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Joined: January 8, 2010  (email not validated)
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Well, it's nominative, since it's a predicate nominative following a linking verb, renaming or explaining the subject which, in "This is she," is "This." If you read the postings from January 2010, all of that was gone into exhaustively with polite and understated ire aplenty. It all boils down to "correct by what standard?" Formal English? Colloquial English? For <i>formal/standard</i> English, Elle, you're absolutely correct: it must be "she." What Melissa says above is true. The more properly one speaks, the more likely one is to be branded as a snob. Odd, since I'd never correct or speak down to someone who made an error in the course of conversation, but I've been told I was incorrect when the opposite was true and accused of snobbery when I simply and politely defended what I originally said.

masrowan February 15, 2011, 4:37pm

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Dang! The name of home before dark disappeared out of my posting, to wit: ". . . waving to home before dark in Lawrence, Kansas . . ."

masrowan July 22, 2010, 12:47pm

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But in so doing, you don't inform the caller of your identity. "Yes" merely means that the caller may, indeed, speak to the asked for person. Of course, one can choose to melodically intone, "Yes. This is Cruella, Cruella Deville," or whatever, making one's self known by name. However, if a pronoun is used, "she/he," the nominative case pronoun, is correct.

The militant grammarian is waving to in Lawrence, Kansas, a picture perfect small town I love and know well. When passing through, I eat at Tellers, since they tarted up the charming old Free State Hotel, which has been called the Eldridge in recent years. Academician? I'm in the greater St. Louis area.

masrowan July 22, 2010, 12:44pm

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Probably some usage writers feel that "ain't" isn't worth bothering about, and they may, indeed, be right. I guess I'm back to the old "isn't the discussion of such what the site is about anyway?" And not ALL of any group agrees about anything, at least not usually. Total consensus? Maybe when we've gone to sing with the choir invisible. However, on this point, most usage writers agree, including Strunk and White, to list only one. The bottom line is that if using certain forms of speech, and here I'm not discussing any particular example, can cause one a problem professionally or personally, it's best to avoid it at least in formal situations and stick to what's generally accepted as standard, whatever that is. It's a question of covering one's metaphorical ass, or "feet" for that matter.

masrowan January 19, 2010, 7:23pm

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Douglas said,

"Really Marilyn? That old canard? I'm loath to cock a snook at even so learned a maven as you, but "lay versus lie" is not so much a grammatical issue as a social one."

Well, Douglas, as I understand it, it's not a grammatical issue, but one of diction, the wrong word being used. "Grammar cops with a social agenda?" If that were entirely true, then this website would seem of no point whatsoever, though I suppose there is a social agenda. I am only a second generation American. All four of my grandparents, two maids, a slightly alcoholic mason, and a baker, were immigrants who spoke accented English with greater or lesser facility in grammar to the ends of their days. All four came from peasant families, and I'm proud of that and them. My father, who spoke very good but not perfect English, a very rare thing in my experience, told me that his teachers insisted that all the children speak grammatically, no matter what they heard at home. The parents, a the mixed bag of Germans, Italians, Poles, and so forth, all insisted on the same point. It was seen, and still is, one form of social betterment. Eliza Doolittle knew that she needed to speak more correctly to be a lady in a flower shop. My father, by the way, had one semester of college when his father died. He then quit and got a job to support his mother and a sister still at home, and later, another widowed sister and her five children. I was the first college graduate in my family on either side. My background is not privileged.

As I said before, in some contexts, formal English is the coin of the realm. We don't often hear our physicians say to their nurses, "I ain't got no pencil." Egregious errors are a signal of various things that are usually a stumbling block to a successful life, not that lay vs lie is egregious. An example in point is that once I was on the phone calling a company with a complaint and asked to speak to the manager. In such situations, anyone below that level can't make decisions. One is being vetted, and one's time is wasted explaining the same thing multiple times. The woman to whom I was speaking claimed that she was the manager. I knew she wasn't simply by the way she spoke and again insisted on speaking to the manager. She wasn't pleased, but in the end, I got the manager, who spoke far better than the original woman. I'd been correct. For better or worse, this is what happens.

And as for its being an "old canard," that duck is not really enchained and still flies in testing instruments, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, and certainly until death, in the probably not foreseeable future, us do part. "The simple rule is generally this: "lie" is for people, "lay" is for things. (Easy to remember: many people lie.)" Not entirely, since you can "lay the baby in the bed" or "lay your body down": "Now I lay me down to sleep." For that matter, once you have "laid" your books on the table, they are "lying" there. Porsche is correct in this matter. Lay [lay, laid, have laid, laying] means to put or place. Lie [lie, lay, have lain, lying] means to recline/rest horizontally. The problem lies [thing, not person, but it "lies"] with "lay" and "lain" as the past and past participle of "lie." They go virtually unused, except by the few. And the reason I put "educated" in quotation marks? The vast majority of the educated misuse these verbs, according to standards of strictly formal English as well, just like everyone else. And yes, I do know that forms of "lay" have been used for forms of "lie" for half of forever. But this is a forum on correct grammar and usage as dictated by the rules, such as they are, and for strictly formal English, it isn't correct. "The conflict between oral use and school instruction has resulted in the distinction becoming a social shibboleth – a marker of class and education." Did you or do you, in the raising of your children, insist that they speak correctly? Why? Do they say, "Dad, I ain't got no pencil"? Had they ever said precisely that, how would you have replied? The "lay" vs "lie" difference is one of degree rather than kind in the discussion of "ain't." Same church different pew. Danged picky pew, but even so, Douglas, even so.

"I know what you're thinking: educated people talk good." Not all of 'em, sweetie. Not nearly all of 'em, and for reasons I won't broach here. And for that matter, some self-educated folks speak beautifully. "Ergo people lie and things lay." Once again, not in all cases. Nope. Not nearly all. "No, language is created, nurtured and cultivated by poor slobs who wouldn't know an intransitive verb if it gave them a bus transfer, bless 'em." With that, I can only agree. "And yes, I know exactly how snobbish that sounds." Not "hobknobbish"? Oh! And cocked snooks are all the rage in some places. Cock away. I quite enjoy snooks, cocked or otherwise. In fact, they often make my day. "Lay [not lie] on, Macduff!" On that note, have a pleasant evening or morning, or whatever it is there. I'm in the Midwest, in a blob of humanity in the great fly-over zone.

masrowan January 19, 2010, 5:10pm

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Anyone interested in taking on forms of the verbs "lay" and "lie," two of the most frequently misused verbs by the "educated"?

masrowan January 18, 2010, 5:15pm

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Your point is well made, and I quite agree. To me, it is sad that those meanings are lost. I gave only one example. I fully realize that semantic change happens, and we can use the words we choose as we choose. However, for the common man, when words are used in a sense no longer in the common parlance, understanding fails. For me, the language is the poorer for the loss. As I mentioned previously, probably a surfeit of very old literature on my part, but I like those words, and it's harder and harder for me to use them and be understood. Lackaday, I most thole it. O.K. I'm not quite THAT archaic. I enjoy writing to you John. U er definitely dite, and it appears that we have entertainment value.

masrowan January 18, 2010, 4:13am

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First of all, Fawn Brodie's book is fascinating and insightful. That aside, I had thought the phrase was "talking 'through' one's hat, meaning concerning things about which the speaker is not truly knowledgeable.

masrowan January 17, 2010, 9:45am

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Come to think of it, what goes on here is "hobknobbery" [sic] of a sort, though I'm fairly certain that wasn't the original intent of the remark.

masrowan January 15, 2010, 6:14am

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Oooooooo, Douglas, love your use of the word "mad"! It seems that John and I have become the pedantic website version of reality TV. And the original question -- something about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, wasn't it? No? Broca's area? Binomial nomenclature? Suggestions for dealing with Eeyore's depressive personality? Damned if I know. Reading back over all of that, I realize that I am only one of the grammar, vocabulary, and literature obsessed out there. It's been the continuing daytime drama of John and Marilyn. I'm charmed we proved to have some entertainment value. As to where we go from here, who knows? Possibly nowhere, and that's dandy too. But you know, had I been one of those seraphs, I'd have used two of my wings to cover my . . . ahhh, . . . "feet" too. But then again, John Kenneth Galbraith said, "Modesty is a vastly over-rated virtue." Hmmmmmm? Clearly not with seraphs. "Civility?" Yes. "Erudite?" Maybe u er dite, but I ain't. "And the beat goes on." Oh, and I'm still trying to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" "hobknobbery."
stark, raving, and clearly mad, though not angry

masrowan January 15, 2010, 4:00am

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Yes, and perhaps they were right, as the "feet" translators were not.

masrowan January 14, 2010, 9:35am

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Well, for example 1, probably. For # 2, I could see the definition going either way. With the Biblical quote, it's a translation. There are ever theologians arguing about the correct translation of this or that. And then too, there are the seraphs with six wings, two of which, according to scripture, cover their "feet." Uh-huh! Translations are dicey.

masrowan January 14, 2010, 9:08am

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Well, I traced "stark mad," as in "completely mad" to John Skelton 1489, and that's with the modifier. The reference defines this as "completely insane." "Raving mad" comes in later, and finally "stark raving mad" even later. After all, there's Lewis Carroll and the Mad Hatter from the saying "mad as a hatter"; that's British for you. My understanding is that in the old days, hatters used chemicals in the hands-on making of hats/creating felt, the fumes of which had mind altering properties. Then there was the Madhouse Act at some point in Britain for dealing with insane asylums. I'm not suggesting that dictionaries have abandoned that definition, but that it is failing in the common parlance today. Neither do I suggest we don't communicate as well or that English is not as expressive, but just that for the average person, language is perhaps more circumscribed. Come to think of it, it always was, in that case. But what do I know. I may well be stark raving mad. Seems more and more likely.

masrowan January 14, 2010, 8:37am

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Yes, but the rage that accompanies madness. It may be a fine point, but with mad now meaning only angry to most people, mad meaning insane is being lost. I'm fine with the branching out of words, but meaning lost is another matter. Another example is the word "gay," which I have discussed with my gay friends. It's a charming word and can be used in many ways, but the meaning "light-hearted," as in "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay," [charming book, that] has been lost. It's sad, to me mind you, to see one meaning subsumed by the other. The language seems the poorer for lost meanings. I've probably read one to many 18th century picaresque novels with antiquated vocabulary and grammar. Errands to run. Later, John

masrowan January 14, 2010, 6:11am

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Yes. I am aware of that.

masrowan January 14, 2010, 5:25am

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Good to know. Thanks, John. I just checked several sources; some gave only one, and some gave both choices. When only one choice was listed, it was "beaten." And then too, there are always the differences between the American and British conventions, both of which have canons in their own contexts, though canon can change. As I said way way up there, language is a convention to aid communication and understanding. When it comes down to it, people can say whatever they choose and generally be understood. The question is: to what end? It would seem to me that anything which aids clearer communication is to the good, and conversely, anything which muddies the waters is, at best, problematic. At the risk of coming across as another version of 'Enry 'Iggins, better grammar is beneficial in that way, but clearly not to everyone in all cases. We're a mixed bag, we humans. For a long time, the pendulum swung toward more concise and correct speech. Now, possibly partially in the name of political correctness, the trend seems to be reversing. This is true with diction as well: irritate vs aggravate, uninterested vs disinterested, and farther vs further are good examples. I've given up on mad vs angry. I adamantly refuse to say I'm "mad," though God knows, it may be true. Bottom line: in some contexts, completely correct English is the coin of the realm. For those who find themselves in such a context, that arrow is still needed in the quiver.

masrowan January 14, 2010, 4:50am

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As a colloquial expression, "cannot be beat" is used. However, "beat" is an irregular verb: present tense -- beat, simple past tense -- beat, past participle[with helping verbs]-- beaten. Therefore, grammatically it should be, "cannot be beaten." But hell's bells, fewer and fewer people seem to care, going for the lowest common denominator.

masrowan January 14, 2010, 3:56am

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As a colloquial expression, "cannot be beat" is used. However, "beat" is an irregular verb: present tense -- beat, simple past tense -- beat, past participle[with helping verbs]-- beaten. Therefore, grammatically it should be, "cannot be beaten." But hell's bells, fewer and fewer people seem to care going for the lowest common denominator.

masrowan January 14, 2010, 3:55am

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Depends on the text, and on the standardized tests, only "It is she" is correct, due to the reasons stated above. However, down the road I descry a gent coming with the wagon from the glue factory. Old Dobbin has done his job and is headed off to pastures more green. Dead horse. I throw down the whip. I never was other than kind to animals anyway, and in this case, it's well nigh useless. Any suggestions on "hobknobbery"?

masrowan January 13, 2010, 2:35pm

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My point about the triangle had to do with the "term" triangle. It, too, could have been called a Fred. I realize that the rules of mathematics are fixed, but the language could change, though that's rather unlikely. I further realize that the rules and usage of language have varied over the course of time and will continue in that wise. My point about "the powers that be" for grammar does not relate to the distant future or "a galaxy far far away." My point is that at this point in time, what I wrote holds true. At this point in time, "dems da rules"! Just as the term for that figure we term a triangle could change, "correct" usage can and will change. However, right now that figure IS called a triangle, and "This is she" IS standard usage. Still confused on "hobknobbery."

masrowan January 13, 2010, 12:37pm

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