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#158699 - 04/19/06 02:39 PM Re: securest vs. most secure
zmjezhd Offline
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Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
I just happen to like the comparison of adjectives that end in -ly. Just a personal preference. Do you not like them? Or do you find them incorrect also?

I was also reading a book, at lunch, on Tudor and Stuart books on English grammar, when I came across the lovely comparative of civil: civiler.

[Corrected typo.]

Edited by zmjezhd (04/19/06 02:40 PM)

#158700 - 04/19/06 04:13 PM Re: securest vs. most secure
TEd Remington Offline
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Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 3467
Loc: Marion NC
Googlits are not the best measure of correctness but...

"Likeliest" gets 900K googlits, while "most likely" gets 173 million. Seems to me that a ratio of almost 200 to one in favor of most likely provides a pretty good indication that the latter is the preferred method. And while I don't mind if other people use them, I can and do refrain from breaking a useful rule. And I teach my kids the same thing. Whether in writing or parol, the use of words and phrases that break with the rules tends to mark one as perhaps being a bit less than educated, whether we like it or not.

Somewhat along those lines, did you see the story in the Charlotte Observer the other day about admissions to major NC universities? UNC-Chapel Hill reported that they were admitting about 1/3 of all the applicants for freshman status. The article stated that they were turning away applicants who had a 4.0 average in high school and who had a combined score of 1300 on their SATs.

It is not outside the realm of possibility that admission decisions will end up being based heavily upon the new essay portion of the SATs, and I am determined that neither of my children will be graded down for saying likeliest instead of most likely.

The downside of teaching my kids to think and speak this way is that Theo, my 10-year-old, comes home and complains that his fourth-grade teacher does not use correct English and we have to keep reminding him that it is considered bad form to correct her English. And her spelling for that matter, come to think of it. One of the other teachers in the school wrote a note home last year about Sasha's missing library book, saying she could not make an acception (sic) in her case. ARGH!!!!

#158701 - 04/19/06 05:29 PM Re: securest vs. most secure
zmjezhd Offline
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Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
I just gave the google hits to show that the forms do occur often enough. (Another older form I just read was oftnest.) You said a native speaker of English would not use the forms quieter or quietest. I suggest that many native speakers do, myself included. And you telling me it's wrong is not right. I can also not think of any three or more syllable words that I could use -er or -est with. Using quieter as in "she is the quieter of the two" is exactly as grammatical as more quiet in "she is the more quiet of the two". Except to my ear the latter sounds a little more stilted than the former. Using quieter or securer is not the same as mistaking one lexical item for another. You yourself said that these "rules" have exceptions. We all make mistakes. You gave a "rule" for forming comparatives and superlatives of adjectives ending in -y that was incorrect. In a sense I found your mistake worse than some teacher misspelling a word. You probably don't. It's OK, because this is an informal kind of place and people post all kinds of English on it.
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

#158702 - 04/19/06 05:39 PM Re: securest vs. most secure
sjmaxq Offline
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Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 3230
Loc: Te Ika a Maui
This thread has again reminded me of the questions that puzzle me about prescriptivism. Especially, who gets to make the rules, and who decides when the rules are in force and when they change? Using this specfici thread as an example, what about "near"? Thanks to of troy, I've learned that this is (or was) a comparative itself. Since no prescriptivist today would sanction "greenerer" or "tallerer", why allow "nearer"? Without a rule-making body like the risible Académie française, how are the parameters of prescriptivism defined? When did "nearer" cease being an unacceptable comparative of a comparative? Who gets to say not only whether something is "right" or "wrong", but more interestingly, why, and for what period of time?
noho ora mai

#158703 - 04/19/06 08:49 PM Re: securest vs. most secure
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803

If the adjective ends in y and is two syllables long you can drop the y and use er and est.

Like happy, happer, happest?


Geez, Fong! Read the whole thread before jerking your knee all over TEd.

Edited by Faldage (04/20/06 05:20 AM)

#158704 - 04/19/06 09:15 PM Re: securest vs. most secure
Jackie Offline

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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
So I was a tad imprecise, I admit. Gee, I thought you were a Ted imprecise...

For whatever it's worth, I say quieter and quietest, and almost never more or most quiet.

#158705 - 04/19/06 09:32 PM Re: securest vs. most secure
maverick Offline
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Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
> I say quieter and quietest, and almost never more or most quiet.

So do I, and to be told that it's a marker of poor education is simply offensive crap, without logical foundation.

#158706 - 04/20/06 04:00 AM Re: securest vs. most secure
belligerentyouth Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 1055
Loc: Berlin
> So do I

Me too. 'Quieter' certainly flows better than 'securer' - I can't handle all that 'r'. 'Quietest' should probably be avoided by those with problems pronouncing groups of consonants! I assume that whichever form one uses one should then stick consistently to it though; we agree on that, huh? Or could one opt for 'securest' in a title to save space only to revert to 'most secure' in the text? Does anyone think one runs the risk of annoying, alienating or even confusing readers by using the option 'securest' rather than 'more secure'?

#158707 - 04/20/06 04:34 AM Re: securest vs. most secure
maverick Offline
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Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
Hi belli - sorry I didn't get around to saying welcome back!

For me, the only test that stands logical scrutiny is euphony - if it sounds decidely right and normal it is, and if it sticks out it may be better avoided. This places the onus on a personal and imprecise assessment of course, which is what I suspect most prescrips are psychologically running scared of but! Some have a tin ear and some have a natural flair - I expect your interest in both language and music will provide every bit as useful a guide as any style book.

fwiw, your example may confuse since you appear to be suggesting two variants one of which is just a comparative ('more') and one a superlative ('~est'); that apart, my ear would suggest avoiding securest, perhaps since lacking a stress on the first syllable seems to make it unbalanced.

#158708 - 04/20/06 04:52 AM Re: securest vs. most secure
Bingley Offline
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Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
>>I can also not think of any three or more syllable words that I could use -er or -est with. <<

Unhappy, unhappier, unhappiest.

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