hale » hail

Chiefly in:   hailed into court, hailed before the court

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Albania was challenging Great Britain’s competence to hail it before the International Court of Justice” (Collier's Year Book, 1949)
  • “Foreign banks are frequently hailed into court in New York. Dagher et al. v. Saudi Refining 00, plus over $2 million in interest plus attorneys’ fees” (link)

The first example is from the MWDEU entry for “hail, hale”. The MWDEU editors express surprise that they had only two examples of “hail” for “hale”.

The verb “hale” ‘compel to go’ is rare and mostly confined to contexts involving courts or similar deliberative bodies. The verb “hail” ‘call’, on the other hand, is much more common, and it makes sense in the court context, so you’d expect reanalysis. I’m actually a bit surprised that “hail” seems not to have prevailed over “hale”: on 29 March 2005, raw Google web hits were ca. 7,260 for “haled into court” vs. 758 for “hailed into court”.

My thanks to Victor Steinbok, who reminded me of this case in e-mail on 29 March 2005.

| 2 comments | link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/29 |

rife » ripe

Chiefly in:   ripe with

Classification: English – nearly mainstream

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Pivotal scenes between Tony Soprano and his lady “shrink” are ripe with moral ambiguities.” (from Fiske, unattributed)
  • Felder: Season ripe with opportunity, peril (GamecockCentral.com, article title, October 10, 2005)
  • The first day of the semester was notably ripe with traffic accidents, as three crashes occurred near Maple and Alumni drives. (The Oracle, October 19, 2005)
  • Makeup this fall season is ripe with sophisticated shades and textures, says Chicago makeup artist Marcus Geeter. (ABC Chicago, October 17, 2005)
  • Granted, the modern world is ripe with digital alternatives for enquiring young minds unimpressed with the sight of Anthony Carluccio stuffing a chop and swilling rosé - but this overbearing triumph of the grill wouldn’t be quite so galling if the programmes that it’s made of weren’t quite so bad. (Michael Holden, The Guardian, Michael Holden's Screen burn July 3, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Robert Hartwell Fiske (The Dictionary of Disagreeable English)
  • commenter "J" (on this site)

The rare and specialized adjective “rife” is here replaced by the much more common “ripe”, which actually makes a lot of sense. Fiske (p. 271) rants: “Infuriatingly, some dictionaries–the worst of them–claim that ripe with also means full of.”

[2005/10/20, CW: some examples added; minor editing.]

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/29 |

off the beaten path » off the beat and path

Classification: English – and «» in/en

Spotted in the wild:

  • The town the resort is located in is off the beat and path, so there is almost no shopping near by. (from Fiske, unattributed)
  • The Dalton Highway and adjacent lands are so unique that Congress established special designations to honor and conserve their extraordinary values for both the nation and the world. Discover the Dalton or get off the beat and path by visiting the majestic wilderness that surrounds it. (BLM Alaska)
  • Was a bit hard to find the first time, since it is off the beat and path but only a block away from the major streets and a few blocks walking distance from Piazza Fiume with cafes, gelato shops, grocery stores, great pizza, theaters, etc. (Review of Hotel Galeno, Rome)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Robert Hartwell Fiske (The Dictionary of Disagreeable English)

One of a large number of reanalyses that turn on the interpretation of an unstressed syllabic n, which could be “and”, “in”, “-en”, “-in’”, etc.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/29 |

once in a while » once and a while

Variant(s):  once and awhile

Classification: English – and «» in/en

Spotted in the wild:

  • My computer starts up only once and a while (Tech Support Forum)
  • “You have a warped mind. Read a book once and a while that doesn’t have a picture of Jesus on it.” (Posting by michaelav@cox.net to five Usenet newsgroups, including soc.motss, on 9 September 2005)
  • “And yes, every once and awhile, we want to see movies based on beloved religious literature or themes …” ("Missing the big picture", USA Today, 6 February 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Paul Brians (Common Errors in English)
  • Ron Butters (ADS-L posting, 15 February 2006)

I am inclined to this one myself — edited it out of a Language Log posting only yesterday (28 March 2005).

One of a large number of reanalyses that turn on the interpretation of an unstressed syllabic n, which could be “and”, “in”, “-en”, “-in’”, etc.

[Added 9 September 2005: This version of the expression might also be influenced by the idiom “once and for all”, though the two idioms are not particularly close semantically.]

[Added 15 February 2006: the alternative spelling “awhile”, in the USA Today article quoted by Ron Butters on ADS-L.]

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/29 |

precedent » president

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “The designs created by him and his colleagues set a president in Victorian style.” (Artist Biographies)
  • “That case set a president in custody cases.” (link)

‘President’ is obviously seen as a word with connotations of importance… so ‘to set a precedent’, something would have to be important, or would at least be so after it was deemed a precedent, like a president. Also, perhaps, a reanalysis deriving from ‘presides.’

| Comments Off link | entered by Sravana Reddy, 2005/03/26 |