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Ben X

Didactic Thumbs (Pedantry Corner)

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Edit: My friend is an English teacher. Once she told me that her car mechanic had written "Your wipers are noising alot" on her service report.

If you told me that was a dialectical thing I'd believe you. Except for the "alot" bit.

 

"His fighting it was great"? As in the act of him fighting it was great?

 

This might be a construction we use over here though, we inherited a few oddities of grammar from Irish.

No, I think that's the strictly correct version. "Him fighting..." is very common, though – probably more common.

That's the sort of thing that might be worth restructuring, though: "His fight with it was great," or "That he fought it was great," for example. Both of those slightly change the meaning, of course. It all depends on what the context demands.

Regarding the speed reading stuff: I'm sure that would be a very useful skill, but I have a mainly irrational aversion to it. For some reason I find it irritating. I'll continue to read slowly like a schoolchild thank you very much.

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The voice in my head that reads words to me is not my own voice, nor is it the voice of the person who wrote the words my head voice is reading. It's more of a vague Keanu Reeves whisper.

I'll see myself out now.

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The sign over supermarket express checkout lanes, "Ten Items or Less", is a grammatical error, they say, and as a result of their carping upscale supermarkets have replaced the signs with "Ten Items or Fewer". By this logic, off licences should refuse to sell beer to customers who are "fewer than 21 years old" and law-abiding motorists should drive at "fewer than 70 miles an hour". And once you master this distinction, well, that's one fewer thing for you to worry about.

Steven Pinker (Linguist & Cognitive Scientist): 10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes).

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Believe it or not I spend way too long agonising over a post based on its substance. So the idea of one of them being potentially dragged in here to be ripped to shreds is not too much fun. 

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Ever since I read that article about using synonyms properly, I've been looking up words I thought I knew the connotation of, but did not. Did you know that "weird " is supposed to connotate a supernatural aspect? Also, I love that "eccentric" can literally mean "placed off center". "Paradigm" seems to have a technical connotation; I might start using "zeitgeist" when speaking about culture.

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Do it! Fibre optic is just gravy. 

 

I thought "just gravy" meant "an additional bonus", as in "the rest is just gravy"..?

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It probably does, that sounds accurate anyway, but I've been using it in a sort of, "That's gravy" to mean "That's cool", lately.

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Okay, so people have started using "deep drill" or "deep dive". As far as I can tell, it is supposed to describe a thorough examination or discussion of a (usually narrow) topic and all its facets. Is that right? Because people seem to have already started using it to refer to any discussion that goes on for more than two points - has this neologism become dead to language in record time?

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I've heard of deep dive often before, but not really abused in the fashion you mention. The main context I've heard it used in is the earnest one you mention - a more or less "complete" examination of something. Maybe Twitter has messed this up? I guess I could imagine a context which someone would explain something that is more than 140 characters as a "deep dive".

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Okay, so people have started using "deep drill" or "deep dive". As far as I can tell, it is supposed to describe a thorough examination or discussion of a (usually narrow) topic and all its facets. Is that right? Because people seem to have already started using it to refer to any discussion that goes on for more than two points - has this neologism become dead to language in record time?

 

Or they could just be wrong, for instance when I referred to a 15 minute program as a 'deep dive'

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That was what reminded me to ask the question! But I thought you might have meant the series as a whole was a deep dive...

 

Another one. When you lot write something like this:

 

 

Ugh, the mutiny plot is so good.

 

Do you mean that "ugh" in a "it's so good, I hate it" emo disaffected teen kind of way, or a "it's so wonderful!" sighing dreamily kind of way?

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This thread exists primarily so Ben can rag on my imprecise use of certain words.

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Do you mean that "ugh" in a "it's so good, I hate it" emo disaffected teen kind of way, or a "it's so wonderful!" sighing dreamily kind of way?

 

If you read that sentence aloud, putting proper emphasis on the italics, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that the "ugh" is the sound of my discomfort at how much I like the mutiny sequence.

 

If that's too complicated, you could use some context clues, for instance the following sentence where I talk about laughing in delight for thirty minutes.

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I thought "just gravy" meant "an additional bonus", as in "the rest is just gravy"..?

Yay! Finally featured. It's a contraction of "the rest is just gravy" that developed in my high school, come to think of it...10 years ago now, where anything good was described as gravy. For some reason I still use it occasionally. Probably because I like gravy and super fast internets.

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If you read that sentence aloud, putting proper emphasis on the italics, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that the "ugh" is the sound of my discomfort at how much I like the mutiny sequence.

 

If that's too complicated, you could use some context clues, for instance the following sentence where I talk about laughing in delight for thirty minutes.

 

I was only using that sentence as an example, hence "something like this" and my clipping of the "context clues". It seems like you're taking my question as a criticism of that specific quote, which was not my intent. I see people use "ugh" a lot and legitimately want to know what they mean by it.

 

You describe it as the "sound of your discomfort", so I suppose your answer leans towards the "it's so good, I hate it" emo disaffected teen kind of way? However, that rather contradicts your later delight. So, although it wasn't the target of my question, I wouldn't call your specific post too complicated, merely contradictory.

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Well, I guess I'll assume that people intend it both ways simultaneously, then. Ugh, so strange!

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I was only using that sentence as an example, hence "something like this" and my clipping of the "context clues". It seems like you're taking my question as a criticism of that specific quote, which was not my intent. I see people use "ugh" a lot and legitimately want to know what they mean by it.

You describe it as the "sound of your discomfort", so I suppose your answer leans towards the "it's so good, I hate it" emo disaffected teen kind of way? However, that rather contradicts your later delight. So, although it wasn't the target of my question, I wouldn't call your specific post too complicated, merely contradictory.

I think you're overcomplicating things. It isn't given that I hate everything that discomforts me. Haven't you ever felt a pleasure so keen that it's uncomfortable? That's the "ugh."

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Haven't you ever felt a pleasure so keen that it's uncomfortable?

 

I really can't think of an instance, no. Which I guess is why I couldn't work out if people were using it that way or not...

 

EDIT: I actually can't even imagine this. Do you mean physically or mentally uncomfortable?

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'Problematic' is a word you use to avoid actually describing what the problem with something is. It is a weasel word, one of the few weasel words that naturally occurs outside of corporate communique.

 

It often seems to get used to describe something written from a privileged view, because saying racist/sexist/homophobic/ist/ist/ist is unwieldy and reductive. 'Problematic' isn't a solution.

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I don't think that's a pedantic complaint. It concerns whether or not people are sufficiently arguing their points, and as such concerns more than a minor detail.

(This post may itself be pedantic, however.)

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This thread doesn't have to be pedantic! It's also didactic! I meant for it to be a place where we can spin off little semantic debates like this without destroying other threads.

 

I certainly do use 'problematic' as a catch-all term, pretty much equivalent to 'troublesome''. I don't think it's bad in itself but yeah if no context is given to it then it could be used to obfuscate.

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Okay, this one is pedantic:

 

begs the question

 

Begging the question is a debating/philosophical term which refers to a type of circular logic. It also sounds like a cool superlative of "asks the question", which is why it now gets misused by everyone.

 

Gormongous please don't kill me!

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I don't like using the word "problematic" and always try to think of what I'm actually saying, but then never figure it out, and end up not saying anything at all.

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