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Picture of shufitz
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Word of the day, quoting Compact Oxford English Dictionary:
    frogmarch – to force (someone) to walk forward by pinning their arms from behind
How do we feel about this usage? Is it to be sanctioned?
 
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How do we feel about this usage? Is it to be sanctioned?

It's been in use for at least a millennium. Doesn't bother me. I predict others will be disturbed mightily.

I wrote a humorous entry about this on my blog.
 
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I know that it is used, and I don't hold it against those who use it. However, I just can't use it myself...perhaps it is because of some of my punitive English teachers. I always reword the sentence.

As for the punitive teachers, I remember some of the boys in my 4th grade class (never the girls, for some reason) used to use 2 subjects in a sentence: They would say, "My father, he helped me this morning." Our teacher, Mrs. Hall, would become livid! She would make them wear 2 hats, as she said it was the same thing. I remember one very embarrassed boy sitting in the room with 2 hats as his mom was visiting the class.

Of course, you could get around this teacher as one of my clever friends found. She was fiddling in a unit where were were studying telephones; she was drawing her hand, as we all loved to do, for some reason. The teacher thrust herself upon her, ruler in her hand, saying, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" I probably would have panicked, but Patsy was as cool as a cucumber. She said, "Why Mrs. Hall, I had a great idea about telephone courtesy. I am going to write a courtesy tip on each finger, and call it, "Telephone Tips To Have On Hand." "What a wonderful idea," Mrs. Hall said...and we all did that project! The fact is, Patsy came up with that idea in a split second.

But, I digress...
 
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Jheem wrote:
quote:
Doesn't bother me.
Nor me. Life's too short to reopen that old chestnut, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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>Is it to be sanctioned?

sanction (quoting Compact Oxford English Dictionary Smile)

verb 1 give official permission for. 2 impose a sanction or penalty on.

so I guess we can hardly go wrong...
 
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It's actually the form I prefer. It's been around for a very long time.
 
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So, if I understand you all correctly, you feel perfectly fine writing, "The nurse will check their patient." Is that correct? Or is there a difference between "to force someone to walk forward by pinning their arms from behind.?" The latter sounds better to me, though I am not sure why. The former just sounds wrong.
 
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To tsuwm - I know. And I knew you'd have fun with that one. Wink Big Grin
 
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Correct, incorrect: who cares. They is just the easiest way of expressing he/she.
 
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Graham, I don't care about "correct/incorrect" either...besides the style manuals can make them correct, if they haven't already. I just think "the nurse will check on their patient" sounds confusing at best, and illiterate at worst. I would reword all those sentences, and, yes, sometimes I use "his/her." Apparently I dislike that use less than most. When possible, I merely use the plural form of the subject, though that doesn't always work.
 
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"the nurse will check on their patient"

Maybe because the nurse has been mentioned before and we should know his/her gender? How about "A nurse will check on their patient"? At that point you could just say "Nurses will check on their patients". Or some such. I always say that if the sentence annoys you, rewrite it. You can always use "The nurse will check on his/her patient" or "the nurse will check on her patient".
 
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I agree with Kalleh. I will never agree a singular subect with a plural pronoun.

It has become common nowadays because the old convention of using the masculine when the sex of the person was undetermined has been overturned by the attack of the politically correct who insist on a neutral pronoun. Since we have no singular neutral pronoun we use the plural.

I suspect, rather like the disappearing second person singular, now almost entirely replaced by the second person plural "you", we will find that "they" and "their" will soon be used as as singulars without comment.


Richard English
 
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It has become common nowadays because the old convention of using the masculine when the sex of the person was undetermined has been overturned by the attack of the politically correct who insist on a neutral pronoun. Since we have no singular neutral pronoun we use the plural.

The use of the singular, indefinite they in English predates Chaucer. For examples, see Otto Jespersen's A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (6 vols, 1909-43). Didn't realize that the English invented PC, too. Darn, we Yanks ain't invented nuffin ... Wink
 
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Quote "...Didn't realize that the English invented PC, too. Darn, we Yanks ain't invented nuffin ... ..."

I don't know who invented this particular eccentricity - but it's not one of which any country should be proud!


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by jheem: Darn, we Yanks ain't invented nuffin ... Wink
jheem, you really have to work on your English. It should be
    Day-yum, us Yanks ain't invented nuttin ... Wink
 
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you really have to work on your English.

WN-- I realized this, but too late. But I've got nuffin on me mind. And that whole subject verb concord thang has never sat too well on the old noggin. Sheesh.
 
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A nurse will check on his patients.

Am I correct to believe that the above was the preferred version until these politically correct idiots had their way? They'll be abolishing slavery next.
 
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What is wrong with "nurses will check on their patients?"

I always taught my students to use plural nouns. If a plural pronoun was called for then the referent should be plural.

Similarly I taught them that the masculine pronoun was not a universal pronoun, and that nouns should not be used as group nouns.

Thus, the sentence should be: Students must keep their desks clean. Not: The student must keep his desk clean.

It's pretty simple when you start using plural nouns when you mean plural, instead of morphing singular nouns into a group noun.
 
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Students must keep their desks clean.
But what do you say when you want to emphasise that it is the duty of each individual student to keep his or her own desk clean? It is not a collective responsibility to keep them all clean, but each student is responsible for one desk only.

I would probably say Each student must keep their desk clean, and let the grammatical pedants say what they like.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I would probably say, "It's your individual responsibility to keep your desk clean."

I would probably add, "It's also your individual responsibility to be creative in avoiding the his/her controversy; everyone knows it's awkward, doesn't he? She? Don't they?" Roll Eyes
 
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er...

Students must keep their own desks clean.

It is each student's responsibility to maintain a clean and tidy desk.

Students must keep their personal possessions in a safe place.

and so on...

I believe that proper written language takes a little care, a little attention, and a little thought. It is more formal than spoken language. I believe that we can and should get away with a lot more "irregularities" in spoken language than with written language.

But then, I am one of those weird people who generally tries to avoid contractions, split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions when I am writing. I find that internet communications of all kinds is far more informal for me than I would be comfortable with in a formal writing situation.
 
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I ran across this today in M-W Online:
quote:
usage They, their, them, themselves: English lacks a common-gender third person singular pronoun that can be used to refer to indefinite pronouns (as everyone, anyone, someone). Writers and speakers have supplied this lack by using the plural pronouns <and every one to rest themselves betake -- Shakespeare> <I would have everybody marry if they can do it properly -- Jane Austen> <it is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy -- W. H. Auden>. The plural pronouns have also been put to use as pronouns of indefinite number to refer to singular nouns that stand for many persons <'tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear the speech -- Shakespeare> <a person can't help their birth -- W. M. Thackeray> <no man goes to battle to be killed. -- But they do get killed -- G. B. Shaw>. The use of they, their, them, and themselves as pronouns of indefinite gender and indefinite number is well established in speech and writing, even in literary and formal contexts. This gives you the option of using the plural pronouns where you think they sound best, and of using the singular pronouns (as he, she, he or she, and their inflected forms) where you think they sound best.


The OED Online says
quote:
their, poss. pron. SECOND EDITION
1989

3. Often used in relation to a singular n. or pronoun denoting a person, after each, every, either, neither, no one, every one, etc. Also so used instead of ‘his or her’, when the gender is inclusive or uncertain. Cf. THEY pron. 2, THEM pron. 2; NOBODY 1b, SOMEBODY. (Not favoured by grammarians.)

Note that this is the 1989 edition.

Tinman

This message has been edited. Last edited by: tinman,
 
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I just really don't understand why everyone seems to reject "his or her." I rather like it because it does stress that the genders are equal, which, let's face it, hasn't always been the case. Another tack is to use "her" in one sentence and "his" in another. I believe (though I am not at all sure) that Dr. Spock in his book on babies was one of the first to do this. He talked about your baby crying might need her diaper changed. Or, maybe he's hungry.

A nurse will check on his patients. Am I correct to believe that the above was the preferred version until these politically correct idiots had their way?

As for the above sentence, since 92% of the nurses (at least in the U.S.) are women, it it just doesn't make sense to say "his patients." It may even cause confusion as someone will think you are talking about a specific physician's patients.
 
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It may even cause confusion as someone will think you are talking about a specific physician's patients.


... and she or he would naturally assume that the physician is male.

LOL and
Roll Eyes
 
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Exactly, Jerry. I said that purposely.

The irony is that about 50% of physicians now are female.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by jerry thomas:
I would probably say, "It's your individual responsibility to keep your desk clean."

I would probably add, "It's also your individual responsibility to be creative in avoiding the his/her controversy; everyone knows it's awkward, doesn't he? She? Don't they?" Roll Eyes


Like Jerry and Jo, I tend to try to word things so I don't need to use pronouns in these cases!


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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Yes, in this case it is definitely a case of preference, not right and wrong.

I read the galleys today on an article that I am publishing with someone. Since I am the second author, I don't have that much say. However, I was struck by how many times we had "his/her" in there. To be honest, it was a little annoying. For the Caterwauller's, Jo's and Jerry's of the world, it is probably terribly annoying!
 
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To be honest, when I'm reading journal articles I'm usually reading so quickly that I gloss over things like that. Razz


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~Dalai Lama
 
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To be honest ... and speaking on behalf of the Caterwaullers, Jos and Jerrys of the world, it's even more interesting to meditate on how to answer the curious children when they ask why all those apostrophes are used in the simple plural (not possessive) form of our names.
 
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Quote "...why all those apostrophes are used in the simple plural (not possessive) form of our names..."

They are? When?


Richard English
 
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"The irony is that about 50% of physicians now are female."

Isn't it interesting how different this would sound if it were phrased, "Half of physicians are female," or "Physicians are half female."

PS: What is your source for that statistic? Accorded to the Kaiser Foundation, 73% of US physicians are male. (2002 data. This excludes physicians employed by the federal government, but they amount to only 2% of physicians.)
 
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and speaking on behalf of the Caterwaullers, Jos and Jerrys of the world, it's even more interesting to meditate on how to answer the curious children when they ask why all those apostrophes are used in the simple plural (not possessive) form of our names.

Oh, Richard, Jerry is talking about my previous post. He is right. I messed up and used apostrophes when I shouldn't have. I won't go back and edit at this point since it would be confusing to everyone...but, consider it edited, okay?

What is your source for that statistic?

Sheesh, now Hic is on me too! Some days it just isn't worth getting out of bed! Roll Eyes Hic, I didn't find any official statistics. However, in all the meetings I attend (and, there are many!), I hear time and time again that the medical schools have about (give or take a percentage point) 50% men and women. Now, obviously I didn't say it that way. I made it sound as if 50% of the current physicians in the U.S. are female, and of course that isn't true. However, given the med school statistics, it will be in the future (presumably).

Sorry. You can't get away with anything on this board!
 
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No, you can't get away with anything. Is this board made up of editors and supervisors???


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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No, but I seem to be a good mark. Often I know the grammatical rules (or the spelling...though not always with that!), but I think my enthusiasm gets in the way of my editing posts here.

In my professional work I receive much less criticism than in my posts! Roll Eyes
 
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Well maybe now that I'm here the pressure on you will ease up a little. I'm forever making mistakes! Good thing we're great fun to be with, Kalleh!


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:
No, you can't get away with anything. Is this board made up of editors and supervisors???

That's not entirely true. If you use an apostrophe in a way someone else doesn't agree with or a word someone considers inappropriate, that someone is apt to jump on you. But dangling participles, misplaced modifiers, and misspellings are often (not always) ignored. These mistakes are so frequent it's as if everyone forgot how to proofread their material. And virtually no-one seems to care. I wish people would proofread their material before and after they post, then edit to try to correct their mistakes.

We've had several discussions about apostrophe usage over the years. This is what I said about it on Dec. 20, 2002 and on Jan. 21, 2003. The xrefer.com links don't work any more. It went to a subscriber service, so I can't get it. But, if your library subscribes to it, you can access it through them. Unfortunately, my library doesn't subscribe to it (boo hoo). You can also get a 30-day free trial. My library does subscribe to the OED Online, so I can get that!

It's funny that the year doesn't appear in the date at the beginning of a post, but it does in any edit noted at the bottom. I would like to see it at the beginning.

Tinman
 
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It's funny that the year doesn't appear in the date at the beginning of a post, but it does in any edit noted at the bottom. I would like to see it at the beginning.
You can easily change the way dates and times are displayed in your preferences.

Go > My Space > Preferences.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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"These mistakes are so frequent it's as if everyone forgot how to proofread their material. And virtually no-one seems to care. I wish people would proofread their material before and after they post, then edit to try to correct their mistakes."

For me, Tinman, this is more a matter of internet communication being a different form, and having different boundaries. I think chat and other online activities tend to loosen the rules enough that this sort of communication becomes more like speaking than writing. I think both Jo and Kalleh have mentioned that their internet/board posts are much more likely to have grammatical and punctuation errors than their formal communication. I would say that this is largely because this sort of interracting is more like vocal than it is like written.

Any other opinions?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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Any other opinions, she says. Hoooo, do I have an opinion! I am afraid that my doilies have been officially dusted by Tinman.

I wish people would proofread their material before and after they post, then edit to try to correct their mistakes.

Before I get started, Tinman, might I ask that you check the "Not for Young Eyes" thread? Just for the record, I posted there before coming here.

But dangling participles, misplaced modifiers, and misspellings are often (not always) ignored. These mistakes are so frequent it's as if everyone forgot how to proofread their material. And virtually no-one seems to care.

Often I have received private messages and e-mails, as well as reply posts here, correcting my mistakes. You should know that, Tinman, because some of them were from you. So, sometimes you might not think something was corrected, though it may have been done so privately. Actually, I prefer the latter, though I can deal with the public corrections (and often do, I might add!).

Now, the first question is, do we edit what we write? Surely we do! Have you ever read other boards where they don't? The writing is often atrocious on other forums (even those that purport to be about language). I spend a lot of my time in the edit mode. However, I do miss things. I admit it. My missplaced apostrophes were terrible, and I deserved Jerry's reprimand. Why do I make mistakes, though, in these posts? I think it is because I don't consider this as formal as other writing; I agree with CW on that. If I were to, I don't think my posts would be as spontaneous & fun, and I know I wouldn't be as prolific.

The fact is that virtually everyone here makes mistakes. I have not known anyone here who hasn't, though I almost never correct him/her (mainly because I make mistakes, too!). To identify mistakes now and then is fine. And, I don't mind being picked on because I am an easy mark. However, I do think we need to be careful about it. It can be a deterrent to newbies, and it can take away from the really good discussion that we have. Also, sometimes the criticism can be downright trivial, as we have discussed here recently in other threads. For example, the use of "he/she" versus "their" or the split infinitives are accepted now in writing. Sometimes dangling participles and misplaced modifiers are very important; other times they aren't.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
 
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Kalleh writes:
quote:

My missplaced apostrophes were terrible, and I deserved Jerry's reprimand.


I guess the following is the "reprimand"

quote:

To be honest ... and speaking on behalf of the Caterwaullers, Jos and Jerrys of the world, it's even more interesting to meditate on how to answer the curious children when they ask why all those apostrophes are used in the simple plural (not possessive) form of our names.


NB: This was not intended to be seen as a reprimand, but rather as a serious question.

There are more than 200 registered members of this community who never "say" anything; we can assume that they lurk and we can assume that they wonder about such phenomona as misplaced apostrophes.

Now we have an explanation -- that the writer is more intent on fun and sponteneity than on being "correct." That's a valid explanation that we can accept.

I also had no intention of being seen as a critic or supervisor.

Henceforth I'll try to keep a lower profile.

~~~ jerry
 
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"I also had no intention of being seen as a critic or supervisor.

Henceforth I'll try to keep a lower profile.

~~~ jerry"

Oh my goodness, Jerry, please don't! I was just being flippant and trying to be funny. The irony is that I am, on various days of my work, both a critic (of professional resources for several journals) and a supervisor (of a staff of 17). Razz


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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No, I agree with CW, Jerry. My misplaced apostrophes needed to be pointed out, and publicly. The error was too egregious! Truly, I can't understand what I was thinking! Perhaps my use of the word "reprimanded" was too strong.

Yet, sometimes I think we go through periods where every other post is about someone's error. That is too much.

If I sounded too defensive, I apologize.
 
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Let me be among the first to admit that we all make misteaks.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
If I sounded too defensive, I apologize.

Kalleh, you seemed to think my remarks were pointed directly at you. They weren't. The mistakes I pointed out are from everyone, including me, as evidenced by my "naval" post. I was just saying that I wish people would be more careful in their posts. As Caterwauler pointed out, people tend to be lax in their Internet writing, not just on this board, but everywhere. Not everyone considers these mistakes important enough to correct them. And some things which I consider mistakes, others don't. No one has to agree with my opinion, but I'm going to give it anyway. (I'll say it before Asa chimes in: "Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one.)

Yes, Kalleh, you do appear to be too defensive at times. You are also too apologetic.

Tinman
 
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Yes, Kalleh, you do appear to be too defensive at times. You are also too apologetic.

I suppose. Still, if we would look on this board and search for all the mistakes that are pointed out (and, believe me, I am not going to!), you would find that post-for-post my errors are pointed out more than others. I am not sure why, but, yes, sometimes it is annoying. Now, Jerry's identification of the apostrophe error was fair. I can't believe that one myself! But, why I am such an easy mark is beyond me.

BTW, my apology was to Jerry. I am glad he pointed out that apostrophe error, and I shouldn't have used the word "reprimanded." In my life's experience (that is, not just on this board), I have found that people don't apologize enough. I think it is good when people apologize if they think they are wrong. I wish more people apologized.

Now, let's forget the whole thing! Wink
 
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Thing? What thing? There was a thing? Why didn't anyone tell me?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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I have found that people don't apologize enough.


Sorry about that. I'll try to apologise more often. Big Grin
 
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Mere words cannot express how deeply sorry I am. Roll Eyes
 
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Mere remorse cannot express how off-the-deep-end wordy I am ...
 
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I apologise for not apologising.


Richard English
 
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