Quite all right

The Man In the Doorway’s question on the usage of learnt versus learned reminded me of one of my favourite books, Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Here are two examples why:

Page 522 of my version, when discussing the use of respective(ly) goes on to say:

  • B. FOOLPROOF USES
  • The particular fool for whose benefit each r. is inserted will be defined in brackets. Final statements are expected to be made today by Mr Bonar Law and M. Millerand in the House of Commons and the Chamber of Deputies respectively (r. takes care of the reader who does not know which gentleman or which Parliament is British, or who may imagine both gentlemen talking in both Parliaments). …….[excerpts edited]…Each of the Rugby first three pairs won their r. matches against opposition not to be despised (the reader who might think that one of the Rugby pairs had won a match between two of the others).

Wonderful stuff, especially in 1926. His article on quite is also worth reading:

  • The colloquial form “quite all right” is an apparent PLEONASM, quite and all being identical in sense; “quite right” is all right, and “all right” is quite right, but “quite all right” is all quite wrong, unless indeed all right is here used in its sense of adequate but no more, and quite is added for reassurance.

Now how do I convince RageBoy to choose his favourite excerpts from that edition (not the Burchfield follow-up) and have them illustrated by gapingvoid? Make for a great book.

Let me know what you think

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