I have x, therefore I am x-ed
June 9, 2019 6:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I teach the correct usage of the words bias and biased to my students? Seeking other word pairs that work the same.

I know my students are OK with the concept of what bias is. However, I'm not sure they know how to correctly use it in writing. (I have bias (or a bias), therefore I am biased - not "I am bias") There must be a better way than forcing everyone to write it out 100 times, right?

I'm looking for noun/adjective pairs that work this way also, as more examples of this pattern.

If it helps, mostly English only speakers, Australia, rural, 12-16 year olds.

On googling I found this mentalfloss article that suggests it's language change, like skim milk (formerly skimmed.) Cool. But still what are noun/adjective examples like this? It's surprisingly hard to google, and the examples I can think of are verb-adjective pairs, like skim/skimmed.
posted by freethefeet to Education (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Disease / diseased
posted by lollusc at 6:57 PM on June 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

A book that has annotations is annotated.

A paper that has marks is marked (like a home work assignment)

A letter that has a seal is sealed.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:00 PM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have skills, therefore I am skilled.

I have talent, therefore I am talented.
posted by rue72 at 7:02 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by unknowncommand at 7:03 PM on June 9, 2019

posted by mbrubeck at 7:34 PM on June 9, 2019

It’s hard because milk has been skimmed so it’s skimmed milk, whereas nobody has transitively biased you if you’re biased. So to be thorough you’ll need to separate out the two (and I’m sure there are technical terms I can’t remember for them).

Has been x’d:


Purely adjectival:

posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:37 PM on June 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

This is a pretty widespread modern usage, and I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before it is considered standard English.

I have x therefore I am x-ed treats bias as a noun, but it's also a verb, in which case this pattern is pretty similar to the adjective form of correct vs the verb form.
posted by aubilenon at 9:01 PM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone!
posted by freethefeet at 9:26 PM on June 9, 2019

I have a scar on my finger. / My finger is scarred.
A dent in the car door? / The dented door was a surprise to the car buyer.
There was a big crack in the bell. / The cracked bell still rang loudly.
posted by mdrew at 12:28 AM on June 10, 2019

Agree that “bias” as an adjective is becoming standard English and you won’t be able to alter that. I think it’s a consequence of oral usage suggesting elision.

I suggest having an ice tea with whip cream.

Let it go.
posted by spitbull at 2:03 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have freckles: I'm freckled.
I have one eye: I'm one-eyed.
I have pockmarks: I'm pockmarked.
I have a strong will: I'm strong-willed.
I have experience: I'm experienced.

Hold the whipped cream please, thanks.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:52 AM on June 10, 2019

I recall buying high bias cassette tapes, but never a highly biased cassette tape...

Wikipedia explains the concept of tape having bias, but not the usage.

Also, fabric can be bias cut, but not biased.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:20 AM on June 10, 2019

It might be worth trying to figure out whether your students are having a grammar issue or a pronunciation issue.

I'm going to give an example from US English, because I don't know about different dialects in Australia. But in the US, there are varieties of English (AAVE in particular) where "bias" and "biased" are pronounced identically. It's definitely a sound thing and not a grammar thing. For people who speak these varieties, any S-T sound combo at the end of a word gets simplified: "nest" sounds like "ness," "rust" sounds like "russ." Speakers of those varieties who mix "bias" and "biased" in writing aren't confused about the difference between nouns and adjectives. They're just writing how they speak.

(And, just to be clear, this pronunciation isn't bad or lazy. It's just different, the same way standard US and standard Australian pronunciations are different.)

I'm not saying this is what's happening with your students. I'm saying you should find out if it's what's happening — because that affects how you should address it. If the situation is based on pronunciation, your angle should be "The people who made up English spelling had a different accent than you. A bunch of these words have a suffix you don't pronounce. Sorry, you'll have to memorize which words they are. 'Biased' is one of them." If it's based on grammar, then your angle is "You already know about the –ed suffix in all these other words. You already pronounce it and write it. Let's remember to pronounce and write it in 'biased' too."
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:21 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

I teach writing to young adults every semester and have noticed “bias” used as an adjective (as well as noun and a verb) for several years, becoming more and more common in the writing of generally well educated students (Ivy League). Like many other generational changes in usage it rankles the ear and eye of the olds, raised on a prior generation’s prescriptive rules.

The meaning is always clear in context. One could argue the usage is irregular, but as regionally completely accepted forms like “ice tea” and “whip cream” attest (and linguists live for attestation) it’s not an unusual dialect usage.

I teach linguistics, so I use it as a teaching example and make students aware of it. But I also long ago learned that you cannot hold back the tide of usage with prescription. Ask any one of my students and they will agree.
posted by spitbull at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2019

Not trying to be a prescriptivist- in my context these two words are pronounced differently, but thanks for the reminder for the future readers of this question that context definitely matters. I'm not trying to trample on the legitimate language practices of my students.

My issue is that the students only get introduced to the concept in an academic way and then don't have much exposure to how it's used. They just need to use it more in practice, and it's hard to think of words that fit the same rule.

For instance, "I have freckles/I am freckled" is really close but not quite right- if you were able to say "I have freckle" it would work.(of course you can also say "I have biases" which muddies the waters a bit.)
I think part of the issue is that 'bias' is an abstract noun, not a concrete one.
posted by freethefeet at 4:25 PM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Her talents are a gift / she is a gifted artist/poet/mathematician...
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:53 PM on June 10, 2019

I have pain / I am pained
I have spirit / I am spirited
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 12:54 AM on June 14, 2019

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