• "The honor to report that..."

    From Ardith Hinton@1:153/716 to Anton Shepelev on Sunday, February 24, 2019 12:30:58
    Hi, Anton! Recently you wrote in a message to Ardith Hinton:

    If the authors of these reports made an error by trying
    to put two grammatical constructions together, I don't
    see it as particularly serious...

    I wonder why it is an error.

    I'm not completely convinced it is. That's why I said "if".... :-)

    A good old prescriptivist explanation would satisfy me,
    for prescriptivists consider language an embodiment of
    logical rules,

    IMHO language *is* an embodiment of logical rules, and the challenge for today's grammarian/linguists is to figure out what native speakers do more or less intuitively... why they do it that way... and how best to organize it. In theory, they can thus identify patterns & make recommendations as to how we can use the language more efficiently. In practice, the system doesn't always work as advertised after it has trickled down to the elementary level &/or the university student from SomePlace Else may have to rely on USAian dictionaries to identify the differences between e.g. UK & US conventions because the other major players seem to ignore what folks from the wrong side of the tracks do & what's been going on in the colonies & ex-colonies for over a century.... :-Q

    whereas descriptivist think rules are but crude
    formulations for fuzzy volatile tendencies in language.

    It's easy to think that if enough people make the same error it will be accepted as standard English eventually. But now that the vast majority of dictionaries take the descriptive approach I have learned to appreciate it. I think you & I are both quite capable of deciding for ourselves what do when we have enough of the right information... and there's more information available to readers who understand what's going on. If various spellings & definitions are listed in a certain way or are accompanied by usage notes &/or flags which enable you to do exactly that, I reckon you've outgrown Miss Stickler.... ;-)

    When aksked about the difference of "honor" from "right",
    "courage", "permission", and "privilege", he replied:

    You lost me there. Who's "he"?

    Possibly because all those verbs are descriptive, stating
    ability or permission to report (picture theory of
    language, Wittgenstein's TLP), while "honor" is part of the
    sentence that is Speech Act per se ?

    Hmm. What I was thinking was more along the lines that an honour or privilege, in this context, is bestowed upon a person by virtue of having been elected or appointed to do a specific job. If this individual has the courage &/or the intelligence &/or or the common sense &/or the presence of mind to do what's best in a given situation I reckon such characteritics are innate. :-)

    Yes, I have the courage to share my thoughts in the E_T
    echo when I see that somebody out there wants to learn
    more about my native language.

    And I thank you therefor. Observe it cannot be "the
    courage of sharing", for courage is a prerequisite for
    the ability to share.

    I like your use of the word "prerequisite" there. WRT the law it is often said (in North America, at least) "You have the right to remain silent." It could be argued that one person can encourage another or that people have a right to xxx whether or not the government approves. Either way I see this as different from a situation in which it is considered Anton's duty to propose a toast to the bride because he's her uncle or to speak on behalf of the members of a club because nobody else volunteered to assume the role of president. We could say the president has the responsibility of acting as representative, of deciding when to hold the next meeting, of organizing the meeting agenda, etc. OTOH the bride & groom may decide to have a less formal wedding... the bride's uncle may prefer to hide under a rock... or there may be no volunteers for the position the club needs to fill. I have the courage of my convictions in that while other people helped me to realize teaching was my calling I was doing it when I was in kindergarten, or so my mother told me a few decades later. :-))

    --- timEd/386 1.10.y2k+
    * Origin: Wits' End, Vancouver CANADA (1:153/716)
  • From Ardith Hinton@1:153/716 to Anton Shepelev on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 00:14:04
    Hi again, Anton! Here's an update on my earlier reply to you:

    I have read recently that "I have the honor to report
    that..." is incorrect and that one should say "I have
    the honor of reporting that...":

    Official committee reports in English of the Canadian
    House of Commons all contain the phrase "Your Committee
    has the honour to present its Xth Report". That should
    of course be "the honour of presenting."

    In the light of further input I would say your reluctance & mine to accept the author's claim is justified. I noticed a very similar construction in NINETY-NINE GLIMPSES OF PRINCESS MARGARET, by Craig Brown:

    [During the 1970's BBC comedian John Fortune] introduced
    her to his producer, Denis Main Wilson. 'She asked him
    what he did. He stood up very straight and said: "Ma'am,
    I have the honour to produce a little show called _Till
    Death Us Do Part_."'

    When I googled "I have the honour to" I found a dozen examples from the UK & the US in which "I have the hono(u)r to inform you" is used. There's one from New South Wales... i.e. in Australia... as well. And while they span roughly four centuries, various 21st-century policy documents are listed.

    For those who prefer "shoulds" DEBRETT'S is a wonderful source. It includes conventional formulas such as "I have the honour to remain [...] your [...] most humble and obedient servant." IIRC, much the same wording was used in 19th-century business letters... and I've found a US example saying "I have the honor to transmit herewith my report"... so there's no doubt in my mind as to whether this usage is correct. Unless you are writing letters to the Royal Family, however, you probably won't see it used very often these days.... ;-)

    But why? It is the more difficult for me to understand
    because in my naytive Russian the infinitive version is
    only natural.

    Some folks may see it as dated &/or unnecessarily formal, but AFAIC you can get away with doing whatever feels right to you in many cases.... :-)

    --- timEd/386 1.10.y2k+
    * Origin: Wits' End, Vancouver CANADA (1:153/716)