Do I need to chill out in this GQ thread?

Could some people be kind enough to read through this thread and tell me if its true that I need to “consider chilling out” as someone there has claimed?

I wasn’t even aware that I was unchilled. But how have I given the impression that I am?

This is a serious request. This type of situation has happened to me twice on these boards now.


Ummmm… a little help? What GQ thread?



Wrong again.

Though that would have been kind of a funny joke, sort of, if I just started wigging out on this thread.

Anyway, here’s the right link:

Given that your last post in the thread is this:

You seem to be admitting here that all you are really doing is bullshitting about the subject. This kind of response might be appropriate for IMHO, perhaps, but not GQ. I don’t know if you need to “chill out,” but at least in my opinion you are not making a contribution here that has much value in GQ terms.



Bullshitting? That’s really harsh! But okay. Thanks for your input.

Anyway, if you read through the whole post (and of course you did not by any means have to do so) you saw that I began by directly contributing to the question at hand in the OP, and followed it into “GD”-ish territory only as the thread itself began to do go in that direction.

Just clearing that up for any who are just reading this thread and not the other. My nonexistent reputation is at stake here!


I think you suffer from the same sort of linguistic myopia that most people (myself included) do-- it’s really astonishingly, astonishingly hard to convince people that features they perceive in their or their social stratum’s dialect are not necessarily widespread. I certainly don’t blame you for that-- I think we all do it to some degree-- but I do think it’s something you should recognize and I think that’s the point that Excalibre is trying to make, though I really don’t see the point of making a epic of it.

No, weirdly, I agree with Excalibre. I’m trying to convince him of that. I don’t think I’ve said anything incompatible with what he’s saying, or what you’re saying.

But that’s all fair game in the thread.

I was wondering whether it was true that I needed to “chill out.” The more I look at my posts, the more I’m not seeing it… But third-party input is always good so I wanted to see if others were seeing in my posts some sort of “excitement.”

(Excitement… yech. I should hope not. :slight_smile: )


You are not the one who needs to chill out in that thread.

Though the OP and its responses have been polite, I think this thread does not belong here. Sorry.

Moved from IMHO to the Pit.

Maybe he meant “chill out” to mean “I think you’re putting way too much time and energy into this trivial issue”. That’s the way I read it. YMMV

Nah, he referred to my “bizarre overreaction” and refused further participation because of my “intentionally deceptive” readings of his posts.


Hey, okay. Sorry. I thought about posting it in the pit, but didn’t really intend for it to be a "pit"ting. Just wanted to get others’ impressions. But I understand what you mean.


I’d consider the source then.

Besides, fries should never be chilled.

I’ve read the thread and don’t see much evidence of an unhealthy over-involvement with the topic or anything else for that matter on your behalf. All unsolicited advice (such as the suggestion that you “chill out” in that thread), especially on an anonymous message board, is made with the ultimate purpose of getting a rise from the target, which purpose it appears to have fulfilled! Another reminder that ad hominem comments can be very effective in finding chinks in the armour that rational argument can pierce only with difficulty.

This must be what passes to a language geeks throw down. If this thread and the linked thread was made into an Onion article, no one would be able to where reality left off and the parody began.

I’m a language geek, and I’m not touching that thread. Perhaps it’s personal bias acting up, but there’s something a bit off (which I can’t even identify, thus further frustrating me) about the way it’s gone. Seems as though folks are being a bit more animated than is necessary.

Plus, at this point, it’s devolved into the “who can quote the other person more and cast more thinly veiled aspersions” game.

That would be precisely what I meant. I merely popped up to say that what he perceived as “standard English” is not something I have ever noticed. Thus, I was questioning his proposed notion of standard English using precisely the same mechanism with which he came to it - my own intuitions about the way I talk.

His original statement suggested that most people don’t find the phrase “didn’t use to” very felicitous; I stated (and still maintain) that it sounds precisely as natural and felicitous as the positive version of it. That only describes my usage, of course - but I think the fact that some standard English speakers disagree with Frylock is enough reason to think it’s not a particular rule of standard English but rather of only his own variety. Incidentally, my experience suggests that “used to” and “didn’t use to” are both confined to informal usage, something I expressed quite clearly, and thus Frylock’s ‘interpretation’ of my statement to read that I find both of them acceptable in all contexts is quite clearly incorrect. He said this: “Could you please provide me with a cite confirming the truth of your view that ‘didn’t use to’ is considered to be perfectly okay usage in all contexts in standard English?” This declaration about what I said is clearly completely incompatible with what I actually did say - which is that both the positive and negative forms are distinctly casual. The only point in which I discussed which contexts either phrase might be used in was to say that I find “didn’t use to” acceptable in every context in which I find “used to” acceptable - which means I find both of very limited acceptability in formal usage.

His attempt to clarify that he wasn’t describing usage at all but rather people’s attitudes towards language doesn’t help, as it still doesn’t describe my attitude, nor that of some others who posted in that thread. Further, it conveniently slides the discussion into the realm of something far less measurable and thus something that can’t really be discussed empirically (my faith in native-speaker grammaticality judgments is limited at best, and in this case I simply can’t imagine how one might gauge the very fine distinction Frylock proposes.)

Frylock, if you thought I meant you were throwing a fit or getting angry then I apologize; I don’t think you were. It’s possible that I implied it; I don’t really care enough to go reread the thread and examine whether my words were precise enough. So if I did imply such a thing, my apologies. But I still think your post in response to mine was simply more than the situation warranted.

My main point remains that his statement

does not describe all speakers; there was no hedging in his post to indicate that he was only describing his own usage and references to standard English suggest that it’s something present in the prestige variety of American English. While no doubt other standard English speakers agree with him, I see no evidence that I am in a small-enough minority that my use of the phrase or my “attitude” towards it is “non-standard”.

The trouble with Frylock’s derailment into shaping his original statement into ever-finer distinctions and his subsequent discussion of styles of argument is that we’re missing the most interesting points about the phrase entirely - for instance, whether it’s an auxiliary verb (one poster in the original thread reported usages of it that seem quite parallel to other auxiliary verbs). Or the interesting fact about its pronunciation that even though it’s obviously related to the more common usage of use, that the S is voiceless (at least for me), which I might argue is evidence of certain auxiliary-like qualities in its standard English use. Or the fact that people more frequently write “didn’t used to” rather than “didn’t use to” - particularly interesting, as the context definitely calls for the plain form of the verb, but in actuality the word is pronounced identically in those two contexts (for me, /'jus t@/, “yoosta”), creating confusion over the proper spelling (and suggesting that the two forms are uncommon in formal writing, as people seem confused about their spelling.)

But Frylock’s continual attempts to convince me simultaneously that his original posts in the thread were correct and that he agrees with me completely made the thread so tiresome that I’m afraid we won’t be able to discuss those interesting phenomena.

I agree with Patty & kevegan. Excalibur seems to have responded rather hotly. At least, that’s what it sounds like in my head.

Of course, in my head, you all have pixie voices too.

Oh dear, it’s spreading…