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From Donald Whytock <dwhyt...@apache.org>
Subject Re: "isn't comprised of"
Date Tue, 04 Feb 2014 16:02:38 GMT
On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 9:29 AM, Louis Suárez-Potts <luispo@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> Rob Weir wrote:
> > On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 6:53 AM, Rory O'Farrell <ofarrwrk@iol.ie> wrote:
> >> On Tue, 4 Feb 2014 00:07:25 -0500
> >> "E. Ward" <ewardnow@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >>> Dear Brilliant OOers,
> >>>
> >>> About comprise.
> >>>
> >>> You write, "is comprised of six personal productivity applications"
> >>>
> >>> Actually, it's, "six personal productivity application comprise OO."
> >>>
> >>> That is, the smaller comprise the larger.  Everyone get it wrong - all
> the time . . . except . . .
> >>>
> >>> I'm about to try OO - am an old (literally) Word user.  Eager to
> exploit OO to its fullest, or would that be to my fullest?
> >>> Thank you, EWard
> >>
> >> Even simpler is to say "OpenOffice comprises six personal productivity
> applications"
> >>
> >
> > The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, gives the passive used
> > "comprised of", meaning "to be composed of, to consist of", attested
> > back to 1874.   So there is nothing incorrect about the current
> > wording.  To my ears it sounds more natural than your version.  I
> > wonder if this is an American/British usage difference?
>
> Quite possibly. Or even more, a kind of temporal/regional thing: usage
> patterns, like pronunciation, change as this or that population gains
> linguistic dominance (i.e., we do what they do speechwise, even if it
> ain't the Queen's English, or even Twain's).
>
> But to comprise. I agree with Rob. And that has nothing to do with my
> having a phd in the field. Grammar "rules" are conventions that serve to
> clarify logical speech operations so that communication is made easier.
> If communication is actually not made easier, then....
>
> But what I usually do, in much of my own writing, is use "compose." The
> only "rule" I like to follow with comprise is that it refers to the
> totality of the objects making up the whole, thus, n comprises y, and
> that should mean that all of y are the n components. But even here,
> there are slippages, and there is no reason that identities need stay
> fixed.
>
> But along these lines, the only logical insistence one might have in
> grammar is to follow the math: are is plural, none takes the singular,
> as do neither and either and others that logically refer to singles not
> plurals, if read differently. (I shut my eyes to who/whom violations. I
> have not given up hope on this, but do despair. People, it's not that
> hard. Just put it into Latin and think: accusitive, dative; you know,
> it's easy! Much easier than using that Attic Greek you avoided
> memorizing in school.)
>
> Salve,
> Lovis
>
> PS, Louis Menand's take down of grammarians protesting too much is worth
> the read, as is, of course Twain's.
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > -Rob
> >
> >> --
> >> Rory O'Farrell <ofarrwrk@iol.ie>
> >>
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>

One could argue that comprise has more general utility than compose, in
that one commonly hears "A is composed of B" but not "B composes A" (unless
B stands for Beethoven).  Whereas "A comprises B" does sort of imply "B is
comprised of A",  assuming "is comprised of" is valid usage at all.

But yeah, I'd've used "is composed of" too.  Or simply "includes".

Don

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