Friday, 13 February 2015

Let‘s get quizzical

You could do worse than to read this....(but that does not exclude the possibility of the writer‘s doing better). Shame. As so often,  the writer‘s heart is in the right place. I have said elsewhere that stuff that goes down well on the net...
<digression type="pps">
At the time of writing there are 31 generally approving comments.
..., even when imperfect, is often enlightening (provided that one treats it like a gourmet rather than a gourmand).  For example, of one piece I said:
As I often find, blog posts can be worth reading – even though the writing sets my teeth on edge [and after this there's what I regard as a rather pleasing digression about Monteverdi, not included here but you may like to judge that pleasingness for yourself here].
The aforementioned post is a list of grammatical lapses to avoid. This sort of thing is a bit of a bugbear of mine (see here and here, for example), but this one isn't an out-and-out lip-curler. Also, the author had the luxury of a proof-reader, which exposes my own unaided effort to 'ovifacial disfigurement'; (OK – I risk getting egg on my face). It does, though, fail to pass muster in a number of respects (while generally offering good advice).

Here are a few nits:

Nit 1

Quite. I discussed this here

As I said there:

Ermm, up to a point. When I've heard it ["affect"" as a noun] used in real life
<digression theme="crossword_clue">
I'm a cold prat, 
mixed up and shunning daughter – suitable treatment for Lear? (10)
OK, this one calls for knowledge of a trade-name, so I'm giving the answer in a footnote. [Citalopram]
it has meant the ability to feel 'emotion or desire', or – as COD puts it – 'emotion or desire as influencing behaviour'

So it's a bit of a shame that, having got it right about each word being syntactically two-faced, it gives examples of only the more common uses, and gives a misleadingly curtailed definition for the noun 'affect'.

What‘s more, what has ‘desired‘ got to do with anything? Admittedly "desired effect" is a common collocation;  this search of BNC suggests that  if you say or write "desired" followed by  a noun there‘s a good chance that the noun will be "effect". Instances of "desired effect" outnumber the combined total of the next four most common collocations. But the desire of the ‘effecter‘ has only an incidental effect on the... erm... thing.  

Nit 2

Indeed. But again in the effort for brevity something's been left on the cutting room floor. 'A basis for comparison [sing/plur]' isn't really good enough. Criteria are a set of things (e.g. values) that form a basis for judgement

Speaking of which ("e.g.", that is)...

Nit 3

It is? Someone's been remembering their Latin lessons a bit over-enthusiastically; "That is." And the example given for 'i.e.' is just wrong.; i.e. doesn't mean 'As a result, or 'Consequently'. In an expression of the form "A i.e. B",  A and B have to be syntactically and/or semantically parallel; for example 
"... the design  came out differently than [...sorry about that – I‘m trying to be even-handed (using the original example) – although "differently than" sticks in my craw] his vision i.e. the results did not reflect his intentions."

Nit 4


Yes; but 'to be certain of' is unfortunately ambiguous (do I mean 'unfortunately'  – or 'flamboyantly'?).

Nit 5

Yes; but it's a shame the writer missed my favoured 'loth' (mentioned here).  Maybe it's not an option for Americans (poor mites!); and of course the related and under-used 'nothing loth'.

Nit 6

Yes. My mnemonic is 'a pal is a person'. So what is the 'example' supposed to exemplify? It‘s OK – it exemplifies a possible use of the word. Possible – just not the one in question.

Nit 7

Up to a point. It rather depends on what your feelings are about defining and non-defining relative pronouns; or, rather, on what your chosen house style dictates. In some views either of these can be used of a person, 'who' in a non-defining clause and 'that' in a defining one. Not everyone has swallowed Strunk and White hook, line, and sinker (if that's this nostrum's source, as I suspect; whenever a native speaker of American English pontificates about grammar, S&W is the prime suspect in my view). Perhaps this is a British English thing – because of the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer we're more tolerant of syntax that some regard as archaic. I‘m one of the people THAT [ahem] don't mind either way.

Anyway... Time's wingèd chariot  is, as ever, snapping at my heels.

PS – Having used the tag crossword clue to point to an old one, I feel I should...
Island clobbered Uncle Sam (9)

Update 2015.02.14.17:20 – Added afterthought in red.

Update 2015.02.15.11:55 – Added embedded PPS.

Update 2016.03.10.16:05 – Crossword answered, and deleted footer:


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