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Pedants' Corner

That is a reasonable point. But I would say we should judge whether something is correct by the norms of the time they’re used. I mean, the word “evolving” may have a completely different meaning in 100 years’ time, but I’m not going to wait until then to find out whether I’m actually saying something much more interesting than it seems.

But when people look back - in those years ahead - if they imply that it is ‘wrong’ that a useage has changed, they are simply pissing in the wind that it’s useage has changed. It has evolved, precisely for the reasons they lament it’s demise - ergo, it didn’t used to mean/be used like that, but now is, and nobody remembers the old useage.

My point is that there are times (e.g. “can’t be asked”) where language isn’t evolving, no one is pissing in the wind. It’s just a mistake that a very small number of people make due to mishearing the correct expression.

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I don’t know which subset of people you’ve asked, but I don’t know anyone who would use the (suggested)* archaic form.

*Moreover, I question the evolutionary assumption - asked is to be demanded of, arsed is a statement of one’s disinterest. One is an outside force, the other an internal one. The evidence seems shaky at best.

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Yes. Well I think it is arsed and always has been arsed.


For many, the phonic similarity to ‘arsed’ isn’t there in the first place: I pronounce the ‘a’ in ‘asked’ as /æ/ and not /a:/.


A quick Google search indicates it was always a phrase based on “arse” - “bother your arse” - but the modern usage “can’t be arsed” seems to date only from the 1960’s. The first written record being in Hunter Davies’ biography of the Beatles.

Arsed.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Arsed | Definition of Arsed by Merriam-Webster. Accessed 27 Jun. 2021.

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“He can’t be asked…” I have heard in sunny Yorkshire - as in " he has to be told to do something, if you simply ask, it doesn’t get done"

“Can’t be arsed” is very similar… but not exactly the same thing. as in " he cannot be bothered to do something".

I suspect the modern version (Mirriams / first written record being by Hunter Davies) derives from a poor interpretation of a Scouse accent. Conjecture.

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Lest (good word for this thread, eh?) this goes too far, you will find here

an inconclusive discussion on the matter, with over 100 posts.

Perhaps all those kids with A*'s can rest easy that they applied an appropriate level of academic rigour to the subject then?


I’m sorry I just think ‘can’t be arsed’ is a ridiculous and lazy form of corrupting a perfectly good expression and quite frankly I can’t be arsed to read this thread anymore!

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Curious that one of the more active discussions on here has been about an expression of indifference!


The grammar police have been informed…

I could care less :slight_smile:


Now that’s another little saying that I think has changed in recent years. :wink:

And this phrase, I have never used in my life.
I think the use of it, reflects badly on the user. :dragon:

Unless of course it’s being used ironically.

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Back in my rightful place again!

Reading Wine Champions 2021 which arrived this morning and I’m amused by the “Beyond Bordeaux” notes which say “wines are being made with less excessive oak than in the past”. Does this mean they still have a bit of excessive oak, or that they no longer have excessive oak? Less excessive seems a funny expression, almost as if we didn’t have much hope that they would have just the right amount of oak.


I remember ‘leiking about’ as a West Riding expression.

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It’s marketing gobbledegook :grinning: By the way I would expect some excessive oak, just less :grinning:

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