Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. Welsh rabbit; Welsh rarebit. For the term denoting a dish of melted cheese on toast or crackers, “Welsh rabbit” has long been considered standard. It seems, however, that some 18th-century literalist, noting the absence of bunny meat in the dish, corrupted the term through false etymology to “rarebit.” Today, both terms are still found, but unfortunately “Welsh rarebit” is about three times as common in print as “Welsh rabbit,” probably to avoid offending the “Welsh.” But few have complained about this dish’s name either way. we’re not; we aren’t. Although both forms are extremely common, “we’re not” is ten times as common in print as “we aren’t.” And because the negative isn’t contracted in “we’re not,” the phrasing is more emphatic. E.g.: “We’re not talking about a futuristic, Jetson-like electronic house where robots cook and clean. We’re not even talking about so-called smart houses.” Lew Sichelman, “Upgraded Wiring a Must in Homes,” San Diego Union-Trib., 31 Aug. 1997, at H1. wharf. The usual plural in American English is “wharves,” but in British English it’s “wharfs.” whereas has a cluster of literary senses, namely, “although; while on the one hand; on the contrary; but by contrast.” These literary uses are a part of the general writer’s idiom — e.g.: “Whereas both his parents have black hair, he has blond.” One usage critic has stated: “Whereas sounds stuffy. In spite of the objections of some grammarians, the common word is now while.” Rudolf Flesch, The ABC of Style 294 (1964). Yet “whereas” is better than “while” if the latter ambiguously suggests a time element, especially a clashing time element — e.g.: “While [read “Whereas” or “Although”] I brought her to the office, George took her home.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Learning how to analyze someone else’s style in the composition class is almost a necessary prelude for learning how to improve one’s own style. By analyzing an accomplished writer’s style, we can recognize the marks of effective style, and then we can begin, either consciously or unconsciously, to incorporate some of those features into our own style.” Edward P.J. Corbett, “Teaching Style,” in The Territory of Language 23, 25 (Donald A. McQuade ed., 1986).
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