Aaaaargh!

Perhaps the cuts in the numbers of subs at The Telegraph have gone too far?

Falling house prices result in less divorces, says ONS.

Less haste, fewer mistakes…….

24 thoughts on “Aaaaargh!”

  1. N0t this old nonsense again, Tim.

    Here’s a link to a recent LangLog posting on this very subject less + countable nouns is as old as English itself, the ‘distinction’ is completely arbitrary and was only formulated in the 18th century coz some bloke thought fewer sounded nicer.

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=552

    If you’re going to opine on linguistic or grammatical topics, it might be worthwhile investigating what descriptive linguisticians have to say on the matter.

  2. IF you actually listen to what people say, and I believe the language actually IS what people use, not what the Oxford manual of style says they shouw use – then less is perfectly valid. Sorry Tim!

  3. If fewer people were less ignorant these arguments wouldn’t arise so often.

    If less people were fewer ignorant these arguments wouldn’t arise so often.

    The number of people who’ll talk any amount of horseshit on things linguistic, is breathtaking.

    The amount of people who’ll talk any number of horseshit on things linguistic, is breathtaking.

    Discuss 🙂

    Discuss.

  4. If it sounds bad (and it does) that is one good reason for avoiding it. The line in “Amazing grace” – “We’ve no less days to sing thy praise” is a mistake. “Sorry, Zorro”.

  5. “The line in “Amazing grace” – “We’ve no less days to sing thy praise” is a mistake.”

    That’s hardly the worst grammatical error in a song – try ‘Live And Let Die’:

    “But if this ever changin world,
    in which we live in…”

  6. That’s a common mondegreen, JuliaM. Paul McCartney’s not that illiterate. The real line is “but if this ever-changin’ world in which we’re livin’…” It might not be the most felicitous phrasing, but it’s grammatically correct.

    If you really want an ungrammatical song, how about “Bess, You Is My Woman Now”?

  7. “That’s a common mondegreen, JuliaM. “

    Really? The lyrics websites I went to disagree…

    Mind you, they probably all feed off each other. Listening to it again, it still sounds like the former.

    “…“Bess, You Is My Woman Now”..?”

    Ugh!

    There’s another one that always bugs me when I hear it, but I can’t recall it atm.

  8. There’s another one that always bugs me when I hear it, but I can’t recall it atm.

    “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, perhaps? 🙂

  9. “If less people were fewer ignorant these arguments wouldn’t arise so often.”

    The whole point, Former Tory, is that you are trying to use fewer to make the comparative form of the adjective. This has nothing to do with using “less” with countable nouns. It is simply an error.

  10. ““Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, perhaps?”

    Oooh, no, but that is another horrid example, to be sure.

    I just remembered it – Yvonne Elliman, “If I Can’t Have You”:

    “If I can’t have you,
    I don’t want nobody, baby”

  11. the ultimate in neo-liberal selfishness. a song from the roaring 20s:

    I ain’t gonna give nobody none of my jelly-roll!

    is that a triple negative?

  12. “…“Bess, You Is My Woman Now”..?”

    That’s a complete mis-quote! It’s “Dave, you’re my wife now”.

    And on the original topic: who cares if some modern-day pedant can prove that some 18th-century pedant invented the rule, rather than the rule having been in existence since Old English: fewer does sound better than less.

  13. It’s amusing that not only does KMcC obviously spend his days googling for this so he can put people right, but he obviously believes that a single link to Language Log should settle the issue forever: how can you possibly go back to your error-prone ways when Language Log has been quoted, Tim?

  14. Stephen – I don’t need to google this or other instances of usage peevery – people practically flaunt their ignorance and inchoate ideas relanguage nonstop.

    And, when it comes to advice on usage, I tend to trust professionals who describe how language is used, rather than prescribe what they’d like to see . Language Log is a written by a collection of professional descriptive linguisticians and grammarians.

    Incidentally, I never suggested Tim should go sin no more, or anything like it; just that he should cease to repeat the baseless claim that less+countables is somehow ungrammatical. There’s a bit of a difference.

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