aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 09:16 am
Addendum - I guess the article used for 'few' doesn't always have to be singular - some few people might disagree with that.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 09:22 am
@JTT,
JTT wrote:


You've started out with a misleading premise, Spendi.

For NaE speech, the overwhelming tendency is for speakers to choose "there's + plural subject - There's two men at the door.

This is the same with 'where/how/here'.

Here's your keys.

How's your mom and dad?

Where's the forks?




I'm not sure where you go to experience North American English, but it's not in Canada, or the north-East/south-East/mid-West or south-West of the U.S.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 09:27 am
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

aidan wrote:
I think it's important for David to hear this, as he will then see how absolutely ILLOGICAL it is to expect to have only one method of phonetic spelling. It's just not possible:


I've told David countless times that his ferne'ic approach only works if everybody spoke with a New York accent. Have I had any success?

Have I ****.


I've told him the same thing at least 5 or 6 times.

He doesn't seem to understand that his variant of phonetic English is his, and his alone.

I often don't understand his phonetic writing because the way he speaks English is clearly different from anything I've heard.



He's certainly not a libertarian or conservative when it comes to language.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 09:58 am
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
"There are a few steamers over in the beer tent, Joe" sounds infinitely better than, "There is a few steamers over in the beer tent, Joe."

Does the contraction make the difference?


I don't think it would make any difference to Joe. "There's a few steamers over in the beer tent, Joe" rings authentic in speech to my ears. Thus in reported speech also. I think ""There are a few steamers over in the beer tent, Joe" suggests the speaker doesn't know what a steamer really is or, if he does, that there is a vague air of contempt in his manner.

I think it best to create the scenes in which the two expressions might be a part of. Neither expression lends itself to anything other than speech. So I would say that "there's" is correct whether "is" or "are" are better in descriptive prose where they would never arise.
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 10:10 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:
Every one of you are imbeciles.

Every one of you is an imbecile.
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 10:31 am
@spendius,
Quote:
I don't think it would make any difference to Joe. "There's a few steamers over in the beer tent, Joe" rings authentic in speech to my ears. Thus in reported speech also. I think ""There are a few steamers over in the beer tent, Joe" suggests the speaker doesn't know what a steamer really is or, if he does, that there is a vague air of contempt in his manner.


Be careful with colloquialisms and slang, Spendius.

Here in America, a "steamer" is either a fresh lump of ****...or a type of clam.

In either case, "there are a few steamers over there" makes much more sense than "there is a few steamers over there."

Use the word without the contraction...and talk to me about the to be verb you would use without the contraction.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 11:07 am
@aidan,
Quote:
I bet you couldn't write a more authentic line of American southern or New Jersey suburban girl dialogue than I could.


I readily concede that Rebecca. What we want is a sense of a good time or a great time in an authentic line of American southern or New Jersey suburban girl dialogue. Or both for preference. I have read enough of Mencken to know to avoid attempting American speech except for the purpose of being ridiculous. "Weaal-hush mah mout, moi joisey hes a hawl in de sleef" for example.
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 11:26 am
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
It's sad. Several generations of college students learned their grammar from the uninformed bossiness of Strunk and White, and the result is a nation of educated people who know they feel vaguely anxious and insecure whenever they write "however" or "than me" or "was" or "which," but can't tell you why. The land of the free in the grip of The Elements of Style.

So I won't be spending the month of April toasting 50 years of the overopinionated and underinformed little book that put so many people in this unhappy state of grammatical angst. I've spent too much of my scholarly life studying English grammar in a serious way. English syntax is a deep and interesting subject. It is much too important to be reduced to a bunch of trivial don't-do-this prescriptions by a pair of idiosyncratic bumblers who can't even tell when they've broken their own misbegotten rules.


"grammatical angst" - that's you, Frank. You're not fooling anyone. You can mouth the lies but you can't defend your lies. Perhaps it's a little strong to be calling them your lies when you've illustrated such incompetence on language.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 11:35 am
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
Here in America, a "steamer" is either a fresh lump of ****...or a type of clam.


More the clam I think.

Quote:

Use the word without the contraction...and talk to me about the to be verb you would use without the contraction.


I have already made my view clear. Do you not read the thread with attention. "There is a few steamers in the beer tent". "Steamers" is an adjectival noun describing the "few" which is singular just as "there is a gaggle of geese".

But, as I said, I can see why "is" is misogynistic from a certain point of view.
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 11:45 am
@spendius,
The word in question is the word "few"...and the form of the to be verb it takes.

Get away from steamers and contractions.

There are a few marbles in the bag...or there is a few marbles in the bag?

There are a few plates on the table...or there is a few plates on the table?

There are a few assholes posting on A2K...or there is a few assholes posting on A2K?

Comprende'?
Frank Apisa
 
  3  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 11:49 am
@JTT,
Quote:
"grammatical angst" - that's you, Frank. You're not fooling anyone. You can mouth the lies but you can't defend your lies. Perhaps it's a little strong to be calling them your lies when you've illustrated such incompetence on language.


Hey, JTT. Glad you were able to join us.

Hope you feel better now.

You ought really consider some competent professional help for that problem of needing to belittle people. It is not necessary--you can live a reasonable life without dealing with it, but one friend to another, I respectfully suggest you might find life a bit more enjoyable if it were dealt with.

0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 12:03 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
Comprende'?


Only in the sense that you are repeating yourself. I think the Gibbon construction is the same thing. I'm not being prescriptivist about it. I was asking an expert as you will see if you refer to my orinal post on the difficulty.
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 12:41 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
Weaal-hush mah mout, moi joisey hes a hawl in de sleef" for example.


We (all of us North Americans - southern and northern alike) call sweaters 'sweaters' - not jerseys ( or would that be jersies (plural)?).

And then there'd even be more nuance and differentiation depending upon if your speaker was white, black, hispanic, a debutante, etc., etc...you see what I'm sayin'? It's not as easy as it seems. You really need to observe and listen carefully.
That's what I love about the variety and hate about the presciptivism.

I think you're right - the correct grammar depends on the speaker and situation.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 12:47 pm
@aidan,
It was a silly jest Rebecca about NJ's budget deficit.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 12:52 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
Only in the sense that you are repeating yourself. I think the Gibbon construction is the same thing. I'm not being prescriptivist about it. I was asking an expert as you will see if you refer to my orinal post on the difficulty.


Um huh.

So, as for the sentences...which of the two in each round sounds better to your ears?


There are a few marbles in the bag...or there is a few marbles in the bag?

There are a few plates on the table...or there is a few plates on the table?

There are a few assholes posting on A2K...or there is a few assholes posting on A2K?
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 12:55 pm
@aidan,
Quote:
And then there'd even be more nuance and differentiation depending upon if your speaker was white, black, hispanic, a debutante, etc., etc...you see what I'm sayin'? It's not as easy as it seems. You really need to observe and listen carefully.


I agree, Aidan.

I would like, however, to ask the "experts" here about your use of "was" in that sentence.

EXPERTS: Is "was" correct...is "were" the proper verb...or are both correct?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 01:13 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
In either case, "there are a few steamers over there" makes much more sense than "there is a few steamers over there."


Why does it make "much more sense", Frank?
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 01:25 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
And then there'd even be more nuance and differentiation depending upon if your speaker was white, black, hispanic, a debutante, etc., etc...


Quote:
I would like, however, to ask the "experts" here about your use of "was" in that sentence.

EXPERTS: Is "was" correct...is "were" the proper verb...or are both correct?


While we're waiting for those experts to arrive, Frank, why not explain to Aidan the problem you see with 'was', above, in bold?

spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 01:26 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
EXPERTS: Is "was" correct...is "were" the proper verb...or are both correct?


I think "was" is correct. The poor girl was short, fat, spotty, etc etc.
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Sat 14 Jul, 2012 01:53 pm
@Joe England,
Joe England: Someone's asked me to proofread their work, but they have a habit of always leading into quotes with commas.

Quote:
January 05, 2006

SHAKESPEARE USED THEY WITH SINGULAR ANTECEDENTS SO THERE

Not happy that I cite Sean Lennon as a source of evidence concerning the way 'they' can be used in modern English? Feeling that only something 400 years older would really convince you that it's OK. Has Coby Lubliner got news for you! Coby writes from Berkeley to point out the following lines from Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors, Act IV, Scene 3:

There's not a man I meet but doth salute me
As if I were 'their' well-acquainted friend

It's not just a case of they with singular antecedent; like Lennon's example, it uses they despite the fact that the sex of the antecedent's referent (male) is known! And there's more.

Marilyn Martin writes from Cornell to say that she's O.K. with normally, but this example was a bit more than she could take ("somehow bothers me", she wrote):

UK scientists have identified the part of the brain that determines whether a person perceives themselves as fat. (BBC News, Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 11:52 GMT)

What she doesn't like, I'm quite sure, is that the reflexive form 'themselves' is morphologically marked as plural (self / selves), yet still it is used with singular antecedent. Don't flinch, Marilyn! Look at this example of Shakespeare's (from the poem The Rape of Lucrece):

Now leaden slumber with life's strength doth fight;
And every one to rest themselves betake,
Save thieves, and cares, and troubled minds, that wake.

So even the reflexive form of the pronoun lexeme 'they' is used in Shakespeare with a singular antecedent (every one, spelled everyone in modern English).

...

By all means, avoid using they with singular antecedents in your own writing and speaking if you feel you cannot bear it. Language Log is not here to tell you how to write or speak. But don't try to tell us that it's grammatically incorrect. Because when a construction is clearly present several times in Shakespeare's rightly admired plays and poems, and occurs in the carefully prepared published work of just about all major writers down the centuries, and is systematically present in the unreflecting conversational usage of just about everyone including Sean Lennon, then the claim that it is ungrammatical begins to look utterly unsustainable to us here at Language Log Plaza. This use of they isn't ungrammatical, it isn't a mistake, it's a feature of ordinary English syntax that for some reason attracts the ire of particularly puristic pusillanimous pontificators, and we don't buy what they're selling.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at January 5, 2006 11:43 AM
0 Replies
 
 

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