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Old 09-23-2013, 09:12 PM   #1
Andrew B.
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Default According to the OED

According to the Oxford English Dictionary

You can use plural pronouns to refer to singular nouns: http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/wor...-they-american

The words "can" and "may" can/may be used interchangably.
http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/wor...r-may-american

Now, despite the fact that the OED is a British dictionary, they seem to be commenting on American use. I don't know what the UK version says.

   
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:18 AM   #2
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The OED has a long tradition of dealing with American usage and following links from the example you pick shows that they put this in a historic (not an historic <g>) basis.

If you have not do read Simon Winchester's fascinating true account "The Professor and the Madman" .....

   
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Old 09-24-2013, 06:44 PM   #3
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+1

Great book!

   
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Old 09-24-2013, 11:24 PM   #4
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You might be interested to read that "the madman" had previously worked on the Webster dictionary.

http://www.thenation.com/article/159...#axzz2fshHImfd

This all reminds me of a tale I heard long ago.

A man is driving along a remote road and his tire goes flat. In the course of changing his tire, all the lug nuts roll into a storm drain where they are irretrievable. And at this point he saw no solution. But a man who had been watching from the other side of a fence suggested he remove one lug nut from each of the other wheels, and use this as a temporary solution.

The two men began to chat when the driver of the car noticed that the fence bounded a mental institution. After chatting a little longer, the driver learned that his helpful new friend was an inmate at the institution. And he could not contain his surprise that such a clever solution came from someone who was institutionalized. To which the inmate replied, "Being crazy doesn't mean I'm stupid."

   
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Old 09-25-2013, 02:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
andrew: "Being crazy doesn't mean I'm stupid."
Indeed...'-}}

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Old 09-25-2013, 06:47 PM   #6
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Very interesting -- I was not aware of this.

And then of course there is Dr Samuel Johnson's Dictionary 1755 part of which is on line and I see this book:

Hitchings, Henry. Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr Johnson's Dictionary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

   
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Wyn Griffith View Post

Hitchings, Henry. Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr Johnson's Dictionary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
I had forgotten about him.

I took a quick look at a sample page, and there is a word I've never seen before. The word "fecund." And this book is not even a dictionary.

   
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:54 PM   #8
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https://www.google.com/search?source...4&q=fecund.%22

Here's one I've kept on meaning to look up after the Costa Concordia disaster

parbuckle

As noun orig. †parbunkle. E17.
[Origin unkn. Later form by assoc. with buckle.]
A. noun. A rope arranged like a sling, for raising or lowering heavy objects, esp. casks or cylindrical objects. E17.
B. verb trans. Raise or lower (a cask, gun, etc.) with a parbuckle. M19.

   
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