Pedants United

A section to discuss matters not related to Chess in particular.
Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Sep 12, 2020 1:56 pm

"Better than one seen at another pharmacy "We dispense with accuracy"."

Genius!

Paul Habershon
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Paul Habershon » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:02 am

Robert Crampton in the Times Saturday magazine: '...the children's beds had been lain on...'
No criticism, it's correct! It's just so surprising to see that beautiful word 'lain' being used properly. So many now say 'the beds had been laid on', which of course merely means the beds had been provided.

En passant: good apostrophe position in children's. The possessive apostrophe doesn't always come after s when it's plural, as is sometimes sloppily taught. It always comes immediately after the 'owner(s)' then you add s if you need to. Unusually, I don't think there are any exceptions to that rule.

A close acquaintance always refers to having a 'lay-in'. I think it should be 'lie-in', but I don't say anything. On balance it's usually best to keep quiet and let off steam in places like this.

Nick Ivell
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Nick Ivell » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:18 am

I tend not to correct mistakes either. One word I hear a lot is 'fernickety', but I don't say anything.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:51 am

"I tend not to correct mistakes either. One word I hear a lot is 'fernickety', but I don't say anything."

Yes, people don't like being corrected!

Not meaning to be pedantic, but "fernickety" is more of a malapropism surely? A friend of mine came up with the wonderful "haemogoblin" recently.

I wondered about the origin of pernickety, apparently Scottish, but then found https://www.lexico.com/definition/persnickety

where persnickety is a late 19th Century US version of pernickety. The things you learn on fora.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Alex McFarlane » Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:14 pm

Not wanting to corrupt another thread.

What is an elo/Elo/ELO rating? I know of nowhere that actually uses Elo's formula exactly. We have FIDE ratings and national ratings but nothing advertised as elo ratings. This misnomer is even worse when people talk about someone's Australian elo rating.

On shops, I often see a sign saying "please take one". If this is above promotional material I am expected to remove a copy and take it home. Am I allowed to interpret the sign in the same way when it is above a stack of baskets?

And on road signs:
"Hidden Dip" tempts me to stop and look for the concealed salsa or guacamole.
"Slow Heavy Plant Crossing" Is this supposed to make you look for a tardy triffid
Why do lollipop men and ladies carry a sign which says "Stop Children". If that sign was obeyed they would be out of a job.

Edit to correct a mistake (Repeating FIDE instead of Elo)
Last edited by Alex McFarlane on Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Michael Farthing » Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:14 pm

Alex McFarlane wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:14 pm
Why do lollipop men and ladies carry a sign which says "Stop Children". If that sign was obeyed they would be out of a job.
I recall being told that when the lollipop person is at the side of the road the sign should be displayed with faces parallel to the road. The sign is then visible to the children waiting and instructs them to stop. Later, when the lollipop person is in the middle of the road the sign is turned through 90 degrees and is now addressed to the motorists, who being experienced and versatile adults are able to intrude a "for" into the instruction. [Actually, I've just invented that last bit, but I certaiinly have always believed it was intentionally designed for this dual purpose].

Paul Habershon
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Paul Habershon » Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:16 pm

Alex McFarlane wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:14 pm
Not wanting to corrupt another thread.

What is an elo/Elo/ELO rating? I know of nowhere that actually uses Elo's formula exactly. We have FIDE ratings and national ratings but nothing advertised as FIDE ratings. This misnomer is even worse when people talk about someone's Australian elo rating.

On shops, I often see a sign saying "please take one". If this is above promotional material I am expected to remove a copy and take it home. Am I allowed to interpret the sign in the same way when it is above a stack of baskets?

And on road signs:
"Hidden Dip" tempts me to stop and look for the concealed salsa or guacamole.
"Slow Heavy Plant Crossing" Is this supposed to make you look for a tardy triffid
Why do lollipop men and ladies carry a sign which says "Stop Children". If that sign was obeyed they would be out of a job.
I am not going to attempt a clarification of rating nomenclature, except as described below. However, I am amused by the official ECF change from 'grades' to 'ratings'. When the English Bridge Union was planning to introduce a national rating system I was a distinctly non-expert member of the advisory committee. This was because I had frequently complained about the merely cumulative system of bridge Master Points. It takes years to become a grandmaster. Also, poor results are ignored. Why, I used to say to the EBU, can you not do something with duplicate bridge results which, after all, are calculated to two decimal points and are published every week at clubs all over the country? I would also remark that young chess players can quickly achieve rating recognition and even become grandmasters at an early age.

Luckily in 2010 the EBU was changing from mainly individual direct membership to automatic membership through affiliated clubs. This required such clubs to upload their results to the EBU because the membership fees related to numbers of bums on seats, i.e. P2P (pay to play). Thus, thanks to computerisation, the EBU captured all results and factored them into a rating system.

On the advisory panel I had absolutely no input into the mathematics of the whole project, but the question of naming it arose. Rating system? Actually, said I, the ECF uses 'grades'. The panel, aware that many bridge players were going to hate this new-fangled assessment, thought that grade sounded 'softer' than rating. Thus the NGS (National Grading System) was born and remains so called to this day. Master Points have not been abolished, so it still takes ages to become a grandmaster, but at least there is a rolling order of merit. A valuable member of the panel was former British chess champion, Peter Lee, one of the best bridge players in the country. His profession as statistician provided a good defence against inevitable opposition to the new system. Another key brain involved was Mike Christie, also a former chess player. Anyone remember him?

Yes, road signs, Alex. Interpretation is indeed fun, though I think we have to make allowances for context. I guess you were tongue in cheek anyway.
However, I do object to 'Road Ahead Closed' which rarely specifies a road. Your heart sinks as you contemplate having to do a 3-point turn. Then you find no obstruction at all because the closure refers to some minor side street.

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John Clarke
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Re: Pedants United

Post by John Clarke » Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:19 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 3:14 pm
Alex McFarlane wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:14 pm
Why do lollipop men and ladies carry a sign which says "Stop Children". If that sign was obeyed they would be out of a job.
I recall being told that when the lollipop person is at the side of the road the sign should be displayed with faces parallel to the road. The sign is then visible to the children waiting and instructs them to stop. Later, when the lollipop person is in the middle of the road the sign is turned through 90 degrees and is now addressed to the motorists, who being experienced and versatile adults are able to intrude a "for" into the instruction. [Actually, I've just invented that last bit, but I certaiinly have always believed it was intentionally designed for this dual purpose].
When I was a wee lad in the UK, those signs used to have black lettering on a white background (and the red border, of course). The wording was "Stop Children Crossing". I can't remember what punctuation, if any, was used. I think the "Stop" was in bigger letters than the rest.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

E Michael White
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Re: Pedants United

Post by E Michael White » Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:25 pm

pseudo collective words -

A variety of arbiters was/were queuing outside the local curry house for their dinners. Is variety singular or plural ?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:06 am

E Michael White wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:25 pm
. Is variety singular or plural ?
Variety has a plural "varieties" as in Heinz.

In "a flock of sheep", flock is singular no matter how many sheep.
You could have "a team of chess players" not numbering more than six. More than that it's "teams". Team would be common usage for several arbiters as well.

A way of identifying those for whom English is not their first language is that they regard "informations" as the term to describe multiple information.

Paul Habershon
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Paul Habershon » Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:08 am

E Michael White wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:25 pm
pseudo collective words -

A variety of arbiters was/were queuing outside the local curry house for their dinners. Is variety singular or plural ?
Variety is singular but I would avoid controversy here by simplifying and improving the style. 'Various arbiters were queuing...', 'Some arbiters were queuing...', or even 'Arbiters were queuing...'.

'A variety' of arbiters is intriguing. By not using 'group' perhaps you want to be more specific.
Were they all of one type, e.g. FIDE qualified? Or did they have different physical or behavioural characteristics?

Nick Ivell
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Nick Ivell » Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:11 pm

Maybe we should add 'variety' to our list of collective nouns.

Better than 'murder', I suppose...

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MJMcCready
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Re: Pedants United

Post by MJMcCready » Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:59 pm

Alistair Campbell wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:30 pm
Pronunciation is a different tea-pot of fish, as a German ex-colleague of mine once said, but surely both “d”s in Wednesday are pronounced?! (Note how I avoided the use of an apostrophe to denote a plural).

Mismatch of plural nouns with singular verbs (and vice versa) provides fertile ground. MPs (sic) may say “none of us agree with what the Government are doing” even if there are data which (that?) suggest otherwise; the media are probably complicit.

Collective nouns are problematic. Are they singular, or plural? “A number of schools was” may be correct but sounds wrong, perhaps due to the proximity of “schools” to the verb.

I note Kevin’s complaint about “you and I”. I’ve often heard people taking exaggerated care not to use “you and me” when it would be correct. But, in the spirit of this thread, does “between” take the accusative? Does the accusative still exist? I would have been tempted by a dative, if that were possible. (Is that a subjunctive?)

I also note David Williams’ (Williams’s?) reference to the use of “refute”. There was a celebrated court case in Scotland earlier this year; prior to going to trial, the accused was said to have “refuted” the allegations, when, as far as I could see, he had merely denied them. I did wonder if the use of “refute” was a subtle attempt at conveying innocence to the general public.
Some nouns exist only in plural form, I believe they are called plurale tantums , scissors and trousers are fairly obvious examples of that.
Rather reluctantly, I confess to sometimes being subversive in this forum. I feel it takes itself too seriously and I am, perhaps, too proud of my working-class upbringing.

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John Clarke
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Re: Pedants United

Post by John Clarke » Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:01 am

MJMcCready wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:59 pm
Some nouns exist only in plural form, I believe they are called plurale tantums , scissors and trousers are fairly obvious examples of that.
Use of "trouser" as a singular noun is not unknown. Some menswear retailers with a pretentious bent used to (may still do) refer to something they showed you as "a very fine trouser, sir".

And I remember one female character on Coronation Street, back in the 90s it must have been, refer to Jim McDonald as "a pretty fair bit of trouser".
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

Nick Grey
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Re: Pedants United

Post by Nick Grey » Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:26 am

Trousers or pants? I'm on the side of Trousers.

Going Commando ....

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