October 26, 2006, 6:58am
(Sorry if my question is not relevant to this forum’s section.)
a. The choice between . two mutually exclusive possibilities
b. A situation presenting such a choice.
c. Either of these possibilities. See Synonyms at ‘choice’.
Of course, I know that ‘There are
many alternatives.’ is in use. In usage…
As a matter of fact. Just because. Etc.
But my question is about this:
Usage Note: Some traditionalists hold that alternative should be used only in situations where the number of choices involved is exactly two, because of the word’s historical relation to Latin alter, “the other of two.” Despite the word’s longstanding use to mean “one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen” and the acceptance of this usage by many language critics,
a substantial portion of the Usage Panel adheres to the traditional view, with only 49 percent accepting the sentence Of the three alternatives, the first is the least distasteful.·
Alternative is also sometimes used to refer to a variant or substitute in cases where there is no element of choice involved, as in We will do our best to secure alternative employment for employees displaced by the closing of the factory. This sentence is unacceptable to 60 percent of the Usage Panel.·Alternative should not be confused with alternate. Correct usage requires The class will meet on alternate (not alternative) Tuesdays.
I’m not a linguist and not aware of the tradition of such kind of language validation (Usage techniques).
Could you comment a bit that
Usage Panel and the ‘pass mark’ value (should it be 50% + 1? :)).
How is that ‘ ’ obtained (in general case)? By interviewing? Polling? :? unacceptable to n%
you use ‘ many alternatives’?
Yes, I use ‘ many alternatives’.
I am not aware of the precise criteria for their statistics, but if you search the source site, you may find some information on this matter. The Usage Panel themselves are listed
October 26, 2006, 1:47pm
Thank you, Mister Micawber, for the answer.
…You perhaps mean that each dictionary just has its own Usage Panel (of experts)?
I don’t know that they all have usage panels. The only one I’ve noticed on the internet is the American Heritage Dictionary’s, which is the one you quoted (the Free Dictionary quotes from other sources).
October 26, 2006, 2:15pm
Now I’ve found the reference… a bit below of what I had quoted
Sorry my inattention and this careless question… :oops: