factor

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factor

Post by Archived Topic » Fri Dec 17, 2004 9:27 pm

In response to the alikidoo topic, Dale used the phrase "obscurity factor". When did factor come to be used in this manner? None of the definitions seem to apply to this usage.

Thanks,
JF 12/19/2004
Submitted by Jeff Freeman (Orlando, FL - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 9:41 pm

Jeff: Thank you for the query. Recently "factor" preceded by a noun has become a very common construction: fun ~, finagle ~, fear ~, O'reilly ~, Nader ~ (365,000 hits)--DH
Reply from dale hileman (Apple Valley, CA - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 9:54 pm

That's what led to my question...I see and hear it all the time now. But what led to this outbreak of factor?
JF 12/19/2004
Reply from Jeff Freeman (Orlando, FL - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:07 pm

Jeff, For the purpose of my response lets take " 'FACTOR' is a noun that actively contributes to the production of a result or condition". For this to make sense, the ADJECTIVE that modifies this noun must keep that noun "real" and the (result or condition) must also be not only "real" but either stated or understood. If thease factors of meaningfulness are not maintained, then the expression ranks more as poetry than good sense. In ref to your question, I think it was used this way when ever the term was used for something that was not mathematical but your implication of non-meaningfulness is valid because Hileman did not maintain thease (factors of meaningfulness of 'factor') In the first place 'fun','finagle', and 'fear' are not acceptable (grammatically) adjectives and if used in a verb sense (( factoring )) is not pertinent here. I am not enough of a grammarian to defend that last, but I feel semantically correct. "Obscurity" is a whole different horse of none-ness and what that can have to do with the verb "collecting", is further obscure. My point here is that I think it was a perfectly good construction when created and in a technical persons vocabulary is quite satisfactory. It's clarity probably started drifting on day one till it reached this level of obtuseness. "When" is anybody's guess. Ken may yet mark the first 'high water' mark though.
2k4dec19sun20:00,lneil
Reply from Louis Bussey (Boise - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:21 pm

Jeff, Well actually, this all began with Max Factor, but not to worry – the problem is only cosmetic! (&lt)
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Ken G – December 19, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:34 pm

Boo! Hiss!
Reply from Jeff Freeman (Orlando, FL - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 10:47 pm

Jeff and Louis, I had never given this a moments thought, but after looking up ‘factor’ and what the big boys have to say about it, I guess there is something going on, but as far as I am concerned it is too subtle to register very high on my irritation meter.

According to the definition given by dictionaries, ‘factor’ (1816) means “an agent, cause, or influence that contributes to a particular result or situation” as in “Poverty is one of the factors in crime.” Gladstone used it in this way when in 1878 he said “The first factor in making a nation is religion” – a sentiment I am sure our present president would approve of. However, as the “New Fowler’s Modern English Usage’ points out, since the mid-20th century ‘factor’ has become a substitute for such words as ‘circumstance,’ ‘component,’ ‘consideration,’ ‘constituent,’ ‘element,’ ‘event,’ ‘fact.’ or ‘feature.’ “Garner’s Modern American Usage” says that this occurred by what he calls ‘slipshod extension’ so that the word has taken on the sense of ‘a thing to be considered, an event or occurrence’ rather than a cause or influence as it was originally defined. Somehow, I don’t find this at all upsetting and, in fact, find the distinction so fine that in most instances, I can’t even tell the difference – but that may just be my lack of grammatical discrimination.

I suppose that what these sources are saying is that when one says, for example, that the ‘sleaze factor’ of the used car salesman was more than I could bear, the word ‘factor’ here is being used as a substitute for the word ‘element’ and is not being used to mean a ‘cause’ or ‘agent’ that contributes to a particular result, as it was originally intended. More specifically, now that I think about it, the objection being made might be that, for example, in the above sentence “Poverty is one of the factors in crime,’ the ‘factor,’ agent or cause – ‘poverty’ – appears in the same sentence with the particular ‘result or situation’ that is a consequence of that factor – ‘crime.’ But, if one says something like “The poverty factor cannot be ignored” the cause has been divorced from the thing it is supposed to be influencing – ‘crime,’ so that in effect the ‘object’ of the factor has been left out and we have what might be termed a ‘dangling factor.’ (<:) However, I wonder if one said “The poverty factor cannot be ignored as an influence on crime,” whether there would be the same objection. Or perhaps I am completely off-base on exactly what the objection is supposed to be.

I guess I can see how the mathematical meaning of ‘factor’ as a quantity that converts by multiplication may have contributed to the newer usage in, for example, such terms as ‘fudge factor,’ ‘safety factor,’ etc., which may have been a ‘factor’ in the birth of a whole new genre of factors: ‘fear factor,’ ‘finagle factor,’ ‘Jesus factor,’ ‘buzz factor,’ ‘human factor,’ ‘alpha factor,’ ‘Nader factor,’ ‘The O'Reilly Factor," 'feel-good factor (see posting 'feel good'), 'cheese factor' (see posting),. . .

However, I still find it difficult to drum up any heartburn over all this (dangling factors or not) and to see any ‘substantial/significant’ difference between ‘an agent, cause, or influence. . . .’ and the so-called ‘slipshod extensions’ usages of ‘an element, component , consideration, . . .’ and perhaps it is the fact that this nuance of difference is so difficult to see that the newer usage has come into its own and is so widely accepted.

However, I am far from certain that I have not gotten this whole thing wrong. If anyone has a clearer view, please feel free to clarify/correct my above ramblings.
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Ken G – December 20, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:01 pm

Ken, 'irritation meter'?

Julie
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:14 pm

Julie, No one should leave home without one! (<:)
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Ken G – December 20, 2004

Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:27 pm

per KEN,
Somehow, I don’t find this at all upsetting and, in fact, find the distinction so fine that in most instances, I can’t even tell the difference but that may just be my lack of grammatical discrimination.
No, Ken, you may be right grammatically, but don't brag about an insensitivity. Grammar is not the point to an ex GS person like me. For tooo many people, "Poverty is one of the factors in crime" quickly becomes either "Poverty is a crime" or " The poor are criminals" by the same mechanism Garner's calls ‘slipshod extension’. So That is the objection by which I wish to inform your rambling.
2k4dec20mon15:00,lneil

Reply from Louis Bussey (Boise - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:41 pm

Jeff, your query centered on the age of the practice. This is, as Ken indicated in a past thread, sometimes very difficult to determine; especially if the key word is not first. Fudge factor goes back to 1962 anyway; finagle factor, 1950's; pucker factor goes back to WWII
Reply from dale hileman (Apple Valley, CA - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:54 pm

Louis, I think you might have misinterpreted what I said. The thing that I didn’t find upsetting was the misuse or new use of ‘factor’ (things like ‘finagle factor’ and ‘buzz factor’ don’t bother me). And that particular ‘misuse’ is just about too fine a distinction for me too grasp and even to want to grasp. If one says that “they feel that the buzz factor is important to their celebrity,” I’ll me damned of I could distinguish if that ‘factor’ is an agent or influence that contributes (as in the old usage) or is an ‘element,’ ‘feature,’ ‘component, ‘circumstance,’ of the new, and objectionable to some, ‘slipshod extension.’

However, I am in no way saying that I am for ‘slipshod extensions’ in general, and I do see what you are saying in the case of ‘poverty’ and ‘crime.’ But that raises the question if we would rather deny that something is true when it is (for instance, that poverty is a factor in crime – putting aside for now whether it actually is or isn’t) than take the risk that through ‘slipshod extension’ someone in the future might make that inference? I’m not sure that I would always want to do this if it means that in all cases we should deny reality in favor of possibly not offending someone’s sensibilities, which is possibly what this often all really boils down to in the end.
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Ken G – December 20, 2004

P.S. The only GS I am familiar with is Girl Scouts, but that is probably not what you are referring to
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 12:07 am

per KEN,
Louis, I think you might have misinterpreted what I said. The thing that I didn’t find upsetting was the misuse or new use of ‘factor’ --------
Ken, I do not think I misunderstood you, because you just repeated yourself again whereas I got it the first time. I know I am hard to understand, but you would understand what I said if you slowed down to lip sync speed. I can see that you did not pause to do this because I did not spend two or three paragraphs, telling you that I was going to tell you that I agreed that poverty is a component/consideration/constituent/element/feature of crime, then telling you that I agreed with you that poverty is a component/consideration/constituent/element/feature of crime and then tell you that I had told you that poverty is a component/consideration/constituent/element/feature of crime. Perhaps then, I could get something new in there like-- I also agreed that the grammatical sin of 'dangling factor' not be all that bad for grammatical reasons. However you SHUD be concerned when people like Hileman use such 'dangling factors' and 'slip shod extensions' to fuse POOR with CRIMINAL to justify their Liberal or Reactionary ideology.
This is in support of Jeff's original concern not your lack of it, and if you can not see the mechanism of smudging two separate things together by NOT being clear that one in only a Factor of the other, then we should probably just drop it.
2k4dec20mon20:45,lneil ps.rdndcysapoorway2hav2comunicat

Reply from Louis Bussey (Boise - U.S.A.)
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factor

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Dec 18, 2004 12:21 am

So, to sum up -- let us not forget the factor factor.
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