CASTED.

Frequent commenter Paul sent me a link to this review by Elli Fischer and Shai Secunda of what sounds like a fascinating Israeli movie, Footnote. An excerpt:

Sitting in the audience is Scholnik’s father, Professor Eliezer Scholnik (perfectly played by Shlomo Bar-Aba), an excruciatingly pedantic and methodical scholar on the faculty of the same university Talmud department as his son, though he is far less prolific, and for that matter, less popular. The peak of his career was his appearance, decades earlier, in a footnote in J. N. Feinstein’s magnum opus, Introduction to the Text of Tannaitic Literature (a riff on the father of modern, critical talmudic research, J.N. Epstein’s two books, Introduction to the Text of the Mishnah and Introduction to Tannaitic Literature). Close-ups of Bar-Aba’s talented, old-school face-acting (he is first and foremost a stage comic) call attention to the senior Scholnik’s palpable discomfort as he sits slumped in a chair, listening enviously as his son pays homage to the father who set him on his course.

But Paul writes: “I find this unusual: ‘Public disinterest in such pedantry is voiced by the TV host Jacky Levy (also perfectly casted, since he plays himself)….’ To me the past tense of cast is cast.” To me as well, and the dictionaries I’ve consulted only give that form, but googling tells me there is uncertainty about it; to the question What is the past tense of the word cast? the answer given at that site is “The past tense form of ‘cast’ would either be ‘cast’ or ‘casted’, depending on how it is used.” So what say you, Varied Reader? Is “casted” simply an occasional mistake, or an up-and-coming alternative? Does it sound OK to you? Do you use it?

Comments

  1. Stephen says:

    “Casted” doesn’t necessarily sound wrong to me in this theatrical context, though I’m not sure I would have used it myself. “Casted iron” or “the first stone was casted” definitely sound wrong.

  2. dearieme says:

    cast: first, last and always.
    There are others: does one really say “the ship sunk”? Surely it sank? Surely he sprang across the room, not sprung? Et bloody cetera.
    And a big “boo” to ‘disinterest’ too.

  3. According to Mr. Bryan A. Garner’s book, which I picked up from the library on Jamessal’s mention, the past tense is cast except when meaning “to supply with a lineup of actors.” He quotes a passage that mentions a “not-yet-casted project.”
    I’m normally a proponent of strong verbs (bring back clumb!), but I like when some differentiation is possible. I might say “crept up” but “creeped out” and “struck out” but “striked for better wages.” Also “to be got” is pretty standard in American English, but only when it means to be killed by the mob.

  4. Actually, ‘they struck for better wages’ is fine for me. I think it’s reasonably acceptable in Australian English (though I’m a long-term expat).

  5. Bathrobe says:

    Actually, it seems to be pretty normal in American English, according to Google.

  6. Yeah, “struck for better wages” is probably more standard here too, but “striked” doesn’t even sound okay in any other context. Maybe it’s just me.
    What do you mean Dearieme? Isn’t it the difference between the simple past and the past participle? Although “the ship sunk” is definitely said.

  7. For me, the past of “cast” remains “cast” in all circumstances: I particularly dislike “forecasted” (business-speak, so resistance will probably be futile, alas) and “broadcasted” (just plain ignorant IMHO, so there is still hope we may be able to turn it back).
    As for “Public disinterest in such pedantry”, however… here we see both:
    1) blatant perversion of the proper sense of the word “disinterest”; and
    2) a classic example, in the deployment of the boo-word “pedantry”, of begging the question.

  8. Joe R wrote: “Bryan A. Garner’s book[...] quotes a passage that mentions a ‘not-yet-casted project.’”
    “a project as yet uncast” would, however, have been far better.
    And further: “I’m normally a proponent of strong verbs [...] I might say [...] ‘struck out’ but ‘striked for better wages.’”
    “striked” strikes me as impossible! There is nothing wrong with “The workers struck for better wages” other than the fact that “they went on strike…” is an equally valid — and probably far more common — way of expressing the same idea.

  9. J.W. Brewer says:

    How about bringing back “The workers have stricken for better wages”?

  10. Anthony says:

    Cast, cost, have cust.

  11. “Cast” for me in the theatrical context; when I see “casted” I think of StarCraft commentator HuskyStarcraft, who will say something like “in the last couple games I casted….” He uses “cast” consistently for what he does–obviously short for “broadcast”, but in the context it takes on a different meaning since Husky is doing the commentating and selecting the games, as well as actually broadcasting the games on his channel. I think the usage might me universal in the world of StarCraft commentary but my experience isn’t sufficient to say for sure.

  12. I agree with Danny – in the theatrical or cinematic sense the only past form that works for me is ‘cast’. ‘Casted’ might possibly work if you were speaking of dice or a fishing line, but I don’t think I’d use it myself.

  13. arg, or perhaps not. I would only use ‘cast’. Can’t trust my intuition on anything else.

  14. “The workers are stricken for better wages.”

  15. As used in the review—“…Jacky Levy (also perfectly casted, since he plays himself)”—it sounds irregular.
    However, to me “casted” used correctly—as in Joe R’s “not-yet-casted project”—sounds like an adjective based on the noun “cast” (meaning a lineup of actors), which just happens to share its form with an irregular verb.
    I can think of just three more:
    A room or a Christmas tree is “lighted” when lights are hung; later, those lights are lit.
    A shoe is “treaded” if the rubber has a grooved tread; this increases friction with the surface trod upon.
    A project or an invoice is “costed” when the expected cost is calculated; when the project has been completed, you could find that it cost more than was estimated.

  16. mollymooly says:

    Language Log had a post with on what it calls systematic regularisation of denominal verbs. It doesn’t seem to be that systematic.
    I believe “broadcasted” is an American variant. CALD agrees. Another US-UK difference is with “shine”; “shined” is only acceptable to me and Collins in the denominal “impart a shine to [shoes]“. Some Brits seem to allow “shined a torch”, but “the sun shined” is only OK for Americans. OTOH when Striked/struck came up here 5 years ago I was the only advocate for “striked”.
    I suspect “casted” is an in-group form that’s gradually seeping into the general public consciousness; the way yucky “mic” has displaced good old “mike” in needless deference to sound engineers’ jargon.

  17. There’s a technical sense of “cast” in programming. I’ve never seen or heard any other past form than “cast” for this special sense, and myself would not say “casted”. Otherwise, “he casted them for the film” seems OK to me.

  18. Yoni Ross says:

    Fischer and Secunda may be correct.
    Steven Pinker has a theory to explain why irregular verbs are, in some contexts, conjugated as regular verbs are, such as saying that a baseball player “flied out”, instead of “flew out”. According to the theory, verbs which come from nouns (i.e., to “fly out” means to get out in baseball by dint of having one’s fly ball caught; the hitter doesn’t actually fly) are not treated as irregular, even if they look like another verb which happens to be irregular. (Fora full explanation of the theory, see “Words and Rules”.)
    The verb “cast” in this context means “to select for a cast”. Thus, in can be argued (or possibly verified by research, but I don’t have the time, nor am I really that interested) that the verb “cast” in this context is derived from the noun “cast”. According to Pinker’s theory, it is thus conjugated as a regular verb, and the “add ‘-ed’ to make plural rule” would apply. (However, it would only apply in the theatrical context. One would still say that he cast pearls before swine.)

  19. Evil spirits have occasionally been casted. Bad actors are always cast out.

  20. No, no, wait, you’re all wrong. Casted is sometimes used in sculpture, and no doubt in other trades where materials are poured into moulds. Casted concrete (as opposed to precast) is fairly common in building circles – that is, in circles where buildings are built.
    I hope I’m right about this. Now I see it written down, I’m beginning to hae mi douts.

  21. Oh well for some reason that link doesn’t operate properly, but it was to this great piece of work.

  22. dearieme says:

    While we’re on the subject of that dialect of English known as Bollocks, how about this beauty from the NYT: “… the prideful sense that the secret work being done here …”.?

  23. I agree with a number of commenters above: there are times when “casted” works, but this isn’t one of them. (By the way, this is actually the past participle rather than the past tense. I think that makes a difference; “broadcasted”, for example, seems to be much more common as a past tense than as a past participle.)

  24. cast: first, last and always.
    There are others: does one really say “the ship sunk”? Surely it sank? Surely he sprang across the room, not sprung? Et bloody cetera.
    And a big “boo” to ‘disinterest’ too.
    What you’re actually saying here is that “casted” is not a mistake (like, say, “eated” for “ate”) but an up-and-coming alternative which you deprecate. Which seems to be the case based on other responses; once more I discover that my linguistic intuitions are far behind the times.

  25. So what ? The times are out of joint, and you don’t really want to be carving that turkey anyway.

  26. michael farris says:

    The usage cited seems wrong to me. It sounds like the kind of mistake a non-native speaker might make or over correction by a native speaker that doesn’t trust their own intuitions (or maybe very non-standard usage).
    I can believe however that casted might have particular non-mainstream usage as jargon. If so I question the value of trying to bring it into mainstream usage.

  27. Joe R.: Bryan A. Garner’s book, which I picked up from the library on Jamessal’s mention
    Thank you for taking the care to say “mention” rather than “recommendation.” That book is great for getting the lay of land of today’s prescriptivism; overall, however, it’s just plain terrible. And if any of its arguments, especially in the opening essays, start to sway you, please send me an email, or leave a comment in one of these threads, so that we can keep this insidious disease from spreading.

  28. Glad you noticed. I was almost swayed by the preface, but when I started reading I found myself disagreeing with almost everything he said, even though it’s still interesting. I like “differentiation” but don’t believe in “needless variants” or dislike jargon. It’s too bad; I’d probably write better if I did.
    I’m glad someone else would use “striked” for workers, even if most wouldn’t. “Went on strike” is better, but since “strike” as a noun has little to do with hitting, I couldn’t say “The workers struck for four days.” Maybe Pinker is on to something.

  29. mollymooly says:

    For me the worst thing in Garner is when he says form X is usual in American English while form Y is usual in British English. That at least should be a matter of fact rather than opinion. I wonder whether he owns any British dictionaries; perhaps instead he has a notebook for unusual words he hears spoken by someone with a British accent.

  30. jamessal says:

    Joe R: In case you’re still feeling swayed at all by the preface, here’s a bit of me sniping at it (and a few of Garner’s entries) from an incredible LH thread, in which Noetica lumped me up over semicolons, after many contributors offered their own translations of a Mandelstam poem:

    [To demonstrate] my larger point — about losing perspective as we study syntax — here Garner manages to forget the world entirely as he tries to demonstrate the ambiguity of “hopefully”:

    “Dave Krieg will take the snap and, hopefully, hand off to RB Garrison Hearst.” Larry Weisman, “NFC East: Teams Aim at Dallas Dozen,” USA Today, 1 Sept. 1995, at E14.

    A perfect example of syntactic ambiguity — so perfect, in fact, that Garner has forgotten everything he knows about sports writers (they love to make snarky comments about who should be making the plays, and would never write that a player threw a ball or shot a ball or handed off a ball in a hopeful manner) and also everything he knows about football, if he knows anything at all (Garrison Hearst was a star running back, Dave Krieg a soon-forgotten disappointment).
    More about Garner and “hopefully” soon. (By which I mean, I’ll soon be writing more about Garner and the word “hopefully,” not that I’ll be writing more about Garner and, it is to be hoped, I’ll be doing so soon, with an ironic “hopefully” set off in scare quotes. But of course you got that the first time.)
    Posted by: jamessal at December 6, 2010 01:36 PM
    Noetica: Bryan Garner, a usually respected non-linguist and moderate prescriptivist who collects and values descriptive data
    Well, he says he does. He also says that “comprised of” is “always wrong.” “Comprised of” gets 16 million Google hits and almost a million and a half GoogleBooks hits. What does it mean to “value descrptive data” if you still consider the phrase “always wrong” in the face of those numbers? [Garner has actually improved that entry in the newer edition, though I still think he relies more on his heart than his data.]
    And what does he even mean by “wrong”? Is “comprised of” ever ambiguous? No. It means “composed of.” I’ve only ever paused reading it to tut-tut the “mistake”; that is, my reading has been hindered by prescriptivist dogma, not careless writing. But more on the damage wrought by prescriptivism, to which Garner is willfully blind, later.
    Garner proscribes the phrase because it’s inconsistent with a distinction he likes, between “compose” and “comprise.” Descriptive data shows considerable overlap between these words, but that doesn’t matter to Garner, because he’s a distinction junkie. His seventh principle of usage reads:

    Differentiation. If related words — especially those differing only in the suffix — begin to take on different senses, it’s wise to encourage the latent distinctions when they’re fist emerging and then to follow them once they’re established.

    He likes distinctions so much he wants to fucking nurse them. Now, I like distinctions too — they make me feel smart — but I also try to remember that not all distinctions are useful, and, more importantly, that the pleasure I take in seeing them made (and the displeasure I take in seeing them ignored) can interfere with my aesthetic judgments. A sentence is not necessarily worse for including “inimicable” (a variant of “inimical”) or “proven” as the past participle of “prove,” but I’d immediately think it was if I’d been influenced by Garner, and it wouldn’t occur to me that the extra syllable might be felicitous.
    In other words: with their incessant ordering of an imagined language system, prescriptivists make it harder to read well. They make it harder to consider sense and euphony as opposed to their system, in which they pointlessly suppose only one lexical item should align with one concept. Ironically, Garner has catalogued this damage for us, neatly labeling many of the terms prescriptivists have turned into distractions; he calls them “skunked.”
    Acording to Garner, “Hopefully” is skunked: Avoid it in all senses if you’re concerned with your credibility. So we’re hamstrung. We have to avoid a word so useful that it flourished in the face of over a century’s worth of prescriptive carping. Whose fault is that? The stupid people for stupidly misusing their language, or the mavens for meddling? Garner obviously thinks the former. Even as he admits that the battle over “hopefully” is lost, he repeats all the arguments against “hopefully” as a sentence adverb — arguments in accord with part of his sixth principle, that A word or phrase is somewhat undesirable if…it originated in a misunderstanding of a word or its etymology”. He thus demonstrates that in spite of his claims to understand and employ descriptive linguistics he still hasn’t learned what linguists have been trying to tell his ilk for years: that the vast majority of words change meaning through ignorance.
    More on Garner’s inability to assess his own camp accurately, even as he presents himself as a clearheaded peacemaker, later.
    Posted by: jamessal at December 6, 2010 05:47 PM
    In this paragraph (from “One major change” to “here and now”), Garner compares linguists studying language change to geologists. He says for linguists to claim that “Latin evolved into French…and the French haven’t been adversely affected by linguistic evolution… is like arguing the seismic disruptions along the San Andreas Fault hardly matter in the larger scheme of things, since continents and seas come and go: in the history of the earth, an earthquake in Los Angeles doesn’t amount geographically to a blip on the big screen.” Clever. But what’s the linguistic equivalent of an earthquake? Even the Great Vowel shift took place over hundreds of years. People had plenty of time to pack their stuff and move. There was no need for medics and engineers to rush to the scene, no matter how much Garner would like to imagine himself in such a role.
    Posted by: jamessal at December 6, 2010 06:09 PM

  31. J.W. Brewer says:

    Joe R.: Take it up with David Bowie: “It’s on America’s tortured brow / That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow / Now the workers have struck for fame / ‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again.” (Life on Mars, recorded circa ’71.) The “struck” seems perfectly idiomatic to me, and if there is admittedly a certain poseur affectedness in many of the lyrics on that album, the use of “struck” is not particularly evidence of it.

  32. jamessal says:

    I’m sorry, Noetica lumped me up that day, but it wasn’t over semicolons but over the the putative that/which distinction. I have trouble remembering all the details of such traumatic exchanges.

  33. yucky “mic” has displaced good old “mike”
    I assume everybody pronounces it “mike”, even though some spell it “mic”?

  34. Forgot to format this paragraph (plus, I caught a few typos):
    According to Garner, “Hopefully” is skunked: Avoid it in all senses if you’re concerned with your credibility. So we’re hamstrung. We have to avoid a word so useful that it flourished in the face of over a century’s worth of prescriptive carping. Whose fault is that? The stupid people for stupidly misusing their language, or the mavens for meddling? Garner obviously thinks the former. Even as he admits that the battle over “hopefully” is lost, he repeats all the arguments against “hopefully” as a sentence adverb — arguments that accord with part of his sixth principle, that A word or phrase is somewhat undesirable if … it originated in a misunderstanding of a word or its etymology. He thus demonstrates that in spite of his claims to understand and employ descriptive linguistics he still hasn’t learned what linguists have been trying to tell his ilk for years: that the vast majority of words change meaning through ignorance.

  35. My wife, born and raised in Brooklyn, says “pet” as the simple past of “to pet”. I heard this from many other people, all from NY or New England, when I lived in New York. Some people from this region also say “text” as the past tense for “to text” (by cell phone). Is anyone else familiar with these forms? Is this related to the “cast” question at all? Some problem with the doubled alveolar plosive?
    I’m from Oklahoma (fixing-to country) where these quirks are not ours.

  36. yucky “mic” has displaced good old “mike”
    You’ll be pleased to know that I’m changing the former to the latter in the book I’m currently copyediting.
    My wife, born and raised in Brooklyn, says “pet” as the simple past of “to pet”. I heard this from many other people, all from NY or New England, when I lived in New York.
    Huh. I don’t remember this from my years as a New Yorker, but then I wasn’t listening for it. I suspect “some problem with the doubled alveolar plosive” is the explanation.

  37. When I learned the dogma about “hopefully” and “comprised of,” both words used unprescriptively probably most of the time, I had two completely different reactions. “Hopefully” is used in everyday speech. It is rarely ambiguous (hopefully I’ll pass, I smiled hopefully), and when it is, the older meaning might be communicated with “, full of hope” or even “hopingly” ferchrissakes. I though it ludicrous to suggest a change in usage. “Comprised of,” on the other hand, is an affected version of “made up of.” It is reasonable to accept spoken innovations into the written language once they become common. But if you’re already using refined diction, why wouldn’t you want to use it in the most time-honored fashion? I’m not going to change how I use “hopefully,” but why not use “comprise” as he suggests? It doesn’t fill a hole in the language, but it does creates a pleasing rule of thumb. You’re right, prescriptions can make us aware of “problems” not of ambiguity or cacophony but of ignorance of the opinions of some guy with enough time on his hands to write a style guide. And it is silly that I have to worry about ending my sentences with prepositions lest some idiot take offense. But I do think it’s fully possible for people to use words most of the time ignorant of a traditional rule of usage they would be happy to adopt. We’re designed to enjoy using language precisely and consciously. There’s no reason to take Garner that seriously, society not being staked on the proper use of pronouns, but by the same token, there’s no reason to make any effort to discredit him. I’m not convinced by his rhetoric, but I can feel myself succumbing to some of his dictates.
    PaulB, I’m from San Francisco, and we use “pet” as the standard past tense form, but nobody does that with “text.” I’d be interested in knowing how the irregularity developed, because “petted” isn’t that hard to say. It’s used on the schoolyard.

  38. rootlesscosmo says:

    “The workers struck for four days.”
    Mark Twain used “struck for higher wages” in one of his essays about James Fenimore Cooper.

  39. Garner again, “Bet, not betted, is the preferred (and the far more frequent) past tense and past participle. Still, the form betted occasionally appears, especially in BrE…”
    “Mic” seems more common than “mike” in in a hip-hop context. Since it’s short for “microphone” I sorta prefer it. Oh, and Garner does too. That’s the last time I quote him here, on mamas.

  40. “Comprised of,” on the other hand, is an affected version of “made up of.”
    There’s nothing affected about it. You only say that because you didn’t grow up hearing it – which I did, by the way.
    I’m not going to change how I use “hopefully,” but why not use “comprise” as he suggests?
    This is completely arbitrary and just based on what you feel comfortable with.
    “Avoid it in all senses if you’re concerned with your credibility.”
    This from a blow-dried ass who thinks he looks smart with his hand resting on a random book. I wouldn’t buy a used roach motel from Bryan A. Garner, and he’s worried about my credibility? Up yours, Bry.

  41. If you sing into a “mike,” do you also “sink your iPhone” and “flex your pecks”?

  42. There’s no reason to make any effort to discredit [Garner]
    As Hat recently pointed out in another thread, The Chicago Manual of Style (maybe the most influential of all style books), refers to him, or maybe even employs him in some capacity, as its “grammar expert,” even though he knows less about grammar than any grad student studying linguistics; so yeah, I disagree.

  43. That picture is pretty hilarious, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and blame it on the photographer.
    Maybe “affected” is too strong, but the word belongs to a higher register of English than “composed of.” I heard it growing up too, but I don’t think it would ever be the most idiomatic choice. More formal language can bear more standardizing meddling. Where you draw the lines is arbitrary, but acknowledging that doesn’t preclude debate.
    Maybe he doesn’t understand very much about actual grammar, but he knows a whole lot about attitudes towards usage, right?

  44. I ride a bike, not a bic.

  45. Bathrobe says:

    Presumably the Internet will increasingly bring us up against usages that we’ve never encountered before. I’ve heard ‘bet’ as past tense (‘He bet me 50 bucks that I’d lose’) in conversation, but I only found out a few years ago (to my great surprise) that Americans use ‘fit’ as the past tense of ‘fit’, which was very jarring because I’m not used to it. I even found Americans editing Wikipedia articles to get rid of ‘fitted’, which suggests that Americans find ‘fitted’ just as strange.

  46. We both say “fitted caps” and “fit athletes,” right?
    As an American, I’d say clothes fit before, but I think I’d say that a tool was fitted with a new handle. Is that normal?

  47. Mic is bad, but miced and micing are far worse.

  48. Maybe he doesn’t understand very much about actual grammar, but he knows a whole lot about attitudes towards usage, right?
    Yeah, I’ll give him that, although he is blind to what a conservative snob he is himself.

  49. Joe R.: why not use “comprise” as he suggests?
    You make it sound so harmless. What you’re missing is that in the previous edition to Garner’s book he called comprised of to mean composed of “always wrong,” even though that usage has been common for hundreds of years; i.e., it’s always *right.* And Garner — as well as other soi disant language experts — have made these native speakers insecure, even though they were never making mistakes. This is the aspect of prescriptivism that Garner always papers over: that the body of work he fell in love with as a teenager is not only shoddy and amateurish but also (and therefore) pernicious.
    I agree with AJP, BTW, that comprised of is not necessarily an affectation, and I’m quite sure the history will prove us correct. It’s always dangerous making generalizations based on our limited experience. That’s why Hat, who knows more about language than only a select few here (a select few not including you, me, or AJP), finishes posts in which he encounters an unfamiliar usage as he did this one:

    To me [the past tense of cast is cast], and the dictionaries I’ve consulted only give that form, but googling tells me there is uncertainty about it; to the question What is the past tense of the word cast? the answer given at that site is “The past tense form of ‘cast’ would either be ‘cast’ or ‘casted’, depending on how it is used.” So what say you, Varied Reader? Is “casted” simply an occasional mistake, or an up-and-coming alternative? Does it sound OK to you? Do you use it?

  50. I happen to use comprise the way Garner prefers, BTW; the distinction pleases me: the parts constitute the whole, the whole comprises the parts. What doesn’t please me is bullies who can’t see that the pleasant feeling afforded by distinctions doesn’t affect the nature of language at all.

  51. dearieme says:

    In England “comprise” is part of Estate Agent English and is therefore routinely sneered at. As in:
    The house, set in its own delightful grounds, comprises five bedrooms, three reception rooms and offices and enjoys views over the Dart estuary.
    That sort of thing: Crown could probably elaborate.

  52. I happen to use comprise the way Garner prefers, BTW; the distinction pleases me: the parts constitute the whole, the whole comprises the parts.
    Same here.

  53. I don’t use comprise at all. But its etymology is interesting. Quoth the OED2 (contractions spelled out):
    Etymology: < French comprendre (past participle and preterite indicative compris) < Latin comprendĕre , contracted < comprehendĕre to comprehend v. Probably formed by association with emprise, and possibly with enterprise, both of which verbs were derivatives < English nouns of the same form (representing French emprise, entreprise, feminine nouns from past participle), but being used as the English representatives of emprendre, entreprendre, formed a precedent for the analogous representation of other compounds of -prendre by verbs in -prise : compare apprise, surprise.

  54. Dearie’s right (it further benefits from extensive asphalting and a two-car garage).

  55. Missed this: why wouldn’t you want to use “comprise” in the most time-honored fashion?
    Who says the way Garner prefers is the most time-honored? Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage dates the usage he most reviles to 1874.

  56. That’s another problem with these prescriptive usage guides: even when you read them skeptically, it’s hard to keep track of just how much shit the author’s pulling out of his ass.

  57. Noetica says:

    Jamessal, I am quite frankly disappointed. As I have said before, I think the whole matter of “descriptivism” versus “prescriptivism” is very poorly managed here, as it is at Language Log. Excuse me if I do not join in, let alone justify this claim. I have earlier said that this is not a topic on which I will not engage. People for whom I have boundless respect say things after shallow analysis, such as we might expect at far less informed forums; and they attribute opinions unjustly and inaccurately, without attending to what is actually stated.
    I have made some remarks at the thread COMMENTS ON ETYMOLOGY, on so-called “grammaticality”. These may be found relevant. See there my external reasons for keeping at a distance, for the time being.

  58. Noetica says:

    I meant this, of course: “I have earlier said that this is not a topic on which I will engage.”

  59. Noetica: What the hell are you talking about? When I posted the comments I’ve now pasted here in the thread about Mandelstam, you said, “Jamessal, your remarks are indeed trenchant, and it does my heart good to see you make them.” Now you’re disappointed. And I’m shallow. I don’t know what’s happened in between — frankly, I’m confused and disappointed myself — but please don’t break any promises about not engaging certain topics on my behalf.

  60. Having skipped over to the other thread, I wish you well in the ill weather, sincerely.

  61. Yes, best wishes from me as well. Anyone enduring Biblical floods may be excused some extra testiness.

  62. Noetica says:

    Thank you for your consideration, dear colleagues. Just very briefly, to Jamessal:
    You provide a neat example of what I was talking about. (So does John Cowan, amazingly enough, at that other thread.) Review what I have said exactly. How did I use the word ”shallow”, precisely? And then, must you think I was referring to you in all parts of what I wrote? Now, I was impressed by your comments in that earlier thread, but not in this. That is how disappointment works, right? None of this is for me to judge anyway. Relax!
    Signing off.

  63. How did I use the word ”shallow”, precisely?
    This a bit nit-picky given the tone of your whole comment — which upset me. You know I admire you. But sure, in the heat of my response I implied you used the word shallow in a way you actually didn’t.
    As for you disappointment, I really didn’t write all that much between the approved, copied comment to yours indicating newfound disapproval. But I’ll happily defend whatever it is you found so disappointing (maybe at a less stressful time); as I hope I’ve shown before, I’m willing to change my mind, given a good enough argument.

  64. Bathrobe says:

    Damned prescriptivists! They get our jamessal so riled up that he spends hours online maligning them that could he could have spent doing better things. A plague on their houses! Their greatest sin is that they such petty time wasters.

  65. jamessal says:

    I’d protest, clarify, defend myself, but long ago my mother taught me a Russian gesture (at least I think it’s distinctly Russian) — that of placing one’s palm on an open bottle when you’ve gotten someone riled up, meaning he or she has crawled in. I do not intend to crawl into this bottle — except to say, how do you know I have better things to do? My apartment, after all, is absolutely spotless, and I’d attach a picture to underscore the unabated sarcasm of that last remark, but my wife would kill me.

  66. placing one’s palm on an open bottle when you’ve gotten someone riled up
    I love that.

  67. Thanks, AJP. That was a good one to learn young.

  68. a Russian gesture (at least I think it’s distinctly Russian) — that of placing one’s palm on an open bottle when you’ve gotten someone riled up, meaning he or she has crawled in.
    My first thought was that it is intended to indicate that the someone has had too much to drink, i.e. they should lay off and calm down. You do stress the Russian context, after all. I don’t know what “crawled into a bottle” might mean. Is that an American way of saying “has drunk too much alcohol” ?

  69. It’s more like, by acting defensive about something, you’ve made yourself small and hysterical, such that everyone else — everyone outside the bottle — can watch you hopping around in there. At least, that’s how I’ve always understood it.

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