Evidence for DECIMATE ('one in ten')

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Thu Jan 10 15:01:11 UTC 2008

From:    James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>

> One thing about prigs, mind, is that they sometimes win the day.
> That's why we don't use double negatives in "proper" English, why the
> standard is to say "-ing" with a velar nasal instead of an alveolar
> one (which had become the standard until it was atavistically
> corrected on the basis of spelling in the 18th century), etc...

This brings to mind that when I teach grammar/usage courses, I have my
students look for cases of things like double negatives in edited texts,
because we *do* have double negatives in standardized language (of the
"not unclear" sort, or one of my favorites "I am not going to not
support the bill").

Also, studies of -ing/-in variation show that the patterns inherited
from Old English -inge/-ende are still maintained to some extent in
Modern English speech.

I get what you're saying, and you're more or less right (though my
negative concord-using self would say that the prigs have only carried
the day for a very narrow subset of uses of the language), but even for
the examples that you give, there's got to be a lot of nuance involved
in making the claim you make.


David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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