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Joined: August 12, 2010
Comments posted: 741
Votes received: 107

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Five eggs is too many

June 30, 2013

Recent Comments

synecdoche - totum pro parte - or sometimes pure ellipsis of the word "members".

jayles May 14, 2014, 9:48am

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@HS I would not doubt your own recollections: frankly what happened to me in those far off days is still clear as a bell - tolling over a fleld in Austria with black-clad peasants scything the wheaten harvest in '63 - whereas well where did I park the car?? But I digress..
My experience is that there was a seismic social shift in the early sixties and English people just a few years older then me are quite nice enough but have a totally different mindset. There is sometimes a gulf of non-understanding between the last of the 'silent generation' and the baby-boomers.
That aside, I teach "people are..", "the police are..", "the staff are .. " to ESOL students and let it go at that. And I'm okay with "the team are disgruntled" or "the team is disgruntled", although I recognize that one or other may well sound "wrong" to some people (depending on which side of the Atlantic or whatever).
These days there is little that is "right" or "wrong", as some politicians at home and abroad have amply demonstrated. I'm pretty certain St Peter himself, who is still swotting up on English grammar and will be for some time, won't hold it against us.

jayles May 13, 2014, 7:29pm

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@HS It is indeed very hard to escape the outlook that was embedded by our schooling; although by the standards of the time I myself was very fortunate indeed and has some of the very best available. (Though of course nothing is magic).
I do recognize that somehow where I grew up the pre-1960's people didn't seem to question everything in the same way as us baby-boomers did; I well remember the deputy principal describing my views as "iconoclastic" ( I was reading "So Sprach Zarathustra" at the time). I think over the last ten years "Western" education has changed again, as so much material "knowledge" is just a click away on the web.
That said I think I learnt more about life from blundering round Europe and finding out to soon that with a little help from a friend one plus one can all to easily make three.
I am not quite clear on where you went to school but will ask a friend who went to Rosmini about collective nouns and singular verbs at the hands of the Brothers.

jayles May 13, 2014, 4:20pm

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@HS Good - it's all about what criteria we are using.
By the way, "if it sounds strange" - to whom? To you, to me or to 5000 Man C fans?

jayles May 12, 2014, 12:05am

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@HS Those "harried souls" must be proud to see you have your own well-founded views despite (!) their teachings. Perhaps the real question is why did those "harried souls" teach that collective nouns must take a singular verb? Whence came this wisdom of the ancients?
Although to be fair I cannot imagine either of us standing up in class and asking:
"Please Sir, where did you get all this bollocks from Sir?"

jayles May 11, 2014, 9:11pm

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"At school I was taught ....." (HS)

One should not believe everything one is taught at school. Knowing what is worth knowing and what is bollocks is all that matters.

“My education was interrupted only by my schooling” - Winston

"Schools have not necessarily much to do with education...they are mainly institutions of control where certain basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school." ~ Winston Churchill

jayles May 11, 2014, 5:58pm

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So that makes it all pretty easy; all one needs is a sound knowledge of the GVS, a smaltering of Latin-ing, a soupcon of medaeval French and Bob is indeed to goodness your uncle. It is but a small "en-devoir" or endeavour or endeavor or whatever.
However sins enii olternativ speling sistem wud luk vaastlii diferent and distroi backwerds kompatibiliti chaenjing wud not bii werth it.

jayles May 11, 2014, 1:52pm

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@HS "She had less family responsibilities" : one might (with a stretch) construe this as meaning the responsibilities were similar in number but less onerous; it is perhaps just a bit vaguer than "fewer responsibilities", although I wouldn't care to argue the toss.

"She had less responsibilities" does get several hits on google.

Whether one approves is one's own problem.

jayles May 9, 2014, 12:51am

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My take on it is that "fewer" + uncountable noun is nonsensical, as "fewer" implies countable number.

jayles May 8, 2014, 7:37pm

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BTW I suppose you guys realise you can upvote your own comments! ;=))

jayles May 8, 2014, 4:53pm

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I would suggest that proficient English readers do not read by sounding out each syllable to understand the word; each word becomes a sort of symbol pretty much like Chinese, so whether it is orthographic or not becomes irrelevant to the reading process; it just needs to be consistent and familiar.
Spelling is an issue when we're learning to read and write and in an ESOL context; for most of us we are past it (or very much past it).

jayles May 8, 2014, 4:52pm

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less means smaller (in size or number); fewer = smaller in number.
a) Her troubles were fewer than her husband's.
b) Her troubles were less than her husband's.
Doesn't really come up much though.

jayles May 5, 2014, 2:18pm

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If "fewer is more" means something other than "less is more", then we have a semantic distinction, but it's very small.

Is "few" is the result of Viking "package tours" ?

jayles May 5, 2014, 2:52am

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Few is more

jayles May 4, 2014, 8:33pm

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Never in the history of humane endeavour have so many owed so much to so less.

There were, apparently, a less people there

jayles May 4, 2014, 8:32pm

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I've seen it suggested that the past-simple<-present-perfect substitution is colloquial, non-formal and more common among 'less-educated' Americans.

The following ngram suggests that "have you ever" is twice as common as "did you ever" in US writing:
did you ever:eng_gb_2012,did you ever:eng_us_2012,have you ever:eng_gb_2012,have you ever:eng_us_2012

This ngram suggests that in US writing "did you forget already" is much much less common than have...
Did you forget already:eng_gb_2012,Did you forget already:eng_us_,Have you forgotten already:eng_gb_2012,Have you forgotten already:eng_us_2012,Have you forgot already

jayles April 29, 2014, 5:32pm

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Murphy also notes the well-known Americanism: sentences like:
"Did you finish your homework yet?"
Is this too an example of something borrowed from some earlier form of English?

jayles April 28, 2014, 8:25pm

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I do remember the teacher in primary school (England 1950's) forbidding us to use the word 'get' in writing because it was a "horrible" word. Given that kind of indoctrination it is not surprising if some people retain a less-than-empirical outlook on word choices.
BTW in Murphy's grammar book 'gotten' is simply marked as "American", so again it is hardly surprising if people think that is the end of the story. I certainly did for many years.

jayles April 28, 2014, 12:55pm

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@WW by "practical purposes" I meant outside the classroom, like submitting your CV in English or answering business emails.

jayles April 25, 2014, 12:06pm

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I agree that spelling is not the major issue for non-native speakers; after all, the common end-use writing situations (business emails, reports, and academic essays) are all covered by spell-checkers. On the other hand, business telephone conversations put enormous pressure on clear-enough pronunciation (and listening and everything else too).
Like Russian, English stress is hard to predict (although often last-but-two on longer words). Aural learning the only way to go.

EF= Entertainment First ??

jayles April 23, 2014, 3:30pm

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