Comments for Pain in the English Forum for the gray areas of the English language Sat, 20 Dec 2014 00:15:50 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on issue as problem by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:28:59 +0000 OOPS meant to post:

@DN Do you have some kind of an issue with that??

Comment on issue as problem by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:26:20 +0000

@DN Do you have some kind of an issue with that??

Comment on issue as problem by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:55:14 +0000 I don't think the way people use it today, it is totally synonymous with problem, or at least only in certain contexts. Sure "Do you have an issue with that?" has to a certain extent replaced "Do you have a problem with that?", but that was always a very specific use of the word 'problem'. On the other hand, I don't think many people would say they were having an issue getting their car started in the morning.

Especially in the plural it can suggest baggage (history) of a certain type - the song "She's got issues" suggests a lot more to me than if it had simply been called "She's got problems".

These examples are from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary definition of "issue", under the subheading:

2 [countable] a problem or worry that somebody has with something

Money is not an issue.
I don't think my private life is the issue here.
I'm not bothered about the cost—you're the one who's making an issue of it.
Because I grew up in a dysfunctional family, anger is a big issue for me.
She's always on a diet—she has issues about food.
He still has some issues with women (= has problems dealing with them).
If you have any issues, please call this number.

As I said, I think that this is a very specific meaning of problem (apart perhaps for the first and the last last ones), and that "issue" is unlikely to replace the more standard meaning of problem. It may be an unfashionable view, but I believe that new words often become popular because they have a more precise meaning than existing ones - they fulfill a need.

As for the trend, and it doesn't seem to be a huge one, at least not in books, it seems to have started around 1990:

Comment on Difference between “lying” and “misleading” by HSTJ HSTJ Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:42:27 +0000 *or withholding of the truth

Comment on Difference between “lying” and “misleading” by HSTJ HSTJ Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:41:34 +0000 I recently received this question in an oxford interview. At first I considered there might be moral implications for one more so than the other; however after a brief discussion with the interviewer we came to the conclusion that lying is a direct contradiction of the truth, while misleading is a manipulation of withholding of the truth.

Comment on Friendly - adjective and adverb? by I love english I love english Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:07:04 +0000 Hi there,
I think the word friendly is so confusing and controversial.for example in Webster dictionary it's mentioned as adj and adv both but in other dictionaries it's just adj
Morover comparative form of friendly is so mysterious in some books it's friendlier and in another it's more friendly.
In my viewpoint, although in most dictionaries this word is just an adj, it can be used as an adv in spoken english

Comment on Victorian Era English by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:55:57 +0000

Short though she was, Victoria ascented the throne in 1837; so at the start of the Vicotorian Era "shall" may have been used as oft as will.

Present continuous seems to have grown during her long regnum.

You are right about 'here comes' ; what I meant to imply was that putting the adverb of place first will allow the use of a simple verb instead of continuous without breaking modern verb patterns : eg Into the station pulled the train. Whether this is a good idea or not hinges on the context of course.

You might wish to review my late ramblngs on the Anglish thread; I was much surprised at how seldom future continuous crops up, and the fact that "have been wanting" was relatively common a few hundred years ago. Not quite sure that Headway etc get the right emphasis on what matters.

Comment on Difference between a release and a waiver by ilikepiet2 ilikepiet2 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:57:07 +0000 I guess I need to modify my comment, since "waive" is also transitive and takes an object (e.g., waiving a "claim"). Duh. The distinction I was trying to make should remain the same, however. As "anon" puts it more succinctly, a waiving party is forgoing a right or claim against another party, usually before such a claim has actually arisen. In contrast, a party that has been released from liability can raise the release as a defense if the waiving party tries to pursue a claim against the released party if the basis for such a claim ultimately arises. Both a waiver and a release would logically describe the rights, claims or liabilities in question, so the scope of a waiver and a release should normally be the same. But, even if I do not expressly "waive" my rights or claims against the other party, I still should not prevail if there is a clause under which I released that party from such claims, and that release remains binding on me.

Comment on Difference between a release and a waiver by ilikepiet ilikepiet Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:37:36 +0000 I think I "waive" the right to pursue a claim. In contrast, I think I "release" someone else from liability. As a practical matter, I think the result is the same, no liability. But I think the possible nuance is that one is transitive (release, which takes an object) and the other is intransitive (waive, which does not take an object). And I think both could be used together: I "waive" any potential claim against you for payment, and I "release" you from any liability you might have to me to make such payment. I think I have even seen some legal documents that say "waiver and release," to cover both bases.

Comment on Victorian Era English by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:13:30 +0000 @jayles - You're no doubt right about 'will' and 'shall' instead of present continuous with future meaning, but I'm not so sure about 'here comes':

Charlotte Bronté - Jane Eyre

is coming 1 - Tell her, Sam, a gentleman is coming
here comes / there goes 0

Emily Bronté - Wuthering Heights

is coming - 4
Don’t make more mischief; my brother is coming: be quiet!
Ah, he has caught a glimpse of us—he is coming in!
‘I’ve prayed often,’ he half soliloquised, ‘for the approach of what is coming
Catherine is coming, dear master!

here comes / there goes 0

Anne Bronté - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

is coming 2
He is coming to see me soon
But death will come—it is coming now—fast, fast!

here comes 2
and here comes my aunt to scold me
Ah, here comes one that will not rejoice at it!

'shall' is certainly used a lot, but mainly as an alternative to 'will' - in Jane Eyre there are around 260 instances, mostly in the first person, a couple with 'he/she' and around 20 with 'you'.

But the real way to sound Brontéesque is to have your characters ejaculate a lot:

Jane Eyre - 'he/she ejaculated' - 7
Wuthering heights - 'he/she ejaculated' - 5
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - 'he/she ejaculated' - 3

Comment on Victorian Era English by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Thu, 18 Dec 2014 01:57:54 +0000 One must strive to imitate the language of the Bronte sisters and others of that ilk. Using a dialect is more likely to be credible.
Use the "thou" forms instead of "you" when addressing one family member or lover.
Use modals like shall, may, will instead of some continuous forms:
eg Will she come? <==Is she coming?
Here comes the carriage <== The carriage is coming

Be wary of familiarity : inside lower class families yes; servant to master never

Comment on Victorian Era English by Uhtwulf Uhtwulf Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:27:40 +0000 I would like to add suggestions. For exclamations and responses, say things like: Oh dear! Bless me! Fancy that! What the devil....and when a character is talking about their opinions, things like: I rather think...I quite like it....It was most (insert adjective here). In dialogue, use adjectives like frightful, dreadful, beastly, queer. Tell people things like "Do stop (insert verb here)!"

Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:34:30 +0000 It's not well known that Santa has several brothers. There's a younger brother who is always giving into him, and so is known by the rest of the family as Concession Claus.

Another brother has so little time for the family that they don't really regard him as one of the them, calling him Nominal Claus. A third is always going around set on doing something or other, Purpose Claus,he's known as. And then there's Conditional Claus, the black sheep of the family, who is only accepted at family dos on the proviso that he behaves himself. And of course there's the one with the dimple on his chin, Cleft Claus.

Then there are those who have flown the roost, the independent Clauses, leaving behind all the small Clauses. And there's those teenage Clauses who go round saying things like 'He was like Hi and I was like Cool, and like How are you, man. Cool.' The Verbless Clauses, they're called.

And if you want to get in touch with any of them just ask Mrs Claus, she knows all their numbers and email addresses. Not for nothing is she known as Contact Claus.

Comment on Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:05:12 +0000 Just to explain the meaning of the grammatical term "relative clause":

As you may know, Santa is spending this Xmas down-under visiting relatives, leaving the prezzie handout to DHL. Unfortunately it's been very wet down-under (despite being mid-summer), and Santa with his family (all those little subordinate Clauses) have been cooped up in a beach-bach with his relative Clauses, and all the wet and bedaggled reindeer, all suffering from cabin-fever listening to endless downpours and gales outside. Some of the little Clauses have in fact become quite insubordinate and objectionable (Santa calls them 'object Clauses'). Mrs Santa has been trying to organize indoor games and activities to keep everyone amused: Santa calls her a 'co-ordinating Claus', whilst he himself is of course the main Claus

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:42:29 +0000

Well this whole thing started because of the MacDonalds ad "I'm loving it", which to me is borderline - not something I would say.

What surprises me is that 'have/has been wanting' has declined so much lately

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:33:19 +0000 "Because back in the 1840s, around 80 percent of people living in Wales were Welsh speakers, many of them spoke no English at all. Fast forward to the recent 2011 census and that number has dropped to below 20 percent."
as stated in :

Not sure whether this is well-founded or not, but if so could account for the late rise in continuous forms

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:26:39 +0000

My next question would be: how much did the post-1847 drive to teach English to Welsh children in schools contribute to the much-more-widespread use of continuous/progressive forms?
Did these forms become more common in 1800's because of grammarians' influences, the crossover from Welsh or upper-class affectation with over-politeness?

Either way it seems that the true Englishness of today's widespread use of continuous forms is questionable

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Tue, 16 Dec 2014 22:40:59 +0000

Do the above really chart the rise of continuous forms in English?
Do they really show a decline in the use of straight modals (esp shall) in favour of continuous?
Did the form "will be coming" really begin as just a Victorian affectation?

Comment on “I’ve got” vs. “I have” by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:36:31 +0000 @Harrycastle, belatedly - "In the French language, for example, the present perfect doesn't exist - rather they use a simple present. i.e. I have = j'ai and I have got = j'ai."

This is a double whammy, I'm afraid.

1. The 'I've got' construction is nothing to do with present perfect, of 'get' or anything else - so the 'j'ái' thing is neither here nor there. It's simply an idiomatic version of 'I have' which can only be used in the present; for other times we need to use 'have'. If 'I've got' was present perfect we would be able to use past simple and past perfect of 'get' with same meaning (which we patently can't):

She's got blonde hair = She has blonde hair

* When I first knew her she got brown hair - where did she obtain it from, I wonder?
- correct version - When I first knew her she had brown hair

* She had originally got black hair, apparently - again, where had she obtained it from?
- correct version- She had originally had black hair, apparently

Forget present perfect, it has nothing to do with it. Why is it that most foreign learners grasp this quite easily, but some native speakers just can't see the wood for the trees, I wonder?

2.French does have a tense constructed in the same way as present perfect - passé composé, which has two functions. In spoken French it is used instead of the passé simple to talk about the past. But its primary function is much the same as present perfect - "Le passé composé fonctionne normalement comme forme d'accompli dans le présent" (Grammaire du francais - Denis, Sancier-Chateau, Livre de Poche) - The passé composé functions normally as a form of completion in the present:

"Jusqu'á présent Paul ná écouté que de la musique classique"
"Up until now Paul has only listened to classical music."

Comment on “I’ve got” vs. “I have” by CurryCurry CurryCurry Tue, 16 Dec 2014 10:31:53 +0000 Proper as it may be, hearing "You've got..." repeatedly during an given Al Roker segment is redolent of a cat sliding down a chalkboard tree.

Comment on Quotation Marks in Parenthetical Statement by just sayin' just sayin' Tue, 16 Dec 2014 09:23:19 +0000 "There are, naturally, cases in which the punctuation goes outside the parens in (so-called) American English." -speedwell2

Question marks can go outside of the quotation marks, depending on the situation.

She asked, "Where are you going?"

Did she really call you a "[insert foul language]"?

Comment on 3 Laning? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Sat, 13 Dec 2014 17:11:25 +0000

Comment on 3 Laning? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Sat, 13 Dec 2014 17:09:55 +0000 @jayles - "I never understood why the French for 'detour' is 'deviation' on all the roadworks".

French has two words - détour and déviation; 'taking the scenic route', for example, would be 'faire un détour', and 'détour' is also used for more permanent meanderings of rivers and roads. It seems to me that 'détour' is used for more deliberate or permanent situations, whereas 'déviation' is used more for temporary situations or those over which we have no control, such as those caused by road works, as is borne out by a quick look at Google Images, or when a plane has to make a detour, for example. However, this is just one of many meanings of 'déviation', which also shares several definitions with its English cousin.

Dictionnaire Altif :éviation

I'm not quite sure why you should be surprised, as both deviation / déviation come from Latin deviare "to turn out of the way". Spanish for detour, for instance, is the rather similar 'desviación', while in Portuguese it's desvio, and in Italian it's deviazioni. It seems to be specifically in English that 'deviation' has deviated away from its literal meaning to include only metaphorical and mathematical ones. The sexual meaning alluded to by HS is quite recent, 1912 according to Etymology Online. Nineteenth century examples seem to be mainly of the mathematical type.

Incidentally, Google dropped support for the plus operator some time ago. :)

Comment on 3 Laning? by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Fri, 12 Dec 2014 23:10:23 +0000 "deviation" + "railway" shows up quite easily on Google

Comment on 3 Laning? by Hairy Scot Hairy Scot Fri, 12 Dec 2014 17:24:12 +0000 @jayles the unwoven

Aren't deviations very common in France. ;)

Comment on “Zen” as an Adjective by Booger Booger Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:04:38 +0000 Greetings!

I find that the word "Zen" is often used as an adjective in contexts such as, "this place is very zen" or "he is a zen dude." In both cases I find that the word is used to indicate a sort of peacefulness, serenity and maybe spiritual nature.

The word Zen is a Japanese term that roughly means meditation or complete absorption. This Japanese word is derived from the Chinese term "Chan" and the Sanskrit term "dhyana." Though direct translations may vary, most scholars seem to agree that the term is a word for what we call meditation. Zen-Buddhism is a form of buddhism that holds to central doctrine of illumination, or sudden awakening through this immersion or meditation. Za-Zen is a particular method of meditation that is rather central to Zen buddhism.

In western culture, the used of the term as an adjective seems to speak to the imagery and feelings surrounding zen buddhism and it's rituals rather than to the true roots of the word.

"Those who who do not speak;
Those who speak do not know"

Comment on 3 Laning? by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:09:02 +0000 I never understood why the French for 'detour' is 'deviation' on all the roadworks

Comment on 3 Laning? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:38:35 +0000 Ah. The forgotten beauty of 'Road works ahead'.

Comment on 3 Laning? by Anonymous2 Anonymous2 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:55:17 +0000 Both Dota2 and LoL belong to the relatively new genre in computer games that is now called Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or MOBA for short. The original Dota initiated the genre and several other games succeeded it, with these two leading the charge. Those games are very popular today so no surprise they are easy to bump into when you search.

But there is a more specific reason: their gameplay is based on controlling -- conincidentally -- three lanes that connect your base to that of your opponent. The ultimate goal is to push any of the lanes, or better all of them, and destroy the opponent's base.

Comment on 3 Laning? by Skeeter Lewis Skeeter Lewis Thu, 11 Dec 2014 08:06:34 +0000 Hairy - you're absolutely right: 'three laning' is indeed ugly.

Comment on 3 Laning? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:59:53 +0000 @HS - and please keep feeding me these little titbits to research. These little oddities are grist to the mill as far as I'm concerned, and as I neither pay much attention to sports pages nor live in NZ I would miss a lot of them otherwise.

But just to play devils advocate - "road improvement" or "lane upgrade" would certainly explain why you were being held up, but they wouldn't give you the whole picture - that they are converting the road from two lanes to three. As far as I can see, this upgrade is a pretty major development for both the NZTA and the NZ government, and perhaps they want people to know that something significant is going on.

Incidentally, a lot of the hits I got were for online gaming: 'laning' seems to be something you do in two online games: 'DOTA 2' and 'League of Legends'.

Comment on 3 Laning? by Hairy Scot Hairy Scot Tue, 9 Dec 2014 17:32:47 +0000 Thanks for the info Will.
I admire your dedication to research.

Perhaps I'm getting more pernickety as I age, but 3-laning just strikes me as odd.
"Road improvement" or "lane upgrades" would serve just as well.

I must confess that NZTA is one of my favourite sources of pet peeves.
The organisation first caught my attention when is saw a sign describing a highway being built to bypass the Auckland suburb of Hobsonville as "The Hobsonville Deviation".
(Sounds like some kind of nasty habit unique to the residents.)

Comment on 3 Laning? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 9 Dec 2014 16:00:01 +0000 In fact, it turns out to be quite a bit older than that:

"This overpass built at a cost of $507,000 completes the three-laning of Highway U. S. 30 from the city of Cheyenne east to the Nebraska state line. " - Western Construction - Volume 30, 1955

"The Colorado department of highways has completed grading for three-laning six miles of U.S. 40, from Berthoud Pass down the western slope of the Rockies." - Roads and Streets, 1961

Comment on 3 Laning? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 9 Dec 2014 15:47:55 +0000 I don't really see the problem. It's succinct and tells you exactly what's happening in a more precise way than "Road widening in progress" or "Motorway upgrade in progress" or some such thing. Also this addition of lanes seems to be an imajor part of the NZTA's strategy, which they no doubt want to differentiate from normal road improvements

I take it that this is the Upper Harbour Highway to Greville Road Northbound section. Here 3-laning contrasts with 4-laning projects at SH1 Russley Road, Christchurch and Wairere Drive, Hamilton.

Although many of the entries for 3-laning are indeed from NZ, it doesn't seem to have been dreamed up by NZ 'suits', but more likely by US engineers. Google has entries from India and the US: Athens, Georgia and Waverly, Iowa. Nor is it particularly new; this link is to the Ocala Star Banner, Marion County, and is from 1987:,3063885

Comment on Victorian Era English by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Mon, 8 Dec 2014 14:39:13 +0000 You could start with, which checks the word in a lot of dictionaries. It found definitions for 6 out of 9 words I found from a collection of curious Victorian words and sayings at Wordnik is also usually quite good, but seems to be having server problems at the moment.


Two out of the other three were easy enough to find with Google, leaving only broading - 'not found'

There is also a dictionary of Victorian slang -

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Sun, 7 Dec 2014 18:43:26 +0000 So what did they use in Middle English for "decide"?
"Choose" is not quite the same thing.
"betake" seems little used in books (after 1500)

"slit" (cf schliessen, entschliessen) does not seem to be used in this meaning in OE

Comment on deliberately mispelled (sp!) by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Sat, 6 Dec 2014 13:54:06 +0000 Deliberate misspelling is usually done for effect, innit? - I would imagine signalling that it is deliberate would rather spoil that effect. Cos (sp!) it wouldn't be very kool (sp!) if yer (sp!) had to tell people the whole time you were deliberately misspelling, would it? - Imagine the signs - Krazy (sp!) Kuts (sp!), Frying tonite (sp!) etc.

But I'm intrigued. When would you want to deliberately misspell something unless you were quoting someone else, when you could use [sic], or suggesting that something was dialect - when you wouldn't want to add anything - There's a famous expression in Britain (from a comedy show) - "Am I bovvered?" - to add any symbol to that would ruin it.

Comment on Victorian Era English by MeJustMe MeJustMe Sat, 6 Dec 2014 11:54:38 +0000 Can someone post a website that I can translate Victorian English to Modern English?
I hate ones that are not giving me the translation and just says "word not found".

Comment on “Watching on”? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Sat, 6 Dec 2014 10:31:54 +0000

Comment on “Watching on”? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Sat, 6 Dec 2014 10:31:26 +0000 Thanks HS for putting me on to this. I've now done a bit of research, which I've posted on my blog, and this this is how I conclude:

"The expression 'look on', as in 'watch from a distance', goes back to least to 1601. A variation, 'watch on', has been used very occasionally in books since around 1820, but with nothing like the frequency of 'look on'.

In the vast majority of cases, this use of 'watch on' in books is unconnected with sport: I've only been able to find sixteen sports-related examples at Google Books, with the earliest from 1950. Of these only two are to do with football, the area where it seems to be primarily used in the media, and both of those are recent, 2012 and 2013.

It appears to have started being used in the British media in the early years of this century, with the earliest I've been able to find being from 2003, but didn't really take off till about 2012, most examples being from 2103-2014."

Incidentally, there are a couple of interesting points from a NZ perspective: one of the earliest book references is from 'McKechnie, Double All Black: An Autobiography', New Zealand, 1983:

"Watching on as McKechnie made his point at national level for the first time, his Southland Boys' High School coach Clive Williams recalled how he had been drawn to his ability seven years earlier."

And the earliest newspaper example I can find is from an AP report on a game between the All Blacks and Canada at the 2003 Rugby World Cup:

"Watching on from the sidelines was Ben Blair, whose World Cup future was thrown into doubt just hours before the kick-off"

Comment on God only knew by lolcano lolcano Thu, 4 Dec 2014 22:55:11 +0000 god aint rel

Comment on Correct way to omit words? by lolcano lolcano Thu, 4 Dec 2014 22:54:36 +0000 you is all rong

Comment on Computer mouses or computer mice? by Lilswag and ampoo Lilswag and ampoo Thu, 4 Dec 2014 22:49:56 +0000 After reading all above comments in a variety of different accents, we have decided to join this beautiful yet mind boggling debate.
However our hearts go out to those that believe this acronym is indeed a rodent, we assure you that the plural of a Computer Mouse, is in fact Computer Mouse's.
Yours truly,
Amy stink bomb and Lilly vanilly.
ps. Stop arking everyone Akme and AnWulf.

Comment on Everybody vs. Everyone by Dynamo man fan Dynamo man fan Thu, 4 Dec 2014 19:06:58 +0000 I love to say everyone and not (sigh) that other word. I hate the other word. Why? simple. I HATE THE NUMBER EIGHT!!! And as you can imagine if people don't say everyone THAT REALLY TICKS ME OFF!!! Alright i'm finished. teacher: Did everybody finish? Me: OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 3 Dec 2014 21:19:25 +0000

Comment on What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling? by Hungry-Byteman Hungry-Byteman Wed, 3 Dec 2014 21:16:56 +0000 Many people use
(sp?) for (I don't know how to spell that word)

Julie Andrews sang, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (sp?), with great gusto.

So, why can't we use
(sp!) for (I am deliberately mispelling (sp!) this word


Is there actually a specific word that does mean deliberately misspelled?

I know that [sic] (usually [sic], sometimes (sic), but brackets are preferred)

is used to indicate that the word was misspelled in the source document

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Wed, 3 Dec 2014 03:33:12 +0000 One of the odd grammatical things about modern English is the way we use : want.
Eg: I want her to come

Oddly, if one puts this phrase into Ngrams it does not show up before 1804

I had hitherto assumed that this usage started in the Middle Ages, but perhaps it was much later

This structure differs from both French and German (Je veux qu'elle aille: Ich will dass sie komme): the French phrase comes up on Google, but not the German one

So the questions are:
When did this structure with "want" come into use?
What did people say instead of it before then ?

Is the real Germanic way : She should/must/has to come ??

Comment on “Anglish” by jayles the unwoven jayles the unwoven Tue, 2 Dec 2014 19:52:37 +0000 No need to cloud the meaning with "pedophile" when foot-lover would do instead.

Comment on “Watching on”? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 2 Dec 2014 17:22:09 +0000 Correction - 'watched on_ADV'

Comment on “Watching on”? by Warsaw Will Warsaw Will Tue, 2 Dec 2014 17:21:15 +0000 I'm afraid the results at Ngram don't really tell us anything, because in most of the examples 'on' is simply a preposition:

"how much violence they watched on television".
"Tell me,is there anything else worth watching on those screens of yours?"

But Hairy Scot is talking about a phrasal verb, where 'on' is an adverb:

Try Ngramming 'watched on *,watching on *' and it's all prepositions; 'watched_ADV' gets no hits at all.

But go to Four Four Two, the British football magazine, and there's a very different story

"Watching on from afar will be Tosh Farrell, the former Everton coach"
"Munsterman will be watching on from the Netherlands on Saturday"

In these, 'watching on' is almost always followed by 'from', and 'looking on from' hardly gets a look-in, with only 5 hits, compared with 29 hits for 'watching on from'. ('watched on' 23, 'looked on' 7)

Meanwhile at Ngram, 'watching on from' draws a blank , although there are a few at Google Books, so I think HS is probably right that this is fairly recent and particularly connected with sport, and especially football and rugby, judging by what comes up when you do a standard Google search for 'watching on from'. Of the first 10 examples, eight are sports related (one is prepositional, and one is general - 'watching on from afar') :

Warrington Wolves (rugby league)
Twitter (American football)
Twitter (football)
Canada (World Cup football)
West Ham World (football)
Total Barca (football - Suárez: “You feel helpless watching on from afar”)
Daily Mail (football)
Facebook (football - the Suarez quote again)

There are 31 examples of 'watching on from' at Google Books, very few of which are connected with sport. The earliest is from a book published in India in 1977 - 'And he was off, trumpets sounding alert on both ships and a visibly worried Naval Chief watching on from the other side of the water.' And there are only three other examples from the 20th century, none of them connected with sport.

The earliest example at GB connected with sport is from 2007, and is about cricket:

"The setting could not have been more perfect: a hill-country town he loves, with a large family he adores, all watching on from the main pavilion."

And the next isn't till 2012, when we get a couple from 'El Clasico: Barcelona V Real Madrid', by Richard Fitzpatrick:

"There is a gulf separating the two 'traditions', between the political and cultural drivers that animate their fans watching on from the sidelines, and the reality of the sporting action on the field"

I've no doubt that certain expressions do get taken up by sports commentators and players, but see no particular harm in that. Most interest communities develop and use expressions in common: it's part of establishing a group identity, especially amongst young people. People copy their peers, sure, but is that affectation? I doubt it. In any case 'watching on' seems to me rather more active than 'looking on', and so entirely appropriate for people watching sport.

As for 'onwatchers', the football examples I've seen refer mainly to individuals, particularly managers, who you'd hardly call simple onlookers, so I don't think there's much danger of 'onwatchers' taking off. So HS can sleep easy on that one. (Come to think of it, would we normally refer spectators as onlookers, anyway?)

But good to see you getting the ball rolling again, HS. And interesting subject; I'd hadn't noticed it before.