Monday, April 26, 2004

An exquisite corpse bonus -- take a deep breath

John McIntyre submits this exquisite corpse that was too long for the comments section. It's from H.W. Fowler, Modern English Usage, revised by Sir Ernest Gowers, from the entry on Americanisms. And, yes, it is one sentence. (For background, see this.)
Our growing preference for PHRASAL VERBS over simple ones with the same meaning ("meet up with," "lose out on"), the use of the plain SUBJUNCTIVE without an auxiliary in such a sentence as "he is anxious that the truth be known," the effects of HEADLINESE LANGUAGE, especially as an eater-up of of prepositions ("world food production" for "production of food in the world"), the obliteration of the distinction between SHALL and WILL that the few who understood it used to consider the hall-mark of the niceties of English idiom, the foothold gained by the American "I don't have" at the expense of the English "I haven't got" (see DO 2), the victory of "aim to do" over "aim at doing," the use of "in" instead of "for" in such a phrase as "the first time in years," the progress made by DUE TO towards the status of preposition and of LIKE towards that of a conjunction -- such things as these, trifling in themselves, are cumulatively symptoms of surrender by the older competitor to the younger and more vigorous.


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