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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Of late I've been reading the British magazine, The Economist. Two things have struck me: First, they use the US date idiom, with month, day, and year; the other is the editorial preference for incomplete compound sentences. They'll say something such as, "The merging of Daimler-Benz with Chrysler was a disaster. But the Renault/Nissan alliance was highly successful." Why use two simple sentences when there's really a single thought here? What's going on here?
 
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For the date thing I can only suggest that they produce a US edition with it specifically in that format. It would be hopelessly confusing to a Brit who would always, without exception, read 04-05-06 as the fourth of May not the fifth of April.

The second I can't answer. It looks like a mistake but if it's used a lot then perhaps they have some kind of weird style policy. Maybe you could write and ask them? I'd be fascinated to hear their reply.
 
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quote:
weird style policy
Agreed, especially as most of us were taught at school to never start as sentence with a preposition. But we know better now, don't we? Wink


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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preposition

But is a conjunction. I don't see its use the the quoted sentence above as a grammatical error but more as a style choice.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Originally posted by zmjezhd:
preposition

But is a conjunction. I don't see its use the the quoted sentence above as a grammatical error but more as a style choice.


I'm sure arnie meant conjunction. I still recall that at school we were taught to never begin a sentence with a conjunction. Of course now I know better, but when you're a kid it's quite hard to argue that the "rules" you are being taught are nonsense. It would nevertheless be quite an unusual style choice to insist that you should begin your sentences with a conjunction and in the quoted example at the top of the thread it would certainly make more sense to write it as one sentence as the follow on thought makes no sense as a stand alone sentence.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
...in the quoted example at the top of the thread it would certainly make more sense to write it as one sentence as the follow on thought makes no sense as a stand alone sentence.

Exactly, Bob. The Economist does indeed have editorial offices in the USA, and in several other countries, so maybe the British head organisation permits regional stylistic variations. I'll write to them and ask.
 
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Sorry! Red Face

I meant conjunction, of course.


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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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Just a little mental DISjunction, no doubt! Big Grin There, doesn't that sound much better than "brain fart?"
 
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I meant conjunction, of course.

I figured you did.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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The only reason I would possibly do what was in that example was if it were in dialogue, and the speaker had a noticeable pause. That sentence made me cringe.
 
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It would be hopelessly confusing to a Brit who would always, without exception, read 04-05-06 as the fourth of May not the fifth of April.

And not just we British. The month/day/year style is uncommon and it's used mainly by the US lay public. Officially the USA uses the same convention as the rest of the world (check some US Government documents) but that doesn't seem to alter the public preference.

In the travel industry (the world's first global industy) the standard for the last 46 years (that's how long I've been in it) is date (in figures), month in full, in English, or abbreviated to the first 3 letters, then year in full.

Things are changing, though, to allow for automatic sorting in computer systems, and the format for this is year/month/date (in figures). I would imagine that this will eventually be adopted by the whole world - apart from the US public, of course ;-)


Richard English
 
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How, exactly, were dates shown in the magazine? Were they in numeric format, such as 04.05.06, which could cause confusion on both sides, or in long date format, such as 4 May 2006, which might look a little strange on one side of the pond, but would still be easily comprehensible?


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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<Asa Lovejoy>
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The US edition uses " May 4th, 2006," and such. It realy IS odd! And it is only the lay public that uses it, as has been noted. All ex-military people use the standard day/month/year, as do a good number of the rest of us. I also wonder why we still staunchly refuse the metric system in everyday use. Almost all manufactured goods built in the USA use the metric system, but the general public just can't seem to understand that we have ten fingers and ten toes, so it's easier for us numerically ignorant types to count metrically!
 
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Why can't we just all learn to use ISO 8601?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I took a look at The Economist's online style guide. Didn't find anything definitive about dates.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
May 4th, 2006
We would use "4 May 2006", or sometimes "4th May 2006". Note that we wouldn't normally use a comma before the year. Since half the sales of The Economist come from North America it is unsurprising they should use American-style dates in their US editions. (It is printed in seven sites around the world.)

On the peculiar style, a paragraph on their Web site at http://www.economist.com/help/DisplayHelp.cfm?folder=66...#About_The_Economist may give a clue:
quote:
The Economist believes in plain language. Walter Bagehot, our most famous 19th-century editor, tried "to be conversational, to put things in the most direct and picturesque manner, as people would talk to each other in common speech, to remember and use expressive colloquialisms". That remains the style of the paper today.
They may be trying a little too hard...


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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The British have no room to complain about American peculiarities in dates as long as they maintain the pound system in money and cannot learn to drive on the right (correct) side of the road. But I do not regard these things as complaints against a people. How a people does things is as much a product of its history as of logic, and should be. Let 'em alone. They'll change when they are ready. Peace, peace.
 
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the pound system in money

The monetary system in the UK is decimal and has been so since 1971.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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The British have no room to complain about American peculiarities in dates as long as they maintain the pound system in money and cannot learn to drive on the right (correct) side of the road.

Most countries drove on the left up to 150 years ago, since this meant that the right hand (which held the whip and was defensive) was free to defend the rider against footpads hiding in the hedge.

When Britain invented the railways this was still common which is why railways usually run on the left throughout the world - because the British built them.

Driving on the right, far from being correct, was actually an aberration; that it is now more common in the world (although far from universal) is due to the USA's choice of righthand driving.

Now justify 110V electricity; NTSC TV and emasculated American pints for me:-) (Though, than goodness, you have at least learnt to brew proper beer again after nearly a century of brewing nothing but rubbish!)


Richard English
 
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I am well aware of why people used to drive on the left. But footpads in the hedges on the interstates would seem to pose little threat, and it WAS 150 years ago. Contrary to Richard's defensive position, righthand driving is nearly universal - only a few British colonies and former such still have left driving.

And note that I said, quite clearly in the first place, that the customs of a country are part of its heritage and ought not be criticized. I was simply pointing out that Americans have their oddities and British do too. If we want to make weak beer, why is it the business of the Brits to tell us to do otherwise, pray tell? I do not drink alcohol and so cannot address that issue, but my husband assures me that standard American beer is atrocious. Many obviously feel otherwise.

By the way, 110V electricity is for safety - it can't kill you. I have an internationally famous friend who is VERY critical of the Europeans on this because the higher voltage is so risky.

Why do we need to criticize each other, about beer, driving, date format, or anything else??
 
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Chill, Richard. I'm getting tired of the anti-Americanism.

The pint was not "emasculated" in America. The change was made in the UK, where you aggrandized the previous pint measure, artificially pumping up your dimensions. Perhaps you've forgotten that this subject came up previously, and was found offensive at the time.

P.S. For exhaustive data on right-side-left-side driving, railroading, and boating, see this site. To summarize as to driving: left-side countries account for 34% of the population and 27½% of the road-miles, each a respectable minority. As best I can tell by the map, all of continental Europe is right-side. That was the French practice, and Napoleon imposed it upon the countries he conquered.

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By the way, 110V electricity is for safety - it can't kill you.

Sadly this is untrue. The danger of shock is less, of course (although not eliminated) but electricity can kill in other ways. The danger caused by the higher currents in the US system (double those of other countries) leads to greater fire risk. Current equals heat, which is both inefficient and dangerous, which is why long-distance electrical transmission (even in the USA) is done at pressures of many thousands of volts.

All electrical syatems are a compromise between efficiency and safety; were that not the case we would all be using 6 volt supplies for safety. However, the voltage drop on a 6 volt line is so great that even motorcycles now use 12 volts.

Most countries use the higher voltages for their greater efficiency and, providing they adhere to the standards that prevail in the UK (sadly not all countries do) then the risk of shock is very low.

Those who will be in London after the Wordcraft Convention are welcome to come with me to Savoy Hill, where the Institute of Electical Engineers building (the orginal HQ of the BBC) still stand. The IEE produced the world's first electrical regulations back in the 1880s. In 2006 they changed their name to the Institution of Engineering and Technology when they merged with the Institution of Incorporated Engineers.


Richard English
 
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Chill, Richard. I'm getting tired of the anti-Americanism.
I am not anti-American, although I am critical of some of the things that happen in America.

It's no more anti-American to point out US idiosyncrasies than it is anti-British to suggest, as did Beth, that we "...cannot learn to drive on the right (correct) side of the road...."

To be able to accept criticism without rancour is, to my mind, a matgure attitude and it carries with it the right to defend or explain one's point of view.

Beth and I both have that right and I do not feel badly of her spirited defence of the 100 volt system just as long as I can defend the 240 volt system. As I have posted elsewhere, both systems have their advantage and disadvantages - as is the case with just about everything.


Richard English
 
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If we want to make weak beer, why is it the business of the Brits to tell us to do otherwise, pray tell?

It is your absolute right to make weak beer if you wish (although regular American beer isn't so much weak as tasteless.

What is wrong is when gigantic companies like Anheuser Busch try to close down other brewers. They managed to do this in the USA very successfully and have been trying to do the same thing in Europe, where the real Budweiser company is always having to defend itself against A-B lawsuits. Fortunately they have so far failed dismally.

Fortunately, too, there are now some wonderful beers brewed in the USA, thanks to the craft beer revival in the past 20 year. Your husband will probably have tried some of them.


Richard English
 
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Getting back to the practices for calling out dates:

You Brits write "24th May 2006".

When you are speaking, do you say, "We met on 24th May," or "We met on the 24th of May"?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordnerd:
Getting back to the practices for calling out dates:

You Brits write "24th May 2006".

When you are speaking, do you say, "We met on 24th May," or "We met on the 24th of May"?


The latter.
 
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Or maybe "May the 24th"


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
Or maybe "May the 24th"


Which does make one (an American one) tempted to reply QED. If you sayMay the 24th, why wouldn't you writeMay 24. The reversal is illogical.
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
Those who will be in London after the Wordcraft Convention...


Convention? When convention? I have been in the hospital and away from this forum for a very long time and have missed everything. Please shed light.
 
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Which does make one (an American one) tempted to reply QED. If you say May the 24th, why wouldn't you write May 24. The reversal is illogical.
Yes, but by the same token, we too say it either way. We would say "on the 24th of May," so why do we reverse it when writing a date as May 24.

Basically, each country uses both orderings in speech; the countries differ on which option they've chosen for writing.
 
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Convention? When convention? I have been in the hospital and away from this forum for a very long time and have missed everything. Please shed light.

Check the sticky posting on the community pages. There's a link to a booking form with the details. I am arranging things things over here so feel free to PM or email me if you need further information. Presently we have around a dozen bookings, although not everyone is staying overnight at the hotel.


Richard English
 
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The only reason I would possibly do what was in that example was if it were in dialogue, and the speaker had a noticeable pause. That sentence made me cringe.

Sean, do you feel the same about the which/that rule, never ending sentences with prepostions, never using the passive voice, and some of the other Strunk and White mandates to students learning English? Or is this just one of the rules that you feel strongly about? More and more we are seeing sentences starting with conjunctions. Just today I was reading a lot of articles for work, and one auther not only started a sentence with "But," but he also put a comma after it. I found that interesting because I was told on OEDILF that's a "no-no!"

I, for one, rather like the fact that we are no longer so anal about intricate grammar rules.
 
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Just today I was reading a lot of articles for work, and one auther not only started a sentence with "But," but he also put a comma after it. I found that interesting because I was told on OEDILF that's a "no-no!"

I suggest that is depends what comes after the word "but".

"But, speaking for myself, I like to start sentences with conjunctions" seems fine to me.

I sometimes get the feeling that some of the OEDILF people are too strict about the rules. Thank goodness the old S & W reference source never made it to my school.


Richard English
 
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Going back for a second to driving on the left/right...

The best argument I've heard for driving on the left is safety. Most people are right-handed and, when changing gears, it's safer to keep one's stronger hand controlling the wheel in case of emergency. You can't do this if your gearstick's on your right, as in a left-hand drive car.

Of course, that's mostly irrelevant if you're in an automatic Wink.
 
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Of course, that's mostly irrelevant if you're in an automatic

Which of course most American cars are.

I have driven most in England, on the left hand side of the road, but I have also driven in many other countries where the convention is right, left or even centre (and in Malta where it's the shady side).

My preference is for the left-hand convention which does seem more natural - although I have to accept that there might be a certain amount of upbringing bias in my belief.


Richard English
 
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"But, speaking for myself, I like to start sentences with conjunctions" seems fine to me.

Nope, that wasn't it. It was something like: "But, I don't know how I feel about that." You see, the pause there seems reasonable to me.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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"But, speaking for myself, I like to start sentences with conjunctions" seems fine to me.


Before I got married I liked to start sentences with propositions. Big Grin
 
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Nope, that wasn't it. It was something like: "But, I don't know how I feel about that." You see, the pause there seems reasonable to me.

I have to agre that the comma there is wrong. After all, what purpose does it serve? There is no change in thought, neither is the following phrase parenthesised.

It's not the "but" that shouldn't take the comma, it's the first word in that sentence. How would you feel were the sentence to be "Now I don't know how I feel about that."? You'd not put a comma in that.

A comma would be needed were the sentence then to continue, thus making the clause a separate parenthetic, like this:

"Now, I don't know how I feel about that, do you?"


Richard English
 
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Somewhere in another thread I stated the the wordies on wordcraft were the ones who weren't prescriptivists on OEDILF. I take that back; Richard is on OEDILF and wordcraft. Razz

quote:
After all, what purpose does it serve?

I cited the purpose, Richard. It serves as a time to pause. If you heard me say the sentence, I would naturally pause after that particular "but." If, however, it were a "but" where I normally wouldn't pause, then I'd not use the comma. Simple, right?

In fact, my comma has exactly the same function as your comma after "now."
 
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In fact, my comma has exactly the same function as your comma after "now."

Actually it doesn't. The comma after "now" serves to introduce the parenthetic phrase "...I don't know how I feel about that...". Were the interrogative phrase "..do you?..." not present then the comma would not be needed because the phrase "...I don't know how I feel about that..." would not be parenthetic and the whole sentence could be rendered as "...Now I don't know how I feel about that..."

A comma there, while not necessarily being a heinous crime, is not really needed.


Richard English
 
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Sorry, I don't buy it. The use of commas is not all that black or white. I am sure that I could find style manuals that would support using a comma for pauses.
 
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Sorry, I don't buy it. The use of commas is not all that black or white. I am sure that I could find style manuals that would support using a comma for pauses.

I am sure one could find style manuals that support just about anything - but I have never seen a style guide that recommends a comma simply to suggest a pause. A comma is usually a separator, which helps to divide different parts of speech.

Most often is is used to separate a series of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, verbs or clauses - although there are many other uses. But simply to denote a pause? Not in my experience.

But as I said, in your example it's not a heinous crime, simply an unnecessary punctuation mark.


Richard English
 
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You see, Richard, it wasn't unnecessary to me (I won't bore you with why as I have already posted my reason). That was my point in saying that some style guides would support my comma. It is a matter of opinion...not dogma.
 
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Somewhere in another thread I stated the the wordies on wordcraft were the ones who weren't prescriptivists on OEDILF. I take that back; Richard is on OEDILF and wordcraft. Razz


WHOA, Kalleh! "Them's fightin' words!" cf your thread of this a.m. Wink

Years ago, I had a prolongued squabble with a boss over starting sentences with conjunctions. I majored in English in college and have been writing, either for newspapers, or in a public relations context, for all of my adult life. I was in the "pro" camp. I scrambled around and found H.W. Fowler's statement on the "superstition about starting a sentence with 'but' or 'and'", and persuaded the boss that it was OK. If H.W. Fowler says it's all right, it certainly should be acceptable to the rest of us. (English teachers probably still teach the no-sentence-starts-with-a-conjunction rule, but published writers do it all the time. It is accepted usage.)

Beginning a sentence with "But" is equivalent to beginning it with "However." However, "however" is a little fancier. The two sentences from The Economist that began this thread stand grammatically, either separately as two complete sentences or together, joined by a comma. But I think in this particular example it does make more sense to write them as a compound sentence. Chopping them in two is a more journalistic style, though.

I also wanted to weigh in on the format of dates debate in this same thread: Richard, if all official U.S. Government documents are dated day/month/year, why is it that my tax forms all require me to list dates in month/day/year order? In my experience, month/day/year is not just for the lay public here, but for the entire population (unless you are in the military, in which case, you are essentially living in another culture! [And]That is not a put-down of the military!

Wordmatic
 
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Most often is is used to separate a series of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, verbs or clauses -- although there are many other uses. But simply to denote a pause? Not in my experience.


All of these are true, but commas can also be used to insert a pause for the purpose of adding emphasis or creating an effect. Every grammatical guide I have ever read also states that they should be used to eliminate ambiguity, and this sometimes means inserting a comma where, grammatically speaking, it might not be precisely proper to do so.
 
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Richard, if all official U.S. Government documents are dated day/month/year, why is it that my tax forms all require me to list dates in month/day/year order? In my experience, month/day/year is not just for the lay public here, but for the entire population (unless you are in the military, in which case, you are essentially living in another culture! [And]That is not a put-down of the military!

I confess I've not seen the IRA forms but I can tell you that the various travel-related forms - immigration, visas, landing cards - are all laid out in the internationally agreed format.

There are many things that are common US practice which do not prevail in the rest of the world - dates format, voltages, AC current cycles, TV standards - but because they are "American" the assumption of US citizens (hey, that's around 15% of the world's population) is that the rest of the world is out of step.

One of the problems is that the USA often agrees to abide by international conventions (like the Geneva Convention) and then omits to do so (Guantanamo Bay, anyone?)

Of course, the USA isn't the only country guilty of this - it's an art form in Italy - but as the world's most powerful nation it should really behold the USA to set an example.


Richard English
 
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...the assumption of US citizens (hey, that's around 15% of the world's population) is that the rest of the world is out of step.

One of the problems is that the USA often agrees to abide by international conventions (like the Geneva Convention) and then omits to do so (Guantanamo Bay, anyone?)


Richard, I never meant to imply that the rest of the world was out of step. I only meant that you were incorrect to state that only the "lay public," from which I inferred that you meant some less educated (or less-something) segment of the population, used the mm/dd/yy format for dates. In my experience, which is not exhaustive, that format is universal in this country-- with the possible exception of the military (in which I have no direct experience.) I am not saying the rest of the world should do as we do or that I find it onerous that much of the rest of the world uses dd/mm/yy--only that you were incorrect about who uses mm/dd/yy in the US.

As for your comments about Guantanamo, Geneva, Kyoto etc., I couldn't agree agree with you more. I didn't vote for G.W. Bush, and am hoping he'll be impeached. Please understand that an ever increasing majority of Americans is embarrassed by this man's actions, behavior, beliefs that God appointed/annointed him to do all of the stupid things he's done, and because we don't have a parliamentary system, we can't get rid of him until the next scheduled election.

My simple request of you would be that you not paint "all Americans" with a single brush, just as, I expect, you would not want us to think or say "All British are this way or that."
Razz

I come in peace--
WM
 
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My simple request of you would be that you not paint "all Americans" with a single brush, just as, I expect, you would not want us to think or say "All British are this way or that."

Well, I try not to - but inevitably when you are speaking about a race, religion or nation, then you have to generalise, and generalisations will inevitably be wrong in detail.

The generalisation that most Amercians don't appreciate good beer must be true since the mega-brewers account for around 80% of the beer consumed there. But it would be unfair thus to estrapolate that there is zero interest in good beer in the USA. Since the 1970s, hundreds of craft brewers have sprung up and there are now probably 10,000 different fine beers brewed in the USA.

But the generalisation still applies, as does the generalisation that it is difficult to find a bar selling decent beer in the USA simply by chance. You have to know where one is and go to it.


Richard English
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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As arcane as US tax forms are, it's clear that they are NOT wirtten for the "lay" public, but for tax lawyers and accountants for the implied purpose of employing them at the lay public's expense! Use of month/day/year is, I think, a concession to tradition rather than international standards.

I've noticed that Garrison Keillor always starts his "Writer's Almanac" radio program with "And." Perhaps this is to suggest that the program is a continuation of the previous one, but it bothers me nevertheless.
 
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The generalisation that most Amercians don't appreciate good beer must be true since the mega-brewers account for around 80% of the beer consumed there. But it would be unfair thus to estrapolate that there is zero interest in good beer in the USA. Since the 1970s, hundreds of craft brewers have sprung up and there are now probably 10,000 different fine beers brewed in the USA.

But the generalisation still applies, as does the generalisation that it is difficult to find a bar selling decent beer in the USA simply by chance. You have to know where one is and go to it.


You've got me there! I don't know enough about beer to say anything intelligent. I do drink beer and have enjoyed nice beers and ales in the UK, but I cannot tell you any of their names. At home, my husband chooses Yuengling Black and Tan and Yuengling Lager (inexpensive and tasty), and I partake of these along with him. In New York State, we sometimes visit an English style pub near my brother's home, Man o' Kent, owned, you won't be surprised to learn, by a man from Kent. There, I always enjoy ordering an Old Speckled Hen!

I can tell you that many Americans appreciate beer. Whether it is good or not is a matter of opinion and taste. Wink

quote:
I've noticed that Garrison Keillor always starts his "Writer's Almanac" radio program with "And." Perhaps this is to suggest that the program is a continuation of the previous one, but it bothers me nevertheless.

Asa, I will now have to dig out my copy of Fowler's Common English Usage so that I can quote the exact sentence about the "And" and "But" "superstition." I admit, Kiellor's starting his show each week with "And" is a bit unsettling. Beginning a sentence with "And" is comparable to beginning it with "Moreover," which implies that something has preceded it, perhaps, as you say, last week's show (just as beginning a sentence with "But" implies that something contrasting has been said just beforehad.) Still, as far as I'm concerned, Garrison Kiellor can do anything he likes, because it's all in the delivery, and whatever it is, it's usually golden.
 
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