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NineEighteen
20th Jan 2015, 18:59
There are some well read people on here.

I was once told never to use 'due to' where 'owing to' or 'because of' would work as it would always be wrong. The lesson has stayed with me for well over 20 years, so I never have.

Any thoughts?

KenV
20th Jan 2015, 19:16
Why would 'owing to' or 'because of' always be more correct than "due to". Is this another subtle difference between the Queen's English and American English?

Flypro
20th Jan 2015, 19:16
That will be due to your fear of being criticised:ok:

Hydromet
20th Jan 2015, 20:11
There is a slight difference. "Due to" and "owing to" imply a causal relationship: "The train was late due to an accident on the track." compared with "You shouldn't swear because it's impolite."

funfly
20th Jan 2015, 21:11
Hydromet,
2 forms of due here.

The 'due' referred to initially is related to 'dues' which implies something that is expected, a debt.

You must pay your dues or Payment is due.
Or over due should that be the case.

You are due something because it is owing.

Tankertrashnav
20th Jan 2015, 21:47
9/18 - try this page

Learning English | BBC World Service (http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv56.shtml)

Seems like you can stop worrying about it. English moves on, and what was considered wrong when I was at school is often fine now

Hydromet
21st Jan 2015, 00:12
Seems like you can stop worrying about it.But I don't wish to.:*

Funfly, you are correct, of course. I was only referring to the meaning of "due to" that is similar to "because".

Wingswinger
21st Jan 2015, 06:47
I think there are far more irritating modern English usages to be concerned about than whether or not due in the sense of causation is a major solecism.

chuks
21st Jan 2015, 07:52
It's "well-read," not "well read." That's spelling, though, not grammar.

That's a good question! I like "because of" since it has "cause" in there. "I'm late because my car wouldn't start," clearly says that the car not starting was the cause of the delay. You couldn't say "I was late due to my car wouldn't start," and "I was late owing to my car wouldn't start," also wouldn't work. You'd have to dress those up with "due to/owing to the fact that my car wouldn't start," making "because of" the shortest way to get to your point, making your excuse.

Giving the cause as "my car not starting," well, that's the passive voice, I think, when it's really that the damned thing refused to start, so that "I was late due to/owing to my car not starting" is also inferior.

Until recently it should have been "Seems as if you can stop worrying about it," instead of " ... seems like .... " because of some rule that's now been discarded. I think that rule went because of a punchy jingle, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should," that wormed its way into popular speech in the Fifties in America, that sharp "like," Pow!, over a languid "as." Would you rather be told what to smoke by some hip, up-to-the-minute, finger-poppin' hepcat using "like," or your goddam English teacher, always bugging you about the rules of speech?

Pedants moaned for years about "like for as," but that went ignored, so that finally it has been agreed that using "like" for "as" is not incorrect, some sort of "Have it your way!" in the face of persistent error.

Compare "I want to speak to you as your friend," to "I want to speak to you like your friend," to see the slight difference. In the first sentence I am your friend; in the second sentence I am not your friend but something else, something merely like your friend. As Twain put it, that's the difference between the lightning and a lightning bug!

Wingswinger
21st Jan 2015, 08:08
That's a good question! I like "because of" since it has "cause" in there. "I'm late because my car wouldn't start," clearly says that the car not starting was the cause of the delay. You couldn't say "I was late due to my car wouldn't start," and "I was late owing to my car wouldn't start," also wouldn't work. You'd have to dress those up with "due to/owing to the fact that my car wouldn't start," making "because of" the shortest way to get to your point, making your excuse.

Giving the cause as "my car not starting," well, that's the passive voice, I think, when it's really that the damned thing refused to start, so that "I was late due to/owing to my car not starting" is also inferior.

But you could say " I was late due to my car not starting" or "owing to my car not starting" or even "my car's not starting" which is odd and we would probably say "my car's failure to start". Gerunds, I think, in the first two examples.

ETOPS
21st Jan 2015, 08:11
Thanks chuks

Really enjoy your clear explanations. Now what about "different to/from".?.:)

Tankertrashnav
21st Jan 2015, 08:56
Seems like you can stop worrying about it.
But I don't wish to.

Every time you find yourself worrying about it or raging against some new usage which seems to be taking over the "correct" one that you have always used (and I've done it myself), just remember old Canute, who knew you cant stop the inevitable. You can't beat 'em, even though you may prefer not to join 'em.

I'm one of a dwindling number fighting a rearguard action to keep the use of disinterested and uninterested separate, but we know it's a lost cause.

jolihokistix
21st Jan 2015, 09:10
ETOPS, for the differences in usage between different to and from, see Fowler's Modern English Usage, the updated version by R.W. Burchfield.

http://www.amazon.com/Fowlers-Modern-English-Usage-Burchfield/dp/0198610211

Choxolate
21st Jan 2015, 09:26
ETOPS
Really enjoy your clear explanations. Now what about "different to/from".?.
I was always taught different FROM and similar TO - but apparently different to is now acceptable, but it still grates with me.

The reasoning I was given is that "difference" is subtractive - that is when you remove the common elements of two objects, you are left with the differences between them, you subtract FROM not subtract TO.

chuks
21st Jan 2015, 09:45
What he just said about "from" and "to."

Those other words have two completely different meanings, disinterested and uninterested. Either you are have an interest which you set aside, or else you don't have any interest at all.

I don't think that those two words shall ever merge in use in the way that "like" and "as" have been allowed to. Even there, they still retain slightly different meanings, for those who still care about that sort of thing.

I read a lot, particularly the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books, trying to remain exposed to stuff that's well-written, mostly in my mother tongue, American English. Doing that sensitizes me to both spelling and grammar.

There's always the risk of coming off like a pedant, a pain-in-the-ass to normal people, but trying to speak properly is a good form of mental exercise, always thinking "Was that the best way to express that thought?"

As we age there's a real risk of becoming closed off to the new. That is the sort of thing that we used to find so funny when we were young, Granny losing her mind over some modern bit of slang, as if the world were coming to an end. Language is something we can continue to use to interact with the world, even as we are reduced to playing a lesser role in the world as a whole, perhaps mostly as an observer.

I sometimes get a laugh out of chipping in with a comment when some young people are having a general conversation; that can be as if the park bench just spoke!

Spelling and grammar become more important if we let language as a whole become more important to us, but tolerance, not just "book learning" comes into that if we want to avoid being reduced mostly to reading.

If the young people, anyone below about age 45 to me, don't know or care about the difference between "like" and "as," well, for them there is none, because they have never been taught about that! It's just like telling someone who's not a birdwatcher that those are not just "two birds" out there at the feeder, but a great tit and a house sparrow, because ... of a lot of facts he never bothered to learn about birds.

Of course it's arguably a lot more important to know about our shared language than it is to know about birds, but then there's a lot of stuff others may know that we don't know. I was asking my son about some of the music we were listening to in his car, stuff he's down-loaded onto a CD. "So, this is disco music?"

"Well, not exactly. This is house."

"Okay, so this tune now, this is also house?"

"No, this is trance," and so it went. Well, that matters a lot more to him than knowing about the difference between "like" and "as," I think!

It can be a lot of fun to track the way speech is being used nowadays, with such things as this modern "I was like, 'Take a chill pill, Dude.'" The speaker there might not literally have said anything; he might have just stepped back and shrugged. We don't know, because he doesn't care to give us any more information than that.

How should some traditionalist give that meaning in so few words? "I indicated to him with my physical actions that I did not wish to engage in fisticuffs with him at that particular time, that he should choose to calm himself, because remaining silent in the face of his agitated state seemed to be my best option."


There you are in your fusty velvet smoking jacket, well-loved Meerschaum in one hand, a snifter of brandy in the other .... As they used to say, "Gag me with a spoon!"

ETOPS
21st Jan 2015, 09:52
"Gag me with a spoon!"

Valleyspeak! - Dude, that's rad :ok:

Thanks Choxolate

We learn something every day.

Bergerie1
21st Jan 2015, 16:24
chucks,
Some erudite explanations - for which I thank you. Have you read 'The Sense of Style' by Steven Pinker? He calls it the thinking person's guide to writing in the 21st century. He is an American so the book is biased towards American English, but he is very good on the meanings and use of words and the changes of usage over the years. He also has some amusing things to say about The New Yorker's eccentric punctuation!
I think you might enjoy it.

Uncle Fred
21st Jan 2015, 16:45
I'm one of a dwindling number fighting a rearguard action to keep the use of disinterested and uninterested separate, but we know it's a lost cause.

Tanker,

You are not alone in that fight. Two completely different words with two completely different meanings and it is a bit of a screeching sound when a speaker or writer conflates them. It is not a matter of being a pedant, but just appreciating accuracy in speaking.

A similar (but not the same) trap occurs for some with flammable and inflammable. I have also wondered since disgruntled means unhappy, would gruntled mean that all is well? (Yes, I know it is not in the dictionary!)


Chuks,

The like and as if is a bit of a conundrum. Like of course very much has its place in a comparison Bob is more like his father than his brother and other such constructs. There can also be troubles for speakers though with as if when it tends towards having a subjunctive meaning.

Although a bit before my generation, the cigarette commercial for like a cigarette should[I] does not get my goat as much as it did my English teachers. I know the correct construction would have been [I]as a cigarette should but I have always felt, if for no other reason than the euphony of the phrase, that like conveyed the meaning quite nicely almost in an oblique comparative sense--it is doing something like it should. It is almost as if it is the cigarette was being compared to a standard of some kind.

My Ux and I also read the New Yorker for its style of writing. Except for the turgid Richard Brody in the film reviews, the reporting and writing is of the first quality. One also sees this in the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books. Both harbor excellent narrative.

Of the many faults that one can have, I have been surprisingly free of getting stuck in a rut over the usage of language. It is indeed a growing and dynamic organism and it is rather a treat at times to hear how it is being shaped and employed. I like to hear how the younger generation is using it--after all, it will be theirs for the next few decades.

I think however, if any common ground could be found with those aspirated teachers of our youth who seemed a bit pedantic that it would be over accuracy and style and meaning and all the rest that is the beauty of language. Orwell once said that he was more interested in how one thought than what one thought. I think we can carry this over to the spoken and written word. Is it worth getting the vapours over the slightest of mis-usage when one really wants to hear/read is how the speaker/author is thinking. Can they explain to us both the how and what of their thoughts?

I think the teachers of old would also share with us an appreciation for the luxuriant vocabulary of language and that without trying to be stilted or pompous a variety of words and phrases always helps to keep listener attention. This is, for me anyway, probably the greatest frustration with both young and old. Here, in language, one has the greatest tool ever developed and so many just shrink its horizon to that of a garden ornament. Thus it is not that I am being a snob when I do not want to hear many people (or any age) talk, but rather that I am eager for more than a 100 word vocabulary and phrasing.

chuks
21st Jan 2015, 16:59
No. I need to look that one up.

The old stand-by is still Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, and a recent one was Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, from a joke about the panda bear, which eats shoots and leaves, or else eats, shoots, and leaves; it's a real knee-slapper!

A wonderful read is Mark Twain's "The Literary Sins of Fenimore Cooper," a real demolition job on the guy who wrote The Last of the Mohicans.

There's also the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, "a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels." Bulwer-Lytton was the guy who wrote "It was a dark and stormy night," as the opening sentence of one of his (almost unreadable) novels, and I think it's Snoopy from Peanuts who's always using that in his own writing.

There was a writer named H. Allen Smith, now mostly forgotten, who wrote about a book he had read, one with a sentence in it about bears or perhaps sharks. It read something like "There is the brown bear, the black bear and the great white also," so Smith had a lot of fun with this animal called "the great white also."

Then there was Ian & Sylvia, a pair of Canadian folk singers with a sappy hit ballad titled "Four Strong Winds," one not about a bean-eating contest. In the song there was a verse about "If I get there before the snow flies ... " so that when we were ripped to the tits on illicit substances, or just home-brewed beer we always would wonder what those Canadian snowflies looked like. Happy days!

603DX
21st Jan 2015, 17:02
I recall being taught that one should never start a sentence with "And", "But", or "So", by our very authoritarian schoolmistress in primary school.

But I thought this was wrong. So I tried slipping them in to my work submitted for marking, to see if she spotted them. And she did.

Never did like her.

Hydromet
21st Jan 2015, 19:47
I'm one of a dwindling number fighting a rearguard action to keep the use of disinterested and uninterested separate, but we know it's a lost cause.
TTN and Uncle Fred, there are at least three of us! The reaction has started!

probes
21st Jan 2015, 21:27
forget about lessons, it's a lost battle anyway:

" As we know from our experiences in the classroom, adults aren’t as good at mastering the details of a language as toddlers are, and the result was simpler languages.

Vikings, for example, invaded England starting in the eighth century and married into the society. Children in England, hearing their fathers’ “broken” Old English in a time when schooling was limited to elites and there was no media, grew up speaking that kind of English, and the result was what I am writing now. Old English bristled with three genders, five cases and the same sort of complex grammar that makes modern German so difficult for us, but after the Vikings, it morphed into modern English, one of the few languages in Europe that doesn’t assign gender to inanimate objects. Mandarin, Persian, Indonesian and other languages went through similar processes and are therefore much less “cluttered” than a normal language is.

The second wave of simplification happened when a few European powers transported African slaves to plantations or subjected other people to similarly radical displacements. Adults had to learn a language fast, and they learned even less of it than Vikings did of English—often just a few hundred words and some scraps of sentence structure. But that won’t do as a language to fully live in, and so they expanded these fundamentals into brand-new languages. Now these languages can express any nuance of human thought, but they haven’t existed long enough to also dangle unnecessary things like willfully irregular verbs. These are called Creole languages.

It’s far easier to manage a basic conversation in a Creole than in an older language. Haitian Creole, for example, is a language low on the complications that make learning Navajo or Hmong so tough. It spares a student from having to know that boats are male and tables are female, which is one of the reasons that it’s so hard to master French, the language from which it got most of its words.
***
Modern population movements are now creating a third wave of language streamlining. In cities world-wide, children of immigrants speaking many different languages are growing up speaking among themselves a version of their new country’s language that nibbles away at such arbitrary features as irregular verbs and gendered objects. It’s a kind of compromise between the original version of the language and the way their parents speak it.

Linguists have no single term yet for these new speech varieties, but from Kiezdeutsch in Germany to “Kebob Norsk” in Norway, from the urban Wolof of Senegal to Singapore’s “Singlish,” the world is witnessing the birth of lightly optimized versions of old languages.
***
After all, what’s peculiar about the Babel tale is the idea of linguistic diversity as a curse, not the idea of universal comprehension as a blessing. The future promises both a goodly amount of this diversity and ever more mutual comprehension, as many languages become easier to pick up, in their spoken versions, than they once were. A future dominated by English won’t be a linguistic paradise, in short, but it won’t be a linguistic Armageddon either."

What the World Will Speak in 2115 - WSJ (http://www.wsj.com/articles/what-the-world-will-speak-in-2115-1420234648)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a8/Marten_van_Valckenborch_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/640px-Marten_van_Valckenborch_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Tankertrashnav
21st Jan 2015, 23:19
I have also wondered since disgruntled means unhappy, would gruntled mean that all is well? (Yes, I know it is not in the dictionary!)


Similarly I always like to make sure I look shevelled when I go into town. ;)

Barksdale Boy
22nd Jan 2015, 00:17
And (!), of course, parameter merely sounds like perimeter.

jolihokistix
22nd Jan 2015, 02:32
Some of the comments on this thread are gusting.

Pinky the pilot
22nd Jan 2015, 02:58
Some of the comments on this thread are gusting.

Indeed! I am most appointed at some comments myself.

probes
22nd Jan 2015, 05:26
see?! That's what they've done through centuries... I'm quite sure '(s)he' would replaced by something more PC and gender neutral (and not the 'they'), too. :E

Btw, when I went to school (and that wasn't even a century ago!) we were told one has to say 'I/we shall' and that's future (intentions or otherwise), the rest take 'will'. By now Future has opened new horizons.

Hydromet
22nd Jan 2015, 08:44
Some of the comments on this thread are gusting.Surely that's a wind up.

MagnusP
22nd Jan 2015, 08:52
"The train from Aberdeen is due to arrive at platform 21 in 8 minutes". Woss wrong with that? :E

"Gag me with a spoon". One can heartily recommend Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl" from the album "Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch". It was voiced by his daughter Moon Unit, who was then 14 years old.

jolihokistix
22nd Jan 2015, 08:57
Gales of laughter! :ok:

Blacksheep
22nd Jan 2015, 10:30
The English language has many forms.

The form of English used in the King James authorised version of the Bible is beautiful and expressive, but if you were to use that form of speech in everyday conversation, you would be regarded as odd. Indeed, the church has adopted a "New English" version to keep up with the times.

Like most people, I modify my speech - or writing - according to the context.

As my Northern relatives say when I visit.

"Whey, why-ya tarkin' arl posh, ya bluddy suthennar!" - and I have to change back to being a Northern chap. Just to be polite, ya unnerstan.

Stanwell
22nd Jan 2015, 11:04
Ah, yes indeed, English is certainly an evolving language.

Playground language together with incomprehensible 'yoof-speak' is now our official language, dontcha know?
I just love it when I'm told by some pimply-faced kid "That's how it is now - get used to it!"

Oh, OK.

North Shore
22nd Jan 2015, 11:22
As my Northern relatives say when I visit.

"Whey, why-ya tarkin' arl posh, ya bluddy suthennar!" - and I have to change back to being a Northern chap. Just to be polite, ya unnerstan.


Punchline at the end...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IUR1jeJYX7Y

Blacksheep
22nd Jan 2015, 12:15
Northern monkeys?

... but Liverpool is well south. :confused:

Even Leeds is further north than Liverpool.

603DX
22nd Jan 2015, 13:01
The English language has many forms.


Indeed it does, as well illustrated by the "effing and blinding" language used throughout that Youtube clip from a film which was replete with it. I personally find it objectionable, and believe that many others feel the same, but it would be foolish to deny that there is a significant proportion of the UK population who routinely converse like that. It's probably a safe bet that there aren't many Nobel prizewinners, philosophers, research scientists or poets amongst them ... :uhoh:

Uncle Fred
15th Feb 2015, 22:13
I have also wondered since disgruntled means unhappy, would gruntled mean that all is well? (Yes, I know it is not in the dictionary!)

Similarly I always like to make sure I look shevelled when I go into town.

Which leads into the "less" words. If I am not ruthless, am I then ruth? If I am not hapless, am I then hap? Many others of course...shiftless, feckless, etc.

Striving now to appear gruntled and shevelled in all public appearances that I make.

G-CPTN
15th Feb 2015, 22:26
Flammable / Inflammable:-

Back in the 1920s the National Fire Protection Association urged people to start using the word 'flammable' instead of 'inflammable' (which is the original word) because they were concerned some people might think inflammable meant not-flammable.

Carbon Bootprint
15th Feb 2015, 23:58
So, according to the NFPA, remarks that might inspire outrage should be described as "flammatory" rather than "inflammatory"? :rolleyes:

I think that might be a tough sell.

Stanwell
16th Feb 2015, 00:44
Similarly, people seem to be confused when I use the word "couth".

Flash2001
16th Feb 2015, 00:49
I took Ruth on my motorbike

The country for to see

I hit a bump at 75

And drove on Ruthlessly.

After an excellent landing etc...

sitigeltfel
16th Feb 2015, 04:44
I recall being taught that one should never start a sentence with "And", "But", or "So", by our very authoritarian schoolmistress in primary school.

But I thought this was wrong. So I tried slipping them in to my work submitted for marking, to see if she spotted them. And she did.

Never did like her.

You should have quoted the poem " Jerusalem " by William Blake.

Is there anything more "English" than that? ;)

Old 'Un
16th Feb 2015, 08:40
A few of my more pedantic friends have some very funny conversations where they extract the Michael from the English language while discussing some of its idiosyncrasies. A favourite: I can be over-whelmed and I can be under-whelmed. Can I therefore simply be whelmed?

Another: If a person/animal is inert, then moves, is it suddenly ert?

Colourful is our mother tongue.

Le Vieux

John Hill
16th Feb 2015, 08:59
The meaning of mantled is to be covered, cloaked, veiled etc but the meaning of dismantled is to be taken apart, not just uncovered. I think I will go out to my shed and remantle my old Vespa.

MagnusP
16th Feb 2015, 09:24
HAH! I'll see your Vespa, and raise you my Lambretta LI175. Fun, weren't they? ;)

couth is perfectly valid. It's used most often in Scotland in the form couthie or couthy, meaning kind or agreeable.

wings folded
16th Feb 2015, 09:51
I am all for the language being more hevelled.

G.Green
16th Feb 2015, 11:06
When does something unobtainable become unattainable?

Tankertrashnav
16th Feb 2015, 15:39
I'll have a go at that one

If you go in to a garage and try and order a part for your classic car, and are told that the part is unobtainable, then at that point your wish to fix your car becomes unattainable.

I think :confused:

ChrisVJ
16th Feb 2015, 15:57
While split infinitives only became 'poor' English a hundred or so years ago I find them uncomfortable, bad enough in speech but seriously grating in print.

My current bete noir is "Me and . . . . . " I have never said that but my kids do in spite of years and years of correction. Now it is becoming commonplace on television I guess the cause is lost.

dazdaz1
16th Feb 2015, 15:58
Be careful men/ladies there too many Johnny foreigners trying to 'trip us up' with the Queens English (Germans excluded, we like you) don't fall for this ploy. As of now I'm writing a strongly worded letter to the Times.

wings folded
16th Feb 2015, 16:26
Is "as of" necessary?

dazdaz1
16th Feb 2015, 16:35
Is "as of" necessary?" I posted "as of now"...Currant tense.

Uncle Fred
16th Feb 2015, 16:39
I'll have a go at that one

If you go in to a garage and try and order a part for your classic car, and are told that the part is unobtainable, then at that point your wish to fix your car becomes unattainable.

I think

I would say that you are correct. I believe unattainable fits more with an indefinite or indeterminate such as a goal, love, fame, etc. Whereas for unobtainable I think more in terms of a definite such as the car part, more salary, etc.

To me it seems similar to the further/farther nuance. Just my decidedly most humble opinion however!

wings folded
16th Feb 2015, 17:12
"Now" used to be good enough.

Ah well.... standards slip

But with your currant tense, I am sure you have your raisins

Uncle Fred
15th Mar 2015, 09:40
With these admonitions in mind, I can imagine Flight Cadet Swifty reporting for duty as gruntled, shevelled but perhaps fatigable. In fine fettle of course at the start but merely fatigable vice indefatigable. There must of course be a limit on continued exertions!