Saturday, August 02, 2008

Pedants on the Prowl: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid ... of Laughing Out Loud

I was reading a wine column by Eric Asimov of the New York Times (his sister is a Friend of the Blog)and foolishly blundered into the comments:

7 comments so far...

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1.
August 1st,
2008
8:07 pm

To Mr. Asimov, whose email address is not shown:
You write “It was the kind of wine you could sniff all evening without ever drinking, so compelling were the aromas …”. Be careful about falling into the trap of accepting trendy but incorrect meanings for words. Compelling is an adjective related to the verb compel that means “to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly ” [Merriam-Webster]. Thus, it relates to action. It doesn’t mean “wonderful”or “delightful”. It means “having the quality to cause action”. A robber’s gun would compel you to hand over money. It is compelling. In that sense, if the aroma were compelling, one would definitely be driven to do something such as taste the wine.

— Posted by Lance
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2.
August 2nd,
2008
2:04 am

Lance, that’s nonsense. I’ve definitely experienced wines that had compelling aromas. They caused me to salivate, reflect, and return again and again to the glass.

— Posted by Rajiv
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3.
August 2nd,
2008
2:47 am

LANCE,

INDEED AS A VERB:

Compel enters in 1380

[a. OF. compeller and compellir (14th c. in Godef.) to compel, ad. L. compell-{ebreve}re f. com- together + pell-{ebreve}re to drive.]

1. trans. To urge irresistibly, to constrain, oblige, force: a. a person to do a thing (the usual const.).

TO YOUR SPECIFIC ADJECTIVE USAGE COMMENT, COMPELLING ENTERS IN 1901 AS:

com{sm}pelling, ppl. a.

f. as prec. + -ING2.]

a. That compels: see the verb.

b. Of a person, his words, writings, etc.: irresistible; demanding attention, respect, etc.

I think Eric has a solid command of his English usage.

ac.

— Posted by ac
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4.
August 2nd,
2008
7:54 am

To Lance, whose email is also not shown. To continue the off-topic nature of your didactic response, please put periods inside of quotations unless providing an in-text citation after the sentence. Typically, colons and semicolons are the only punctuation that always reside outside of the quotation mark.

— Posted by James
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5.
August 2nd,
2008
9:24 am

How about compel one to smell the wine over and over? I’m sure many readers have experienced this urge.

— Posted by TWG
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6.
August 2nd,
2008
12:03 pm

To James: as long as this didactic discussion is continuing, you may find that the placement of periods relative to quotation marks is not entirely standardized. In Commonwealth countries in particular James’s punctuation is becoming the prevalent practice. Would you now care to comment on my apostrophe use in “James’s”?

To everyone more generally, I think Rajiv and TWG have certainly hit on ways that aromas have been compelling to me. Sometimes the compulsion to keep smelling one more time can be stronger than the compulsion to taste.

— Posted by Mark
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7.
August 2nd,
2008
3:45 pm

I dropped in for some wine talk and am shocked to find an english lesson. Gentelemen please stay away from my blog
( http://www.vintnersvoice.com ), I’ve never cared about winning a spelling bee.

— Posted by Jerry D. Murray
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1 comment:

Tmorahan said...

I can't believe I just read that whole thing. I was compelled to stop but something just kept me going on and on ann on ...