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  #21  
Old 28 May 2012, 01:56 PM
Rufus R. Jones Rufus R. Jones is offline
 
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The best analysis of "could care less." My own thought: I found it in a number of newspaper headlines in the 1950s. I think it was just a matter of dropping the "n't" as a matter of economical use of limited newsprint real estate. The first places I personally heard it pop culture were in some TV and movie productions from 1968.
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  #22  
Old 28 May 2012, 02:51 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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I don't use the phrase "I could care less" myself, but I can't muster any grammatical outrage against others that use it. After all, we use a lot of other idiomatic expressions that don't make literal sense ("head over heels" -- aren't we always head over heels?), and one can at least make the argument that people are using it sarcastically rather than incorrectly.

As for others on the list, the most useless "rule" we seem to maintain is the "fewer/ less than" distinction which serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

Nick
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  #23  
Old 28 May 2012, 03:39 PM
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"Head over heels" is a shortened version of "falling head over heels," but the longer phrase never made much sense to me, either.

As for fewer/less, I make the distinction in my own writing/speech simply because it sounds better to me. I don't expect others to use it -- unless I'm responsible for editing their writing, in which case I will change it.
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  #24  
Old 30 May 2012, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post
..."head over heels" -- aren't we always head over heels?...
Yes: the preferred phrase is clearly "arse over tit"

"Could care less" does jar with me: I think these boards may have been the first place I encountered it (albeit some time ago). I think "couldn't care less" is still the more common variant here.
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  #25  
Old 30 May 2012, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rufus R. Jones View Post
The best analysis of "could care less."
Neat article!
Quote:
Few people have had a kind word for it, and many have been vehemently opposed to it (William and Mary Morris, for example, in the Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage, back in 1975, called it “an ignorant debasement of language”, which seems much too powerful a condemnation).
That's exactly what I was taught. That's why I would always have a fit when I heard people say it.
Quote:
But it is still regarded as slangy, and also has some social class stigma attached.
My mother always used to tell me that people who said "I could care less" were ignorant and low class. Unsurprisingly, I picked up that attitude.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Embra View Post
"Could care less" does jar with me: I think these boards may have been the first place I encountered it (albeit some time ago).
This board finally taught me how to tolerate it.
Quote:
I think "couldn't care less" is still the more common variant here.
I'd be interested if anyone has statistics. As for me, I don't know many people who say "could" instead of "couldn't."

Brian
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  #26  
Old 30 May 2012, 05:43 PM
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One thing I hear occasionally is "grabbed by the head of the hair". I'm sure that you'd grab a person by the "hair of the head" and not the other way round. I heard two women describe an assault this way when I was on a jury.
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  #27  
Old 30 May 2012, 05:50 PM
Gayle Gayle is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post

As for others on the list, the most useless "rule" we seem to maintain is the "fewer/ less than" distinction which serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

Nick
To me, it's as wrong as confusing "then" and "than". It just sticks out and bugs the crap out of me. I nearly lost my mind when that "One Less" public service announcement ran a few years ago. I couldn't say "less dollars" any more than I could say "He's went to the store."
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  #28  
Old 30 May 2012, 06:38 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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So why is it wrong, other than breaking an arbitrary rule? Would there be any loss of clarity if the rule did not exist? Other languages seem to get by just fine without that "rule."

Nick
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  #29  
Old 30 May 2012, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post
Other languages seem to get by just fine without that "rule."
How is that relevant? Different languages have different rules. English gets by just fine without gendering its nouns, but I don't see how that has any significance re: the use of genered nouns by other languges.
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  #30  
Old 30 May 2012, 06:54 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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My point is that it serves no useful purpose at all. It's completely arbitrary and moreover, a fairly recent innovation.

Nick
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  #31  
Old 30 May 2012, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
"Head over heels" is a shortened version of "falling head over heels," but the longer phrase never made much sense to me, either.
I prefer "Ass over Kettle" myself
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  #32  
Old 30 May 2012, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Theodorakis View Post
My point is that it serves no useful purpose at all. It's completely arbitrary and moreover, a fairly recent innovation.
And my point is that whether other languages use it or not is irrelevant to your argument.
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  #33  
Old 30 May 2012, 07:10 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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I stand by my point that it is useless and arbitrary, and awaiting an explanation as to why it's "wrong" other than adherence to capricious prescriptivism.

Nick
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  #34  
Old 30 May 2012, 07:17 PM
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Post #23 stated my postion as clearly as I know how.
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  #35  
Old 31 May 2012, 07:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianB View Post
Neat article!

That's exactly what I was taught. That's why I would always have a fit when I heard people say it.

My mother always used to tell me that people who said "I could care less" were ignorant and low class. Unsurprisingly, I picked up that attitude.

This board finally taught me how to tolerate it.

I'd be interested if anyone has statistics. As for me, I don't know many people who say "could" instead of "couldn't."

Brian
I can't say that I have ever heard could instead of couldn't here. I first heard it on tv and wondered if they had dropped the n't by mistake. It still jars though. Just my two cents.
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  #36  
Old 31 May 2012, 11:21 AM
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I was waiting for
"There is" when referring to plural subject, such as marks, or dolls, or anything that is more than one. Use "There are". I have to edit that for my co-workers all the time.
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  #37  
Old 01 June 2012, 04:21 AM
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The word pairs drive me nuts - I still have to remember the principal is 'my most important pal'. Capitol / capital is another one. I screwed that one up in a report a few years ago.
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  #38  
Old 01 June 2012, 05:16 PM
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This may sound kind of out there, but I always thought the phrase "could care less" was just a form of lazy speech. People just seem to want to drop the "n't" when they say it, particularly if they are saying it in an emotional moment. When they are speaking loudly and fast, it is harder to get that last syllable out, so "couldn't" more often than not comes out as "could". It happens so often that after a time people just assumed that "could care less" was the correct phrase.

When you do say "couldn't care less" you almost have to make an extra effort to get that last syllable out, and it sounds more emphatic.
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  #39  
Old 01 June 2012, 08:40 PM
Rufus R. Jones Rufus R. Jones is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horse Chestnut View Post
When they are speaking loudly and fast, it is harder to get that last syllable out, so "couldn't" more often than not comes out as "could". It happens so often that after a time people just assumed that "could care less" was the correct phrase.

When you do say "couldn't care less" you almost have to make an extra effort to get that last syllable out, and it sounds more emphatic.
That's somewhat close to what the article I linked to says, that the vocal pattern made dropping the "n't" easier.

Oh, and that article linked in the OP also repeats the drivel about begging the question. The list in the OP was apparently not well researched, put together by some prescriptivist yahoos, or some combination of both.
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  #40  
Old 01 June 2012, 09:11 PM
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I guess it's like the whole card sharp/shark thing people have heard it so often, but don't emphasize the last letter enough so unless you see it written down it could go either way to the ear. (In that case it has been written down as both).
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