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Author Topic: Prescriptive grammar  (Read 16177 times)

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Arachno-capitalist

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2012, 10:51:18 pm »



Every reference I can find to this device uses the same "Anti-Date Rape Straw" construction. Meaning, the straw is to prevent the date and get right to the rape?
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Choop

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2012, 03:29:01 pm »

Long-dead patriarchal assholes!
Lazy shorthand!
Folk gotta make do.

(this post brought to you by metafilter)


wombat, something tells me these pages deal with what kept you in academia for so long, not what made you leave
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Choop

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2013, 08:34:05 pm »

so you know how your brain just kind of goes on autopilot for the first couple minutes after you wake up? mine usually lasts about fifteen minutes, during which i'm gruffling down a piece of bread and trying to mainline some coffee. the missus can't help but talk at me (i'd say "to me" but i'm in no condition for conversation at this point) when she describes a dog she dreamt of as shaggy but not fluffy, and my brain leaps around making random connections. it lands on a linguistic oddity that's never occurred to me before, and if it's ever occurred to anyone i'd be kind of amazed.

we have suffixes that correlate to 'more' and 'most' (-er and -est, obviously) and they're pretty strongly required for some words, and totally off-limits for others. you wouldn't describe anything as 'more pretty,' you'd say 'prettier;' conversely, you wouldn't say 'delightfulest,' you'd say 'most delightful'.

why then isn't there a pair of suffixes that correlate to 'less' and 'least' with any kind of similar grammatic usage to -er and -est? you could say 'less pretty' and 'least delightful' but there's nothing to transform any phrase with a lesser-comparison into a single suffixed word. this kind of conjugation feels like it absolutely must exist in some language on the planet. i'm not familiar enough with enough languages to say whether or not it does.

anyway, just a musing. anybody got any thoughts on this silliness?
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AugustWest

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2013, 09:15:48 pm »

If only we had a member who was a professionally trained linguist.
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wombat

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2013, 12:09:39 am »

I don't know anything off the top of my head about this, and honestly I was not all fired up to look into it, because I figured odds are the answer would be that it is a boring historical accident of some kind. And then when I figured it couldn't hurt to spend five minutes Googling once I remembered the technical term I needed, I almost didn't look at this paper because I vaguely remember the author as being annoying. But in fact it says that no language has that kind of morpheme. Generalization labelled (5) on page 6.
http://bobaljik.uconn.edu/papers/ucm201107.pdf
It looks like he actually got this shit published so maybe it's not totally bogus
http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/universals-comparative-morphology-0

I seriously need to not spend any more time on this right now, that's the best I can do. I am sorry, I was a phonologist. Ask me something about consonants.
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AugustWest

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2013, 01:58:54 am »

Ask me something about consonants.

You should get this on a T-shirt.

Cool link.
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Choop

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2013, 02:53:38 am »

wow, that's crazy. 300 languages and none of them supports that (awesome! new word!) morpheme. thanks for the links - i tried to read the chapter on it but got so lost in the jargon it made no sense to me. i wonder if he analyzed klingon (or for that matter any other invented language). i suppose i can check that out myself, but i probably won't.

hm. something about consonants? okay, why do we have the letter C? we have K and S, which are how it can sound; maybe a better question is, why doesn't "C" solely represent the sound "ch"? where's that conflation come from?

or: why does "th" represent two sounds? as in thick vs. as in the, i mean. why don't we have letters for each of those sounds?

why doesn't english use diacriticals of any sort? where'd they go?

"ask me something about consonants" is opening a can of worms.
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Victoria Waterfield

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2013, 03:14:32 am »

or: why does "th" represent two sounds? as in thick vs. as in the, i mean. why don't we have letters for each of those sounds?

We sure as fuck used to: ,, and ,, respectively.

P.S. Not really, though.
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wombat

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2013, 03:38:32 am »

There is no reason anyone should expect to be able to make sense of that paper without a couple of years of grad school behind them, something I would not wish on any of you. I can pretty much guarantee he didn't talk about Klingon.

Those aren't really questions about consonants, those are questions about spelling, and the history of spelling. (I know that sounds like nitpicking but academics are nothing if not specialists.) On the bright side you can find plenty of stuff to read about the history of the English alphabet and spelling system without me.
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wombat

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2013, 03:55:38 am »

It would be a fair question to ask "if that's not a question about consonants, what is?"

It would be a question about consonants independent of how they are spelled, and these things are hard to notice. Most of what I studied and taught is stuff that the writing system is designed to gloss over. Also, most of it is stuff that most normal humans would never have a question about sort of by definition, because it works below your conscious awareness of how you speak. For instance, people make a fuss about the spelling inconsistencies in Choop's post, but are not bothered by a whole lot of other pretty profound systematic inconsistencies, like how the plural is spelled -s all the time but is often prounounced as z, because mostly they don't really even notice.

The only thing I can think of that a normal person might have a question about that I am especially qualified to answer might be a question about foriegn accents - why people who speak some language can't pronounce something in English correctly.

I never said that what I did was useful.

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jay-ell

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2013, 04:18:29 am »

Who else listened to the podcast about "vocal fry" on Slate?

http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/lexicon_valley/2013/01/lexicon_valley_on_creaky_voice_or_vocal_fry_in_young_american_women.html

I want to talk about this, but I can't right now.
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Choop

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2013, 04:45:09 am »

i just thought the s->z slide on plurals was good old fashioned germanic laziness seeping through and ruining crispness of pronunciation found in the romance group due to the hybridization of the two from which our ridiculous language stems. hey check out that verb there that looks and sounds like a plural noun, including the slid lazy final s.

and you study why japanese people can't pronounce R and L the right way? do i have that right? if so, dude, that sounds so racist. but then, it's postgrad shit so what do i know
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jaydub

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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2013, 05:36:09 am »

Vocal fry used to be diagnostic of some developmental disorder.  Now its the way young women talk.  I kind of like the way it sounds though.  I must not be a curmudgeon yet.
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Re: Prescriptive grammar
« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2013, 06:10:05 am »

I am a huge fan of women with abrasive voices, but I am not in love with vocal fry.


...yet.
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