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#49379 - 07/06/18 12:21 PM The death of "lie"
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
The death of "lie" (vs "lay") or Put the lie to lay

It's going on 4 decades now that it's become obvious to me that proper English usage vis-à-vis lie vs lay was going the way of the dodo. Wakened from a reverie during a third-year veterinary medicine lecture, I was asked a question (the reference to which I had no clue) by the lecturer: "Which is correct? Lie or lay?" My response was: "It depends on who's doing the laying." That generated class laughter and got me off the hook of my obliviousness.

Since then it has become ever more obvious that proper use of these verbs by native speakers of English — at least in North America above the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) — is more the exception than the rule in everyday life, across all classes and professions, even in the style sheets or at least practice of newsreaders, who used to be counted on to project the norm.

Even more exasperating, this problem is creeping into the printed word in all genres.

Proper usage can be seen in this comparative couplet: Now I lie down to sleep vs Now I lay me down to sleep

As one dictionary (New Oxford American Dictionary) lays it out:

lie [laɪ]
verb (lies, lying [ˈlʌɪɪŋ] ; past lay [leɪ] ; past participle lain [leɪn]) [no object]

The verb lie ('assume a horizontal or resting position') is often confused with the verb lay ('put something down'), giving rise to incorrect uses such as 'he is laying on the bed' (correct use is 'he is lying on the bed') or 'why don't you lie the suitcase on the bed?' (correct use is 'why don't you lay the suitcase on the bed?').
The confusion is only heightened by the fact that lay is not only the base form of to lay, but is also the past tense of to lie, so while 'he is laying on the bed' is incorrect, 'he lay on the bed yesterday' is quite correct.

lay [leɪ]
verb (past and past participle laid [leɪd]); it normally takes an object

The verb lay means, broadly, 'put something down': they are going to lay the carpet.
The past tense and the past participle of lay is laid: 'they laid the groundwork'; 'she had laid careful plans'.
The verb lie, on the other hand, means 'assume a horizontal or resting position': 'why don't you lie on the floor?'
The past tense of lie is lay: 'he lay on the floor earlier in the day'.
The past participle of lie is lain: 'she had lain on the bed for hours'.
In practice, many speakers inadvertently get the lay forms and the lie forms into a tangle of right and wrong usage. Here are some examples of typical incorrect usage: 'have you been laying on the sofa all day?' (should be lying); 'he lay the books on the table' (should be laid); 'I had laid in this position so long, my arm was stiff' (should be lain).

noun [in singular] the general appearance of an area, including the direction of streams, hills, and similar features: the lay of the surrounding countryside.

This may have something to do with the looming loss of correct past participles in the majority of irregular verbs, the proper forms' being replaced with the form for the past tense; for example, 'I have ran' instead of 'I have run', 'I have drank' instead of 'I have drunk', and so on. The impetus for language change of this magnitude is likely to derive from the "regularity" of regular verbs which really have only two forms, present tense and past tense (present tense plus the suffix -ed), the latter of which is seconded for the past participle; for example, I touch ~ I touched ~ I have touched.
And it doesn't help that some irregular verbs have identical forms in the past tense and past participle; for example, I lead ([lid]) ~ I led ([lɛd]) ~ I have led ([lɛd]), I read ([rid]) ~ I read ([rɛd]) ~ I have read ([rɛd]).

Now I think I'll go have good cry and another glass of wine.

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#49381 - 07/06/18 01:03 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: grelber
Now I think I'll go have good cry and another glass of wine.
I hope you have some good vintages laid in. laugh
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#49382 - 07/06/18 01:06 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: joemikeb]
jchuzi Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
At my age, I would love to get lied again.
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#49384 - 07/06/18 01:39 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: jchuzi]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Kwticherkicken youngster. wink
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#49387 - 07/06/18 03:54 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
The vernacular is becoming bloated...no lie!

Almost everything I read these days...real news, fake news, sports, whatever, has been written by people who didn't do much preparation for their grade-school English classes.
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#49391 - 07/07/18 09:41 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
I lamented in another forum where you original commented on lie/lay about further/farther. You response was to check the dictionary.

So here it is: "Traditionally farther and farthest were used in referring to physical distances. … Further and furthest were restricted to figurative or abstract senses."

I personally kept them straight by remembering you go farther down the road, but you further an idea. The dictionary goes on to say that further and furthest are now common in both senses and gives the example of "put the plants furthest from the window".

All I can say is "argh, yuck". tongue

I guess if enough people use language incorrectly it eventually becomes correct. Not always a bad thing; check out sematic shift as a way the meaning and use of words changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

Now, don't get me started on "verbizing" nouns. (this previous sentence is an example: "verb" is a noun turned into a verb by adding "-ing"). crazy
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#49393 - 07/07/18 09:58 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: Ira L]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: Ira L
Now, don't get me started on "verbizing" nouns. (this previous sentence is an example: "verb" is a noun turned into a verb by adding "-ing"). crazy

Good lord, man, you've been away from grammar school for far too long. You learned about (wholly 'legitimate') gerunds in middle if not elementary school:

Gerund: a form that is derived from a verb but that functions as a noun, in English ending in -ing, eg, asking in Do you mind my asking you?

Not to mention (so to speak) the vast number of nouns ending in -ing that are only thought of and used as nouns not derived from verbs — eg, being, meaning, feeling, ... ad nauseam.

By the bye, your example is not on point: You've actually added the suffix -ize, turning the noun into a verb, prior to turning it into a gerund.


Edited by grelber (07/08/18 01:28 AM)
Edit Reason: Additional information

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#49397 - 07/09/18 09:35 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
I realize gerunds have existed for eons and that my example was not "pure", but I think the basic idea came through.

I think we all recognize the "lazy" constructions that I am referencing, that may become acceptable through repeated usage. See this article and you will "quintessentialize" what I mean.
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#49398 - 07/09/18 09:37 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
I realize gerunds have existed for eons and that my example was not "pure", but I think the basic idea came through.

I think we all recognize the "lazy" constructions that I am referencing, that may become acceptable through repeated usage. See this article and you will "quintessentialize" what I mean.
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#49511 - 07/18/18 12:56 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
MG2009 Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
One little trick I learned along the way regarding the verbs "lie" and "lay" (in the Present Tense) :


1. If the word RECLINE would substitute, use LIE (e.g. I will lie/recline on the sofa.) ;

2. If the word PLACE would substitute, use LAY (e.g. I will lay/place the book on the shelf.).

This works in most instances for distinguishing one from another.

P.S. A pet peeve of mine is the use of IMPACT. Standing alone, it is a noun. As a verb, "upon" or "on" should follow.

Examples:

NOUN - The impact of the news left many folks stunned.

VERB - The weather will impact upon our decision of whether or not to postpone the picnic.

WRONG (IMHO): The weather impacted the cancellation of the picnic.

I don't doubt that one day IRREGARDLESS will become "acceptable." smirk

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#49512 - 07/18/18 02:31 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: MG2009]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: MG2009
... one day IRREGARDLESS will become "acceptable." smirk

N E V E R !

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#49515 - 07/19/18 07:04 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Irregardless of language purist's approval or disapproval, irregardless has come into standard usage in the English language and is listed in modern dictionaries including the one in MacOS High Sierra and Mojave. As far as I know the only language that does not evolve through common usage is French.
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#49517 - 07/19/18 08:38 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: joemikeb]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Irregardless of language purist's approval or disapproval, irregardless has come into standard usage in the English language and is listed in modern dictionaries including the one in MacOS High Sierra and Mojave. As far as I know the only language that does not evolve through common usage is French.


Yes, the Apple dictionary does include "irregardless", but adds the qualification "informal". Is that Apple's way of saying only "mad dogs and Englishmen" (cf. Noel Coward and Joe Cocker) would use this word? smirk
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#49518 - 07/19/18 08:40 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Irregardless of language purist's approval or disapproval, irregardless has come into standard usage in the English language and is listed in modern dictionaries including the one in MacOS High Sierra and Mojave. As far as I know the only language that does not evolve through common usage is French.

Albeit as a linguist I should be more circumspect, I admit to being a presciptivist. That said ...

There's a major difference between standard usage, which could be construed politely as patois, and literate usage. If you don't follow the latter, it will follow you out of the educational system and/or whatever high-paying job you might have. You'd normally be a liability rather than an asset if you don't speak the equivalent of Received Pronunciation, which in the USA is referred to as Standard American and is generally the brand of speech most newsreaders use.

If one uses irregardless and similar malapropisms as other than comic relief, then one falls on a spectrum of preliterate ~ quasi-literate ~ aliterate ~ illiterate — none of which leads to success in life.

L'Académie française takes things to the extreme (much as the Nazis did with German in the mid-20th century).

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#49520 - 07/19/18 03:58 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
MG2009 Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Agreed.

There is a BIG difference between language "evolving" and using words incorrectly (i.e. bad grammar).

"Irregardless" is most often used as a (misspoken) substitute for regardless. Regardless serves the purpose, so irregardless is simply just wrong. tongue

Similar to: "I don't know nothing." Double negatives certainly are commonly used, but doing so is still grammatically incorrect.

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#49521 - 07/19/18 04:01 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: MG2009]
jchuzi Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
"Flammable" and "inflammable" are taken to mean the same thing, but the prefix in should mean not. This occurs irregardless of grammar. grin
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#49522 - 07/19/18 04:10 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: jchuzi]
MG2009 Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Oops. Not entirely correct.

Non-flammable is the word to describe items which would NOT catch fire. The prefix "in" used with inflammable is the equivalent of the Latin root for "into."

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#49523 - 07/19/18 04:46 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: MG2009]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Isn't "flammable" a relatively new construction that was coined for the benefit of those who think that inflammable means non-flammable?
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#49524 - 07/19/18 05:20 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: artie505]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
From the New Oxford English Dictionary included with Mac OS X El Capitan:

The words inflammable and flammable both have the same meaning, 'easily set on fire.' This might seem surprising, given that the prefix in- normally has a negative meaning (as in indirect and insufficient), and so it might be expected that inflammable would mean the opposite of flammable, ie, 'not easily set on fire.' In fact, inflammable is formed using a different Latin prefix in-, which has the meaning 'into' and here has the effect of intensifying the meaning of the word in English. Flammable is a far commoner word than inflammable and carries less risk of confusion.

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#49525 - 07/19/18 08:18 PM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
MG2009 Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Exactly.

i.e. turn in(to) flames = inflammable

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#49526 - 07/20/18 01:48 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
"Flammable" is, indeed, not a new construction.

I was thinking of E. B White's having referred to it as an "oddity" in his introduction to The Elements of Style.
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#49527 - 07/20/18 02:48 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: artie505]
jchuzi Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
Here's another anomaly: "I could care less" should actually be "I couldn't care less". The former implies that it is possible that he/she might care less but doesn't.

BTW, I used "he/she" instead of the increasingly common "they", which greatly annoys me.
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#49528 - 07/20/18 06:44 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: jchuzi]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
BTW, I used "he/she" instead of the increasingly common "they", which greatly annoys me.

Obviously you were not trained as a "Technical Writer" where the guidelines (a euphemism for do it this way or else) are to avoid the use of pronouns whenever possible and use gender specific pronouns at risk of your continued employment.

Not to start a different rant but sadly, If the target audience for the document is military enlisted the vocabulary is limited to fourth grade level, sixth grade in those specialties where a high school diploma is required.
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#49529 - 07/20/18 07:09 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: jchuzi]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: jchuzi
... I used "he/she" instead of the increasingly common "they", which greatly annoys me.

Actually, the use of "they" for indeterminate he/she has been in common use in English since Shakespeare's time. In the 19th century it was the standard.
So ... might as well go with the flow.

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#49530 - 07/20/18 07:15 AM Re: The death of "lie" [Re: artie505]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: artie505
"Flammable" is, indeed, not a new construction.

Agreed. According to Fowler’s Modern English Usage:

inflame etc. Inflam(e)able, formed from the English verb, and used in 16th-17th cc., has been displaced by inflammable adapted from French or Latin. Inflammable and inflammatory must not be confused as in Sir Edmund Carlson declared before an inflammatory audience that in the event of the Parliament of these realms doing certain things that were distasteful to him he would call out his Volunteers. It must have been a supposed ambiguity in inflammable that led to the coining of the word flammable. But that could only make things worse, and flammable is now rare, usually in the compound non-flammable, a more compact version of non-inflammable.


Edited by ryck (07/20/18 07:15 AM)
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