Skeeter Lewis

Joined: March 16, 2012

Number of comments posted: 154

Number of votes received: 39

No user description provided.

Questions Submitted

Medicine or Medication?

Recent Comments

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  July 31, 2014, 3:18am  •  0 vote

@Jayles. "Interest rates increased." Good example. Clever old interest rates. It leaves one wondering where the rest of the sentence is. I don't mind the passive in moderation so long as it is a true

Re: What’s happening to the Passive?  •  July 30, 2014, 7:33pm  •  0 vote

Exactly. There is no passive there. And there should be. The sentences should run this way: "The situation was transformed into something quite different." "That is translated as 'Beware Greeks bea

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 21, 2014, 12:44pm  •  1 vote

@Jasper Saying 'idiomaticity' should be a test of sobriety.

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 21, 2014, 12:29pm  •  1 vote

@JaspernotJason....Thank you.

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 20, 2014, 6:02pm  •  0 vote

We all have a lot invested emotionally in our culture, and language is the repository of so much of it. It has to do with how we see ourselves individually and collectively. One can't always be clinic

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 20, 2014, 9:31am  •  0 vote

It was meant light-heartedly and not meant to offend. I think both sides in this continuing debate need to take a step back. If either side expresses itself too forcefully then the good-natured, enj

Re: Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  •  July 18, 2014, 10:27am  •  3 votes

It's true - dear old Will does try to bludgeon us to death with his tolerance.

Re: When did contacting someone become reaching out?  •  July 18, 2014, 10:23am  •  1 vote

'Reaching out' is one of those naff, feely-touchy phrases that companies have started to use to show they CARE.

Re: Are proverbs dying?  •  July 3, 2014, 12:41pm  •  0 vote

The sudden appearance of 'no man is an island' in 1940 is probably owing to the publication in that year of 'For Whom The Bell Tolls'.

Re: Are proverbs dying?  •  July 2, 2014, 1:30pm  •  0 vote

Jayles - what an interesting observation. It's true: one doesn't hear them so much nowadays. Perhaps those ready-made thoughts seem rather laboured and groan-worthy.

Re: “As per ....”?  •  June 24, 2014, 2:49am  •  1 vote

An edit button, pretty please?

Re: “As per ....”?  •  June 24, 2014, 2:40am  •  0 vote

Bugger. 'I've only ever seen that in Detroit' suggests that I may have heard it...but never seen it.

Re: “As per ....”?  •  June 24, 2014, 2:38am  •  0 vote

Has the 'only' drifted into the wrong place? I've only ever seen that in Detroit. I've seen that only in Detroit. (Ever being dropped) 'I've only ever seen that in Detroit' suggests that I may ha

Re: “As per ....”?  •  June 24, 2014, 2:11am  •  0 vote

In English English slang a chrome dome is a baldy.

Re: Using country name as an adjective?  •  June 23, 2014, 3:08am  •  0 vote

My generation still calls it The Ivory Coast but 'the' has been dropped.

Re: fewer / less  •  June 20, 2014, 3:50am  •  0 vote

Will - thanks for your post. I think that the sort of people who write advertising copy are aware of American slang and tend to pick it up. They just don't get it right.

Re: Is Punctuation Part of “Mechanics”?  •  June 16, 2014, 4:24am  •  0 vote

To me, as a Brit, mechanics has nothing to do with the study of English.

Re: that vs. if and whether  •  June 13, 2014, 4:38am  •  0 vote

Thanks, jayles. Economy, ecology and ecumenical are all derived from it. The English spellings (oeconomy, oecology and oecumenical) have finally given way to the simpler form, just as the 'ae' in, for

Re: that vs. if and whether  •  June 12, 2014, 4:16pm  •  0 vote

Economy, if memory serves, was originally spelled 'oeconomy' and would therefore have had (still does) a long O. Americans tend to pronounce Oedipus, which they spell Edipus, with a short O, which so

Re: why does english have capital letters?  •  June 11, 2014, 3:33pm  •  0 vote

It's spelled 'minuscule'. With a U.

Re: Meaningless Use of “key”  •  June 4, 2014, 2:57am  •  0 vote

Yes, there's a coterie in the media that gets over-excited by new usages. For example, in the past a writer might say, "Anne was only eighteen." Now, it has to be, "Anne was just eighteen." To me, tha

Re: Use of multiple periods  •  June 4, 2014, 2:49am  •  0 vote

Dots should be used sparingly. When I turn a page and see a swarm of dots, my heart sinks. It looks like amateur day.

Re: Meaningless Use of “key”  •  June 3, 2014, 3:06pm  •  0 vote

Key is a buzzword that irritates me too. Much over-used.

Re: fewer / less  •  June 3, 2014, 2:55pm  •  0 vote

Thanks, Will. I think it's another instance of Brits misunderstanding American idiom and getting it bass-ackward. Skeet

Re: “up on top” vs. “up top”  •  May 27, 2014, 4:01pm  •  3 votes

As a Brit, I'd just say, "on top".

Re: “Between you and I...”  •  May 27, 2014, 4:00pm  •  0 vote

I think the term for this nowadays is 'hypercorrection'.

Re: fewer / less  •  May 27, 2014, 7:40am  •  0 vote

I notice Tesco using the line, 'Better than half price'. 'Better than' in this sense is an Americanism that (I think) always means 'more than' not 'less than'. Perhaps Americans will chime in and tel

Re: Fora vs Forums  •  May 24, 2014, 10:58am  •  0 vote

In general, clearly, foreign singulars and plurals are retained when a word is newly introduced but in time the word is naturalized. Remember, vast swathes of English are foreign words that have been

Re: Fora vs Forums  •  May 24, 2014, 10:52am  •  0 vote

I'm sorry to hear criteria being used in the singular instead of criterion. Similarly, 'phenomenon', Skeet

Re: Fora vs Forums  •  May 24, 2014, 10:47am  •  0 vote

I confess to being rather fond of the singular of scampi.....'scampo'. Skeet

Re: Fora vs Forums  •  May 23, 2014, 4:44pm  •  0 vote

I know it's not relevant to this thread, but I like the adjective derived from forum - 'forensic', meaning 'of or pertaining to, or trained to give evidence in, a court of law'. We tend to use it on

Re: Using country name as an adjective?  •  May 11, 2014, 7:01am  •  0 vote

As for anglicising the names of foreign countries, we say Germany for Deutschland, Sweden for Sverige etc. I can't see that changing. The French say Angleterre, la Grande Bretagne etc.

Re: Couldn’t Care Less  •  May 7, 2014, 8:53am  •  0 vote

Nice one, Hairy.

Re: “it’s the put-er-on-er-er”  •  April 18, 2014, 2:59am  •  0 vote

I've always liked 'dubry' or maybe 'doobry' for a thingamajig. Possibly derived from dewberry.

Re: Pronunciation Etiquette—Hypothetical Question  •  March 30, 2014, 6:02am  •  0 vote

The usual BE pronunciation of 'debut' is 'daybyoo'. There's no need to imitate the French pronunciation when the word has been in the language long enough. Americans strain to say 'vaLAY' for valet,

Re: Pronunciation Etiquette—Hypothetical Question  •  March 28, 2014, 2:35pm  •  1 vote

Pronounce it your own way without discussing it.

Re: “I’m just saying”  •  March 22, 2014, 10:43am  •  0 vote

Off-topic?

Re: “admits to”  •  March 12, 2014, 8:25am  •  0 vote

Possibly: 'he admitted the charge' but 'he admitted to committing the offence'. It seems more natural when followed by a verbal noun.

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  February 22, 2014, 6:06am  •  0 vote

As for 'decimate', if I didn't use it to mean 'to reduce by one tenth' I wouldn't use it at all. Others are free to use it in any sense they wish.

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  February 22, 2014, 6:03am  •  0 vote

'Fortuitous' in the sense of 'accidental' was the usual meaning until the Seventies or Eighties in Britain and still is among the educated. But I never tell other people how to use the language. My ru

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  February 22, 2014, 3:37am  •  0 vote

Porsche, I don't think my strictures about 'cohort' can be called an etymological fallacy since, as my research assistant Warsaw Will has pointed out, as recently as 1965 it was described as 'an Ameri

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  February 22, 2014, 3:26am  •  0 vote

Incidentally, Will, the social sciences have a lot to answer for linguistically.

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  February 22, 2014, 3:20am  •  0 vote

Decimated! Quite. An other one is 'fortuitous' which, some years ago, started to be misused for 'fortunate'. Originally, it meant 'accidental', pure and simple. A death could be 'fortuitous'. It didn'

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  February 21, 2014, 2:01pm  •  0 vote

It's true that some descriptivist dictionaries list the wrong use of cohort. But then, to misquote Mandy Rice Davies, they would, wouldn't they?

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  February 19, 2014, 5:40pm  •  0 vote

Another term that gets misused to mean a single person is 'cohort' which is a tenth of a legion or, more generally, any group of soldiers.

Re: Pronunciation of “gill”  •  January 30, 2014, 8:58am  •  0 vote

Yes, I'm intrigued also as to why Stephen Fry is 'erstwhile'. Maybe he's had a sex change and become 'Stephanie'.

Re: Pronunciation of “gill”  •  January 28, 2014, 4:40am  •  0 vote

It's 'jill' for the English too.

Re: Pronunciation of “often”  •  January 25, 2014, 10:56am  •  0 vote

Will - I agree. There are all sorts of variations and changes in the development of language. What was 'fallacious' was the idea that words must be pronounced as spelled, with an emphasis on 'must'. O

Re: Pronunciation of “often”  •  January 24, 2014, 7:24pm  •  1 vote

The pronunciation awf'n is becoming old-fashioned and of'n or often is now usual. According to the OED the sounding of the t was not then recognized by the dictionaries. But that was before the speak-

Re: Pronunciation of “often”  •  January 21, 2014, 11:45am  •  1 vote

'Of'en' is what I generally hear but, yes, 'often' is creeping in. It's based on the fallacious idea that words have to be pronounced as they are spelled.

Re: “Based out of”: Why?  •  December 4, 2013, 6:35am  •  0 vote

"Three months later I was on a Norwegian freighter out of Halifax harbor heading for Liverpool, leaving a tiny untidy apartment and a perfectly nice girlfriend." Norm Macdonald

Re: “Based out of”: Why?  •  December 4, 2013, 6:25am  •  0 vote

Ships are said to be 'out of' a certain port. One might speak of a freighter 'out of Amsterdam', which presumably refers to either their port of registration or of departure. The 'based' part is red

Re: Correspondence  •  November 30, 2013, 4:47pm  •  0 vote

Will, we'll have to agree to differ. The language that people use, both in speech and writing, is, as I said above, endlessly fascinating.

Re: Correspondence  •  November 30, 2013, 10:58am  •  0 vote

Will - one can make judgments about English usage so long as one's comments are not ad hominem. I agree that it's bad manners to correct others. The language of others, though, is not of infinitesima

Re: Correspondence  •  November 30, 2013, 3:42am  •  0 vote

Will - interesting question: 'does it really matter?' If these issues simply don't matter, then English becomes a relativist free-for-all and judgment is impossible.

Re: Correspondence  •  November 29, 2013, 2:16pm  •  0 vote

When I make a dogmatic statement such as "such and such a word does not exist," I suppose I mean, "Well if it does, it flipping well shouldn't." Grumpy old man syndrome.

Re: Correspondence  •  November 29, 2013, 2:12pm  •  0 vote

Point taken, Will. The plurals that irritate are words such as 'behaviours' used in certain specialized fields jnstead of 'forms of behaviour'. Cant usages tend to seep into the spoken language.

Re: Correspondence  •  November 28, 2013, 1:57pm  •  0 vote

The word 'correspondences' does not exist in English. One can refer to the 'correspondence' that one had with Joe Blow. That can refer to one or more letters.

Re: Idea Vs. Ideal  •  November 25, 2013, 11:40am  •  0 vote

I've never heard 'ideal' used for 'idea'. Maybe it's an American thing. I notice, though, that 'ideal' is often pronounced with two syllables instead of three. That makes me raise an eyebrow like a p

Re: Plural forms of words borrowed from Latin  •  October 15, 2013, 11:12am  •  0 vote

The learned Will mentioned 'flora and fauna but forums' as though 'florums' and 'faunums' were a possibility.

Re: Plural forms of words borrowed from Latin  •  October 15, 2013, 5:43am  •  0 vote

Flora and Fauna were goddesses so there was nothing to pluralize. As for conjugating and shagging - what's wrong with having it all?

Re: Preferred forms  •  September 1, 2013, 5:56am  •  0 vote

Anwulf - In fact I said that Americans retain the old-fashioned pronunciation of 'solder' as 'soda'. 'Soldier' would indeed have formerly been pronounced 'sojer' - by all classes.

Re: “The plants were withered” Adjective or passive?  •  August 30, 2013, 4:03pm  •  0 vote

Will, was that a deliberate error to keep us on our toes?

Re: Five eggs is too many  •  July 6, 2013, 7:08am  •  7 votes

Both are fine. "Five eggs is too much" is short for "The amount of five eggs is too much." Three hundred pounds is too fat. A million dollars a year is not enough.

Re: have gone to  •  July 6, 2013, 6:56am  •  0 vote

I.m sure it's all right idiomatically. I think the reason it sounds odd is that 'I have gone' suggests a completed act rather than continuous action.

Re: “Literally” in spoken conversation  •  July 4, 2013, 7:13am  •  0 vote

The scandal in Europe over the origin of meat probably does mean that I've literally eaten a horse - a whole one by now, I should think. But I've never tried to eat one metaphorically. I'm not sure h

Re: “reach out”  •  June 13, 2013, 4:38pm  •  2 votes

To me, 'reach out' smacks of feel-good Oprah-speak.

Re: “Anglish”  •  April 14, 2013, 1:45am  •  0 vote

British authors in the past eschewed latinate words on the grounds that they were generally too fancy but they used latinate sentence structure. Latin was taught in schools from the age of about seven

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 13, 2013, 9:50am  •  0 vote

Geoffthing - fifty-six? - you're just a baby! No wonder you've got it wrong!

Re: You’ve got another think/thing coming  •  April 13, 2013, 12:49am  •  0 vote

I'm an older person and I've only heard the 'think' version. 'Thing' is a mis-hearing.

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 11, 2013, 2:19pm  •  0 vote

Very well researched, Will. I concede defeat.

Re: Orally Aural. Oh Really?  •  April 11, 2013, 8:52am  •  0 vote

Robert: yes, there are many regional accents but I was assuming standard pronunciation for both the UK and US. As for 'owrally' I was imagining a rhyme with 'cow' (see palaceuk) but even a rhyme with

Re: Orally Aural. Oh Really?  •  April 11, 2013, 1:29am  •  0 vote

We British pronounce them the same. Americans say 'au' differently from us. To a Brit the American 'au' sounds like 'ah'. The Australian 'owrally' is impossible...

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 11, 2013, 12:51am  •  0 vote

Thanks, Erin, for that post. I wondered where you lived. I guessed that you had succumbed to the American language when I saw a capital after a colon. (Just kidding.) To me, 'Jane and John' is not a

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 10, 2013, 4:59pm  •  0 vote

Re: 'Jane and John's house.' If this is standard usage, it must be of recent date. It sounds barbarous to me. If there is an example of a reputable British author using this form more than say thi

Re: Apostrophes  •  April 9, 2013, 11:37am  •  0 vote

Erin - a couple of suggestions. One can't say 'me and my sisters' childhood' because that means you are saying 'me childhood'. Also I go by the rule that it is polite to put oneself last. 'My sisters

Re: Adverbs better avoided?  •  April 1, 2013, 2:10am  •  0 vote

Some writers aim for a stripped-down style. Others like to enjoy the richness of the language. I'd say that it's not about adverbs per se.

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 29, 2013, 3:41pm  •  1 vote

"Must not head mobs?" Will - what does that mean?

Re: “further” vs. “farther”  •  March 29, 2013, 3:30pm  •  1 vote

In British English both words are used. I wouldn't say that 'farther' is seen as old-fashioned.

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 7:45am  •  0 vote

The American word 'toney' meaning 'fashionable' is also derived from the French word 'ton'.

Re: “ton” in the Victorian era  •  March 26, 2013, 7:35am  •  0 vote

'Ton' can mean either 'fashion' or 'people of fashion'. It's pronounced the French way with a muted 'n'.

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  March 12, 2013, 1:38pm  •  0 vote

Bucky, that rule doesn't obtain in British English. It looks a bit bizarre to us. "Ten minutes later his secretary calls back: We've got face time with the president, guy named Walter Helfgott."

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 8, 2013, 7:58am  •  0 vote

Senior moment I'm afraid, Will. I was referring to colons, not semi-colons. After colons, capitalization is certainly creeping in.

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 6, 2013, 12:59pm  •  0 vote

Unfortunately, Will, capitalizing after a colon is creeping into British publishing. The reason may be transatlantic deals and the need for standardized conventions. The Americans, as the senior partn

Re: Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon?  •  February 6, 2013, 9:06am  •  2 votes

Tome, as a Brit, capitals after a colon are barbarous.

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  January 30, 2013, 11:51am  •  0 vote

Thank you, Will. Very interesting. It's true I don't remember 'ize' in Dickens.....

Re: O’clock  •  January 26, 2013, 12:14pm  •  0 vote

I'm pretty sure I've come across the usage 'a quarter of three' in the essays of Addison and Steele in the Spectator from the early eighteenth century.

Re: hanged vs. hung  •  January 25, 2013, 3:14am  •  0 vote

Why make personal comments? I don't see the necessity.

Re: Impact as a noun  •  January 16, 2013, 1:55am  •  0 vote

Noisenet - I'd say you were right, not your professor. Yes, it's true that people use gender to refer to people nowadays but traditionally gender is a grammarian's word that refers to words. In many l

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  January 14, 2013, 12:14pm  •  0 vote

Sorry - grandparents and great-grandparents. Please may we have an 'edit' facility?

Re: optimiSe or optimiZe ?  •  January 14, 2013, 12:11pm  •  0 vote

As several correspondents have said, the 'ize' spelling is the traditional British form. That is the spelling that our grandparents and grandparents used. The Americans have simply retained that tradi

Re: Plural proper nouns ending in consonant-y  •  January 9, 2013, 11:22am  •  1 vote

That great hunter Teddy Roosevelt - after whom the teddy bear was named - spelled the word 'grisly'. I don't think there was any semantic reason to do so. His memoir 'Ranch Life & the Hunting Trail',

Re: Cow Eyes  •  January 9, 2013, 6:52am  •  0 vote

"Hot to trot?" That would be 'bedroom eyes'.

Re: Plural proper nouns ending in consonant-y  •  January 9, 2013, 6:49am  •  0 vote

'Pony' makes 'ponies'. 'Donkey' makes 'donkeys'. But I think it's 'grizzlies' anyway.

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 10:37am  •  0 vote

Perhaps 'eat' in the past tense is more standard than I allowed. 'Sayz' et al are, again, the speak-as-you-spell tendency. Pronunciation has its own integrity: it doesn't have to imitate spelling. '

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 9:00am  •  0 vote

While Mr. Wilks, therefore, was thundering out, "Where are all the carpenters to walk on before King Pyrrhus?" that monarch very quietly eat his mutton, and the audience, however impatient, were oblig

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 7:56am  •  0 vote

I'm sure Fielding in Tom Jones used 'eat' (so spelled) in the past tense - presumably pronounced 'et'.

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 7:23am  •  0 vote

I pronounce it to rhyme with late. The 'et' pronunciation is often looked down on as uneducated (particularly in the US) but in fact it has been around for a long time and is perfectly acceptable. I h

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 5:21am  •  0 vote

I'm half-Welsh, brought up in Lancashire, went to a public school and Oxford and speak RP. It's the half-tones in British life that make it so entertaining.

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 6, 2013, 3:26am  •  0 vote

I would say that RP is the accent associated with Oxbridge and the major public schools. The BBC accent is not RP, indeed Ed Stourton (Posh Ed) has suffered as a result and the former India correspond

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