Friday, June 30, 2006
‘any’: problem with that
There is no single Dutch morpheme which corresponds exactly to English any and the correct mapping from Dutch to English is a complicated many-to-many relation. Consider the representative examples in (24) through (36), which have been obtained from Dutch newspapers and books and native speaker informants (NSI).
Three Cheers, and Two Articles, for Descriptivism
Analyzing Eggcorns and Snowclones, and Challenging Strunk and White (New York Times on Language Log) (more)
Dean of arts and letters explores ‘bad language’ (Ashland Daily Tidings on Edwin Battistella)
‘On Language’ 6/21 - Some advice about advice
“In an effort to make the world a better place, I cleave to Conan the Grammarian’s Three Rules of Correcting Others,” writes best-selling language maven Richard Lederer, a.k.a. “Conan the Grammarian,” in a cover article in Verbatim, a Chicago-based language magazine.
His first: “Are you right?”
Second: “Will it make a difference?”
If the answer to both questions is “yes,” Lederer concludes, then you may proceed to the third rule: “Do the correcting in private.”
Lederer’s three rules are fairly simple and straightforward, but to me, they illustrate the flaws of the entire enterprise of giving grammatical advice. “Says who?” is always an appropriate response to Lederer’s first question, because what he means by “Are you right?” amounts to this: Do manuals on English usage and style recommend the correction you’re about to make?
But usage manuals are seldom written by linguists, who actually study how language works. The manuals tend to make subjective, selective and shaky suggestions. The authors pass off their own personal preferences or folk customs as gospel truth.
Arnold Zwicky, a linguist at Stanford University, writes at his Web site that linguists’ “foundational assumptions diverge strikingly from those of the advice literature at almost every turn.”
He cautions, “The advice literature on language is [merely] advice, comparable to advice on diet, exercise, gardening, child rearing, relationships, and the like.” ...
Proverbs 27:4: Aramaic 1, Septuagint 0
Selections from Proverbs 27 - Part 3
Verse 4 is as follows in Hebrew: Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming, and who can stand before jealousy? In the Septuagint it reads: Wrath is merciless and anger is sharp, but jealousy can bear nothing. In the Peshitta the verse reads: Wrath is impudent and anger is violent, and who is the one who can stand before jealousy? The general sense of the verse is clear—that jealousy is even worse than anger—but the versions differ somewhat in the details. Especially, in the second half of the verse, the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew text and from the Peshitta, since it makes “jealousy” the subject, rather than the object of the verb. This difference is difficult to explain, because the syntax of the Hebrew text is clear. At some points, particularly in poetry, the subject and the object in Hebrew may be difficult to distinguish, but that is not the case here. Clearly the translator of the Peshitta has understood the verse better than has the translator of the Septuagint. The Septuagint’s translation makes understanding the verse more difficult than necessary.
There are other points of interest in this verse. The word translated “jealousy” in all three versions is also the word translated “zeal.” continued…