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Author Topic: Grammar munchkins, or, do my homework for me
Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
And another one I thought of because it's not really one of my own peeves, but a major peeve of a few people I know: ATM machine and PIN number.
Even Microsoft does that mistake. On the boot screen of Windows 2000, the first impression you get when you look at it, the following gem can be found:

"Based on NT technology"

What? It's based on new technology technology?

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/Troberg

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DadOf3
Jingle Bell Hock


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One that gets me is people using compund words incorrectly. Yes, the words can be joined together, but it means something different.

For example, people write, "We'll work it out overtime," instead of, "We'll work it out over time". That's a weak example, but it's the best I can think of right now.

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Bonnie:
Hey, geminilee, what do you think you're doing consulting a dictionary to help resolve an issue pertaining to linguistics??

(Er, not to mention that Merriam-Webster Online has this to say about "only" in this construction: "3 : FEW, one of the only areas not yet explored.")

-- Bonnie

I had checked the dictionaries I have at hand. They didn't give that meaning. I checked Answer.com and the Websters Collegiate Dictionary on my shelf. It's an older Meriam Webster product which doesn't have the word "few" in any of the definitions given for "only". I suspect that "few" is a recent addition to the meanings of "only" because it has been misused so much that it needed to be explained. Some will call it living language, others will call it poor grammar.

NPR's language expert agrees with me. (Audio file)

Purdue University language tutors try to explain why it's incorrect.

Where did this construct come from? I never heard it until a few years ago, certainly within the past decade. Is this one of those regional misuses of the language that spread? I remember when I was taught grammar in school, back in the days when half of each years' English course (grades 1-12) was dedicated to grammar and we'd get to the misuse of "take" and "bring". No one confused those words where I lived. We didn't even understand why it was in the grammar books. One teacher said that it was common misuse in New York so they put it in the books. I have no idea if she was right about that though afterwards I did noticed that New Yorkers often did misuse the words. That misuse has spread to the entire country in the past few decades.

Another one that hasn't come up is less and fewer. What's the problem with the word "few" that people keep replacing it with other words? "Few" and "fewer" are perfectly good words. Why don't people use them?

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by geminilee:
The version with three commas, as was explained before, denotes that there are few such centers, and then describes what is done at such centers. The sentence with a comma removed does not indicate how many centers there are, but rather that few of them perform these services. Is that clearer?

I really don't care what the sentence means. My point, and it is made by the discussion that we had here, was that it was a poorly written sentence that left people, including some who attempted to explain it to me, guessing as to what the writer was trying to say. That's an indication of a poorly written sentence. I'm surprised it was on a university's web site.

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I think that it's clear what the writer said in the sentence with three commas. The only reason to doubt that it's what was meant is my feeling that community studies centers probably aren't that rare in the USA, and that's based on external knowledge (or assumptions) rather than anything inherent in the sentence.
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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Most of mine have been mentioned here, but I have another. I don't know how well it would translate to a classroom discussion of grammar but here goes nothing.

It irritates me when people type a common phrase or figure of speech in such a way that it's clear they've heard it used but not seen it spelled out, and they don't actually know what it means- they only know the context they've heard it in. An example:
"For all intensive purposes."
If you say it out loud, it sounds a lot like "For all intents and purposes," but it's clear that the writer doesn't know what "For all intents and purposes" actually means. He or she just knows that it's used to mean "good enough for what we're talking about here."

Another example, which is from this board (so I apologize if you're the writer, whose name I forget):
"Dogged tired" instead of "dog-tired."

I guess the lesson here is you shouldn't use stock phrases unless you're sure of the proper meaning, spelling, and use; rather you should carefully pick words and constructions that express your intended meaning. This will make you look smarter and make your writing fresher and more clear.

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Officially Heartless

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Wicked Tinkerbell
Hock Harold Angel's Bling


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quote:
Originally posted by Jocko's Gone Fishin':
quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:


So, a plethora of rain would result in flooding, whereas simply a large amount of rain would not?


I think it's more that a large amount of rain would flood our basement. A plethora of rain would have us building an ark.
You two are brilliant!

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"I'm not Irish, I'm Celtic. The difference? Celts cut off your head and put it on their door lintel." --Aimee Evilpixie
"People are bastard-covered bastards with bastard filling."--Scrubs

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Hans Off
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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What about the missuse of the word decimate in the media?

It's one of the [S] only few only few only few only [/S] few errors to get right on my plums.

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"British English speakers point to Americans adding more syllables so that they can make even more noise without actually saying anything." Llewtrah


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Hans Off
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Bugritt, How do you do UBB strikethrough?

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"British English speakers point to Americans adding more syllables so that they can make even more noise without actually saying anything." Llewtrah


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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Will I do?

Apparently, UBB strikethrough isn't activated here, so you need to use HTML code.

code:
<s>type text here</s>

[s]type text here[/s] = UBB, which doesn't work
type text here used HTML

Edited to remove a big boo-boo.

quote:
Originally posted by Wicked Tinker(diving)bell:
quote:
Originally posted by Jocko's Gone Fishin':
quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:


So, a plethora of rain would result in flooding, whereas simply a large amount of rain would not?


I think it's more that a large amount of rain would flood our basement. A plethora of rain would have us building an ark.
You two are brilliant!
Thank you.
My next entry was going to be:
There are degrees of flooding. The flooding I meant is the kind that brings water to the roof, not just in the basement. Sorry I didn't make myself clear. By the way, do you have any rulers that measure in cubits?

--------------------
"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Brandi
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Oh, and since someone already mentioned Eats, Shoots and Leaves, I want to add that The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is a really fun to read grammary, especially if your tastes run to Edward Gorey and Charles Addams.
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Macheath
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I didn't see this listed in the thread:

then vs. than

Mack da Knife

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http://www.artcpodcast.org - There is adventure in sound!

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NorthernLite
We Three Blings


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 - Irregardless

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You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons. -Blazing Saddles

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Only people with too much time on their hands worry about only children.

NorthernLite, "Irregardless" was actually popularized by radio--it was one of the catch words on the "Amos 'n' Andy" show early on, along with "regusted" ("I'm regusted!") and other mangled words.

--------------------
"No hard feelin's and HOPpy New Year!"--Walt Kelly
Hear what you're missing: ARTC podcasts! http://artcpodcast.org/

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Jocko's Jolly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:
By the way, do you have any rulers that measure in cubits?

What, you don't have 6 Reeds laying around? Well, in that case, you COULD calculate it by dividing 1 handbreadth by 6 or 1 fingerbreadth by 24, if you must! [Razz]

--------------------
Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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Stormfeather
Silver Sells


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... Dividing, or multiplying?

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-,-'-,-<<0

This space for rent

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LeaflessMapleTree
The twelve shopping days 'til Christmas


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irregardless. The next person who says that will die, regardless of whether he or she understood his or her error.

ETA: Spanked in the 2 seconds it took me to type this

--------------------
"For me, religion is like a rhinoceros: I don't have one, and I'd really prefer not to be trampled by yours. But it is impressive, and even beautiful, and, to be honest, the world would be slightly worse off if there weren't any."
-Silas Sparkhammer

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LeaflessMapleTree
The twelve shopping days 'til Christmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Hans Off:
What about the missuse of the word decimate in the media?

It's one of the [S] only few only few only few only [/S] few errors to get right on my plums.

Decimate means to kill every tenth person, right?

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"For me, religion is like a rhinoceros: I don't have one, and I'd really prefer not to be trampled by yours. But it is impressive, and even beautiful, and, to be honest, the world would be slightly worse off if there weren't any."
-Silas Sparkhammer

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Hans Off
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Well, sort of, I hate it when it gets mixed up in descriptors such as the following made up example...

The gales have decimated the forest, knocking over half the trees down.

when talking about some entity being decimated is indicating that about one tenth of the original total is left. News plebs don;t seem to pick up on that!

BTW Maple I was not aware of the "kill every tenth person" origin (Although it points to a 10% reduction in numbers as opposed to a 90% as per the above example). Thanks for that another to add to the list of "what have the Romans done for us"

--------------------
"British English speakers point to Americans adding more syllables so that they can make even more noise without actually saying anything." Llewtrah


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DadOf3
Jingle Bell Hock


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There's a difference between to lay and to lie. The first is a transitive verb - I lay my book down on the table. The second is an intransitive verb - I lie down on my bed to sleep.

Making this even more complicated is the fact that the past tense of to lie is lay. So, I lay down in bed to sleep last night, and will lie down again tonight, but only after I lay my book down on the table.

I often see misuse of i.e and e.g. in such sentences as, "Indicate the type of expense you are claiming, i.e. meals." There's a difference between i.e. (from the Latin id est meaning that is) and e.g. (from the Latin exempli gratia meaning for example).

To follow on the expense example, I could say:

To claim your expenses for lunch, in this field you need to enter "Meals" i.e. the type of expense.

Or:

Enter the type of expense in this field, e.g. "Meals" or "Taxi".

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Nick Theodorakis
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by MapleLeaf:
...Decimate means to kill every tenth person, right?

In the times of the Romans it did, but the American Heritage, the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries allow the broader meaning, as does the Wiktionary.

Nick

--------------------
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Announcement here

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Jocko's Jolly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Stormfeather:
... Dividing, or multiplying?

Dividing -- the scale I found showed that there are 6 reeds in a cubit, 6 cubits in a handbreadth and 24 cubits in a fingerbreadth. I'll try to find the site again and cite it for you.

--------------------
Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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Dog Friendly
Carol of the Bills


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Jocko, if you think about it for a second, you'll realize that either the chart is wrong, or you read it wrong. Are you implying that four handbreadths make a fingerbreadth? Hold out your hand and look at it, and think about this for a minute, I'll wait...

[Jeopardy theme]

The cubit was originally the measure from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow (yes, the same arm!). I have no idea where reeds fit into it, but handbreadth and fingerbreadth are so obvious I'm not going to bother with those.

Kilgore (Here's a useful rule of thumb: Talents make a difference, and follies make a sum) Trout

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"Nobody ever got stoned and beat up his old lady" -- Spence, snapdragonfly's friend

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J Rydell
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I have not seen this one mentioned:

Borrow used in place of lend, as in "I borrowed him my pencil".

Drives me crazy.

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"a story has as many versions as it has readers." John Steinbeck - The Winter of Our Discontent

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Once when I was a grad student, I needed some office supply or other--say a pencil--and wandered into someone's office to ask, "Kin you kindly lend me the borry of a pencil?"

A linguist came erupting out of a nearby office yelling for me not to move! Not to move!

He was working on the American Dialects project and had happened across this phrase somewhere or other and needed one more--just ONE MORE--person who used it or had heard it used in conversation to verify it and get it accepted as a genuine Americanism.

Alas, I had read it in "Pogo."

--------------------
"No hard feelin's and HOPpy New Year!"--Walt Kelly
Hear what you're missing: ARTC podcasts! http://artcpodcast.org/

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Saran Wrap
I Saw Three Shipments


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I think it's important to know the meaning of a name, even if it's in another language. I get pretty upset by people who refer to the "big Rio Grande river." Um, duh?

My grandfather used to say he "disremembered" something when he forgot it.

The proper use of "whom" is also a pet peeve of mine.

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"I find in myself desires which nothing in this earth can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S. Lewis

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jessboo
The First USA Noel


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"The set comprises of..."

No, it doesn't. The set 'comprises...', or 'is comprised of...'.

Oh, and, "You just can't eat one!" does not mean the same as "You can't eat just one!".

--------------------
Join me on Lost - www.lost.eu/edcf

Do you have any wine? All of this would go a lot smoother in an altered state of reality.

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Jocko's Jolly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Kilgore Trout, fka Dog Friendly:
Jocko, if you think about it for a second, you'll realize that either the chart is wrong, or you read it wrong. Are you implying that four handbreadths make a fingerbreadth? Hold out your hand and look at it, and think about this for a minute, I'll wait...

[Jeopardy theme]

The cubit was originally the measure from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow (yes, the same arm!). I have no idea where reeds fit into it, but handbreadth and fingerbreadth are so obvious I'm not going to bother with those.

Kilgore (Here's a useful rule of thumb: Talents make a difference, and follies make a sum) Trout

I can't find the chart I was looking at, but I've found others and apparently whoever did do the chart I looked at, had it reversed. So here we go again:

1 reed (also called rod) = 6 cubit
1 cubit = 6 handbreadth
1 handbreadth = 4 fingerbreadth

So, to find a cubit, you could divide a reed (or rod) by 6 or multiply a handbreadth by 6 or a fingerbreadth by 24. Sorry for the confusion (if anyone besides me was confused!!)

--------------------
Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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Damian
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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6 hands = 1 cubit.
6 cubits = 1 rod.
40 rods = 1 furlong.
8 furlongs = 1 mile.
3 miles = 1 league.

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"I always tell the truth. Even when I lie." - Tony Montana

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Saran Wrap:
...
The proper use of "whom" is also a pet peeve of mine.

I'm used to seeing the nominative misused as the objective: "The policeman asked who I hit."

But many students hypercorrect, so I see the opposite many times, too: "Hamlet, whom was in love with Ophelia...."

--------------------
"No hard feelin's and HOPpy New Year!"--Walt Kelly
Hear what you're missing: ARTC podcasts! http://artcpodcast.org/

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Hans Off
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Damian:
6 hands = 1 cubit.
6 cubits = 1 rod.
40 rods = 1 furlong.
8 furlongs = 1 mile.
3 miles = 1 league.

You missed chains out!

[Wink]

--------------------
"British English speakers point to Americans adding more syllables so that they can make even more noise without actually saying anything." Llewtrah


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Bonnie
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:

Where did this construct come from? I never heard it until a few years ago, certainly within the past decade. Is this one of those regional misuses of the language that spread?

I don't know where it came from, but it's not exactly new to American English.

quote:
[From The Boston Patriot, reprinted in The Christian Intelligencer and Eastern Chronicle, 3 April 1829; 3; 14; Pg. 55.]

Your humble servant is one of the only surviving issue of that marriage, and sixth in decent [sic] from Pocahontas.

quote:
[From "Peninsular Reminiscences," The Albion, A Journal of News, Politics and Literature, 10 March 1838; 6; 10; Pg. 73.]

A very cursory reconnaissance through the house, one of the only ones untouched in the village, showed that from the late rain, it would be impossible to think of sleeping in the lower story, which already showed signs of being flooded . . .

quote:
[From "Imprisonment under the Cathedral, of Morris Foley, of Belle Air, Harford County, Md.," The Baltimore Literary and Religious Magazine, February 1840; 6; 2; Pg. 74.]

Our readers need not imagine that this is one of the only cases in which a man has been confined under a false statement . . .

I could provide further examples from that period through the present if that would be of any interest. (And I've omitted instances of the use of "one of the only two [three, four, etc.]," a construction you might also find objectionable.)

quote:
Some will call it living language, others will call it poor grammar.

NPR's language expert agrees with me. (Audio file)

I can't help but note that a quick scan of NPR transcripts of broadcasts aired since February 2002 reveals that the network's reporters and commentators themselves haven’t exactly eschewed use of the construction since Richard Lederer raised his objections to it.

quote:
Purdue University language tutors try to explain why it's incorrect.
I'm not sure I understand why Melanie of Trinidad & Tobago is any more of a language expert than you or I, but even in her objection to the use of the phrase "one of the only" she acknowledges that

quote:
I don't know how clear this is, but another example that may help is the following sentence, given in the Collins English Dictionary: "The only men left in town were too old to bear arms". Again, "only" here places the men togather [sic] in a single group sharing the same condition.
Melanie's attempt to explain why "one of the only" is incorrect does a nice job of establishing that, for example, "only Presidents born in North Carolina" constitutes "men together in a single group sharing the same condition."

If you have such a unique group, you can certainly single out one of the group by describing him as "one of the only Presidents born in North Carolina."

Bonnie "one of the only posters who may still be interested in this discussion" Taylor

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Se non è vero, è ben trovato.

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Canuckistan
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by jessboo:
"The set comprises of..."

No, it doesn't. The set 'comprises...', or 'is comprised of...'.

The set comprises, yes. The set is composed of.

This link explains how to use each. (And just to further confuse anyone.)

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People need to stop appropriating Jesus as their reason for behaving badly. It's so irritating. (Avril)

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Damian
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Hans Off:
quote:
Originally posted by Damian:
6 hands = 1 cubit.
6 cubits = 1 rod.
40 rods = 1 furlong.
8 furlongs = 1 mile.
3 miles = 1 league.

You missed chains out!

[Wink]

100 links = 1 chain.
10 chains = 1 furlong.

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Wolf333
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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I'm not sure if these count in this thread, but I hate any variations of the following phrases:
"I saw it with my own eyes." You can't see anything with eyes other than your own! Yes, you can imagine it, you can picture it, but you can't see it.
"Did you physically touch it?" No, I touched it meta-physically.

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