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Thread: "income lagged expectations"

  1. #1
    A bit of a wallflower absitinvidia's Avatar
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    "income lagged expectations"

    More and more often, I'm seeing "lag" used transitively: he lagged his classmates, income lagged expectations, etc.

    I always want to insert "behind", as to me "lag" is intransitive.

    I've consulted several dictionaries, and only one lists a transitive usage with the same definition as the intransitive usage, and provides an example similar to those I've given above.

    Just wanted to hear what y'all think. I don't want to be overly pedantic while editing, but at the same time I feel I should at least suggest adding "behind".

  2. #2
    The moving hand, having writ... AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I'm hearing and seeing it, too.

    And I don't like it. That's the problem with living languages, they change without our permission.

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    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    Maryn,

    You must have missed the memo...
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    can totally spell Brobdinrgnagrian buzhidao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by absitinvidia View Post
    More and more often, I'm seeing "lag" used transitively: he lagged his classmates, income lagged expectations, etc.

    I always want to insert "behind", as to me "lag" is intransitive.

    I've consulted several dictionaries, and only one lists a transitive usage with the same definition as the intransitive usage, and provides an example similar to those I've given above.

    Just wanted to hear what y'all think. I don't want to be overly pedantic while editing, but at the same time I feel I should at least suggest adding "behind".
    How odd. I can't recall ever seeing it without the "behind," yet apparently it's a Thing. (Or maybe I have seen it and dismissed it as an error...:p )

    I found this. Dunno if it's helpful.

    After poking around, it seems to me that it's not considered incorrect, but "lag behind" is still favored over "lag."

    I dunno. It just sounds weird.

    Hm. Well. I learned something today.

  5. #5
    POP$ AW benefactor Chase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by absitinvidia View Post
    Just wanted to hear what y'all think. I don't want to be overly pedantic while editing, but at the same time I feel I should at least suggest adding "behind".
    I would have assumed a missing word and suggested "lagged behind." Now I'll have to get all cutting edgy and ask if the writer intends the trendy transitive.

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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW
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    I'm lagging with the rest of you. Even if it is becoming trendy, if I were doing the editing, I'd still suggest using "behind" with the word.

  7. #7
    God of the Oceans
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    I'm behind you on that, but I don't know whether I am lagging behind or am simply behind.

  8. #8
    Needs More Hands.... Fallen's Avatar
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    "Lag behind" has that tautological feel to me. If you 'lag' you fall behind anyway. "Behind" can be dropped. Maybe it's because it's just such a common phrase? I know I always expect "behind" to come after it.

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    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. AW Moderator Torgo's Avatar
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    It's news-speak - the most concise way to say 'lagging behind' or 'failing to live up to' without losing clarity. I imagine initially it was purely for saving space and has now creolised into style.

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    A bit of a wallflower absitinvidia's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone! :-)

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    blue eyed floozy shakeysix's Avatar
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    If my interest or my energy lags it doesn't mean they are behind something. It means the nouns, interest and energy, are losing momentum, diminishing. Lag is still an intransitive verb, but in that particular sentence, I think the expectations are lagging, not the income. Does that make sense? I'm not sure it does. I smoked a lot of herbage when I should have been in my Advanced Grammar class. --s6
    Last edited by shakeysix; 02-26-2013 at 02:59 AM.

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    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    I've seen this many decades ago (and it surely existed many decades earlier) when I was first learning electrical engineering. I'm not saying engineers are the most eloquent speakers of English (OTOH, with this particular usage they may have been leading instead of lagging), but it's a well establish usage. You can google these phrases to find them:

    voltage lags current
    current lags voltage

    "In a capacitor, voltage lags current. In an inductor, current lags voltage."

    Lead/leads is used the same way:
    "In a capacitor, current leads voltage. In an inductor, voltage leads current."

    I can see the desire to write "lags behind" instead of lags, but what I've heard about editing is it's better to take out (unnecessary) words than to add them.
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    It's correct, but horribly poor writing by horribly poor writers.

  14. #14
    A bit of a wallflower absitinvidia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    I can see the desire to write "lags behind" instead of lags, but what I've heard about editing is it's better to take out (unnecessary) words than to add them.

    But only if it's standard usage. Based on my dictionaries, "lag" as a transitive verb is not standard usage, so I'll keep suggesting that "behind" be used unless/until more dictionaries include the transitive usage.

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    blue eyed floozy shakeysix's Avatar
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    Ben, are you telling us that you have THE flux capacitor? I'd like to flux back to 1972 and learn some grammar--s6

  16. #16
    Walt Palmer to Zimbabwe please! Rufus Coppertop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    I'm hearing and seeing it, too.

    And I don't like it. That's the problem with living languages, they change without our permission.
    Cheeky languages! How dare they?

    Quote Originally Posted by Torgo View Post
    It's news-speak - the most concise way to say 'lagging behind' or 'failing to live up to' without losing clarity. I imagine initially it was purely for saving space and has now creolised into style.
    I wonder if French newspapers would get away with it?

    On the one hand, I think it's sensible that dictionaries be descriptive rather than prescriptive. On the other hand, I think lines need to be drawn and standards upheld.

    The media's drive for economy doesn't just cheapen the production of newspapers, it cheapens the language itself and contributes to a lack of clarity.

    I'll bet I'm not the only one here who sometimes worries that English is going to end up devolving into an absolutely bloody mess.

    And as for "friend" as a transitive verb.......:...doesn't English already have a perfectly good and clear verb available? "Befriend"? It's enough to make me think that Mark Zuckerberg would make the perfect kindling in a bonfire of the media.
    Last edited by Rufus Coppertop; 02-28-2013 at 04:05 PM.
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    pretending to be awake onesecondglance's Avatar
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    One can never have too much insulation, particularly on one's behind.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus Coppertop View Post

    On the one hand, I think it's sensible that dictionaries be descriptive rather than prescriptive. On the other hand, I think lines need to be drawn and standards upheld.
    No, there is no good reason for dictionaries to simply be descriptive. There are some things that are simply wrong; things people say because they meant something similar. The non-word "irregardless" is an excellent example of this.

    The media's drive for economy doesn't just cheapen the production of newspapers, it cheapens the language itself and contributes to a lack of clarity.

    I'll bet I'm not the only one here who sometimes worries that English is going to end up devolving into an absolutely bloody mess.
    I am sure that people have been saying that for centuries, and if one removes the "English" and inserts a more general word, then it has been said for millennia. The problem isn't a liberal attitude toward language; it is the willingness of some to accept errors by the ignorant as good usage.

    And as for "friend" as a transitive verb.......:...doesn't English already have a perfectly good and clear verb available? "Befriend"? It's enough to make me think that Mark Zuckerberg would make the perfect kindling in a bonfire of the media.
    Zuckerberg belongs on the fire, but the news wire services, AP, UPI, etc., have done more over a longer period. Their desire to cut costs in the days when they used telegraph companies that charged by the space made them drop words and punctuation as much as they could. Some websites truncated words so they will fit into particular spaces, and Zuckerberg may have done that, but that is not an excuse. As with money in language the cheap drives out the good.
    Perhaps we should return to early Modern English.

  19. #19
    Walt Palmer to Zimbabwe please! Rufus Coppertop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Neptune View Post
    Perhaps we should return to early Modern English.
    This idea of thine rocketh verily and I wouldst be up for it.

    We'll smite with arms 'gainst news-speak ill,
    as warriors of the tongue and quill,
    lay siege unto linguistic hells
    with keyboards as our mangonels.
    Last edited by Rufus Coppertop; 02-28-2013 at 07:11 PM.
    “But it isn't hunger that drives millions of armed American Males to forests and hills every autumn, as the high incidence of heart failure among the hunters will prove. Somehow the hunting process has to do with masculinity, but I don't quite know how.”
    John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America



  20. #20
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shakeysix View Post
    Ben, are you telling us that you have THE flux capacitor? I'd like to flux back to 1972 and learn some grammar--s6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus Coppertop View Post
    This idea of thine rocketh verily and I wouldst be up for it.

    We'll smite with arms 'gainst news-speak ill,
    as warriors of the tongue and quill,
    lay siege unto linguistic hells
    with keyboards as our mangonels.
    True Language is only written on clay tablets with chisels.
    Ello.
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  21. #21
    Delerium ex Ennui Xelebes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    I've seen this many decades ago (and it surely existed many decades earlier) when I was first learning electrical engineering. I'm not saying engineers are the most eloquent speakers of English (OTOH, with this particular usage they may have been leading instead of lagging), but it's a well establish usage. You can google these phrases to find them:

    voltage lags current
    current lags voltage

    "In a capacitor, voltage lags current. In an inductor, current lags voltage."

    Lead/leads is used the same way:
    "In a capacitor, current leads voltage. In an inductor, voltage leads current."

    I can see the desire to write "lags behind" instead of lags, but what I've heard about editing is it's better to take out (unnecessary) words than to add them.
    That has also been my understanding. The noun Lag is becoming a very important word so when people see lag, they don't see lay. Instead, they see follow.

    The network is lagging like a beast.

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