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Thread: A lot, or alot?

  1. #11
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    Default Re: His response...

    Before I forget, thank you to everyone that tried helping, in advance :)

  2. #12
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    Default Re: His response...

    I can't pretend that I have tried to follow every twist and turn of this exchange of views; life's too short

    But there is one word, 'allot', which doesn't mean 'a great many'. And there are two words, 'a lot', which do mean that. Using that expression, spelt as a single word, is a mistake.

    It is a mistake that is very common, however, in colloquial contexts; if I were a linguist in the 22nd century, it seems to me quite possible that my doctoral thesis might track the increasing acceptability of "alot" in a range of contexts starting as a colloquialism in the second half of the 20th century. Today, however, it's just a mistake; a lot of words started life as simple mistakes.

    b

  3. #13
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    BobK is the expert. I'm afraid this time I can't be of any help, isa. As a Mathematician there exist only black and white-no grey (or should I say 'gray'? ) shades in between but if there's one thing I've learnt in this forum (apart from many others, of course) is that language is a living thing and very flexible. I'll stick to my 'a lot' for the rest of my life, I guess.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    Well! It seems that I should have a ready typed "Thank you" made out to BobK and queenbu as you two seem to be the only ones helping

    None the less, I sincerely appreciate the help I am receiving from the both of you.



    Now, getting back to the issue...

    Long story short;

    I just need to know if the last statement made by the argument holder:

    there is currently nobody who can rightfully say it is baseless and nobody who can rightfully say it is correct
    in regards to the usage of the concocted word 'alot' as true or false???

    Long story even shorter?

    Can we or can we not rightfully say that using the concocted word 'alot' is baseless or correct?

  5. #15
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    Quote Originally Posted by isa View Post
    ...
    Long story even shorter?

    Can we or can we not rightfully say that using the concocted word 'alot' is baseless or correct?

    Oh dear - this comes down to a discussion of what we mean by right/standard/authority. This has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere in this forum, in terms that have lost for us one (or perhaps two) of our more interesting contributors; I really don't want to join them.

    There are authoritative sources for the study of English, but there is no single authority (as there is in, say, France - though even in that case opinions differ about the extent to which the Académie's views matter). So no one can say authoritatively and finally whether or not 'alot' is just plain wrong; I think it is, and people who matter in the context of ESOL (examiners, academic admissions boards, potential employers) agree.

    b

    PS I think 'baseless' is a silly word in this context (I'm not sure who used it first, so this isn't directed at you isa ). There's an obvious basis for the creation of the new 'word'.
    Last edited by BobK; 16-Apr-2007 at 10:38. Reason: PS added

  6. #16
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    Well, I doubt many people would consider "alot" Standard English, but whether "standard" in that term means "correct" appears to depend on the listener.

    There are degrees of correctness, though. An indicator:

    How does the speaker/writer react when corrected?

    Oh my, not again!!! (Their/They're/there, etc.) [Slip]

    It's wrong? Really? *Shrugs and makes corrections* [Idiosyncratic usage]

    Nah, I've always done it like this, and so have my parents. [non-standard variety]

    ...

    ***

    Nitpicker's hat:

    Platypii and virii are becoming platypuses and viruses.
    1. Where does the double-i come form? It's not "platypius", nor is it "virius"? I'd expect "platypi" and "viri".

    2. The plural of "platypuses", as far as I'm aware, has always been "platypuses", or the less common "platypodes". It's "platy-pus", not "platyp-us", and it's bastard Greek. Our little platypus is a flatfoot in the same way that an octopus is an eightfoot.

    3. "Virus" is more complicated, but "viri" sounds wrong to my latin ear. I'd probably say "viruus" (long "u"; different declination, like status). In any case, I'd expect "viruses" to appear from the beginning as the plural of "virus". (Superficial online research seems to support this, but I don't trust the sources enough.)

    I like your friend's arguments, but the examples were ill chosen.

    ***

    Thanks for pro-etymologist. It made me chuckle.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    Minor adjustment to nitpicker's hat. There was a Latin word virus -i, but it meant both slime and stench. Naturally, the ancient Romans had no word for what we call a virus, as they had no such concept. So the plural, if there had ever been a Latin plural, would indeed be viri, but as far as I'm concerned (and all virologists) the plural of "virus" is "viruses".

    People who say it should be viri are ignorami*.

    * Need I point out that this is a joke?

    b

  8. #18
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    No you don't, BobK.

  9. #19
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    Quote Originally Posted by queenbu View Post
    No you don't, BobK.
    Well, it's just that some people in the Internet world seem to be humour-impaired.

    b

  10. #20
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    Default Re: A lot, or alot?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Minor adjustment to nitpicker's hat. There was a Latin word virus -i, but it meant both slime and stench. Naturally, the ancient Romans had no word for what we call a virus, as they had no such concept. So the plural, if there had ever been a Latin plural, would indeed be viri, but as far as I'm concerned (and all virologists) the plural of "virus" is "viruses".

    People who say it should be viri are ignorami*.

    * Need I point out that this is a joke?

    b
    Hehe, thanks for that, but I'll have to make a minor adjustment to your adjustment. There was a word virus. No plural is attested, and it doesn't seem to follow any regular pattern.

    An interesting link that contains further links. Nice summary quote:

    The best, most thorough discussion of the plural of 'virus' was athttp://language.perl.com/misc/virus.html. The conclusion was that notonly did the Latin word not have a plural, but there was no firm analogy by which to form one. So the plural is simply English 'viruses': none of the Latinate ones is supported.
    It seems my intuition of "virus, -us" isn't supported, but at least it's a possiblity. So is "virus, -i" or "virus, -a". The experts seem to agree that they don't know.

    ****

    EDIT: Wait a minute, in "virus, -i" the "-i" is probably the genitive, not the plural. In my quotation above the "-x" denote the plural. (It's a long time since I had Latin; I forgot the conventions. Hehe.)

    ****

    EDIT yet again: Ignorami! Heh. How could I miss that!!!
    Last edited by Dawnstorm; 16-Apr-2007 at 17:40.

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