Today is Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Neither Nor, Either Or, with A Touch of Kierkegaard

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By ANNE DONNELL

Tell me about “neither – nor.” Does it take a singular verb or a plural verb if the “neither-nor” is connected to the subject like, “Neither the kittens or the puppy like the hot weather.”-I Try To Do It Right!

Before sorting this, let’s visit ONLINE DEPARTMENT, now that our county fair’s a very pleasant memory. “An Old Farmer's Advice” (Thanks, BF) * Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.* Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.* Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.* Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.* Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.* Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.* It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.* You cannot unsay a cruel word.* Every path has a few puddles.* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.* The best sermons are lived, not preached. * Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.* Don't judge folks by their relatives.* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.* Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.* If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.* Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.* The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.* Always drink upstream from the herd.* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.* Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.* If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.* Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.* Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.

That last one makes one think all right, think it also applies to old women. And we old codgers could be hanging out in selected bars and parks throughout our state, armed and dangerous, toothless and mean. And, if the above is accurate, we’ll be saying ain’t and other should-be-despised corruptions with every breath. DANG IT, I say, DANG IT.

OK, we’ll look at neither – nor. First be sure you’re using nor with neither. Or accompanies either.  No mix and match. AND both of these sets use only two alternatives or two sets of alternatives. TWO.

Here’s the rule. Use a single verb when the alternatives are singular, OR when the second alternative (the one closer to the verb) is singular. EXAMPLES.  Neither George nor Ernest is here today. Neither the Mitchells or Susan is expected to survive. The second one doesn’t “sound right,” but it is.

Since we’re matching the second alternative to the verb, it doesn’t matter if the first is singular or plural. EXAMPLE OF BOTH ALTERNATIVES BEING PLURAL. Neither the dogs nor the children were quiet for more than a minute. 

Either – or works the same way: the verb matches the closer of the two alternatives.  EXAMPLES. Either the Smiths’ dogs or the Williams’s dogs were barking at two in the morning.  Either the Smiths’ dogs or the Williams’s dog was barking at two in the morning. 

But, to wander down the alley of  perhaps useless information, perhaps not: (source online Wikipedia) “Published in two volumes in 1843, Either/Or (original Danish title: Enten ‒ Eller) is an influential book written by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, exploring the aesthetic and ethical ‘phases’ or ‘stages’ of existence. Either/Or portrays two life views, one consciously hedonistic, the other based on ethical duty and responsibility. Each life view is written and represented by a fictional pseudonymous author…”

So we didn’t invent hedonism at some Rolling Stones concert in the twentieth century?  And, there exist people smarter than any of us who read, with full understanding, things like Either/Or?

More news: Either/Or (1997) is the name of the third album released by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. 

[ATA – According to Anne. Søren Kierkegaard (Danish, 1813-1855, philosopher and theologian) purposefully made his work difficult to read (difficulty “inspires the noblehearted”) and broadly explored questions of faith and behavior with philosophical, psychological, and theological aspects. He remains influential in intellectual circles, which is to say, as stated above, most of us can’t go there. He probably didn’t chew gum during church.

[Elliott Smith (Stephen Paul Smith, 1969-2003) , particularly good at guitar but able to play many instruments, multi-tracked his singing voice for his distinctive records. He played with the band Heatmiser, later going solo in the last decade of his life. His “Miss Misery” was included in the song track for the hit movie Good Will Hunting. He died of stab wounds, perhaps self-inflicted.] BW (Bigtime Word) sensorialmotor – of, relating to, or functioning in both sensory and motor aspects of bodily activity.  So you can smell that ball you’re throwing?

  

 

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