Prescriptive vs. Descriptive---a guide to nit picking :)
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    Super Moderator ramprat06's Avatar
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    Prescriptive vs. Descriptive---a guide to nit picking :)

    Since another thread was so abashedly high-jacked over the use (or is that usage) of words, I thought I would continue the bashing here, since it really, to me, is an enjoyable exercise in the use of language today.
    I want to thank Randall for exposing me to a new facet, that facet being "Prescriptive Source" vs. "Descriptive Source". He writes:
    Joel, an important question to ask is whether your source is descriptive or prescriptive. A prescriptive source defines how a word is properly used. A descriptive source describes how a word is commonly used, including common abuses of the language. And in this era of illiterate journalism, the language is very much abused.

    R
    In light of this new facet, I ran across some interesting things, to wit:
    Observations

    "There has always been a tension between the descriptive and prescriptive functions of grammar. Currently, descriptive grammar is dominant among theorists, but prescriptive grammar is taught in the schools and exercises a range of social effects."
    (Ann Bodine, "Androcentrism in Prescriptive Grammar." The Feminist Critique of Language, ed. D. Cameron. Routledge, 1998)

    "Prescriptive grammarians are judgmental and attempt to change linguistic behavior of a particular sort and in a particular direction. Linguists--or mental grammarians, on the other hand, seek to explain the knowledge of language that guides people's everyday use of language regardless of their schooling."
    (Maya Honda and Wayne O'Neil, Thinking Linguistically. Blackwell, 2008)

    The Difference Between Descriptive Grammar and Prescriptive Grammar

    "The difference between descriptive grammar and prescriptive grammar is comparable to the difference between constitutive rules, which determine how something works (such as the rules for the game of chess), and regulatory rules, which control behavior (such as the rules of etiquette). If the former are violated, the thing cannot work, but if the latter are violated, the thing works, but crudely, awkardly *sic*, or rudely."
    (Laurel J. Brinton and Donna Brinton, The Linguistic Structure of Modern English. John Benjamins, 2010)

    By these concepts, I fall clearly into the "Mental Grammarian" niche. Right or wrong, it is clear that this is so.
    Currently, we do see many words that are used as nouns and verbs. "Use" is an example of one, but used in multiple ways. Is "usage" more accurate/proper in one context than another? See my first sentence in this post, and you tell me.
    "I use a torque wrench." The "s" sounds like ''cruise" and the word is a verb.
    "A torque wrench has a specific use." The ''s'' sounds like "goose" and the word is a noun.
    "Usage" is explored here, citing Des Walsh, publisher of My English Lab in a blog post dated Oct. 24, 2005

    For the noun ‘usage’ the basic dictionary definition can look pretty much the same as that for ‘use’, but with ‘usage’ there is a sense of ‘continued’ or ‘common’ use. And with language, the distinction is that ‘usage’ is the way the language is actually used, as distinct from what might look correct if you try to construct a sentence or phrase from a dictionary and grammar book. Examples would be: ‘Although old-fashioned grammarians say you should never split an infinitive, that is done every day in common usage.’ and ‘I was taught at school that every sentence must have a verb, but actual usage shows that many excellent writers include in their work ‘sentences’ without verbs, such as ‘His arrival at any gathering was always a dramatic event. Bold. Arresting.’

    How useful is this distinction? Well, in everyday life it probably doesn’t have a lot of application, but for me it is an interesting distinction, partly because of the origin of the words. As indicated above, both use and usage come to us from the Latin usus, but usage has arrived via Old French, from the 14th century AD.
    All that said, if you've followed along this far, what other words or terms belie the proper use versus the more common use? How does their usage affect a given context? What effect does that have on the reader of said word or term in its common usage versus how it is perceived in the "proper" use?

    Have at it, or don't. I just wanted to delve into the new-to-me facet.

    Mental Grammarian at large,
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    Ahh the" rules of engagement "Well done. Nits away
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    Super Moderator CXPHREAK's Avatar
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    Mfug. As long as poor grammar or spelling isn't to the detriment of understanding I don't give a rats.
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    Senior Member chilimac's Avatar
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    Rat,
    This is a delicious thread you've started, and I can't resist jumping in on it, being an unrepentant linguistic elitist and snob.
    A couple of my favorites:

    1. American corruption: "different than"- I've seen all kinds of linguistic alibis for this expression, but they don't change the fact that it's ABSOLUTELY WRONG AND WILL NEVER BE RIGHT!
    In America, the proper form of this expression is "different from", but I like the Brit's version "different to" even better. After all, the Brits invented English, didn't they, at least English-English, and it bears a maternal relationship to American-English.

    2. "Hone in on" vs "home in on" - this one still has me puzzled. Where did it come from? "Hone" refers to sharpening a blade, and has no sensible relationship to navigation. The only linguistic alibi I've seen for it attributes it to a typographical error that managed to go viral. I can accept that premise, which puts it into the same class as the infamous "My bad", which is universally understood by the swinish multitudes, yet cannot be meaningfully parsed linguistically.
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    OCR
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    Hone in on would refer to sharpening something to a keen edge.
    Also to a sharp point.
    Honing in would be a reference to filing away all extraneous material too.
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    we will now be able (once a bit more data is collected ) to calculate the forums nit proliferation rate

    something that must be missed somewhere for something

    exciting things happening already in 2017

    we have this and back to the stone age retro bikes awesome
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    Senior Member chilimac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OCR View Post
    Hone in on would refer to sharpening something to a keen edge.
    Also to a sharp point.
    Honing in would be a reference to filing away all extraneous material too.
    With all due respect, OCR, I have to disagree. "Hone" by itself has the meaning you refer to:

    Definition of hone
    honed honing
    transitive verb
    1
    : to sharpen or smooth with a whetstone
    2
    : to make more acute, intense, or effective : whet <helped her hone her comic timing — Patricia Bosworth>

    Whereas here's Merriam-Webster's take on "hone in on":

    Definition of hone in on
    US
    : to find and go directly toward (someone or something) <The missile was honing in on its target.> —usually used figuratively <Researchers are honing in on the cause of the disease.> ◆Although hone in on is widely used, many people regard it as an error for home in on.


    Note that Merriam-Webster annotates this as "US", where the last two generations have learned everything they know from television.
    1979 CX500 Custom, "Malaria", pronounced "mala-REE-ah"

    Prior bikes I wish I still owned:
    1965 Ducati 250 Monza
    1973 Kawasaki H1E 500cc triple
    1968 Honda CL450K1 scrambler
    1984 Kawasaki KZ700A
    For something completely different, look me up on YouTube under "muttbert"
    Full-service misanthrope and curmudgeon
    One of the great unanswered questions: Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

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    Super Moderator ramprat06's Avatar
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    Akin to this, Murray?

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    we should have a forum named

    'The nit farm" for stuff like this

    we have enough grammarians and engineers and nit pickers to keep it going
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  11. #10
    Super Moderator ramprat06's Avatar
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    But, Murray, this is that forum! If you lived here you'd be home by now

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    May the myriad of wheels in your head, keep the two wheels between your legs rubber side down.

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