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10 grammar rules you can forget
Posted: 03 October 2013 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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There are no separate accusative or dative cases in English. There is only a single objective case (which is sometimes called “accusative"), and that only for a few pronouns. The dative, and most of the accusative, case disappeared in the early Middle English period, leaving only the nominative (or “common") case and the genitive (or “possessive") case for nouns. Some pronouns retained an objective case. I think your grammar teacher was trying to graft Latin rules onto English.

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Posted: 03 October 2013 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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None has always been both plural and singular. Here’s an Old English example where it is genitive plural I think:

c888 K. ÆLFRED Boethius De consolatione philosophiæ. xi. §1 oððe hie næfre to nanum men ne becumaþ. oððe hi þær næfre fæstlice ne þurhƿuniaþ sƿelca sƿelce hi ær to coman.

Dave Wilton - 02 October 2013 04:00 AM

The which/that distinction is maintained in edited prose, but ignored by everyone else.

It isn’t maintained in edited prose, according to MWDEU. If we’re talking about the same thing - I’m talking about how edited prose allows both which and that in restrictive clauses but only which with non-restrictive clauses.

We are talking about the same thing. There is a distinction between which and that, as you describe, in edited prose. In casual writing it is ignored and that is used with restrictive clauses.

That Old English example is dative plural, not genitive. (The -um ending is a dead giveaway for dative plural.)

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Posted: 03 October 2013 07:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Dave Wilton - 03 October 2013 07:29 PM

We are talking about the same thing. There is a distinction between which and that, as you describe, in edited prose. In casual writing it is ignored and that is used with restrictive clauses.

You mean non-restrictive clauses, right?

Dave Wilton - 03 October 2013 07:29 PM

That Old English example is dative plural, not genitive. (The -um ending is a dead giveaway for dative plural.)

That’s what I meant to write of course

[ Edited: 03 October 2013 07:34 PM by gooofy ]
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Posted: 03 October 2013 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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That’s what I meant to write of course.

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Posted: 03 October 2013 08:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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None has always been both plural and singular. Here’s an Old English example where it is genitive plural I think:

c888 K. ÆLFRED Boethius De consolatione philosophiæ. xi. §1 oððe hie næfre to nanum men ne becumaþ. oððe hi þær næfre fæstlice ne þurhƿuniaþ sƿelca sƿelce hi ær to coman.

If you could provide a citation, a website, and a credible translation it would help. I googled “nanum men” and found The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church/VIII on Wikisource. In it were these parallel texts:

Matheus, se eadiga Godspellere awrát on þissere godspellican rædinge, þæt “se Hælend niðer-eode of anre dune, and him filigde micel menigu. Efne ða com sum hreoflig mann, and aleat wið þæs Hælendes, þus cweðende, Drihten, gif þu wilt, þu miht me geclænsian. Se Hælend astrehte his hand, and hine hrepode, and cwæð, Ic wylle; and sy ðu geclænsod. Þa sona wearð his hreofla eal geclænsod, and he wæs gehæled. Ða cwæð se Hælend him to, Warna þæt þu hit nanum menn ne secge; ac far to Godes temple, and geswutela ðe sylfne ðam sacerde, and geoffra ðine lác, swá swá Moyses bebead him on gewitnysse.”

and

Matthew, the blessed Evangelist, wrote in this evangelical lecture, that “Jesus came down from a mountain, and a great multitude followed him. Behold, there came a leprous man, and fell down before Jesus, thus saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst cleanse me. Jesus stretched forth his hand, and touched him, and said, I will; and be thou cleansed. Then immediately was his leprosy all cleansed, and he was healed. Then said Jesus to him, Take care that thou say it to no man; but go to God’s temple, and show thyself to the priest, and offer thy gift, as Moses commanded for a witness to them.”

This makes it look as if “nanum men” means “to no man,” which would be singular. I haven’t taken the time to search all the way through Boethius. I looked at Chapter 11 section 1 cursorily but didn’t find the passage. It may be right there but I didn’t recognize it.

[ Edited: 03 October 2013 08:43 PM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 03 October 2013 08:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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It strikes me that if “nan” in Anglo-Saxon is an adjective, as it appears to be in the examples above, it is analogous to the German “kein” as in “kein Mann” or “no man.” Is this the same meaning as “none”? Maybe so. In that case “none” does not derive from “no one” at all but was instead an adjective that could take the singular or plural in any declension, i.e. nominative, dative, accusative, genitive.

The confusion, then, might be that in Chaucer’s time “no one” (pronounced “no-ohn") collapsed into “none” and then got conflated into the pre-existing “none.” Just a speculation.

[ Edited: 03 October 2013 09:12 PM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Nan can be none or not any. It is a blend of ne (not) + an (one). You’re right this isn’t the greatest example for comparison with the modern none because that word is no longer used adjectively—although it was well into the modern period, and adjectival use survives in the phrase none other.

A better example might be the from the Old English translation of the Rule of St. Benedict:

Æfter þæm nihtsange ne sy nanum alyfed, þæt he ænig word cweþe. (After Compline, it is permitted for none that he speak any word.)

Here we have a plural none or not anyone but a singular he.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Iron Pyrite - 03 October 2013 08:39 PM

This makes it look as if “nanum men” means “to no man,” which would be singular.

“to no men”. It’s dative plural.

oððe hie næfre to nanum men ne becumaþ. oððe hi þær næfre fæstlice ne þurhƿuniaþ sƿelca sƿelce hi ær to coman.
“for either they never come to no men, or they never constantly remain such as they first came.”

Here’s an example where “none” is the subject of the plural verb “miȝten” (I think)

c1300 South English Legendary: Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (LdMisc 108) 1182: His limes al-so he bi-heold, hou faire heo weren and freo, Þe hondene faire and longe fingres, fairore ne miȝten none beo.
“He also beheld his limbs, how fair and free they were, the fair hands and long fingers, none could be fairer.”

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 05:52 AM by gooofy ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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However, this would leave “for whom the bell tolls” as incorrect. I remember our teacher being a stickler on this. He always corrected the use of ‘for’, saying “who is this for?” not ‘whom is this for”?

Unfortunately, if you substitute he and him etc. for who and whom to resolve the issue, it doesn’t help since ‘him’ takes on both Accusative and Dative cases.

If you’re going to rearrange the phrase to figure it out, it would be ‘The bell tolls for him” or “the bell tolls for he.”

The thing you have to remember about grammar is that the “rules” have to conform to how people speak, not the other way around. The living language is the real grammar, not “rules.” And since language is always in a state of flux, any “rule” that can’t keep up falls by the wayside. Grammar is the servant, not the master.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Lh used the word “nowt” - I thought it was purely northern English but maybe it’s spread to the States or beyond?

It’s not American usage at all; I just like the sound of it (from having read it in a book in my youth, no doubt) and enjoy tossing it in now and then.

A memory-jogger for you lh

I remember the song, but I’m not sure what the theme from a 1956 movie has to do with current usage.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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It’s not American usage at all; I just like the sound of it (from having read it in a book in my youth, no doubt) and enjoy tossing it in now and then.

There’s glory for you! Bravo! Bravissimo!

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Posted: 04 October 2013 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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in Skib’s example, the meaning of “might” is ambiguous

e.g.: “My taste buds tell me that there mite be mights in this cheese”?

all becomes crystal clear the moment one recognizes that “might” is right.

Fight the good fight with all thy might,
Bearing in mind that Might is Right;
And, if thou’st trouble seeing the light,
Check if thy jockstrap’s a mite too tight.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Arga wrote:

I was taught (back in the fifties) that who and whom, he and him etc., were governed by the preposition in the sentence. Some prepositions take on the Accusative case, while others the Dative.... Dative is always whom, etc., while Accusative is who.

I think you may have had one of those teachers who take advantage of their position to teach their personal crotchets as standard rules of grammar.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 12:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I googled “nanum men” and found The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church/VIII on Wikisource. In it were these parallel texts:

Matheus, se eadiga Godspellere awrát on þissere godspellican rædinge, þæt “se Hælend niðer-eode of anre dune, and him filigde micel menigu. Efne ða com sum hreoflig mann, and aleat wið þæs Hælendes, þus cweðende, Drihten, gif þu wilt, þu miht me geclænsian. Se Hælend astrehte his hand, and hine hrepode, and cwæð, Ic wylle; and sy ðu geclænsod. Þa sona wearð his hreofla eal geclænsod, and he wæs gehæled. Ða cwæð se Hælend him to, Warna þæt þu hit nanum menn ne secge; ac far to Godes temple, and geswutela ðe sylfne ðam sacerde, and geoffra ðine lác, swá swá Moyses bebead him on gewitnysse.”

and

Matthew, the blessed Evangelist, wrote in this evangelical lecture, that “Jesus came down from a mountain, and a great multitude followed him. Behold, there came a leprous man, and fell down before Jesus, thus saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst cleanse me. Jesus stretched forth his hand, and touched him, and said, I will; and be thou cleansed. Then immediately was his leprosy all cleansed, and he was healed. Then said Jesus to him, Take care that thou say it to no man; but go to God’s temple, and show thyself to the priest, and offer thy gift, as Moses commanded for a witness to them.”

This makes it look as if “nanum men” means “to no man,” which would be singular. I haven’t taken the time to search all the way through Boethius. I looked at Chapter 11 section 1 cursorily but didn’t find the passage. It may be right there but I didn’t recognize it.

Nanum menn is plural, but an idiomatic translation into modern English would usually change it to present tense, because that’s the way modern English rolls.

If you could provide a citation, a website, and a credible translation it would help.

As the citation states, it’s from the beginning of chapter 11. The translation is: (either they never come to anyone (lit. to no men) or they steadfastly remain such as they were when they came.)

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Posted: 04 October 2013 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Here’s a pretty good one about a pedantic response to the Guardian article.

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