Wednesday, 20 September 2006

To boldly go where few pedants have gone before

Since that page listing the top ten most common grammatical mistakes to which I linked yesterday is still the most popular link here at 'Not PC,' here's a link to another piece of pedantry, this time from Josh, who has it in for everyone who overuses the phrase "methinks she doth protest too much." Too many people, he says, don't realise "it doesn't really mean what people use it to mean these days anyway." And he has a point.

And for those who liked the heads up on those troublesome words, can I recommend Bill Bryson's 'Dictionary of Troublesome Words.' Bloody useful.

(And a chocolate fish goes to the first person to explain the rule 'broken' in the title of this post.)

LINKS: Pedantry update - Josh, Brain Stab
Dictionary of Troublesome Words - Amazon.Com



  1. More fun links:

    Common Errors in English

    Jack Lynch's Guide to Grammar and Style

    Copy Editor Bill Walsh's blog

    Someone else can grab the choccy fish - as a technical writer by trade, I probably have an unfair advantage...

  2. Pretty sure you've split the infinitive, which never bothered me, grammatically speaking. Much bigger (chocolate) fish to fry. :)

    Dropping the past participle's a pain ... largely because when speaking, you done it before you've realised you've done it.

    Those who started school after 1977 are excused thanks to crap education dept policy.

    (On this topic I understand the draw toward jackboots!)

  3. As I have quoted in my post yesterday on the "top ten most grammatical mistakes" thread, that this sort of problem is going to be eliminated completely over time as Natural Language Processing (NLP) software become better & better.

    I read on the internet that Microsoft Office 2007 next release of their new operating system have far more improved NLP capability than current version. This means that users can be lazy, as they want to be when writing documents because the computer will correct everything as they are typing.

    Good for Western civilization, but bad for Muslim fanatics as they don't want such technology to become available in their own territory, since they view it as a blasphemy to Allah. No, man-made machine in their minds, should be allowed to achieve human-like language understanding capability since human is interfering with Allah’s creation.

    "Wikipedia : Natural Language Processing (NLP)"

    "NLP Application , NLP problems"

  4. Uh, falafulu, I know the muslims are a fun subject but mentioning them in every comment looks a tad obsessive.

  5. are you telling me Captain Kirk had it wrong when he boldly went?

  6. Though there is precedent for splitting infinitives going back at least to old Geoffrey Chaucer's time, some pedants remain convinced that it is wrong to do so.

    We sometimes behave as if we believed that the "rules" came first, and then the language, don't we?

    Before aproximately the middle of the Eighteenth Century, there were neither grammar books for English nor English dictionaries.

    How did Shakespeare ever create such masterpieces, then?

    Perhaps because there were no dictionaries nor English grmmar books with "rules" to violate, Will was free to be creative without fear of grammarians "correcting" him.

    Something keeps most people from wanting to share their writing. It ranks right up there with the fear of public speaking. Perhaps it is the fear of making mistakes and being revealed as human.

    We do have Shakespeare's own signature spelled in three different ways. School children today can come up with more variations than three, but now they are "wrong." Who decided that?

    I enjoyed my visit to your blog. Good on ya.

  7. Several of the commonly-broken grammatical "rules" are not rules of _English_ at all. They're Latin rules, transplanted onto English by teachers quite recently. This "split infinitives" thing is one of those. [English infinitives ("to go") translate into single words in Latin ("ire"), so it's impossible to "split the infinitive"; you have to say either "audacter ire" ("boldly to go") or "ire audacter" ("to go boldly"); the former sounds more natural]


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