Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CoTU Speaks!

And now a follow-up…. Last week I posted here about the use of isn’t versus aren’t in a column in our local newspaper. You may recall that my husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) and I disagreed on the correct verb form for that usage. In fact, and in all fairness, he correctly complained after I ran the post, that I had presented only my side of the argument. It’s my blog, after all. He also believes that that is why nearly all the respondents agreed with me. (No, they agree with me because I’m right.) I told him what I always tell him in cases like this: Get your own blog.

But, after enough days of his whimpering and grousing, I relented, and agreed to post his position on the issue. Now you can feel my pain. Welcome to my world—here’s his retort:

Grammar is an imperfect methodology. This issue requires the soundness of an engineering solution.

The parametric nature of the word “more” is the core source of misunderstanding in that it does not carry intrinsic reference to either “anthology” or “contributors”. If the implied word “space” were added to the sentence in question, there would be no reservation regarding the use of “isn’t”. Note that there is no change in syntax:

“Even though his new anthology of St. Louis poetry has 55 contributors, Matthew Freeman is sorry there isn't more space.”

Since “more” is an ambiguous and fluid descriptor, and the word “space” would be implied, the uncertainty as to its reference must be settled otherwise. It is, in fact, the use of the word “isn’t” that clarifies the meaning. The author is plainly referring to disappointment that there isn’t more to the anthology rather than the fact that there aren’t more contributors. The number of contributors is indeterminate but it is a certainty that 55 were all that were included in the anthology. The use of the word “isn’t” is a consequence of logical necessity for the intended meaning. Q.E.D.

…yada, yada, yada…if you were still reading after his first five words, your head is probably spinning.

Now, I’d love to refute his argument, because I still firmly believe he’s wrong, and that the original sentence was very poorly formed, but because I value my sleep, I’m willing to let this drop. Goodnight, CoTU. I love you anyway.

You know at times, however infrequent, he actually gives the appearance of being borderline normal.


    What, who, where am I. Oh sorry I must have dozed off. Thank gawd that CoTu doesn't have his own blog.

  2. How long have you lived with Mr. Pedantic? Is that the right word? Did I spell it right? Pedantic?
    Love your writing!

  3. It's a horrible sentence, but I interpreted "more" to refer to "poetry" not "contributors."