“I read in the Nov. 4 issue of Arkansas Times the following regarding shrank and shrunk: ‘Though shrank appears more often in American writing, shrunk is “an acceptable alternative past tense in American English,” according to CGEU [the Cambridge Guide to English Usage].’ Apparently CGEU doesn’t know the difference between the noun alternative and the adjective alternate, but I would have expected you to catch that.”
It’s wise not to set your expectations of me too high, but in this case, I think I’m clean. Not only CGEU but Random House and every other reference work I know of say that alternative is both a noun and an adjective, and alternate is a noun, an adjective and a verb. Furthermore, the adjective alternative is used exactly as CGEU used it. This is from Success With Words: “The adjective alternative basically means ‘being one of two choices,’ or ‘offering a second choice’: We have two alternative ways to go. There is an alternative approach to the problem. Both the noun and the adjective are also often used of more than two choices: We have several alternatives.”
That last part touches on the only dispute over alternative that I remember, which is that some people said alternative could be used only for a choice between two things, no more. Some conservatives still prefer that restriction, according to SWW, but “it is fully correct and standard to use it [alternative] also of a choice among several.”
Incidentally, the Arkansas Times is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.
“It’s a tabloid and a lively one. Not salacious, or gossipy, but unflinching in its photographs of the festivities in a tourist town — transsexuals working a ‘Kiss a Queen’ booth during ‘Diversity Days’ … You don’t see photos like this in other Arkansas weeklies.” Unless those queens were undressed — and they were not — the writer couldn’t have known from looking at the picture that they were transsexuals. He meant to say transvestites.
Our discussion last week of Scots, Scotch and scot-free prompted a reader to ask “Who was the Great Scot that people talk about?”
The exclamation is spelled Great Scott. Scott is a euphemism for God.
When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.