Talk:alot

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"Alot" is defined as a whole lot of something, as in quantity, and qualifies for its own usage.[edit]

A lot, is defined as an exact amount. The lot in question, and as so few people are allowed to know the size of a given lot in todays world, it will be a henceforth undefined amount unless any should care to give the precise, and defined amount of a "lot". Let us continue to the word "allot", an amount "earlier specified as an inderterminable quantity" to which one is "alloted" as in being given control of. Therefore, in today's world there is a verifiable justification for the contraction of a word with an entirely different meaning from the halves in order to make the whole functional.

aka: 1) A lot in berthing C is awaiting defecation procedures. 2) Berthing C has been alloted 7 latrines. 3) Send alot of latrines to Berthing C, there's a couple hundred in there.

Make it happen or die fighting it. My 2C. Comes up in my spell-checker just to piss me off.

I just sent the following email to Richard Lederer:

Mr. Lederer, being a famous expert on language I would like to ask your advice. Should the word "alot" have its own entry on wiktionary.com? I'm not really sure how long the 'alot' phenominon has been around; but isn't it just as much a word as is "another?" I'm eager for some clarity on this issue, as 'alot' has many detractors and fans.

He should at least have some interesting things to say on the subject. Citizen Premier 20:29, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

not much of a response...[edit]

Richard Lederer responded with "While many folks do indeed write "alot" as a single word, it continues to be frowned upon by standard writers. I would discourage its use." He didn't really state an opinion on whether or not it should be included in the Wiktionary. Does anyone know how old the term is? Citizen Premier 00:34, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

I think it's as much of an answer as you can reasonably expect. He can only express his opinion about the term itself. To opine about whether it should be in Wiktionary he would also need to be familiar with Wiktionary editorial policy. Eclecticology 08:55, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
Let the record show my complete agreement with Ec! -dmh 18:13, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

RfD not RfV[edit]

I nominated this for deletion, not because I did not know that it is frowned upon. Yes, there are print citations out there; they are points of embarrassment to their publishers. While discussion about the term continues please refrain from removing the Request for deletion tag. Thank you. --Connel MacKenzie 04:15, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

This deserves nothing more than "common misspelling of 'a lot'". It is not "just as much a word as 'another'"; 'another' is long established, while "alot" is simply a common error. — Paul G 08:58, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm almost positive that it's not as big of a misspelling as people think. The most common misspellers of "a lot" are students. Because most papers are handwritten, I'm sure teachers would misinterpret "a lot" for "alot." — SilentFox12345 09:34, 3 June (UTC)
I've marked it as "a common misspelling" and removed the rfd, which I don't think is necessary any more. I will update the discussion on the Requests for deletion page, if there is any. — Paul G 09:02, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
"Misspelling" is POV. If you want to create a POV dictionary, WIKTIONARY IS NOT THE PLACE.Muke Tever 22:40, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Muke; perhaps "considered a misspelling" might be better? Citizen Premier 03:19, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
Clearly this is RVF, not RFD. As to "error" or "misspelling", we just need to keep in mind that these terms depend on context. "Alot" is clearly an error in most print media. On the other hand, it's perfectly OK in email and most other informal media. BTW, that doesn't mean that anything goes in email (as an extreme example, "A lot there is of errors email in." is garbled no matter where it appears). I think what we descritpivists balk at is the simple pronunciation "incorrect" or "error" (not to mention the blantantly POV "substandard").
I removed the citation of Jack Lynch. I'm mostly comfortable with including the other style guides, under the guise of establishing what's considered "standard" (itself a nebulous concept), particularly since the seem to be fairly evenhanded. If we pursue this, we might want to establish a canon of acceptable sources. I don't see any need to point to the opinions of any particular indivdual. Everyone has an opinion, and Lynch (to his credit) makes it no secret that the statements he makes are his opinion. FWIW, I agree with many of them in the context of "What would be good style for an article in print?"
In any case, I think the current formulation of "A common but nonstandard spelling of a lot." is just right. I think the usage note is a bit overdone, but I can live with it as it now stands. -dmh 18:22, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Current definition[edit]

Seems pretty flakey. Or should "another" simply be defined as "a common and standard spelling of "an other?" Citizen Premier 22:41, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

Moved from RfD discussion[edit]

From Bartleby's online usage guide: "...keep in mind that alot is still considered an error in print..."

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993: "alot is a Substandard spelling of a lot, as in She sees a lot of him these days. Alot is increasingly found in Informal correspondence and student writing, but it has as yet received no sanction in print except on the op-ed and sports pages."

Guide to Grammar and Style by Jack Lynch: "Alot. Nope: a lot, two words. (That's a lot meaning much, many, often, and so on. There's another word, the verb allot, which means "to distribute or apportion"; but the adjectival or adverbial phrase a lot is always two words.)"

Cambridge Guide to English Usage: "alot This amalgam of a and lot is still regarded as non-standard..."

etc. --Connel MacKenzie 03:33, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

Gosh, should I say it again? “I didn't think terms had to be standard in any way to be included — just attested. Right?” —Muke Tever 03:36, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
This however, is pretty universally prescribed against. Next up: ain't. --Connel MacKenzie 04:40, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
Doesn't matter. Removing it is prescriptivist-POV and does a disservice to any second-language learners who run across the word and hope to look it up in our dictionary. —Muke Tever 04:52, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
  • We should be able to keep this as long as we show it as a documented common misspelling. That documentation is usually what's missing. I support a descriptive dictionary as much as anyone, but one can take that too far when one has to allow any old misspelling on the grounds that somebody has used it. Eclecticology 09:27, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
    • I agree (twice in one day!). I'm going to speculate here that, since I often take strong positions on including material that might otherwise be excluded for various reasons, I'm sometimes perceived as advocating including absolutely anything without any disclaimer at all. Conversely, it's quite possible that some of your positions on particular issues that have come up have made you appear more prescriptivist than you really are. As I've said elsewhere, I have no problem with saying things like "this is not accepted by editors of major print media." or "the following guides recommend against this". This is a much different statement from "this is incorrect", and a much more useful statement. -dmh 21:06, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
I've marked it as a misspelling. It is not even non-standard (which would give it an element of credibility) - it is just a misspelling. However, I think it should be included because it is very common (nearly 20 million Google hits as of today's date, although some of these are no doubt for "allot" or have some other meaning). — Paul G 11:19, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, on what basis is it "not even non-standard" ? One of the quoted usage guides proscribing it uses the exact word ‘nonstandard’ to describe it, and a second calls it ‘substandard’ which is a POV version of the same word. —Muke Tever 22:44, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
"Substandard" is not POV, it’s a technical linguistic term. The spelling alot most certainly is substandard. The word ain't, by way of contrast, is nonstandard (yet another term of art). —Stephen 12:03, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
AHD's sense #2 supports Stephen's statement, as does M-W's sense #1b. — Hippietrail 16:12, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I agree with Muke: the spelling is clearly in frequent use, and pretending otherwise is just wishful thinking. It is already noted that many people consider it a misspelling. Also, I'm dubious that there's a clear dichotomy between substandard and nonstandard, given that the latter may mean "simply not so egregious a blunder as a Substandard locution"[1]. That sounds like a prescriptivist POV to me. Wmahan 17:11, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
See also [2], which says that "most linguists and lexicographers now use only nonstandard", and in fact uses ain't as an example of what might be called a substandard form. Wmahan 17:29, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

It seems to be in a very similar case to everyday which people use very frequently when they mean every day. Except in this case both forms actually exist but have different meanings. — Hippietrail 15:47, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

The fundamental difference between misusing every day and a lot is that everyday is a valid spelling in its own right, but alot is just an error. --Connel MacKenzie 16:38, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
OK, I'm glad that's settled.
Oh wait a minute. I just remembered. We've never defined any criteria at all for what we consider "substandard", "nonstandard", "an error", "incorrect" and so forth, while we have defined at least some criteria for "attested" and "idiomatic" (quite a few in the case of "attested").
In this case "alot" is clearly attested, and, being a single word, clearly idiomatic ("weeknights" is not simply the sum of "wee" and "knights"). We may argue about whether it should be tagged as "substandard", "nonstandard", a "common misspelling" or otherwised disclaimed in a usage note ("many consider this incorrect"), but there's no question whether the term meets the CFI. -dmh 19:58, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
What citations have you provided that give evidence for it not being an error? The three citations that were entered (not by you) were:
  1. A 10th grade student's paper cited directly by the author for example
  2. a quote riddled with errors that the author was using to help convey the uneducated status of a character
  3. transcribed handwritten notes from a homicidal maniac
You were one of the most prominent critics of print citations not long ago...do these seem like linguistically sound citations to you? --Connel MacKenzie 07:11, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
They're beautifully linguistically sound citations of a word that is used principally in informal writing such as that not normalized for publication, and by the un[der]educated. If we were trying to establish it as some kind of "standard" word in good usage (which nobody has yet attempted) then we would want citations in quality standard prose, but this is not the case. —Muke Tever 18:43, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm not crazy about any of these particular citations, but the first and third are OK, as long as we can be sure they're faithful transcriptions. The second is unreliable. Authors' impressions of dialects other than their own are not always particularly accurate (Mark Twain has a good riff on this one). In any case, this is a term for which print citations are not going to be particularly useful, since print editors prefer "a lot" and tend to edit "alot" out. Like all sources, print sources have a few biases and do not always present a fair sampling of actual usage. They also tend to under-represent newer terms (thus my original objection to the notion that if it's not in print it's not a word).
If you serarch for, say, "alot of" on Google groups, you get a different story. For example, there are about 2.6 million instances of "alot of" vs. 10 million for "a lot of". The second spelling is clearly more frequent, but the first is (IMHO) well within the gray area.
I assume that the desire to call "alot" a mistake instead of a variant comes from the practice of treating it as an error in print. We should definitely note that "alot" is considered incorrect in print (i.e., by a great many print editors), but I just can't convince myself that people using "alot" on the web are doing so by mistake.
As to ain't, I assume you're joking. -dmh 18:08, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Delete it is wrong - Παρατηρητής 11:43, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

What the hell is going on here? This is a mockery, a delusion and a snare! You people have no measures with each another! Good grief! This isn't Bartleby's, CGSA, CGEU, MLA, the "revised" Fowler (which isn't worth powder and shot), Robert's Rules, Strunk & White, or any other "manual of directives" for that matter. Stop citing all these sources which give to airy nothing a local habitation and a name. Remember NPOV®? You know, that custom more honored in the breach than the observance. Spellings are spellings. Let others choose their own. Personally, I prefer the spelling "alot", for several reasons. I will briefly draw a quote from a novel of the future - “I told you a lot of times all ready, I don’t need you to all ways ask me if I want sugar on my all monds, all right?!? So just leave me a lone; I can manage alby myself!” If you will so notice, all {sic} of the expressions in bold (in the preceding passage) are blatantly obtrusive misspellings of otherwise commonplace words. The purpose of this illustration is to exploit the tradition of complacence among plebian writers/thinkers. My own preference of the spelling "alot" over "a lot" is ensconced in stalwart attention towards parallel but non-contextual word-class transformation. In laic-English this means that individual word-roots (etymons) take on various parts of speech (word classes). So, for instance, the root "pleas-" is manifest as a noun (pleasance, pleasure), a verb (to please, to pleasure), an adjective (pleasant, pleased, pleasing, pleasureful), an adverb (pleasantly, pleasingly, pleasurefully), and an interjection (please!, via ellipsis). Similarly, adverbs such as "already" and "always" are derived from different parts of speech. The former from all (adv.) + ready (adj./adv.), the latter from all (adv.) + ways (n.). It could be said that the word "always" has always been an adverb. Student: “How many of my answers did I get right on the test?” Teacher: “They were all right!” If the student's test answers actually turned out to be alright, he most likely made a C or a D. —vs.— Heath: “How did you guys do in last night's game?” Desmond: “Oh, we did alright, we didn't win though.” Now, had Desmond's team really done all right, they would have won the game. Likewise, "a lot" is always just that: "a" + "lot". But one lot is quite different from "alot" of "lots". Adverbially, the words "alot" and "lots" have (for all practical purposes) always been synonymous. Ambiguity is much less likely to occur if there are fewer semantical relations of a word. Another example which will serve to clarify my point is the use of different spellings of the word "story/storey". It is unlikely that someone will ever tell you a "storey", but a tall "story" is to be heard from time to time (or seen daily, if you read The Sun). *Epilogue: I hope that all of you (or at least almost all of you) have already thought that my message was alright, and not altogether square. Although numbers/statistics/wikitistics, etc. can say alot, they can never say it all, at least not alone. Also, keep in mind that there will always be sticklers and stuck-up sticky-beaks who consider their own opinions and orthographic conventions almighty.—Strabismus 05:13, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


The common man[edit]

alot, awhile, gonna, wanna, coulda, woulda, ain't, etc.

All these "words" are understood by 100% of native english speakers. Does it really matter if someone writes "alot" or "a lot"? If use of a term or misspelling is found so commonly that academic scholars address the issue and it becomes the topic of discussions throughout the internet, isn't that a sign that the term or "misspelling" has become acceptable to most people (not english scholars...english speakers in general)?

I don't think its the scholars that are the issue. Most linguists understand and accept language change and changes in orthography. The problem is the pedantic prescriptionists who constantly pick arbritrary spellings and label them "incorrect". --86.135.126.195 02:48, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Viral blog post[edit]

[3] 217.186.15.230 11:03, 17 April 2010 (UTC)