Old Today, 09:17 AM   #1
RubenR
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Silly Question Corner

Not sure if the AH would be the right place for such a thread, perhaps the Editor's Forum would be more appropriate, but I'd like to give this a try.

I often face (probably silly) language questions, and I know for sure I'm not the only one. Most of the time Google helps me out, but sometimes I'm just not sure about what's correct. Could this be a place for questions and answers?


Two examples of questions I'm currently dealing with:

Where to put the comma in 'other', in the sentence "we braid each other's hair". Is it correct like this?

"I retain the right to remain silent." / "I maintain the right to remain silent." Are both correct? Is there a difference? Is one preferential above the other? Are there better options?
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Old Today, 09:40 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
Not sure if the AH would be the right place for such a thread, perhaps the Editor's Forum would be more appropriate, but I'd like to give this a try.

I often face (probably silly) language questions, and I know for sure I'm not the only one. Most of the time Google helps me out, but sometimes I'm just not sure about what's correct. Could this be a place for questions and answers?
Seems as good a place as any, especially if "silly questions" extend beyond word selection.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
Two examples of questions I'm currently dealing with:

Where to put the comma in 'other', in the sentence "we braid each other's hair". Is it correct like this?

"I retain the right to remain silent." / "I maintain the right to remain silent." Are both correct? Is there a difference? Is one preferential above the other? Are there better options?
I think the singular possessive of other is "others" without an apostrophe. I think the plural possessive would be "others'", with the apostrophe following the 's'. We actually had a thread about that a couple years ago. It can get complicated.

"I retain" means that you keep something. "I maintain" means that you fix it, or that you claim a possibly disputed right to it.

The wording of the Miranda statement varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in the US, but the easiest way to say it is "I have the right to remain silent."
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Old Today, 09:42 AM   #3
Desiremakesmeweak
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'Each' = one, so 'each other's' is correct. ...There is a possibility you can use 'each' as part of a compound adjective, and leave out the apostrophe thereby, but I wouldn't personally go down that route but that's because I write ENGLISH English.

Yes there is a difference in meaning: 'retain' means 'kept/still have/still keep hold of' whereas 'maintain' means in this context 'I hold out that I have (EG such a right; claim to have the right to keep silent).'

Example usage:

'I maintain the right to keep silent'

'Oh do you? Well fuck you. You don't have such a right in here, especially not if I whack you real hard on the kneecaps with this tyre jack, you'll fucking give up such fantasy beliefs with an almighty screech.'

So he whacked him real hard with the tyre jack, see, but James B Johnson was a hardnut, and retained his precious belief about his capacity to maintain his silence. But in the end, he was silent all right, but that was because he couldn't maintain his pattern of breathing, and he expired, albeit silently, retaining his silence no doubt, though not his life.

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Old Today, 09:43 AM   #4
Tio_Narratore
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No comma needed in the braid statement. I presume you're talking about the apostrophe. Since you've specified each' the possessive should be singular, so the sentence stands as is. If the others was plural, then you would, write others'.

I retain would mean that you are reserving the right and have not given it up; I maintain doesn't make much sense at all unless you are saying something about upholding or dismissing the right, as in, for example, "I maintain the right to remain silent does not apply in this case."
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Old Today, 09:54 AM   #5
RubenR
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Thank you! That's the quick response I was hoping for!

Actually, I think any kind of simple questions should be welcome in this thread. If you want to know why 'woman' and 'women' sound the same but are written differently; if you want to know the average weight and number of hairs on a toothbrush; if the difference between dove and pigeon is unclear; go ahead.
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Old Today, 10:04 AM   #6
SimonDoom
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Definitely "each other's". "Each" tells you it's singular. You need the apostrophe after "other."

"Retain" is better than "maintain." But "have" is better still, and conforms to what law enforcement officers typically say in the US when they read someone his or her rights upon arrest.
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Old Today, 10:17 AM   #7
RubenR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonDoom View Post
...

"Retain" is better than "maintain." But "have" is better still, and conforms to what law enforcement officers typically say in the US when they read someone his or her rights upon arrest.
In the text I'm working on, there is one person asking the other if she could ask a 'personal question'. I want a light-hearted reply, indicating that the other is free to ask any question she wants, but some questions could remain unanswered.
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Old Today, 10:22 AM   #8
CoffeeWithMonkeys
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
Not sure if the AH would be the right place for such a thread, perhaps the Editor's Forum would be more appropriate, but I'd like to give this a try.

I often face (probably silly) language questions, and I know for sure I'm not the only one. Most of the time Google helps me out, but sometimes I'm just not sure about what's correct. Could this be a place for questions and answers?


Two examples of questions I'm currently dealing with:

Where to put the comma in 'other', in the sentence "we braid each other's hair". Is it correct like this?

"I retain the right to remain silent." / "I maintain the right to remain silent." Are both correct? Is there a difference? Is one preferential above the other? Are there better options?
I had a similar dialog in something I wrote once. The girl was asking the guy about past relationships and at one point he said something like
'I reserve the right to not answer if I think you won't like my reply.'

Maybe something like that would work?
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Old Today, 10:31 AM   #9
Tio_Narratore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
Thank you! That's the quick response I was hoping for!

Actually, I think any kind of simple questions should be welcome in this thread. If you want to know why 'woman' and 'women' sound the same but are written differently; if you want to know the average weight and number of hairs on a toothbrush; if the difference between dove and pigeon is unclear; go ahead.
Woman and women sound the same?

How to pronounce 'women.'
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Old Today, 10:37 AM   #10
RubenR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tio_Narratore View Post
Woman and women sound the same?

How to pronounce 'women.'
Right... I wanted to stress out the 'silly' option

But man!--there's something weird about it, writing vs pronouncing woman and women...
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Old Today, 10:41 AM   #11
Tio_Narratore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
Right... I wanted to stress out the 'silly' option

But man!--there's something weird about it, writing vs pronouncing woman and women...
The classic, of course, is spelling 'fish' "ghoti."

laugh = /f/
women = /i/
nation = /sh/

so, ghoti = /fish/
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Old Today, 11:00 AM   #12
SimonDoom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
In the text I'm working on, there is one person asking the other if she could ask a 'personal question'. I want a light-hearted reply, indicating that the other is free to ask any question she wants, but some questions could remain unanswered.
In that context I think "retain" is better than "maintain" and has a more playful connotation.

It's also alliterative -- "retain" and "right" go better together.
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