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December 8, 2003

Antecedent fun. Salon runs the 5,271,009th piece about That Controversial Atkins Diet.:
Gorran shared the podium at the press conference with other self-proclaimed victims of the diet and their aggrieved family members: a 51-year-old hairstylist whose cholesterol went from 160 to 258, suffered kidney stones and had to have surgery to remove her gall bladder […]
That’s some talented cholesterol. [02:15 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Antecedent fun.:

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 02:50 PM:

I've been thinking a lot about food and nutrition lately. While the press conference described in the article sounds like a circus, I've done my share of head-shaking over some of the low-carb stuff.

Check out this recipe for "Ostrich Patties in Mushroom Wine Sauce" from the Low Carb Comfort Food Cookbook by Michael R. Eades (p. 152). Per serving, it contains 1/4 cup half-&-half, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and a 1/4 cup of heavy cream. I understand that the body needs fat in the diet. But why so much saturated fat in such quantity? In a health cookbook, I find this shocking.

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 03:30 PM:

To all alleged Atkins sufferers, I say "Let zem eat cake".

America is a great and vast country that can find a horror story to attach to just about anything. First, Atkins is killing the bakery industry. Now, its killing STUPID people. Who knows what's next... maybe it will soon kill EVERYONE!!!

But yes-- I like the abuse of dangling modifiers as a concept...
There's the old Benny Hill bits What's that in the road? A HEAD??? (Its all about punctuation sometimes)

Kellie ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 03:34 PM:

No, it's not talented cholesterol. But the surgeon who could remove a gall bladder from cholesterol - now that's talent.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 04:47 PM:

Myself, I've had great success following Walter Willet's book, Eat Drink and Be Healthy, which was recommended to me by a gynecologist during a C-section I was videotaping (don't ask). It's backed up with a lot of good surveys and data, and it doesn't require as strict a regimen as Atkins (also--you can drink!!). I've lost 12 lbs since August.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 05:18 PM:

recommended to me by a gynecologist during a C-section I was videotaping


Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 05:48 PM:

Myself, I've lost 50 pounds over the past couple of years and am still losing weight under an astonishingly successful diet which I call the "You eat that little bit less and exercise that little bit more diet".

People who haven't seen me in a while and exclaim that I've lost weight want to know how I did it. They look very disappointed when I tell them.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 07:34 PM:

"You eat that little bit less and exercise that little bit more diet."

It's non-spectacular, but it works, and it's easier to maintain because it takes lots of trivial little acts of willpower rather than a massive habit-warping regime.

I decided to preempt my usual holiday weight gain by:

i) Putting in between a half-hour and an hour on a treadmill, every weekday. 30 minutes 3.5 mph, 5% incline, burns off 325 calories for my weight. I listen to NPR as I stride along.

ii) No more ice cream at home. Bummer, but it's easy to comply. I just don't buy any. If it's not in the house, I can't eat it.

iii) *One* bagel or *one* english muffin with just a smear of jam/butter/whatever with breakfast, rather than two.

From the time I started, a week before Thanksgiving, I lost about two pounds. This is after eating turkey and desserts and various other rich foods while visiting over the holiday.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 08:15 PM:

Low-carb dieting has worked fairly well for both Teresa and me. We've bounced back and forth some, depending on how carefully we were paying attention to it, but the general trend has been strongly down. Even after a season of too much travel and holiday celebration, I weigh 30 pounds less than I did a year and a half ago. I also try to get exercise, of course.

We don't follow the Atkins rules to the letter, even when we're doing what he calls "induction" (such as now). Indeed, I've never actually bought the Atkins book, just browsed the web site. What I do find is that when I seriously cut the carbs in my diet, I feel smarter and stronger in a hurry, and my appetite drops very rapidly to reasonable levels. In a very few days, I can start eating decent (non-piggy) amounts of carbohydrates and I don't feel "deprived" in any direction. I've maintained like this for months at a time, dropping in weight all the while. What knocks me off balance is travel; I need to get better at feeding myself on the run without slipping back into carb-o-riffic extravaganzas.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 08:26 PM:

I've had reasonable success with the you-don't-get-anymore-soda-until-you-drink-the-contents-of-the-tea-cabinet diet, since I prefer my tea black.

PETA, however, tends to be as credible in matters of health as they are in matters of fashion, and lie whenever they think it will help their case. Consider the quip "I think that the site is fine if you aim to be really fat and really constipated," from Andrew Butler, PETA campaign coordinator in another Mieszkowski article, then compare recipes from the cattlemen's association kiddie site with the PETA kiddie site. For example, look at the cattlemen's Nacho Beef Dip versus PETA's vegetarian Chili Cheeze (sic) Dip.

Hello Mr. Butler and the rest of PETA--it's a veganized version of the same damn recipe. Do you think your ass cares whether it's packed with beef tallow or hydrogenated soybean shortening? Fat is fat, and both recipes are lard city (in the figurative sense, since lard is technically rendered pork fat, which is found in neither beef nor soybeans).

Tempest ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 09:40 PM:

I obviously need grammar help, as I read that snippet 4 times before realizing what was wrong with it.

Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 10:27 PM:

I lost 30 pounds over two months this summer simply by subbing in diet soda for real soda. I suckle caffeinated fizz like a crazy man, and I recommend the change to anyone who can find a diet pop that doesn't taste like brominated chalkwater.

That missing 30 pounds has had a hell of a positive effect on my knees and lower back; 8-10 hours of writing no longer leaves me feeling like a tackling dummy after a hard day of practice. I would love a dietary adjustment that would leave me feeling smarter and peppier; but can I really turn my back on donuts? Sweet, nourishing donuts?

Um, maybe next year.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 11:02 PM:

Banting. Doing banting, reducing superfluous fat by living on meat diet and abstaining from farinaceous food and vegetables, according to the method adopted by William Banting [1796-1878], a London cabinet-maker, formerly a very fat man. The word was introduced in about 1864.

Brewer, E. Cobham. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Philadelphia, 1887, 1898. Quoted in The Word Museum, by Jeffrey Kacirk.

Just found this today. Atkins backed it up with science, but it's 140 years old. At least.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 11:06 PM:

And I had to look up farinaceous. It means starchy.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 11:56 PM:

Hence Farina, Buckwheat's sister, with her pigtails sticking straight up.

Buckwheatacious vegetables should also probably avoided.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2003, 11:57 PM:

Very cool reference, Xopher!

"What knocks me off balance is travel"

Probably not news, but many restaurants are hustling to introduce low-carb items.

Give it a year and you should find sticking to an Atkinnish regime a lot easier.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 12:27 AM:

Banting is actually an ancestor of my wife's. His portrait hangs on the wall by our staircase. Family legend has it that he grew so fat he had to walk downstairs backwards (he was undertaker to the Royal Family); his pamphlet, a cure for corpulence, is available online. He has at least one other living descendent, a fundamentalist vicar in Harold's Wood, South Essex.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 01:29 AM:

What's amazing to me is that no one has yet caught on to the simple fact that every person is different, therefore, what works for one (or even many) people may not work for another.

Well. "No one" is inaccurate here; I've read studies that proclaim just that. But the popular media (read: not the journals I work with) mostly haven't seemed to catch on.

Atkins works for some people, but for some people it's a prescription for a hospital stay. The Balance diet works for some people. Some people need a different mix. The diets (plural) recommended for helping to control diabetes seem to work for a lot of people, but still not everyone. Extra exercise helps, but isn't always the major issue. It all Really Depends.

Me, I don't like Atkins not because I have issues with a low-carb diet (for someone else; for me, no, I like not fainting, thanks), but because there was, for a long time, this really big "Atkins works for everyone and there aren't any problems no matter what you hear!" thing going on, and that annoys me, because it's patently not true.

Some relatively recent studies suggest Atkins works better in the short term than many other diets but in the long term is about the same, by the way. So going on and off of it may actually be a Cunning Plan instead of a Slip from the Diet, Patrick. :)

Iain J Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 06:17 AM:

Run lots, and don't eat pies.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 09:55 AM:

What's amazing to me is that no one has yet caught on to the simple fact that every person is different, therefore, what works for one (or even many) people may not work for another.

Exactly. I was surprised and delighted to find that, once I got into the steady substitute of wheat-based carbs for white breads, white rice, etc, that even if I had to miss exercise for three or even 4 days, I still lost weight.

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 10:21 AM:

IIRC, for equal carbs, the glycemic index of a food is lowered by increased amounts of fiber and fat. Switching from white rice to brown rice should mean a lower glycemic index. The idea is that fat and fiber slow the absorption of carbohydrates, resulting in less of a blood sugar spike and crash.

JeremyT ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 02:06 PM:

Speaking of the history of an Atkins-like diet, my father-in-law was telling me that Lewis & Clark noticed that on their all game meat diet, they had to eat tremendous quantities to stay healthy, and many members of the expedition lost weight.

I've been wondering if there are any cultures that predominantly eat meats to the point where they rarely eat anything else. Eskimo, maybe? Early native americans--what was in their diet other than game meat?

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 02:10 PM:

Stefan, thanks.

Tina, you're absolutely right. I had the same problem with Christianity! More seriously, some of my friends were commenting that all of the women they know who are dieting are doing that Weight Watchers point-count thing, and all the men are doing Atkins. Biological or cultural? Who knows, who cares.

Whatever works is my motto. I've yet to find something that works for me.

dglynn ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 02:12 PM:

My new theory is that it's better to eat things that require your digestive system to actually work to process them.

Just the monitoring of "empty calories" has made a difference for me. The wife's going full steam on Atkins, and really likes it, and while I amble along as a passenger on this diet I seem to be eating more green beans, and a lot of other stuff I eat now isn't as pre-processed.

Plus, I'm cooking more, which always produces tasty delights compared to more processed edibles.

Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 02:42 PM:

Jeremy, Inuits may well have had a diet consisting of all game meat. At a first approximation, I can't think of many plants living on the ice. (Then again, there's trade...)
Also, I vaguely remember a man who experimented with an Eskimo diet, apparently limited to fish and seal meat and fat. If I remember correctly, he got quite lean at the end, and his body chemistry changed. Among other things, he got low cholesterol, significant body odour, and started bleeding easily.
Can't remember the name of him though, it's probably in the literature.

Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 04:33 PM:

We're doing Weight Watchers, rather idly. Steven's nearly at goal -- he appears to be doing the diet that Lilian characterised as 'most men will lose loads of weight the second they stop eating every darn thing they see'. I, meanwhile, have lost a stone and a half since the summer, but am *very worried* about Christmas.

Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 05:36 PM:

I think Kathryn is correct to question the sanity of those who use low carb dieting as an excuse to gorge on saturated fat. Any diet can be abused though, I've seen plenty of people who are willing to eat the whole box of Snackwells because they are low fat.

I am a Type 2 diabetic and eating low carb allows me to control my blood sugar without using dangerous drugs. All of the drugs used to treat diabetes have serious side effects.

When I ate a low fat diet my HDL cholestrol was dangerously low and my triglycerides dangerously high despite large amounts of aerobic excercise. When I doubled my fat intake and reduced my carbs to less than 40 grams a day my lipid levels changed to healthy normal.

The key is in the kinds of fats consumed. A daily dose of cod liver oil reduced my triglycerides more than any drug I ever took. I consume a lot of olive oil, nuts, and avocados. The largest volume of what I eat is low carb raw green vegetables. I eat reasonable amounts of meat, fish, and chicken.

This is hardly the diet from hell and I've never been constipated.

I am convinced that we are adapted by evolution to go hungry part of the year and to eat a diet primarily of meat and fish suplemented with low carb fruits and vegetables.

The figures I've seen on the aboriginal Inuit indicate that their diet was 96% animal products while their average cholestrol was 50 points lower than the average American. The average body mass index in most pre-industrial cultures is 18-20. Two thirds of American adults have a BMI of 26 or greater.

It has been interesting to see the outrage of the medical profession over the low carb diet. Doctors are as mercenary as any group you can name but they are outraged that someone might be making large amounts of money selling diet books. The low fat diet has never been subject to the degree of scientific scrunity that is being demanded for the low carb diet. I fully credit the low fat diet I was on for ten years for giving me diabetes.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2003, 11:27 PM:

Suitable routines for healthy eating and lifestyle are pretty much the body version of OS wars, I think. There are the folks with what works for them and are sure it must work for you too, no matter what you think; the folks with what doesn't actually work for them or for you but which they want to push because of a commitment to it or against some alternative; and the folks who are comfortable with diversity.

DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 01:01 AM:

Stefan Jones says:

"You eat that little bit less and exercise that little bit more diet." It's non-spectacular, but it works, and it's easier to maintain because it takes lots of trivial little acts of willpower rather than a massive habit-warping regime.

Well, that falls under the category of "different things work for different people". For some people, what you call "lots of trivial acts of willpower" is an impossible number of don't-eat moments: Don't have that snack now. Or now. Or now. Or now. Or now. Or now. Or now. Or now. Or now. Or now. Or now. I suspect you see my point. For someone like that, a huge habit-warp may be what's required.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 11:48 AM:

I am convinced that we are adapted by evolution to go hungry part of the year and to eat a diet primarily of meat and fish suplemented with low carb fruits and vegetables.

What evolution has given us was probably in place well before we left Africa, since that was relatively recent in evolutionary terms. African hominid diets are typically very low in fat and protein, AFAIK -- probably because hunting is not easy. There is some evidence that human metabolism is adapted to deal with privation: dieting (making temporary changes in food intake in order to lose weight) is a great way to increase body fat storage. Eating fewer calories than you expend can trigger all sorts of energy storage mechanisms -- hence the familiar phenomenon of gaining it all back, and then some. To decrease fat stores, it is necessary to avoid triggering these mechanisms, which seems to require (at least): 1. don't go too far under caloric requirements; 2. don't go under caloric requirements every single day for extended periods; 3. give your body something anabolic to do besides laying up fat stores -- i.e., exercise.

It's also important to remember that the bodies that evolution has designed for us are not perfect machines. For instance, nutrition science seems to be coming around to the idea of vitamin supplements. Received wisdom used to hold that one should only take supplements in the case of a deficiency, but in many cases it now seems that keeping the body thoroughly well- (even over-) supplied is a good idea (care must be taken with fat-soluble vitamins that intake does not exceed excretion rates). It is becoming clear that extra cofactors and antioxidants lying around the body are generally a good thing, even at levels no natural foods could readily supply. Similarly, tweaking one's diet (that is, "overall food intake", not "program for weight loss") to find what works is probably also a good idea.

Obdisclaimer: I'm a biologist but not a nutritionist, so take my ideas with the requisite grain of salt (but not too much, mind, it can be bad for your blood pressure).

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 12:47 PM:

Hmmm, had a feeling something wasn't right there. A quick google (link, link) indicates that early species of Homo may have left Africa as long as 1-2 million years ago; H. sapiens probably began to show up around 0.1-0.2 million years ago. Depending on whether you choose the multiregional model or diaspora-and-replacement, that may leave significant time for changes in metabolism. I think molecular evidence favours the latter and even indicates a pretty severe bottleneck early in the history of the current genepool (link, link, link), but even between early and modern H. sapiens, there is time for adaptation towards a more protein-heavy diet. I wonder what the composition of modern hunter-gatherer diets is, and whether extreme examples (like traditional Inuit) are accompanied by significant differences in metabolism.

Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 02:37 PM:


Early this year Scientific American published an article on the evolution of the human brain. Our brains consume about a quarter of our energy intake. The authors contend that the human brain could not have grown to its current size until our ancestors started to consume a high energy diet containing meat.

The article also contained a chart of the diet, average cholesterol (around 150) and BMI of a number of pre-industrial societies. The Inuit were the only people to have a BMI higher than 20, theirs was about 25, because of the stocky build evolved to cope with a cold climate.

Humans have the shortest digestive tract of any of the primates indicating that we are the most adapted to a carnivorous diet. That is not to say we are perfectly adapted to eating meat. Cats on the other hand are obligate carnivores, ask my diabetic cat about that.

I quite agree with you on the matter of supplements. I also strongly recommend Omega 3 supplementation using either cod liver oil or flax seed oil. The diet we eat ourselves and the food we feed the animals we eat lacks the requisite levels of Omega 3s. Neither we nor our prey evolved to live on a diet consisting primarily of grain.

suncat ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2003, 11:00 PM:

I think the thing that bugs me the most about the popularity of the Atkins Diet is the use of the non-word "carb." I hate that non-word as much if not more than I hate the non-word "proactive." Lord save me from the business-major corporate-types whose grasp of English is so poor they don't know when they're repeating themselves or how to spell "carbohydrate."

Also, while the Atkins Diet has worked well for some friends of mine, I found I was very ill indeed while on the diet, listless, dizzy, etc., but not any thinner.

I think moderation in all things is a pretty good idea. (The follow "you"s are me addressing me.)
Don't stuff yourself on anything. Except Thanksgiving dinner. (And if you refrain from stuffing yourself at all other times, you'll find you can't pack away what you used to. Ho ho. Tricksy.)
Get off yer arse and walk. Lots. Find an activity which burns calories and gets your muscles moving and your heart rate up which you know you'll be happy and willing to do every other day and stick to it. (It's called Dance Dance Revolution and it kicks dorky butt.)
If you need to munch, try baby carrots, not Oreos or Lays.
Drink water, not soda.
Etc., etc.

It's also cheaper to eat that way. Less on groceries and at restaurants. More money for toys and presents! Whee! What a wonderful world.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 01:18 AM:

Strangely enough, in my consideration of the Atkins diet, the fact that someone might consider "carb" to be a "non-word" ranks remarkably low.

But it certainly is remarkable how the subject of diet allows people to attitudinize. Why, if I'd never brought the subject up, I'd have never known what superior beings so many of my readers are.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 07:00 AM:

Why, if I'd never brought the subject up, I'd have never known what superior beings so many of my readers are.

Why, Patrick, of course we're superior beings. We're here reading your wit and wisdom: how could we fail to become superior beings with your example to guide us?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 07:49 AM:

<slappy_voice> Now that's comedy. </slappy_voice>

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 11:26 AM:

To chime in: railing about changes in language and usage is silly and futile. King Canute could not command the tide, and usage mavens cannot command millions of English-speakers to speak the mavens's way.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 02:08 PM:

railing about changes in language and usage is silly and futile

Language is certainly a changeable thing, and will grow stale if not allowed to change, but there are some uses that offend against both aesthetic sense and grammatical reason. "Carb" for "carbohydrate", while I find it a bit ugly, is not one of these, but I do think it worth continuing to try to exterminate such abominations as (a personal favourite) "if I would of" for "if I had". This is not so much a matter of trying to command the tide as of warning dabblers in descriptivist shallows that, should they stray too deep, a great rip-tide of widespread disregard for the power and precision of language is waiting to drag them out to sea. And, you know, all like that.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 02:20 PM:

Personally, I'm one of those people who both believes that crusading against linguistic change is usually futile and talks freely about new words, new usages, and chronic errors that really suck.

I try to do the latter sparingly, because the former is a formidable foe against which one wishes to keep one's powder dry. Also, the best cure for crappy new language is good new language.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 02:40 PM:

Hear, hear! (Not, as some have written, "here, here." Grrr!) :-)

Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 03:04 PM:

Sennoma -- I think your dislike of "if I would of" stems from a misapprehension; the usage in question is "if I would have" -- a perfectly reasonable substitution for "if I had".

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 03:41 PM:

Jeremy: nope, I dislike "if I would of", which I see written in far too many places, on its merits (or rather, its lack thereof). I dislike "if I would have", too, mainly on the basis that it is ugly. I also think it confusing, since it mixes two conditionalities: if X then Y, where X is also a conditional. Or, if you prefer, it mixes future-conditional (would) with past-conditional (have).

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 04:46 PM:

Sennoma, it's an unreal conditional, i.e. a subjunctive. It stands in for 'Had I...' as in 'Had I done that, I would feel guilty.' (Implied: but I didn't.) So 'if-would'+[verb stem]=[verb in subjunctive]: "If I would have done that, I would feel guilty."

The subjunctive is passing out of English, like the High Elves from Middle Earth. That's why structures like 'If I would have' are popping up ('would', 'could' etc being the only remnants of subjunctive in common use).

Some people do clearly use 'would of', as you point out. The difference shows in careful speech. It clearly comes from 'would have' by way of 'would've'.

Lots of linguistic change, idiolectal, dialectal, or language-wide, comes from mishearing and folk etymology. For example, the modern English word 'apron' comes from a folk-etymological reanalysis of earlier 'a napron' into 'an apron' (mistaking the initial consonant for a sandhi). I suspect that 'napron' is related by diminution to 'napkin', but I haven't looked it up.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2003, 05:39 PM:

The subjunctive is passing out of English, like the High Elves from Middle Earth.

A loss greatly to be mourned, and no reason to allow the proliferation of nasty little orcs like "if I would have/of". (IMO. YMM, as always in matters grammatical, V.)

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 01:10 PM:

senoma: I dislike "if I would have", too, mainly on the basis that it is ugly.

You need to come to terms with the fact that English is an ugly, difficult language. The battle for aesthetic purity of the language was lost almost a thousand years ago (963, to be precise).

If you want your language to be beautiful, wouldn't it be easier to switch than fight? Try Polynesian, for example.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 01:39 PM:

The easiest way to keep the subjunctive mood is to keep using it: "If I were king, or at least Noah Webster..."

Yes, language is changing. However, we can still laugh at people who say "nukular" and think them ignorant boobs, even if one day "nukular" will be as accepted as "aluminum" without the (now British) extra "i" in it.

English isn't so much an ugly language or a beautiful language as it is a packrat. There are ugly and beautiful pronunciations and constructions for all occasions.

The High Elves metaphor is actually spot on. For as much as everyone talks of their passing, and laments their passing, you seem to see an awful lot of them on screen, don't you?

Rather like uses of the subjunctive mood.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2003, 04:40 PM:

Me: The subjunctive is passing out of English, like the High Elves from Middle Earth.

sennoma: A loss greatly to be mourned, and no reason to allow the proliferation of nasty little orcs like "if I would have/of".

As a grad student I used to know back in the Linguistics department used to say, "Save the subjunctive -- would that we could!"

Kevin -- I also meant that the time of the subjunctive is passing away, and that soon it will be the Fourth Age: no more subjunctive. Wrote we mournful songs, then sang we the same. But then must needs move on.

And English is a beautiful, beautiful language, full of complexities and subtleties that make it unmatched for nuance by any other language in the world. (The largest vocabulary of any modern language helps.) That won't change, even were the subjunctive to vanish utterly.

melo ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2003, 09:59 PM:

i noticed that peasants and children never use the subjunctive.
educated adults get to go virtual, because isn't that what it's really about?
simplicity is about having less choices, voluntarily or not?

tijuana ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2004, 03:27 PM:

Thank you, oh Universe, for sending a kindred soul who mentioned the unkindness hidden behind a terrible Frankensteinlike word "pro-active". The non-natives of Indoeuropean group of languages and some basic education send a friendly