17 Sep 2008

Tasty Relief

Submitted by Karl Hagen
While driving in to work this morning, I head the reporter on NPR talking about a sense of "palatable relief" on Wall Street due to the bail out of AIG. After I finished snickering, for which elitism I will soon, doubtlessly, be punished by the law of prescriptive retaliation, I googled the phrase. It's not very common (only 100 g-hits as opposed to 8080 for 'palpable relief'), and a few are just accidental collocations crossing phrase boundaries, but clearly this is not unattested.
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26 Aug 2008

Irregardless

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Contain your righteous indignation for a moment and consider the much-maligned word irregardless. There are two arguments typically advanced against it, usually together: first, that it is "not a word," and second, that it is a kind of double negative. The first claim is simply stupid. By any reasonable definition of what a word is, of course it's a word. Just because a word irritates you does not demote the utterance from wordhood.
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28 Jun 2008

Those pesky pronouns

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Your high school English teacher always warned you about those ambiguous pronouns, but many of the examples she gave you probably weren't really ambiguous in a practical context. Here's one that is demonstrably ambiguous, but not, I think, for the reasons usually offered in high school textbooks. Language Hat grouses about an explanation offered by Dear Abby about the distinction between "burn down" and "burn up."
DEAR ABBY: Does a house "burn up" or "burn down"?
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21 Jun 2008

The Predictive Validity of the SAT

Submitted by Karl Hagen
A few days ago, the New York times carried an article about the SAT with the headline "Study Finds Little Benefit in New SAT."

Here's the lede:

The revamped SAT, expanded three years ago to include a writing test, predicts college success no better than the old test, and not quite as well as a student’s high school grades

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5 May 2008
I think we need a new subtype of the law of prescriptive retaliation.. The woman holding this sign isn't trying to correct a specific point of grammar or usage, but she is advocating a general sort of prescription: English as the official, or as she puts it, the "offical" language of the U.S. [Link via Digg]
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