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Joined: September 4, 2011  (email not validated)
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He was sat

February 8, 2012

Recent Comments

Overheard tonight in a Dorset pub: "I always used to hold doors open for ladies, but then I was accused of kerb-crawling".
It reminded me of this debate, and perhaps of what the kerb is, as the notion of curb-crawling makes no sense at all. It is clear that kerb is a noun, and that is how kerb-crawling is spelled. Curb-crawling suggests the idea that crawling must be stopped, or at least controlled.
If I am expected here to throw light on the matter of dogs and their disgusting canine lavatory habits, then I am afraid that I must disappoint, as my contribution has nothing to do with the faeces of the species.

retired teacher March 22, 2014, 6:12pm

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How about the idea that 'enamoured with' means 'fallen in love with', whereas 'enamoured by' suggests you are the object of someone else's falling in love with you.

"I am enamoured with the idea of selling up and moving to Tahiti to live the high life there." That's good.

I am enamoured by a fine Tahitian tahini. (Assuming that's a Tahitian lady but maybe it's a kind of Italian bread.)

I don't like 'enamoured by'. 'I am the enamoured of a Tahitian maiden', where enamoured is a noun, that's fine. So is Tahiti, but I found it very expensive.

Your manuscript demands "enamoured with".

retired teacher March 20, 2014, 4:09pm

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No! It means 'keep (the errant creature) under control', as 'curb' means 'control' (from French 'courber', which is a verb). Stop it from doing what is left discretely unspoken, as being unspeakable anyway.
The kerb is there to separate road traffic from that on the pavement, except in Bangkok where anything goes, really. Dogs just lie there, supine and quite pointless. And no one would tell anyone to do anything with his dog, as that too would be pointless, and most impolite. I have mentioned earlier that in England no one would do so either, as it would provoke outrage.

retired teacher March 19, 2014, 11:43am

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No, no, no. If 'curb your dog' meant 'steer it towards the kerb to do its (ahem) business' you would cry out "kerb your dog". If you mean 'stop it yapping' or 'stop it sniffing the genitalia of folk standing there quietly' you might call out "curb your dog", but in England it would make no difference as it sounds much the same and in England dogs rank higher than humans anyway, and the owners would be mystified.

retired teacher March 16, 2014, 10:20pm

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I think that the "curb your dog" means "restrain your dog" which may include when you spot the errant pooch laying a turd in the street. It has nothing to do with the kerb, which is indeed the raised bit for pedestrians (and in Bangkok the motorbikes and bicycles) next to the road, which is for cars and lorries and buses (and in Bangkok the pedestrians). In the USA this is called the 'sidewalk', in English-speaking countries the pavement. Actually, I think the kerb is the part of the pavement next to the road, not the whole thing.
In England, where dogs are treated in the same way cats were in ancient Egypt, to tell someone to "curb your dog" results in cries of anger and threats of violence, and not from the dog but from its owner and also bystanders who do not know you from Adam. A more subtle approach is to pick up the offending faecal matter, run after the dog's owner and give it to him, or her, and say "your dog dropped this".
'Curb' is a verb, 'kerb' a noun .

retired teacher March 11, 2014, 11:59am

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Well, I think it's funny. I associate it with slow-speaking women customers of a certain age in Dorset and Devonian pubs making snide comments to their menfolk (whom they seem to wish wouldn't make them come to these places) about the cleanliness of the facilities, but asserting by way of a coda that they are just sayin'. As it is clear that they are just sayin', there is no need really to explain so, is there? That's a bit of what I find funny. But after a few pints of the marvellous real ales to be had in South-West England almost anything seems funny. Cheers! Just sayin'.

retired teacher March 10, 2014, 3:23pm

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Don't worry about it, Jayles. No need for conturbation on your part. Your remarks at 6.05 pm please me greatly, as I am sure they do all of us.

retired teacher March 1, 2014, 7:11pm

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Indeed, Jayles. Quite so.

retired teacher March 1, 2014, 6:46pm

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you are too kind about my English. In fact, would you believe, my first language was Zulu, so there is a bit of doubt about whether or not I am a native speaker of English. No, I was never taught the English subjunctive by any English teacher. In Britain English teachers do not really teach English at all, but rather creative writing and poetry and drama and nice things like that. Grammar is not taught, as incredible though this may sound, it seen as elitist, I am told.
Now, where learning English properly is best done is in the Latin classroom, where that language is used primarily as a tool through which proper, grammatical English (or indeed German, French, Italian, whatever ...) may be studied. The study of modern languages is different: its purpose is to learn that other language. So those who study Latin even to a fairly elementary level understand grammar, including therefore the grammar of their own languages. And that is where I learned my grammar, and taught it. I am told by others that you can tell in less than a minute, from his speech patterns, if someone has learned Latin, and I take their word for it. I always assume everyone has learned it.
This forum has provided me with rich food for thought and entertainment beyond the limited linguistic playing fields of those happy schooldays, and I especially enjoy the fancy terms they have invented to keep us busy, my favourite today being Irrealis, the unreal past. Love the capital I ! Which institution cooked it up? Cambridge, I see. Latin, yes, good, but why the capital I? I'm an Oxford man myself, and we called it the unreal past. Well, we would have done, but actually we never spoke of it at all.

retired teacher March 1, 2014, 4:10pm

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You rewrite my sentence by scattering a few commas around in it: "the subjunctive is the ultimate polish, which, once mastered, allows the user the right finally to claim that he has learned the language."

You say "to be honest, it's a bit complicated sentence".

Yes. Is that a problem?

'A bit complicated' does not work well here as an adjective describing 'sentence', does it? "This sentence is a bit complicated" is fine.

I agree that matters such as the use of 'that' when you mean 'which' or even worse 'who/whom' need attention too, as of course do dozens of other fine points, but they need only a few lines each of explanation in a language course, whereas the subjunctive is, as the conversation above indicates, complex and not to be covered in too much hurry.

retired teacher March 1, 2014, 6:00am

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Sundy, you miss my point about the fact that there is at least one prime minister in our recent history who developed dementia and may well at times have not been aware that he (or indeed she) had once been prime minister, and at more lucid moments would be in a position to advise others that this honour had once been his, or hers. Telling people things which they must surely already know ("I used to be prime minister, you know") is perhaps a rather obvious consequence of dementia. To assert then that "if I was prime minister" is a possible open condition, one which the speaker does not feel able to assert is the case, nor not the case, but must let lie open, is a perfectly feasible possibility. Nothing weird about it, this unhappy condition happens to people, prime ministers included.

You allow that I could give (you) poor marks of English (sic), and indeed I I fear I must. But keep cracking away; the subjunctive is the ultimate polish which once mastered allows the user the right finally to claim that he has learned the language. Oh yes, and those pesky prepositions too.

retired teacher February 28, 2014, 8:31pm

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You say you would be very nervous if I were to say that “I accept it is possible that I was prime minister at one time, but I can't remember”.
You are evidently of a very delicate disposition. A past prime minister of Britain in the last fifty years did indeed develop dementia, in more lucid moments telling other people "I used to be prime minister, you know". Those to whom he confided this information did not report feeling nervous because of it. Nor did they call the police to take him to hospital for an overall medical checkup, as there was no need for one and in Britain the police are the wrong agency for this. As you point out you can’t forget if you were once the prime minister some time ago unless there is a medical problem, so this is not an usual context. Well, Sundy, it may not be usual for someone to develop dementia but it happens.
Besides all that, the point under discussion is a linguistic one.
On another linguistic point, what does this mean: "You are kind of trust your girl friend on that she wouldn’t do this ... "? You wrote it. No need to call the police, but it scores poor marks for English, I feel.

retired teacher February 28, 2014, 1:27pm

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Oh no! Looking back I learn that in August I said I would hold my counsel on the subject of the subjunctive. And now I've gone and raved on about it for a while. If only I were to have ...

retired teacher February 27, 2014, 3:13pm

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You quote me:

If I was the Prime Minister, I would change the law." This to me suggests that I am surprised and doubtful to hear that I was sometime in the past the Prime Minister, find it hard perhaps to believe that such an thing could have been allowed, and if it is true, would want someone to change the law, maybe to prevent such a calamity in the future.
The logic doesn’t stand. You are linking the assumption of being the Prime Minister in the past to the change of law which would be made to happen in the future. Who would the speaker be talking to? It’s hard and complicated to find such a context that would fit in here.

No it isn't. It is easy and simple: I am informed (by anyone at all) that this national misfortune has occurred, and I as the speaker am declaring that it should not have been allowed (if indeed it was - the indicative mood of the verb "was" rather than "were" means it is treated by me as an open condition, which is to say that I accept it is possible that I was prime minister at one time, but I can't remember). If I wished to indicate disbelief in such a preposterous assertion I would use a closed conditional clause, denoted by the subjunctive form of the verb: "were".

If I am ... means perhaps I am (present tense, open, indicative, conditional clause)
If I was ... means perhaps I was (past tense, open, indicative, conditional clause)
If I do ... means perhaps I shall do (future, open, indicative...
If I were ... means I am not (present, closed, subjunctive ...)
If I were to have been ... means I was not (past, closed, subjunctive ...)
If I were to do ... means I shall not do(future, closed, subjunctive ...)

Piece of cake, really. Twelve year old children learning Latin get a couple of lessons to master all this and cope perfectly well, including the Latin forms of the verbs. The logic stands then that I could assert to the world at large that if indeed I was PM, which I accept as a possibility, then I would wish whoever can do so to get the law changed.
Saying "I would change the law" when I have not the power to do so means that I am declaring that I wish someone would change the law, and that I would counsel, and indeed advocate this course of action. It does not suggest that I must necessarily play a part in this legislative tinkering, merely that I recommend it.

Where was I? What are we talking about again?

retired teacher February 27, 2014, 3:01pm

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Oh dear, all this talk of 'bellicose' and 'unacceptable' and 'vulgar'. 'Inexcusable' and apologies all over the place. Not a clue as to what need there is for apologies in the preceding debate about the correctness of saying "This is she".
Is this something to do with this new thing they teach children about not being 'judgmental'? Can't make head nor tail of it myself. Makes no sense at all. I believe 'political correctness' comes into it somewhere, an American thing now but originating as one of Lenin's little jokes. (Bad news to study the law and end up becoming a judge, only not to be allowed to be judgmental!)
Calm down, children, and have another glass of wine, I say! Come back, Jasper, and post away, come on, do.

retired teacher February 24, 2014, 2:57pm

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But isn't it just more humourful, more fun indeed, to call these devices mice? Is that indeed not why we do it, regardless of the stern, possibly even puritanical views of the dictionary makers?

retired teacher February 10, 2014, 12:30pm

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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.

retired teacher January 7, 2014, 11:44am

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So now we don't have spelling chaos?

Who will make the dictionaries, if no one is to be at the cutting edge? Are they to be descriptive (Webster's) or prescriptive? Who will prescribe if no one is to use logic?

retired teacher November 16, 2013, 7:13pm

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Oh please! Must we check what others think before committing ourselves? If we fancy that we are at the cutting edge the idea, surely, is to jump in and suggest what we think is sound. Whatever prompts us to debate what the 'authorities' cite as the dernier cri, when their work does ours for us?

Now, it seems to me that the reason for check in as a verb, necessarily two words definitely with no hyphen is that otherwise you cannot have it in other tenses, most obviously the perfect tense: I check-inned is all to hell, while checked in will brook no hyphens, therefore present tense check in must be separate words.

I babysat because I was asked to babysit is fine.

If the verb component comes after, one word will do if that is what is popular, because -sit -sat raises no problems. Verb first, we need two words: I feedback, I fedback - ugh! I fed back, therefore I feed back - it still to me suggests the causes of borborigmus, and it is a term I abhor, probably for psychological reasons, but I can just about thole it if it two words, to use a Scots term.

Hairy Scot: I showed case?? Now, I cannae thole that! I am not fussed about the OED and H L Mencken Amer - life is too short to consult authorities and yet still to contribute to this argument.

retired teacher November 15, 2013, 5:47pm

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Sky news reports today: " the GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite will break apart and much of it will burn-up in the atmosphere, scientists say. ". Then it says "Most of this burns up when it re-enters in the atmosphere due to aerothermal heating " quoting Professor Heiner Klinkrad from the ESA. No hyphen this time. "Re-enters in the atmosphere?" Oh dear, on so many levels. And due to?? My old English teacher taught us to use due to (for money) and "owing to" for causal effect. 'There is £20 due to me when you get round to paying me' and (here) 'burns up ... owing to aerothermal heating'. The fact that my spellcheck doesn't like aerothermal can pass for now. Astonishingly, it is happy with aero-thermal.
Sky news tends to be riddled with poorly written pieces not subjected to proof-reading. Is proof-reading supposed to be with a hyphen? OMG, as they say these days.

retired teacher November 9, 2013, 5:45am

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