growing, growing, gone...

Subject: growing, growing, gone...
From: aer -at- PCSI -dot- CIRRUS -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 15:08:00 PST

Tom,
At the risk of appearing to argue for a position that
I do not in fact support [all those awkward examples
you cited], I still feel I must distinguish a point or two.

My paraphrase of a def. [#2 of 4] in the MW's
Collegiate 10th dict. I inserted to make the relationship
explicit: to grow = to increase in size, thus, to cause
to grow = to cause to increase in size. The same
could be applied to the def. "to spring up" or "to be
able to grow" or ... You get the idea.

Similarly, the synonym listed for the intrans.
def. of grow is "develop", which is more nearly
[and more clearly as well?] the usage that
"grow my business" mimcs; it reads like and
seems to mean about the same as "develop my
business," but for reasons not entirely clear, some
native speakers chose to say "grow my business."
Other such substitutions abound in our, and just
about every other, language.

You cited the example of "grow radishes" and
wrote that they are not necessarily growing at that
moment -- of course not! [This is starting to seem
pedantic!] I guess you mean they aren't visibly
looming larger -- but in fact, microscopically they are...

You say "cultivate", and distinguish that word from
grow, but it does in effect mean "cause to grow", i.e.
plant 'em, water 'em, tend 'em, so that they will grow
[get large]! Is there some other hidden meaning in
cultivate? I doubt it.

In other words, I respectfully submit that I think
you still don't "get" the clear distinction between
the intrans. and trans. usages of grow... in all
its forms, maybe not, but in this one, yes.

Your [idiosyncratic, i.e. your own personal]
stated preference of what seems to be "outside the
range of accetpable uses" of the word is what
gives you away: you're really just insisting that
your opinion is better than others', and therefore
your [personal] speaker's intuition is superior.

Tsk tsk. That is NOT a linguist's stance; not in
this half of the 20th cent. anyway. The older
prescriptive approach to grammar [never split
an infinitive] does not take into account how
the population of speakers behave. A purely
descriptive account does: that's all I'm insisting
on, but it seems to give you fits -- so, write a
column [compete with Bill Safire?] and propound
your opinons and positions. But, pardon me,
you have not yet supported your case except
by opining further and further as to what you
prefer... and I mostly agree, it's a lamentable
turn of phrase. But it's still just one man's
opinion as to what's artificial or natural. I'd say,
if large numbers of native speakers are using it,
it has perforce become "natural." We may deplore it,
but it's natural precisely because it's happening!

We use jargon, slang, or "in" terms as much to
exclude others as to denote special meanings;
this is why/how the language remains alive.
And gradually we all assimilate the new lexical items.

BTW, an idiom is "an expression that is peculiar
to itself either grammatically or in having a meaning
that cannot be derived from the conjoined meaning
of its elements"; hence, a straightforward turn of
phrase can be said to be "in the idiom," i.e. in the
general sense of the language peculiar to a people,
district, etc.", BUT the prevailing sense is that of idiomatic
expression: a phrase or usage that defies literal scansion.
That's why I insist [as a former linguistics student]
on the rubric "native speaker's intuition."

[I hope you're enjoying this as much as I am;
I mean NO disrespect and trust you're able to
process my crit in the spirit it's proffered...]

Best regards,

Al Rubottom /\ tel: 619.535.9505, x1737
aer -at- pcsi -dot- cirrus -dot- com /\ fax: 619.541.2260


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