English, but PLEADED is!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I use pled when it is correct and pleaded when it is appropriate. Case closed. You all do what you like. Case closed. Ipso facto & ad infinitum etc. & all that junk. Happy arguing.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Pled is NEVER correct. It is apparent you are not English.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Well, I do speak 3 other languages, but English is my first and I was born in the USA. I think I am right, so I will speak and write accordingly. One's argument would be more effective if one did not make personal comments and judgments.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@George 7th - Your Majesty would appear to be as wilfully ignorant or disdainful of both Scotland and North America as your ancestors. From Oxford Dictionaries Online:

plead - verb (past and past participle pleaded or North American, Scottish, or dialect pled /plɛd/)

but I'm sure you could use your royal prerogative to get it changed. Examples from Scottish Newspapers in one of my previous comments.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Oh I do apologise! I had formed the opinion we were discussing ENGLISH rather than spin-offs from Scotland and the USA.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

smile, chuckle, grin

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@alicelee - Georgy Porgy appears to be what we call a Little Englander in my neck of the woods.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

At 6' 3"?
Probably not.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Not longitudinally, evidently, but attitudinally [sic] ?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse Anyone want to change the subject?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@alicelee - there's been quite a bit about it in the British press over the last couple of weeks, but it's a bit of a storm in a teacup, I think. The council in question hadn't been using apostrophes on new road names for a few years, without comment, and Birmingham did something similar a few years ago, again without much fuss.

There's already a lot of inconsistency in existing place names; in London some people aren't quite sure whether it's King's Cross or Kings Cross (officially it's with) - see the map here:

And then there's Barons Court tube station, which is just off Baron's Court Road. In Lancashire there's a St Helens, and on the Isle of Wight a St Helen's. There's a town not far from London called St Albans, but in London itself St Alban's Street. The district of St Pauls in Bristol usually goes apostrophe-less, while its namesake cathedral in London is generally blessed with one.

The Plain Language Commission (an unofficial body) in a refreshingly sensible article on the Devon affair note that:

"Our resident grumpy grammarians note that such stories tend to appear in newspapers that forget to apostrophize expressions like two weeks notice (read two weeks’ notice) and three days pay (read three days’ pay), even as they lecture their readers about grammar and falling standards."

They make the point that most of us don't use full stops in abbreviations such as the BBC or NATO any more; and wonder if apostrophes are really any different. The US seems to manage perfectly well without them (apart from five exceptions, apparently).

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Will, Interesting commentary. I have accepted that I am a grammatical Ludite and bullheaded to boot.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@George7th ... LMAO ... To be truthful, that "spinoff" known as "Scottish English" (SE) is more "English" than English! SE has more Anglo-Saxon rooted words than does the English spoken and written in England which might better be called "Frenlish".

BTW, plead is a Latinate. It's not truly English in that it didn't come from Old English (Anglo-Saxon). It is from Old French plaidier, "plead at court". That the Scots "englished" it (that is, making it more English-like) by making it a strong verb puts the English to shame.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I had thought of pointing out to Georgy Porgy that Old English was likely spoken in Edinburgh (although perhaps not exclusively) long before the Kingdom of England was established, as Edinburgh (itself an English name - Edwin's burgh) was for some three hundred years part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, from 638 to 950, when it fell to the (Gaelic-speaking) Scots.

@AnWulf - I hate to disappoint you, but we Scots had a third injection of French, mainly due to the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France, which lasted for some four hundred years, culminating in the regency of Mary of Guise in the sixteenth century. The most colourful example of this is probably the expression "Dinnae fash yersel" from the French se facher - to get annoyed.

But if plead is not truly English because it didn't come from Old English, doesn't that mean that nearly three-quarters of English words "are not truly English" by your reckoning? I think in Scotland we rather like the fact that our language has had so many influences. The Scottish ideal of "the man o' pairts" nicely combines two of those root languages.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I didn't say that Scots is French free ... only that it has more Anglo rooted words than does English. I should say more Anglo rooted words that are known and noted. It was farther away from the William and the other French overlords. Truthfully, those words are still in the wordbook for English as well but they would baffle most English speakers.

One should also keep in mind that a good bit of French is rooted on the Germanic Old Frankish rather than Latin. So we often get the same word in a slightly nother shape ... guard and ward are both from Proto-Germanic *wardo-".

I only spoke of plead not being "truly" English for that Georgie was all up in arms about how "English" should be spoken.

I'v read that some 80% of the thousand most noted words in Today's English come from Old English. As one goes up from that, more Latinates come in. Even then, most of the time, the Latinates aren't needed.

Having a few outlander words in a tung is not a bad thing ... when those words needlessly overwhelm the mother tung, that is a bad thing.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@AnWulf - My mother tongue is modern English, not Anglo-Saxon. I revel in the fact that it has its main roots in two language groups, Old English and French, (including Norman and Anglo-french), as well as accepting loan words from many other cultures. Our grammar is mainly Germanic, much of our vocabulary comes from French or, OK, from Latin. I have no problem with that; indeed I'm deeply suspicious of any sort of cultural purism, and I'm afraid your outburst about William the Conqueror on another thread simply confirmed all my worst suspicions about this whole pure English movement.

It's just as well musicians don't take a similar attitude, or we'd have no classical music (a mixture of Italian, German and French traditions), no Blues, Jazz or Soul (European and African traditions) and so ultimately no Rock (mixing various Black and White traditions), and no Salsa, Samba, Tango etc, (mixing Black, White, Urban, Rural, European and African traditions).

The truth is that the most exciting cultural advances come in cosmopolitan climates where different cultures meet, not in purist backwaters.It is precisely this variety of roots that makes English so fascinating for me, and gives such a wide choice of vocabulary to writers. The English language, proud mongrel that it is, has after all given us probably the greatest literary tradition in the world.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The thing is that no one in England as a leg to stand on to jeer Scottish English (or Scots) as an "offshoot" of English when it is more "English" than English. It's even funnier when someone does it over a Latinate.

I don't mind short ones like plead (it's not needed, but at least it's short) … or squash, squat, asf … most of them wouldn't be known by any Roman for that they'v been cut and shorten'd so much. You may "revel" in "sesquipedalian" words like obequitate, perambulation, circumjacent, prognosticate and even the short but ugly succor; however I fleer and make fun of them … and sometimes those who write them.

That my scorn of Lucky Bill upsets you doesn't amaze me. Far too few know what a tyrant he was. I'v read that on his deathbed that he ask'd for forgivness for the way the had dealt with the English. Had Lucky Bill not wielded an iron fist and had not slaughter'd most of the English athels (as well as put a Frenchman as head of the church in England who at once put a stop to putting the Bible into English), then likely he would hav been not much more than a footnote in a book and English would hav grown in a way of borrowing a few words rather than being overwhelm'd by those of the French overlords. Unlike your gleemen (musicians) byspel, the French/Latin words weren't chosen by the folk, they were cramm'd down throats of Englishmen in that laws were made in French/Latin, written in French/Latin, and the courts (law and kingly) were held in French/Latin. It didn't stop with Lucky Bill, it is still the mindset:

"The every-day vocabulary of the less educated is of Old English, commonly called Anglo-Saxon, origin ..." from "The Romance of Words", 1912, Chapter 1.

English does not hav two roots. Notwithstanding the best shots of the Latin lovers to change the grammar of English to fit into the Latin shape (like no splitting of the infinitiv or no dangling prepositions), it is still Germanic. As for the wordstock ... it all hinges on how one looks at it. The OED has 'abuela'. This is a well known word in the States as it is Spanish ... however, it is also "English" in that it is in the wordbook, but is it truly English? Do you count it as English? ... Or is it only a word that, outside of the hispanic neighborhoods, one mainly sees it only in cowboy tales? Still ... it's in the OED so if you're counting Latinates, it's there. But Latinates are only a layer of words. They aren't the heart and soul of English. One could drop many ... if not most ... of the Latinates and never miss them. One can't drop the core Anglo words and grammar of English.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@AnWulf : you said " a strong verb pattern likely do to the sound...", and mmmmmom replied "due?".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@AnWulf - Let's take them one by one.

"That my scorn of Lucky Bill upsets you doesn't amaze me" - I have no doubts about the tyranny of William I. What I have doubts about is how relevant events that took place over 900 years ago are to modern English. Or the way in which you connect modern (especially British) spelling ( - colour, realise etc) and other language points to those events. Should we Scots still be hating the English for much more recent events?

I also find that the Anglo-Saxons, (and Norsemen, or in fact anyone vaguely "teutonic") who also started off as invaders or raiders, seem to get a very easy ride in your view. Even Anglo-Saxon scribes relate how brutally certain Anglo-Saxons treated Celtic Britons on occasion, but no, only the Normans can be ever be criticised in your book. Sorry, but I just don't see history in that sort of black and white perspective.

Admittedly, under the Normans, many Anglo-Saxons had to learn French words to carry on business, appear in court etc. But as I understand it, there were two periods of French influence, first Norman or Anglo-French, and later Parisian French, some time after John Lackland had lost Normandy and by which time the descendants of the Norman barons had started to speak English.

And as I understand it (again), the largest tranche of French words entered English in the 13th and 14th centuries (from Parisian, not Norman, French). These were not forced on anyone, but willingly adopted by the English educated classes as Paris had become the capital of European culture, and was widely admired as such. Basically, French was seen as "cool".

"as well as put a Frenchman as head of the church in England who at once put a stop to putting the Bible into English" - As far as I'm aware, the medieval Catholic Church, especially under Innocent III, didn't want the common people in any country reading the bible in the vernacular, whether it be in England, France or Germany. This is why Wycliffe had so much trouble (around the end of the 14th century, long after English had become the dominant language) and why Luther thought it so important to make a translation into German. I doubt this has much to do do with French vs Anglo-Saxon, but to do with church politicy at the time; there doesn't seem to have been a French translation before 1530, for example.

"English does not hav two roots" - I obviously accept that the grammar of English has its roots in Anglo-Saxon and is a Germanic language. And I quite agree with you about those grammarians who tried to fit English grammar into a Latin framework. However, the contribution of French in terms of vocabulary has been so enormous, that I think it should be credited. I personally like having a language that looks in two directions, to its Germanic roots and to its French and even Latin influences. This is from the British Library website:

"The English language is a vast flea market of words, handed down, borrowed or created over more than 2000 years. And it is still expanding, changing and trading. Our language is not purely English at all - it is a ragbag of diverse words that have come to our island from all around the world. Words enter the language in all sorts of ways: with invaders, migrants, tradesmen; in stories, artworks, technologies and scientific concepts; with those who hold power, and those who try to overthrow the powerful."

And that's why I love it - all of it. I'm all for expressing my identity through language, but I dislike any type of cultural purism.

"You may "revel" in 'sesquipedalian' words like obequitate, perambulation, circumjacent, prognosticate " - Now you're just being plain silly! Never heard of two of them, never use another, and can't remember ever using "prognosticate", but may have once or twice. But it does remind me of this sign for guests, purportedly from an Austrian hotel - "Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension"

I notice that you don't mention such dastardly "inkhorn-terms" as "agile, education, harass, scientific, strenuous". (Anyone can play the word game - the truth is that many Latin words adopted were not "sesquipedalian" at all). I wonder why hardly any of the "English" equivalents proposed at the time have survived.

Lastly, I wish you'd allow people to disagree with you without calling us names such as "Latin lovers", or suggesting that our "mindset" is somehow at fault (i.e. we've been conditioned), or that "two few people know" what you know. Are we not allowed to have minds of our own without being condescended to in this way? Just because most of us judge each word we use on its own merits and don't worry unduly where it came from five hundred years or so ago. And just because some of us prefer to look at our language (and history) as objectively as we can, and not from one particular (to my mind somewhat slanted and rather bile-laden) viewpoint. :)

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@AnWulf+Warsaw Will
Wow it's just great to see you guys kicking off again!
1) Might I put forward the thought that there is some common ground: 'use short words and shun nominalisations' as a rule goes a long way to weeding out the worst Latinate borrowings and makes the style less snooty.
2) I find myself unwittingly reaching for familiar latinate words. As an exercise, trying to find other words seems to have made me more aware of non-latinate alternatives and brought them to the fore. If not overdone, I think if can make for a more sturdy and straightforward English.
3) When push comes to shove, it does make for a different ' register'. 'Shove' is not quite the same as 'push' in its register!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@jayles - I largely agree with you about short words and nominalisations, but I would prefer to say 'use informal, natural, frequently-used words and avoid long-winded, over-formal, relatively unknown or pretentious words'. What I don't want to do is judge words either by their their syllable count or their derivation. There are times when "huge" will do, there are others when I'll want "enormous". There are also times when the judicious use of a nominalisation is rather more efficient than an equivalent verbal phrase.

I do in fact teach my students along these lines, suggesting that they "go to, and take part in, a meeting" rather than "attend, and participate in, a meeting", and often that means favouring Anglo-Saxon over Latin words, but not always. Polish students have a tendency to say "I've observed" for instance (they have a similar verb in Polish) which I find a bit formal, and I often suggest "I've noticed" is more natural (270m Google hits as opposed to 15m for "I've observed"),. But here I'm just replacing one word that has come into English from Latin via French, with another that has travelled the same journey.

But the difference between you and me is I couldn't give a damn (apart, obviously, from interest's sake) where a word has come from as long as it is natural English, does the job and collocates suitably with other words I'm using. And as far as I'm concerned common, frequently used words include "dictionary" and "vocabulary", whereas "wordbook" and "wordstock" (red-lined here) fall into the other category.

What's more, I can't agree with the approximations of synonyms and collocations that are being discussed on the Anglish page. For example, "outlandish" was suggested instead of my use of "preposterous". Well, I might think that the whole Anglish idea is somewhat outlandish ("strange or extremely unusual"), but I wouldn't insult you and your fellow Anglishers by describing it as "preposterous" ("unusual in a silly or shocking way"). Definitions from OALD. "Ongoing" was said be a suitable substitute for "continuous", sometimes yes, sometimes no:

I'm just not prepared to be bound by any rules other than those of natural idiomatic English shaped by custom, whether these rules come from prescriptivists,language purists or the silly ideas that come out of certain schools of English, such as avoiding the passive and singular they, or always using "that" in restrictive relative clauses.

I'll finish by quoting David Crystal, probably the leading expert on British English:

"There is a curious myth widespread in the world: many people believe that their language can somehow be 'pure' ... and that anything interfering with this imagined purity (especially words borrowed from other languages) is a corrupting influence ... . In the case of English, there is a special irony, for its vocabulary has never been purely Anglo-Saxon - not even in the Anglo-Saxon period". He goes on to explain how there had been four centuries of interchange between Germanic and Romanic people before the Anglo-Saxons even arrived in Britain, with many Roman cohorts consisting of men from Germanic tribes.

Or there's James D Nicoll's well-known analogy - "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle [sic] their pockets for new vocabulary"

I've read somewhere that English has borrowed words from over 300 languages. English is by its nature a borrower. This is one of the very things that differentiates it from other languages. And makes it so glorious.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@WW Yes it's mainstream English for students. L1 influence very hard to counter, much like pushing shit uphill, " I observed of course sometimes too many informations" and so on.
In those wretched PD sessions, if someone started using 'lexis' instead of vocab I, ever the iconoclastic rebel at heart, would start using 'wordstock', just relieve the tedium (PD= prof dev or 'preventative detention' as you will).
Went to a business meeting last night, the chairman (neither a dimwit, nor an Anglisher) used "it's a doing-thing" a dozent times, and the word "action" once.
And "It's not a talkaboutit-thing" twice, "discussion" nunce.
There's no harm in being a little creative and hueful in the right place.
Haven't taught any poles recently (or Poles either) , a few Slovak and Ukrainian have come thru - so much easier than grappling with a non-Euro background!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@jayles - It's mainstream English for me too, not just for students.

When I first came across "lexis" (in New English File Advanced - where they were really using it instead of "vocabulary") I thought the same as you - I still live in the world of phrasal verbs, as opposed to multi-word verbs! But I've since discovered it really means something more like "vocabulary in context", also known as "lexical chunks" (a bit like collocations, but bigger chunks). The new name isn't just to sound clever, but is intended to put these chunks at the heart a teaching method known as the "the lexical approach", which covers grammar as well as vocab. So I don't think we can just dismiss it out of hand, and in fact I've used it on my blog (with explanation) .

And just why, pray, are those of a European background easier to teach? Would it have anything to do with shared language features?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@WW Hungarian,Turkish, Estonian all have little similarity or shared vocab with English, but still European in their thinking and educational background and culture, so it's not just about shared language features.
Most textbooks are still Euro-centered in teir subject matter and a world away from SE Asia; just as you might struggle with "Who is the Prime Minister of China, or Taiwan, or Korea?"
The other thing is if you have dealt with say Japanese or Korean students, you sometimes find there are cultural issues which impinge on their willingness to speak out and express their own opinion, whereas Euros tend to be more robust in a group speaking situation (and 'losing face' is not such a biggie).
Much depends on whether the teacher has spent time in Japan/Taiwan/Hongkong/Korea/Thailand and is familiar with L! and the culture.
Also in the end students often don't need to learn Euro culture, just need English for cross-border business between say Japan and Korea.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Spydervr495 ... Yes, that should be 'owing to' ... I don't proofread ... I know that I'll make typos so I drive on.

@Jayles ... I'v always said that I mind the short ones so much. But there are many of the short ones that don't need to be there either. If someone says, "Keep me apprised." I'll ask, "A prize from what?" :)

@WW ... I'll hav to break this up ... if my net link will hold long enuff.

Whew … Where to start? I'll try giving the 'short' answers. I'm almost done with a blog that will go further into the French inflow on English spelling. Once I'm done with a blog I'm working and post it (if my net link can stay up for more than two minutes!), I come back and put the link here and maybe you'll get a better feel for it then.

The Norman-French timeframe is, more or less, Middle English. The short take is that the -our ending is French and came in during that time. Every time one writes the -our ending in English, then you're giving "homage" to France. French and Br.E are the only tungs that note that spelling of the Latin 'color'. Others, like Spanish, write 'color'. Then again, one can always note the Anglo words of 'hue' or 'blee' insted of color.

Many, many other changes were made to spelling in this timeframe as well … a few were good … but most were bad and most were owing to the French spelling rules (orthography) and some of those had to do with the carolina script (it's how 'sum' became 'some').

Next, talking about the Saxons and the Celts is a red herring. I don't speak Gaelic even tho I hav forebears from Scotland and Ireland as well as England and others (I'm sort of a mutt when it comes to that). However, it seems ok for the Gaelic speakers to shun the words of the tung of their erstwhile English overlords in Gaelic. However, its not ok for English speakers to shun the words (and spellings) of the tung of their former French overlords in English? … BTW, I don't hav any problems with Celtic words in English so they get a by too.

It's not only English. A good friend of mine only last year wrappt up over 20 years of work to set the New Testament into Aztec. Now they're working on the Old Testament and he is running into the same thing with the Aztec speakers. They're wanting to clean out as many of the Spanish words as they can … even if it means noting an old Aztec word that few know.

Before the French takeover of England, there were some 600 latinates in English … and not all of those are still with us.

The Takeover, in the end, brought in some 10,000 French/Latin words! Of those, about 75% are still with us. Worse was the mindset, that French/Latin - good; English - so "rude"! This led to another wave of latinates in the "English" Renaissance (1500-1650) when another 10 - 12,000 words came in.

Here's quote from that time:

"Saint Jerom translated the bible into his mother tongue: why may not we also? They will say it cannot be translated into our tongue, it is so rude. It is not so rude as they are false liars. For the Greek tongue agreeth more with the English than with the Latin. And the properties of the Hebrew tongue agreeth a thousand times more with the English than with the Latin."

Speaking of setting the Bible into English, many books of the Bible were put into Old English. An ongoing work that came to a screeching halt when Lucky Bill had a Frenchman put over the church in England … You see, Lucky Bill didn't trust English priests and thought they were helping the athels to rise up against him. This happen'd long before the pope sent out any writs to do so.

There was yet another wave after the Restoration when the Norman begotten monarchy came back from … Where else? … FRANCE!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


Why do have the need to bash and get rid of Latin and French words? Wouldn't that leave English bereft of its musicality. I don't care if you wish to add Anglo-Saxon (Old English) words into modern English. I have no problem with that whatsoever, but to completely eradicate Latin and French words from the vocabulary like some kind of lexical holocaust is abhorrent. I mean, what that leave us with in terms of words. If what you say is true, we have obtained 28,000 Latin/French words, but there could be more. Under your rules, all those words not fitting the one to two syllabic requirement would be vaporized. Preferably, I like to use big words and small words. Whatever happens to be on my vocabulary sheet, I'll use it.

As for laughing at us who use Latin and French words, I would say we could, and should, laugh at you for use of Anglo-Saxon spelling and words. It is ridiculous honestly and slightly frustrating (I have to decipher what you're trying to say—which makes it more advantageous for me just to ignore or skip over what you say most of the time). So try to stop with the condescension.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It strikes me that Anwulf is attempting to do what a well-known English demonstrated was not possible, namely, hold back the tide. But then, Anwulf has always struck me as a bit of a Cnut.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Anwulf - " Every time one writes the -our ending in English, then you're giving "homage" to France" - This is the sort of balderdash that really does your cause no good outside the little band of the faithful.

"talking about the Saxons and the Celts is a red herring. I don't speak Gaelic". I wasn't talking about the Gaels; I was talking about the Britons the Anglo-Saxons displaced, and occasionally (according to the Anglo-Saxon scribes, not just Gildas) massacred. I don't suppose the Anglo-Saxons were any better or worse than any of the other groups of invaders at the time, but the way you keep going on about the Normans, you'd think the Anglo-Saxons and the Norsemen were absolute angels in comparison. (perhaps you agree with Pope Gregory - "Non Angli, sed angeli"). Interesting that the Anglo-Saxon language survived the Normans, but Brythonic Celtic more or less disappeared from the land of its birth. No mention

"So they get a by too" - Sorry! Haven't a clue what you're on about.

"The Takeover, in the end, brought in some 10,000 French/Latin words! Of those, about 75% are still with us."- I wonder why? Linguists usually reckon that it's because they were found to be useful. Words that aren't drop out. But I realise that doesn't square with your ideology. Seeing you're studying the influx of French words into English, perhaps you could comment on suggestions that the greater quantity of French words came into English in the 13th and 14th centuries, after the anglicisation of the Norman nobility, or are people like David Crystal wrong?

"many books of the Bible were put into Old English. An ongoing work that came to a screeching halt when Lucky Bill had a Frenchman put over the church in England'

I'm afraid this is where you get a bit free and easy with history. I presume you're talking about Lanfranc (who was in fact Italian, though he'd been living in Normandy for some time.) In fact William was quite happy to keep his predecessor Stigand until was deposed 1070. Not by William, but by Rome (he had already been excommunicated by five popes, and was the richest man in England, after the royal house).

Lanfranc was certainly a friend of William's, but he was also his own man, having built a reputation as a leading conservative theologian. Rightly or wrongly, he thought the English church was corrupt and out of step with the mainstream church in continental Europe, and I accept that he replaced many English clergymen with Frenchmen and other foreigners, but as far as I can discover, this had more to do with theology and church politics than Normanisation.

The translation of the Bible into English is a well-ploughed furrow on the Internet, and I have found absolutely no evidence that there was any "ongoing work" to come "to a screeching halt". There had been some limited translations of some of the bible stories (not literal bible translations) starting with Caedmon, and including those of Æfred, but these seem to have ended with Ælfric of Eynsham in about 1010. I can find absolutely no evidence of any attempts to translate any parts of the bible into English between 1010 and Wycliffe in 1384, apart from a limited translation of the psalms in 1325. But perhaps you know better.

Mind you, had there been attempts to translate the bible into English, Lanfranc would have certainly clamped down, as he would have done if there had been similar attempts to translate the bible into French. For the Catholic Church had decided in 600 that the only version of the bible allowed to exist was in the Latin Vulgate, a decision they didn't rescind until the 16th century. They were terrified of ordinary people being able to interpret the bible for themselves.

"The Bible was dangerous. To handle its text directly, as would be necessary in providing translation, would have been to court disaster. ... The prohibitions against the vernacular translation formulated on the Continent were symptomatic of the general European development." (Cambridge History of the Bible)

What Lanfranc did do was make changes to versions of the Vulgate bible existing in England to bring them into line with Continental scholarship.

"There was yet another wave after the Restoration when the Norman begotten monarchy came back from … Where else? … FRANCE!" - Sorry, but could you explain to me exactly how the Stuarts were "the Norman begotten monarchy". As for your hatred of France, that's your problem.

To everyone else, sorry to go in such detail about such a small point, but AnWulf throws this out as though it were a historical fact, when there seems to be absolutely no evidence to back it up. But "why doesn't this amaze me?"

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It all boils down to which borrowings are useful and which are somewhat unneeded.
So we don't really need 'lunar' when 'moon' can be used as an adjective already as in 'moon landing'. On the other hand wordstrings such as 'ex gratia payment', 'accrued leave', 'leave entitlement' now have very specific technical meanings and there's just no getting round them in that type of context.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

And these days are we not all underlings to the spell-checker?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Jayles asks "are we not all underlings to the spell-checker?". Does Jayles live in Stalin's Russia, or in some other dictatorship? Where I live we are free to think for ourselves and if the spell-checker suggests something different we are free to consider it and reject it if we think we know better. It is there to pick up spelling errors. So: 'are we not all underlings to the spell-checker?'. No, of course not, no! no! no! to cite a former prime minister of these parts.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@jayles -But that's exactly what already happens. Words that are useful stay, those that aren't, or that don't appeal to people, drop by the wayside. And 'lunar' has stayed because some people obviously found it useful. Why limit yourself to one word when two or more give you more choices, just because one word can do the job adequately. Yes, 'moon landing' sounds fine, but 'a moon eclipse'? And what about when you have two 'moon somethings' in the same sentence or paragraph. Don't you like the possibility of variety?

Why limit yourself to 'huge' (now that AnWulf has passed it as fit for consumption) when you could vary it with "enormous, vast, colossal" etc. Why on earth would anyone want to reduce the language to only those words we "really need" - it would be so boring! Not to mention what would happen to prose and poetry. Oh well, I don't suppose we "really need" them either. I really don't understand this reductionist approach to language.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@WW "Words that are useful stay, those that aren't, or that don't appeal to people, drop by the wayside." I guess that also means I can use less-well-known words that are already in the wordbook if they "appeal to me". May the frith be with you!
In an odd way AnWulf is seeking to enrich the language by requickening forgotten words and even making up stand-ins for now-in-use latinate words. So if language enrichment is the benchmark and so worthy your good and worthy self could be doing the same thing!
"Moon eclipse", why not? Are we in thrall to today's norms? Why not enrich our tongue with new wordstrings?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Let me just add that full-blown "Anglish" is a non-starter for me - everyone would need to know all the word-roots to make up their mind whether a given word was okay or not. Indeed any framework built on where the word comes from is to me un-do-able, unmarketable, and doomed. We are, I think, like-minded on this. However a "plain English" approach and a willingness to build some fresh word-strings does not seem untoward to me in the right place. Not the sort of thing to put in one's CV though!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@jayles ... Se móna acwanc ... The moon was a-quench'd (eclips'd) ... so, a "quench'd moon" ... or maybe a "hidden moon". I kind of like a "shadow moon".

Anglish is a way to stretch the thinking. I might not go as far as William Barnes when he put forth "fireghost" for electricity (BTW, electricity is a word crafted by an Englishman in 1600) but he did hav some good ones.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I don't think that I'v ever said to "get rid of" the latinates. We can't do that. We can however, trim our noting of them and put many on the dusty sheets of the wordbooks but even then there will be a fulsomeness of latinates for you and others. Some do fit a nook and, believe it or not, there are some that I even like.

How sad it is that someone would laff at anyone who shuns latinates and notes the Anglo-rooted words of the mother tung. What does that say about folks who would rather note the showy (pretentious) latinates? Does it make them look smarter or more snobbish? I say the latter. The flaunting of unneeded latinates is not a token of higher learning or smartness ... only a willingness to cram them in and a want to show off since one has given so much time to learn them.

As for spelling, many of my spellings are either from those put forth by sundry spelling reform groops (American, British, and Australian ... see or for an overhaul see ) or older spellings found thru the 1800s or even the early 1900s.

Anglo-Saxon spelling would look something like this: hwīl not bæd in itself, it has oþer stafs (such as the thorn - þ and ash - æ) that are uncnown (unknown) to most todæg.

Spencer didn't note A-S spelling in "The Faery Queen" when he wrote, but what he wrote was often, not always, but often more fonetic:

At her so pitteous cry was much amoou'd ... [amoovd insted of amoved]
Her champion stout, and for to ayde his frend, ... [frend insted of friend]
Againe his wonted angry weapon proou'd: ... [proovd insted of proved]

Here is a poem from the Simplified Spelling Society:

Draw a breth for progress,
Tred abrest ahed.
Fight agenst old spelling,
Better "red" than "read".
Spred the words at brekfast,
Mesure them in bed,
Dream of welth and tresure,
Better "ded" than "dead"

If you want to see something that will truly hurt your eyes look at spelling as chosen by an "international vote":

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse


- "inkhorn-terms" as "agile, education, harass, scientific, strenuous" - …

Narrowly speaking, the inkhorn years were ruffly between 1550 and 1650; more broadly, some put it to any unneeded latinate. Again, the narrower meaning of inkhorn is that it is an unneeded, made up latinate. A few put it to all outlander words. Mostly, the 'war of words' was about the latinates tho Robert Cawdrey did whinge about the French and Italian words brought back by some from their trips to France and Italy. Not all words brought in or made up (from Latin) in these years were inkhorns.

The word inkhorn is mainly for those Latinates (Anglicized Latin, tho sum might hav had a Greek root, they were mostly taken from the Latin shape) that were BOTH showy AND there was already another word for whatever they were cobbling together the latinate for (either an earlier French/Latin borrowing or an Anglo-Teutonish word).

*Agile - The Oxford Dict Online (OED). says it came into the tung in ME which would put it before the Inkhorn years (I know that agility is late ME); nonetheless, not needed … nimble, lightsome; shrewd, sharp, quick-witted.
*Education - not an inkhorn in the narrow look (1530s … before the inkhorn years), tho it is unneeded for 'learning, schooling, knowledj, teaching'.
*Harass - hardly an inkhorn, its roots are Teutonish (akin to harry, harrow, harum-scarum)
*Scientific - right timeframe but what word did it bestead? If there was not an earlier Fr./La. word or A-T word, then it's not an inkhorn. 'Science' itself is ME. I'd hav to look to see if there was a 'science-like' or something like that for an adjectiv.
*Strenuous - Right timeframe and not needed (a true inkhorn); there are other words like hard, tuff, ruff, tiring, backbreaking, asf.

You don't think that we're condition'd from almost from the first day of school that latinates somehow show a higher learning? Take a look at this list of "100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know" Why the heck does anyone — much less a HS grad — need to know 'inculcate'? That only one among many that need to toss'd off that list.

There are folks who luv Latin … and that's fine. Only luv it when you speak Latin, not when speaking English. It was the Latin lovers who wrought even more havoc on English spelling. I can't blame 'debt' on the French lovers! The 'b' was put in by the LL. I can't blame the 's' in island on the FL … again, it was the LL.

Our forebears after 1066 held French/Latin up high while trampling on English as "rude". They didn't do it for that French was cool … that might hav been a small deal of it for some … but for that they had been it beaten into their heads in school (and still is). Many were made to learn Latin and French … but not the Old English roots. In olden of days of yore, university students HAD to speak Latin or French at ALL times on campus … even outside of the classroom! So it should amaze no one that academics are the biggest abusers of latinates followd by burocrats.

You whinge about being deem'd for the note of latinates but you and others are as willing, if not more so, to fordeem those who shun them! And that's the whole nub of it isn't it! … Why should those showy latinates be thought of as any better than ones of the A-T root? Only that we'v been so taught … or some might say … brainwash'd.

You're right … One shouldn't look down (condescend) on those whose writings are heavy with the latinates; rather, one should feel ruth for them for often they're trying to dazzle with words rather than saying anything meaningful. At least the penny-a-liners where getting paid to make stretch their writings … and when I was told that term papers need to be X pages long, heck yeah I often put in the longest words I could find but it was still less than those who were in fields where they would like spend their lives in academia … like history … But why do others put out the long-winded, idle words for wit? Truthfully, when they pull out a whole boatload of latinates, it's hard not to laff at 'em.

I'll leave you with a bit of an Oxford sermon from "Recollections of Oxford," by G. V. Cox:

"A system thus hypothetically elaborated is, after all, but an inexplicable concatenation of hyperbolical incongruity."

Inexplicable indeed! LMAO!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"Every time one writes the -our ending in English, then you're giving "homage" to France" - This is the sort of balderdash …
-- True is true whether it rankles one or not. There is no fonetic nor etymological grounds for the -our ending in many words. Colour is from Old French colour, from Latin color. The -our spelling is a holdover from OF. Thus, "ispo facto", it's a 'homage' to French. OTOH, If you say 'kəlo͝or, then by all means write it that way!

"I wasn't talking about the Gaels; I was talking about the Britons the Anglo-Saxons displaced,… "
-- I said Gaelic, which is a broader latter day word for the Celtic tung which is broken into sundry dialects (or sunder tungs even) to inhold Brythonic Celtic tho I don't think there are any speakers of Brythonic left. ... So my bad ... Let me say it this way: I don't speak a Gaelic/Celtic tung. English is a Teutonish tung so it's a red herring to bring up the Gaelic/Celtic dwellers that were there before the Saxons.

"So they get a by too" - Sorry! Haven't a clue what you're on about."
-- Go back to what you said earlier: "I also find that the Anglo-Saxons, (and Norsemen, or in fact anyone vaguely "teutonic") who also started off as invaders or raiders, seem to get a very easy ride in your view." …
-- Celtic words in English get a by too (along with the other Teutonish tungs). About the words that I'm hard on are the after 1066 French/Latin ones. It is said that Old Norse and Old English could be understood by the other. So when the Norse (to inhold the Danes) came, the words were so unalike as when the N-F came.

""The Takeover, in the end, brought in some 10,000 French/Latin words! Of those, about 75% are still with us."- I wonder why? Linguists usually reckon that it's because they were found to be useful."
-- "Useful"? Is that from one's feelings? Is that "useful" for that (1) they shove'd aside the Anglo word and thus made the gap that they then fill'd? Or (2) "useful" for that there was no word and they needed to be borrow'd? Is 'agile' any more "useful" than 'nimble'? I think most of those words fall under (1).

If one is trying to get business or money from the Norman-French (keep in mind that thruout most of this timeframe that French and Latin were the tungs of government, the courts, and the church) then words like 'agile' would be more useful! And that's why French/Latin words shove'd aside so many the Anglo words. The words didn't come into English from borrowing to fill a gap but from needing to deal with the Norman-French overlords. Same ol' tale … French/Latin good, English "rude". I don't know who Crystal is but what we know is that French was the tung of the king's court until 1399 and French, as well as Latin, was still noted in Parliament (parliament is a French begotten word) and the courts after than til well into 1400s. It recks not how much "Anglicization" of the Norman-French nobility had taken place, they still had to know French/Latin to deal with the government and courts. Now, the Norman-French nobility didn't switch off from French like one switches off a light! They only laid the French/Latin words on top of an English grammar frame. It's not as if the noble woke up and said, "I think I'll write nimble insted of agile today." He kept saying agile only in English. So for anyone to try say that the Norman-French had little impact on English is … to note your word … balderdash!

Anent Lanfranc and Stigand, you likely know that in this timeframe that the church and politics were tied at the hip. Even before the N-F, the bishops were said to be part of the Witenagemot. Indeed, it wasn't the Pope but King Edward who put Stigand in the spot of archdiocese of Canterbury! Do you truly think that it only "happen'd" that Stigand was besteaded a short time after Lucky Bill took over? Or that it only "happen'd" that Billy's friend Lanfranc was put in the spot? Or that it only "happen'd" that "Lanfranc accelerated the process of substituting Normans for Englishmen in all preferments of importance …"? That it only "happen'd" that Stigand was imprison'd and that Billy seiz'd all his land? … If you believe all those only "happen'd", then I hav a few bridges that I'd like to sell you!

Pinning dates on writs in OE … even in ME … is iffy at best and often given a wide range of years. However the Historical Bible Society has on their website:

In 1066, the Norman Conquest marked the beginning of the end of the Old English language and initiated profound changes in its vocabulary. The project of translating the Bible into Old English gradually ended after that process began.

I don't think that Lucky Bill gave a hoot about whether the Bible was being set into English or not. He had his man as the archbishop and he was more than willing to let the church do pretty much what it wanted as long as it back'd him.

I think one the first things to come out in ME for setting the Bible into English was the Ormulum c1150. Wikipedia says this:

Middle English Bible translations (1066-1500) covers the age of Middle English, beginning with the Norman conquest and ending about 1500. Aside from Wycliffe's Bible, this was not a fertile time for Bible translation. English literature was limited because French was the preferred language of the elite, and Latin was the preferred literary language in Medieval Western Europe.

I don't hate France … even dated a French woman for a while. I'v been to Paris and gave it my best shot, as bad as it was, at speaking French while I was there. France isn't trying to shove French down our throats. That was Lucky Bill and his henchmen. They started the ball going and set the mindset … the N-F nobility kept it up for a few hundred years but, sadly, otherwise most of the harm done to English has been from English speakers themselves who can't seem to break away from the awe that so many hold for French and Latin.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

"It was the Latin lovers ....." like Romeo and Juliet?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@jayles - I'll return your question. Why use "Moon eclipse", when we have a perfectly good expression already. (Unless you are a believer in "pure English" - A pure English that many of us have some difficulty in understanding, have no interest in, and are getting a bit fed up with!). As for "appeal to people", I was thinking of people in general. There's nothing wrong with one individual using whatever words they like, but one individual isn't going to make much difference, especially if other people haven't the hell idea what you're talking about. Language is first and foremost about communication. Or have I missed something?

Another thing completely missing from your derivation-based pruning system is any mention of how words sound. Now for me "lunar landscape" sounds much better than "moon landscape" - probably something to do with alliteration and a balanced number of syllables. You no doubt deny yourselves such wonderful words as cacophony - doubly damned - four syllables and Greek to boot. How do you think poets choose words if not by sound?

I quite agree with you about plain English, but I imagine the Plain English Campaign would give short thrift to your "wordstrings, frith, requickening". Whatever they are, they are not plain English!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@AnWulf - " I said Gaelic, which is a broader latter day word for the Celtic tung which is broken into sundry dialects (or sunder tungs even) to inhold Brythonic Celtic tho I don't think there are any speakers of Brythonic left. ... So my bad ... Let me say it this way: I don't speak a Gaelic/Celtic tung. English is a Teutonish tung so it's a red herring to bring up the Gaelic/Celtic dwellers that were there before the Saxons."

First, Gaelic is not a broader latter day word for the Celtic tongue. Celtic languages are divided into two families - Goidelic and Brythonic. Goidelic includes Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic and Manx, Brythonic includes Welsh, Cornish and Breton, and the Celtic language spoken in England before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. But that's not the point, one which you always avoid. You are forever criticising the Normans, without ever holding the behaviour of the Anglo-Saxons to the same account. That sounds to me like double standards. But why let stupid historical objectivity get in the way of your narrative?

I wonder what happened to the claim that "An ongoing work that came to a screeching halt when Lucky Bill had a Frenchman put over the church in England" - gone off into another round of polemic. Incidentally, the Ormulum wasn't "setting the Bible into English", it was a commentary in English verse explaining the meaning of certain bible texts; something rather different from a bible translation, especially given the Church's position.

And why will you never address the point that the entry of French words into English came in two separate periods; the second from choice.

But what's the point? I really can't be arsed anymore to try and have a rational conversation with someone who holds a 900 year-old grudge, harping on about "Lucky Bill" every opportunity he gets. Someone who twists history to suit his own agenda, and accuses people who simply use normal English of holding French and Latin "in awe". Or people who use normal British spelling of paying "homage" to the French. You really do live in a world all of your own. If all this, and accusing your opponent of "whingeing", is the level of your debate, it's really not worth my time.

The Anglish thing used to worry me, as I felt my language was threatened by what I consider a very bad idea. But now I've read a bit about the "pure English" movement, I've realised my fears were completely groundless. While many if not most of the inkhorn terms you so despise are still with us, few of the "English" substitutes have survived. (I got my list from an English course at Towson University - And the same with more modern coinages. The linguistic purist movement in English is about as significant to mainstream English as a Trekkie convention. But at least (most) Trekkies know they're living in a fantasy world.

And don't confuse linguistic purism with the Campaign for Plain English. They do sterling work, and have had a very positive effect on the use of English by official bodies, businesses and professionals. But their principles are based on common sense, not prejudice.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

The herd is always right.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@jayles - Meaning?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Jayles is just stating a fallacy, the appeal to popularity, yet he makes another fallacy of his own, one that I call the appeal to obscurity, the fallacy that it is known by a few that it is right.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Whoops, the fallacy that if only a few people know or believe in something, then it is right.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

What I meant was to do with the basis of what is okay and good and "plain" English, and what is not so good, or "unplain". It seems to me that in this discussion we need to find some common basis for our criteria, otherwise agreement is impossible.
One of the bases is "what people say/write" - which leads to corpus-based criteria. For instance "quicken" is somewhere in the 10000-15000 range of word frequency lists.
(see 12200+)
As such it is a word that native and near-native speakers would be expected to know.
Adding the prefix "re-", which is portable, doesn't alter this. I think we agree on this.
However the argument is about whether it is "plain" English, whether it enriches the language and so on; and here we seem to have more subjective criteria.
I am not arguing that shunning latinate words per se makes for "plain" or better English, (although the converse might be true); heavens above, it's really a head-banger trying to say what one wants without using latinates. However as an exercise it has stopped me automatically reaching for the standard phrases ("the herd") and made me use a thesaurus for the first time in my life.
As for "frith", well of course it is an archaic "wind-up"..
"wordstring" is about minting new words: it actually comes from software writing: (see the first answer).
[word,string,char,text,integer,decimal are all common data types in programming]
I don't see "wordstring" as much different from "a string of words", although the latter usually means an string of excessive lengh. if we can use "multi-word verbs" for "phrasal verbs", why not word-string?
(BTW present perfect continuous is technically a "multi-word verb" so the term doesn't make things any clearer to a Mandaring speaker who doesn't have any L! tenses anyway).
@Jasper no I didn't mean that. Just that we shouldn't disallow new words just because they are new.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@WW Business English student: What means "fellow subsidiary"?
Teacher : Well.... (long explanations)
Student: Why don't you just say "sister company" like us?
Teacher: Well,

Student: Teacher! Teacher! "Multi-" what meaning?
Teacher: It means "many".
Student: Teacher! Why you not say "many", Teacher?

PS I'm eking out the pension with a little teaching again - this time an elem class (ie Chinese- Korean- Tagalog- Hindi-speakers). You may wish me luck!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@WW What bugs me sometimes is the "open-door" policy of English - yes I know this gives us lots and lots of words to choose from, but there is a flipside when it comes to non-natives learning English. For example: in Hungarian, town/ciy is "varos", "fo" is head; so the "capital" is "fovaros". It's pretty straightforward. (There many borrowings in Hungarian but quite where they came from is often a mystery, but seldom latin). Meanwhile in English we have the word "capital" (which of course comes from caput capitis a "head" in latin, although one wouldn't know that unless one had learnt latin at school). So whilst the Hungarian word is guessable from its roots the English one is not, (unless one's L1 is romance). So in the end the "open-door" policy leads to a mass of words whose root meanings are obscure. I think we as native speakers just acquire these words their usage as "blanks"; I certainly don't think of "in-fer", "de-fer", "re-fer", "of-fer", "suf-fer" and "pre-fer" as prefix+"fer" meaning to carry, (but nothing to do with "fer-al", "fer-ocious"); whereas in Hungarian and some other languages the roots would be clearer to native speaker and outside learner alike.
It is of course a bit late to change all that or to speculate what English might have been like if Harold Godwinson had fought a bit harder. What is done is done. And in some ways what a fine mongrel tongue we have. And in other ways we still have this lingering part of our culture that often tends to put latinate words in the "high" register, French in the "neutral" register, and the rest is just wot everywun says, like a reflection of the class system that operated in England when I was young.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

First and foremost language is about communication. No, we don't all have to use exactly the same words or word combinations, but if you use other words they need to be understandable. Now, for example, I still don't know exactly what you mean by "wordstring" - phrase, collocation, chunking, and now you say 'coining new words'? And as I wrote Javascript code, I'm perfectly well aware of its programming sense. You seem to think that because I know the component parts I should understand, as in your "requicken", but I don't know what you mean by that either, and I really don't see why I should spend extra effort trying to work out the meanings of words which are just as (if not more) obscure to me as long Latinates. At least I can look Latinates up in a dictionary.

I also think it doesn't show a lot of respect to your fellow speakers to use words they are not likely to understand, for what really comes down to ideological reasons. What other reasons could there be that you feel the need to invent or retool these strange words? Language is a democracy, and certain natural word partnerships have grown up, for example, I might 'quicken my pace', but 'speed up a process'. These natural associations are the basis of corpus linguistics and natural language processing.

Incidentally, "quicken" comes in at 30,926 at which is based on the British National Corpus. The Wiktionary tables (which I didn't know about and will have to investigate; thanks for that) seem to be based on Project Gutenberg, so are probably a bit more 'literary', not to mention that most books at PG are out of copyright, so more than seventy years old.

Talking of collocations, I have a little compromise to suggest for lunar eclipse - eclipse of the moon. It's not as common as lunar eclipse, but more so than moon eclipse. Although purists will still have the problem of 'eclipse'. Here are some figures for 'lunar eclipse', 'moon eclipse' and 'eclipse of the moon' respectively:

The Guardian - 511, 7, 58
The BBC - 556, 154 , 193
The British National Corpus - 4, 0, 2
Google Books - 145,000, 18,100, 128,000

And here are a couple of my favourite collocation finders -

Multi-word verb - OK. I hate this term. Why? Because we had a perfectly good system of phrasal verbs divided into four types, which was relatively easy (at least for teachers) to understand. What's more, dictionaries refer to phrasal verbs, there are masses of books on phrasal verbs, but the trendies seem to think that multi-word or multi-part verbs (they can't even make up their minds) are better. If they'd used different names for the four categories (as Wikipedia does), it might not have been so bad. But under the multi-whatever label, only the first two categories are now phrasal verbs, the third being prepositional verbs, and the fourth phrasal-prepositional verbs. Which is bad enough, but nobody seems totally clear as to what verbs the category prepositional verbs includes. I wrote (ranted) about this last year -

I'm not sure I really get your point about present perfect continuous - do you perhaps mean it's literally a multi word verb, because it consists of several words? It certainly isn't technically a multi-word verb, as it has no particle(s).

But as for the prefix "multi-", it is so common, as are other Latin and Greek prefixes, that it shouldn't be that difficult for students to grasp the meaning once they've come across it once or twice. In any case, "many" is just as foreign for them as "multi".

I also far prefer the term "sister company", but I think you overstate the problem, as the students are likely to have learnt the term "subsidiary" well before they come across the relationship between two subsidiaries. In any case, 'sister company' is by far the more common term - 100:1 on Google, 10:1 on Bloomberg, 300:1 at the FT.

Do you really think only people who studied Latin know that "capital" comes from "head"? I would imagine most native speakers know the difference between "capital punishment" and "corporal punishment". And in any case, while knowing about roots is a fascinating subject, it's hardly necessary for understanding the meaning, is it? You rather proved that with "refer, infer" etc example.

There may be a few people who think long words sound "more intelligent", but I imagine most people judge words on their sound and familiarity, not their derivation. I really think that we have to distinguish between the desire for plain English, which I largely go along with, and language purism based on derivation, which is something completely different.

You say - "It seems to me that in this discussion we need to find some common basis for our criteria, otherwise agreement is impossible.". But there is a possible basis. It's called common sense, and using the everyday English that the vast majority of speakers use, and which sounds natural to the vast majority of native speakers. It's the language used by many (but, unfortunately, not all) the commenters at Pain in the English. You won't please the pedants or the purists, but they are tiny minorities who will never be pleased anyway.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Warsaw Will - "While many if not most of the inkhorn terms you so despise are still with us, few of the "English" substitutes have survived." OK, I probably overstated the first part, although I stick by the second. I listed "agile" etc as Inkhorn terms, because they are listed as such at a couple of US academic sites, such as Rhode Island College and Towson University.

I accept that we are better off without many, perhaps most, of the words Thomas Wilson lists in his "An ynkehorne letter". But on the other hand, that letter also included "ingenious, capacity, mundane, celebrate, extol, dexterity, illustrate, superiority, fertile, contemplate, invigilate, pastoral, confidence, compendious, relinquish, frivolous, verbosity", only two of which "compendious" and "verbosity" would I baulk at using (in the right context).

Of those "nativist" words put forward by Ralph Lever (eg witcraft for logic, endsay for conclusion, foresay for premise), few have survived. And as Micheal Quinlon at World Wide Words says "Whatever the reason for success or failure of new words, this extraordinary period of inventiveness and adaptation enriched English with many hundreds of new terms."

Later purist writers don't seem to have been any more successful in persuading us to use their "simpler" equivalents, whether Nathaniel Fairfax (1674) - (eg bodiless for immaterial, middlekin for medium, thingsomeness for reality’) or William Barnes (starlore for astronomy and speechcraft for grammar). Although I accept that Barnes' poetry has a lot of merit, his invented words didn't really catch on.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Inkhorn terms - for anyone interested, there is also quite a lengthy discussion in "Early Modern English", by Charles Laurence Barber, much of which is available at Google:

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

this "pled" v "pleaded" v "plead" (past tense and pronounced 'pled')
thread having strayed faaaaar afield of the specific words and usages
for which I signed up, I'm outta here. Farewell.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Justice Jim - sorry! But I think the "pled" "pleaded" thing did get pretty well discussed before we got diverted. There aren't many of these threads that go "into the grey".

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@JusticeJim ... True ... It's time for WW, Jayles, and I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It's time for WW, Jayles, and I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it. ?? Oh no, something wrong here, surely?
It's time for { WW, Jayles, and } I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it. ?? Take out the others ...
It's time for I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it. ?! That's what's wrong: time for I ??
It's time for me I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it.
Me, not I, after preposition 'for'. Put the others back in:
It's time for WW, Jayles, and me I to take this back to the Anglish thread if we wish to keep talking about it.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Go back to the Anglish page? You must be joking! That page is the private domain of the Saxon Brotherhood, and woe betide any visitors who don't share their views. In my case, it's a case of thrice bitten, four times shy, I'm afraid.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I guess it depends on where you were raised and the language you learnt (learned) in. I was born and raised in England, therefore I learnt the "Real' English language which is pleaded. I then moved to Canada in my 30's and horror, the word "plead" (pronounced pled) came into my earshot. I guess the Americans, who "borrowed" the language 200 years ago and then screwed around with it.....and then tell everyone that anything but American English is wrong....well, they have the problem don't they? While I'm at it.....another thing that irritates the heck out of me is the American English's use of "off of" (example "take it off of the table") is a completely misused and redundant form of language. Obviously, it is "take it off the table". Anyone who learnt English as a child surely knows that!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Limey Pat - firstly, there's nothing wrong with a bit of redundancy in spoken language. Secondly, does 'get those things off of the table' involve any more redundancy then 'get those things out of the car'. You're used to the second, so no doubt don't think about it that way, but is that 'of' really necessary there either?

Just because Americans use constructions that you and I weren't brought up with doesn't make them grammatically wrong. Just as Americans shouldn't jump to the conclusion that constructions that Brits use are wrong simply because they are unfamiliar with them.

As for the idea that 'pled' resulted from Americans 'screwing around' with 'our' language, that is just nonsense, as the Oxford English Dictionary has an example of “pled” from Edmund Spenser in 1596. What's more, as has been pointed out, it is used mainly in a legal sense, not only in North America, but also in Scotland.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Limey Pat ... WW is spot on. BTW, "off of" isn't an Americanism. The OED finds it as far back as ME c1450.

From Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 2, Act II: Simpcox: A fall off of a tree.

And let's not forget the Rolling Stones' "Get Off Of My Cloud"!

Think of pleaded > pled as going from goeth > goes. Things change!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@AnWulf - good to see you doing your bit for international understanding by using what I understood to be a Britishism - 'spot on'. (Although I think the hyphenated spot-on before a noun is American). :)

Good point about the derivation of pled. And there's a distinct pattern - lead > led, feed > fed, read > read, as others pointed near the beginning of this post.

3 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I still prefer pled to pleaded because one would properly discuss someone suffering a loss of blood as having bled out not having bleeded or bleaded out.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

It's certainly true that the majority of one syllable -ead / -eed verbs with that particular sound take an -ed form in the past - lead, read (in sound), bleed, breed, feed etc.

But there quite a few which don't - heed, knead, need, seed, weed - so I don't think you can build an all-embracing rule on it. In any case, the truth is that over a long period of time English speakers in their wisdom have largely plumped for 'pleaded' except for the exceptions given above - so apart from in some law reports perhaps, pleaded it is.

"He pleaded for his life"
- Google Search 533,000, Google Books 14,600, New York Times 116

"He pled for his life"
- Google Search 16,200, Google Books 91, New York Times 0

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@WW ... Yes, I think "spot on" is more British but I did hav a British neighbor for a while so maybe I pick'd it up from him.

There are many reasons why some verbs that one might think should be strong (stem change) rather than weak (-ed).

It could be that heed, seed, and weed would sound like other word ... hed (head), sed (said), wed. Truthfully, for seed, it was a noun that became a verb so which wontedly leads to a weak verb. Need seems to also hav been a noun (neod) before becoming a verb ((ge)neodian ... shows up in Late OE).

Knead in OE was a strong verb ... past tense of "cnæd". Indeed, in some dialects it is "knodden" ...

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Is it he bleeded to death or he bled to death?

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I agree with our original poster, Stan, that "pleaded" is sub-standard English. It grates on my nerves every time I hear it, and since my major television channels all come out of Youngstown, Ohio--a city known for its high crime rate--I get to hear "the defendent 'pleaded' not guilty" several times every day. I think this comes in part from the abandonment of the King James Version of the Bible in most churches. I'm 60 now, so when I was young, the KJV was all we had, and it was roundly praised as a model of elegant English, even if it was archaic in some of its phrasing, and took some work to understand. As we struggled with the older form, we learned elegance. Now, even our scriptures are written on a newspaper level, and we suffer for that. Even the "word of God" now sounds like something written by a journalistic hack.

I have no problem with using modern Bible versions, but I do miss the elegance that used to grace the written word. Go back and read "Gone With The Wind," "The Song of Bernadette," or "The Lord of the Rings," and you'll find vastly different usage. Sometimes it can be over-wordy, but if you keep at it, you'll be struck by the beauty. We're losing that, and "pleaded" is just one more example of how far our language has fallen.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Rosewood11 You might wish to take a look at the "anglish" blog on this selfsame websheet, wherein, amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth, your KJV-standpoint would be most welcomely brooked.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Rosewood11 - one small problem, 'pled' doesn't appear in the KJV, whereas 'pleaded' does, three times, two of which could be likened to the legal sense.

Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach - Samuel 25:3
O LORD, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; - Lamentations 3:58
Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt - Ezekiel 20:36

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

only in Amerika.................!

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I am old school, and am apalled by the pronounciation and spelling of the english language as printed in our daily newspapers.
Supposedly, reporters are university graduates and educated people, but the constant use of incorrect words and spelling makes one wonder if the degree came in a cereal packet.
A classic case is when a personwho was on bail has it extended by the court (judge or magistrate), the reporter usually writes "the bail was enlarged".
I rest my case

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Poppa Bear, I read into "the bail was enlarged" the idea that the sum involved is increased, rather than the period extended. As one who once long ago and far away had employment all day in the office which worked with the payment of fines and bail, I cannot recall any instance of such a thing being done. If the first edition of the bail had proved sufficient there was no need to enlarge it, for if the alleged "skellum" had turned up again, what would be the need? And if, rather, he had done a runner, it would be a bit late anyway, and the thinking would be that it would be more appropriate to sling the poor wretch into the cells, as being an unreliable person to whom to grant bail at all, if he could be apprehended. So it is a mightily rare thing to have bail enlarged, I agree with you.

I am intrigued that you can tell how the language as printed is pronounced. It is early in the morning, however, and we are not firing on all cylinders yet. Perhaps it is more obvious once the first coffee is aboard.

As for me, I agree that the language as printed in the press is choc-a-bloc with malapropisms and poorly chosen prepositions. I put in a complaint at this site about the sloppiness of the use of 'into' and 'in to' and 'on to' and 'onto' used interchangeably, especially as found in news reports, and promised to cite the very next example I came across, and, do you know? I have not seen any since!
On your side, Poppa Bear, fellow old school mate. Can't easily ignore linguistic carelessness, like the spelling of 'English' as 'english', for example.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Poppa Bear - "the bail was enlarged" gets precisely seven hits on Google. Six are from Australia and New Zealand, all of which are from the nineteenth century, one is from The Court Gazette, London of 1843 and one is from the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1833. This doesn't sound much like "usually" to me! It's rather dangerous to make unsupported sweeping statements like this in the internet age, wouldn't you say?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I can't count - eight hits

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Poppa Bear - OK, if you try with "bail was enlarged" you get slightly more (and more modern) results - 27. Eleven of these are from Australia and New Zealand, where the term seems seems rather more common, and is the expression used in the Queensland Bail Act 1980:

"that the defendant must not depart from the court unless the bail is enlarged"

The rest are mainly from British newspapers and if you dig a bit deeper, you find that this is a perfectly standard legal term in the UK as well, listed in, for example, The Oxford Dictionary of Law Enforcement ("To extend the bail to a later date. .."):

It is also discussed in, inter alia, Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2012:

"Instead of issuing a warrant for his arrest, the magistrates may simply adjourn and enlarge bail in his absence"

It would seem that it's those who use the term 'enlarge bail' who are really old school.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Poppa Bear ... Pronunciation and spelling hav never been set in stone in English. If it had been, we'd still be writing hwæt for what, þurh (þ=th) for thru, and circ for church/kirk. That last one shows that the way words were said was not standard either. Circ was church in the south and kirk in the north ... and still is in many places. There's no overall authority on either grammar or spelling. The nearest thing that we hav are the sundry wordbooks and a loose band of grammarians worldwide but they don't all agree ... as we can see here with plead and pled. It's kind of chaotic at times but it works and things go forward.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I'm a 48 year old Englishman. I have NEVER heard the word pled as a past tense of plead until i was reading a Wikipedia article today. It looked so wrong I looked it up and ended up here.

In short, here in the UK the past tense of plead is always written/spoken as pleaded.

But I can see how it might annoy Americans. Then again, I hate hearing "He dove for the ball" instead of "He dived for the ball", "snuck" instead of "sneaked"...and there will be more examples.

In short, I cannot agree with our original poster, Stan, that "pleaded" is sub-standard English. To me it sounds like standard English.

Innit thoughs...

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Jeff, of course you are right. It goes without saying. "The baker kneads the dough - he kned it the same way yesterday", "we dread paying the charge he'll put on it, but I suppose our forebears dred the price they were asked, too"," it's my turn to weed the flowerbed because you wed it last week" all very poor, really. pled is no better.

I'd blame the Americans; we usually do. the Scots are very sloppy about this too, although we usually do much better than the English in linguistic matters, because it is not our native tongue.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jeff J - "In short, here in the UK the past tense of plead is always written/spoken as pleaded." - Scotland is, at least for the moment, still part of the UK, and as has already been mentioned, 'pled' is often used in the legal sense, but not the begging sense in Scotland - He pled guilty but he pleaded for his life. For examples see my comment of December 22, 2012, 5:30am, or go just Google it: you'll find that many of the results are from official bodies or news outlets:

@Brus - Have you leaded a good life and readed any good books lately?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

A judge will never ask "how do you plea?" that is a noun and he is requesting that you perform an action. the question posed will be either "how do you *plead*?" or "what is the defendant's *plea*?" Last i checked, plea is a regular verb so to everyone facetiously asking "oh der should it 'leaded' and 'readed' now too?": that query is irrelevant because plead is a regular verb and just because two worda rhymes doesnt mean they have the same root etymology as another word and will necessarily carry the same conjugation. Plead should be pleaded in the past tense and it is only "nails on a chalkboard" to some of you because has been used inconsistently from its own conjugation for so long. It doesnt matter if it sounds right. Many people say "drug" sounds better than "dragged" and i am far too civil to pen what i think of that in a public forum. There is also a difference between what is acceptable writing and what is acceptable speech. Its ok to drop pieces of words when you speak; clear dictation and crisp enunciation can certainly be reserved for shakespeare or the podium. By that same logic, snuck is probably acceptable in speech but just because it sounds right doesnt make it correct. And just because a dictionary that also includes current linguistic trends in its entries supports your use of colloquial conjugations in written work doesn't make it the rule. Sneak becomes sneaked, plead becomes pleaded, read becomes read, lead becomes lead, light becomes lighted, and drag becomes dragged! Learning the difference between regular and irregular verbs is a matter of sheer memorization and one of the reasons non-native English speakers find it hard to learn the language. But it is also something native speakers dont even bother to learn anymore because common parlance will allow them to get away with talking however way it "sounds right." It is laziness, stubborness, egocentricity, and refusal to change all rolled into one. Saw it in school and now i see it in society.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Mraff - at the moment, snuck is considered 'informal' and 'chiefly North American' (Oxford), but it looks as though its use is increasing. It's even 'snuck' into British English. If enough people use it, it will become totally standard and absolutely unobjectionable. Just like saying you instead of ye is now standard but at one time would have been considered a mistake. That's how language works.

Actually, in my experience as a teacher, apart from at very low levels, non-native speakers don't have that much trouble with irregular verbs (even the most irregular English verbs have only a maximum of five morphological forms, far less than most European languages). What really gives foreign learners gyp is phrasal verbs, not irregular verbs.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I don't know what it is, but "snuck" to me sounds better than sneaked. The "uck" part has that pernicious sound when paired with "sn".

To Warsaw Will, I feel as though the archaic second person singular pronouns (thou, thee, thy, thine) should be resurrected for the sake of clarity. Whenever I read you, I think which you? You singular or you plural?

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Jasper - I started off by intending to give thou, thee etc as an example, when I realised that was a disappearance rather than a change in a word form, which is why I chose ye, the old subject form of you, which is still shown in some nineteenth century grammars. Perhaps you should go and live in Yorkshire:

"Watching the people get lairy
It's not very pretty I tell thee"

Kaiser Chiefs (Leeds)

Apparently, the OED has the first citation for snuck from as long ago as 1887.

Google Books goes slightly earlier; this is from 1881:

"Well, sir, your boy Aleck got a straw, snuck up behind a sorrel mule, tickled him on the hind leg, and ..."

repeated a bit later (1886) in slightly less standard English:

"Well, sir, yer boy Aleck got a straw, snuck up behin' a sorrel mule, tickled him on the heels, an ..."

One from 1889:

'False doctrine snuck in amongst them with a great and holy appearance'

And another from 1895:

"I have just sandbagged the messenger and got a cool ten thousand out of his safe, when a beastly opposition train robber snuck in on me, slugged me, and took and made off with all the stuff"

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Pled sounds better; do not worry about writing; in court, "...the defendant 'pled guilty....' at a past date...."; King James bible sound; traditional; Black's law dictionary is definitive.
Atty, 40 years, retired public defender, pled 1,000's guilty, in fact.

1 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

@Bob Foster - Being Scottish, where it is also used in court, I have no objection to 'pled', indeed rather like it. But on a point of information, or however you lawyers put it, although it may have a King James Bible sound, it doesn't actually appear in the KJV, whereas 'pleaded' does, three times. :)

2 votes Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

I hate to say it but there is no reason to hate either form. 'pleaded' is actually older. This word comes from French so was not irregular when borrowed. It came to be pronounced 'pled' in some contexts after analogy with 'read.' Now that I've said that, I want to be clear I don't advocate a particular form. Let people speak how they want. 'Pled' is fine. It is completely untrue that people read or write worse than the generation before t hem. Language and spelling naturally change over time. Since language has existed, these complaints have existed. And no, it does not mean you are smarter than young people. You are just pretentious, old or both.

0 vote Vote!  •  Permalink  •  Report Abuse

Your Comment