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
Joined: September 3, 2009
(email not validated)
Comments posted: 28
Votes received: 17
No user description provided.
So, Charlie, do you think that if a statistician is entering a series of measurements into an excel spreadsheet, we should not refer to each measurement as a datum? I would think that the measurement, itself, would be a datum - regardless of how we distribute it.
Please note, Charlie, that whilst I agree with your efforts to preserve this great language, I disagree with your attitude and your 'high horse'. I am not trying to portray myself as some PhD in literacy. I am simply an engineering student who happens to take pride in (what I know to be) the correct usage of my language. I made the point earlier (May 11th) that the reason I don't have flawless grammar, is that my teachers throughout school didn't (far from it). Your point would be better made in Old English, would it not? But I guess that your teachers didn't teach you Old English as a child (if you are not still one).
For the record, I know that it is incorrect grammar to begin a sentence with 'But'. I simply used poetic license to make a point.
October 8, 2010, 8:38pm
We all have off days. Grammatical errors, once in a while, should be disregarded.
Charlie, are you implying that only 'data' should have a place in our language because we can only enter at least 8 bits into our computer with every keystroke? We can (just about) boil down every piece of information into smaller units, but that doesn't disregard the importance of each 'datum'. Merriam-Webster defines data as being "something given or admitted especially as a basis for reasoning or inference". Each datum is simply a piece of information, regardless of the memory it takes up in a computer (which, for the record, consists of a series of 1's and 0's - each being a single datum). A datum could just be one's measurement of a specific length.
Please note that if this is not what you were implying, then I apologize. Tone is often very difficult to gather when reading plain text. I wasn't sure if you were being a smart-arse or were being serious.
For the record, Charlie, what is your take on 'forums'/'fora'? Your posts seem rather ambiguous and off-topic (to say the least).
October 5, 2010, 8:20pm
goofy, each person is only a product of their environment - the language in which they speak is the language of which they were taught. In the modern world, the English teachers at primary and secondary schools are hardly the greatest speakers of the language. Hell, in primary school I often corrected my own teacher's grammar!
It has taken a long time for the English language to evolve (or, more appropriately, de-evolve) into it's current state. It's not as though we can just stop where we are and return to speaking in 5th Century English, or Classical Latin, or whatever.
May 11, 2010, 10:29am
Dave Johnson, I couldn't have expressed it better myself. You make an excellent point by associating the degeneration of 'English' with the simplicity of a child's grammar and vocabulary - in a similar vein to previous posters' arguments.
It is unfortunate that the quality of language education (at least from where I grew up), is too poorly structured so as to put more emphases on literary analysis than to actually teach the language we are analyzing (social networking sites are not doing people any favors in this regard - not the only reason I steer well clear of them).
For the record, I am very much opposed to unnecessary modifications of the English language. Comedian Adam Hills made a good point when pointing out that "... 'bouncebackability' had been accepted into a highly regarded dictionary, despite the fact that there is already a word for that - resilience!". Also, on a MadTV skit it was pointed out that the word 'literally' now essentially means the opposite of it's literal meaning - as defined in Merriam-Webster:"1 : in a literal sense or manner : ACTUALLY 2 : in effect : VIRTUALLY "
The repercussions of this unnecessary mutilation of our language can already be seen by simply traveling to another English speaking country. Dialects of English are starting to arise (not just accents) - most notably the arbitrary spelling modifications in American-English from British-English (this spell-check is making my point).
I suppose it would've made a good point to have posted this in Old English, but not only do I lack the knowledge, it would make it difficult for people to understand (a good point?).
May 11, 2010, 10:11am
I appreciate your directness, Porsche, and I admit that I acted like a d-bag to say the least.
"Surely you haven’t forgotton your very first post, have you?"
Unfortunately, with the number of irrelevant responses I have made to (and I stand by the use of the term) trolls, I had forgotten my original posts. Thinking back, however, I agree with my original 'views', but I apologize if anyone was offended by their nature (tbph, I couldn't care less if you were offended. What difference should it make if I think you're an idiot?).
My arguably 'un/called-for' backlashes came due to a habit of mine brought upon by being constantly, unnecessarily, and unreasonably scrutinized and ridiculed by people throughout my life.
Having said all of that, aside from my original frustration-influenced post, I feel that all of my posts were of a reasonable nature, until people (namely Name (supplied)) began to just take shots at me. If anyone has a problem with the way I've acted, don't act like it was uncalled for.
I have no beef with anyone on this discussion board, aside from Name (supplied), and possibly the appropriately monikered Dave. I expect that you two would have no problems having someone you have a problem with, having a problem with you.
Let this be the end of the sarcastic maelstrom, and return to the original topic.
P.S. In regards to my name, I thank you Porsche for clarifying Dave's issue for me, but I would like to remind Dave that (as I mentioned) there is nothing wrong with lusting after a teacher. Physical attraction is as natural as methane gas. It is somewhat to blame for our existence.
January 31, 2010, 1:24pm
Before you have another go at me, Dave, I'll point out that my internet nickname "hot4teacher" was chosen due to my liking of the song "Hot for teacher" by Van Halen, not to imply that I have sexual interests in teachers.
At no point did I state that I was correct nor that anyone else was incorrect. I simply offered my opinion - which I am now somewhat reluctant to do, considering the amount of trolls who responded only to take shots at me.
I already modestly stated my level of education in English, which leaves me confused at attempting to understand why you think I'm being condescending or righteous - which is ironic.
"Just be careful you are not just showing off some vain opinion of superiority you may be holding on to."
"As for the quality of some of the postings here from the inappropriately monikered “Hot4Teacher”; It’s poor."
For interest's sake, what was poor about my posts? Was it that you, William "Dave" Shakespeare, are the world's most educated English scholar and know for a fact that I am incorrect? Or were you so shaken up by the fact that my moniker is "hot4teacher", which you erroneously deciphered as meaning that I found teachers attractive (with which there is nothing wrong - teachers are just people too).
For someone who portrays himself as being a seemingly level and righteous person, you take a lot of offense to opinions that happen to differ from your own.
January 26, 2010, 8:24am
Just for kicks, whose side are you on Kevin?
September 25, 2009, 1:21am
Douglas, the word stamina (for endurance) is the same word as stamina (for the plural of stamen). Somewhere along the way, the English language decided that stamina would be a measure of endurance (possibly related to the function of a stamen).
As for the use of "stamens as early as 1947", I have already stated my stance as to whether the etymology of a word or common use of a word is more correct.
"You have also missed the point of my second comment, which is that Franklin lost this particular battle with progress."
I am aware that Franklin lost that battle, I commonly use the words you mentioned. It is also interesting to see that such a genius as Benjamin Franklin could be so grossly ignored. It may just be that scientifically minded people think alike, and are always being ignored by society, despite the fact that our entire mission is to find the 'truth'. Enough of venting my frustration with society, though.
Oh and for "I sense from your remarks that you misunderstand the concept of the “etymological fallacy.” ", it wouldn't be surprising if I misunderstand the concept of the etymological fallacy, as my only knowledge of it is a vague memory of hearing it in particular contexts. My English education finished in high school, and my education in grammar/punctuation/comprehension finished in year 10, and had since included such useless education as how to decompose and analyse Brave New World, Othello, etc.
September 24, 2009, 1:37am
"In ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics,’ P. H. Matthews defines the etymological fallacy as “The notion that the ‘true’ meaning of a word is the one to be expected from its etymology.” I don’t see how this can be used as an argument on either side of this pluralization debate. No convincing case has been made here."
The true meaning of 'stamina' is 'a collective of more than one stamen', i.e. the 'true' meaning of 'stamina' is a plural, and so the etymological fallacy would describe that "the 'true' meaning of" stamina "is the one to be expected from its etymology", and, as I have just pointed out, this meaning describes a plural.
"As for “preserving” English, people wiser than we have objected to the evolution of English usage. In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote to Noah Webster complaining about the then-recent formation of verbs from the substantive words ‘notice,’ advocate’ and ‘progress.’ He urged Webster: “If you should happen to be of my opinion with respect to these innovations you will use your authority in reprobating them.” (Imagine: Ben Franklin opposing innovation!) I don’t know what Webster’s response was, but all three verbs are still with us, and the language is better for it."
It's good to see that someone is on my side. Benjamin Franklin. Enough said.
September 23, 2009, 11:23pm
"What prompted the sarcasm to which you so strenuously object is simple; you proposed to protect a language from the very process by which it became the language that you wish to protect. It’s hard to point out the obvious without being sarcastic about it. It’s even harder when you claim to want to preserve English in it’s current state when the current state includes “forums” as a proper plural."
I've implied through earlier posts that I believe that the way the English language was used SHOULD be maintained. The fact that most people nowadays can barely speak our current language gives me little or no hope at all. I am not stupid. I know that we won't go back to speaking the original forms of the English language, but that doesn't mean that I cannot feel the need to maintain the language that many hold to be correct.
"What, so my point is irrelevant just because I used sarcasm to make it? Also, I use sarcasm quite regularly in person, and frequently to make points, so I doubt that I would hesitate just because you happen to be easily offended."
The necessity to use sarcasm to prove a point is a very popularly disliked trait in the modern world. I am almost certain that, should you see me in person, you wouldn't think to piss me off. This isn't a threat. I am merely identifying the fact that the internet holds a specious barrier for protecting you. If you talk this way in real life (as you admitted that you do) I am certain that (if at least being widely disliked) you will push someone to far, and it would be very unfortunate if that person was 200cm tall and 115kg.
Your point could have easily been made without sarcasm. There is nothing wrong with being honest. I promote honesty, and if you disagree with me then that's fine. You could have easily said "I disagree with you" rather than take the piss at me.
"I’m sorry, hot4teacher, but the exact opposite is true. The “etymological fallacy” describes the fact that words do NOT hold their original meanings. You’re certainly free to believe that they SHOULD hold onto their original meanings, but labelling that belief “etymological fallacy” would be incorrect. That’s why it’s called a fallacy. It is an agreement in etymological academic circles that such a belief is wrong."
It seems that my post had been set out poorly. What I meant was that the etymological fallacy is a fallacy regarding "the necessity for words to hold their original meanings.". I didn't mean to say that the etymological fallacy implied that words should actually keep their original meanings. At no point did I agree or disagree with it, I simply described how/why it could also apply to punctuation/pluralization.
September 23, 2009, 9:30pm
Sorry for triple posting.When I said " repeated a question that I had already asked", I obviously meant to say "that I had already answered". Just to avoid any confusion.
September 23, 2009, 9:35am
"I would interpret it a little more broadly: the original or historical usage or a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning. Not just the meaning, but how the word is used, including pluralization."
I agree with you 100%, as shown in my previous posts.
September 23, 2009, 9:34am
"Oh, it’s fine is it? Well, I’m glad it’s fine that you told me to “get the fuck out” over a misunderstanding that you could have prevented by noting the time stamps of the posts.In that case, I think it’s just fine if whatever I say happens to be insulting to you. That’s part of free speech too, after all."
Your post that I had a problem with was made prior to any reply I had made. I had no problem with the fact that you repeated a question that I had already asked. I had a problem with the fact that you set out to simply take the piss at me with your sarcasm and smart-arsed attitude.
I am a fan of free speech, but I am not a fan of taking unprovoked shots at people. I respect that you said it (at least indirectly) to me, but I would like to see you insult me face-to-face. I think you may have second thoughts then.
"Back on topic… exactly how is it changed for the worse? Seems to me that using “forums” as the plural of “forum,” and doing the same for similar words, is the best way to avoid mutilation of English, since that is the most common method of pluralizing in English."
I've (and you have) provided several examples of how modifying English can be useless, or even changing it for the worse. I don't see how the use of 'forums' instead of 'fora' could possibly benefit the English language, other than making it easier for people who are ill-educated or ignorant enough not to know the correct plural of words like 'forum'.
September 23, 2009, 9:32am
"My second post was in addition to the first. I did not refresh the site in between making the two, so I had no idea you had posted, thus your post between them had no bearing on the second post."
I see, that's fine.
"So, let me get this straight, you think that by complaining about the way language mutates, and has always mutated, you are going to fix it?If your point is that it’s an ineffective method, then I agree. If your point is that, because it’s an ineffective method, we should stop doing it, then I have to ask by what means you intend to enforce this change."
At no point did I (nor do I) expect that my ranting would produce any change whatsoever, I am simply voicing my opinion. I said "If I could, I would... ".
I do believe that it's an ineffective method, and consequently believe that there is no need to continue to alter the already mutilated language that is English. I see no point in changing things for the worse, and, as I eluded to earlier, I am certain that my opinion will not enforce any change whatsoever. I am, however, an atheist and believe strongly in free speech, which is why I hold no regrets in voicing my opinion.
September 23, 2009, 8:21am
"Oh, yes, and if you insist on using English, then shouldn’t you be using “plurel” from Middle English? No, wait, you should be using the Latin “pl?r?lis.” No, that’s wrong too, you should be using whatever form the word took in the language that Latin mutated from."
First off, I already had a go at someone for posting for the sake of 'taking the piss' at me, this is a discussion board. Post constructively or get the f**k out.
If you'd read my last post, you would understand why what you just said had already been answered.
"“Etymological fallacy” is an important concept, but it has little relevence to the issue of the correct pluralization of imported nouns."
As far as I am aware, the etymological fallacy describes, basically, the necessity for words to hold their original meanings. Having said that, I would also associate this fallacy with words holding their original contextual acceptability. By this I mean that words holding their original meanings, would (within reason) require their original contextual uses to be held as well (the misuse of a word can essentially change the literal meaning of that word. E.g. using a plural word as a singular form.).
September 23, 2009, 7:41am
"If you CAN’T accept this, then why are you typing in English and not (one of) the original language(s)?"
I cannot control the environment in which I was brought up; this doesn't stop me from believing that the way that languages alter (incorrectly imo) is wrong. If I could, I would ensure that everyone speaks the language correctly and at least attempt to prevent further deterioration of modern linguistics (part of the reason why I am on this discussion board).
"WIND would be blowing outside while you WIND your clock? Be a cruel joke to play, indeed."
I think you'll find that these to homonyms are alterations of different words from previous versions of the English language (or borrowed from other languages). This statement is in fact supporting my argument. It shows how the modification of languages can result in a more difficult or confusing language.
September 23, 2009, 7:03am
"This is the etymological fallacy. If we must apply the Latin plural system to all words borrowed from Latin, then stamina, erotica, opera, data, trivia, etc. should always and only be plural in English. "
If you are saying that the use of the word "stamina" in English should only be as a plural, then I agree with you.
If you are saying that this 'would be' true but isn't due to historical use, then I go back to one of my previous arguments - that just because people say things one way, doesn't mean that this way is correct. I could say "Plural is correctly spelled 'ploorul'" but this obviously is not the case.
I know that many people believe that the etymological fallacy is erroneous, in that words may be borrowed from other languages and obtain a (somewhat) different meaning to its original meaning. I once again assert that common misuse doesn't account for correctness. The whole idea that the English language is 'advancing' or changing is simply evidence that the current language is incorrect. The idea of a correct language is either what the general majority believes to be correct, or what the original language holds to be acceptable.
I believe that the whole 'majority' concept is erroneous, in the same way that I described before. If the majority of the English-speaking population decided to spell 'plural' as 'ploorul', then this concept would identify the latter to be correct. If you can accept this, then good for you, but I think that it is blatantly obvious that this whole idea fallacious and misleading.
September 23, 2009, 1:08am
" Really? It was first used as a plural in English, but began to be used as a singular in the 1800s.
“The stamina of the people was tested by a persecution that lasted for thirty years.” – W.B. Thomson, 1895
I’ve only seen it used as a plural nowadays when referring to the stamens of plants. "
Like I said, the word stamina is used in English as something other than its original meaning (or at least somewhat different to), and does not literally refer to, for example, a person's amount of "stamens", but rather a statistic or measurement (like mass) which may be used as both a quantitative statistic (E.g. ability to run 2km at 15km/h) or a qualitative statistic (E.g. "They show great stamina"), neither of which particularly pertain to a singular or plural form, so much as a quantitative/qualitative adjective.
I understand where you are coming from with "The stamina of the people was tested", but I believe that this is a case of what I've just mentioned. The stamina is simply a stat, and the "stamina of the people" may be referred to as a group of stamina(s).
I am forgetting why we are arguing about "stamina". It seems as though we both agree that using stamina as a singular form is incorrect.
September 22, 2009, 9:28am
"Hot4teacher took Goofy’s bait on this one: “…most of their singular forms are still used in modern English.” What, exactly, is the singular of paraphernalia? Paraphernalium? "
My post may have been misinterpreted in regards to this. When I said "most" I was generally referring to the examples I used. I concede that the singular forms of words like paraphernalia are not commonly used in English (as far as I know, only the plural form was adopted into English - so it may somewhat be the reverse of what we are talking about). This appears, though, to have been bypassed by the common use of "a piece of paraphernalia" instead of "a paraphernalis" (?).
" “I would say that treating those words as singular would be wrong, especially considering that most of their singular forms are still used in modern English.”
So you’d say that usage is irrelevant, that what matters is the words’ etymology? "
I'm not sure what it is that you are getting at with this statement. I assert that there is no reason/need to incorrectly use a plural form of a word as its singular form when the singular form is still used. This may sound contradictory to one of my previous statements (that if everyone uses it, doesn't make it right), but it is in actual fact supporting it. The fact that people still use "datum" or "bacterium" (granted in specific industries) means that the use of "a data" or "a bacteria", although common, is (I believe) wrong. As I said before, these terms are often modified to a correct form of "a piece of ___".
I have studied biology before, and understand that the use of "a type of bacteria" may seem incorrect, but is actually fine. Bacteria almost always occur as colonies, and so you may often be describing a colony of bacteria, rather than a single bacterium, however describing single bacteria is still important and is still used.
As for stamina, I have never personally seen or heard anyone use stamina as a singular form. As far as I am aware, the singular form, stamen, refers to something other than a singular form of stamina as used to describe endurance or strength (the word may have some etymological connotation to an ability to endure, I am not sure). I've only really heard it used in the context "someone's stamina", which tends to push me towards believing that a stamen may be something that allows for endurance/strength. Someone may care to enlighten me.
September 22, 2009, 7:15am
"Agenda, erotica, opera, data, media, bacteria, candelabra, paraphernalia, trivia, graffiti are all borrowed from Latin plurals (Italian in the case of graffiti), so treating these words as singular would be wrong by hot4teacher’s standards."
I would say that treating those words as singular would be wrong, especially considering that most of their singular forms are still used in modern English. We use the word "datum" when referring to datum edges in product measuring and manufacturing; medium is used everywhere, especially in visual arts contexts; bacterium is still used in biology studies and articles.
The fact that a lot of those words are used instead of their original singular form is wrong, and I believe that it is simply ignorance that has written off their original singular forms.
It is interesting to think, though, about the fact that we have been discussing the incorrect use of plurals from their singular forms, and hadn't mentioned the fact that many people also use the incorrect singular forms of plurals, or simply use the same word for both singular and plural cases. Data and media are the ones that annoy me the most.
September 21, 2009, 8:50pm
©2015 CYCLE Interactive, LLC.All Rights Reserved.