"let" vs. "permitted" or "allowed"

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Wheres or whys

Member
British English
What ho everyone!

In the feedback on my recent essay, I received a comment on the following sentence:


"After all, it is our emotions that prevailed over rationality during the referendum campaign and let catchy phrases and red busses drag us out of Europe."


The word "let" was highlighted and a comment saying "‘permitted’ or ‘allowed’ would work better here" was added. Would you be able to tell me the difference or rather the reason why "let" is less appropriate for this context?


Thank you
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Let" seems a bit more casual than some stuffy academic types might like.

    As a side note and given the close attention, I'm surprised "busses" wasn't flagged, unless you're talking about some heavy-duty snogging.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Firstly, I agree that "‘permitted’ or ‘allowed’ would work better here".

    To simplify: "our emotions let catchy phrases drag us out of Europe."

    The meaning of "let" is quite weak. It has a nuance of a lack of resistance about it rather than any active force - it is more "do nothing to prevent" "Let him have some sweets"; "Let me go home."

    However the tenor of the piece is that normally rationality would prevail but the emotions overwhelmed rationality and were allowed/permitted (against our better judgement) to take control.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What ho everyone!

    In the feedback on my recent essay, I received a comment on the following sentence:


    "After all, it is our emotions that prevailed over rationality during the referendum campaign and let catchy phrases and red busses drag us out of Europe."


    The word "let" was highlighted and a comment saying "‘permitted’ or ‘allowed’ would work better here" was added. Would you be able to tell me the difference or rather the reason why "let" is less appropriate for this context?


    Thank you
    I agree with your teacher, not on grounds of meaning, but of register.

    Had I been your teacher I'd have gone for the heavy-duty snogging, the impersonal construction, and the clash of tenses.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree with TT and SDG and think that let and permit or allow mean the same thing, but that let belongs to the more informal register.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    If the teacher objects to let because of its low register, he (she?) should also object to catchy because of its lower register. Personally I can't see anything wrong with let.
     

    Wheres or whys

    Member
    British English
    I agree with your teacher, not on grounds of meaning, but of register.
    As I have just checked, the heavy-duty snogging busses do not appear in my essay. It is a typo that I made while creating this thread.

    Had I been your teacher I'd have gone for the heavy-duty snogging, the impersonal construction, and the clash of tenses.
    How would you then improve the register of this sentence?
     

    Wheres or whys

    Member
    British English
    Would you mind explaining this?
    The plural of 'bus' is 'buses'. Most dictionaries do mention 'busses' as an alternative option (although mostly with reference to American English), but such usage is often deemed incorrect (which is not surprising for AmE). 'Heavy-duty snogging' refers to an archaic (or informal NAmE) word "buss" — a kiss. So, busses means kisses rather than large motor vehicles.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Heavy-duty snogging' refers to an archaic (or informal NAmE) word "buss" — a kiss. So, busses means kisses rather than large motor vehicles.
    I agree on your conclusion, but not on the source of the word 'buss'.

    The online etymological dictionary gives
    buss (n.)
    "a kiss," 1560s; probably of imitative origin, as are Welsh and Gaelic bus "kiss, lip," French baiser "kiss" (12c., from Latin basiare), Spanish buz, German dialectal Buss.

    It quotes Herrick using the verbal form, bussing:

    Kissing and bussing differ both in this,
    We busse our wantons, but our wives we kisse.


    [Robert Herrick, "Hesperides," 1648]

    SDG and Herrick are right, I think, to regard bussing as delivering a particularly libidinous and lusty kiss.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Nobody seems yet to have noticed mentioned that if you change "let" to "permitted" or "allowed", you need to add "to" before "drag us". This is one sleeping dog we should not let lie.
    Like rhitagawr, I don't see anything wrong with "let" here. It isn't low-enough register to worry about.
     
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