'or rather' in Nuance Editing & Mistake Editing

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SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
17.80
(d) Revision
Under this heading we may include the form of 'editing' or 'self-correction' that is typical of impromptu spoken English where execution and planning, at least to some extent, take place simultaneously. [...] We may distinguish some different types:


'Nuance editing' by the use of or rather before a substituted expression, as in:
She puts such vitality (or rather virility) into her play.

'Mistake editing' by the use of I mean in order to correct a phonological or semantic mistake (which is common enough in impromptu speech), eg:
Then you add the peaches - I mean, the apricots...

(A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language; R. Quirk)

It seems to me that 'or rather' is also often used in 'mistake editing':

Then you add the peaches, or rather the apricots.


Would you be so kind as to tell me whether my observation is correct?

Thanks.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Then you add the peaches, or rather (to be more precise) the apricots.

    You might say this if you have no clear idea of the difference between peaches and apricots.:D

    I once gave my niece a recipe that needed dates. She got confused and used prunes instead. The dessert was horrible. I think she had some idea that dates and prunes were "the same sort of thing", so it wouldn't surprise me if she wrote "You make sticky toffee pudding with prunes, or rather with dates".
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you velisarius!

    so it wouldn't surprise me if she wrote
    'Mistake editing' by the use of I mean in order to correct a phonological or semantic mistake (which is common enough in impromptu speech)
    Why would you even want to correct your semantic mistake in the same sentence in writing by the use of I mean, instead of just deleting or crossing out words?

    My observation is based solely on what I've heard. I think it wouldn't surprise me (and I might be guilty of it as well) if I heard:

    "Look at my new Casio I bought... [having realised I made a mistake since when I was saying it I was probably thinking of another watch] or rather Timex."

    Would it surprise you?

    Thanks.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    You mentioned spoken English in 'post #1, so I assume that is what it's all about.

    Why did I write "wrote"? Beats me:)...unless it's because she now lives in Germany and we exchange emails.

    No, your usage wouldn't surprise me, but we probably use "I mean" in speech a lot more often than we use "or rather".
     
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