Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

Pain in the English offers proofreading services for short-form writing such as press releases, job applications, or marketing copy. 24 hour turnaround. Learn More

Les R

Joined: August 9, 2012
Comments posted: 22
Votes received: 10

No user description provided.

Recent Comments

Typo - not ust but just.

Les R August 17, 2012, 3:22pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

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

Les R August 17, 2012, 3:22pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

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

Les R August 17, 2012, 3:20pm

2 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

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

Les R August 17, 2012, 11:50am

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

The 42/45 war? 'Nuff said!

Les R August 13, 2012, 11:23am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Hi WW, Nice to hear from you!
If - according to the infamous Noah - they are interchangeable, pray tell why I, and I'm sure many, many others (no doubt yourself as well) insure our cars/auto's - we don't ensure or assure them. That's just one example where the revered Noah - I jest, of course - falls flat.
Have you ever taken out life ensurance - seems pretty odd don't you think, to assume you can, as whim takes you, substitute one for t'other.
As I said to the slightly deranged DAW:
I/we/you tell our partners to "ensure (i.e. make sure) that you tell little Jimmy/Johnny or whoever to clean his teeth before he goes to bed".
Not in any context would you insure same - or if you did, insure him against what? The tooth fairy coming to get him if he didn't?
Insurance (insure) and ensurance (were there to be such a word) would be two different things; one being to take out cover against some sort of eventuality and the other being to take action so that some other action would come to fruition.
Assure is a completely different kettle of fish altogether!
Life assurance policies acknowledge the inevitable, and offer a financial situation at the end of a specified time.
Life insurance covers against a possible action, which "may" need addressing at some unspecified time.
Ensure doesn't apply at all in this context.
That's how we differentiate it here in the UK.
What words would be used - appropriately - by Americans to describe the two situations above? Help me, I really need to know!
Bonnet/boot - although not the peculiar ones that DAW alludes to - /hood/trunk: we all - both sides of the pond - know exactly what is meant by using any of those words. I don't think any are better/worse than the others - they all make sense (although I do remember Model T's had a different bonnet, like many cars of the time, and drawing that term from vehicles like a "Surrey with the fringe on top".
All the best, and could I ask you to say a prayer for DAW, in the hope that he might return to the land of the rational.
Best wishes, Les (London)

Les R August 13, 2012, 11:22am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Typo - missed out the "enti" in inconsequentia.

Les R August 12, 2012, 3:30pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Oh dear DAW, do you have nothing better than to bring out that old chestnut again.
For clarification:
We never had Nazi jack-boots marching down our streets - we kept them out: yes, before your rather late intervention (as was the case in the 1914-18 conflict).
You never joined the fight against fascism and the Axis for any sort of altruistic reasons - purely for self advancement - when your own interests were threatened, and a desire to show that you were capable of taking on the Third Reich.
Europe paid handsomely for your help - just as we paid handsomely in terms of human flesh for the right to be free of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito.
Oh, I see, Pearl Harbour had nothing to do with it, when your nose was put out of joint? My American friends would be ashamed of a character like you purporting to represent them.
Basically you're just a clown with an over-inflated idea of self-importance - which endears you to no one.
Very sad.

Les R August 12, 2012, 3:29pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Oh dear, Jasper, what are we to do with DAW?
It's mildly amusing to see him get his knickers in a twist, but the worrying part - perhaps even for his family - is that he sincerely believes the ill-reasoned twaddle that he comes out with. Do you have any laws - stateside - like part of our Mental Health Act i.e. sectioning? This enables sane people to require those with suspect sanity to be looked after for their own good. Actually, thinking about it, DAW might possibly already be in some sort of institution, as he has an awful lot of spare time on his hands - he must be, else how would have the time to collate his unending ramblings about inconsequa (freshly coined by me), which bores us rigid.
Peculiar British boots? Haven't a clue, I'm afraid. Cheers, Les.

Les R August 12, 2012, 3:17pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

My, DAW, you surely are from one of America's most gifted families - that, or you're full of bullshit: I suspect the latter.
You show your true level by starting your last post with "Wheeler": this is a forum about English usage - in all its variants, but you choose to open with rank rudeness.
You really are a pompous boor - do you know that?
Warsaw Will, Jasper, Jeremy Wheeler and I have got your measure - you're just a twat that we sometimes indulge. However, the novelty is wearing off now.
Sad that a grown man behaves the way you choose to.

Les R August 12, 2012, 12:22pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

I think I'm having - dare I say it - a senior moment, as I forgot to mention Warsaw Will in my last post. He too has been a long-term tolerator of DAW.

Les R August 11, 2012, 4:42pm

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Typo - spot the missing comma, or is there one too many in paragraph one?

Les R August 11, 2012, 4:38pm

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Hi Jasper/Jeremy,
D A Wood: what do we make of him, as he's clearly not here to have sensible, and perhaps humourous (remember I am English!), repartee about the English language?
It's pretty sad when someone feels the need to come over as superior, and more knowledgeable with regard to grasping the finer nuances of "proper" English, when in fact they are not: I suspect DAW has nothing better to do all day than expand his - apparent - encyclopedic knowledge of all subjects, even if he fails, often to understand his points of reference.
Still, it keeps us amused - even if he is, as you say, an irritating prick.
I actually enjoy banter, especially when it concerns different takes on our language by folk from other "English" speaking countries - as long as it's good-humoured and a little thought-provoking: unfortunately DAW meets none of these requirements.
Cheers, Les.

Les R August 11, 2012, 4:36pm

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Oh indeed, Jeremy, shurely they "have"!

Why do we actually bother continuing this dialogue with D A Wood, as he's clearly on some sort of - flawed - ego trip?
Cheers, Les (London)

Les R August 11, 2012, 6:47am

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Perhaps D A Wood might try grasping the difference between disinterested and uninterested - although perhaps it might be too subtle!

Les R August 11, 2012, 4:49am

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

D A Wood
It's ensure not insure: something/person is insured, and you ensure that something occurs - usually by your own, independent action. Must pay attention to detail.

Les R August 11, 2012, 4:46am

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Typo - of course I spell my name with a capital "L"!

Les R August 10, 2012, 7:36pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Just so WW. I tried to inject a little humour (correct spelling) and civility when I replied to a D A Wood post, but it fell on deaf ears: all I got for my effort were ramblings involving sulfur (sic) and aluminum (sic again - in fact I'm quite sick of DAW). Ah well, c'est la vie.
Cheers, les.

Les R August 10, 2012, 7:36pm

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

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



This section



Section indexes







Free weekly e-magazine






Ancillary pages






Author links




Finding things





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Les R August 9, 2012, 5:49pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

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

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

Les R August 9, 2012, 5:43pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse