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  #11  
Old 04-02-2016, 08:33 AM
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munchlet munchlet is offline
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Off the point, but one thing I am SO happy to have learned from the grammarians here, especially LLapp, is that ending a sentence with a preposition, is not taboo. I hated this rule, because it makes you jump through hoops, and end up with a sentence that sounds contrived, and usually awkward and stilted.
This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.
Winston Churchill -- ??

The attribution is apocryphal but appropriate. Several versions exist -- I like this one.

My father loved this quotation. That particular rule, no preposition to end a sentence, was imported by the pretentious from Latin -- which is, incidentally, a dead language. So here's what I say.

Tell him his [rules] stink, and kick him down the stairs.

Does anyone know the movie from which I stole this, original quote, and the play on which it was based? Several movies, I guess, but the one most remembered starred Cary Grant with Rosalind Russell, directed by Howard Hawks. Original movie, 1931 (I would love to see it). Broadway play, co-authored by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur in 1928, retains its relevance nearly 90 years later. It should be revived.

But as a lifelong Chicagan, I may be biased about that. Another favorite of my late father, who trained in journalism but abandoned that field for advertising.
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  #12  
Old 04-02-2016, 08:45 AM
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Also, you will catch me beginning sentences with "and" and "but" occasionally. Sometimes I just don't see a good way around it.
Look at the last two posts, Abra. Without thinking, I started three short paragraphs using the word "but."

Conversational style, aided and abetted by the transcription I've done for several years now. People don't talk the way we are expected to write. Heck, people don't write the way we think they should.
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  #13  
Old 04-02-2016, 08:46 AM
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i've never seen as many comments about the "evils" of prepositions ending sentences as i have here on the crypto site comments sections! for some reason, it was never a big deal during my schooling in the '50s and '60s, and i've never tried to avoid it.

abra, besides ending sentences with prepositions, i also sometimes start sentences with conjunctions--especially in crypto sites like chat, comments, and forum. i feel that these are loose, informal sites and we certainly should neither judge each other (in print, anyway--ha!) nor correct another's grammar. we're usually in a hurry and should be 'forgiven' a lot, except for bigotry and bad manners.

and munchlet, i have some of those 78s!
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  #14  
Old 04-02-2016, 11:56 AM
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LLapp LLapp is online now
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Default Answer to your movie trivia question

Munchlet - I'll play. The movie you're quoting is His Girl Friday (1940), the second and best-known film version of Hecht and MacArthur's 1928 Broadway play The Front Page. The other two versions (1931 & 1974) used the play's original title and original genders, without any reporter-editor romantic connection.

That classic Howard Hawks fast-talking-woman movie is a favorite that I've not seen in a long time -- I'm due for a re-watch. Feel free to go solve some puzzles while I ramble on.

The 1940 version turns the original leading character, Hildy -- a male ace reporter leaving journalism to get married and go into (ugh) advertising -- into Rosalind Russell (still Hildy), a female ace reporter leaving journalism to marry an insurance salesman and go into (ugh) homemaking. In this version, Hildy is also the ex-wife of news editor Cary Grant, who is determined to keep her near him and in the career she loves, and he uses the news scoop of the decade to keep her from leaving. (Come to think of it, the Grant-Russell relationship here is very much like the one between Cary Grant and Kate Hepburn in George Cukor's Philadelphia Story -- also 1940.)

And I just now learned from Wikipedia that Hecht and MacArthur wrote the 1928 play based on their own experience as news reporters in Chicago in the 1920s! Another vote for "Write what you know."

I haven't seen the 1931 version, but I see on IMDB that the wonderful Edward Everett Horton -- narrator from Rocky & Bullwinkle -- plays one of the reporters. I did see the 1974 version when it came out, because it should have been great -- directed by Billy Wilder, starring Matthau and Lemmon so how could they lose? -- but somehow it was not memorable.....except for Austin Pendleton's lovely work as the convict and Carol Burnett's over-the-top cameo as the prostitute in love.

Well gosh, that was fun . . . for me, anyway. When it comes to movies I have no restraint and will ramble forever.
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  #15  
Old 04-03-2016, 07:37 AM
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I recollect, but could easily be wrong, that English grammar rules were based on Latin, which isn't surprising, given that the people who wrote the earliest English grammar books all knew Latin, and they'd learned Latin grammar before they paid attention to English grammar. So we aren't supposed to split an infinitive, because in Latin the marker that signifies 'this is an infinitive' is an unsplittable couple of syllables at the end of a word (e.g. ambulare) rather than two separate words (e.g. to walk). I expect that's where the prohibition against ending sentences with prepositions comes from also, since Latin prose as I recall doesn't separate the preposition from the words that depend on it. Of course the problem is that English is not Latin.

People are less worried about infinitive-splitting, I think, than they used to be -- I'm pretty sure I see it in the NY Times.

As for prepositions at the ends of sentences, I wouldn't discard the old-fashioned rule especially if it makes the sentence easier to understand For example: 'The hot dog vendor who I got the bratwurst from that I raved to you about lost his license.' I would change that to 'The hot dog vendor from whom I got the bratwurst that I raved to you about lost his license.' I'm keeping 'from whom I got the bratwurst' together because I want to make sure that 'from' doesn't get attached to 'bratwurst,' but I don't care so much about changing 'that I raved to you about' because I'm thinking that 'rave about' is a verb phrase and the 'about' should stick closer to 'rave' than to the bratwurst. So the upshot of it is that considering a rule as a guideline gives you more liberty to adjust your style depending on the context which is always good (like having skirts of different hem lengths for different occasions).
Chomsky and generative grammar -- I took a linguistics class in college with a professor who was friends with Chomsky, and he came to class one day and explained deep structure and surface structure to us. I didn't know the phrase 'paradigm shift' but I could tell these two middle-aged guys in the front of the room were in the middle of making one, and it was great to watch.
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  #16  
Old 04-03-2016, 11:55 AM
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Roxanne, I love the bratwurst example. Yes, to what you said -- "The problem is that English is not Latin." One thing I love about Fowler's approach is that he sees English for the beautiful amalgamation that it is and celebrates the strength it takes from its many roots.

What a great moment you experienced with your professor and his friend Noam Chomsky talking to your class about deep structure. In my related, post-paradigm-shift college memory, we had a chimpanzee in the psych lab who was learning English, and his name was Nim Chimpsky.
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  #17  
Old 04-04-2016, 03:35 PM
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As a linguistics nerd, this thread makes me happy! Descriptivism, not prescriptivism!
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