Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby vijayjohn » 2014-07-20, 23:22

JackFrost wrote:Yes. And?

I daresay he's mistaken or is remembering something else.

Well, if you're right, then I'm curious as to why he said that.

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-07-21, 5:47

I couldn't care more about "could care less", but I couldn't care fewer about fewer vs. less.

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-21, 8:02

mōdgethanc wrote:I couldn't care more about "could care less", but I couldn't care fewer about fewer vs. less.

Yeah me too, "I could care less" literally means the opposite of what I would want to say...
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Itikar » 2014-07-21, 13:05

I am a happy prescriptivist.

I do however infringe with pride all the ghost rules of Italian. 8-)
"A me mi" is the most famous one of this. While the form is perfectly okay in colloquial Italian it has been historically stigmatised as a pleonasm.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-21, 14:30

Marah wrote:
mōdgethanc wrote:I couldn't care more about "could care less", but I couldn't care fewer about fewer vs. less.

Yeah me too, "I could care less" literally means the opposite of what I would want to say...

Which is completely moot because it's an idiom like, "Yeah, right" or "You must be very proud of yourself".
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-21, 14:53

linguoboy wrote:Which is completely moot because it's an idiom like, "Yeah, right" or "You must be very proud of yourself".

I don't know, the "it's meant to be ironic" explanation doesn't really satisfy me in this case.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-21, 15:00

Marah wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Which is completely moot because it's an idiom like, "Yeah, right" or "You must be very proud of yourself".

I don't know, the "it's meant to be ironic" explanation doesn't really satisfy me in this case.

But again, what does the etymology matter any more? You have to be a pedant of the highest order to understand "I could care less" as meaning anything other than "I don't care".
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby lazyaficionado » 2014-07-21, 15:08

In Russian, I tend to say "звОнит" (i.e. with a stress on the first syllable) instead of "звонИт" (stress on the last syllable) which is what 'right' way of pronouncing it is. It causes an instant disapproving uproar amongst Grammar Nazis.

As to orthograpy, I don't bother with it. There are so many rules and countless exceptions of them that I've forgotten them all and write rather by intuition. That yields differences from the standard sometimes.

In English, I'm sticking to American standard. Because you know, what is okay with natives like mixing up 'your' and 'you're' or saying 'I could care less', may not be okay with a foreigner like me.

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-21, 15:12

linguoboy wrote:But again, what does the etymology matter any more? You have to be a pedant of the highest order to understand "I could care less" as meaning anything other than "I don't care".

If you say "I could care less" ironically than what you mean is "I could care more" which implies that you care a least a little bit. And that's not what "I couldn't care less" means, that is, "I don't care at all".

Using "I could care less" to mean "I couldn't care less" is weird to me, I prefer avoiding it.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-21, 15:24

Marah wrote:
linguoboy wrote:But again, what does the etymology matter any more? You have to be a pedant of the highest order to understand "I could care less" as meaning anything other than "I don't care".

If you say "I could care less" ironically than what you mean is "I could care more" which implies that you care a least a little bit. And that's not what "I couldn't care less" means, that is, "I don't care at all".

See above. I know how the highest order of pedantry argument goes, I just can't swallow it. The bottom line is: Everyone knows what someone means when they say this, so why get bent out of shape over the precise wording? It's on a par with arguing against "pretty ugly" or "the more the better".

Marah wrote:Using "I could care less" to mean "I couldn't care less" is weird to me, I prefer avoiding it.

See, how hard was that? You're allowed to have an aesthetic objection to anything you want without having to cook up some tortuous justification.

Thought of another one: The prescriptive rule states that the subject of a gerund be expressed as a possessive pronoun. But colloquially the objective form is preferred, and I see no reason not to accept this. E.g.:

Formal written standard: He snuck in without my noticing.
Colloquial: He snuck in without me noticing.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-21, 15:31

linguoboy wrote:See above. I know how the highest order of pedantry argument goes, I just can't swallow it. The bottom line is: Everyone knows what someone means when they say this, so why get bent out of shape over the precise wording? It's on a par with arguing against "pretty ugly" or "the more the better"


See, how hard was that? You're allowed to have an aesthetic objection to anything you want without having to cook up some tortuous justification.

Sure, everyone understands it but I'm just saying that my aesthetic objection stems from a logical contradiction of the idiom, that's all.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-21, 16:02

Marah wrote:Sure, everyone understands it but I'm just saying that my aesthetic objection stems from a logical contradiction of the idiom, that's all.

Anyone who expects "idiom" and "logic" to go together is starting from false premises. The very definition of "idiom" is an unanalysable expression whose meaning cannot be derived in a straighforward manner from its constituents.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby loqu » 2014-07-21, 16:28

JackFrost wrote:Yes. And?

I daresay he's mistaken or is remembering something else.

Or maybe books of French as a second language are more descriptive than books of French for natives.

Bad thing is I don't have my French school books here to confirm if I remembered correctly.

And it's possible that I'm wrong and I'm confusing la voiture à Julien with ce voiture est à Julien. I wouldn't understand why any language would select two different prepositions for those two sentences.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby languagepotato » 2014-07-21, 17:55

well, in dutch i use hun where i 'should' use hen, things like 'aan hun' 'volgens hun' and stuff like that, which must be very annoying for prescriptivists, seeing how they see hun as [preposition]+hen
so 'aan hun' sounds like 'aan aan hen' to them and 'voor hun' sounds like 'voor voor hen'.
probably some other stuff too, but that's what i can come up with right now

In english
prepositions are as good as any other type of word to end sentences with. I also ignore the rule not to split infinitives.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Prowler » 2014-07-21, 20:33

Portuguese:

Sometimes I say "Curti de" when it's actually grammatically incorrect. Literally it'd mean "I enjoy of" or "I liked of".

English:

I like saying/typing "I ain't no" sometimes. But I'm usually joking when I say it so. :P

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby OldBoring » 2014-07-22, 18:49

Itikar wrote:I am a happy prescriptivist.

I do however infringe with pride all the ghost rules of Italian. 8-)
"A me mi" is the most famous one of this. While the form is perfectly okay in colloquial Italian it has been historically stigmatised as a pleonasm.

Italian must be the only language in the world where schools teach more rules than official grammars (Accademia della Crusca and important grammars/dictionaries). Or rather, invents rules that don't exist.

As a consecuence, it's the only language in the world where most speakers are more prescriptivists than grammars. :lol:

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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby loqu » 2014-07-22, 19:09

Saim wrote:In Catalan I tend to be a bit more puristic than in other languages, because all the influence is coming form one source (i.e. Spanish) that is also displacing it in some areas. However, there are some words that people see as "incorrect" but are just non-prestigious forms that have nothing to do with Spanish, for example I tend to pluralise things that in colloquial Catalan are often pluralised but are not admitted into the standard (hi han prous cotxes, tinc forces exemples). I also like the the use of the nominative I as the indirect object even though this is only present in the Balearics (a jo m'agrada instead of a mi m'agrada).

I was thinking about this today - and what would you say, Saim, about divergences from the normative that don't have anything to do with Spanish? And I mean... would you accept gerunds like beguent, moguent, visquent? Or using duguem, diguem, coneguem for the indicative mood.

I know they are a natural step in language evolution but it sounds wrong to me. :?
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-07-22, 19:20

Youngfun wrote:Italian must be the only language in the world where schools teach more rules than official grammars (Accademia della Crusca and important grammars/dictionaries). Or rather, invents rules that don't exist.

Oh, I don't agree. That's one of the factors which makes prescriptivist arguments so contentious: everyone learned the One True English at school, and none of these varieties are quite the same.

To take one example: that vs which in relative clauses. I'd never heard of this "rule" until my first year of college, when one of my professors mentioned it to me and suggested I observe it. I took it for what it was: a stylistic guideline. Since then, however, I've met people who learned it as inviolable and look upon any deviation as wronger than wrong. Or another: my dad used to correct us for saying, "I'm done", telling us, "You're only 'done' if you've been cooking in the oven." Eventually, after trying and failing to find any usage guide which prescribed the use of "finished" in this context, he finally gave up and admitted he'd been wrong. I can only surmise this is a "rule" on of his own teachers invented and pounded into him at some point.
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby Marah » 2014-07-22, 19:35

linguoboy wrote:To take one example: that vs which in relative clauses. I'd never heard of this "rule" until my first year of college, when one of my professors mentioned it to me and suggested I observe it. I took it for what it was: a stylistic guideline. Since then, however, I've met people who learned it as inviolable and look upon any deviation as wronger than wrong

You mean that both "The time machine, which looked like a telephone booth, concerned Bill and Ted." and
"The time machine that looked like a telephone booth concerned Bill and Ted."

meant the same thing to you before hearing about the rule?
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Re: Descriptivist rage - When do you decide to ignore the rules?

Postby OldBoring » 2014-07-22, 19:38

linguoboy wrote:Oh, I don't agree. That's one of the factors which makes prescriptivist arguments so contentious: everyone learned the One True English at school, and none of these varieties are quite the same.

English as L2 taught at school in Italy is not better. I wrote some examples here.


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