Tradition, Change, and Precision

I observe that my dictionary software permits using the traditionally transitive verb “expound“ as intransitive: whereas I was taught that one expounds a position, a claim, the Scriptures, or a proposal, the Oxford American Dictionary (on which Apple’s Dashboard software relies) allows us to “expound on” a topic. The Oxford editors do not, however, approve the widespread use of “advocate” with an indirect object. Even in this fallen day and age, one advocates a cause, one does not advocate for that cause.

Just so you know.

And since I’m blogging about academica, I will belatedly point to Alex Halavalais’s now-famous post on ways students could cheat better. It’s not the kind of thing I would have posted — I can’t do anything to make my job harder — the post and some of the comments deserve attention.

Can you tell I’m grading papers and exams?

4 thoughts on “Tradition, Change, and Precision

  1. One point Halavais failed to mention was Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ admonition to not rely on Wikipedia as a definitive source for information, and to not blame the online encyclopedia for their bad term papers (source).


  2. And the bit about foreign English/Canadian spelling doesn’t bother me, as long as my student is spelling something correctly according to some orthography. Switching back and forth, though, does constitute a clue about cheating (though I’d be positively impressed that the student bothered to copy the source spelling correctly).

  3. Okay, now I’m confused. I have always thought the correct form was “expound UPON.”

    I’ve never heard it used without the UPON.

    So much for my higher education!

  4. My wish is that the world in general would use comprise correctly. And my present-day grumble is in the expression “gone missing.

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