The story about Valve purchasing the code caught a couple BBelievers in the comments here:
One BBspotter writes in about our latest edition of "5 Grammar Tips You May Not Have Known:"
Date: Mon, Jun 1, 2009 at 11:02 PM
Subject: "Farther", "further" and other misconstructions
Good grief, Brian, it’s not “farther” but “further”. You could easily have added many other solecisms Americans are prone to fall into. For example: “Lie” to say an untruth and “Lie” - to be in a prone or supine position. Complicating the “lie” error, is the fact that the word is often replaced by “Lay”.
The past tense of the indicative present form of “lie” is indeed “lay”, where “lie” means to be in a horizontal position on the ground (intransitive) or to produce eggs (transitiv. Where “lie” means saying an untruth, the past tense is of course “lied.” So far, no one I have heard of, has ever said: “Well, I lay about my experience to get the job.” No need to wait up, though.
However, there is another verb, namely “lay”, which means to place something down. In slang, “lay” is also used to mean having sexual intercourse with and is both transitive and intransitive in that sense.. The past tense of “lay” is “laid”. The past participle of “lay” is “laid”. The past participle of “lie” (prone) is “lain”. The verb “lie” (prone or at rest) is intransitive, meaning, as you well know it, cannot have direct objects. The verb “lay” is transitive, meaning it can have direct objects but can be intransitive, as in the phrase: “I work hard hard all day but you just lay there.”
So, it’s commonly heard: “You may lay down here”, to which the response should be: “Sir, there must some error, I am not a chicken or fish.” Other than the slang “lay” denoting sex, the present indicative form of “lay” means only to place down. People who say to their dogs “Lay down!” don’t realise the dogs’ response is usually so: “Master, I am a dog, not a chicken or a a fish and I can’t “lay” anything except perhaps that wondrous French poodle prancing out there.”
Many people make errors in the use of “lie” and “lay”. For instance, they will frequently, when referring to the past tense or participle of the verb “lie”, said “laid”. As said above, the correct forms are respectively “lay” and “lain”.
“Lie” has a meaning as a substantive too. A “lie” can therefore be an untruth but it can also mean how a piece of land is laid out: “the lie of the land”. As a younger member of my family points out to me: “Dad, here in America, we say “the lay of the land, you’re 50 years out of tune.”
I won’t even go into the egregiously wrong grammar who write “layed” (and, ugh, “payed”) when they should write just “lay” as the past tense of lie and “paid” as the past tense and participle of “pay”. Of course that bad grammar can ony be detected in witten communications since the pronunciations of “layed” and “laid” are roughly the same.
There is also a meaning of “lay” in the present tense, not frequently used by the general public but in favour with the nautical crowd, as in “Lay about”.
English is tricky, not least because it also has changed over the centuries and some English people who migrated to another part of the world carried with them a version of English that is no longer acceptable today in their country of immigration, though their country of emigration still does. English, as a language, or any language for that matter, is no longer held in deep quasi-religious respect, popular usage frequently overcoming the “proper English” form. English majors, in colleges and universities, may or may not learn how properly to parse, but those with other majors probably don;t even know what to “parse” means or have given it an entirely different meaning. In 50 years, if not already now, this email, making distinctions, which already today must seem like gibberish to many people, will be seen as “quaint” by most.
For further study. Oops, forgot one thing:
“Farther” and “Further” can mean the same thing but “Farther” is more limited than “Further”. “Farther” literally means “more far”. “Further” can means also “more” as in “furthermore”. Hence, to say 5 ‘‘farther” grammar tips in an article aspiring to point out grammatical errors is a grammatical error per se unless you mean that these tips are somehow further along on a scale of sorts.