Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2007 October 15

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October 15[edit]


I've created a stub for Aeneas MacKenzie, but should it have been Æneas MacKenzie instead? I'm going to make a redirect one way or another, but this is a royal pÆn, so to speak. Clarityfiend 00:21, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Apparently the man may have actually used Æ (so a redirect would be appropriate), but you put the article at the right place, in my opinion. Wareh 00:31, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I'd say yes - if that's how he's listed on IMDB, that's probably his real name. You should definitely create a redirect one way or the other. NASCAR Fan24(radio me!) 00:32, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I made Æneas MacKenzie a redirect page, since it's harder to type. But out of curiosity, what exactly is the status of "Æ" in English? The article doesn't really say. Clarityfiend 01:33, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Obsolescent. Wareh 02:07, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Although occasionally seen in older encyclopædias, especially articles on mediæval subjects. Bazza 12:57, 15 October 2007 (UTC)


Which is grammatically correct and why? Suffice to say or suffice it to say 02:09, 15 October 2007 (UTC) Grandma Sue

It's a fossilized phrase—both versions are significantly remote from contemporary English, which somewhat nullifies the question of which is grammatically correct. However, suffice it to say has a subject (a dummy subject, more specifically), while suffice to say does not. Canonical English phrases always have subjects, so if you had to label one more correct than the other, I suppose suffice it to say is "more correct". Strad 02:58, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
That was a mighty careful answer, Strad. In case you're left in any doubt, Granny, "suffice to say" is wrong. Grammar don't enter into it. Idiom is what it is because there is only one way to put it. --Milkbreath 10:17, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I'd say "suffice it to say" is a little better, as suffice is a verb and it provides it with a subject. It may be fossilized, as Strad says, but I'd say it's still part of standard English, if a little old-fashioned. Plenty of people use it, and there are millions of hits on Google, including 672 on the English Wikipedia. Xn4 14:19, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
A related discussion from the archives. --LarryMac | Talk 14:52, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Webster's uses 'suffice it to say' as an example in the first definition of the word 'suffice' as an intransitive verb.


What is the short form (like Mrs. for missus) of Mademoiselle?

Thank you, 02:24, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Mlle, which in French usage doesn't have a period after it. (Wiktionary: French, English.) Wareh 02:39, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Reprehensibly OT, but Mrs is not the short form for missus. Mrs is short for M/mistress [of the house, of course], which in addition has a colloquial form missus/missis. Bessel Dekker 17:49, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Jar and jug[edit]

Are "jar" and "jug" different or interchangable? I consider in the context of having a water jar or a water jug on the dinning table. --Chan Tai Man 10:01, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I wouldn't ever use 'jar' in that context. A jar is a small glass vessel with a wide neck. Jug is the word you want; "pitcher" would be an alternative. And "jug of water" sounds better than "water jug". --Richardrj talk email 10:19, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Jam comes in jars, water comes in jugs. DuncanHill 11:15, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, I cannot think of any circumstance under which the words might be interchangeable. See jar and jug--Shantavira|feed me 12:26, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
"Jar" is British English slang for a pint (of beer) - as in the invitation "Fancy a jar?". Bazza 12:53, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Since moonshine traditionally comes in jars in the U.S., we would expect quite a stronger effect than you get from your jar. Rmhermen 13:12, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
"Water jug" sounds fine to me, but I agree, jug and jar are not that interchangeable. --Falconus 20:21, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
A jar doesn't have a lip to pour, a jug does :) This is probably half-true/not the main difference, but I'd guess it's the most helpful thing to someone trying to learn words that don't have exact parallels in their head. Skittle 22:51, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks all for your answers. --Chan Tai Man 13:34, 17 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Chantaiman (talkcontribs)

Is it ever correct to say "these ones" or "those ones" in English?[edit]

Is it ever correct to say "these ones" or "those ones" in English? I have done some searching around the internet and grammar pages, and have found somewhat conflicting answers. It seems quite natural to me to say "these/those ones," and seems to agree with me. However, another site seems to disagree, . Where can I find the definitive answer? (I assume there is a definitive answer, for if it is not definitively incorrect, then it is permissible, right?)

Thanks for your help! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:02, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Disregard the advice in your second link; it amounts to saying that ones in "these ones" may often be unnecessary, and thus it would be better style to omit it, so that the usage may be entirely missing from the collected works of careful writers. But I don't think there is anything prescriptively wrong about "these ones" and "those ones." Wareh 16:36, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I agree. I would call the form colloquial and dialectic. I'll say it like that sometimes, and I talk English good. The OED shows a similar plural "one" from 1953 in Donegal and calls it Irish English (Are there any X? You'll find ones in the shed.)
The second link says "English is full of rules, half of them broken." I say "English has very few rules; usage is all" (in the long run). If everybody around there says a thing a certain way, it is correct by the only definition of "correct" that makes any sense. Whether a locution is appropriate in writing for an audience who expect standard English is another matter, and I would leave the oneses off, myself.
Incidentally, I wouldn't go back to the first link for advice about English because they think "drawer" is spelled "draw". Come here, instead. --Milkbreath 17:21, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
The exotic Irish-English citation is beside the point, since ordinary English countenances "She ate those small ones you left on the table." (KJV example: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones...") It's just that without an attribute like "small" or "little," "ones" is redundant and can/should be omitted. Wareh 18:29, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I hear a semantic difference. Sure, you can say "those little ones", but can you say "those five ones"? Not so much, and the latter is heard in "those ones", to my ear. I only noted the Irish citation because it sounded similarly alien.--Milkbreath 19:05, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Milkbreath, I see a bit of a disconnect between what you're saying here and what you said in a previous question, "Idiom is what it is because there is only one way to put it". Can you clarify? -- JackofOz 22:45, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
The previous question was about "suffice it to say". That has a fixed form and is of a piece, what Fowler calls "cast iron idiom". No variation is possible except as a conscious play on words. Usage trumps "rules" every time, eventually, but usage often, perhaps always, goes through a phase where its new formulation is a mistake. In years to come, "suffice to say" may become the norm, used by all the best writers, and then that will be that. But right now it's a shibboleth of less-than-complete literacy.
Here, we're talking about a casual locution, not a fixed idiomatic expression. What authority can we look to? The only authority I recognize on the correctness of an English string of words is the body of literature, interpreted by my ear and verified by consensus. Grammaticality is another matter, but more often than not what is not grammatical also sounds wrong. Our "those ones" is perfectly sound grammatically, and it is idiomatic in some dialects; it is therefore correct (and would be even if it defied one's personal idea of grammar if you ask me). Besides, I use it. It does not, however, seem to be standard American English, which is an institutional-size can of worms we can open later.
Don't get me wrong, I'll hit you if you call me a descriptivist. There is usage that is just plain wrong, but "those ones" isn't an example. I hope I've answered the question you asked and not one I thought you asked. --Milkbreath 01:24, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Whichever question you were answering, what you say makes sense to me. Thanks. -- JackofOz 03:20, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm finding it hard to think of any context in which "ones" would not be redundant. I guess in "Would you like those cakes or these ones?" the "ones" indicates that the speaker is still talking about cakes and not carrots. A quick search shows that neither phrase occurs in the Bible or the works of Shakespeare, and even Wikipedia, not known for its eloquence, has surprisingly few occurrences in article namespace.--Shantavira|feed me 17:17, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

If you think that there are no longer any rules about correct usage, and accept that common = correct, do what you want. If you want to write something that is grammatically correct, don't use a phrase that is redundant. The only "correct" usage I can think of, would be within quote marks attributing the usage to a particular individual. Steve Pastor 19:31, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

For a recent discussion about this on the Language log see here and the follow up. If you read the post immediately above this one here and are left worried that by writing these ones you have implicitly accepted that there "are no longer any rules" please rest assured that there is a very large (sensible) middle ground. Stefán 21:04, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I am of the opinion that the word "grammatical" is being stretched and abused by such statements as (to quote the original languagelog observation) "to my ear it isn't quite grammatical." An appeal to the ear is usually a test of whether language is being used idiomatically, not grammatically. "These ones" is not part of the "best usage," it may be stylistically awkward and redundant, but it is not ungrammatical, as it leaves every principle of syntax and logic unscathed. Redundant and awkward language, in general, is not necessarily ungrammatical, unless it is also illogical ("most favorite" I'd be more willing to consider). Wareh 21:23, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
This is discussed on Pg.111 of "British Or American English?: A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns" by John Algeo; but it's not previewable in Google books. I surmise he's saying it's more common in Britain than America, which accords with the Language Log posts referred to above, and with the British National Corpus (these ones those ones). Here's a British textbook: Lambotte, Paul; Harry Campbell, J. Potter (1998). "Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns §3". Aspects of Modern English Usage for Advanced Students: A Comparison with French. De Boeck Université. pp. Pg 58. ISBN 2804126765. 

'One' is used in all registers after 'this' and 'that' to refer to a countable.
'These ones' and 'those ones', on the contrary, are only used in colloquial language (and some people do not like them at all), while 'these' and 'those' are more formal.

  1. If you want strawberries take these ones. colloquial, same frequency as
  2. If you want strawberries take these. more formal
  1. These shoes are more expensive than those better than
  2. These shoes are more expensive than those ones
  1. These coaches arent as comfortable as (those / those ones / the ones) over there.

Anybody purporting to explain why "these ones" is (often) unacceptable needs to take account of the fact that "this one" is (often) perfectly acceptable. Language Log has plenty of posts deploring the "omit needless words" bugbear: many insecure writers over-apply Strunk and White's rules to every nook and cranny of their prose, never trusting to intuition.
My person theory: "it's just one of those things". That "these ones" is more common in spoken than written language is not surprising given its deictic sense. So I think it is sometimes correct to say it, though you may never need to write it. jnestorius(talk) 15:07, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Nicely put, jnestorius. Wareh 16:25, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

preposition question[edit]

Which sentence is correct grammatically (from Jim Corbett National Park):

  1. The forests were cleared to make the area less vulnerable against Rohila invaders.
  2. The forests were cleared to make the area less vulnerable to Rohila invaders.

--Mattisse 22:45, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I'd say number two. NASCAR Fan24(radio me!) 22:46, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
That's right. One defends something against an invader because it's vulnerable to that invader. -- JackofOz 22:48, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks! --Mattisse 01:27, 16 October 2007 (UTC)