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Old 11-25-2009, 05:01 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Is this sentence grammatically correct?

I just came across the following sentence in a book I'm reading:

"The snow fell nor did it cease to fall."

Beyond simply sounding awkward, I think it's also in error grammatically. By that I mean mustn't some form of a 'negative' precede the 'nor'? In other words, shouldn't there be a 'neither' or a 'never' or some other negation before the 'nor'? Or am I simply demonstrating my simple-minded, naive approach to such things?

Indeed, the author is no slouch and I'd be more than a little surprised if he made a grammatical error (although it could be a publisher's typo, I suppose).

What do you think?

Thanks!
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Old 11-25-2009, 05:09 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Seems perfectly grammatical, if a little poetic*, to me.

* In the sense that it seems to me to be deliberately calling attention to its unusual construction.
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Old 11-25-2009, 05:27 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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The grammar is fine, although I agree it's an awkward and somewhat pretentious construct.
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Old 11-25-2009, 05:53 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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I think it's the author's way to emphasize that the snowfall was steady and of a long duration. It also has a good meter.
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Old 11-25-2009, 06:05 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Thanks all.

Wow, I have a bad ear for things like that. It sounded so wrong to me. There you go.

You noted that the sentence might be considered "poetic","pretentious", and of "good meter". In fact, it's from The Road by Cormac McCarthy. He could well be described with each of those three characterizations. I'm impressed!
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Old 11-25-2009, 06:44 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Well the word nor is a coordinating conjunction, (or, and, nor, for, but, or, yet, and so). I believe the British have more but those are the ones Americans use

This mean they joing two words or clauses of equal importance.

The difference between "or" and "nor" is they both present alternate ideas but "nor" presents an alternate negative idea

Yet seems by defintion to be better

Yet is used as a coordinationg conjuction to connect words or clauses that are contrary ideas that follow logically.

While it probably would pass a grammar test, to me it's not the conjunction but use of the word "fell" that mucks it up

When one says the snow fell, it implies the snow is over, at least for a bit. If I wanted to say the snow fell, one can infer the snowfall is done with otherwise I'd use the word fall.

If I wanted to use both I'd use "and" as my conjunction

For example, the snow fell all night AND continues into the morning. This says the snowfall was over for the night.

So if it fell it has to be done with in relationship to something else. In totality or in my above example as connected to an event that's over, such as night.

Since something that fell and is now falling again, yet serves that purpose.

That's the nice thing about grammar it's possible to find some kind of fault with most things.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:06 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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The term "error" tends to suggest an absolute where none exists, as far as English is concerned.

Nevertheless this usage is stilted and poor. I like Jack Lynch's common-sense approach (at least where he agrees with me ) and he suggests limiting "nor" to occurrences following "neither." See here: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/n.html

"Nor.

Although there are other possibilities, you can't go wrong if you use nor only after the word neither: instead of "Keats did not write novels nor essays," use either "Keats did not write novels or essays" or "Keats wrote neither novels nor essays." (You can, however, say "Keats did not write novels, nor did he write essays.")"


If one wanted to emphasize the interminable falling of the snow, the sentence you quote is better written:

"The snow fell and it did not cease to fall."

Or, perhaps:

"The snow fell, and continued to fall."

...etc

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 11-25-2009 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:49 AM
JustThinkin' JustThinkin' is offline
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To my ear, it sounds archaic. It wouldn't bother me to see it in a book set in the 17th century; it would bother me to see it in a book set in the present.
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:39 PM
Irishman Irishman is online now
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It's awkward, cumbersome, and seems wrong.

"The snow fell and continues to fall" expresses the exact same sentiment, and does it much more cleanly and efficiently.

I think why it seems wrong is that the first clause is expressed positively.

"The snow fell." This did something. So the continuation should reflect that. Nor is a negative expression, and should only be used as a conjunction for negative expressions.

"Keats did not write novels, nor did he write essays." See? Keats did not do this, and he did not do that. But you wouldn't say

"Keats wrote novels, nor did he write essays." Wrong conjunction.

"The snow did not fall, nor did it continue to fall," seems redundant, but the conjunction is correct.

"Neither did the snow fall, nor did it not fall." While logically nonsensical, it has the correct structure.
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Old 11-27-2009, 01:22 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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I think it's a terrible turn of phrase, because "nor" is a form of "or" meaning "only one of these." To me the words as written mean:

"The snow fell or it did not cease to fall."

But in the original sentence, the author's intended meaning appears to be:

"The snow fell and it did not cease to fall."

I think the usage does not communicate clearly what the author is trying to convey. When I first read the OP I read that line three or four times trying to figure out what the author was saying. I don't think that was the intent of the author, so by definition it is poor usage (though perhaps not "incorrect").
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Old 11-27-2009, 02:11 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I think the usage does not communicate clearly what the author is trying to convey. When I first read the OP I read that line three or four times trying to figure out what the author was saying. I don't think that was the intent of the author, so by definition it is poor usage (though perhaps not "incorrect").
Yeah, I have no idea what it's trying to say even now. There's poetic license but in this case it results in the sentence having no real meaning.
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Old 11-27-2009, 01:57 PM
Gary T Gary T is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
"The snow fell and continues to fall" expresses the exact same sentiment...
Typo? Because "the snow fell and continueD to fall expresses what the original sentence said. "...and continueS to fall" would apply if the original were "The snow fell nor has it ceased to fall."
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Old 11-28-2009, 03:45 AM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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But suppose that before that sentence, the author had been describing the activities of Thanksgiving Day. He had just described the noon meal. And then: "The snow fell nor did it cease to fall."

Wouldn't you have a fairly good idea of what the writer meant? It wouldn't be precise, but I would think that the author was in for a long snowfall lasting at least until well after dark. It could have lasted until about daybreak of the next day. Maybe the continuing narrative would give a clue.

It is grammatical, and although I hesitate at first, the sentence is so beautiful in it rhythm and imagery that I love it and wonder where it's been all these years!
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:42 AM
Sofis Sofis is offline
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It seems like a usage error to me. I've never seen "nor" follow a positive statement, only negative ones. It's always (something didn't happen) nor (did something else happen).
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:00 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Neither did the snow not fall, nor did it cease to fall.



(But actually, I'm kind with Zoe on this one. The sentence seems fine to me, though oddly worded--but oddly worded in a way that I find pleasing rather than grating. Would depend on the context, though.)
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:49 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoe View Post
But suppose that before that sentence, the author had been describing the activities of Thanksgiving Day. He had just described the noon meal. And then: "The snow fell nor did it cease to fall."

Wouldn't you have a fairly good idea of what the writer meant?
I don't see how that setup clarifies the meaning. I could understand that sentence only in the sense that I can understand these sentences:

I don't have no money.
Don't be going nowhere without telling me.

Which is to say, I had to make inferences to draw a reasonable conclusion about what the speaker could possibly have meant since the sentence at face value doesn't make sense.
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:38 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I don't see how that setup clarifies the meaning. I could understand that sentence only in the sense that I can understand these sentences:

I don't have no money.
Don't be going nowhere without telling me.

Which is to say, I had to make inferences to draw a reasonable conclusion about what the speaker could possibly have meant since the sentence at face value doesn't make sense.
Those sentences at face value make perfect sense. It takes inferential work to understand why someone would think they don't make sense.

-Frylock, mindreader
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:22 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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I guess you can compare grammar and usage from a 1798 poem to a 2006 book, but things have changed a bit over that time span.

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Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Those sentences at face value make perfect sense. It takes inferential work to understand why someone would think they don't make sense.
They are grammatically incorrect with double negatives when only a single negative is intended. At face value the first one literally means "I have money" but in context most of us know that this is a common ungrammatical usage to mean "I have no money." We also might know the second means "Don't go anywhere" if we are used to that ungrammatical usage (or dialect, depending on your school of thought).

In the case of the OP's quote most people have never seen such a usage, well at least I haven't. I'm not a literary scholar but I do read a lot and I just didn't get it.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:44 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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I having nothing more to add except my thanks.

I really do appreciate all the thought that's gone into your answers. Much obliged!

(Now that his novel sentence construction has been analysed, maybe I should start a thread on McCarthy's use of vocabulary. Reading him makes me feel like English is my second language!)

Last edited by KarlGauss; 11-28-2009 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:52 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I guess you can compare grammar and usage from a 1798 poem to a 2006 book, but things have changed a bit over that time span.
And no one ever uses archaic grammar for connotive effect, either. Ever.

Quote:
They are grammatically incorrect with double negatives when only a single negative is intended. At face value the first one literally means "I have money" but in context most of us know that this is a common ungrammatical usage to mean "I have no money." We also might know the second means "Don't go anywhere" if we are used to that ungrammatical usage (or dialect, depending on your school of thought).
I guess I didn't know what you mean by "face value."
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:34 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
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I think it might be a different usage of "nor".

cf. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.


That's seems more like the construction quoted in the OP, but seems equally stilted to my ears (yet is clearly a classic line of prose).
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:44 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallenstein View Post
I think it might be a different usage of "nor".

cf. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.


That's seems more like the construction quoted in the OP, but seems equally stilted to my ears (yet is clearly a classic line of prose).
A ha! I've been looking on google for a parallel usage but couldn't find anything. Thanks for noticing this one.
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:36 PM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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CookingWithGas, the sentences you gave as examples have clear meanings but are grammatically incorrect. The sentence in the OP is grammatically correct. I agree with Gary T that the meaning is: "the snow fell and continued to fall," but I like the way the original author said it better. The explanation that I gave was just an example of situation in which that sentence would make sense.

You are not the only one who prefers the more common way of saying it.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:10 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoe View Post
The sentence in the OP is grammatically correct.
I'm not sure that anything in this thread establishes that it is correct and there are posts that take the opposite view with some explanation to back it up. I still can't understand why it is correct to use "nor" in that sentence.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:35 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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We all know that Catholic grade school nuns are the ultimate arbiters of proper grammar, and they would have taken points off for the OP sentence. The rules I learned would say the sentence is incorrect.

But it turns out the nuns tried to teach me a lot of bullshit, and now that I'm an atheist it may be that the sentence is correct.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:54 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Several more examples can be found here.

All of them are from before WWI, but at least we can see that the usage is part of some sensible and respectable version of English.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:29 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Frylock: Wow! Thank you, thank you!
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:03 AM
casdave casdave is offline
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I have seen this type of construction in a book published around 1890-1910, where it is repeated several times throughout - its a short historical guide book.

'The Romance of Old Leeds' A Mattison & W Meakin.

Quote:
The river was not considered by the old literary wanderers unworthy to rank with Yorkshire streams which are now more famous than the Aire........

> snip<

It was no uncommon occurrance, for instance, for the Mayor, in his corporate capacity, to await the arrival of a cargo of wheat and purchase it in order to prevent any cornering operations.

>snip<

The river was solidly frozen for a month, and during the whole of that time a rollicking old English fair was carried on, show booths were erected, and ox roasting on the ice formed no unimportant part of the carnival
This book quotes heavily from early 18thC writings of various types, but only the second quotation from the book is actually of this period and the other two seem o have been written in a way to partly mimic the style - or at least give the whole book a coherence without jarring the reader from one period of written language to another.

In other words its a late 19thC idea of what early 18thC writings were like but it is not done anything like as well as the earlier writings, it is, effectively, an attempt at rustication.

I wonder if the rest of the book is written in in manner. I have looked it up on Wiki, and a quote from it suggests this is the case.

One could imagine the reasons behind this manner of writing, it would take the story out of modern speech patterns and reinforce this as a differant time.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:11 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by casdave View Post
I have seen this type of construction in a book published around 1890-1910, where it is repeated several times throughout - its a short historical guide book.

'The Romance of Old Leeds' A Mattison & W Meakin.



This book quotes heavily from early 18thC writings of various types, but only the second quotation from the book is actually of this period and the other two seem o have been written in a way to partly mimic the style - or at least give the whole book a coherence without jarring the reader from one period of written language to another.
None of the three quotes you gave contain the construction we're talking about. None of them even include the word "nor".
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:00 AM
duncanmkz duncanmkz is offline
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"The snow fell nor did it cease to fall."

It is grammatical, but it needs a comma after "fell".

It means - "the snow fell, and it did not cease falling."
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:45 AM
The Seventh Deadly Finn The Seventh Deadly Finn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duncanmkz View Post
"The snow fell nor did it cease to fall."

It is grammatical, but it needs a comma after "fell".

It means - "the snow fell, and it did not cease falling."
I agree with this 100%. The sentence looks assy not because it contains an unusual usage of "nor" (though it does), but because it's missing the comma. When the comma is inserted, the sense of the archaic usage is awakened:

"The snow fell, nor did it cease to fall."

This sounds highfalutin, likely as intended, but not jarring. The less-common sense of "nor," in my opinion, is a red herring in our discussion-- one which I freely admit took me in as well, until duncanmkz struck the scales from my eyes.

Last edited by The Seventh Deadly Finn; 11-30-2009 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 11-30-2009, 09:38 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
Er, that's the same link that Frylock had posted eight hours earlier (and about which I exclaimed, Wow!")
I overlooked Frylock's link because he referred merely to "examples," nor did I need to see more examples. The link I clicked on was advertised as a discussion. Er.
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Old 11-30-2009, 09:43 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Sorry, I wasn't trying to be snarky (although now, in retrospect, I see how the "er" may have been so construed). My only point was to give credit to Frylock who, in addition to providing the link, may also have been the person who drew the thread to the attention of the good folks at 'languagelog' in the first place.
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Old 11-30-2009, 04:07 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
Sorry, I wasn't trying to be snarky (although now, in retrospect, I see how the "er" may have been so construed). My only point was to give credit to Frylock who, in addition to providing the link, may also have been the person who drew the thread to the attention of the good folks at 'languagelog' in the first place.
Sorry, I wasn't trying to be snarky either. Well, actually, I was trying to be snarky, but I'm sorry I was snarky. Anyway, I give Frylock due credit for being first to bring the thread to light, but my explanation for not clicking on it stands.
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Old 11-30-2009, 09:31 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is online now
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Now, for any SAT/ACT students out there, both tests will nail you if you fail to put the "neither" in the sentence, even if the alternate usage seen here is quasi-legal.
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:13 AM
Serenata67 Serenata67 is offline
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I know there's nothing technically grammatically wrong with it, but it just grates on me. In my head it sounds a little like nails on a chalkboard...
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:17 AM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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I know there's nothing technically grammatically wrong with it, but it just grates on me. In my head it sounds a little like nails on a chalkboard...
I still don't see that it is grammatically correct. AND it grates on me. It's like the person's trying to be clever and failing.
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:36 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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I still don't see that it is grammatically correct. AND it grates on me. It's like the person's trying to be clever and failing.
The argument is that it's grammatically correct according the rules of an archaic dialect of English, and that it's pragmatically okay to use that dialogue in certain contexts for its connotative value.
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:20 PM
Irishman Irishman is online now
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Gary T said:
Quote:
Typo? Because "the snow fell and continueD to fall expresses what the original sentence said. "...and continueS to fall" would apply if the original were "The snow fell nor has it ceased to fall."
Not a typo, debatable point. Did the author wish to convey that the snow started to fall and fell for some really long time, at some distant time in the past that is now over? Or did he wish to convey that the snow started to fall and has not yet stopped falling? I submit that that his statement easily means the latter as much as the former.

But that's really his fault for using such a contrived sentence structure.
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Old 12-02-2009, 06:12 PM
Gary T Gary T is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
Did the author wish to convey that the snow started to fall and fell for some really long time, at some distant time in the past that is now over? Or did he wish to convey that the snow started to fall and has not yet stopped falling? I submit that that his statement easily means the latter as much as the former.
I respectfully disagree. It's in simple past tense which is not normally used to convey the latter.

Quote:
But that's really his fault for using such a contrived sentence structure.
Again I disagree. Reading "nor" as "and not," we can rewrite the sentence as "The snow fell and did not stop [falling]." The unusual sentence structure does not change the tense.

The meaning you suggest is normally conveyed by the present perfect tense ("The snow fell and has not stopped.") or the present tense ("The snow fell and still falls.").

The whole point of these different tenses is to accurately express the different concepts involved. "Did not stop" doesn't mean the same thing as "has not stopped," and I'm not aware of people using the former when they mean the latter.
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Old 12-04-2009, 06:58 PM
LilyoftheField LilyoftheField is offline
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i'm pretty sure it's actually illegal to use the word 'nor' unless it has been preceded by the word 'neither'.

you should probably contact the authorities...
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Old 12-04-2009, 09:44 PM
magellan01 magellan01 is offline
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
I just came across the following sentence in a book I'm reading:

"The snow fell nor did it cease to fall."

Beyond simply sounding awkward, I think it's also in error grammatically. By that I mean mustn't some form of a 'negative' precede the 'nor'? In other words, shouldn't there be a 'neither' or a 'never' or some other negation before the 'nor'? Or am I simply demonstrating my simple-minded, naive approach to such things?

Indeed, the author is no slouch and I'd be more than a little surprised if he made a grammatical error (although it could be a publisher's typo, I suppose).

What do you think?

Thanks!
I agree with the posters who think it is wrong. "Nor" is used to show that neither of two things occurred. Since the author relates only one negative event, "nor" seems wrong. For some reason I can't exactly put my finger on, the addition of some type of stop after "fell" saves it. But as is, I vote not only awkward, but wrong.
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Old 12-05-2009, 09:43 AM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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The Seventh Deadly Finn, for years the movement has been away from commas that are unnecessary for clarity's safe. The section linked to by Contrapuntal is not missing necessary commas, although there are a couple of places where I would not have counted the use of a comma as a mistake.

Quote:
CookingWithGas: Here's a critique of that author with a broader view of his work (look for the section heading "'Muscular' Prose"), thanks to Sid Smith in a discussion from a link provided earlier in this thread by Frylock.
Oh yes. The same Sid Smith who doesn't care for Hemingway. He longs for the return of longer and more complex sentences. (That's fine by me. I liked Thomas Wolfe after Max Perkins had worked his magic.)
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Old 12-05-2009, 07:55 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Originally Posted by Zoe View Post
Oh yes. The same Sid Smith who doesn't care for Hemingway. He longs for the return of longer and more complex sentences. (That's fine by me. I liked Thomas Wolfe after Max Perkins had worked his magic.)
Well, the fact that Sid Smith posted it is irrelevant; the critique he linked was an article in Atlantic Monthly, not his own.
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Old 12-05-2009, 08:02 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
I think McCarthy's using a definition of woke with which you're not familiar. Woke, as McCarthy employs it, is the past tense of wake, with wake meaning "to be or continue to be awake" (definition from dictionary.com) or "to be or remain awake" (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).
It may be a definition buried away someplace but it buoys the argument that McCarthy is writing for himself, or possibly a very narrow audience who is in on the esoteric style. The only way I have ever heard the verb "wake" used in my life is "transition from a sleeping state to a conscious state."
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Old 12-05-2009, 03:45 PM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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Frylock, I'm with you about license to use sentence fragments. But in at least one spot this author does use a fragment awkwardly.

This is a passage followed with my suggestions for change:

Quote:
McCarthy: He'd unfolded the tarp and propped one end of it up beneath the tree to try and reflect back the heat from the fire. He looked at the boy's face sleeping in the orange light. The sunken cheeks streaked with black.
He unfolded the tarp and propped one end on the tree to reflect the heat from the fire. He looked at the face of the boy sleeping in the light, the sunken cheeks streaked with black.

I agree with Irishman about the excessiveness of "quaking" embers even though at first I was ready to defend their metaphorical use. It's just not really an intelligent metaphor, is it?

I had absolutely no problems with woke or nor. Nor did I have any difficulties with knowing who was behind whom in the snow and who was holding the pile of sticks or small limbs.

I suspect that "the rage" requires more context. It's possible they may be lost in a storm due to someone's negligence.
  #47  
Old 12-05-2009, 05:41 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Quick comment about grammar:

"Grammar rules" are an illusion. They are a (flimsy) structure placed around real phenomena (language) that we don't fully understand yet. As language changes all the time, grammar struggles to keep up, and we end up with contradictions, such as Strunk and White's infamous apostrophe-possession argument.

Technically, the way "grammar" is defined now is through native speaker intuition. If we show a sentence to a bunch of native speakers of that language, will the majority agree that it is correct or an error?

One of the most infamous examples is the "a/an" distinction. The old rule was "with consonants, a; with vowels, an." However, this is completely false. It's not the letter that decides the article, it's the sound:
a house vs an hour
a universe vs an unusual occurrence.

There's also a completely undocumented group of these types of rules based on sound, not on syntax. For example, everybody knows that if you have a singular subject, you need an "s" on any simple present verbs paired with that subject:

The doctor agrees... vs. The doctors agree...

In studies, native speakers are consistently "wrong" (according to canonical "grammar") when shown sentences like this:

The group of doctors _____... vs Two cacti _____.

In the former case, the verb takes an S. In the latter case, it doesn't, but native speakers want to reverse it because they want to put an "s" sound somewhere inside the subject and the verb.

So, to answer your question: from the responses in this thread, most of the native speakers say it sounds odd, but is acceptable, and thus it would be correct. I also agree that if we look at the "canonical" grammar rule about "nor" usage, it would be wrong.

Last edited by Superhal; 12-05-2009 at 05:43 PM.
  #48  
Old 12-05-2009, 07:50 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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The rule for "a" and "an" has always been that "a" goes with a consonant sound and "an" goes with a vowel sound. There's no such old rule as you claim.

Last edited by Wendell Wagner; 12-05-2009 at 07:51 PM.
  #49  
Old 12-06-2009, 01:44 AM
Sofis Sofis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
In studies, native speakers are consistently "wrong" (according to canonical "grammar") when shown sentences like this:

The group of doctors _____... vs Two cacti _____.
The fact that Latin plurals do not work with English speakers' language intuitions* does not mean that there is no such thing as grammar, just that people should stop trying to use Latin grammar while speaking English.

Grammar is as real as any other aspect of language. Sure, it changes with time and varies between dialects... just like any other aspect of language.

*) I see that a lot, actually, though mainly with words being pluralized where they shouldn't. About half of all usages of "fungi" I see should really be "fungus".
  #50  
Old 12-11-2009, 02:50 PM
Irishman Irishman is online now
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Zoe said:
Quote:
The Seventh Deadly Finn, for years the movement has been away from commas that are unnecessary for clarity's safe. The section linked to by Contrapuntal is not missing necessary commas, although there are a couple of places where I would not have counted the use of a comma as a mistake.
Every comma I inserted was based upon rules (admittedly learned ~20 years ago). None of them were randomly inserted or superfluous.

Frylock said:
Quote:
Are you serious about the sentence fragments, or am I missing a joke?
Yes, I am serious. While I admit that fiction is more casual writing and some sentence fragments are acceptable, it should generally be avoided. I found both of those awkward, though the first is better than the second.

Zoe said:
Quote:
Nor did I have any difficulties with knowing who was behind whom in the snow and who was holding the pile of sticks or small limbs.
Your use of "nor" there is standard. You listed something you did not have a problem, and now you are adding to that list of things that are not a problem.

I think part of the problem was the lack of proper punctuation. I told you I missed it when listing issues, probably because after figuring out the sentence and adding commas, it slipped my mind it had been a problem.

Quote:
I suspect that "the rage" requires more context. It's possible they may be lost in a storm due to someone's negligence.
I concede that there may be references to rage prior to this passage that establish the context for that use.


KarlGauss said:
Quote:
I think McCarthy's using a definition of woke with which you're not familiar. Woke, as McCarthy employs it, is the past tense of wake, with wake meaning "to be or continue to be awake" (definition from dictionary.com) or "to be or remain awake" (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).
I agree that we need a word that means that, but that use is certainly not common parlance. The verb is conventionally used to mean the transition from sleep to wakefulness (being awake).


Wendell Wagner said:
Quote:
The rule for "a" and "an" has always been that "a" goes with a consonant sound and "an" goes with a vowel sound. There's no such old rule as you claim.
Took me a bit to figure out what you meant. You are pointing out that the problem is not with the rule, the problem is the common understanding of what is a consonant and what is a vowel. It's not the letter that defines the category, it's how the letter is pronounced. Gotcha.
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