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Passions in Poetry

Comparative Participles

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Essorant
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0 posted 11-22-2006 12:59 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Why don't people use comparative and superlative forms of the participles?  

For example why don't we say fruitbearinger "more fruitbearing" or fruitbearingest "most fruitbearing"?

Why not brokener "more broken" and brokenest "most broken" ?

Is this the unacknowledgedest possibility of the language?

Wouldn't it be interestinger to use participles thus?      


Brad
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1 posted 11-26-2006 06:57 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Uh, no.

Ron
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2 posted 11-26-2006 02:05 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

To paraphrase another thread, it would be "Terribler, terriblest grammar.  Avoid it at all times!"
Essorant
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3 posted 11-26-2006 02:51 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

So what grammatical mistake or problem is in the words interestinger, interestingest, brokener, brokenest etc?

Just because something doesn't sound grammatically correct doesn't mean it is incorrect.

The grammatical error in "your guyses' meal" is outright.  I'm sure you see it,  but if you don't I will (try to) explain it to you.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-28-2006 01:10 AM).]

Ron
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4 posted 11-26-2006 05:14 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
... but if you don't I will (try to) explain it to you.

By all means, Essorant, please do.
Essorant
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5 posted 11-27-2006 12:16 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

It is incorrect grammar because it is a confusion of vocatively saying "you guys" (as in "hey you guys!")) and simply asking "how is your meal?"   Instead of saying, "hey you guys, how is your meal" or "how is your meal, you guys? with the meal rightly being the thing possessed by the people being spoken to, the phrase grammatically and literally (despite the speaker's meaning) makes out the meal as being possessed, not by the people being spoken to, but by their guys.  It is like saying "How is your soldiers' meal?   It is not equivelant to saying "how is your meal"  Your meal is your meal, not your "guyses'".

The other point is that it is inappropriate and somewhat disrespectful to call women "guys".  No one would ever call a bunch of men and women "gals".  If you must needs use titles, courtesy should be at least to call women ladies, and men gentlemen, and both together as "ladies and gentlemen" "folk(s)" or "people" or "friends".  But I don't think there's anything wrong with simply saying "how are you tonight" without using a title though.  Sometimes that may be safer if you are not sure.

I hope that is a clear explanation.


Ron
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Your first point, Ess, is well taken insofar as there is nothing wrong with either possessive word until they are used together. "How is your meals?" is certainly acceptable, with the plural form being reinforced by the object of the sentence.

There is also nothing technically wrong with guys's, making "How is the guys's meal?" equally acceptable. By extension, while it may sound awkward, "How is you guys's meal?" is little different and is likely what most food servers are actually saying. There is nothing inherently wrong with an informal word when used in an informal setting.

As to possessives, the general rule is that we add 's for one-syllable words or where the final syllable has a primary or secondary stress, whereas we add a bare apostrophe for most multi-syllable plurals, with players' being one such example. There are tons of exceptions, of course, like James's (ends with a zee sound) or children's (is a non-regular possessive).

In a VERY similar vein, the construction of comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs are largely governed by the length of the word being tweaked. One-syllable words are usually inflected by adding suffixes (-er or -est) to the positive stem of the word. Two-syllable words can go either way, though most lean towards being inflected. Larger words, of three syllable or more, as well as all words ending in -ing or -ly, take the form of a modifier, such as more, most, or least. As usual, there are tons of exceptions (especially centering on already comparative adjectives like good, bad, and little, which typically take best, worst, and least forms).

I disagree completely with your second point about guys, however. Many definitions of the word now include secondary meanings that include "Persons of either sex." While a guy may have once been only "a man, a fellow," common usage has long since extended the informal word to include all people regardless of gender. You don't have to like it, you certainly don't have to use it, but you can't effectively argue that our dictionaries and common usage is wrong.


Essorant
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7 posted 11-30-2006 11:43 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"There is nothing inherently wrong with an informal word when used in an informal setting."

I think that is a like saying "there is nothing wrong with evil when used in an evil setting",   "There's nothing wrong with rude language, when in a setting full of rude language." I don't agree with that.  It is not that it is no longer wrong or mistaken, but that they don't know the difference or anything better, because no one ever tries to help or encourage them to know better.  Of course, even I wouldn't put grammar as "priority number one", but not encouraging or correcting weak or faulty language to me seems an even worse ignorance than not knowing the difference.  Weaknesses in language often lead to weaknesses in thinking.  When people have problems with language they may add up to problems in thinking and ability to deal with things.  Even though a whole English course/lesson may be the best for someone, one might be surprised to find out what a few "tips" along the way can add up over time.  A lot better than no tips at all.

"You don't have to like it, you certainly don't have to use it, but you can't effectively argue that our dictionaries and common usage is wrong."

Yea right. Try calling your girlfriend or wife or mother or sister etc a "guy" and see how unwrong she thinks it is           

[This message has been edited by Essorant (11-30-2006 12:59 PM).]

Ron
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8 posted 12-05-2006 09:22 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I think that is a like saying "there is nothing wrong with evil when used in an evil setting",   "There's nothing wrong with rude language, when in a setting full of rude language." I don't agree with that.

The problem with your analogies, Essorant, is that they're not even remotely analogous.

Unlike evil or rude language, informal communication isn't something to be avoided. On the contrary, more often than not, it's something to be embraced. An informal setting represents a lessening of tensions so that people can better communicate and relate to each other, often using a common language extension, be it street vernacular, text messaging lingo, or simply words that define us as sharing similar roots (y'all know what I mean, mate?).

Do just a little research, Essorant, into communication science and you'll quickly discover that informal communication is the backbone of our entire social structure, from the work place to the family and even to education. It's how we best get things done.

quote:
Yea right. Try calling your girlfriend or wife or mother or sister etc a "guy" and see how unwrong she thinks it is

See what I mean? "Yeah, right" is no less informal than guys. Informal words within the context of informal settings are, indeed, perfectly acceptable.

I would think, Essorant, that making up words willy-nilly, like unwrong or interestinger would bother you a lot more?

Oh, and as to your point, I refer to people in mixed gender groups as guys fairly frequently. Even here in the forums, it seems. I just did a Search for "guys" in the Discussion forums with Ron as the poster, and it came back with 168 instances of me calling people here "guys," regardless of gender. Some few of those posts were in the private forums, too, where I was addressing Moderators and Admins.

Not to get too far off topic, but I don't think I would ever use the term gals, simply because I've known too many women in the past who found it demeaning. Indeed, the word originally was a Cockney vulgarism, so I can see their point even if I don't agree with it. I might use "ladies and gentlemen" in a formal setting, but sorry, it sounds a bit pretentious at a family dinner. Besides, even beyond the limited options, I consciously try to address groups of people as people with commonalities not with differences. I certainly wouldn't address my classroom as "blacks and whites" or as "straights and gays," so why should I address them as "men and women?" Race, sexual orientation, and gender usually aren't pertinent to what I'm trying to say to a group, so there's no good reason to ever bring them up.


Not A Poet
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9 posted 12-05-2006 11:08 AM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Certainly good points Ron. And I have to agree with them all. That said though, I still have to agree with Ess that "How's your guys's meal?" is over the line. It is not only informal, it is downright grating and unacceptable. Why not just "How's your meal?" or even "How's yall's meal?" although not proper except in the South.
Ron
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10 posted 12-05-2006 12:34 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
That said though, I still have to agree with Ess that "How's your guys's meal?" is over the line.

Me, too, Pete. But not because of the word guys. If they said, "How's your men's meal?" is would be no better.

I suspect, if one listened a bit more closely, the actual question might well have been "How's you guys's meal?" While that doesn't exactly flow off the tongue real smoothly, I don't think it's incorrect.

quote:
Why not just "How's your meal?" or even "How's yall's meal?" although not proper except in the South.

Both are fine by me, Pete, but I think it should be noted that they don't necessarily communicate the same thing.

This should probably go over in the other thread, but as always, I think the choice of words has to be determined by the speaker's (writer's?) purpose. If the food server is primarily interested in how the meal was then, sure, "How's your meal?" communicates his content completely. If, on the other hand, the food server is trying to ingratiate himself with the patron, a more informal approach is probably going to be more effective. Despite common wisdom, food servers don't really get tipped for good service. They get tipped for getting people to like them. As Christopher suggested, being cute rarely hurts. In a similar vein, informal communication creates a bond. Used correctly, it says we belong to the same social group, so it's okay to like me, okay to tip me well. The food server has a big advantage over the writer, of course, in that they can quickly react to feedback. I hate it when a waitress uses matronly endearments, like "sweetie" or "darling," just as much as Chris apparently dislikes incorrect grammar, but a good server should be able to pick up on that and adjust. Like a writer, however, they have to have a starting point.

While we're being sticklers, though, Pete, I should point out that logically the Southern idiom you employed is a contraction of "you all" and should probably be spelled y'all. And in both your examples, I think meals should be plural?

For what it's worth, and depending on geography, back in my own food server days, I might have gone with "How's your meals, guys?" More likely, however, unless it was a VERY large party, I would have questioned each individual instead of trying to be too general. It's much more effective to suck up to a person than to a group.


Essorant
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11 posted 12-05-2006 02:08 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


The problem with your analogies, Essorant, is that they're not even remotely analogous.                


That's because you seem to be forgetting or discarding the fact I am speaking undividedly in the context of bad grammar in informal speech (which is just as relevant in my opinion for formal speech), not at all just informal speech in general. It is not being "informal" that makes it wrong.  It is being bad and faulty grammar.  If it were formal it would be the same thing.  Bad grammar is bad grammar! Where it is  "formal" or "informal" doesn't change that!  Although I would argue that the frequencey of bad grammar and other communication-problems are much higher the more loosely and carefreely people use language.  


Unlike evil or rude language, informal communication isn't something to be avoided. On the contrary, more often than not, it's something to be embraced. An informal setting represents a lessening of tensions so that people can better communicate and relate to each other, often using a common language extension, be it street vernacular, text messaging lingo, or simply words that define us as sharing similar roots (y'all know what I mean, mate?)
.

I didn't mean informal language in general should be avoided.  But informal language that includes bad grammar such as the saying "how is your guys's meal"? (when asking about the meal of the people that are being spoken to.)  It is incorrect grammar and a weakness to speech.  And that is chiefly why it should be avoided, or even better, that something with good grammar be encouraged instead.  

Informal words within the context of informal settings are, indeed, perfectly acceptable.              


I mostly agree.  But just because something is accepted, in my opinion, doesn't make it correct.  Just because informal words are in an informal setting, doesn't make informal words used in a grammatically faulty way no longer used in a grammatical faulty or wrong or mistaken way.  It is the context of grammatical incorrectness that I was pointing at most of all.  However, I still agree with Marge, and with Pete that "guys" is inappropriate in a restaurant where people should be intimate with politer modes of expression.  


"I would think, Essorant, that making up words willy-nilly, like unwrong or interestinger would bother you a lot more?


Why?  Prefixes and suffixes are meant to create words thus.  Just because you and others don't use them to their full potential, doesn't mean they are "willy-nilly" or incorrect.  It is a grammatically lawful way of using the language in a less common way.  


Not A Poet
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12 posted 12-05-2006 03:21 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Nope, I'm not so much objecting to the use of guys although I can see that it might be a bit to familiar to some. My objection, which I thought was yours primarily, Ess, was specifically, your guys's. That is just so wrong as to be unacceptable. Although I have heard it in exactly the context presented, it really grates every time, much like the proverbial scraping finger nails on the blackboard. So for though, I have managed to refrain from correcting the speaker. It may have unintendedly affected the tip however. This may not be a life changing event but even in an informal setting, a professional expecting payment from me should exhibit a certain amount of professionalism.

You're right Ron, it should have been y'all. I guess I was reluctant to include 2 apostrophes in the same word, y'all's just looked too wrong.

Now for something related that I find completely unacceptable. How many times have we heard the evening news broadcasters mix tenses within a sentence. For example: "A man ran a red light and is killed" of "A man runs a red light and was killed." Now these people are well paid, supposedly educated professionals. Their business is language. If they are trying to be friendly and informal then they fail completely. I don't want news from a friendly, uneducated slob. I can't understand how the producers can allow this sort of error to continue.

Sorry about hijacking the thread for another rant but it just seemed related enough at the time.


P.S. Oops, looks like we are now in the wrong thread
Essorant
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13 posted 12-06-2006 06:48 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"My objection, which I thought was yours primarily, Ess, was specifically, your guys's"

I primarily meant the bad grammar or the misnaming in refering to our meal as our guys's meal.  If it were in the context of speaking to us of an army of soldiers that came along with us (our guys) then it would be correct. (How is your guys's (i.e your soldiers'/the soldiers' that came along with you) meal?  But in the context of asking us how our meal is, it is a confusion and bad grammar.

But the word itself doesn't have much to admire about it.  

Look at the "background" of the word:

Guy

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

"The practice of referring to people as "guy" or "guys" began shortly after Guy Fawkes was made famous by the Gunpowder Plot. In 17th century England, one would call someone a "guy" in reference to Guy Fawkes, and was intended to mean that the person was anti-authoritarian, etc. The term "guy" has gradually become a pronoun for any person, though more usually used in reference to males."

Essorant
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14 posted 12-06-2006 07:02 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"How many times have we heard the evening news broadcasters mix tenses within a sentence"

Yes, that is annoying.  
ChristianSpeaks
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15 posted 12-06-2006 06:52 PM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

You have to go back to a realistic view of what a waiter "must" and "must not" do. They must bring you what  you ordered in a timely manner. They must take care of your refills while you are dining. If  you are pompus enough to think that they "must" always use proper English then you should open your own restaurant and call it the Comparative Participle's House of Noodles and Correct Tenses.

I would expect a professor, or an architect, or a lawyer to use proper English. They are formally educated. It is expected that they behave formally in their title. But getting all hung up about the English practices of a waiter? Get a hobby.

CS
Christopher
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16 posted 12-06-2006 06:58 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

which is the exact attitude that encourages poor usage of the language.

i understand what you're saying there, CS, but really all you are preaching is that it's ok to ignore correct usage of the language unless you are an educated professional; there's no reason to speak properly if all you are is one of the worker bees.
Essorant
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17 posted 12-06-2006 10:36 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Very good point, Christopher.
ChristianSpeaks
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18 posted 12-07-2006 01:43 AM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

This just in! Flo at Denny's doesn't care about my attitude!

CS

And a song that I was writing is left undone.
I don't know why I spend my time
writing songs I can't believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme
-Paul Simon


[This message has been edited by ChristianSpeaks (12-07-2006 11:10 AM).]

Essorant
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19 posted 12-07-2006 09:57 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Flo's? What do you mean?
 
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