User talk:Macjacobus

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Than[edit]

I am glad to see that you have set up a user page so that I can speak to a known entity (so many IP addresses are shared that sometimes one has no idea to whom one is speaking!). I have left a further comment on the Talk page for "Than", and replaced two of the older, less specific references, with a recent one which very specifically addresses Lowth's influence (the full quote is on the Talk page). Ultimately, I do hope this discussion will have the effect of improving the entry; that's what it's all about. But one could ask (and on other online references where I've contributed, it has been asked) whether or not entries for individual "parts of speech" are the best way to go, given that modern linguists don't really feel that they are the most appropriate or effective tools for describing a language such as English; most (such as Crystal, whose Cambridge book is my textbook) prefer a functionalist model in which "than" can be both a member of the class of conjunctions and a member of the class of prepositions. I'm afraid I have worn myself out over this subject -- Wikipedia can do that to one! -- but hope the entry will continue to be improved, am grateful for your attention to it. Clevelander96 (talk) 15:45, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I've already edited the article to accomodate my concerns. I don't think you've yet understood my view. Than may sometimes be a preposition, but it is not always so just because an objective pronoun follows it where a subjective pronoun is also possible. English has likely evolved a "disjunctive pronoun" class (as in French) which replaced (while coinciding with) objective pronouns in all instances and subjective pronouns in some instances. The instances wherein disjunctive pronouns replaced subjective pronouns include whereever they are disconnected from their verb as in elliptical clauses, compound subjects, and linking-verb predicates. (See the article Disjunctive pronoun.)

The analysis nicely explains the grammatical logic of "him and me are", "he's bigger than me", and "it's me" under a single, coherent theory. Lexicographers and usage commentators don't promote this view because their business is English etiquette, not language theory. "Him and me are" is an error in etiquette but not actually in grammar because it follows the regular grammatical rules of a particular vernacular. "Between you and I" is an error in etiquette and in grammar because it contradicts the regular grammatical rules.

In a similar situation, lexicographers categorize ago as an adverb, even though it's better analyzed as a postposition. Lexicographers just aren't concerned with scientific analyses of English. And dictionaries are probably not the appropriate places to re-conceptualize English grammar. macjacobus (talk) 04:52, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

I do think I understand your view, but as the outside commentator on the article noted, it's a rather original one. The only place I have ever seen the term "disjunctive pronoun" used is in French textbooks written in English (and oui, je le parle aussi). An argument could be made (and you have made it, quite cogently) that there English has indeed evolved such a thing, but since the Wikipedia doesn't allow "original research",[1] it would need to be found and cited in some outside, external source. If you can find one, by all means you should add it, it's certainly a valid idea. But my other argument would be that, in English especially, the "parts of speech" model, as opposed to the functionalist model, is just not a very good model for how English works. We have many words which can, and do, function in multiple classes (noun, verb, adjective, and more), and there's just no straightforward way for traditional grammars to describe this. So we have a strange division: in elementary and high school texts, the "parts of speech" model prevails, but when students arrive in my college course "Modern Grammar," all that is gone, replaced by functional models which use word classes to model how English works. Which is best for the Wikipedia? Well, there's no harm in having both, as long as they are integrated and connected in a way that explains the two models. I'm going to keep an eye on Than, and hope that having additional folks from the Linguistics group on board will lead to improvements, and perhaps a better infrastructure when it comes to explaining English grammar. You certainly know what you are talking about, and should continue to shape how this and other entries develop! Incidentally, I did hear from Professor Crystal, and though he declined to comment on our arguments, did note that OED waffles on the "than" issue. Best regards, Clevelander96 (talk) 12:46, 27 August 2010 (UTC)