Idiosyncratic English usage

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Algun Desconocido

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Feb 1, 2007, 1:51:14 AM2/1/07
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In an article at
http://www.natureview.nl/spits/animals/svalbard_reindeer.htm
that's written in almost faultless English, it's somewhat
startling to see one glaring misuse consistently applied. I
would guess the writer is probably a native speaker of
Norwegian.

The misuse consists of using "as" in place of "than." Some
excerpts from the article"

# They are more closely related to the Canadian Caribou
# (Reindeer) as to the Scandinavian or Siberian Reindeer.

# Male antlers are much bigger as those of a female.

# The Reindeer on Spitsbergen live in small herds,
# normally not bigger as 10 individuals.

athel...@yahoo

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Feb 1, 2007, 4:41:45 AM2/1/07
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On Feb 1, 7:51 am, Algun Desconocido <desconoc...@earthlionk.net>
wrote:
> In an article athttp://www.natureview.nl/spits/animals/svalbard_reindeer.htm

> that's written in almost faultless English,

Almost faultness in the sense that it present no problems for being
understood, but minor faults are quite frequent nonetheless, for
example

"can not" for "cannot"
"area's" for "areas" (several times, so it's not a typo)
"calfs" for "calves"
"develope" for "develop"
"wind swept mountain ridges" for "wind-swept mountain ridges"
"souvernity" for "sovereignty"

> it's somewhat
> startling to see one glaring misuse consistently applied. I
> would guess the writer is probably a native speaker of
> Norwegian.

Yes, though (s)he says "the ones we see in Canada", and the page is
hosted in the Netherlands.


>
> The misuse consists of using "as" in place of "than." Some
> excerpts from the article"
>

[ ... ]

athel

Algun Desconocido

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Feb 1, 2007, 7:54:13 AM2/1/07
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On 1 Feb 2007 01:41:45 -0800, "athel...@yahoo"
<athe...@yahoo.co.uk> said:

> On Feb 1, 7:51 am, Algun Desconocido <desconoc...@earthlionk.net>
> wrote:
> > In an article athttp://www.natureview.nl/spits/animals/svalbard_reindeer.htm
> > that's written in almost faultless English,
>
> Almost faultness in the sense that it present no problems for being
> understood, but minor faults are quite frequent nonetheless, for
> example
>
> "can not" for "cannot"

Two American dictionaries (by different publishers) have
"can not" as a synonym for "cannot," so it's a matter of
style which to use.

> "area's" for "areas" (several times, so it's not a typo)

Agreed.

> "calfs" for "calves"

Two American dictionaries have "calfs" as an alternative
plural of "calf."

(Interesting to see, they have only "roofs" for "roof," but
m-w has /ruvz/ as an alternative pronunciation of "roofs.")

> "develope" for "develop"

Agreed,

> "wind swept mountain ridges" for "wind-swept mountain ridges"

That's debatable. Hyphenation is to a great extent a matter
of personal preference. I favor the idea that hyphenation
of compound adjectives needs to be used only where necessary
to avoid ambiguity or false scent. "Wind swept mountain
ridges" seems to me to pose no risk of ambiguity or false
scent.

> "souvernity" for "sovereignty"

Agreed.

And let me add to your list two uses of "weight" for
"weigh":

# The males weight 60kg at the end of winter and 90kg
# at the end of summer. Females weight less

> > it's somewhat
> > startling to see one glaring misuse consistently applied. I
> > would guess the writer is probably a native speaker of
> > Norwegian.
>
> Yes, though (s)he says "the ones we see in Canada", and the page is
> hosted in the Netherlands.

And "©2004 Arjen Drost" suggests that the writer is Dutch.
Soccer player Arjen Robben is.

> > The misuse consists of using "as" in place of "than." Some
> > excerpts from the article"

I obviously didn't proofread the article carefully, or I
wouldn't have called the English faultless. It's still the
"as"/"than" misuse that reaches out and grabs me, but thank
you for your more careful critique.

> >
> [ ... ]
>
> athel
>
>

athel...@yahoo

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Feb 1, 2007, 12:21:18 PM2/1/07
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On Feb 1, 1:54 pm, Algun Desconocido <desconoc...@earthlionk.net>
wrote:

> On 1 Feb 2007 01:41:45 -0800, "athel...@yahoo"
> <athel...@yahoo.co.uk> said:
>
[ ... ]

>
> > "can not" for "cannot"
>
> Two American dictionaries (by different publishers) have
> "can not" as a synonym for "cannot," so it's a matter of
> style which to use.
>
To me, "can not" (if it is to be used at all) means something
different from "cannot" (and I would pronounce it very differently as
well, with schwa for the vowel in "can" and stress on the "not",
whereas "cannot" I stress on the first syllable). Other opinions on
this usage point?

a.


Otro Desconocido

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Feb 1, 2007, 5:21:05 PM2/1/07
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On 1 Feb 2007 09:21:18 -0800, "athel...@yahoo"
<athe...@yahoo.co.uk> said:

To put the matter in proper perspective, let's remember that
ordinary American English speakers wouldn't say "cannot" if
they mean "can't." If they say "can not," it will be in a
case typified by

I can take this job, or I can not take this job.

"Can not" expresses an ability to refrain from doing
something. "Can't" expresses an inability to do something.
"Cannot" with the latter meaning is a written word that
should have no place in everyday, normal spoken English, so
it shouldn't matter much which way it's spelled.

Emphasis can be handled well by emphasizing the full word
"can't":

I can take this job, or I can not take this job, but
I definitely CAN'T take THAT job.

(But I can't not take any job.)

I suppose there are pedantic people who would say "can()not"
with the meaning "can't," but I would expect normal
listeners to regard such speech as affectation.

I think that respected writers who write "can()not" instead
of "can't" are almost certainly thinking "can't," but can't
write it because they're governed by house rules that forbid
contractions.

Mark Brader

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Feb 1, 2007, 5:31:44 PM2/1/07
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> > "wind swept mountain ridges" for "wind-swept mountain ridges"
>
> That's debatable. Hyphenation is to a great extent a matter
> of personal preference.

Yes; the form I'd consider normal is "windswept mountain ridges".

> "Wind swept mountain ridges" seems to me to pose no risk of ambiguity
> or false scent.

It's ungrammatical, except as a newspaper headline where "swept"
is a verb.
--
Mark Brader "You have a truly warped mind.
Toronto I admire that in a person."
m...@vex.net -- Bill Davidsen

athel...@yahoo

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Feb 2, 2007, 4:40:24 AM2/2/07
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On Feb 1, 11:31 pm, m...@vex.net (Mark Brader) wrote:
> > > "wind swept mountain ridges" for "wind-swept mountain ridges"
>
> > That's debatable. Hyphenation is to a great extent a matter
> > of personal preference.
>
> Yes; the form I'd consider normal is "windswept mountain ridges".
>
I've no quarrel with "windswept", and, indeed, almost wrote it instead
of "wind-swept" in my original comment. However, I do object to "wind
swept", and I do think there is a (slight) risk of false scent --
reading out loud one would be tempted to give both words equal stress
(which would certainly put the listener on the wrong track), instead
of the clear stress on the first syllable.

> > "Wind swept mountain ridges" seems to me to pose no risk of ambiguity
> > or false scent.
>
> It's ungrammatical, except as a newspaper headline where "swept"
> is a verb.
> --

Agreed.

a.


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