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D. A. Wood
November 7, 2011
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People have lost sight of the fact that there is an "ellipsis" here. In other words, something has been left out, and the result is idiomatic in English. In these discussions, "but" means "except", and the fact is that "except what?" has been left out. The ellipsis is "a negligible amount" or "a negligible number". The expression, "The Colonials were all but eliminated by the Cylons," means "Except for a negligible number of them, the Colonials were eliminated by the Cylons." Likewise, "The fighting strength of the boxer was all but extinguished," means "Except for a negligible amount, the fighting strength of the boxer was gone." People get all but completely confused when they do not recognize the idiomatic nature of some expressions.Please do not try to interpret them literally. You will all but lose your mind!
"...acclimate, acclimatise, and acclimatize all mean the same thing." I completely agree. There are plenty of such similar words in English, and we should be prepared to understand all of them. Some of the differences are very slight, such as in the case of "judgement" and "judgment". Furthermore, I have read that for reasonably comprehensive dictionaries, you need 100,000 words in French, but you need 200,000 words in German, and you need 300,000 words in English!Just give your acknowledgment/ acknowledgement to these facts. English is a very rich language.
Something that happens "right now" happens at any instant of time that you care to choose, within reason.
The earth orbits the sun right now.Pure water tastes good right now. The Eiffel Tower stands in Paris right now. The River Thames flows through London right now. The United States has 50 states right now.
I have had BRITISH people tell me that the phrase "the government are", such as is used by cheap tabloids and magazines there, STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN. Of course, in North America, we agree completely.
Likewise, my British friends have told me that "the Commonwealth are" likewise stinks to high heaven.
These are not "matters of opinion". These are matters of sane versus foolish.If you wish to ally yourself with the usage of cheap tabloids and magazines, you MUST not present that as some form of Standard English.You do not even know the difference between singular and plural.
@Warsaw WillWarsaw Will says: @D.A.W. - I don't see why are you are still going on about a building sitting or standing somewhere; I have absolutely no problem with that.
I do not like people misquoting me and lying about what I said or wrote! You have never apoligized about that, either.
You are obviously a habitual liar and a Philistine, too. Am I making myself clear? You lied about what I wrote. Now, you want to sweep it under the rug ??Shame on you. Go eat manure.
To Warsaw Will: You do not understand how newspapers operate in the large cities of the United States and Canada. Here, a large newspaper does not have just one Editor, but rather it has many editors. Some of the higher-ranking of these have more explanatory titles such as these:Editor-in-ChiefAssociate EditorAssistant EditorManaging Editor (one with many business responsibilities)EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORScience EditorSports Editor
Naturally, the newspaper's editorials that go on the editorial page are the responsibility of the Editorial Page Editor. Letters to the Editor go there, too, and actually the "editorial page" can be two or more pages long. Furthermore, in the largest cities, the Editorial Page Editor has assistant editors who work for him or her. When submitting a letter to the editor, the proper greetings are "Dear Editor", "Dear Mr. Editor", or "Dear Madame Editor". "To Whom It May Concern" also works.
To be an editor for a large newspaper here is rather like being a vice-president of a large corporation, which might have 25 or 30 vice-presidents.
Hence, "The editor of the New York Times wrote" or "The editors of the New York Times wrote" are both correct. In the first case, it is understood that the New York Time has many editors.
To: Warsaw Will:"It does so right now" would have been ungrammatical. Quite to the contrary: "It does so right now" is perfectly good English, at least in North America, where over 300,000,000 English speakers live. Does the Moon orbit the Earth? "It does so right now," or "It still does so right now."
Q: Will your bank give change for a $100 bill? A: It does so right now. Let's go!
Q: Does Vanguard 1 orbit the Earth? A: It still does so right now, and it has done so ever since 1958.
Warsaw Will: I have a hard time understanding that the statue of Abraham Lincoln sits in Washington, D.C., because it sits in a chair, just as I sit in a chair as I write this. What is so hard about this? I could recommend that you look up photographs of the interior of the Lincoln Memorial. You can find these on the Internet.
Notice that "you look" is in the present tense. Look away for ten seconds, and then you look again. Any of those moments is "right now", and you can repeat the process as many times as you chose to do so.
Also, I actually wrote "the Houses of Parliament sit along the Thames in London", and not "stand", as you misread and miscopied. "Sit" was the contrast that I ws trying to make, compared with the Empire State Building, which "stands" in New York City. Stop in the name of the Queen! You made a salient mistake. Why?
The statue of Thomas Jefferson "stands" in the Jefferson Memorial because the figure of Jefferson stands on its feet in an upright position. That was the contrast that I was making: Lincoln sits but Jefferson stands.
I didn't say anything about the "historical present" because that is rarely seen or heard of in the United States in American or Canadian products. One big problem that we face here concerns documentaries on TV that were made in the U.K. or in Ireland. These have narrated paragraphs in which the tenses of the verbs flip back and forth between the past tense and the present tense in a random order. In other words, they do so "willy nilly" or "ad litem".
There is absolutely no concern in the consistency of the use of the tenses.
Furthermore, there are odd statements like "the team decided". A team does not have a brain, so a team cannot make any decisions whatsover. Here in North America, we say, "the leader of the team decided".
Then, if those decisions are terribly unpopular, you Britons could say, "the team threw the leader overboard to the sharks".In America, we do not have too much of a history of mutinies. We do not have stories of Captain Bligh or Henry Hudson. D.A.W.
I don't need a grammar book in English because my mother was a professional teacher of American English for several decades. I learned from her.
You are arguing concerning that twisted mess called "British English".
No, not "In an editorial yesterday, the editorial writers of the Times stated that bla bla bla" but rather, "In an editorial yesterday, the editors of the Times stated bla bla bla" The people who write editorials are called "editors" - but once again we are getting into the superiority of North American English (which includes Candian English, don't forget.)
In American English, we say that a short buiding "sits" somewhere, but a tall building strands somewhere. "Mr. Jones's house sits along Maple Street", but "The Empire State Building stands in New York City." "The White House sits along Pennsylvania Avenue", but "The Capitol Building stands on Capitol Hill."
So, do not get confused about the Houses of Parliament (buildings) sitting along the Thames, and the House of Commons (a group of people) sitting for a meeting. Concerning the monuments of Washington, D.C., the Washington Monument stands, the statue of Abraham Lincoln sits (in a chair), but the statue of Thomas Jefferson stands (on its feet). All of these are in the present tense, indicating RIGHT NOW, and there is no need to use the present progressive form.
Also, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial sit along the Potomac River, but it is not possible for the Washington Monument to do anything but stand. When this monument was completed, it was the world's tallest structure, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Egypt, and it remained the world's tallest structure until it was surpassed by a cathedral in Germany. Then, a few years later, that was surpassed by the Eiffel Tower. Some say that the Washington Monument is still the world's tallest stone structure because it does not have a metal framework at all. On the other hand, is the tallest one the cathedral in Germany? Or does that one have some metal framework? It is hard to find out because there are so many erroneous sources out there. Some of them do not mention the Washington Monument or the cathedral at all.
"Right now I write this comment," is perfectly fine language. It is not necessary to use the present progressive form, though that is the more common way. I have read of a noteworthy play (maybe one of Shakespeare's) in which a character says, "I die." It was not necessary for him to say "I am dying," because "I die" means RIGHT NOW.
When I say, "The Moon orbits the Earth," and "The Earth orbits the Sun," these mean RIGHT NOW. It does not matter that they have done so for billions of years, and that they will do so for billions of years into the future, because my sentences tell of the situation right now. As for the Moon, even if the weather is bad over the entire continent, and nobody there can see the Moon in its orbit, we can measure its presense can its movement by radar.We know what it is doing.
On the other hand, I have read a book of "Noteworthy Last Words". In it, there is the story of a physician who was seriously ill. From time to time, he was taking his own pulse - until one time when he said "Stopped," and that was the end of the his life. He was using the word "stopped" as an adjective, but that means "right now".
Also, I have read that during the latter part of the 1800s, a criminal in England was taken to the gallows to be hanged. He was standing on the trap door with the noose around his neck. Then he decided to make a final declaration, but that was just as the trap sprung. HIs last words were supposedly, "I am J----" as the noose tightened around his neck. People have speculated that he intended to say, "I am Jack the Ripper." Is this true? Note that the verb "am" is in the present tense, and it means RIGHT NOW. He did not intend to say, "I was Jack the Ripper."
Oh, Warsaw Will, I agree with you emphatically. "With all but a monumental collapse now standing between...." is truly horrid English. Actually, it isn't even English, but rather it is gibberish.
By the way, "The Sun writes" is also nonsense.Whatever the "Sun" did, it was sometime in the past, so either the past tense or the present perfect tense is required. So, "the Sun wrote". Actually, it is probably more correct to state "the Sun printed". However, the "Sun" is a corporation, and corporations are incapable of doing anything like these things. So, in truth, "the employees of the Sun wrote" or "the employees of the Sun have been writing".
I have aslo seen weird statements like "John Jones writes" or "John Jones says", when in reality, John Jones has been dead for several years, hence he does not say or write anything at all anymore. Likewise, Winston Churchill says or writes nothing at all anymore.
So many people have lost sight or the fact that the present tense means RIGHT NOW. Here are some example: The Houses of Parliament stand in London.A large statue of Abraham Lincoln sits in Washington, D.C. The Moon orbits the Earth once every 29 days. It is doing so right now.
In contrast, the American, British, and Canadian Armies landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. This was definitely an event in the past.
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