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The less… umm… fewer the better

Someone with a knowledge of usage controversies, German language, and modern political history put this on the web somewhere; I haven't been able to find out who or where: [Hat tip: Rowan Mackay]

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Stupid less/fewer automatism at the WSJ

Spot the horrible effect introduced here by an over-picky Wall Street Journal subeditor: Quite often, these games don't even turn out to be good: Fewer than half of them have been decided by 10 points or fewer. That "10 points or fewer" phrase on the end is a desperate and quite ridiculous effort at obeying […]

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Topless meeting

From Nathan Hopson: Can't believe I had never heard this marvelous Japanglish until now: トップレス‐ミーティング(toppuresu mītingu = "topless meeting")or トップレス会議 (kaigi = meeting)

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More katakana, fewer kanji

In a comment to "Character amnesia and kanji attachment " (2/24/16), I wrote: For the last 40 years and more, I have informally tracked kanji usage in Japanese books, newspapers, journals, magazines, signs, notices, labels, directions, messages, reports, business cards (meishi), packaging, etc., etc. and the conclusion I reach is that the proportion of kanji […]

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Times more / less than

In a message about the "excruciatingly slow internet speed in China" that I privately circulated to some friends, students, and colleagues, I made the statement that "in many cases that I have personally experienced, the internet speed in China is actually hundreds of times slower than it is in the United States and elsewhere in […]

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Less with plural count nouns in formal usage

Looking over the comments on Geoff Pullum's recent post "Stupid less/fewer automatism at the WSJ", I see one point — implicit in many contributions, and explicit in a few — that deserves to be underlined with some empirical evidence. When a numerically-quantified plural noun phrase refers to an amount that may be fractionally divided (grams, […]

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Once more on less

Rhymes With Orange plays with less/fewer: This is a familiar topic here on Language Log. Some previous postings: ML, 11/15/06: If it was good enough for King Alfred the Great… (link) AZ, 8/10/08: 10 English majors or less (link) AZ, 8/31/08: More on less (link) AZ, 9/4/08: Still more on less (link)

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Bushisms fewer than expected?

We've spent a lot of electrons attacking the Bushisms industry — but we've never tried to make the argument that John Hinderaker put forward a couple of days ago, apparently in earnest ("The importance of being careful", 11/9/2008): In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. […]

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Still more on less

The BBC News Magazine, expanding on earlier BBC News coverage of the Tesco "10 items or less" flap (reported on here), passes on more misinformation from various sources about the usage of fewer and less. The piece ("When to use 'fewer' rather than 'less'?") begins inauspiciously: Tesco is changing its checkout signs after coming under criticism […]

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More on less

Further linguistic adventures at grocery store check-out counters: last time it was a New Yorker cartoon in which "10 items or less" was altered to "10 items or fewer", mimicking real-life episodes like the one in which (under grumbling from customers) the Marks & Spencer chain replaced its "6 items or less" signs with "6 […]

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10 English majors or less

From the New Yorker of 28 July, a cartoon by J.C. Duffy (p. 60), showing a man, working a cash register at a grocery store, who is addressing a shopper staring at the sign at his counter. The sign has "10 items or less" on it, with the "less" crossed out and "fewer" written in. […]

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Ask LLOG: "Big dumb hat" v. "Dumb little dog"

From T.S.: I have read before about English’s very rigid adjective order – we say “nice green chair” not “green nice chair”. A recent (not very funny) sketch on Saturday Night Live featured Amy Schumer extolling the virtues of wearing a “Big dumb hat”. The punchline was that this accessorises perfectly with a “Dumb little […]

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Japanese Romanization: they still haven't decided, part 2

For a country that already has Chinese characters (kanji) and two syllabaries of its own (hiragana and katakana; see also furigana), judging from the ubiquity of romaji across the country, it would appear that they are well into the process of turning Latin letters into an integral component of their quadripartite writing system.  Some may […]

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