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Posted By: Wordwind Modals - 10/09/04 11:34 PM
Try some of the exercises on the site below. These are fine grammatical distinctions that might or might not be taught carefully in these times. Our descriptivists here will most likely shiver...and I seriouly doubt that most of my students have been exposed to most of these distinctions:

http://www.englishpage.com/modals/can.html


Here's a direct link to a level one exercise:

http://englishpage.com/modals/interactivemodal1.htm

Edit: I'm learning a lot. Great fun tonight. I even found an Old English grammar quiz site I'll paste below. Great fun. This is true word-nerdism:

http://www.engl.virginia.edu/OE/OEA/index.html
Posted By: Faldage Re: Modals - 10/10/04 01:05 PM
We might could find this interesting. I'll check it out.

Edit (post quick check out):

Can - permission and can - request; aren't those the ones that prescriptivists often insist *must be 'may'?

Posted By: Wordwind Re: Mother Modal, May I? - 10/10/04 04:36 PM
Yes, Faldage, and I wonder whether this is one rule that is dying out. I'm fascinated with these modals because I do not believe they are taught strictly anymore, at least in US schools. I could be wrong here, and would enjoy reading comments from others who have been taken through instruction on modals in the US schools. Several fine points caught me off guard, and I enjoy learning fine points of grammar, though, you know, I side often with descriptivists.

Posted By: Faldage Re: Mother Modal, May I? - 10/10/04 05:57 PM
Funny you should mention Mother, May I. In my callow youth, back in the late '40s, early '50s, We were often lectured by parents and teachers about using 'may' rather than 'can' when we meant permission or in requests, but, in their normal speech those parents and teachers used 'can'. The only time I ever heard it used 'correctly' was in the name of the game, Mother, May I.

Posted By: plutarch Re: Mother Modal, May I? - 10/10/04 06:51 PM
In my callow youth

I doubt if your youth was ever "callow", Faldage -- tho it may have been "hallowed".

Just kiddin' ya. Hallowe'en is just around the corner.

Actually, you make a good point. [Full Stop]

Most of us are better at setting the table than at setting an example.

Posted By: Father Steve Can and May - 10/10/04 10:36 PM
In my own quiet way, I will strive to perpetuate the distinction between can and may, as will 79% of the usage panelists advising American Heritage.

http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/018.html

I pray that this offends no one nor sets off any paroxysms of disagreement.

Prescriptiveland can be a sometime lonely place, but it has its own modest rewards.




Posted By: Faldage Re: Can and May - 10/11/04 12:00 AM
as will 79% of the usage panelists advising American Heritage.

They may *say they do But then, so did my parents and all those teachers.

Posted By: grapho Re: Can and May - 10/11/04 12:45 PM
Prescriptiveland can be a sometime lonely place, but it has its own modest rewards

Yes, but let us not make a virtue out of stubborn isolation, Father Steve. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds ...".

Actually, I agree with you, Father Steve.

I always understood that something you "can" do is something you are physically able to do, whereas something you "may" do is something which you have license to do -- and the two are not often the same, much to the chagrin of the children who were taught this nettlesome lesson in my day.

I cannot speak for the consistency of anyone else's mother in inculcating this lesson, but certainly my own mother was as consistent as a drill sergeant -- which is why I still respect the difference between "can" and "may" to this very day. [And even to this very moment. ]

A foolish inconsistency is also the hobgoblin of little minds, Father Steve, which is why I admire the subtleties of your thought as much as the integrity of your "lonely" convictions.





Posted By: AnnaStrophic Re: Old English Grammar Quiz - 10/11/04 02:24 PM
I love it, WW, thanks! The aerobics are much more fun than the exercises in the OE textbook I used 3 decades (!!) ago...

Posted By: birdfeed Re: Old English Grammar Quiz - 10/11/04 03:36 PM
"I love it, WW, thanks! The aerobics are much more fun than the exercises in the OE textbook I used 3 decades (!!) ago"

28 years, to be quite deadly honest. You and I were in the same class.

And I thought it was "foolish ADHERENCE to consistency".


Posted By: grapho Re: Old English Grammar Quiz - 10/11/04 03:44 PM
"foolish ADHERENCE to consistency"

"ADHERENCE" is an addundance, birdfeed.

Posted By: birdfeed Re: Old English Grammar Quiz - 10/11/04 03:49 PM
"ADHERENCE" is an addundance, birdfeed."

Hwt?

Posted By: grapho Re: Old English Grammar Quiz - 10/11/04 03:56 PM
re "ADHERENCE" is an addundance, birdfeed: Hwt?

One cannot be consistent without adhering to consistency, birdfeed.

I make note of this more out of regard for Emerson's poetry than out of regard for the virtues of brevity.


Posted By: grapho Re: Old English Grammar Quiz - 10/11/04 04:19 PM
One cannot be consistent without adhering to consistency

Or, to put it another way, consistency is adherently consistent.

There I go battologizing again.


Posted By: Father Steve Battology - 10/11/04 07:07 PM
battologize

(v. t.) To keep repeating needlessly; to iterate.

~1913 Webster's Dictionary.

Delicious!



Posted By: jheem Re: Battology - 10/11/04 07:38 PM
battologize

From Greek battologia 'argologia, akairologia' (a rare word) < bat(t)alos 'anus; stammerer' (cf. proktos 'anus' and battarizo 'to stammer'). Somehow fitting.

Posted By: grapho Re: Battology - 10/11/04 09:31 PM
re battologize: "Delicious!"

Yes, it is a good word, Father Steve. Wordwind found it ["Tongue Twister" thread].

re Somehow fitting

You got me there, jheem.





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