Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pet Peeves redux

A couple of years ago, several biblioblogs shared their pet peeves, including this one. By coincidence, two of them have re-emerged on the blogs today. First, Jim West shares his loathing of the plural "Revelations" for the Book of Revelation. As I mentioned before, I have an almost irrational degree of annoyance about this. Then on Higgaion, Chris Heard notes a fine new website, Beg the Question: Get it Right. I just happened to read an incorrect usage of "beg the question" yesterday, so I will blog that separately. And from now on, each time I see one in Biblical scholarship, I am going to mention it here.


James said...

Yesterday, I saw "incredulous" misused for "incredible," and then misused again a dozen words later.

But it was misused by a well educated person who's highly informed and writes in a clear, articulate fashion, in accord with the great preponderance of norms of diction and grammar of standard English.

I therefore suppressed my annoyance, and chalked this up as evidence that "incredulous" for "incredible" is nearing the status of a lost cause-that the language is changing as it always has and always will.

So also "between you and I" (the result of misapplying corrections, often maternal, to the supposed misuse of "me.) So also even the past participle.

You are spitting in the wind. If well educated, highly articulate speakers are saying it that way, that way is as "correct" as it gets. You may not lay down your arms now, but when twenty years from now your children and their friends say it that way and it begins to creep into edited print, perhaps you will.

Jim said...

have you noticed no one ever says 'Lukes' or 'Matthews' or 'Genesiss'. It's always 'Revelation' that gets the s. And I'm akin to you Mark, I have real contempt for it.

mike said...

These days, James, educated doesn't mean someone has ever studied grammar:

Here's the beginning of the abstract from a presentation given by Geoffrey Pullum, the author of the Cambridge English Grammar:

Try to imagine biological education being in a state where students are taught that whales are fish because that is judged easier for them to grasp; where teachers disapprove of tomatoes and teach that they are poisonous (and evidence about their nutritional value is dismissed as irrelevant); where educated people accuse biologists of "lowering standards" if they don't go along with popular beliefs. This is a rough analog of where English grammar finds itself today. . . .

Peter M. Head said...

"Revelations" with an "s" is an important aspect of the contemporary reception of the document traditionally entitled "Revelation" or "the Apocalypse" (on the basis of its opening word). It shouldn't be despised but pondered. Using the plural deconstructs the traditionally-inherited unity of the text and registers that readers (to some degree rightly) discern a multiplicity of revelations in and behind the text.
So don't when you see an "s" in this context, use it to open up the more interesting question: to what extent do you read this text as reflecting a single "revelation" or a series or multiplicity of "revelations"?

Peter M. Head said...

delete "don't"

Mark said...

Two pet peeves:
1. Using "Hubris" to mean ordinary vanity, rather than a violent and tyrannical abuse of power.
2. Treating kudos as a plural, as in, "Many kudos to the hoi polloi."