Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

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guitareleven
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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by guitareleven » Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:35 pm

This is only tenuously related to the topic, but some of the replies made me think of this -- sometimes after having encountered my wife and myself in performance, someone would approach and ask "Are you famous?"-- to which I would occasionally respond, "We are famous to the few".

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Les Backshall
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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by Les Backshall » Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:53 pm

Interesting thread. I hadn't realised the Roy Orbison song 'Only the Lonely' referred to a single person. Do we know who he/she was?

Les
Lester Backshall, Guitar Maker - Aylesbury UK

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by gitgeezer » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:51 pm

Les Backshall wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:53 pm
Interesting thread. I hadn't realised the Roy Orbison song 'Only the Lonely' referred to a single person. Do we know who he/she was?

Les
"Only the lonely" is equivalent to "only the best" and "only the brightest." That's not the construction I'm complaining of. To make it equivalent to the construction I'm complaining of, we would have to make it "among the only lonely."

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by gitgeezer » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:02 pm

I think we've all made our points here and it's probably time to close this thread. Let me just repeat Hilary's sentence in her book, "What Happened." If you're okay with this construction, fine. If not, you're with me.

“When my friend and I went to take the law school admissions test in 1968, we were among the only women in the room.”

jscott

Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by jscott » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:31 am

nm

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by gitgeezer » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:20 pm

Here's another of those fad constructions that make no sense to me: "one of the few, if only." Yes, I get it that the writer wants to express the sense of fewness, but "if only" seems to add confusion rather than clarity.

"Deutsche Bank was one of the few, if only, major banks to lend to Trump after his casino bankruptcies in the early 1990s."

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by gitgeezer » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:21 pm

Oops, sorry--I forgot that I had proposed closing this thread. Well, never mind.

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by musicbyandy » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:52 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:02 pm
I think we've all made our points here and it's probably time to close this thread. Let me just repeat Hilary's sentence in her book, "What Happened." If you're okay with this construction, fine. If not, you're with me.

“When my friend and I went to take the law school admissions test in 1968, we were among the only women in the room.”
I LOVE this topic.

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by musicbyandy » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:39 pm

Les Backshall wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:53 pm
Interesting thread. I hadn't realised the Roy Orbison song 'Only the Lonely' referred to a single person. Do we know who he/she was?

Les
I don't think "Only the lonely" refers to a single person. I think "only the lonely" refers to a sentiment or sentiments experienced exclusively by people who feel socially alone.

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by musicbyandy » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:16 pm

My coworkers recently spoke as such:
"Are you ready to throw the ball?"
"Not yet, I need to let these pizzas slices settle"
"How many slices of pizza did you eat?"
"I ate two slices of pizza."
"That's not THAT many."

I didn't ask my coworkers what is meant by the expression, "That's not that many." despite me often being confused by this usage of the word "THAT".

I interpret "That's not THAT many." to mean:
That number of pizza slices is not the number you say it is.
or
Or that number of pizza slices is not enough pizza slices to warrant a delay in throwing the ball so you can digest your pizza slices.

I find "That's not THAT many." to be a confusing expression. "That's not THAT many." has caused me confused since 1996.

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by Rognvald » Mon May 06, 2019 3:29 pm

The English language is changing rapidly because of the failure of our educational system to teach/require standard English in our schools combined with the ever-present influence of illiterate, non-standard usage that prevails over large segments of the US population and is propagated by contemporary music and mind-rotting television and movies. Even among the "educated classes"(a misnomer for those with a university education), proper English usage is a rarity as witnessed in both casual and academic conversations. We have truly descended into the regressive worship of the LCD Factor-the least common denominator as our standard. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by pogmoor » Mon May 06, 2019 4:38 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 3:29 pm
The English language is changing rapidly because of the failure of our educational system to teach/require standard English in our schools combined with the ever-present influence of illiterate, non-standard usage that prevails over large segments of the US population and is propagated by contemporary music and mind-rotting television and movies. Even among the "educated classes"(a misnomer for those with a university education), proper English usage is a rarity as witnessed in both casual and academic conversations. We have truly descended into the regressive worship of the LCD Factor-the least common denominator as our standard. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Complaints about the 'modern' degradation in the use of English can be found repeatedly throughout the recorded history of our language. William Caxton (he who introduced the English language to the printing press) said:
And certaynly our language now used veryeth ferre from what whiche was used when I was borne.
And Thomas Sheridan In the preface to the 1780 book A General Dictionary of the English Language wrote`;
The total neglect of this art [speaking] has been productive of the worst consequences...in the conduct of all affairs ecclesiastical and civil, in church, in parliament, courts of justice...the wretched state of elocution is apparent to persons of any discernment and taste… if something is not done to stop this growing evil …English is likely to become a mere jargon, which every one may pronounce as he pleases.
...and even further back in history - clay tablets deciphered from ancient Sumerian include complaints about the deteriorating writing skills of the young.

Finally:
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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by Rognvald » Mon May 06, 2019 5:05 pm

pogmoor wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 4:38 pm
Rognvald wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 3:29 pm
The English language is changing rapidly because of the failure of our educational system to teach/require standard English in our schools combined with the ever-present influence of illiterate, non-standard usage that prevails over large segments of the US population and is propagated by contemporary music and mind-rotting television and movies. Even among the "educated classes"(a misnomer for those with a university education), proper English usage is a rarity as witnessed in both casual and academic conversations. We have truly descended into the regressive worship of the LCD Factor-the least common denominator as our standard. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Complaints about the 'modern' degradation in the use of English can be found repeatedly throughout the recorded history of our language. William Caxton (he who introduced the English language to the printing press) said:
And certaynly our language now used veryeth ferre from what whiche was used when I was borne.
And Thomas Sheridan In the preface to the 1780 book A General Dictionary of the English Language wrote`;
The total neglect of this art [speaking] has been productive of the worst consequences...in the conduct of all affairs ecclesiastical and civil, in church, in parliament, courts of justice...the wretched state of elocution is apparent to persons of any discernment and taste… if something is not done to stop this growing evil …English is likely to become a mere jargon, which every one may pronounce as he pleases.
...and even further back in history - clay tablets deciphered from ancient Sumerian include complaints about the deteriorating writing skills of the young.

Finally:

Hi, Pog,
This is certainly true but one must consider that throughout the history of the written language, there have been times of both feast and famine. One not need be a student of world literature to understand that language akin to civilizations have a birth, growth, and death--if even metaphorically speaking. A prime example is Contemporary Fiction--especially in the US where Romance, Detective, Historical hogwash and Thriller novels by half-baked word butchers have displaced serious fiction as recently/previously witnessed by the stellar heights of US writers like Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Williams, and Fitzgerald as well as the European greats Conrad, Rolland, Mann, Hesse, and Nietzsche. And with the decline of taste follows a decline of the language. Let's not forget it was the gradual decline of the intelligentsia(religious Clerics) beginning/culminating in the Middle Ages/Renaissance and the succession and pre-eminence of the post-Barbarian conquerors who codified the European languages that led to the rapid decline and finally the death of Latin. Perhaps revivals are possible. However, degradation and eventually death is the usual pathway. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by PeteJ » Wed May 08, 2019 1:33 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:30 pm
Here are a couple of paragraphs from a web person who wants to teach us the fine art of composing an article. Besides being painful to read, it manages to use the two words I hate most—"utilize" and "enhance."

"In case your article is explaining a process, like how to create a fantastic chocolate cake, be certain that the sentences fall in the right order. Only at that level within the article writing unit we highly suggest that you just follow the hyperlinks from utilizing this page and learn more about the apparatus you may use to enhance the effectiveness of your own composition writing. It is a truly vital part composition creating that pinpoints the last arrangement of the paper. Third method is the most straightforward way to draft a prosperous essay, whatever its motive may possibly be. There are lots of gadgets that may enhance the effectiveness of your own article composing. The target of your composition is explained by the battalion of papers you are writing. If you are heading to internalize the format introduced previously’ll develop the capacity to write clear and convincing documents. Write the opening. Now that you just’ve created your dissertation and the complete physique of your own essay, you need to write an introduction. The last paragraph of the essay offers the conclusion.
 
To guage an specialist documents writing support, you’re required to be critical and must know the atoz of skilled essays writing stuff. You’ve only written a fantastic article. Follow these easy rules and you may compose a”A” composition. You then should instantly furnish a restatement of your own dissertation assertion. A summary is truly a succinct paraphrase of all the main ideas inside an article. It really is simple once you learn how to achieve a great composing essay assistance. Essay writing is regarded as relatively demanding endeavor which requires maybe not only writing ability, but in addition profound information regarding the subject and specialized writing skills."
Brilliant! This is surely a joke. No? If not I despair for the writer. I don't think I've ever seen worse.

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Re: Syntax and Usages That Don't Make Sense

Post by Lovemyguitar » Wed May 08, 2019 10:45 pm

musicbyandy wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:16 pm
...I didn't ask my coworkers what is meant by the expression, "That's not that many." despite me often being confused by this usage of the word "THAT"....
In this instance, the word "that" (the second one, "...not that many") is being used as an adverb. When "that" is used as an adverb, it means: to such a degree; so. In other words, it expresses a relation of degree to the subject that it modifies (in this instance, "many [pieces of pizza]" is being modified). When "not" precedes "that" used as an adverb, it indicates a lesser degree.

Therefore, when your coworker said, "That's not that many [pieces of pizza]", what he or she meant was something like, "That's not very much pizza."

If "not" is not used, then "that" indicates a greater degree of the word it modifies, so that if you said, "It is that many", you would mean "It is a huge amount of pizza!".

Often, when a person speaks this word out loud (the adverbial "that"), they emphasize the word: "It isn't THAT bad", or, "Oh yes, it is THAT bad!!". When this emphasis is used, the person is often making a point to contradict whatever another person has just said: in your example, you were suggesting that you'd eaten too much pizza and should not be running around, but your coworker disagreed with your assessment, and suggested that it wasn't very much pizza at all, and you shouldn't worry about it.

Does that help clarify that usage of "that"? It is actually extremely common, I think. Or, should I say, "it really is THAT common for people to use "that" as an adverb in the way that I have just explained!".

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