Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

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?

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Apr-11-2012

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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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Apr-16-2012

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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??

angiesgirl May-23-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-23-2012

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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.

angiesgirl May-23-2012

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"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.")

DAW

D. A. Wood May-24-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-24-2012

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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.

Brus May-24-2012

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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.

Brus May-24-2012

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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 !
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-24-2012

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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."

DAW

D. A. Wood May-24-2012

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

Mark Champney May-24-2012

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'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?

Brus May-24-2012

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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.

Brus May-24-2012

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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."

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-24-2012

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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.

DAW

D. A. Wood May-24-2012

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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 .

porsche May-25-2012

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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.

Brus May-26-2012

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"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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-26-2012

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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."
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-26-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-26-2012

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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."

porsche May-26-2012

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"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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-26-2012

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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.

D. A. Wood May-26-2012

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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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-26-2012

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"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.

Brus May-26-2012

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"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.

Brus May-26-2012

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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?

Brus May-26-2012

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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.

Brus May-26-2012

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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.

Brus May-26-2012

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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.

D. A. Wood May-27-2012

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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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-27-2012

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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.

Brus May-28-2012

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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.

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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?

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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.
DAW

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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.

Brus May-28-2012

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""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 ...".

Brus May-28-2012

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"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.

Brus May-28-2012

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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!

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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!"
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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.

Brus May-28-2012

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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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-28-2012

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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."

DAW

D. A. Wood May-29-2012

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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 !!

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood May-29-2012

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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

D. A. Wood May-29-2012

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Please look at this news headline carefully

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

MAKE THEM WALK THE PLANK
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.)
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jun-22-2012

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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.

Brus Jun-22-2012

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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?

user106928 Jun-22-2012

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

We all make mistakes. :-)

user106928 Jun-22-2012

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WRT DAW's dissertations:-

If spoken they would certainly be classified as verbal diarrhoea.

Is there a term for the written equivalent?

Mediator Jun-22-2012

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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.

Brus Jun-23-2012

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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.

user106928 Jun-23-2012

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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. :-))

softbear Jun-23-2012

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user106928 Jun-23-2012

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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 ...

Brus Jun-23-2012

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@Brus

Beware!!

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.

user106928 Jun-23-2012

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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.

Brus Jun-24-2012

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@Brus

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.
;-)

user106928 Jun-24-2012

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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).

Nobrun Jun-25-2012

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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.

Wes The News Guy Jul-04-2012

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"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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-04-2012

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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.)

Brus Jul-04-2012

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Collins, Chambers, and OED seem to be unanimous:-
Pled
verb
(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. :-))

user106928 Jul-04-2012

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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!

Brus Jul-05-2012

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

Katie R Jul-05-2012

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Maybe that is why she is a customer service representative.

Brus Jul-05-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-06-2012

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"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.

DAW

D. A. Wood Jul-06-2012

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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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-06-2012

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SCOTTISH ?

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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-06-2012

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@DAW

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.

user106928 Jul-06-2012

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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."

D. A. Wood Jul-06-2012

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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.
(You should know what I mean: signs that say BASEL, GENEVA, STRASSBURG, LONDON, DOVER, BIRMINGHAM, ATLANTA, CHICAGO, MISSISSIPPI, etc.)

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!"

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-06-2012

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@DAW

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.

;-))

user106928 Jul-06-2012

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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.

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-06-2012

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

Brus Jul-07-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-07-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-07-2012

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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!
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-07-2012

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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."
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Jul-07-2012

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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.

Ethan Sprague Aug-07-2012

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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 !
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Aug-07-2012

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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?
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Aug-07-2012

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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.

Les R Aug-09-2012

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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. .

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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.

Les R Aug-09-2012

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

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ALUMINIUM VERSUS ALUMINUM

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.

Les R Aug-09-2012

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Hi, there, Les,

Please do look up "Middlesbrough" in www.Wikipedia.org .
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.)

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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 !

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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.)

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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. .

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Aug-09-2012

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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.

Brus Aug-17-2012

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