Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Mon Jun 14 22:47:07 UTC 2004

At 02:20 PM 6/14/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>On Jun 14, 2004, at 12:11 PM, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>>Gee, I use logical "since" and "while" all the time and wondered why
>>editors changed them.  Maybe they're a sign of our generation. . . .
>the logical uses are innovative -- but back the usual donkey's years,
>according to MWDEU, which cites shakespeare etc.  the proscriptive
>backlash, based on the potential for ambiguity, seems to date from
>70-100 years ago.  the true innovation is the passion with which these
>usages are attacked.
>so, no, beverly, our generation is not the problem.
>as for the ambiguity problem, i should note -- as geoff pullum pointed
>out to me some long time ago -- that this is another one of those cases
>(the positioning of "only" and "even" is another) where editors cite
>ambiguity as the reason for avoiding some usage, but seem to be utterly
>flawless in determining the writer's intent for the purposes of
>"correction".  i have never had an editor who failed to understand
>*perfectly* the intended meanings of "while" and "since" in my writing.
>  think about that.
>perhaps this should be labeled Paradoxical Acquired Editorial Agnosia.
>it's paradoxical in the same way my partner's inability to read the
>word CALIFORNIA (and only the word CALIFORNIA) was paradoxical.  he
>believed he lived somewhere back east, in what the family thought of as
>New Ohioylvania, some amalgam of new jersey, ohio, and pennsylvania, so
>the fact that virtually every car he saw had a CALIFORNIA license plate
>was threatening to this theory, and he fixed the contradiction by
>blocking the word from the top level of his consciousness.  but the
>bottom line here is that to be unable to read (just) the word
>CALIFORNIA, you have to be able to read the word CALIFORNIA.
>arnold (zwicky at, recalling the claimed inability of
>some otherwise intelligent people to be able to understand varieties of
>english with multiple negation

Right.  I still get undergrads occasionally who believe what their h.s.
teachers told them:  two negatives = positive; three = negative; four =
positive, etc.  (I'm extrapolating: Though no one has ever gone that far in
reporting this "rule," the "logic" would follow.)

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