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

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

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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?

  • July 24, 2009
  • Posted by stan
  • Filed in Usage
  • 100 comments

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Comments

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

Les R Aug-17-2012

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

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

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

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/magazine/26FOB-onlanguage-t.html

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

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

Warsaw Will Aug-17-2012

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

alicelee Dec-09-2012

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

Skeeter Lewis Dec-10-2012

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

"The defendant pled guilty to stealing the egg of an Arctic tern, possessing 30 wild birds eggs and possessing equipment capable of being used to commit wildlife crime offences." (Scottish Government website - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2005/02/17105152)

"Defendant pled no contest to transporting heroin" (caselaw.lp.findlaw.com)

"Michael Voudouri pled guilty to charges last month" (Glasgow Herald - http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/crime-courts/fraudster-goes-on-the-run.19557749)

'On sentencing Lord Glennie made the following statement in court: “You have pled guilty to a charge of attempted rape on the night of 11 September last year."' (http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/8/823/HMA-v-THOMAS-McLAUGHLIN)

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

Warsaw Will Dec-22-2012

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@AnWulf

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

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

Jasper May-08-2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warsaw Will May-08-2013

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

Bradson Jul-23-2013

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

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

"He pleaded for his life"
- Google Search 533,000, Google Books 14,600, New York Times 116

"He pled for his life"
- Google Search 16,200, Google Books 91, New York Times 0

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=pleaded%2Cpled&year_start=1600&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=

Warsaw Will Jul-23-2013

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Poppa Bear, I read into "the bail was enlarged" the idea that the sum involved is increased, rather than the period extended. As one who once long ago and far away had employment all day in the office which worked with the payment of fines and bail, I cannot recall any instance of such a thing being done. If the first edition of the bail had proved sufficient there was no need to enlarge it, for if the alleged "skellum" had turned up again, what would be the need? And if, rather, he had done a runner, it would be a bit late anyway, and the thinking would be that it would be more appropriate to sling the poor wretch into the cells, as being an unreliable person to whom to grant bail at all, if he could be apprehended. So it is a mightily rare thing to have bail enlarged, I agree with you.

I am intrigued that you can tell how the language as printed is pronounced. It is early in the morning, however, and we are not firing on all cylinders yet. Perhaps it is more obvious once the first coffee is aboard.

As for me, I agree that the language as printed in the press is choc-a-bloc with malapropisms and poorly chosen prepositions. I put in a complaint at this site about the sloppiness of the use of 'into' and 'in to' and 'on to' and 'onto' used interchangeably, especially as found in news reports, and promised to cite the very next example I came across, and, do you know? I have not seen any since!
On your side, Poppa Bear, fellow old school mate. Can't easily ignore linguistic carelessness, like the spelling of 'English' as 'english', for example.

Brus Oct-25-2013

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@Poppa Bear - "the bail was enlarged" gets precisely seven hits on Google. Six are from Australia and New Zealand, all of which are from the nineteenth century, one is from The Court Gazette, London of 1843 and one is from the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1833. This doesn't sound much like "usually" to me! It's rather dangerous to make unsupported sweeping statements like this in the internet age, wouldn't you say?

Warsaw Will Oct-25-2013

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I can't count - eight hits

Warsaw Will Oct-25-2013

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@Poppa Bear - OK, if you try with "bail was enlarged" you get slightly more (and more modern) results - 27. Eleven of these are from Australia and New Zealand, where the term seems seems rather more common, and is the expression used in the Queensland Bail Act 1980:

"that the defendant must not depart from the court unless the bail is enlarged"

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/ba198041/s20.html

The rest are mainly from British newspapers and if you dig a bit deeper, you find that this is a perfectly standard legal term in the UK as well, listed in, for example, The Oxford Dictionary of Law Enforcement ("To extend the bail to a later date. .."):

http://books.google.pl/books?id=aEq12csigIkC&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=%22enlarge+bail%22

It is also discussed in, inter alia, Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2012:

"Instead of issuing a warrant for his arrest, the magistrates may simply adjourn and enlarge bail in his absence"

http://books.google.pl/books?id=M1nl_TLr9OcC&pg=PA1416&lpg=PA1416&dq=%22enlarge+bail%22

http://legaldictionary.lawin.org/enlarge/

It would seem that it's those who use the term 'enlarge bail' who are really old school.

Warsaw Will Oct-26-2013

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@Poppa Bear ... Pronunciation and spelling hav never been set in stone in English. If it had been, we'd still be writing hwæt for what, þurh (þ=th) for thru, and circ for church/kirk. That last one shows that the way words were said was not standard either. Circ was church in the south and kirk in the north ... and still is in many places. There's no overall authority on either grammar or spelling. The nearest thing that we hav are the sundry wordbooks and a loose band of grammarians worldwide but they don't all agree ... as we can see here with plead and pled. It's kind of chaotic at times but it works and things go forward.

AnWulf Oct-26-2013

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I'm a 48 year old Englishman. I have NEVER heard the word pled as a past tense of plead until i was reading a Wikipedia article today. It looked so wrong I looked it up and ended up here.

In short, here in the UK the past tense of plead is always written/spoken as pleaded.

But I can see how it might annoy Americans. Then again, I hate hearing "He dove for the ball" instead of "He dived for the ball", "snuck" instead of "sneaked"...and there will be more examples.

In short, I cannot agree with our original poster, Stan, that "pleaded" is sub-standard English. To me it sounds like standard English.

Innit thoughs...
;)

Jeff J Jan-07-2014

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Jeff, of course you are right. It goes without saying. "The baker kneads the dough - he kned it the same way yesterday", "we dread paying the charge he'll put on it, but I suppose our forebears dred the price they were asked, too"," it's my turn to weed the flowerbed because you wed it last week" all very poor, really. pled is no better.

I'd blame the Americans; we usually do. the Scots are very sloppy about this too, although we usually do much better than the English in linguistic matters, because it is not our native tongue.

Brus Jan-07-2014

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@Jeff J - "In short, here in the UK the past tense of plead is always written/spoken as pleaded." - Scotland is, at least for the moment, still part of the UK, and as has already been mentioned, 'pled' is often used in the legal sense, but not the begging sense in Scotland - He pled guilty but he pleaded for his life. For examples see my comment of December 22, 2012, 5:30am, or go just Google it: you'll find that many of the results are from official bodies or news outlets:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22pled%20guilty%22%20Scotland

@Brus - Have you leaded a good life and readed any good books lately?

Warsaw Will Jan-07-2014

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A judge will never ask "how do you plea?" that is a noun and he is requesting that you perform an action. the question posed will be either "how do you *plead*?" or "what is the defendant's *plea*?" Last i checked, plea is a regular verb so to everyone facetiously asking "oh der should it 'leaded' and 'readed' now too?": that query is irrelevant because plead is a regular verb and just because two worda rhymes doesnt mean they have the same root etymology as another word and will necessarily carry the same conjugation. Plead should be pleaded in the past tense and it is only "nails on a chalkboard" to some of you because has been used inconsistently from its own conjugation for so long. It doesnt matter if it sounds right. Many people say "drug" sounds better than "dragged" and i am far too civil to pen what i think of that in a public forum. There is also a difference between what is acceptable writing and what is acceptable speech. Its ok to drop pieces of words when you speak; clear dictation and crisp enunciation can certainly be reserved for shakespeare or the podium. By that same logic, snuck is probably acceptable in speech but just because it sounds right doesnt make it correct. And just because a dictionary that also includes current linguistic trends in its entries supports your use of colloquial conjugations in written work doesn't make it the rule. Sneak becomes sneaked, plead becomes pleaded, read becomes read, lead becomes lead, light becomes lighted, and drag becomes dragged! Learning the difference between regular and irregular verbs is a matter of sheer memorization and one of the reasons non-native English speakers find it hard to learn the language. But it is also something native speakers dont even bother to learn anymore because common parlance will allow them to get away with talking however way it "sounds right." It is laziness, stubborness, egocentricity, and refusal to change all rolled into one. Saw it in school and now i see it in society.

Mraff Feb-06-2014

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@Mraff - at the moment, snuck is considered 'informal' and 'chiefly North American' (Oxford), but it looks as though its use is increasing. It's even 'snuck' into British English. If enough people use it, it will become totally standard and absolutely unobjectionable. Just like saying you instead of ye is now standard but at one time would have been considered a mistake. That's how language works.

Actually, in my experience as a teacher, apart from at very low levels, non-native speakers don't have that much trouble with irregular verbs (even the most irregular English verbs have only a maximum of five morphological forms, far less than most European languages). What really gives foreign learners gyp is phrasal verbs, not irregular verbs.

Warsaw Will Feb-06-2014

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We are not talking connotation and de oration here. Plead is plead and the past is pleaded, end of discussion. There is no pled!

Susan Rose May-28-2016

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My uncle was publicly executed in the sewers surrounded by hobos

connor Dec-12-2017

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I completely agree and have been fed up with with media using the improper ‘pleaded’ over ‘pled’. Thank you for sharing and feeling my pain in the English.

Max139 Aug-22-2018

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"Pleaded" sounds Juvenile, Inane, Asinine, and just plain STUPID.
One doesn't say they "Bleeded" when they cut themselves.

user107847 Apr-13-2019

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

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

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

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

AnWulf Aug-23-2011

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GEE WIZ did I spell that right :)

douginyyz Oct-04-2011

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

editirixrex Feb-16-2012

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

Why Bother Feb-16-2012

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

editirixrex Feb-17-2012

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

Brus Feb-17-2012

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

Matthew1 Feb-21-2012

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

AnWulf Feb-21-2012

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Tim, you are so right about "pled".

However, when it comes to "nuclear" there are three syllables. See this Web page: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nuclear?s=t

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

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

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

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Mar-20-2012

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

D. A. Wood Mar-20-2012

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

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

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

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

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Mar-20-2012

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

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

Brus Mar-20-2012

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

Ah yes, 'pleaded' ...

Brus Mar-22-2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D. A. Wood Mar-23-2012

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

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

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

DAW

D. A. Wood Mar-23-2012

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

LOL, LOL, LOL !

D. A. Wood Mar-23-2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Mar-24-2012

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Is that right, D A Wood?

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

Brus Mar-24-2012

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

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

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

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

D. A. Wood Mar-24-2012

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

Brus Mar-24-2012

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

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

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

LOL, Dale

D. A. Wood Mar-24-2012

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

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

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

Dale

D. A. Wood Mar-25-2012

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Here is some good news about language from this morning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D. A. Wood Mar-25-2012

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

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

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

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

Dale

D. A. Wood Mar-25-2012

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

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

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

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

Dale

D. A. Wood Mar-25-2012

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It was always fun to think about Agent 86.

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

AnWulf Apr-07-2012

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

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

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

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

D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Apr-07-2012

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

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

AnWulf Apr-08-2012

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

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

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

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

Information Theory is the science of efficient communication.
D.A.W.

D. A. Wood Apr-11-2012

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

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

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

D. A. Wood Apr-11-2012

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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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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."

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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