Archive for the ‘Conditions in conflict’ Category

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July 17, 2011

This time (earlier, here and here) in the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness (hat tip to Jeff Shaumeyer in Facebook):

A note about the webcomic, and then some notes about the idiom everybody and his brother.


Data points: Faith vs. WF 12/1/10

December 1, 2010

Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, in an op-ed piece (“A Stale Food Fight”) in the November 29 NYT, about the FDA Food Safety Modernization Bill now under consideration in the U.S. Congress:

… the bill is under fierce attack from critics — egged on by Glenn Beck and various Tea Partyers, including some in the local food movement — who are playing fast and loose with the facts.

First point: Tea Partyers (with a Y) rather than Tea Partiers. Second point: the NYT‘s rendering of the bill’s name as “the F.D.A. Food Safety Modernization bill”, with periods in F.D.A. that are not in the bill’s name. Two different kinds of conflict between faithfulness (Faith) and well-formedness (WF) — see the inventory of postings here — resolved in two different ways: in favor of Faith in the first case, WF in the second.


Faith vs. WF

June 27, 2009

Still another inventory of postings on Language Log and this blog, this time of discussions of conflicts between faithfulness (Faith) and well-formedness (WF), updating the inventory in “Article-article article abstract” and adding very brief annotations.

This inventory doesn’t include some types of cases that have been discussed in these blogs, but without an actual reference to faithfulness, among them: use vs. avoidance of taboo vocabulary in quotation (except in “A few dollops of taboo avoidance”, below); preservation vs. adaptation in borrowing (except in “If you’re uneducated you say it right”, below); “semantic” vs. “grammatical” determination in agreement; assignment of nouns to Count or Mass (on the basis of semantics vs. conventions).

AZ, 1/29/06: Dubious quotation marks:
punctuation and spelling

AZ, 4/9/07: Ducky identity:

AZ, 8/1/07: Cousin of eggcorn:

AZ, 8/12/07: e e cummings and his iPod: Faith vs. WF again:
spelling (esp. capitalization)

AZ, 9/21/07: Punctuational hypercorrection:

AZ, 3/23/08: Article-article article abstract:
articles in proper names

AZ, 8/17/08: A few dollops of taboo avoidance:
taboo avoidance

AZ, 10/30/08: Periods:
periods in abbreviations

GP, 2/2/09: If you’re uneducated you say it right:

BlackBerrys and BlackBerrying



April 21, 2009

Leah Hager Cohen, review of Follow Me by Joanna Scott, New York Times Book Review of 19 April, p. 1:

That’s Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind … — not to be confused with Sally Bliss … — heroine of Joanna Scott’s latest novel, “Follow Me.” But the Sallys bear more than a passing resemblance …

The point I’m interested in here is the plural Sallys. The English spelling rule for plurals that would normally apply to Sally would call for the final Y to be converted to an I and then for ES to be added; compare tallies, rallies, and in fact sallies (in various senses). The plural Sallies would be well-formed according to the usual spelling rules for English. Instead, we get the plural Sallys, which visually preserves the name Sally; it is faithful to the form of the name. There are two conditions here, both of which make sense, and they are in conflict, a conflict that has to be resolved in favor of one or the other (or the alternative Sally’s, which is faithful and also clearly sets off the mark of the plural, but is heavily disfavored because it looks like it has a “greengrocer’s apostrophe”).

This is familiar territory for me. I have quite a list of cases of conflicts between well-formedness and faithfulness, including this very case: the spelling of plurals of proper names ending in Y.