Know your English

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suresh
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Re: Know your English

Postby suresh » Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:32 am

Thanks Kujo! Thoughts 1 and 2 are spot on!

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Re: Know your English

Postby jayakris » Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:22 pm

I am just reminded of the old joke about the Gujarati (or Malayali or whoever appropriate) prostitute who stopped that work and became a poet ...

She went from bed to verse ...

Jay

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Re: Know your English

Postby gbelday » Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:00 pm

My son has been using "versing" quite a bit (the tennis coaches at the local club use that term). Quite annoying.

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Re: Know your English

Postby Atithee » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:14 am

From http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 1N8N52.DTL, comes this:

I'm sure his picture is already hanging on a lot of young people's walls now, some of whom want to play like him, some of whom have crushes on him.

Is this the correct usage of whom? It has to be s/he/they want(s) to play like him (Lin) not him/them want(s) to play like him; therefore, it should be who and not whom, right? Or do I flunk yet again?

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Re: Know your English

Postby shibi » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:59 am

It is a confusing subject. But I think the usage is correct.
Who is used in place of the subject (person performing the action of a verb) e.g. I, He, She & They.
Whom is used in place of the object (the person about/for, the action is being done) e.g. Me, Him, Her & Them.
The sentence can be re-written as '........some of them want to play like him, some of them have crushes on him.'
Hence, it is correct. I hope I got it right :-).

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Re: Know your English

Postby jayakris » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:49 pm

shibi, I don't think you are correct there. "Some of them" is just an unusual (perhaps even originally wrong) case of the use of the word "them". In other cases, it is "some of the people", "some of the players", "some of the places" etc etc (not TO/OF/BY "some of the people"). The use of "them" in "some of them" is actually an exeption. It should have been "some of they" but it isn't. Anyway, I think that was throwing you off a bit.

Here "young people" was what it was referring to. Not "of/to/by young people". "some of the young people" were doing something (the "liking"). It was not being done to them. So it should be "some of who".

To understand that by contrasting, here is an example where "some of whom" may be used. "his pictures hang on the walls of a lot of young people, some of whom he hates" ... There the action was "he hates the people". So it becomes "some of them". In other words, "some of them" or "some of the people" is not the deciding issue. The deciding issue is if the "some of the people" are an object or a subject in the sentence.

This particular line was wrong in style also. The first phrase should have been rephrased not to end with "wall" as well. It should have been, "his pictures hang on the walls of a lot of young people, some of who want to play like him". Otherwise it is like saying that "some of the walls would like to play like him", the walls' becoming like persons! :)

Of course, just to be sure that nobody would complain, I edited the "his picture" to "his pictures", as they are on different walls. That is not necessary though. "His picture" can refer to copies of a single picture as well.

Jay

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Re: Know your English

Postby Atithee » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:53 am

jayakris wrote:This particular line was wrong in style also. The first phrase should have been rephrased not to end with "wall" as well. It should have been, "his pictures hang on the walls of a lot of young people, some of who want to play like him". Otherwise it is like saying that "some of the walls would like to play like him", the walls' becoming like persons! :)Jay


I love the "dangling modifer" that many folks get wrong (as Jay pointed about the wall here). It is interesting that the journalistic standards have fallen to the point where one cannot use them as a learning tool unlike old days. Internet, of course, has accelerated this demise.

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Re: Know your English

Postby shibi » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:28 am

Thanks Jay. You are right.

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Re: Know your English

Postby bujilover » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:33 am

Any Scrabble aficionados here :-) ?

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Re: Know your English

Postby Prashant » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:40 pm

I'm a Scrabble nut. I play often at isc.ro. Only conventional Scrabble though - none of the words with friends type equivalents.

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Re: Indian Athletics Thread ...

Postby Prashant » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:54 pm

[Prashant wrote the below response to a discussion that started in the Indian Athletics thread between PKBasu and shibi, as I have copied here. Thus started an interesting discussion on commas and ANDs in adjective strings. Posts moved here -- Mod, Jay]
PKBasu wrote:Interesting BBC interview with Nawal El Moutawakel, the winner of the inaugural gold medal at women's 400m hurdles at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 (thus becoming the first Arab, African and Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal, something that has truly transformed her life). ...

shibi wrote:I think the above statement, though oft-repeated, isn’t fully correct. South African Esther Cornelia Brand won an Olympic gold in 1952 at Helsinki in High Jump. If the question is about the first black African to win the gold, it is Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia who won gold at 1992 Barcelona in 10000m (Nawal isn’t black). To include Nawal, we should say ‘first non-white/ non-caucasian African woman to win an Olympic gold’. Also, Nawal may not be the first Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold. I think there could be some Muslim women gold medal winners from the erstwhile Soviet Union. But she is the first gold medal winner from a Muslim country.

PKBasu wrote:Yes, but she is certainly the first gold medalist who is an Arab, African AND Muslim woman -- all three attributes together in a woman. I was quite clear about the "and" there, which ensures that the statement is completely true.


FWIW I interpreted your sentence the way Shibi did - that you were saying she individually achieved each of those three distinctions, not that she was the first to be simultaneously all three. I think you need to lose the commas & the "and" to convey that. But we can take this to the "know your english" thread... :D

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Re: Indian Athletics Thread ...

Postby jayakris » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:12 pm

I am not sure I agree with PKB here. Adjectives cannot be joined together with ANDs. Only nouns can be. PKB should have said that she was the "first Arab, African, Muslim woman" to imply that all three adjectives applied simultaneously. No need for an AND. Once he used an AND, the line changed to something he didn't intend. The words "Arab" and "African" immediately became NOUNS rather than adjectives, and "muslim" was left as the only adjective associated to the word "woman".

Here is an example to explain. You can say "I have ripe, Nilgiri apples". Here "Nilgiri" is an adjective that describes the type of apple. Though odd, you can say "I have Nilgiri, red, apples" and it would be correct. But if you say "I have Nilgiri and red apples", it would mean that you possess the place Nilgiri and some red apples. Now, if you said "I have red and Nilgiri apples" it would mean nothing, as the word "red" is not a noun by itself, which makes the line itself grammatically wrong.

So, as "Arab" and "African" become nouns by themselves, technically, the correct meaning of PKB's statement would be that she is the "first Arab to win a gold" (man or woman!), that she is the "first African to win a gold" (man or woman), and that she is the "first muslim Woman" to win a mdeal. That is because the words "Arab" and "African" are both nouns too. If those words weren't also nouns, then the line would be grammatically wrong and meaningless. In this case, it wasn't grammatically wrong, but it meant differently. In fact, the correct meaning was different than what Shibi thought it was, too!

The point is that adjectives cannot be strung together with ANDs. They must be strung together only with COMMAS. If you add an AND, weird things can happen, none of which would imply what you meant it to imply.

Hey, that was one rare chance to try to pick a hole in PKB's English. He may have an answer to this, but I am enjoying the sense of accomplishment, temporary as it may be :)

Jay

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Re: Indian Athletics Thread ...

Postby PKBasu » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:10 am

As far as I know, "and" is always used when you string 3 or more words together to signify togetherness. Saying "Arab, African, Muslim woman" is wrong every time! When you add the "and", you are referring to the three attributes together: "Arab, African and Muslim". It is a common error for many users of English (and I daresay other languages) to not know this. The use of "and" here replaces the comma. If there was a fourth word being strung together, there could have been an additional comma (e.g., "Arab, African, Muslim and straight" -- which implies all four attributes apply to the person they are being applied to).

As for whether the nouns automatically become adjectives, I very much doubt this.

As for the substance of whether she was the first African woman to win gold, I don't think white South Africans thought of themselves as Africans until after the end of apartheid. In fact, they were not legally allowed to call themselves Africans (by the South African government of the time). I don't think we can retrospectively start thinking of South African whites in the apartheid era as representing Africa or Africans. This is why the "African National Congress" was banned: the ANC asserted that white South Africans (Boers/Afrikaaners and people of English or European descent) were Africans too -- while the racist white government of course thought it was an insult for whites to be labelled Africans.

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Re: Indian Athletics Thread ...

Postby prasen9 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:17 am

So, Jay predicted a smack-down by PKB. Ah, on a completely different note, I see that PKB is not a fan of the Oxford comma. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma. To use or not to use the Oxford comma, that is the question. I would rather use it because methinks it resolves ambiguity more often than not.

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Re: Indian Athletics Thread ...

Postby wrestlinglife » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:29 am

As a general rule of thumb, in American academic writing, the comma before the and (if > 2 objects) is required; in Commonwealth countries it isn't.

Most colleges that I have taught at in the US follow the MLA style, which does mandate that third comma before the and.

That said, PKB doesn't live in the US and thus can ignore American rules :D


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