“هل “رايز” بحاجة إلى الأرض؟

A reader asks about the sentence: “Vikings razed many monasteries to the ground.”

Is not “to the ground” in this statement superfluous? Where else could it be razed to?

The question puts me in mind of Lear’s response when his daughter proposed to reduce some of his amenities because he didn’t need them:

Reason not the need! The poorest beggar in some rag is superfluous.

Strictly speaking, “to the ground” is not needed after the word razed. The fraze.it site shows plenty of current examples that do without the phrase. Here are three:

Neighbors say a garage there will be razed to make way for a new cooling station.

The Tacoma Mall Twin has been razed and replaced by a Krispy Creme doughnut shop.

The outer shell of the historic ballpark has been razed, but the field remains.

On the other hand, razed followed by “to the ground” is well represented:

Zawiyah’s central mosque, which served as a rebel HQ, has been razed to the ground.

Grozny, its capital, which was razed to the ground by the Russians, has been rebuilt.

The glorious edifices erected by Mahadji Shinde and his chiefs were razed to the ground.

The verb raze entered English from French in the twelfth century. Since then, it has been used with numerous meanings, most of which are now categorized as “obsolete” or “rare.”

The earliest example given in the OED of raze used with the meaning “to tear down, demolish, or level a building, town, etc.” is from the sixteenth century. From then on, structures are razed “to the earth” as well as “to the ground.” From the seventeenth century, the addition of “to the ground” seems to become optional, but continues to be common.

Although most things are razed “to the ground,” making the prepositional phrase redundant, that’s not always the case. Raze can mean “erase” and “remove” as well as “destroy.” Kings can be razed from their thrones. A people’s culture can be razed by their conquerors.

But, yes, generally speaking, things that are razed are demolished down to the foundations as if they never were. So, why add the adverbial phrase?

One practical reason is the fact that not everyone is as alive to language as the readers of this column.

Raze and raise are homonyms. They are also antonyms. Some listeners might do a double-take if, when hearing that a building has been “razed,” they first think of “raised.”

In speech, the “to the ground” can’t hurt. In written expression, the qualifier is not needed, but including it is a stylistic choice, not a grammatical fault. Apart from providing clarity, it can add pathos, as in this Twitter caption under a photo of children displaced by war:

Look closely at these children. Are they really that different from yours? Can you honestly say they deserve to watch their homes razed to the ground in front of their eyes?

To see your home razed is bad. To see it razed to the ground seems even worse.

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Original post: Does “Raze” Need “to the Ground”? 


حواف، حواف في كل مكان

Lately I’ve been struck by the frequency with which I encounter the word fringe in the media.

I can recall a time when my only associations for the word were with the trim on my mother’s lampshades and the term “fringe benefits.”

Fringe entered English as frenge from French with the meaning, “an ornamental bordering, consisting of a narrow band to which are attached threads of silk, cotton, etc., either loose or formed into tassels or twists.”

In the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (c. 1400), the hero’s saddle had “mony golde frenges.”

By the seventeenth century, fringe, originally an ornamental border, could refer to any kind of border perceived to exist at the edge of something else, for example, “the fringes of a circle” and “a thin fringe of timber surrounding the margin of a lake.”

Figuratively, fringe came to refer to the edges of anything:
the fringes of greatness
the fringes of repentance
the fringes of a conspiracy
the fringes of Edinburgh

In the nineteenth century, fringe came to mean what US speakers call “bangs”: a portion of the front hair brushed forward and cut short.

His thick, dark-brown mop of hair falls in a cherubic fringe over his forehead.

Her hair short, blonde, with an overgrown fringe swept to the side of her face.

Here are some current uses of fringe as noun and adjective.

fringe athletes

Arsenal call off Lemar chase as Wenger switches focus to cutting fringe players from their bill.

I think we would be taking a risk bringing in fringe players from the big teams.

A fringe player is a player on a team that is not a regular starter in the first team. They may not even get on the bench often – they are at the fringe of the team, the edge.

fringe benefits

The audit said Adams might have violated IRS tax code on taxable fringe benefits.

State employee salaries and fringe benefits will be added in the coming months.

A fringe benefit is any nonwage payment or benefit (e.g., pension plans, profit-sharing programs, vacation pay, and company-paid life, health, and unemployment insurance programs) granted to employees by employers. It may be required by law, granted unilaterally by employers, or obtained through collective bargaining.

golf fringe

As if playing to the crowd, Guan drained his putt from the fringe for a birdie.

He advanced it to the fringe, then left himself with almost five feet for bogey.

In golf, the fringe is the section of the fairway, typically forming an apron shape at the front, that links the green and the fairway together. The fringe is usually cut at an interim depth to the shorter green and the longer fairway, but all should allow for a ball to roll across the surface.

urban fringe

The district includes Foulsham, Aylsham, plus Norwich fringe towns and villages.

An example of this is the high demand for dwellings in the city fringe suburbs.

The urban fringe, sometimes also called the “urban-rural fringe,” is the area of land where town meets country.

fringe religion

Our family is Unitarian Universalist — a fringe religion that is, in some ways, as difficult to describe as it is to say.

Children born and raised on the religious fringe are a distinctive yet largely unstudied social phenomenon.

The term “fringe religion” is not easily defined. The term can refer to Mormonism, Shia Muslims, Odinists, cargo cults, or any set of beliefs out of the mainstream. And even mainstream Christian denominations, like Catholics and Baptists, have their “fringes.” Generally, religious believers on the fringe disagree with conventional teachings about morality and the divine.

fringe theory

In the 1950s, plate tectonics was a fringe theory.

Before Copernicus, the idea that the earth revolved around the sun was a fringe theory.

A fringe theory is an idea or a viewpoint which differs from the accepted scholarship of the time within its field.

Although more fringes remain, I’ll close with “lunatic fringe.”

lunatic fringe

We need two parties that try to appeal to the middle third of the electorate, and ignore the 10% lunatic fringe on each extreme.

But the idea that language has a terrible power over the brain, and can be easily manipulated by the powerful, is in no way limited to a lunatic fringe.

The OED defines “lunatic fringe” as “a minority group of adherents to a political or other movement or set of beliefs.”

Merriam-Webster defines the term as “the members of a usually political or social movement espousing extreme, eccentric, or fanatical views.

Teddy Roosevelt is often mentioned as having popularized the term in the political context:

There is apt to be a lunatic fringe among the votaries of any forward movement.

Earlier than the political use, however, the term “lunatic fringe” referred to a hairstyle.

LUNATIC Fringe” is the name given to the fashion of cropping the hair and letting the ends hang down over the forehead. —Wheeling Daily Register, July 1875.

“The girls!” exclaimed Miss Lizzie, lifting her eyebrows till they met the “lunatic fringe” of hair which straggled uncurled down her forehead. —Oliver’s Optics Magazine, February 1874.

Note: Oliver Optic’s Magazine: Our Boys and Girls, was a nineteenth-century American children’s magazine published in Boston from 1867 to 1875.

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Original post: Fringes, Fringes Everywhere 



قارئ يسأل: هل يمكنك توضيح ما إذا كانت السيارة “careens” أو “careers” خارج الطريق؟ هل كلاهما قابلان للاستخدام؟ المعاني الأصلية للكلمات مختلفة تماماً. تنبع المهنة من الأنشطة المتعلقة بالخيول، و careen لها أصل بحري. في الوقت الحاضر ، يستخدم الفعل “المهنة” في الغالب لوصف سلوك المركبات الآلية. لكن يبدو لي أنه من المرجح أن أدج قد نمت على عجلة القيادة قبل أن يخرج عن الطريق. تم إدخال سائق الشاحنة البالغ من العمر 51 عامًا إلى المستشفى بعد أن خرج شاحنته عن الطريق السريع وعبر ملجأ للحافلات تحت مسارات القطار المرتفعة. قُتل شخصان على الأقل وأُدخِل أكثر من 40 إلى المستشفى بعد أن خرجت حافلة مستأجرة عن طريق الطريق السريع في تكساس يوم الخميس ، حسبما قالت السلطات. كاسم ، أشار كيرين إلى موقف السفينة الموضعة على جانب واحد أو المنحدرة ، إما عن قصد ، أو بسبب الأمواج أو الكارثة. في جزيرة الكنز (1881-2) ، عندما أُظهر نسخة من خريطة الكنزminus the X’s التي تمثل موقع الكنز المخفيLong John Silver يخفي إزعاجه بالتظاهر بأنه يبحث عن مكان محتمل للعمل على سفينة: “لقد كنت على حق ، سيدي ،” يقول ، “لتجلب رياحك والحفاظ على طقس الجزيرة. على الأقل ، إذا كانت نيتك هي الدخول والحذر ، وليس هناك مكان أفضل لذلك في هذه المياه. “أخذ الفعل المعنى العام ل” التميل ؛ للانحناء. “من تميل السفينة ، تم تطبيق الفعل بشكل رئيسي في الولايات المتحدة على السيارات الآلية.. مئات المرات اختنق حناجرهم بينما كانت السيارة تتحرك على أحد الضفافات. (1920). حتى أواخر عام 1938 ، كانت الروابط البحرية لا تزال موجودة: كان الطائر يتحرك من الجانب إلى الجانب كما لو كان هناك أمواج.. يعطي ميريام ويبستر المعاني البحرية للفعل أولاً. التعاريف الإضافية هي “التأرجح من الجانب إلى الجانب” و “إلى المهنة”. إذا كان يتحرك من جانب إلى آخر كما هو الحال، سأستخدم كاريين.. الآن أن العمل يذهب عن بعد / افتراضية، مهارات الكتابة هي أكثر أهمية من أي وقت مضى! 


“تعديل النقاط”

A reader requests clarification on the punctuation of appositives:

I would like to see a piece on the punctuation of appositives. Decades ago, I somehow came to believe that an appositive in which the first noun is general and the second noun is specific is not offset by commas. Conversely, if the first noun of an appositive is specific and the second is general, then commas are appropriate. Here’s an example:

General noun followed by specific noun: My cousin Bob played baseball with us.

Specific noun followed by general noun: Bob, my cousin, played baseball with us.

Is there such a rule? Is it incorrect or less correct to punctuate the first sentence as follows: “My cousin, Bob, played baseball with us”?

First, a reminder of what an appositive is:

An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that immediately follows another noun and tells more about it. The second noun is said to be “in apposition to” the first.

Apposition is “the action of putting or placing one thing next to another.”

The reader uses the terms “general” and “specific” in an effort to establish the difference that determines commas vs no commas. These terms are not helpful. In the examples given, “My cousin Bob” is no more specific than “my cousin.”

More useful terms here are “essential” and “nonessential.” The need for commas is determined by how essential the second noun is to the overall meaning of the sentence.

If the second noun provides essential information, no commas are needed.

If the second noun provides nonessential information, it is set off by commas to show that it can be left out without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Let’s look at the reader’s examples.

Depending upon how many cousins the speaker has, the sentences can be written as follows:

My cousin, Bob, played baseball with us.

The speaker has only one cousin. Leaving out the name does not change the fact that the cousin played baseball with them. Therefore, the name Bob is nonessential information.

My cousin Bob played baseball with us.

The speaker has more than one cousin. The name Bob is necessary to indicate which one played baseball with them. The name provides essential information so it is not set off by commas.

Bob, my cousin, played baseball with us.

In this sentence, if the listener is acquainted with Bob as someone who plays baseball, the family relationship is nonessential information.

Here are a few more examples.

Samuel Johnson’s play Irene ran for nine nights in London in 1749. (Irene was the only play Johnson wrote.)

The Daily Telegraph gave Ibsen’s play about venereal disease, Ghosts, a scathing review in 1891. (Ghosts is the only one of Ibsen’s plays that is about this topic.)

Joan of Arc’s father, Jacques, dreamed she left the village with soldiers. (Joan had only one father. His name is nonessential in this sentence.)

Joan’s brother Pierre fought with her at Orléans. (Joan had two other brothers.)

Note on the terms essential and nonessential
In my explanation, the term essential corresponds to the grammar term restrictive.

Nonessential corresponds to the term nonrestrictive. Fowler (Modern English Usage) used the terms defining and non-defining for these concepts.

Choose the terms that make the most sense to you.

essential/restrictive/defining = NO commas (because the information is necessary to the meaning of the sentence.)

nonessential/restrictive/non/defining = COMMAS (because the information can be left out without altering the meaning of the sentence.)

Note on “leaving out” nonessential appositive
Just because the nonessential appositive can be left out does not mean that it should be. The classification is simply a way to decide whether or not commas are needed.

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Original post: Punctuating Appositives 


“صادق، مخلص و صريح”

أنا سعيد دائمًا بتلقي اقتراحات الموضوع من القراء. في بعض الأحيان قد لا أفهم تمامًا ما هو مطلوب ، ولكن التعليقات لا تزال يمكن أن تؤدي إلى سلسلة أفكار تؤدي إلى مشاركة. في الآونة الأخيرة ، اشتكى أحد القراء من “استخدام Gen Z لصدق بدلاً من الصراحة أو الصراحة”. في الاستخدام الحديث ، يتم استخدام الصادق مع ثلاثة معاني رئيسية: 1 خالية من الخداع وعدم الصدق. 2 صحيحة أخلاقيا أو فاضلة ؛ متوافقة مع القانون. “التصوير الصريح” هو غير مخطط له. “المقابلة الصريحة” غير مخططة وبالتالي قد تكون أكثر كشفًا عن مشاعر الشخص الحقيقية. يأتي فرانك من اللاتينية اللاتينية في العصور الوسطى ، “حرة” عن طريق الفرنسية القديمة. التعاريف الحديثة لـ frank في OED: • لا يمارس الاختفاء ؛ براعة ، مفتوحة ، صادقة. من المشاعر: غير مخفية. • مع الإشارة إلى الكلام: صريحة ، صريحة ، غير محجوزة. • اعترف ، غير مخفية ؛ صريحة. من بين الثلاثة، الصادق هو الأكثر استخدامًا لأنه يحمل معظم المعاني. وفقًا لنجاحات جوجل ومشاهد Ngram، فإن الصادق ذو الأغراض الشاملة يتلقى استخدامًا أكبر بكثير من الصادق أو الصادق. قبل البحث في هذا المنشور، كنت أعتقد أن المكثف كان يستخدم بوحشية فقط مع الصادق والصادق. يشير مشاهد Ngram إلى أن ذلك كان كذلك حتى وقت قريب. الآن بعد أن أصبح العمل عن بعد / افتراضيًا ، فإن مهارات الكتابة أكثر أهمية من أي وقت مضى!