Jeph Jacques's comics discussion forums

Fun Stuff => CHATTER => Topic started by: Is it cold in here? on 18 May 2012, 16:28

Title: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 18 May 2012, 16:28
Post strange things about the English language. If you have a Horrible Example of a sentence gone wrong, please be sure it was from a native speaker before posting -- this thread is about ridiculing the language, not the people trying to learn it.

Quote from: A US politician who thought he was using intransitive verbs
[the politician] will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect their families

Quote from: A book about structural and safety inspections of houses
All chimneys in recent construction must be lined with an inflammable material.

I have endless fun deliberately misparsing compound noun phrases. For example, shouldn't "Fallout Shelter" mean a place to keep fallout out of the cold and rain?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Jimor on 18 May 2012, 16:36
A business memo from Pacific Gas & Electric back in 1997. A friend of mine works there, and I typed this from the printout he made at the time to show me, and e-mailed it to myself to save it where I could find it again.

Quote
Compliance is an integral part of safety, the partnership and our business
basics--the foundation of our business. We should be proud of our longstanding
commitment to compliance. One of our objectives in 1997 is to stengthen that
longstanding commitment to full compliance. As part of the implementation of
the new CES Policy, I am issuing our T&CS Compliance Plan.

The T&CS Compliance Plan demonstrates our commitment to compliance and the
methods and activities used to ensure compliance. It also outlines everyone's
responsibilities for ensuring our work is performed in compliance with our
commitments. Also, it identifies corrective actions that we must act upon to
develop, implement, and maintain compliance.

Please review the Plan and take the appropriate implementing actions. With
your help, we will fortify our Compliance Program to prevent, detect and
correct noncompliances with CES commitments.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 18 May 2012, 17:02
For example, shouldn't "Fallout Shelter" mean a place to keep fallout out of the cold and rain?
As a girl, I thought this about bus shelters. Why are they not called passenger shelters?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 18 May 2012, 18:51
Roadside sign:

Motel
Food
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 18 May 2012, 18:59
English differs from other languages in one key function: the use of pronouns, conjunctions, and articles instead of declinations.

This makes reading sentences with all three difficult: "He and she did that." 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 18 May 2012, 21:20
I ain't gots no problems readin's English :P

Take a word that has multiple meanings, but the same spelling.  Like:

He wound the wound in a bandage.

Or different spellings and same pronunciation (bonus: this one even has a proper noun):

Barry went to bury the single berry.


And here's a whole list from the Air Force's writing manual:

2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse and it smelled like a fresh dump.  (ok, the last part was added by me :evil:  )
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
22) I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.


English weird?  Of course it's not.  It's just the result of what would happen if you mixed several languages together and started stealing words that sound cool/fun from other languages over the course of time.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snalin on 19 May 2012, 01:23
Jimor, loading that one up in a text program and running find and replace on compliance is great fun. Best example thus far:

stingrays is an integral part of safety, the partnership and our business
basics--the foundation of our business. We should be proud of our longstanding
commitment to stingrays. One of our objectives in 1997 is to stengthen that
longstanding commitment to full stingrays. As part of the implementation of
the new CES Policy, I am issuing our T&CS stingrays Plan.

The T&CS stingrays Plan demonstrates our commitment to stingrays and the
methods and activities used to ensure stingrays. It also outlines everyone's
responsibilities for ensuring our work is performed in stingrays with our
commitments. Also, it identifies corrective actions that we must act upon to
develop, implement, and maintain stingrays.

Please review the Plan and take the appropriate implementing actions. With
your help, we will fortify our stingrays Program to prevent, detect and
correct nonstingrayss with CES commitments.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 19 May 2012, 01:24
Barry went to bury the single berry.

I'm intrigued - I pronounce all of those words quite differently.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 19 May 2012, 01:26
Same here, and I'm 'merican! 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Zingoleb on 19 May 2012, 01:32
Face-Stabbing is an integral part of safety, the partnership and our business
basics--the foundation of our business. We should be proud of our longstanding
commitment to face-stabbing. One of our objectives in 1997 is to stengthen that
longstanding commitment to full face-stabbing. As part of the implementation of
the new CES Policy, I am issuing our T&CS Face-stabbing Plan.

The T&CS Face-Stabbing Plan demonstrates our commitment to face-stabbing and the
methods and activities used to ensure face-stabbing. It also outlines everyone's
responsibilities for ensuring our work is performed in face-stabbing with our
commitments. Also, it identifies corrective actions that we must act upon to
develop, implement, and maintain face-stabbing.

Please review the Plan and take the appropriate implementing actions. With
your help, we will fortify our Face-Stabbing Program to prevent, detect and
correct non-face-stabbings with CES commitments.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 01:49
How many sounds does "ough" represent for you?

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 19 May 2012, 01:56
Barry went to bury the single berry.

I'm intrigued - I pronounce all of those words quite differently.

It would be better if it were Barry went to Bury to bury the berry of Barry's Behries.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 19 May 2012, 04:14
Barry went to bury the single berry.

I'm intrigued - I pronounce all of those words quite differently.
I pronounce them the same. Is that midwestian? It would be interesting to hear them in their different pronunciations.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 04:29
I make bury and berry the same, but Barry is simply nothing like them (the vowels are as in pet and pat).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 19 May 2012, 04:56
I can hear that difference, but it's strange to me. I'd rhyme him with Harry and airy, and hope he'd not take offense if I rhymed it with fairy.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 19 May 2012, 05:03
affect as both noun and verb
effect as both noun and verb

His outburst had a longlasting effect on her ability to show affect. Therapy effected some improvement, but also affected her relationships with some of her closest friends.

I think I've got it right.

from my built-in Oxford dictionary:
affect as verb: have an effect on, make a difference, also, to pretend to feel an emotion
affect as noun: emotion or desire, mostly used in psychology
effect as verb: to bring about or cause something to happen
effect as noun: change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 19 May 2012, 05:33
How many sounds does "ough" represent for you?
<snip>
and I'm aware of at least one other archaic word:

h-ough (pronounced, and now usually spelt, hock)

And there's the explanation why my name gets mispronounced constantly.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 19 May 2012, 05:47
The inability of English to handle negative questions logically and unambiguously.

Q: "You're not from around here, are you?"
A1 "No."  <--- In normal usage, this means "I am not from around here", but logically it means the opposite.
A2 "Yes." <--- "Yes (I am not from around here)" but people would normally think you meant: "No, I am from around here".

Q1: "Did you bring the money?"
Q2: "Didn't you bring the money?"

If you did bring the money, in normal usage your answer to both questions would be "yes". If you did not bring the money your answer would normally be "no" to both questions.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 19 May 2012, 05:58
I did a whole day on yes and no questions with the woman I tutored in English.  Explaining the shades of meaning between the different forms and how to quickly carry on a conversation without getting lost in the maze of positives and negatives.  My advice was to ignore all the nonsense words and true false the core of the question:

Are you cold?
You're cold aren't you?
Aren't you cold?
You're not cold, are you?

You cold.

But for good measure I also told her to answer in a sentence.  "Yes, I am." Because then there is no confusion which she meant. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 06:13
affect as noun: emotion or desire, mostly used in psychology

Also in music, especially when discussing the baroque for some reason.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 06:18
The inability of English to handle negative questions logically and unambiguously.

Not just questions.  The point is that double negatives may be taken as cancelling (logic style) or reinforcing, depending on context or the style of the user.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 19 May 2012, 06:48
The thread ought to be called 'language is weird', really. Consider this: The English word 'happy' carries both a meaning for the state of feeling joyful and merry, 'robots in little hats make me happy', and a meaning for a sense of accomplishment in life and being where/who you want to be, 'the pursuit of happiness'. In Dutch, however, the latter homonym is instead taken up by the word for 'luck', in the sense that in English you would write "When I grow up I want to be happy," and in Dutch "When I grow up I want to be lucky." What does that tell you about the philosophical outlooks on life of both languages?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 19 May 2012, 07:19
I can hear that difference, but it's strange to me. I'd rhyme him with Harry and airy, and hope he'd not take offense if I rhymed it with fairy.

How odd, I don't make those words sound the same either!

I'd say Bah-ry (as in bat), buh-ry (not sure how to explain this as I'm aware that my u sounds are very unusual for foreigners or southerners, just a sort of guttural sound) and beh-ry (as in bed).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 19 May 2012, 08:27
pl-ough
hicc-ough
t-ough
tr-ough
th-ough
thr-ough
th-ough-t
thor-ough

and I'm aware of at least one other archaic word:

h-ough (pronounced, and now usually spelt, hock)

...and that's why the spelling of some of these has changed across the pond. 

pl-ough --> plow
hicc-ough --> hiccup

And, of course, the aforementioned "hock". 

But arent "though" and "thorough" the same sound for the -ough?  Just a long o sound, lips rounded?

-----------------------

All this reminds me of the fact/joke  that "ghoti" spells "fish";

gh as in laugh, o as in women, and ti as in nation...  "he swims like a ghoti". 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: DrPhibes on 19 May 2012, 08:38
So my phonetics course did have some... reason?

pl-ough
hicc-ough
t-ough
tr-ough
th-ough
thr-ough
th-ough-t
thor-ough

plaw
hɪkəp
təf
trɒf
ðo
θru
θɒt
θəro

So yes Carl-E, Though and Thorough have the same pronunciation!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: schimmy on 19 May 2012, 08:42
Carl, not necessarily!
 I'm trying to figure out a way to type the difference in the way I pronounce Though and Thorough. I suppose it's the same as the difference between how you'd pronounce Bow (the archery kind) and Borough. When I hear people pronounce Thorough to rhyme with Though, I always think it sounds really weird.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: DrPhibes on 19 May 2012, 08:47
schimmy, that depends on where your tongue actually meets the back of your mouth. In most cases there is no difference but pronouncing the words expressively can change that. You might have the Though a more open O at the end then Thorough where you close it just a little bit.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TinPenguin on 19 May 2012, 09:13
I can't think of a differently-spelled word that rhymes with how I say thorough, but it's basically like "surrogate" without the gate.

Here are some Visual Limericks (http://www.lloydianaspects.co.uk/vislimrk.html) by Nikolas Lloyd.

Also by him, an Ulster Limerick (they rhyme in Belfast):

There once was a salty old tar,
Whose lady was trapped in a tower,
Her rescue seems nigh,
He's tried five times now,
He's failed, but he'll never tire.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: schimmy on 19 May 2012, 09:20
I mentioned in the blog thread that I'm teaching myself Italian, and this thread has reminded me of one of the things I like about Italian - words are (pretty much) always pronounced how they are written. Each combination of letters always makes the same sound. It makes learning how to pronounce words very easy.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 19 May 2012, 09:33
Yes, I say thorough as though the "o" wasn't there - sort of thuruh. Just to add more issues into the mix, occasionally in choir we sing "thoroughout", for "throughout".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 09:54
The second syllable of thorough in the UK is schwa.  I note that Wikipedia says it's otherwise in the US, but I can't quite imagine how that would work.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 10:05
plough: /plaʊ/
though: /ðəʊ/
tough: /tʌf/ (not schwa for me)
thorough: /ˈθʌrə/
hiccough: /ˈhɪkʌp/ (second syllable definitely not schwa for me)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: DrPhibes on 19 May 2012, 10:24
NOW YOU'VE DONE IT. You made me get my pronunciation book from hell.

The quality of vowels:
1: the soft palate can be raised to exclude the nasal cavity, in which case oral vowels are produced, or it can be lowered to include it as a resonator, in which case nasalised vowels can be produced.
2: the lips can be spread to produce unrounded vowels, or rounded to produce unrounded vowels. In ordder to feel the difference between them, say the /o/ of close and the /I/ of rid as quickly after eachother as you can.
3: the tongue, which during the production of most vowels has a bunched shape, the tip being held behind the lower teeth, can be moves in two directions, vertically and horizontally. In the vertical dimension we will recognise four steps,

The schwa is a unstressed vowel.
the shwa examples: about, surprise,anorak, villa, neither, woman

ebout, serprise, anerak, neither, women

Now, pronouncing these words alone will create stress on the syllables. Which means you need to pronounce them in a sentence.
Read some stuff out loud, can you say the last sentence for me? Did you pronounce 'them' with stress on the E? You didn't put stress on the 'the' before the 'the E'? No you didn't, or you are pronouncing it all like it's the hardest thing to do, ever.
Mindfucked you into knowing what schwa's are. You are welkom.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 11:41
I do know what schwa is; you will note that all the pronunciations I gave are both how I say them, and as given in the OED (sorry, but I'm well-known as a poster-boy for RP, aka BBC English - indeed, by chance I once even worked at the BBC).

If you search in the CREATE forum (I think) you will find a couple of threads where forumites read stories; you'll find some examples of my speech there - I'll link them here later, but I must go and serve supper now before it's overdone.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 19 May 2012, 11:43
I know what schwa is either, but I'd never seen it written down and assumed it was some fancy symbol I don't know how to write (we talk about it in singing lessons and choir).

Paul has a much more RP accent than I do, and more of my vowels are schwa. I sometimes joke that there are only three vowels in Yorkshire and they're all schwa. It's not completely true (at least not with me - I am very posh Yorkshire) but it's not far off!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 12:24
As promised, some of my reading, all done off the cuff for this or another forum:

A pronunciation sample (http://cassland.org/sounds/sorry.mp3) from another thread

GB Shaw's criticism of a performance of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (http://cassland.org/sounds/Shaw-Dido.mp3)

Extract from Myself and Marco Polo (http://cassland.org/sounds/Paul_Griffiths_-_Myself_&_Marco_Polo.mp3) by Paul Griffiths
(a music critic who helped get my son's career under way)

Extract from Kafka on the Shore (http://cassland.org/sounds/KafkaOnTheShore.mp3) by Haruki Murakami

A couple of poems (http://cassland.org/sounds/BetjemanPoems.mp3) by John Betjeman

Leaf by Niggle (https://cassland-org.s3.amazonaws.com/sounds/QC/PWH-Niggle-ed.mp3) by JRR Tolkien
(the garden of a house he lived in backs onto my garden)

Henry (https://cassland-org.s3.amazonaws.com/sounds/QC/PWH-Henry-ed.mp3) by Rev Wilbert Awdrey
(The Railway books were written by a cousin of mine - Awdrey was my grandmother's maiden name)

EM Forster - The Machine Stops: Chapter 1 (https://cassland-org.s3.amazonaws.com/sounds/QC/The%20Machine%20Stops%2C%20Chapter%201.mp3), Chapter 2 (https://cassland-org.s3.amazonaws.com/sounds/QC/The%20Machine%20Stops%2C%20Chapter%202.mp3), Chapter 3 (https://cassland-org.s3.amazonaws.com/sounds/QC/The%20Machine%20Stops%2C%20Chapter%203.mp3)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 19 May 2012, 16:11
I never heard of the schwa until I studied Marathi before going to India. I think of it as a kind of "uh" sound. And I suppose the reason it came up was that words written in Hindi and Marathi, if I recall, would include a character for every vowel that was not a schwa but provide no character if the vowel sound was a schwa.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 19 May 2012, 19:04
You know...I just say words.  I can't tell you the difference between an adverb and an adjective, and I can't differentiate between past perfect or past...normal(?).  Hell, if I sat down to take a fifth grade grammar test, I'd probably fail it.  And yet somehow, I'm still able to speak and read English. 

Hmm...my inability with grammar is probably the main reason I have difficulty learning other languages.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 May 2012, 19:21
I would say that (intellectual) inability with grammar is supremely unimportant.  What baby ever learnt grammar before the language?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TheFuriousWombat on 19 May 2012, 20:58

different spellings and same pronunciation (bonus: this one even has a proper noun):

Barry went to bury the single berry.


A while back, I would have bet lots of money that "bury" was pronounced "burr-ee." But, as you point out, it isn't! Any skeptics need only look to Merriam-Websters, the OED, or pretty much any other reputable dictionary for proof. This fact amazed me.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people pronounce the nounal and verbal forms of "permit" the same. I find it unreasonably infuriating, to be honest. They are not the same word; don't pronounce them as such!!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cvcharger on 19 May 2012, 21:11
I would say that (intellectual) inability with grammar is supremely unimportant.  What baby ever learnt grammar before the language?

One that was either very confused or very intelligent.

Okay, one thing that has always bothered me about English is how there are so many words that have a silent e.  It's not necessarily a schwa sound.  It's just silent. I mean just in this paragraph there are at least 5 different words with a silent e:
one
bothered
there
are
have

Oh, and how do you pronounce pen, pin, and pan.  I say the last one different, but pin and pen would sound exactly the same for me.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omega Entity on 19 May 2012, 21:12
It'd be pin, pehn, and the usual pan for me.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 19 May 2012, 21:30
Mr Payne fell through the pane and wound up in a lot of pain
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TheFuriousWombat on 19 May 2012, 22:07
One of my favorite little rhymes that plays with English is as follows:

A flea and a fly in a flue, were imprisoned so what could they do? Said the flea, "let us fly!" "Let us flee" said the fly! So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Also I just wrote this nonsensical little story:

"Ale will cure what ails you," said the heir in the air balloon. One day the balloon began to descend unexpectedly; they found a leak and plugged it with a leek. While passing over the wildlife preserve, they saw a sick bear; it was bare. They shot it without greeting it - they did not like to meet their meat before meting out its end. They were on their way to steal some steel using letters bearing a false seal depicting a harbor seal. It belong to a foul fowl and they had lifted it during a heavy mist and escaped before he missed it. The next morning he was in mourning but they were far away eating moose mousse and sharpening all their awls. They then caught a peek of a distant peak and their interest was piqued. Their prophet said they'd find profit there ("they're on their way," the troupe of spies warned the ground troops).

Before landing, the muscle men ate mussels and the guerrillas gorilla and the mayor a mare. They all shared some doe wrapped in dough. Their pet marten Martin was in a shoe and was shooed away and they set out through the red reeds, reading what they read. Finally, they reached the camp and razed it with their death rays. "I know no one will wring their hands, nor pilfer so much as a ring," said the colonel as he ate kernels of corn. "Whether the weather holds or not, we're heading for the weir like lambs on the lam" exclaimed the hoarse horse to his herd of heroines who heard him despite being on heroin. They all left. The final pair shared a pear, pared in half. The quean, the queen, and her crews were borne on like newborns on a cruise toward that damn dam of the barren baron, and the hale guests - grown close friends - groaned from the hail and guessed when their adventure would come to a close (preferably in an inn).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 19 May 2012, 22:54
I would say that (intellectual) inability with grammar is supremely unimportant.  What baby ever learnt grammar before the language?

All of them, according to theorists in the Chomsky/Pinker camp. They argue that brains come with grammar modules in the boot ROM, and exposure to language just selects some parameters that distinguish the baby's language's grammar from that of others.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 May 2012, 01:33
That appears to imply that the child has access to pre-existing grammars, which is clearly nonsense.  The child starts by imitation, and then accumulates examples, and the brain's neural networks use these to generate a recogniser - which corresponds to what we call a grammar.  Each child creates a new grammar for themselves from the examples garnered from those around them.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 20 May 2012, 05:13
Oh, and how do you pronounce pen, pin, and pan.  I say the last one different, but pin and pen would sound exactly the same for me.
Ditto for my Tennessee-born spouse. I had to ask her to repeat pin or pen.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: DrPhibes on 20 May 2012, 05:44
Oh, and how do you pronounce pen, pin, and pan.  I say the last one different, but pin and pen would sound exactly the same for me.
Ditto for my Tennessee-born spouse. I had to ask her to repeat pin or pen.

All different for me. I have no clue how you can pronounce pen and pin as the same, pen and pan might seem the same for me.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 May 2012, 05:49
How I say some of the words we've talked about: Words (http://cassland.org/sounds/Words.mp3)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TinPenguin on 20 May 2012, 06:45
one

Arguably, this isn't a silent e as it does change how you say the word. Even if not in the usual way.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 May 2012, 07:28
Well, it's still a silent e; but I presume that you are remarking on the difference in the shift in, say ton/tone compared with on/one.
Title: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 May 2012, 07:53
Actually there is also don/done. But consider also phon/phone, and then gone!  "on" is very irregular.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 20 May 2012, 12:21
Oh, and how do you pronounce pen, pin, and pan.  I say the last one different, but pin and pen would sound exactly the same for me.
Ditto for my Tennessee-born spouse. I had to ask her to repeat pin or pen.

All different for me. I have no clue how you can pronounce pen and pin as the same, pen and pan might seem the same for me.
This.  Except I pronounce pen and pan differently.


Here's another one:  Bag (rhymes with 'flag') or Bag (identical to 'bog')?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 20 May 2012, 12:44
I asked a girl who is from North Carolina how she'd say all these words, and she pronounces them the same as me - but she says that people from small towns where she's from would pronounce them all the same. I think it is relevant to mention that she's a Cambridge chorister, which is rather fatal to one's native accent.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 20 May 2012, 18:33
My wife does the pin/pen thing, she's from Missourri.  I think it's a southern thing in this country, and IIRC southeastern American accents borrow a lot from Irish and English country accents. 

It's where the farmers settled early on...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 20 May 2012, 19:11
Oh don't even start with Misery/Mizzourah...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 20 May 2012, 20:59
You can tell your location in the South without GPS by the pronunciation of "New Orleans".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 20 May 2012, 21:08
"Welcome to N'awlin!"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 20 May 2012, 23:01
Oddly you can do the same in England with St. Ives and St. Austell.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 21 May 2012, 02:22
St. Ives
There is a suburb of Sydney called St. Ives. The most common local pronunciation is "Snives".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 21 May 2012, 10:15
Did you know you can get drunk on water?

The process is just like getting drunk on land.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 21 May 2012, 17:24
Quote
"...it's rather unpleasantly like getting drunk"

"What's so upleasant about getting drunk?" 


"Ask a glass of water..."

        ~~Ford Prefect to Arthur dent, on the jump into hyperspace
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: idontunderstand on 22 May 2012, 08:55
That last one is hilarious. Totally missed it when I read the book since I read the Swedish translation..
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 22 May 2012, 18:27
That's from the (original) BBC radio version.  May not have made it into the books, it was a throwaway line. 

When they do make the jump, Arthur vows never to be cruel to a gin-and-tonic again...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: idontunderstand on 23 May 2012, 02:11
I feel so young.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 23 May 2012, 02:36
Oh, it was definitely in the book; that line was the first thing I thought of after IICIH's post.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 23 May 2012, 17:28
RP is received pronunciation - posh English, basically.
Received Pronunciation is an odd term. I was taught that "received" meant "accepted (as authoritative)" as in the term "received wisdom", but that usage of the word is not even listed in my dictionary of American English so I don't know if it is current in the USA. RP is still influential in Australia as a standard for educated speech, though much less so than in the past as you can hear by listening to our Prime Minister (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE9FDKxMXTw). When I was going to accent reduction classes, the pronunciation standard at which we were supposed to be aiming was similar to RP (at least in Australian ears... :lol:). Geoffrey Rush (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNT5M5r3FXs) would be an example.

Edit: I moved this from the Blog thread because it seemed more appropriate here.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 23 May 2012, 17:32
But the RP usage fits, doesn't it, as "accepted" or "authoritative" pronunciation?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 23 May 2012, 22:31
Where I come from, RP is Rice Pudding...

 :-D :psyduck: :mrgreen:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 24 May 2012, 01:43
GB Shaw, who left money to fund a competition to create a phonetic alphabet for English, was entirely clear about this: his late majesty King George V.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 24 May 2012, 01:47
How do you say the word "often"?

Do you pronounce the t or not?


The spelling pronunciation link is funny, words change over time, but spelling is now (pretty much) fixed.  I took a class on the history of English and an essay we had pointed out that increased literacy rates have actually changed the common pronunciations of some words.  Most people who speak English can also read it now, which was not the case for most of the history of the language.  "Often" was given as an example of a word for which the common pronunciation is shifting to match the spelling.  When I read that I was skeptical, I don't pronounce the 't', but after becoming aware of it I found that most people do.  The 't' has only entered the pronunciation because most people learn to spell the word around the same time they learn to say it. 

(both pronunciations are listed in the OED)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 24 May 2012, 02:07
I use both pronunciations, I think.  But my mother used to say it like "orphan".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 24 May 2012, 03:07
I use both pronunciations, I think.  But my mother used to say it like "orphan".
I only say "off'n", but I quite often hear "off-ten", and even "orphan" off'n on.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 24 May 2012, 03:22
"Hiccup" isn't a change across the pond, it's the standard spelling in the UK. (I have a 1960s British grammar book that unequivocally says '"hiccough" is wrong'). In fact, I've hardly ever seen "hiccough" used outside discussions of the "the many pronunciations of -ough".

That's interesting, I think I write hiccough. I've never had to write it in a setting where it would be marked for spelling, so I don't know what the accepted view is (and frankly if you based your accepted view of correct spelling on my primary school teachers' marking, there would be spelling anarchy).

I say off'n, but we sometimes sing off-t'n when it fits better to the music. There's usually an extensive discussion about it first, though, since we have many different accents and also two linguists.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 24 May 2012, 04:13
Hiccough is such a familiar spelling to me that I'm sure I've seen it in stories, not just in a discussion of spelling and pronunciation. That makes me think it's an obsolete spelling. But this entry from Wikipedia might clarify:
"OED etymology note " Hiccough was a later spelling, app. under the erroneous impression that the second syllable was cough, which has not affected the received pronunciation, and ought to be abandoned as a mere error."
There's that RP again.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 24 May 2012, 06:28
W.S. Gilbert, in The Pirates of Penzance, spends a fair bit of time on a pun based on the identical pronounciation of "often" and "orphan" by posh Englishmen of the 1870's. 

"...do you know what it's like to be an orphan?" 

"Yes, often..."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 24 May 2012, 09:07
Speaking of RP: I often listen to at least a few minutes of BBC news over National Public Radio stations or on satellite radio on the road, and that and this thread make me wonder how received pronunciation deals with the R sound. It seems to me that words ending in a vowel end instead with an R, as in "idear" for "idea," while the R sound is entirely dropped in places American English would voice it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 24 May 2012, 09:49
I don't add an "r" at the end of "idea".  You may be thinking of the use of the tongue rather than a stop to join words like "idea of"; this I do - but it is actively avoided when singing, because it becomes ugly and slovenly-sounding when drawn out.  But I would also not voice the "r" at the end of "father", though again one might appear in a phrase like "father of".

As for RP, it's not fixed.  I would describe it as the speech of a well-educated person of the home counties (the area around London), and I would have to admit that this is commonly taken to mean more particularly those who went to a public school (i.e. a private one) such as Winchester or Eton (or in my case The King's School, Canterbury); but this does change with time, and so RP now is not the same as the RP that was spoken by King George V, for instance.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 24 May 2012, 10:05
I don't add an "r" at the end of "idea".  You may be thinking of the use of the tongue rather than a stop to join words like "idea of"; this I do - but it is actively avoided when singing, because it becomes ugly and slovenly-sounding when drawn out.  But I would also not voice the "r" at the end of "father", though again one might appear in a phrase like "father of".
As for RP, it's not fixed.  I would describe it as the speech of a well-educated person of the home counties (the area around London), and I would have to admit that this is commonly taken to mean more particularly those who went to a public school (i.e. a private one) such as Winchester or Eton (or in my case The King's School, Canterbury); but this does change with time, and so RP now is not the same as the RP that was spoken by King George V, for instance.

I think I hear "idea-r" or similar on BBC, but I'll listen again. RP American English: Is there such a thing? American radio/TV announcers have seemed to have the same midwestern voice. It sort of sounds like me. But in a Detroit choir, we were often told to lose our nasal "aaanh" sound (lips drawn back). If we listened for it, it was quite obvious and unpleasant.

To state the obvious, if I put a voice on the people on this forum, I suppose they all sound like me. So there was a moment of surprise to hear your voice pronouncing the "ough" sounds, followed in milliseconds by "Well, how the hell did I expect him to sound?" I'd probably have the same reaction to hearing all the forumfolk not born in the U.S., including Akima, who just mentioned accent reduction class.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 24 May 2012, 10:19
The term RP is used specifically to imply "standard British English speech", and is not used for any other speech.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 24 May 2012, 10:41
The term RP is used specifically to imply "standard British English speech", and is not used for any other speech.
I assumed that. I should have put my expression in quotes. As to standard American speech, Wikipedia offers this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_American (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_American) which contains a link to a northern cities vowel shift. I'm not familiar enough with the descriptions of sounds, but I assume my unpleasant short A sound is included in the shift. The link suggests that Michigan people, especially Detroiters, think there's is the standard American English, whereas it's centered several hundred miles west.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 24 May 2012, 11:05
hahah the nasal 'a' I have it.  That and the 'o' said as an 'ah' are the elements of my home accent (Rochester, ny (RAHchester)).  I was well aware of it with how people said my name.  Kaaaaat.  The 'a' is just squished and drawn out.  Alison, formerly of these forums and native of Canada makes fun of me for it.  There really is nothing worse that hearing your own accent.  When I speak sometimes I shudder at the sounds I have made.  Paaaint, Paaants, Aaaalison.  uggghh. 

 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 24 May 2012, 11:26
I was surprised that the vowel shift described in the link extends to not far from Albany.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 24 May 2012, 11:29
And your uggghh, that sounds ok.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 25 May 2012, 05:27
I thought I'd coined it last night:

deBACulous: "It was like a slow-motion train wreck! It was debaculous!"

But no ... Urban Dictionary lists it. Another similar word: debaclypse.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 25 May 2012, 18:36
Prepositions cause no end of trouble (http://www.gocomics.com/wizardofid/2012/05/25).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Patrick on 25 May 2012, 19:55
Why is there a hard g in "finger" and "linger" but then it sounds awkward in "singer"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 25 May 2012, 21:49
In my dialect (pretty close to CNN English) they are almost identical. I had to sound them out before deciding that the difference is that it's "fing-ger" but "sing-er".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 25 May 2012, 23:01
I think it's because singer comes from the verb to sing; but finger and linger do not (there's no "fing" or "ling"). 

Other examples; sting -> stinger
fling -> flinger  ("Who flung that?")
string -> stringer
bring -> bringer
ring -> ringer
ping -> pinger
cling -> clinger
ding -> dinger (fries are done!)
sling -> slinger
wring -> wringer
spring -> springer
swing -> swinger
zing -> zinger

The only other hard g, no -ing word besides finger and linger I can thnk of is malinger, which is a cop-out. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Zingoleb on 25 May 2012, 23:21
I think it's because singer comes from the verb to sing; but finger and linger do not (there's no "fing" or "ling"). 

Actually, I've heard 'ling' used as slang for cunnilingus, which puts 'linger' in a whole new light for me.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 26 May 2012, 05:09
Well, that's the ling part of lingual, referring to tongue. Apparently lingam, that other stiffen-able poking-out thingie with nerve endings on the tip, is not related.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 27 May 2012, 12:50
Then why is 'lingerie' spelled like it is?  I honestly thought it was pronounced 'ling-er-ee' for years...and here it's pronounced 'laun-jer-ay'.


And don't get me started on the spelling and pronunciation of 'hors d'oeuvre' (damn you frog-eaters!)...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 27 May 2012, 12:54
From Latin lineus via French linge meaning linen.

The term "lining" for the inside of, say, a suit comes from the obsolete use of the word "line" to mean linen (which would have been used for the purpose) - which word survives in modern use as part of linseed.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 27 May 2012, 14:19
Then why is 'lingerie' spelled like it is?  I honestly thought it was pronounced 'ling-er-ee' for years...and here it's pronounced 'laun-jer-ay'.
Maybe it started out as the edible kind? Probably not.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 27 May 2012, 16:12
I honestly thought it was pronounced 'ling-er-ee' for years...and here it's pronounced 'laun-jer-ay'.
Do you go the whole hog and pronounce the J in the French "soft" fashion (IPA: ʒ like the J at the beginning of Jacques in the nursery song "Frère Jacques" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wyKqvCg4gs)? The mapping of sounds onto letters is tricky even in English, and when you add all the foreign words picked up by a magpie language it it gets still messier.

A chronic problem for Chinese people, particularly in terms of getting our names pronounced correctly, is that our language has no native alphabet, and romanization schemes like Wade-Giles or Pinyin are designed more for academic correctness than ease of use by people with no specialist training. But why do English-speakers insist on using the "French J sound" in Beijing when that pronunciation is foreign to both English and Chinese?! How did that incorrect pronunciation get started? I assume it was around the time English-speakers stopped calling the capital of China Peking, but that was before I was born. Does anyone know how the Beige-ing thing got started?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 27 May 2012, 16:35
Is the question about sounding the j incorrectly in Beijing? I had to google the subject, but the top answers I found weren't all that helpful. Here was one: http://www.lostlaowai.com/blog/china-stuff/from-peking-to-beijing-a-long-and-bumpy-trip/ (http://www.lostlaowai.com/blog/china-stuff/from-peking-to-beijing-a-long-and-bumpy-trip/). How do you pronounce China's capital?
With a little experience with transliteration in India, I wondered at the time of the change if it was a trans-illiterate stretch to go from Peking to Beijing, and some of the other changes didn't make any more sense. Are the most correct pronunciations somewhere in the middle?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 27 May 2012, 16:51
How do forum readers use the most common words for the human posterior: butt, bottom, bum, ass. Different words in different places? Stick to one word and use it almost always?
I prefer bottom, as being more neutral than what I consider the more negative ass and butt. I understand bum in written and spoken English, but it isn't a part of my usage. Butt often teams with ugly, and that doesn't apply, certainly not to the female bottoms that catch my eye.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 27 May 2012, 19:44
South End of a Northbound <animal/person/whatever>?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 27 May 2012, 23:47
But why do English-speakers insist on using the "French J sound" in Beijing when that pronunciation is foreign to both English and Chinese?! How did that incorrect pronunciation get started? I assume it was around the time English-speakers stopped calling the capital of China Peking, but that was before I was born. Does anyone know how the Beige-ing thing got started?

It is curious how some changes in romanisation appear to make completely different words - Mumbai/Bombay is another case.  Anyway, in spite of the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation, there are rules that apply much of the time - and as far as I can recall, ei in English is always followed by a soft j, because those words all come from French - the fact that it might be written with a g is beside the point.  Beige, liege are the obvious examples.  Also, j in English is uncommon away from the first letter of a word. To represent the harder j sound, it should be preceded by a, as in major, aging or paging - though the uncertainty of that use of g is shown by the fact that aging is also spelt ageing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Near Lurker on 28 May 2012, 03:51
I'd say Bah-ry (as in bat), buh-ry (not sure how to explain this as I'm aware that my u sounds are very unusual for foreigners or southerners, just a sort of guttural sound) and beh-ry (as in bed).

As in "borough"?  Because that's a very unusual way to pronounce it... pretty sure it's not considered proper anywhere, and the only place I can remember hearing anything similar is that Scissor Sisters song, "I Can't Decide," where it rhymed with "furry."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 28 May 2012, 07:43
How do you pronounce China's capital?
Correctly...  :angel:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 28 May 2012, 08:16
I find bay-JING, with bay as in bay, jing as in jingle, bay in lower tone, jing in a neutral tone. I wonder if that latter is sort of the tonal equivalent of a schwa.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 28 May 2012, 11:35
How do you pronounce China's capital?
"see"

Jumping into the thread late and only skimmed a few pages, but the first couple of posts reminded me - when my sister was little, she was afraid of firemen. Why? Because they put out fires. She thought that putting out fires worked like putting out a newsletter - they had fires, and they distributed them.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omega Entity on 28 May 2012, 11:39
That reminds me of a rather humorous hypnotist session at our senior lock-in. The hypnotist told the subjects that their underwear had a stranglehold on them, and the vast majority acted as though they had the worst wedgie known to existence. One kid, however, took it quite literally, and thought that his underwear was literally strangling him.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 28 May 2012, 22:09
On steam locomotives, firemen fed fires.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cire27 on 28 May 2012, 23:25
As in "borough"?  Because that's a very unusual way to pronounce it... pretty sure it's not considered proper anywhere, and the only place I can remember hearing anything similar is that Scissor Sisters song, "I Can't Decide," where it rhymed with "furry."

I've heard a lot of people here in the South pronounce it that way.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 28 May 2012, 23:29
I find bay-JING, with bay as in bay, jing as in jingle, bay in lower tone, jing in a neutral tone. I wonder if that latter is sort of the tonal equivalent of a schwa.
OK, if you really want to get into it... :wink:  Everything beyond this point assumes we're talking about 普通话 or Standard Chinese (Mandarin), and not one of the many regional dialects.

Beijing is written like this: 北京. Two characters, so two syllables. The first character is romanized as běi ​and as the tone-mark over the e indicates, it is 3rd tone (the dip-rise tone), but for reasons too technical to get into here, the 3rd tone is not fully voiced and simply dips. The second character is romanized as jīng, and it is 1st tone (the high-held tone) not the neutral tone, and emphatically not a schwa. Listen to this CCTV news-reader and the field reporter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rDNuF5lEqik#t=12s), as they say "Beijing" repeatedly in the linked clip.

Having said all that, the tones of Chinese are for Chinese-speakers and CSL students. For English-speakers speaking English, I don't think it is at all necessary to achieve "authentic" native pronunciation, and "Bay-jing" in a normal conversational tone is fine. If you pitch your voice down a little on the first syllable, and up a bit on the second, and say "Bay-jeeng", you'll really be getting close.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 29 May 2012, 15:58
Quote
The first character is romanized as běi ​and as the tone-mark over the e indicates, it is 3rd tone (the dip-rise tone), but for reasons too technical to get into here, the 3rd tone is not fully voiced and simply dips.
And it sounds phonetically like...'bay'?  'Bee'? 'Beh' as in 'Beth'?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 29 May 2012, 16:14
Listening to the clip that Akima linked :wink: I'd say "bay" (as I'd say it) is the closest.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 29 May 2012, 16:38
Ok so I didn't click the link  :-P

I pronounce it as bay as well, so I'm good, lol.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omega Entity on 29 May 2012, 18:07
Yay, I seem to get it pretty much right.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 29 May 2012, 18:27
I have to say the word flew past me every time it was uttered, but often enough I began to catch it as it flew. I knew that Chinese, like Japanese, I think, was dependent on tone, but it hadn't occurred to me that the tones would have labels.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Patrick on 30 May 2012, 15:49
How do forum readers use the most common words for the human posterior: butt, bottom, bum, ass.

I'll use each of them in a sentence the way I'd normally use them.

"Stub it out and put the butt in the ash tray"
"The bottom of my shoe"
"Yer a fuckin bum, get a job"
"I'm gonna kick yer ass"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 30 May 2012, 15:57
Another term for that part of the body is used here:

Quote
"Pisky, Pisky, bend and boo,
Up and down all service through."
"Presby, Presby, dinna bend;
Sit ye down on man’s chief end."

another version:

Quote
Pisky, pisky lood "Amen"
Doon on yer knees an' up again.
Presby, presby dinna ben'
Jist sit doon on Man's chief en'.

(Pisky = Episcopalian; Presby = Prebyterian.  The two main churches in Scotland. 
The Episcopalian catechism started:
Q: "What is the chief end of man?"
A: "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.")
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 14 Jun 2012, 14:18
Someone told me that ESL speakers have to work hard to determine when to use "a" versus "the", and my instant reaction was that it was trivial, but then I began to think about it. How can a distinction that's almost impossible even to describe contribute to accurate communication?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 14 Jun 2012, 14:32
By Is It Cold In Here amended by Redball
Quote
Someone told me that an ESL speaker has to work hard to determine when to use an "a" versus a "the". My instant reaction was that it was a most trivial matter. But then I began to think about it. How can a distinction that's almost impossible even to describe contribute to an accurate communication?

Someone told me that the ESL speaker has to work hard to determine when to use the "a" versus the "the". My instant reaction was that it was the most trivial matter. But then I began to think about it. How can the distinction that's almost impossible even to describe contribute to the accurate communication?

Notice that I haven't answered the question.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: bainidhe_dub on 14 Jun 2012, 14:58
"The" refers to a specific instance of the noun that follows, while "a" refers to a general, nonspecific singular. That's how I'd say it. It probably doesn't help that in some languages (Latin-descended, at least, I don't know about others), a noun always has an article, while in English it's sometimes dropped - "I like music" vs. "J'aime la musique" in French. If you're describing a specific in English you add the article, in French you use a different article - "I like this music" vs. "J'aime cette musique"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 14 Jun 2012, 14:59
One is the definite article and the other is the indefinite.  A/an refers to a non specific object, a tomato or a flower, but not one in particular.  The refers to an actual instance of a tomato or flower, whether hypothetical (referred to earlier by the speaker) or physically (an object known to the speaker and listener) This concept exists in other languages too, unless I am missing what you mean.  "el tomate" v "un tomate" (spanish) "eine Blume" v. "die Blume" (german)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: bainidhe_dub on 14 Jun 2012, 15:04
Yeah, definite/indefinite. It's been a while since French class - aka the only place we learned technical grammar, much to Mme's dismay. I meant - I would have expected the occasional omission of the article altogether would cause people more trouble than trying to decide between definite and indefinite would.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TinPenguin on 14 Jun 2012, 15:22
One is the definite article and the other is the indefinite.  A/an refers to a non specific object, a tomato or a flower, but not one in particular.  The refers to an actual instance of a tomato or flower, whether hypothetical (referred to earlier by the speaker) or physically (an object known to the speaker and listener) This concept exists in other languages too, unless I am missing what you mean.  "el tomate" v "un tomate" (spanish) "eine Blume" v. "die Blume" (german)

It must be confusing for Hungarians learning English, because in Magyar, a/az is actually the definite article.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 15 Jun 2012, 12:21
And, of course, there's the grammatical use of "a" versus "an", which even some native English speakers don't get.

You would use "a" if you are referring to something that does not begin with a vowel sound - for example, "a banana" or "a hammer".

But if you are referring to something that does begin with a vowel sound, it's "an": "an orange" or "an apple". Or "an hors d'oeuvre."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 15 Jun 2012, 12:38
Some speakers might get tripped up by what starts with a vowel sound and what doesn't. An honor. An m-dash (em). But not an history, although I think that's been in common usage in the past. If I'm right, is it because the h was silent at some point or by some speakers?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 15 Jun 2012, 12:46
My mother (an English teacher) would have written: "an hotel", for instance, but I would never have done; however, I might well speak it like that.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 15 Jun 2012, 13:08
Is that saying that British speakers internalize the a/an rule and adapt it to the pronunciation, to whether or not the h is dropped?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 15 Jun 2012, 16:42
"The" refers to a specific instance of the noun that follows, while "a" refers to a general, nonspecific singular. That's how I'd say it. It probably doesn't help that in some languages (Latin-descended, at least, I don't know about others), a noun always has an article, while in English it's sometimes dropped - "I like music" vs. "J'aime la musique" in French. If you're describing a specific in English you add the article, in French you use a different article - "I like this music" vs. "J'aime cette musique"

The average native speaker thinks so. <== exception

EDIT:
http://www.superseventies.com/sl_brandy.html
Brandy's braided chain and locket in the song are particular single instances, but are referred to with "a", and replacing "a" with "the" in the lyrics would sound completely foreign to me. Why do we refer to the locket and chain that way? I don't know, especially since I just said "the locket and chain".

Then it goes on with "a man that Brandy loves", even though there's no hint that she's polyamorous.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 16 Jun 2012, 05:56
How do forum readers use the most common words for the human posterior: butt, bottom, bum, ass.
To me a butt is part of a rifle, spear etc., not a human being, though I understand the American usage of course. I sit on my bottom, but might worry that my bum looks big in a skirt I'm trying on (not likely...  :wink:), and ride an ass along a rocky trail.

Is that saying that British speakers internalize the a/an rule and adapt it to the pronunciation, to whether or not the h is dropped?
I certainly do that. I say "a hospital", but "an honour". I say "an egg", but "a euphemism". It's entirely a matter of ease of pronunciation. To me "an hotel" sounds like Agatha Christie or something.

For Chinese-speakers, both definite and indefinite articles are foreign, and take practice to remember to use them at all...



 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omega Entity on 16 Jun 2012, 06:40
Is that saying that British speakers internalize the a/an rule and adapt it to the pronunciation, to whether or not the h is dropped?
I certainly do that. I say "a hospital", but "an honour". I say "an egg", but "a euphemism". It's entirely a matter of ease of pronunciation. To me "an hotel" sounds like Agatha Christie or something.

All the examples you cited there are all ways that I'd say those, so I'm not entirely sure it's entirely a British thing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 16 Jun 2012, 06:53
If some British speakers drop the h sound in hotel, pronouncng oh-tell, then preceding with an would sound natural. There are some usages where an preceded other words starting with h where I'd voice the h sound, making me wonder if British speakers dropped the h for them as well. And Akima nailed it: Using an before a word starting with a vowel sound is simply easier to say.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 16 Jun 2012, 07:03
My mother would have pronounced hotel without the h sound, like honour.  I wouldn't find it unnatural to simply elide the h of hotel in speech, replacing it with n; though I really can't be sure what I now do when not thinking about it!

Wikipedia is quite good on the subject, pointing out that we use a rather than an in front of vowels that are pronounced with a distinct leading consonantal "y" sound, like euphemism, which someone mentioned.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 16 Jun 2012, 21:47
EDIT:
http://www.superseventies.com/sl_brandy.html
Brandy's braided chain and locket in the song are particular single instances, but are referred to with "a", and replacing "a" with "the" in the lyrics would sound completely foreign to me. Why do we refer to the locket and chain that way? I don't know, especially since I just said "the locket and chain".

Then it goes on with "a man that Brandy loves", even though there's no hint that she's polyamorous.

Because the would be wrong, or at least you would have to change the sentences.  Brandy wears a braided chain and a locket.  The singer clearly knows this, but there is not reason the audience would until we hear the lyric.  This sentence is about Brandy and is describing what she wears The items are general non specific items because they are not known to the listener and they are not previously referred to by the singer. 
 

To use "the" we would need to make the sentence about the jewelry, and not about Brandy.  Right now the sentence is (simplified) "Brandy wears a chain that is silver and a locket that is engraved."  The jewlery are indirect objects, and so they get 'a'.  The singer could not just say "Brandy wears the silver braided chain from Spain" because that implies that the chain is a singular item that is known to the listener.  Either there is only one of those in the world, or there is a collection of chains know to the singer and the listener from which Brandy chose and that is the one she chose. You could change the subject of the sentence and make it "The chain Brandy wears is silver and the locket she wears is engraved."  'The' signifies that the singer is speaking about one specific chain, the one that brandy wears, the direct object of the sentence. 



Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 17 Jun 2012, 11:12
Kat has nailed it, and thank you to everyone for this discussion because it will make it easier for me to write the explanation I need to do for tomorrow's lesson! We have talked about definite vs indefinite articles, and he does sort of get them - and he understands a and an, but I've never come up with a clear and concise explanation.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 17 Jun 2012, 12:11
To me a butt is part of a rifle, spear etc., not a human being

My Shorter Oxford Dictionary has no less than ten separate entries for "butt [n]"; and the rifle and bottom meanings are sub-parts of the same entry (being the thick end of something).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Patrick on 17 Jun 2012, 15:15
Someone told me that ESL speakers have to work hard to determine when to use "a" versus "the", and my instant reaction was that it was trivial, but then I began to think about it. How can a distinction that's almost impossible even to describe contribute to accurate communication?

Fun fact: Albanian has no direct equivalent for articles like "a" or "the". The closest thing would be modifying a noun ending, since all infinitive nouns end in consonants. There's three possible ways they do it. A feminine noun (which never ends in k) would end in -a, like "piramida" for "the pyramid". A masculine noun ending in any letter other than K ends in -i, like "plazhi" to mean "the beach". Masc. nouns ending in K end in -u, so my name (which in Albanian spelling is required to drop the C; it's phonetically incorrect) would be Patrik, and referring to specifically one guy (in this case, someone I know talking about me) it would be Patriku.

Fucking languages, man.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 17 Jun 2012, 15:36
Some languages, including Dutch and German, have multiple forms of the definite article. German has a masculine (der Mensch), feminine (die Sonne) and neutral (das Wort) article, while Dutch uses one article for masculine and feminine (de grond, translate to 'the ground') and one for neutral (het boek, translate to 'it book'). The indefinite article is the same everywhere and is translated simply as 'one'.

You don't even want to know about how German conjugates their indefinite articles.

Fucking languages, man.
How does the meaning change if you drop the u? Is it proper to refer to someone as 'the Patrik' instead of just 'Patrik'? Do you modify name endings for celebrities too?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Patrick on 06 Jul 2012, 05:41
How does the meaning change if you drop the u? Is it proper to refer to someone as 'the Patrik' instead of just 'Patrik'? Do you modify name endings for celebrities too?

In a word, yes to all, but it's worth noting that it's only done when no surname is involved. I figure that it only really works because it's a pretty small society (the entire Albanian diaspora is probably 5 million strong). There's a lot of variety in given names, and both given and family names are unique usually to either Albanian or Turkish (Albania was part of the Ottoman Empire til 1912).

I dunno for sure, but experience suggests that names that can be translated (ex.: Patrick = Patrik/Patriku, George = Gjergj/Gjergji, John = Xhon/Xhoni) all get the article suffix treatment, whereas names with no translation, such as Beyonce, don't (but they definitely get mispronounced in Mrs. Knowles's case; I never heard an Albanian that didn't silence the second e).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 16 Jul 2012, 15:51
Doesn't the word 'heteronormative' have exactly the opposite meaning when you parse it etymologically? (Hetero, Greek Heteros, "other, another, different"; normative, "pertaining to a norm")
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 16 Jul 2012, 23:41
What do you expect it to mean?  It refers to the idea that having relations with the other sex is normal.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 17 Jul 2012, 00:45
That'd be heterosexual normativity, but without the 'sex' part I'd expect it to mean "different than pertaining to the norm".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 17 Jul 2012, 00:53
I suppose there is a possible conflict between the combination of the terms meaning "other is normal" and "other than normal"; but such conflicts in the use of negative terms (which do survive in real language, though an example doesn't immediately come to mind) are resolved by usage, which in this case is clear-cut.  And the use of the abbreviated term in the sexual context is normal, too, as the OED (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/heteronormative) records.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Zingoleb on 17 Jul 2012, 00:56
But etymologically speaking, they would still be correct in their original deconstruction, no?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 17 Jul 2012, 01:01
In language "correct" is a matter of usage alone; deviating from established usage is possible, to widen expressive possibilities, but also leads to the danger of misunderstanding or simple incomprehension which weakens language.  You can see both these possibilities happening with attempts to add gender-neutral pronouns to English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 17 Jul 2012, 05:14
For some reason, this reminds me of the usage of flammable and inflammable, where the prefix in- usually negates the meaning of the word.  In this case, flammable = able to be "flamed" (burnt), and inflammable = able to be inflamed (burnt). 

So in this case, they mean the same thing.  As a result, the term non-flammable came into use for clarity. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 18 Jul 2012, 11:39
I was about to say exactly that. Weird hive mind.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: VonKleist on 18 Jul 2012, 12:15
for unrelated reasons i googled the phrase "inflamable means flamable? what a country!" today and the first hit on google is a funny blog about psychiatry and such things.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 13 Sep 2012, 17:06
Quote from: a book about home inspections
All chimneys in recent construction must be lined with an inflammable material.
Quote from: recent headline
Chicagoans support striking teachers
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 15 Sep 2012, 13:38
Which was named first? The color orange or the fruit?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 16 Sep 2012, 01:01
The fruit.   (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=orange)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 16 Sep 2012, 02:52
Then what did the English use for the color before discovering India?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TinPenguin on 16 Sep 2012, 03:48
Then what did the English use for the color before discovering India?

It was previously known as geoluread (that is, 'yellow-red').
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 16 Sep 2012, 08:36
Okay, now you're bullshitting me.

*wiktionary*

Wait... you're not?!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 16 Sep 2012, 08:41
Then what did the English use for the color before discovering India?

Orange, like any of the prime colours is more of a collective word than a definitive term. Many different words would have been used prior to the discovery of the orange by English speakers* mostly giving a closer idea of the colour that the speaker, or indeed writer, was describing. However, Ochre and Ochreous would have probably been most common owing to it's broad tonal output and commonality as a dye.

*I suspect the word was more thrust on English speakers by the combinative force of French and Latin speakers.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 16 Sep 2012, 10:38
probably red. Color divisions are linguistic not optical. 
English has 11 basic color categories :red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, white, grey and pink. but where exactly the divisions are between those colors are is still subject to some debate where does. 

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-DepJW4520Lo/UFYMQJjdziI/AAAAAAAAB7A/7X5nUhNtOR8/s605/color.png)

How many colors do you see there.  If you were dividing that spectrum evenly into the colors on it would you have a word for each of them?  Do some of your color words seem to take up more of the spectrum? Does it matter if a color is light or dark? or where it usually appears in your environment?
How much detail do we need in our color words?

Not all languages have 11 color words.  A famous example is the Welsh "glas" which covers the colors we call "blue", "green" and "grey" another example is Himba, which has only 4 colors.
 a video about the Himba's ability to distinguish color.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b71rT9fU-I&feature=player_embedded#!)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 16 Sep 2012, 11:04
I can't find it on the first three searches, but xkcd did a survey about what people call different colors.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 16 Sep 2012, 12:14
That's because it's on the blog (http://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results/), not on the comic.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 16 Sep 2012, 12:18
This one? (http://blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results/) Some of the answers are hilarious.

Oo, pipped to the post. Oh well.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 16 Sep 2012, 23:15
Golden? 

They may well not have had a word for it. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 17 Sep 2012, 14:44
(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-DepJW4520Lo/UFYMQJjdziI/AAAAAAAAB7A/7X5nUhNtOR8/s605/color.png)
How many colors do you see there. 
Um, only about nine. And that's because of this case of deuteranopia that I have.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 17 Sep 2012, 15:41
These are the different colors I see
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-oNKi5azgTr4/UFenQf3UXcI/AAAAAAAAB7o/Y--FnrIfjHM/s607/photo.jpg)


These are the different colors I have words for
(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Kx1LhkZeGq8/UFengUcomzI/AAAAAAAAB7s/7xt0NL-BNOE/s612/photo.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 17 Sep 2012, 19:30
I see a few hundred colors there, could probably tell you the rough CMYK for each (would be better in RGB but I work more in print than screen), and have words for... I dunno, I could probably come up with a word for 25-30 of them maybe? Maybe more? I mean it depends on if you can include stuff like "burnt orange" or "salmon pink" - descriptive, not separate words. Anymore, my "color names" are just CMYK values, really - that's the only way I think of them.

ETA: This is a fun test to determine how accurately you see color. I scored a 4 out of 100, meaning I basically had 4 out of order (switched two in two places). (another edit - that was last time I took it, a long time ago. I just did it again and got a 0/100) Of course it depends on how accurate your monitor is, but that's only for fine detail.

http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?PageID=77
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 17 Sep 2012, 19:53
The names I was using were from what are recognized as the standard 11 color words in English. I could come up with more color names for sure, but less than you I am sure, since I don't work with color for a living.

My division is not so much where I can see that the color is different, but, since one has to divide somewhere, these are where I would divide if I were say, sorting fabric into piles, or developing my own language. 

I scored a 16.  It is interesting my errors were all in the same part of the spectrum, the blue to purple part.  That seems to correlate with the level of detail I made when I divided the spectrum above.  particularly since I keep looking at that yellow/green section I made and thinking it needs another line through it. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 17 Sep 2012, 20:14
And of course another good question is whether your (in general) words for certain colors correlate with others' words. Ryan, for example, will call something red and to me it is DISTINCTLY orange. Or call something blue when I see it as DISTINCTLY turquoise - almost green. I don't think he's color blind, he just divides it up much differently than most people would, I think.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 18 Sep 2012, 02:29
IIRC, the ancient Greeks described the sky as being the same colour as a bronze shield. I think the word was 'bright', but I'm not certain.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: idontunderstand on 18 Sep 2012, 02:49
My girlfriend is a nail artist and she can tell colors apart which look not only similar to me, but identical. With her I think it comes from practicing. I (kind of) refuse to believe it is a question of gender. Not that anyone has claimed that.

She's also super-sensitive to some colors and mixtures of colors and will say that, for example, a Miró painting makes her feel sick, just based on the colors.

Like this one she can't stand: http://uima.uiowa.edu/assets/Uploads/_resampled/SetWidth500-19483small.jpg
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 18 Sep 2012, 06:15
I don't think it's a gender thing either - women probably just tend to be the ones that pay more attention to the names of colors, while guys just use a few names for a more general range. Most of the graphic artist guys I know can see just as many distinct colors as I can - like you said, it comes from practicing and working with them on a regular basis.

I wonder if your girlfriend has a slight bit of synesthesia!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 18 Sep 2012, 08:10
Also isn't color blindness a recessive gene on the X, making men much more likely to be color blind?

I have also wondered about this with respect to the color pink.  My hair is pink, I think it is obviously pink, but people regularly, and particularly men, call is red.  I wonder how much of this is just that women are somehow socialized to care about color more.  But I would think with the social pressure for men to not wear or like pink that they would be particularly sensitive to identifying it?

I had a coworker once who couldn't tell pink from red, and I confirmed (by holding pink and red things next to each other) that he really couldn't tell the difference, not just that he was using red as a general word that covered pink. 

(https://encrypted-tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTVedtRZjVO0CyYoJwUTJYLJx_qYi6-VIoJ9ictNOcVAl-Z4uXArQ)

(https://encrypted-tbn3.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQjgY3EZjyuwO2Df-CGjQS_AugHS24v_ZlSZErziJOgwP-xZS-91w)

He would tell me that the first color there was a little lighter than the second.   To me it is also obviously a lot bluer. Pink is not "light red" it is a separate color, and the two colors clash. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 18 Sep 2012, 18:11
Well, yeah, even I can see that. Greens, however - you start to throw me a bit.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Lines on 18 Sep 2012, 18:55
No, pink IS a light red. You are using pink when you should be using magenta. Magenta is not a red, it's a magenta. Pink is either a true red or a blue-leaning red mixed with white. (Yellow-leaning reds do not make what is usually defined as pink.) That's why magenta and red typically clash - they are not the same. However, a red and a red that has been tinted (pink) will not clash, because they are essentially the same color, just different values.

Granted I know a crap ton of color names and it's all because of paint colors. But then again, I'm trained to see the nuances in color and like Elysiana can go through that chart and name a whole bunch of colors. (Also that spectrum is lacking. It doesn't give enough violets.)

Edit: Also to be pedantic, you didn't post an actual red, you posted a red-orange. What people typically think of red (Coca-Cola red) is red orange whereas red-red is more like the color of a red rose. I'll see if I can find some kind of example, because I'm not sure if that sentence makes much sense without a visual...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 18 Sep 2012, 20:34
To be pedantic, she posted a pure red in both CMYK and RGB color space - that's about as "proper" red as it can get! (255,0,0 and 0AA0)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Lines on 18 Sep 2012, 21:34
Not really... I made a visual to better explain this.

(http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b198/andthentherewaslindsey/reds2_zps3395fd12.jpg)

On the left is the exact color Kat posted (#FE0000), in the middle is what my Photoshop swatch calls "true red" (#DF0024), and on the right is "pure magenta red" (#E10052). FE0000 can't be a true red because its tints show how it leans yellow because they look orangey-flesh instead of pink. The middle is also not what I'd consider a true red, because it also still has a little bit of orange in the tints, though it is a better idea of what red-red actually is. And the magenta I threw in to clarify about magenta not really being a pink because it doesn't start out as red.

In paint terms, the first two colors are more of a Cadmium Red medium and would be great for oranges. If I wanted a pink without using magenta, I'd have to find a crimson. Probably closer to one of these:

(http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b198/andthentherewaslindsey/reds3_zps189b8689.jpg)

This has stopped really being about English being weird and is going into color theory, but whatevs. I like color theory. :-D

Also you can paint in both RGB and CYMK! The way you mix colors is just a little different, same with on a computer.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: idontunderstand on 19 Sep 2012, 04:35
I wonder if your girlfriend has a slight bit of synesthesia!

Checked it out. Wow, interesting..
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 19 Sep 2012, 05:17
This has stopped really being about English being weird and is going into color theory, but whatevs. I like color theory. :-D

No, we're talking about color names - I think that qualifies as "English is weird".  Other languages do color names differently.  The Russian words for "red" and "beautiful" come from the same root...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 19 Sep 2012, 05:20
And that root is communism?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 19 Sep 2012, 05:26
Linds, what I meant was that if you tell a painter to use red, they'll use one version, and if you tell a graphic artist to use red, they'll use another, etc. Red is different depending on what you do. If a client told me to use red, I'd use 0AA0 without hesitation - anything else is not just plain old "red". And your example on the right, which you call magenta, is something totally different to me - magenta to me is 0A00, no yellow whatsoever.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 19 Sep 2012, 05:31
And that root is communism?


Krahss, i you must know.  Krahssnee for red, krahssivoi for beautiful. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Lines on 19 Sep 2012, 06:58
Linds, what I meant was that if you tell a painter to use red, they'll use one version, and if you tell a graphic artist to use red, they'll use another, etc. Red is different depending on what you do. If a client told me to use red, I'd use 0AA0 without hesitation - anything else is not just plain old "red". And your example on the right, which you call magenta, is something totally different to me - magenta to me is 0A00, no yellow whatsoever.

Ah. Missed that. Also I didn't mean to say there was yellow in magenta, because there isn't. :lol: That was just a clarification of why magenta, pink, and red aren't the same.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 19 Sep 2012, 07:08
Yeah, I went back and reread what I'd written and realized it was all "THAT'S NOT RED".

Also, erm... how does one paint in RGB? R+G in light doesn't equal R+G in paint. I don't follow how that works!
Title: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 Sep 2012, 07:13
RGB is adding colours to the screen's natural blackness. CMY(K) is subtracting colours from the natural white illumination being reflected by the canvass.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Lines on 19 Sep 2012, 07:20
It's just what base colors you use. Most people start with a set of red, yellow, blue, black, and white. (Replacing green with yellow, but they still call it RGB for whatever reason.) CYMK in paint is just that - cyan, yellow, magenta, black, and also a white. You use those colors to mix your primaries instead of starting with them. It's not really the same as how RGB works, because you can't make yellow with green in paint, but enough designers would come into my old store referring it that way, that I just learned to understand what they meant.

This was mostly older designers, mind you, and they phrased things oddly. Such as calling a roll of tracing paper "bum wad".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Elysiana on 19 Sep 2012, 07:35
Oh, that seems odd to me to call it that; RGB almost always refers to screen/light anymore. Like you said, you can't get yellow using R, G, and B. RYB makes sense though, that's how I'm used to using paints (in the limited experience I have).

Hehehe. Bumwad.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omega Entity on 19 Sep 2012, 13:09
I see a few hundred colors there, could probably tell you the rough CMYK for each (would be better in RGB but I work more in print than screen), and have words for... I dunno, I could probably come up with a word for 25-30 of them maybe? Maybe more? I mean it depends on if you can include stuff like "burnt orange" or "salmon pink" - descriptive, not separate words. Anymore, my "color names" are just CMYK values, really - that's the only way I think of them.

ETA: This is a fun test to determine how accurately you see color. I scored a 4 out of 100, meaning I basically had 4 out of order (switched two in two places). (another edit - that was last time I took it, a long time ago. I just did it again and got a 0/100) Of course it depends on how accurate your monitor is, but that's only for fine detail.

http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?PageID=77

Perfect score. Yay!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 19 Sep 2012, 13:17
One last thing on Magenta v. Red.  Magenta is not one of the 11 English color words.  We could always get more specific with color names, but the 11 words we teach children, that ESL students learn and which you need to know to have basic competence in life are the ones I was talking about.  Magenta would need to be pink, purple, or red.  Where you put it may be up for debate, but calling it magenta isn't an option in the exercise I was doing. 


Unrelated:
There are a bunch of words that I always type as compound words but that are not.  My internal logic had decided that they SHOULD be compound words, and just refuses to type them with a space between.  The two I have just used in this paper I am writing: be able, in front.  If I were a linguist I would be interested to look at the full list and see if there is actually a logical pattern to the word pairs I do this with, because it is not all pairs that regularly come in sets.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 19 Sep 2012, 13:36
You should write a book about it! Call it "The Tales of Beable the Barred; or, words that aren't allowed but that I use anyway"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 19 Sep 2012, 13:45
The two I have just used in this paper I am writing: be able, in front.
Put them in sentences.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Zingoleb on 19 Sep 2012, 23:09
I do that with every phrases. Everynight, everytime. Everyday is a word, so why not?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 19 Sep 2012, 23:15
Everyday does not mean every day.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Zingoleb on 19 Sep 2012, 23:57
Care to clarify?

Edit: Oh, googling things helps (http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/agcomm/ontarget/0706/Everyday.htm).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 24 Sep 2012, 08:46
Inorder is another one. 

In use:  I would need more evidence inorder to make that judgement.  I would type two words if I wanted to say: put the books in order.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 24 Sep 2012, 09:59
Sorry, but I would simply put a red cross against that.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omega Entity on 24 Sep 2012, 15:51
Yeah, I'd use 'in order' for both of those examples.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 24 Sep 2012, 16:01
Well yes, that's because inorder isn't a real word - which Kat acknowledged! I sometimes do the same thing, and much more commonly will simply squish two words together, for instance lithis.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 24 Sep 2012, 16:57
But do you pronounce it with the k?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 25 Sep 2012, 21:09
But do you pronounce it with the k?
As in "knight".  :-)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 25 Sep 2012, 23:03
Why is it that in English you "take" a bus or a shower?

In Russian you sit on a bus, and receive a shower. Makes more sense.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 26 Sep 2012, 00:41
I catch a bus and have a shower.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 26 Sep 2012, 01:04
But do you pronounce it with the k?
As in "knight".  :-)
No, the k as in "like this." I thought Barmymoo squished like this, forcing out the k.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 26 Sep 2012, 01:05
At at least through my teens, we "let" a fart, i.e., "Did you just let one?"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 26 Sep 2012, 03:58
I catch a bus and have a shower.

Me too, although in America I took a lot of showers. Never took the bus though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 26 Sep 2012, 06:49
No, the k as in "like this." I thought Barmymoo squished like this, forcing out the k.
Exactly. Pronouncing the k in "like this" like the k in "knight". :-)  It's not uncommon to hear "liethis" in Australia, and even "dooeeliethis". But then we run a lot of words together.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Lines on 26 Sep 2012, 07:20
If I say "like this" fast, I skip the k and it comes out "liethis".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: nekowafer on 26 Sep 2012, 07:34
It could have something to do with the fact that I had speech therapy as a child, but I always pronounce every syllable. I use contractions, but I won't smoosh words together. I have also managed not to pick up a Baltimore accent, which is awesome. I personally think I have a very basic east coast accent, which from what I've heard is considered good for TV and radio.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 26 Sep 2012, 08:23
I don't say "lithis" when I speak, but it was just an example of how some words come out when I'm typing faster than I'm thinking.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 26 Sep 2012, 11:45
 :-o :police:  :-( :cry: :evil: ?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 26 Sep 2012, 11:46
Wait no

 :evil: :-o :police: :x :cry:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 26 Sep 2012, 11:51
 O0
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Lines on 26 Sep 2012, 11:51
I have neither taken a bus (can't drive them) nor caught a bus (don't have a big enough net), but I have ridden a bus before.

 :mrgreen:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 26 Sep 2012, 12:08
I use all of these words, but with slightly different meanings.

Catching the bus is the act of getting to the bus stop on time.  "Sorry, I can't hang out and talk I have to catch the bus." though I might also say that I did that when answering how I got somewhere.  I would also use caught when talking about where to get on a bus.  "Oh you can catch a bus at South U. and Washtanaw that will take you to Whole Foods."  You catch buses because they run on a regular scheduled independent of you, and you need to get to a place it will be to catch it before it leaves.

Taking the bus is more generalized maybe? It refers to the entire process. How will you get here?  I will take a train, a bus, a plane, a cab, a ferry.  Transportation you do not control you take.

Riding the bus refers to what you are doing once you have decided to take the bus and successfully caught it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 26 Sep 2012, 14:06
Exactly! And speaking in the past tense, when you arrive at your destination by bus, you don't say you took the bus there, because you weren't in control of the bus, nor were you carrying it on your back. You haven't caught the bus there, because you were already on it. You rode the bus to your destination.

Contrariwise, claiming that you're going to the bus station to ride a bus implies that you have the specific purpose of riding a bus, any bus, no matter where it goes. If you say that you can take a bus from the bus station, you're saying that it is, in fact, possible to start or continue your journey from the bus station, wherever you might be going. Catching a bus would be more specific and involves getting to it on time.

Isn't it awesome how we can provide subtly different meanings for phrases that are essentially synonymous in everyday use, even when those phrases describe utterly mundane activities? Now I understand what linguisticists mean when they say human language can express an infinite variety of concepts with a finite supply of words.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 26 Sep 2012, 14:10
I often get a bus. And when asked how I arrived at a location, I may have "got the bus". Sounds like some horrible medical condition.

EDIT: Added more stuff and removed butts disease.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 26 Sep 2012, 14:35
In the generalised case, where catching the bus is not so appropriate, I might go by bus.

"How would you get to such-and-such?"
"I would go by bus."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 09 Feb 2013, 00:41
Then there are the ambiguities.

Quote from: event announcement in a newspaper
Join Global Campaign to stop violence against women and girls with entertainment, film clips, Champagne, chocolates

That could mean
- stopping violence committed against women who have entertainment, film clips, Champagne, and chocolates.
- stopping violence committed using film clips etc. as weapons
- using film clips etc. to stop violence
- meeting with the Global Campaign at an event with film clips etc.

The same newspaper mentioned a gallery showing work by "seminal women artists".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 09 Feb 2013, 07:53
My friend was a PhD fellow in a program between my local university and several universities in China.  The program was called "China-Rochester Suicide Research Training Program"  which they all acknowledged made it sound like they were researching the best ways to kill ones self. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 09 Feb 2013, 11:48
Like the hospital with a "Director of Infectious Diseases".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 04 Mar 2013, 10:30
Why does the English language insist on using the plural for objects that are quite clearly one thing? Like scissors, glasses, headphones, trousers, tweezers, things like those.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 04 Mar 2013, 10:34
I have neither taken a bus (can't drive them)[...]
Have you stolen or fucked one, though?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: idontunderstand on 04 Mar 2013, 10:54
Why does the English language insist on using the plural for objects that are quite clearly one thing? Like scissors, glasses, headphones, trousers, tweezers, things like those.

I guess the answer is obvious but I'll say it anyway: All of those have two parts. Two scissor knives, two glass lenses, two headphones joined together etc. But I guess it's not completely logical?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 04 Mar 2013, 12:16
I assume scissors comes from cise, as in incision, etc., and that it helps to think of "them" as "cutters." But I don't know about trousers. The only place I've heard of "trouser" is in opera, but as an adjectiv e, where some parts call for a woman dressed as a man and performing a male role, a "trouser" role IIRC.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 04 Mar 2013, 13:00
Why does the English language insist on using the plural for objects that are quite clearly one thing? Like scissors, glasses, headphones, trousers, tweezers, things like those.
I guess the answer is obvious but I'll say it anyway: All of those have two parts. Two scissor knives, two glass lenses, two headphones joined together etc. But I guess it's not completely logical?
That's the logic behind it, yes, but what is the reason? My language is happy to say 'a scissor', 'a trouser', and 'a headphone'. The fact that a headphone contains two speakers is irrelevant.

I assume scissors comes from cise, as in incision, etc., and that it helps to think of "them" as "cutters." But I don't know about trousers. The only place I've heard of "trouser" is in opera, but as an adjective, where some parts call for a woman dressed as a man and performing a male role, a "trouser" role IIRC.
Still no reason to not call it a cutter. :-P
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 04 Mar 2013, 13:07
Doesn't English have a reputation in Europe and elsewhere for arbitrary and capricious forms, usages, rules and habits? Here's what etymonline says about trousers, for example: 1610s, earlier trouzes (1580s), extended from trouse (1570s), with plural ending typical of things in pairs, from Gaelic or Middle Irish triubhas "close-fitting shorts," of uncertain origin. The unexplained intrusive second -r- is perhaps by influence of drawers.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 04 Mar 2013, 13:20
Why does the English language insist on using the plural for objects that are quite clearly one thing?
Or the singular for many objects: sheep, deer, salmon, aircraft, species etc. For that matter, why do some languages have plural forms of nouns at all?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 04 Mar 2013, 13:22
I'd like to point out that in English you can't say "a scissors" or "a trousers" either.  The come in pairs.  "trousers" is the uncountable plural, and "pair/s of trousers"  is the countable form. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 04 Mar 2013, 16:14
Put it all down to the quaint charm of the language; I wouldn't have it any other way - but then, why should I?

People have tried at many times and in many ways to regularise the language, mostly concentrating on spelling, and usually with little lasting effect; perhaps the most effective deliberately planned change was Webster's removal of the u from colour etc - but even that had only somewhat local effect.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 04 Mar 2013, 21:02
"A scissors" is not unheard of: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/scissors. I never heard it in any of the US places I've lived.

There's no way a language could be internally consistent with as mixed a history as English has.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 04 Mar 2013, 22:19
Put it all down to the quaint charm of the language; I wouldn't have it any other way - but then, why should I?
... but even that had only somewhat local effect.
That's a sly one! But I agree with the quaint charm.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 05 Mar 2013, 05:43
I think the use of "pair" with these plurals just reinforces them.  The "lack" of a singular is just that we don't see / use them.  If you split your pants far enough, you'll get a trouse; when the scissors break, you have a scis.  And this one - a single lens in a frame is a "glass", as in a magnifying glass.  So that one does work... but that's only one. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: idontunderstand on 05 Mar 2013, 10:32
And if you say "a couple of glasses" that would be four lenses, right?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Zingoleb on 05 Mar 2013, 10:35
when the scissors break, you have a scis. 

and then you can put googly eyes on them.

scis people
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 06 Mar 2013, 01:10
And if you say "a couple of glasses" that would be four lenses, right?

Well, when I tell my wife I only had a couple of glasses of beer, it's usually four...   :angel:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 07 Jul 2013, 22:03
A recent headline said a man was "discovered dead by his boat".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: mtmerrick on 07 Jul 2013, 22:36
Proper singulars or plurals of the word pants has always thrown me off. What exactly is a "pant"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: K1dmor on 07 Jul 2013, 23:30
 (http://i.imgur.com/vhxbggm.jpg)
  :mrgreen:

 Now seriously, wouldn't a pant be "To breathe rapidly in short gasps"? (To Pant).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: mtmerrick on 08 Jul 2013, 02:11
But that's called a pants leg.  :psyduck: not a pant. Let's say you get a gash across your pants leg. Do you say "there's a tear in my pant"  or there's a tear in my pants leg"? The first one just sounds weird, almost forced.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: ackblom12 on 08 Jul 2013, 02:23
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pants

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pant
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 08 Jul 2013, 09:02
There is a difference in the scope of meaning I think.

I would say 'pants' refers to a specific pair of or group of actual pants that are a concrete object for the speaker.  "those pants over there"  "I need new dress pants"  "my favorite pair of pants"   while 'a pant' would be used to refer to a general category of pants, usually in a fashion context.  "that top would look good with a black pant"  "this fabric would make a good work pant"  "can we make the pant a little darker"  In these cases, I would assume the speaker's meaning carries beyond a, specific,  individual outfit with a specific pair of pants, and is referring to a group of hypothetical pants. Even if there is a specific outfit which seems to be referenced (say the test outfit on a mannequin, or the drawing of an outfit) the speaker intends their meaning to carry beyond that outfit and refer to an unknown group of pants as a category.


So
 "I need another pair of black pants."  -- the speaker needs an additional pair of black pants, possibly identical to the first pair. 
"I need another black pant" -- The speaker needs an additional style of black pants.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 08 Jul 2013, 15:28
I'm not so sure. Many ladies fashion magazines and webshops use "pant" to refer to specific items. Like this (http://www.oz1.com.au/caterers-hotels-clubs/182-relaxed-fit-ladies-pant-with-straight-leg.html), or this (http://www.westfield.com.au/au/shopping/womens-fashion-accessories/womens-clothing/womens-pants#category=womens-clothing&super_cat=womens-fashion-accessories&sub_category=womens-pants). Possibly this got started when the term "pant suit (http://www.erasfashion.net/pant-suits-for-ladies.html)" entered use because "pants suit" required too much precision to avoid elision.  :wink:

Come to think of it, I've even seen "jean" used as both a noun and adjective on fashion pages. But I suppose, descriptions referring to a "jean skirt" or "jean pants" just brings the term full-circle. After all "jeans" were originally named after the jean fabric from which they were made.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 08 Jul 2013, 15:38
<insert x men joke here>
<insert les miserables joke here>
good joke. everybody laugh. drum rolls. curtain.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 08 Jul 2013, 16:11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeans
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 08 Jul 2013, 17:17
I think those examples still fit what I was saying, and maybe I was explaining it poorly (and it annoys me that second site is inconsistent with the usage). 

I see pant as a cataloging word, so I read "This is a relaxed fit ladies pant, with a straight leg" pant as describing the category of garment.  It would still be appropriate to use it that way when listing an item online, because that is not a listing for a single pair of pants.  There are dozens, hundreds or even thousands of items available under that one listing, and so the description is general.


If I were working in a store I might hold up an individual pair and say, "This pant would look nice with that top."  but I would be referring not to that particular pair of pants, but to the whole rack of them... all the the pants with that item number as it were.  "This style would look good" or "this product" not "this item"

If I you tried a pair of the pants I might ask "how did that pant look?" again, not referring to that particular pair, but that style, that item.  How did those pants fit, that particular pair.  When I ring you up, I would say, here are your pants, because now they are a particular item, you have bought a pair of pants which are a relaxed fit, ladies pant."

Maybe others don't hear this distinction, or use the word to make it, but I always do. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 09 Jul 2013, 15:08
I was going to say "we just say trousers" but then I realised I wasn't sure what a trouser was. Except that we talk about trouser presses - not trousers presses.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 09 Jul 2013, 15:18
Also scissor sharpeners.

Just accept it and go with the flow.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 10 Jul 2013, 00:00
... Let's say you get a gash across your pants leg. Do you say "there's a tear in my pant"  or there's a tear in my pants leg"? ...

Depending on where you are in England, you might get a completely different reaction, but that's more to do with slang and dialect.

Back on topic though, I picked up this little nugget off of a place called English Forums

Quote
According to several costume historians who have helped me with this reply, the answer to all this conventional plurality is very simple. Before the days of modern tailoring, such garments, whether underwear or outerwear, were indeed made in two parts, one for each leg. The pieces were put on each leg separately and then wrapped and tied or belted at the waist (just like cowboys’ chaps). The plural usage persisted out of habit even after the garments had become physically one piece. However, a shirt was a single piece of cloth, so it was always singular.

Not sure of when the combinative garment came about but it suggests that there is a lot of anachronism in film in this area.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 10 Jul 2013, 02:22
But that's called a pants leg.  :psyduck: not a pant. Let's say you get a gash across your pants leg. Do you say "there's a tear in my pant"  or there's a tear in my pants leg"? The first one just sounds weird, almost forced.

"I've torn my trousers".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 10 Jul 2013, 22:49
Some of the words have different meanings to what may be imagined today, read on at your own discretion

http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/195348/18-obsolete-words-which-should-have-never-gone-out-of-style/ (http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/195348/18-obsolete-words-which-should-have-never-gone-out-of-style/)

Quote
Just like facts and flies, English words have life-spans. Some are thousands of years old, from before English officially existed, others change, or are replaced or get ditched entirely.
Here are 18 uncommon or obsolete words that we think may have died early. We found them in two places: a book called “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk, and on a blog called Obsolete Word of The Day that’s been out of service since 2010. Both are fantastic— you should check them out.

Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Pussyvan: A flurry, temper — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Wonder-wench: A sweetheart — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Lunting: Walking while smoking a pipe — John Mactaggart’s “Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia,” 1824

California widow: A married woman whose husband is away from her for any extended period — John Farmer’s “Americanisms Old and New”, 1889

Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them – www.ObsoleteWord.Blogspot.com

Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram — www.Wordnik.com

Curglaff: The shock felt in bathing when one first plunges into the cold water — John Jamieson’s Etymological Scottish Dictionary, 1808

Spermologer: A picker-up of trivia, of current news, a gossip monger, what we would today call a columnist — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey
Kacirk

Tyromancy: Divining by the coagulation of cheese — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Beef-witted: Having an inactive brain, thought to be from eating too much beef. — John Phin’s “Shakespeare Cyclopaedia and Glossary”, 1902

Queerplungers: Cheats who throw themselves into the water in order that they may be taken up by their accomplices, who carry them to one of the houses appointed by the Humane Society for the recovery of drowned persons, where they are rewarded by the society with a guinea each, and the supposed drowned person, pretending he was driven to that extremity by great necessity, is also frequently sent away with a contribution in his pocket. — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Englishable: That which may be rendered into English — John Ogilvie’s “Comprehensive English Dictionary”, 1865

Resistentialism: The seemingly spiteful behavior shown by inanimate objects — www.ObsoleteWord.Blogspot.com

Bookwright: A writer of books; an author; a term of slight contempt — Daniel Lyons’s “Dictionary of the English Language”, 1897

Soda-squirt: One who works at a soda fountain in New Mexico — Elsie Warnock’s “Dialect Speech in California and New Mexico”, 1919

With squirrel: Pregnant — Vance Randolph’s “Down in the Holler: A Gallery of Ozark Folk Speech”, 1953

Zafty: A person very easily imposed upon — Maj. B. Lowsley’s “A Glossary of Berkshire Words and Phrases”, 1888
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: mtmerrick on 11 Jul 2013, 03:36
I love those words. Very disappointed some of the died.

TBH I probably won't remember to use them, though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 11 Jul 2013, 16:42
But...but... "California widow"?  Really?  I seem to remember that when it was still "current usage"...

I am not that old, dagnabbit!!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 12 Jul 2013, 01:29
What is the context behind the term? Ie, why California?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 12 Jul 2013, 01:53
my guess would be from the 1849 gold rush:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 12 Jul 2013, 04:35
Well I say chaps I was out lunting with my wonder wench and my good mate Bernie, an expert spermologer who fancies himself a bookwright having the most fascinating conversation about tyromancy when a pussyvan came up with winds strong enough to nearly dislodge my monocle!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 17 Jul 2013, 10:44
my guess would be from the 1849 gold rush:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush

You'd be right, women whose men were away looking for gold.  Like a football widow nowadays, only able to do a little more 'cause it's not just during games...

But I remember the term being resurrected during the sexual revolution of the late 60's/early 70's.  Mrs. Robinson comes to mind, although her situation was different. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 17 Jul 2013, 16:21
Why does the English language insist on using the plural for objects that are quite clearly one thing? Like scissors, glasses, headphones, trousers, tweezers, things like those.
I guess the answer is obvious but I'll say it anyway: All of those have two parts. Two scissor knives, two glass lenses, two headphones joined together etc. But I guess it's not completely logical?
That's the logic behind it, yes, but what is the reason? My language is happy to say 'a scissor', 'a trouser', and 'a headphone'. The fact that a headphone contains two speakers is irrelevant.

I assume scissors comes from cise, as in incision, etc., and that it helps to think of "them" as "cutters." But I don't know about trousers. The only place I've heard of "trouser" is in opera, but as an adjective, where some parts call for a woman dressed as a man and performing a male role, a "trouser" role IIRC.
Still no reason to not call it a cutter. :-P

Because this is a cutter

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Freiheitu.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 17 Jul 2013, 17:35
I was about to say no, that's a cat-boat.  But it isn't - my momentary confusion came from them both being gaff-rigged. 



Why yes, I do sail!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 17 Jul 2013, 18:30
I thought a cutter was what Mariano Rivera threw.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 17 Jul 2013, 20:53
Nope, it's a boat.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TinPenguin on 18 Jul 2013, 03:32
That's not a cutter, this is a cutter.

(http://www.stoneageartifacts.com/images/artifacts/Danish/knife3sm.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 13 Aug 2013, 12:17
Prepositions work mischief:

"Nurse Suspected of Killing Up to 46 Kids to Get Out of Prison"

"The National Rifle Association has launched a website defending the use of lead ammunition against scientists and environmental organizations who argue that lead bullets are poisoning the environment and tainting game meat with a known neurotoxin"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 13 Aug 2013, 18:20
Yeah but that's just the NRA.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: MrBlu on 13 Aug 2013, 19:24
"Will Will Smith smith?"
"Smith Will Smith will."
"Will Smith will smith."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 14 Aug 2013, 00:47
It is possible to make a grammatical English sentence of any length longer than one word consisting only of repetitions of the word "buffalo".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: MrBlu on 14 Aug 2013, 01:24
It is possible to make a grammatical English sentence of any length longer than one word consisting only of repetitions of the word "buffalo".
I would have posted, but I assumed everyone heard that one before.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 14 Aug 2013, 01:40
I haven't heard it in the "not upper bounded" variation before.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 14 Aug 2013, 14:23
How much wood could a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck could chuck wood?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: ankhtahr on 14 Aug 2013, 15:04
Right now I feel reminded of a story/joke, with a theme very typical of Hamburg. It's a joke of the "Klein Erna" variant. "Klein Erna" (Lil Erna) is a girl who is very naive, her mother being a big, hard working woman who is not too bright. They often feature very dry, laconic humor (which is often considered to be typical of us northern Germans) and the people are usually talking with a strong "Missingsch" dialect (Missingsch is a mixture of Low German (Plattdüütsch) and ordinary German, which was supposedly created by people who were not educated in ordinary "High German", but still tried to speak it.).

Anyway, here it is:

Klein Erna beobachtet ein Kind, welches mit Matsch spielt und fragt die Mutter.
„Darf dat dat?“ - „Dat darf dat.“ - „Dat dat dat darf!“

Lil Erna is watching a child play with mud and asks her mother:
"Is it allowed to do that?" "It is allowed to do that" "{Unbelievable, }that it is allowed to do that!"

The German word "Das" can mean many things. Most commonly it's an article, more specifically the article for non-gendered things (direct translation: it). At the same time it can also be a pronoun, more specifically a demonstrative, for the same thing. And it can be a subordinating conjunction. In that case it's written "dass" instead of "das" though. Colloquially you can leave away the first part of the sentence when using "dass" and combine it with a intonation which displays indignation. That's why I added the "unbelievable" in the last sentence. It can mean various things, unbelievable is just one possibility.

"darf" is a conjugated form of "dürfen", which translates to "being allowed". In German this word is used in it's active form instead of it's passive form. As a passive construction you would use the more formal "erlaubt sein".

In ordinary German these sentences would have been:
„Darf das (the child) das (the playing with mud)?“ „Das (the child) darf das (the playing).“ „Dass (subordinating conjunction) das (the child) das (the playing) darf!“

Sorry for killing this joke…
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 14 Aug 2013, 15:29
But am I allowed to do this? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DontExplainTheJoke)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 14 Aug 2013, 15:34
Presumably, part of the joke is referring to the baby as "it"? I confess that I do that sometimes. I used to have a bigger problem, because the Chinese words for "he", "she" and "it" have identical pronunciation (written they are 他, 她 & 它 respectively), and would occasionally refer inappropriately to people as "it".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 14 Aug 2013, 15:51
But am I allowed to do this? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DontExplainTheJoke)

Of course you are - but then we have to kill you.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: ankhtahr on 14 Aug 2013, 15:54
Well, the German term for child is actually in the third grammatical gender, neuter. (from the latin word neuter, which means "neither of both"). Referring to the child as "it" is correct. It's more a joke about how sentence structure can give a sentence multiple meanings.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 14 Aug 2013, 17:49
Addition: "the girl" is also neuter, but I use female pronouns with it out of principle. If I remember, that is.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 14 Aug 2013, 18:15
I haven't heard it in the "not upper bounded" variation before.

The key is that any occurrence of "buffalo" as a noun can be replaced by "buffalo buffalo buffalo".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 15 Aug 2013, 01:47
„Darf dat dat?“ - „Dat darf dat.“ - „Dat dat dat darf!“


D, R, and V in Morse code. 


And you thought you killed the joke!   :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 31 Aug 2013, 23:09
Why is there so much difference between a speeding bullet and a speeding ticket?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 01 Sep 2013, 02:46
I was reading an article (http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21583972-three-experiments-are-starting-study-dark-energy-most-abundant-stuff) in The Economist today in which "maths" was treated as a plural, as in "Dr. Wetterich is a well-respected physicist and his maths are not obviously wrong." I treat math(ematic)s as a singular, just like physics, and would have written "his maths is not obviously wrong". Is that incorrect?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 01 Sep 2013, 04:01
I always treat it as a singular.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 01 Sep 2013, 04:02
"Maths" is a relatively new use of the term. I haven't got a clue, but then again, I speak 'merican, with a side of Cheesehead dere hey.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 01 Sep 2013, 04:11
It's been "maths" in British English forever, to my knowledge, so not really new!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 01 Sep 2013, 07:06
Maths is the British UK usage, math is the American usage.  But Akima and Barmy is are correct in that its use is singular in both cases.  They're just different abbreviations for mathematics. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 01 Sep 2013, 07:40
Could 'maths' be a plural when used to emphasize the inclusion of more than one type of math?  I have never heard it used that way, and I'm not sure it makes sense, semantically, because I don't think you can divide math like that.  (Even though there are types of math (calculus, statistics, geometry...) I'm not sure they really separate into different things in the way that say "breads" or "fishes" can.)  But, if you could conceive of the fields within math as discrete than to me "his maths are" would be emphasizing all the various types of math that he is not wrong about. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 01 Sep 2013, 07:43
People would just say (as you wound up doing) "fields of math(ematic)s".  The fields are what's plural. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 01 Sep 2013, 14:38
Even the Economist has ignorant sub-editors, it would seem; maths is (see!*) treated as a singular noun, just as the full word mathematics is.

* Well, I realise it's not really the same, as here it is the word, not the field, which is the subject.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 01 Sep 2013, 15:31
Why is 'quenching' a word we use in the context of both fire and thirst?

And it's not English, but I just realised that the literal translation of the Dutch word for french toast is turningbitches.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 01 Sep 2013, 15:43
Quench is also used in electricity (quench a spark) and electronics (quench an oscillation).  It's about the ending of the previous state, not wetness or hotness.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 08 Sep 2013, 16:47
I asked a friend to proofread my report and he claims that every time I use the phrase "on the other hand" I should have prefaced that with "on the one hand" before, but I only rarely do that. I usually use "on the other hand" synonymously with "however", in this manner:

"Electrode A showed these results. Electrode B, on the other hand, showed different results."

Is this generally acceptable use or should I change it?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 08 Sep 2013, 20:43
I think he's wrong. He's insisting on an almost visual use of the two phrases, holding out your left hand, looking down at it, "On the one hand...." and holding out the right, "On the other hand."
To my editing sense, "On the other hand" conveys the sense of "however,"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 08 Sep 2013, 20:47
Strunk and White would tell you to drop "on the other hand" entirely, but I dislike their advice.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 08 Sep 2013, 20:51
Then again ..........
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 09 Sep 2013, 04:13
Thanks for the advice, I'm just going to leave it in then.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 29 Sep 2013, 05:30
If 'to discount (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/discount)' is to reduce the price of something, then why is, for example, 'discount pizza' pizza that was cheap to begin with, rather than pizza that has been reduced in price?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 29 Sep 2013, 06:31
I suppose because companies wanted people to see "discount" and associate it with "cheap" and therefore "good value for money". Having managed to achieve this to quite a large extent, such that people will buy things "on special offer" which are actually cheaper in a different combination or brand on the same shelf, they are now simply using the word as a "buy me, I'm cheap" emotional trigger.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 29 Sep 2013, 13:50
Why do we say "at sea" but not "at land"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 29 Sep 2013, 13:51
Because you cannot walk on sea?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 29 Sep 2013, 14:08
But you are on the surface of the sea.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 29 Sep 2013, 14:32
"At sea" is a euphemism for being lost, that is, not within sight of any discernible landmarks to guide you.  I used to sail on Lake Erie (larger than many of the world's seas), and once you're out of sight of land (which happens surprisingly quickly), you better have either a compass or a damned good sense of direction if you ever want to find land again! 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 29 Sep 2013, 14:45
But you are on the surface of the sea.
I would sooner say you are on the surface of a ship when you are at sea.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 29 Sep 2013, 15:33
Why do we say "at sea" but not "at land"?

While I don't know the reasons for the usage as a proud member of the maritime services of these United States it is my pleasure to inform you all that you're a bunch of filthy landlubbers for spending all your time a shore. You see this is the really fun part of English! Dialects! I have had full conversations with fellow Marines and sailors (using nothing out of the ordinary for us and no acronyms) and had girlfriends ask me after what the hell we were discussing because she couldn't understand more then a word or two.



Ugh just thinking about it makes me land sick. I need to get out on the water again.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 29 Sep 2013, 16:28
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 18 Oct 2013, 03:48
What does "if not" mean in the context of "mostly, if not entirely"? I've seen that construction a lot and I can never tell if it's synonymous with "mostly, possibly entirely" or "mostly, but not entirely".

Just now, I read this in an article: "He has documented serious flaws in the ways that many – if not the [majority of – studies]..."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 18 Oct 2013, 04:01
I would say it depends where the "if not" comes. So for example you might say "Well if not Friday, how about Saturday?" and mean "Friday isn't possible, so let's go for Saturday". It's less clear in the later position - in the example you give, it could mean both. In speech you can tell from the tone but that doesn't help with writing so you have to figure it out from the context I'm afraid. I'd assume "mostly, possibly entirely" because a clearer way to say "mostly, but not entirely" would be "many, although not all".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 18 Oct 2013, 04:05
I normally read the expression as meaning mostly, probably entirely: "I think Tony Abbott's character is mostly, if not entirely, comprised of the moral equivalent of toxic waste."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 19 Oct 2013, 10:10
 "The rat king is mostly, if not entirely, made of rats" = "If the rat king is not made entirely of rats, than it is mostly rats."
I think it is entirely rats, but I am not sure enough to claim it as truth, but even if the absolute is not true, the next step down is. 

As far as the shades of meaning/rhetorical reasons one would use this construction, the "if not" construction allows one to push their meaning towards something stronger than they are prepared to defend. This construction suggests that the stronger position is true, but keeps the speaker from having to defend it.  "I know many studies are X, and I think it is most of them, but I am not prepared to back that up by having counted."  "I think Abbott is moral toxic waste, but I don't want the the burden of the absolute by saying there definitely isn't even one small good part left." your reader/listener can't unread/hear the suggestion so it can strengthen your position, but you haven't actually claimed it, so you only have to defend the weaker claim.  It is frequently used with the second statement which is an absolute (all, every, entirely, etc.) Absolutes are easy to disprove, you only need to find one good moral position Abbot has, or one mouse in the rat king... In the case of "many, if not most" it is the same idea.  "many" is a vague claim but "most" has a fixed meaning (>50%) and so is easier to disprove.  There is no clear way to disprove "many" and so it is a safer position to take.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 19 Oct 2013, 10:46
your reader/listener can't unread/hear the suggestion so it can strengthen your position, but you haven't actually claimed it, so you only have to defend the weaker claim.

This stylistic device is called apophasis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophasis).

(I didn't remember the name, but that the term existed.)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 02 Nov 2013, 23:01
If a bread knife is used for cutting bread,
and a steak knife is used for cutting steak,
and a butter knife is used for cutting butter,
what is a chef knife for?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 02 Nov 2013, 23:24
Gordon Ramsey
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 03 Nov 2013, 02:04
If a bread knife is used for cutting bread,
and a steak knife is used for cutting steak,
and a butter knife is used for cutting butter,
what is a chef knife for?
Chef's knives do quite often cut chefs, but a sheath-knife is not for cutting sheaths, a boot-knife is not for cutting boots, a jack-knife is not for cutting jacks, a flick-knife is not for cutting flicks, a trench-knife is not for cutting trenches, and a butterfly-knife is not for cutting butterflies.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 03 Nov 2013, 02:55
Sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil ... baby oil?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 03 Nov 2013, 06:48
If a bread knife is used for cutting bread,
and a steak knife is used for cutting steak,
and a butter knife is used for cutting butter,
what is a chef knife for?
Chef's knives do quite often cut chefs, but a sheath-knife is not for cutting sheaths, a boot-knife is not for cutting boots, a jack-knife is not for cutting jacks, a flick-knife is not for cutting flicks, a trench-knife is not for cutting trenches, and a butterfly-knife is not for cutting butterflies.

trench knives are for cutting things IN trenches though!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 03 Nov 2013, 11:00
I can never forget that deadpan line from The Addams Family about Girl Scout cookies.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 03 Nov 2013, 22:10
Sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil ... baby oil?

Olive Oyl's family from the old Popeye comics; father Cole, mother Nana, and brother Castor. 

Maybe this belongs in the pun thread, but...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 04 Nov 2013, 00:14
Some try to use ghoti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghoti) as an example of how weird the rules of English spelling are.  And while the rules mentioned for the parts of the word are all true, they are not true for how the word is constructed.  No English word that starts with gh has the gh make the 'f' sound, nor does a word ending in ti make the 'sh' sound.

Quote
Linguists have pointed out that the location of the letters in the constructed word is inconsistent with how those letters would be pronounced in those placements, and that the expected pronunciation in English would be "goaty".  For instance, the letters "gh" cannot be pronounced /f/ at the beginning of a syllable, and the letters "ti" cannot be pronounced /ʃ/ at the end of a syllable.

Rules, people.  They exist for a reason.  Else we'd all be a bunch of uncultured barbarians.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 04 Nov 2013, 00:19
Some try to use ghoti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghoti) as an example of how weird the rules of English spelling are.

It was G B Shaw who used that example.  And even though it's not realistic, it does make the point.  I prefer to point out the number of different sounds represented by "ough" (I have nine (http://forums.questionablecontent.net/index.php/topic,28054.msg1087383.html#msg1087383) to hand).  (Or ten even - here I am saying them (http://cassland.org/sounds/Words.mp3).)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 10 Nov 2013, 22:46
Maybe this belongs in the pun thread, but...
Oh, no. NO. Someone mentions this thread, so I find it and read all 300+ posts...only to see this. Damn you, sir.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 11 Nov 2013, 00:55
My wife and I were talking about electric vehicles and she observed that "charging station" is actually a contradiction in terms.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 14 Nov 2013, 05:15
I was talking to a colleague about the origin of the work "trunk" for the luggage compartment of a car, which we call "boot" over here.  She found this thread (http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/3269/) for me, which I enjoyed in a number of ways.

I'd not previously met the terms "leftpondian" and "rightpondian", and their more detailed derivatives, though referring to the Atlantic as "the pond" is common when talking about the two sides of it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 14 Nov 2013, 10:31
I'm not crazy about "left/right" being used to refer to "west/east" but I call the Atlantic the pond all the time.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 14 Nov 2013, 11:23
Posh.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 15 Nov 2013, 02:42
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 15 Nov 2013, 04:06
FYI that Chinese character at the end is or wén which means "language".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 15 Nov 2013, 14:04
Shouldn't "denoting" be the opposite of "noting"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 15 Nov 2013, 14:08
Quite some time ago I decided that "dote", when used as a noun, referred to a poison. I still think it makes sense.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 15 Nov 2013, 14:38
Shouldn't "denoting" be the opposite of "noting"?
There are so many words with the de- prefix that have no relation to their meaning without the prefix, that de- must have (had) a different meaning than to undo something.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 15 Nov 2013, 14:57
See also flammable and inflammable.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 15 Nov 2013, 15:24
There are so many words with the de- prefix that have no relation to their meaning without the prefix, that de- must have (had) a different meaning than to undo something.
Or de- words that are "rootless" in the sense that the word that is prefixed does not exist. For example: "degauss", when "gauss" is not a verb, and nothing is ever "gaussed".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 15 Nov 2013, 16:37
A lot of them are indeed rootless (as far as modern speech is concerned), like delete, derive, defy, deflect, deride, despise, deceive, declare, destroy, demolish, devour, decide, deduce, deject, develop, debate, decant, deprive, deprave, decay and detect, but many also seem to have a root, like devote, detest, deserve, default, decry, defeat, descent, decease, defence, delay, deliberate, deliver, denominate, depart, deploy, depress, design and detail.

Thus ends this demonstration.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: bainidhe_dub on 15 Nov 2013, 18:54
But some of those "rootless" de- words do have a counterpart that begins with re-, suggesting a common etymological root at some point, even if the root is no longer in use as a standalone word. Such as: reflect, receive, reduce, reject, recant, revise, repress, resist.

See also:
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 22 Nov 2013, 04:01
How many profane verbs are used as positive adjectives? It occured to me that "bitching" (or "bitchin'" as it's more commonly used) as an adjective is often a good thing. "That wave was totally bitchin'." (It looks like a gerund but it's really an adjective, like 'awesome'.) But you can't do that with other profane verbs-as-adjectives. "Totally fuckin'/shittin'/pissin'/dickin'" are never used. Nor are "Cuntin'/Whorin'/Assin'"... fuck, I'm running out of profanity.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 22 Nov 2013, 04:23
See also:
(click to show/hide)

Yes.

From OED (heavily précied):

whelm verb & noun. verb intrans: Overturn, capsize. verb trans: Turn (a hollow vessel) upside down, cover with an upside-down vessel; submerge, drown, bury.  noun: A wooden drainpipe originally made from a hollowed tree trunk; a surge (of activity, water, etc) poet.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 27 Nov 2013, 23:58
I don't know how accurate this is:

http://www.cracked.com/article_20713_5-reasons-english-language-makes-no-freaking-sense.html
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 28 Nov 2013, 01:08
I think the motivations for the changes are a bit cherry-picked - but the one about changes to match an incorrect Latin etymology is true enough.  But basically it can be summarised by saying that English has been hacked together and bashed about more than most languages, and it shows.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 28 Nov 2013, 14:36
Quote from: James Davis Nicoll
The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle[sic] their pockets for new vocabulary.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 29 Nov 2013, 00:22
That quote isn't from Pratchett? I need to read more of this man.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: calenlass on 30 Nov 2013, 00:18
As far as I can tell, the I Before E rule does work, but you have to approach it from a bit of an etymological standpoint. It applies almost uniformly to words that are not:

Words of romance origin into Middle English (and some other words with two pronounced syllables ie or ei, like science)
German bastardizations, like neighbor (nachbar), eight (acht), freight (fracht), etc
anything from gaelic
Loan words, for the love of god why would you apply a spelling rule to words that came from a completely different language with completely different spelling rules, like ceilidh, hacienda, Eid, geisha, zeitgeist, and sheikh, of course it isn't going to work you idiots
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 30 Nov 2013, 06:51
Considering much of the English language is words of Romance origin into Middle English, German bastardizations and a smattering of Gaelic, it's safe to say the rule doesn't work.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 30 Nov 2013, 08:49
It's not so bad if you recall that it only applies to the sound "-ee-"; but yes, it's a pretty crap rule, though somewhat useful in practice.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 30 Nov 2013, 12:45
"...or except as an 'a', as in neighbor and weigh."

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 09 Dec 2013, 01:05
I was thinking today, while waiting for a compile/make at work, that it is odd that army is treated as a singular while police is treated as a plural:

The police are investigating a murder.

The army is attacking the enemy.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Schmee on 09 Dec 2013, 02:57
I decided to try mixing those sentences around, to see how weird they looked, and I ended up with this:

The police is attacking a murder.

The army are investigating the enemy.

... I need more sleep.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 09 Dec 2013, 03:23
"The army are" sounds less strange than "the police is" I think.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 09 Dec 2013, 03:32
Unless you travel south of the river
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Aimless on 09 Dec 2013, 03:33
I think it's less jarring because the word "police" can be both singular and plural, while the word "army" is singular. Moreover, the army is usually seen as a single monolithic institution while in this example it's implied that you have a bunch of police officers diligently investigating a murder.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 09 Dec 2013, 03:39
I was observing to my Polish housemate the other day that the exact same phrase in English can have totally opposite meanings depending on tone of voice.

The example I used was 'Can we not do that?'

In fact it's not even just tone, but facial expression. Sour faced expression 'Can we not do that?' means 'I don't want to do that.' Wry grin expression 'Can we not do that?' means 'I do want to do that.'

Also, in London vernacular, 'allow it' means 'stop it,' which is LITERALLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT 'ALLOW IT' MEANS
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 09 Dec 2013, 03:49
I think it's less jarring because the word "police" can be both singular and plural, while the word "army" is singular. Moreover, the army is usually seen as a single monolithic institution while in this example it's implied that you have a bunch of police officers diligently investigating a murder.
I think you've got it wrong. Why not consider each individual soldier and support staff in the army like you consider the police officers and clerks?

Police' is an uncountable noun, while 'army' is a countable noun, but that doesn't explain anything further. "The information have been collected" doesn't work, for example, nor does "The money are arrived."

The same discussion is being had here (http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/linguistics/101751-unique-collective-uncountable-noun-police.html).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 09 Dec 2013, 03:56
[...]
Also, in London vernacular, 'allow it' means 'stop it,' which is LITERALLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT 'ALLOW IT' MEANS
Could you give an example of how that is supposed to work?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 09 Dec 2013, 04:11
I second Beo's request for an example.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 09 Dec 2013, 04:12
I've been away from London for a while but I think it goes a little something like this;

"I'm gonna keep hitting on your mum's 'til she gives us a nosh"

"allow it"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 09 Dec 2013, 04:16
Also, I realise English is the grubby kleptomaniac cousin in linguistics, but I've been a bit surprised at the increase in Cheezburger vernacular  on the street.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 09 Dec 2013, 04:17
I am baffled at how much memes have penetrated into real culture.

And Killer's example is spot on. It's literally just as simple as 'Man you're such a dick, why do you have to be such a dick all the time?' 'All right, all right, allow it!'
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 09 Dec 2013, 04:23
Nosh is one if me favourite euphemisms at the moment, mostly because there's a sandwich chain of that name.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 09 Dec 2013, 07:31
Wait, that's a euphemism? I thought he wanted the mom to fix him and his friends a snack :parrot:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 09 Dec 2013, 08:05
Nosh is Yiddish for food or a meal (also cf German: naschen, to nibble).  In US also a snack or titbit.  (from OED)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 09 Dec 2013, 08:12
I like to nosh on a knish. 

The k is not silent. 


We call it a knosh.    :D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 09 Dec 2013, 08:13
It's "Nosh" to me. There's a lovely little wine bar in Estes Park, CO called Nosh that has some fantastic cheese and snack platters.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 09 Dec 2013, 08:20
I love knishes! They are the best (then again I love the potato in almost any form).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 29 Dec 2013, 12:56
(https://scontent-b-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/1474633_832804183415703_6636459_n.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 29 Dec 2013, 16:31
It's terrifying that that sentence does indeed make total sense.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 29 Dec 2013, 19:32
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snalin on 29 Dec 2013, 20:03
James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

... is probably a funnier example, although it requires context (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_while_John_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_had_a_better_effect_on_the_teacher). It's basically the same as the faith example above, but using the words "had" and "had had" as the subjects of the sentence.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snalin on 29 Dec 2013, 20:04
Also, even if you don't know Chinese, this is pretty cool (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vExjnn_3ep4).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 29 Dec 2013, 20:11
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 29 Dec 2013, 21:09
Also, even if you don't know Chinese, this is pretty cool (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vExjnn_3ep4).
The joys of tonal language. ;)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 30 Dec 2013, 06:26
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo)

Even better, you can leave the city out and still make a grammatical sentence of any length >=2 using only the word "buffalo". The trick is that anywhere you have "buffalo" the noun you can substitute "buffalo buffalo buffalo", meaning "bison who are intimidated by other bison". I don't remember who discovered this.

EDIT: Announcement on a train at a stop: "All doors will not open".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 02 Jan 2014, 09:46
Is that no doors will open or at least one door will not?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 02 Jan 2014, 11:37
The latter.

EDIT: I've been forgetting to mention this for months:
Quote from: snalin
Quote
Steel roasting hood, forged from the melted turret of the Soviet T-50 tank that took Berlin during the second World War.

Not a T-50 that took part in the capture of Berlin, the T-50. As in the single tank that overcame the entirety of nazi Germany's last stand on it's own. And the turret of that tank is in this grill!

How any ESL speaker works out the use of definite articles is beyond me. It's normal in English to use it in near-opposite ways:
"The T-50 tank was produced by the thousands from (date) to (date) at the arms factory in (place)"
"The T-50 tank that broke down on that corner had serial number (number)"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 18 May 2014, 15:14
If a dog park is where dogs can run free and play with one another, what is a car park?

If a place that raises cats is a cattery, why isn't a place that raises bats called a battery?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 18 May 2014, 15:40
Drive in a parkway, park in a driveway, etc.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 19 May 2014, 03:04
How any ESL speaker works out the use of definite articles is beyond me.
The same way as you get to Carnegie Hall...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 19 May 2014, 03:10
... casting couch?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 19 May 2014, 04:28
I like to think before Google Maps decided to stop being fun, typing in "Carnegie Hall" would've resulted in the first four steps being

1. Practice
2. Practice
3. Practice
4. Turn onto (road)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 19 May 2014, 12:55
How any ESL speaker works out the use of definite articles is beyond me.
The same way as you get to Carnegie Hall...
Okay, it seems I'm missing at least two cultural references here? :?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 19 May 2014, 12:56
I had no idea what the reference was but assumed the answer to both is "you ask someone".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 19 May 2014, 13:05
I like to think before Google Maps decided to stop being fun, typing in "Carnegie Hall" would've resulted in the first four steps being

1. Practice
2. Practice
3. Practice
4. Turn onto (road)
Had to check. It does not.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 19 May 2014, 15:09
An old Henny Youngman joke.

"A guy came up to me and asked me how to get to Carnegie Hall. I told him, 'Practice, practice, practice.'"

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 19 May 2014, 20:10
I like to think before Google Maps decided to stop being fun, typing in "Carnegie Hall" would've resulted in the first four steps being

1. Practice
2. Practice
3. Practice
4. Turn onto (road)
Had to check. It does not.
Like I said, before they decided to stop being fun. Back in the days where getting directions from New York to London would include "swim across the Atlantic Ocean".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 23 May 2014, 23:19
From the pointless thread, a paean to the pain of English pronunciation:
http://www.tickld.com/x/90-of-people-cant-pronounce-this-whole-poem
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 27 May 2014, 03:12
http://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/19-people-who-took-on-the-english-language-and-lost
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 27 May 2014, 04:10
I honestly don't feel like we are under any obligation to use proper grammar on social media or everyday communication, but some of those are hilarious largely because of the shitty attitude of the people involved.

Pretty sure Arron's was meant to be satirical, though...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 27 May 2014, 04:43
Obligation? Maybe not, but is there any reason not to?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 27 May 2014, 04:59
Some people can't spell. Expecting people who don't spell well, and have no need to in their day to day lives, to use flawless grammar and spelling on a network that is for socialising, not spellchecking, is just prickish and pedantic.

I don't do maths in my head particularly well, and every time people act like everyone should have perfect grammar all the time and victimise people for it, I hear my family's voices when I don't add things up immediately in my head or don't know my times tables off by heart (I have to work them out, I never memorised them).

Different people have different skills.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 27 May 2014, 05:20
I do wonder how much of that is autocomplete fail, though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 27 May 2014, 05:24
I suppose, but surely some effort to be understood is expected? And a misspelling is different than using the wrong word entirely.

My problem with people who constantly complain about autocorrect is that they're fully admitting to never giving their message even a cursory glance before hitting send. Autocorrect doesn't mean not having to proofread.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 27 May 2014, 06:03
I suppose, but surely some effort to be understood is expected?

Who says other people can't understand them? Teenagers use slang relentlessly. I doubt most of our grandparents can understand half of what is said even on this forum. I didn't even know the significance of the words 'fedora' or 'problematic' until the last year.

Quote
And a misspelling is different than using the wrong word entirely.

Except to those with a smaller vocabulary, which could be due to ignorance, lack of education, or just lower intelligence, none of which are a sin.

Quote
My problem with people who constantly complain about autocorrect is that they're fully admitting to never giving their message even a cursory glance before hitting send. Autocorrect doesn't mean not having to proofread.

*shrug* sometimes you're in a hurry.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 27 May 2014, 06:19
I had run out of steam for my tutoring topic (we're doing a virtual tour of the UK, town by town, and have been doing so for the last six months - I guess I got bored!) so today I got my student to read through that poem that 90% of English speakers apparently can't read. He did incredibly well; he only got 32 words wrong, and his attempts were completely logical. Bear in mind that this kid only started learning English at all four years ago!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 27 May 2014, 21:56
Shouldn't "declaim" and "reclaim" be opposites?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 28 May 2014, 02:38
We just had this conversation six months ago.

Shouldn't "denoting" be the opposite of "noting"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 28 May 2014, 02:48
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: nekowafer on 28 May 2014, 09:20
What poem is that, May?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Barmymoo on 28 May 2014, 09:26
This one (http://www.tickld.com/x/90-of-people-cant-pronounce-this-whole-poem), it was linked in the pointless thread and then here.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: nekowafer on 28 May 2014, 09:31
Oh, interesting. I consider myself pretty good with things and would probably mispronounce many of those words. I just don't hear them pronounced out loud so I'm not entirely sure how to pronounce them.

But I saw that link and thought of my ex (and friend) Chris, who pronounces pseudo as "suede-o" and says "for all intensive purposes".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ben on 31 May 2014, 03:07
I do quite a lot if work with people who don't speak English as a first language, and the most common problem by far is that English spellings can vary randomly. "Guarantee" and "warranty" both essentially mean the same thing, come from the same root but look completely different in print. The "-ough" phoneme has multiple pronunciations, with no indicator of which applies in any given situation.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BeoPuppy on 31 May 2014, 07:55
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/lifestyle/spelling-bee/
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 06 Jul 2014, 14:40
A dog who is "paper trained" is one which reliably eliminates on newspapers.

People brag about their dogs being "well trained".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 06 Jul 2014, 19:17
A person who is heartbroken has a broken heart. A dog that is housebroken has a broken... house?

English spelling vs. pronunciation is pretty random, but far less arbitrary than the pronunciation of Chinese characters so I'm not going to complain too much. On the other hand, the pronunciations given in this video clip just seem downright capricious:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 10 Jul 2014, 07:00
Ah, but those are all proper names, not really a linguistic issue - they've had centuries to be mangled by a quasi-literate populace talking with most of their teeth missing in backwoods accents that would stump the residents two towns over. 

And oddly enough, most have the first and last sounds intact, it's just the middles that winds up mangled/missing. 

One of my favorites he missed was "Saint John" pronounced "sin-gin"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 10 Jul 2014, 08:18
And oddly enough, most have the first and last sounds intact, it's just the middles that winds up mangled/missing.

The English town "Cirencester" is nowadays mainly pronounced as spelt; but my mother said it the same as "sister".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 10 Jul 2014, 14:18
How do you pronounce Rochester and Worcester?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 10 Jul 2014, 14:23
If I remember correctly it's Roster and Wescter.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 10 Jul 2014, 14:28
Ro-che-ster
Wu-ster
^ as in "wood", not "woo"

Incidentally, in contrast with Cirencester (Si-ren-se-ster), Bicester (a town near Oxford) is pronounced just Bi-ster (Bi as in "biscuit", not "bicycle") with the same elision as Worcester.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 10 Jul 2014, 14:34
Rah-chest-er

(being from the one in NY. :)  )
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 10 Jul 2014, 14:34
I take great delight in pronouncing Worcestershire as "Worr-ces-ter-shire" at work, in my most yokel-ish voice and watching everyone cringe.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 10 Jul 2014, 14:37
Rah-chest-er

(being from the one in NY. :)  )
Raw chest hair?

(I can't be the first person to think of that.)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 10 Jul 2014, 15:16
Whale oil beef hooked!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 10 Jul 2014, 15:18
Whale oil beef hooked!
That's Armchair Emperor clever!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 10 Jul 2014, 19:51
Rah-chest-er

Raw chest hair?

(http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/8LItvNnwOk4/hqdefault.jpg)

Yeah, boss? 


This gag is intended to make the 5 of us who get the reference right off the bat feel incredibly smug in our dotage...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 11 Jul 2014, 11:23
I got it, although I better recall the pre-TV radio voice than the image.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omio on 11 Jul 2014, 16:53
Permission to post the full text of a leisurely essay I did about why one shouldn't overuse the comma? It extends precisely 1000 words. Warning, I kinda half-assed it, and brought spellcheck to its knees several times over.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 11 Jul 2014, 22:16
Will it leave us commatose?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omio on 12 Jul 2014, 04:20
Judging by the terrible pun,  it sounds okay. Will leave it in a spoiler, though.

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 12 Jul 2014, 11:24
My inner editor is retching right now. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Omio on 12 Jul 2014, 12:42
My inner editor is retching right now.
Lemme tell you, when though I wrote it over 6 years ago, I was in one of those "MY CLASS IS FULL OF IDIOTS, READ IT AND SHUT UP!" moods. Your response is one of the desirable ones. :3
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Redball on 12 Jul 2014, 15:50
I couldn't get more than a few lines into it. It reminded me of some of the winners in the annual Bulwer-Lytton contest, but without the humor.

My favorite from that contest, perhaps placed on the forum before:
Quote
"The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, "You lied!"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 13 Jul 2014, 03:21
Seriously, fuck our language it's stupid.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 14 Jul 2014, 08:59
But it allows you to express that so eloquently! 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 14 Dec 2014, 09:46
Why is there so much difference between a safety clearance and a security clearance?

Why is there so much difference between a music bag and a music box?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 14 Dec 2014, 20:46
A music bag? Is that a thing?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 14 Dec 2014, 20:54
Well, bagpipes are.  There is a bag involved somewhere in there, but they sound more like an octopus is being tortured.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 14 Dec 2014, 21:24
Quote
Why is there so much difference between a safety clearance and a security clearance?
I'm confused by this...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 15 Dec 2014, 18:58
A safety clearance, if I'm not mistaken, refers to a bridge over a road, and how tall a vehicle can safely pass under it.

A security clearance is being allowed to access secret documents or work in restricted areas.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 15 Dec 2014, 20:28
A music bag? Is that a thing?
Certainly. Music bags are generally flattish cases designed to hold sheet-music.

Is "music box" standard American English for what I would call a "musical box"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 15 Dec 2014, 21:13
Yes.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: explicit on 15 Dec 2014, 21:15
A music bag? Is that a thing?
Certainly. Music bags are generally flattish cases designed to hold sheet-music.

Is "music box" standard American English for what I would call a "musical box"?

Yes.

We're too lazy for all these extra letters other English speakers keep insisting on using  :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 16 Dec 2014, 05:19
@Akima- So a music bag isn't even a bag? :psyduck:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 16 Dec 2014, 06:12
Apparently not.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: explicit on 16 Dec 2014, 06:20
Whenever I hear bag:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT7xc_XqYO8

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 16 Dec 2014, 15:38
Why is there so much difference between a doghouse and a cathouse?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: SubaruStephen on 16 Dec 2014, 16:17
Causality: You end up in the doghouse after your wife finds out you've been to a cathouse.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 08 Jan 2015, 22:25
Whenever I see the word "casualty" I hear "causality". 

I'm mildly dyslexic, but damn, it's one letter by one space

And a world of meaning. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 08 Jan 2015, 22:36
I had something similar happen when I was taking a philosophy course in HS.  There was an entire chapter on "causal arguments", and I kept reading it as "casual arguments", and was wondering why it made no sense.  That was until the teacher actually reached that chapter and pronounced it correctly, and I suddenly understood.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 14 Jan 2015, 22:35
Quote from: Twitter
Joshua Stanton @freekorea_us

Can I get a rewrite on this headline? 'North Koreans Walk Across Frozen River to Kill Chinese for Food'

Which reminds me of one of my least favorite idioms, in which people describe their dinner plans as "I'm eating Chinese".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 14 Jan 2015, 23:37
Or eating Italian. 

Are there other ethnic groups we like to have for dinner? 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: GarandMarine on 15 Jan 2015, 00:11
Mexican. Cuban.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 15 Jan 2015, 04:30
Pretty much all of them really. Ethnic groupings have this handy ability of being able to be applied to things other than people.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 15 Jan 2015, 07:51
Well it would only work for ones where the demonym is the same as the adj, that said I'm still not sure it's actually confusing, like it could work in an intentionally set up joke, but not an accidental misunderstanding.  People are countable, and food is not, so you would need an article or a number, and also it would get a plural.  Even if you avoided the word 'eat' and said "I'm having Italian" it would mean a person unless you'd set up a comparison of the person to food. (Say by waggeling your eyebrows at a friend who knows you're dating an Italian)

It could work if you used "some" because it has a dual meaning:
I'm eating some Italian for dinner.

As an amount of an uncountable thing (food)
As an expression of non-specificity (person)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 15 Jan 2015, 08:18
Now I'm thinking of the film "Eating Raoul".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 15 Jan 2015, 14:29
I'm eating some Italian for dinner.
Mmm... But the countability problem raises its head again, doesn't it? If you were actually a cannibal, you'd say "I'm eating some of an Italian", "I'm eating an Italian", or (if you were very hungry) "I am eating Italians. Italian without a definite or indefinite article is normally read as an adjective. "I am eating Italian" simply leaves the word "food" after "Italian" unstated but understood.

I tend to regard Chinese as an adjective. "She is Chinese" is fine, but "She is a Chinese" sounds a bit off in my ears, though I suppose it is no different from the way American is used as an adjective as well as a demonym. 我是中国人 literally means "I am China person", but depending on the context, could be translated legitimately either as "I am Chinese" or "I am a Chinese person". If you wanted to be absolutely specific about the latter meaning, you'd have to say: 我是一中国人 (the character 一 is used as an article here, equivalent to "a").
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 15 Jan 2015, 14:32
With Fiva Beans and a nice Chianti?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 15 Jan 2015, 14:45
But it could also be said the same as you might say "Some idiot pulled out in front of me on the way to work" or "I wonder if I can find some mug to buy this bridge". "I'm eating some Italian" might mean "I am eating an unspecified and unknown Italian person".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 15 Jan 2015, 18:30
I tend to agree about the use of "chinese" as a demonym.  I have never said "a Chinese" always "a Chinese person"  I just wasn't sure if it was regional.  I don't really have a demonym for China...  "Chinaman" is the only one I've heard, and I'm sure not comfortable using that.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 15 Jan 2015, 19:43
There's no single word demonym, just "Chinese person".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 11 Feb 2015, 01:57
http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2015/02/11
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Orkboy on 11 Feb 2015, 05:46
The phrase "I never said he stole my money" means seven different things depending on which word is stressed. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 11 Feb 2015, 06:24
No it doesn't, but depending on which word is stressed, you could guess the formulation of the question or statement that preceded it.

"Don't you think he should give the money he stole back?"
"How could you accuse him of stealing?"
Etcetera.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Orkboy on 11 Feb 2015, 08:23
If you stress "I," it implies that someone else said it.  If you stress "never," then it literally means just that you never said it.  Stress on "said" implies that you never technically said it, but maybe hinted at it.  Stress "he" and it becomes "no, it wasn't him, it was that other guy."  Stressing "stole" indicates that you gave the money to him or something.  Stressing "my" says that he stole someone else's money.  And finally, stressing "money" says he stole something else. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 11 Feb 2015, 08:56
There's a lot that can change about what the sentence implies but that does not at all change what it means.  :wink:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Papersatan on 11 Feb 2015, 11:40
I'm going to agree that it changes the meaning.  Meaning is more than just the surface value of words, it what they communicate.  By changing the stress of the words you are changing the message you are sending, and therefore the meaning of the sentence.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 11 Feb 2015, 16:59
Exactly, the stress does change the meaning, I think. Words are not unique, isolated, discrete "bricks" of meaning which have the same value however used. That sentence illustrates perfectly the difference between spoken and written English. To communicate all the possible meanings of that sentence, you'd have to italicise the stressed word, or rewrite it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 11 Feb 2015, 17:18
Couldn't you argue that about sentences or lines in conversations as well? If you knew the context of that sentence, what preceded and followed it, it would be quite clear what word it is stressing. Either way it adds information that the original sentence did not contain, so I suppose that does affect the meaning as much as context does.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: looktall on 11 Feb 2015, 17:25
how come when you send something by car it's called a shipment, but when you send it by ship it's called cargo?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 11 Feb 2015, 17:35
What do you say when you watch a car depart on a ship? "Look at that car go!"  :claireface:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: looktall on 11 Feb 2015, 17:48
and if it's one of these? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_S-Cargo)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Orkboy on 11 Feb 2015, 17:55
There's a lot that can change about what the sentence implies but that does not at all change what it means.  :wink:

Implication is meaning, though.  If someone bumps you and says "excuse me," then it's all cool.  If someone bumps you and says it like this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zANvYB93u2g), someone's getting punched. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 11 Feb 2015, 19:43
and if it's one of these? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_S-Cargo)

Well, at least it doesn't go at a Snails pace.    :claireface:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 31 Mar 2015, 23:02
“English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street.”   -- E. B. White
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 01 Apr 2015, 06:07
I was wondering the other day how the word "drone" ever got attached to pilotless aircraft. After all, most of the bees you see flying about are not drones, but workers.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 01 Apr 2015, 06:47
I think it's closer to the more modern usage of office or industrial workers who serve to endlessly repeat actions or processes with little to no intellectual input into their work. I.e. When Smithers describes Homer Simpson as one of the drones from Sector C. Drones, being unmanned, can't take any overriding decisions not pre-programmed into them and can only do what they are told to do.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 01 Apr 2015, 12:52
Eeeeeeexcellent
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 01 Apr 2015, 14:15
I think it's closer to the more modern usage of office or industrial workers who serve to endlessly repeat actions or processes with little to no intellectual input into their work.
Well that usage is strange too. That is a description much closer to the behaviour of worker bees, not drones whose only function is to mate with a queen.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 01 Apr 2015, 15:14
I think at this point I'm just going to blame the Americans.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 01 Apr 2015, 15:20
Perhaps the term is taken from the droning sound such a remote-controlled plane typically makes.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 01 Apr 2015, 15:23
The origin of "drone" according to the WSJ. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324110404578625803736954968)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 01 Apr 2015, 15:24
Good find.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 01 Apr 2015, 15:53
Hmmm

I was going to make a joke about trying to send unmanned craft to Andronemeda but it turned out to be quite a strain.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 02 Apr 2015, 11:45
That's novel
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 16 May 2015, 02:19
As a non-native english speaker I really like "to make a friend". Sounds a bit frankensteinish...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 16 May 2015, 15:56
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10KObAQFmlY
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 16 May 2015, 22:46
- Igor, start ze machine! We go to make me a redhead girlfriend today!
- But master, we dont has ze right parts in stock!
- Igor, go to Smif college and gets me zome redhead girlfriend parts! But dont brings Clinton again!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 16 May 2015, 23:04
Ehhh, it doesn't really work like that. You can make a friend, but you don't make a girlfriend.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 17 May 2015, 19:26
Though you can make out, or make up, with one.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 18 May 2015, 01:18
Though you can make out, or make up, with one.

In german you make a girlfriend like this:
First you make her on (chat her up).
Next you make out a date (arrange a date).
When you get closer you make around (making out?!).
Then you might want to make it (you score).
And finally you make off to marry (agree).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Masterpiece on 18 May 2015, 01:28
Woah, doin it and then immediately jumping to marriage? Slow down there, bud.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 18 May 2015, 07:42
Woah, doin it and then immediately jumping to marriage? Slow down there, bud.

Oh, did I accidentially insinuate to have sexual intercourse before marriage? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to be unmoral...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 18 May 2015, 08:12
Woah, doin it and then immediately jumping to marriage? Slow down there, bud.

Oh, did I accidentially insinuate to have sexual intercourse before marriage? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to be unmoral...

That's not what he meant. He was making a joke about the next step immediately after sex being marriage, which is a tad... soon.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 18 May 2015, 08:23
Woah, doin it and then immediately jumping to marriage? Slow down there, bud.

Oh, did I accidentially insinuate to have sexual intercourse before marriage? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to be unmoral...

That's not what he meant. He was making a joke about the next step immediately after sex being marriage, which is a tad... soon.

Unless your are devout in certain belief systems, in which case it may be a tad late. I understand there may even be some cases where it needs to happen all at the same time. One can only imagine what the best man's speech would be like then.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 18 May 2015, 08:40
Woah, doin it and then immediately jumping to marriage? Slow down there, bud.

Oh, did I accidentially insinuate to have sexual intercourse before marriage? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to be unmoral...

That's not what he meant. He was making a joke about the next step immediately after sex being marriage, which is a tad... soon.

Unless your are devout in certain belief systems, in which case it may be a tad late. I understand there may even be some cases where it needs to happen all at the same time. One can only imagine what the best man's speech would be like then.

Of course there are belief systems like that, I was raised in one, but based on the general demographic of this forum, and the characters in the comic itself, I found the likelihood of that response being sincere to be low.

If it was sincere, I apologise if I offended anybody. I wasn't judging any belief systems at all.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 18 May 2015, 08:42
Woah, doin it and then immediately jumping to marriage? Slow down there, bud.

Oh, did I accidentially insinuate to have sexual intercourse before marriage? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to be unmoral...

That's not what he meant. He was making a joke about the next step immediately after sex being marriage, which is a tad... soon.

Unless your are devout in certain belief systems, in which case it may be a tad late. I understand there may even be some cases where it needs to happen all at the same time. One can only imagine what the best man's speech would be like then.
"Hey dude, don't forget to... ah, there you go."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 18 May 2015, 08:44
I saw on QI, or somewhere, I forget where, that apparently the kiss in marriages is based on when the couple would actually consummate the marriage in front of their entire village.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 18 May 2015, 09:21
I saw on QI, or somewhere, I forget where, that apparently the kiss in marriages is based on when the couple would actually consummate the marriage in front of their entire village.

Which is very un-English.

Here in dear old blighty we are quite staid about public displays of sexuality. If, should you happen upon our shores, you should witness this, you can rest assured that these are the acts of immigrants, liberals, vegetarians, bankrupt celebs and the morally destitute.

We have established a parallel class system by which people are able to engage in recreational copulation.

Lower or Working Class: Acts of copulation should be mostly joyless with no exclamations of pleasure beyond some light grunting. Please restrict yourself to missionary position unless it's a public holiday. No toys or other diversions. Foreplay is unnecessary. Please avoid any post-coital conversation or eye contact.

Middle Class: Modest amounts of joy are allowed but try not to upset the neighbours, you still live in a semi and don't you forget it. Some variation in positions is permitted but nothing that may be described as athletic. Try not to dwell on the missionary positions, this is supposed to be fun, not a class protest. Toys of a moderate value are accepted as long as they look kind of normal. Other diversions permitted as long as they seem like a bit of benign cliche. At the end of the act, remember to express your middle-class guilt by asking if it was alright for the other party.

Upper Class: OK, so you own the country and there's not much we can do to stop you. However, interfering with anyone beneath you or dying in the act really isn't going garner you the respect you think your money and influence deserves. A couple of times a year, one of you is going to be sacrificed to the tabloids to give the proles and brown-nosers a sense that you aren't any better than them. Try to make sure it isn't one of the really wierd ones otherwise it'll be pitchforks and burning torches all round.

Technically there is a Royal Class of copulation. You aren't cleared to know about it and the instruction manual is very long and complicated. Best not to talk about it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 18 May 2015, 09:34
That's one hell of a comedic rant!

...You do know I'm English, right?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 18 May 2015, 09:52
Abingdon, a slightly disappointing minor orbital town of one of our classic but smaller cities. A fine example of Middle Englandy Englishness. I bet it's fun to get down the local 'spoons and watch the regulars struggle hopelessly not to be one -ist or another while mostly meaning well, especially Monday Dave. At 8am. On a Thursday. While he eats his daily meat pie brekkie. Double fisted with Carlings.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 18 May 2015, 11:43
We have established a parallel class system by which people are able to engage in recreational copulation.

That somehow reminds me of that Monty Python scene (is it from "The Meaning of Live"?) with that roman catholic family and that protestant family, one with a mass of kids and the others one goes like "but we could if we wanted"... dont remember the details, sorry.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 18 May 2015, 13:22
I believe that this is what you're looking for:

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 18 May 2015, 13:28
 :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 18 May 2015, 13:36
Abingdon, a slightly disappointing minor orbital town of one of our classic but smaller cities. A fine example of Middle Englandy Englishness. I bet it's fun to get down the local 'spoons and watch the regulars struggle hopelessly not to be one -ist or another while mostly meaning well, especially Monday Dave. At 8am. On a Thursday. While he eats his daily meat pie brekkie. Double fisted with Carlings.

Unless you have a scarily specific memory, this is incredibly creepy.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 18 May 2015, 16:18
I bet it's fun to get down the local 'spoons

Presuming that means Wetherspoons - they hadn't even been founded when I lived in Abingdon for while (I rented a house on the Poets estate for a while, if you're wondering, Gareth).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 18 May 2015, 21:37
What is a "'spoon"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 18 May 2015, 21:48
There is no spoon.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 18 May 2015, 21:54
But there is a fork
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 18 May 2015, 23:11
It  is indeed Wetherspoons. It's a unique microcosm of English life played out similarly at every branch across the country. Only the names and the accents change. I've never been to Abingdon, just enough places of similar stature to know.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 19 May 2015, 01:15
I bet it's fun to get down the local 'spoons

Presuming that means Wetherspoons - they hadn't even been founded when I lived in Abingdon for while (I rented a house on the Poets estate for a while, if you're wondering, Gareth).

There is one now, I know one was rumoured for years, but they finally opened it a year or so ago.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 19 May 2015, 02:05
And can't remotely express how much I appreciate that dry British humor!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 19 May 2015, 03:53
The Brits have certainly mastered to the art of humour.  I think it's something that one needs in order to live in blighty.  I have been binging on episodes of QI lately on youtube and I have found that Fry as the comedic "straight man" is often the funniest person on the show.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 19 May 2015, 04:09
I remember when I first watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". I was so taken off guard when those French guys shoot the cow from the castle. Couldn't stop laughing for the rest of the day. I remember lying in bed late at night and wasn't able to sleep because I just couldn't stop laughing.   
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 19 May 2015, 05:39
That's not even the funniest bit of that film.

I do like that the device made a reappearance in Northern Exposure though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 19 May 2015, 05:47
NI!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 19 May 2015, 06:12
That's not even the funniest bit of that film.

Sure, but it came so unexpected (at least to me). Who in hell would come up with the idea to shoot a cow from a castle??? 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 19 May 2015, 06:47
Medieval seige warfare involved a lot of bodges, compromise and generally making it up as you went along. Monty Python didn't make up catapulting cows, they just made it funny. Two members of Monty Python studied history at university, one taught it in school. Also, because we study more than a couple of hundred years of history in school, any of them except Gilliam was likely to have come across this if their history teacher was well versed in the subject.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 19 May 2015, 07:48
Hmm... I always suspected that my undereducation in ancient agricultural military history would make a foul of me one day.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 19 May 2015, 15:14
Hmm... I always suspected that my undereducation in ancient agricultural military history would make a fowl of me one day.
They shot a cow, not a chicken!

That being said, I vastly prefer Life of Brian to Holy Grail.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 19 May 2015, 15:15
Splitter!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 19 May 2015, 17:36
Shuddup bignose
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: That lab tech on 19 May 2015, 22:57
That being said, I vastly prefer Life of Brian to Holy Grail.

Am I the only one here who desperately tries not to giggle during the "Biggus Dickus" scene?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 20 May 2015, 00:32
Life Of Brian is the vastly superior film simply because it's a work of satire, and the humour is much sharper and more modern.

Honestly, I also love it simply because it shows that they're decent guys deep down when you know what it's satirising. I watched the making of documentary and they more or less said that they all read a shitload of holy books and realised that basically, you can't make fun of Jesus, or at least there's no point - his teachings were good, he did good things. He was a nice guy, son of God or not, and making fun of him was just stupid in their eyes.

As a lapsed Christian I find myself defending religion way too often, so knowing that six guys who generally considered nothing sacred felt Jesus himself (not religion) was above criticism is... I dunno, heartwarming.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 20 May 2015, 02:06
And LoB doesn't just... fizzle out.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 May 2015, 02:10
And on the bright side, LoB doesn't just... fizzle out.

Fixed.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 20 May 2015, 04:40
That being said, I vastly prefer Life of Brian to Holy Grail.

Am I the only one here who desperately tries not to giggle during the "Biggus Dickus" scene?
Probably. I don't try not to.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 20 May 2015, 06:23
And on the bright side, LoB doesn't just... fizzle out.

Fixed.

And with that, Mister Hodges showed to the world why he wins the internet daily.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 21 May 2015, 17:59
Has anyone put together a magazine which, every month, gives ESL students more information about when to use "a" and "the"?

See the pun thread in a few hours.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 21 May 2015, 20:34
I saw the pun thread first, ha. I'm disappointed I didn't see this before you put the punchline there, I would've guessed it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 04 Jun 2015, 07:59
A poem of English pronunciation (http://www.newslinq.com/pronounce-this-whole-poem/)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 04 Jun 2015, 11:08
Then there's all the words with multiple meanings. A question about the durability of a retired shoemaker's final template could be "Will the last last last?".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 04 Jun 2015, 13:11
Police police police police police.

That's a grammatical sentence, and I hate it.

Fucking look at that monstrosity.

I think it's possible to add 'police' a few more times with it continuing to be grammatical, but for the love of fuck, I'm not familiar enough with the definitions and subtleties of the word 'police' to determine what the hell that would mean. Five repetitions makes it a statement on the job description for those who keep an eye on their co-workers, but I think it can be done with eight

It might have shown up in this thread at some point, I don't know.

I read a book once on the weirdness of language, 'Mother Tongue,' by Bill Bryson. Fantastic read.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 04 Jun 2015, 13:12
It may be grammatically correct, but it's devastatingly false (although that's a topic for another thread).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 04 Jun 2015, 13:35
It may be grammatically correct, but it's devastatingly false (although that's a topic for another thread).

Accurate, but an imprecise statement, using the scientific definitions, which is my way of bringing this back to the topic.

What you say hits its target' makes a general point, but is left intentionally vague.

Precision is what makes it need its own thread, being precise would require names of police officers who have been left notably undisciplined for their actions.

Science!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 04 Jun 2015, 15:40
being precise would require names of police officers who have been left notably undisciplined for their actions.
It would be a very long list, though in some cases their names are a state-secret... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes) I'm not sure that I buy the idea anyway. Does one have to know the exact properties of each individual atom in a steel bar (impossible anyway according to Quantum Theory), in order to speak precisely of the properties of the metal when it is swung into a man's face?

How about "A supermarket manager wearing a stock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_tie), was put in the stocks (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stocks), and beaten with a rifle stock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_(firearms)), as punishment for failing to maintain a stock of meat and vegetable stock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_(food)) on his supermarket's shelves, because he was too busy following his investments in penny stock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock)." The many uses of the word "stock" occurred to me while out shopping...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 04 Jun 2015, 15:42
She sells sea shells by the sea shore
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Blue Kitty on 04 Jun 2015, 16:22
Quote
English is weird. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 04 Jun 2015, 20:28
Quote
English is weird. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.

This quote of a quote is an example of the demon that is English language, and thereby thought, creeping into the internet
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 04 Jun 2015, 22:14
Buffalo buffalo, Buffalo buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo. James, while John had had "had", had had "had had"; "had had" had had a better effect on the teacher.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 04 Jun 2015, 22:42
My brains are going into my feet!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 05 Jun 2015, 17:28
Buffalo explained:

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2c/Buffalo_sentence_1_parse_tree.svg/320px-Buffalo_sentence_1_parse_tree.svg.png)
PN = proper noun
N = noun
V = verb
NP = noun phrase
RC = relative clause
VP = verb phrase
S = sentence

Edit: why would they .png that? :(
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 05 Jun 2015, 17:34
Buffalo explained:

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2c/Buffalo_sentence_1_parse_tree.svg/320px-Buffalo_sentence_1_parse_tree.svg.png)
PN = proper noun
N = noun
V = verb
NP = noun phrase
RC = relative clause
VP = verb phrase
S = sentence

Edit: why would they .png that? :(

So basically, I could say buffalo twenty-seven times in a row and be correct.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 05 Jun 2015, 18:04
A famous ninety-two-character poem "The Lion-Eating Poet In The Stone Den" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion-Eating_Poet_in_the_Stone_Den):
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 05 Jun 2015, 23:33
In the grocery store today, I saw a package labeled "Frozen Alaska Cod Pieces".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 05 Jun 2015, 23:42
Sounds like pollocks to me.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: mustang6172 on 05 Jul 2015, 18:08
Anyone know what the difference between a bay and a gulf is?

The Gulf of Mexico is bigger than San Francisco Bay, but the Bay of Bengal is bigger than the Persian Gulf.  Where is the size order?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 05 Jul 2015, 19:31
It's not a matter of size, the two are apparently created differently (which shapes them differently I guess?)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 05 Jul 2015, 19:34
According to the Wikipedias, a gulf is a large bay that is part of an ocean or sea. Which means the Bay of Bengal by that definition is a gulf.

So I'm gonna go with the difference between them being the name.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 05 Jul 2015, 19:39
Considering it's also been referred to as "Gulf of the Ganges", you probably have something there.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 05 Jul 2015, 19:51
All about alliteration. Awesome.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 05 Jul 2015, 19:54
Brilliantly bellowed, brother.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: celticgeek on 05 Jul 2015, 20:08
Creatively constructed, Chaospersonified.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 06 Jul 2015, 00:15
Word association!!!

Chaospersonified???


Hmmm


Ahhh!  I know!!!!!!!

Zintiel!!!! :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 16 Jul 2015, 20:05
Deliciously designed, dudes!

Attention! Alliteration attracts Akima.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 17 Jul 2015, 06:47
Typically, that tendency tempts this tiny termagant to trawl thoroughly through the thesaurus, targeting textual treasure.

Edit: Textural is pertaining to textures and fabrics. I meant textual, pertaining to texts. I have fixed my blunder.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 17 Jul 2015, 11:39
(Looks up termagant) You're not a termagant!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Neko_Ali on 17 Jul 2015, 13:51
I'm more of a Genestealer, really...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 17 Jul 2015, 14:41
The Bureau would like a word with you.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 17 Jul 2015, 15:36
I'm more of a Genestealer, really...

(https://i.imgur.com/XS5LKh.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 21 Jul 2015, 22:43
Why is there so much difference between "save the date" and "save the day"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 22 Jul 2015, 01:56
Well, one is a unit of time and the other is a delicious fruit of the genus Phoenix dactylifera.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Orkboy on 22 Jul 2015, 09:55
I think my favorite example of the weirdness of the English language is the following question/answer pairing:

Will Will Smith smith?
Will Smith will smith. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 22 Jul 2015, 14:00
Smith Will Smith will smith...willingly.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 22 Jul 2015, 16:16
Edward Would Wood
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 28 Jul 2015, 09:57
Not as spectacular but "tin tin tin" is a completly acceptable and common sentence around here.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 28 Jul 2015, 10:13
Smith Will Smith will smith...willingly.
How many wills will Will Smith smith if Will Smith will smith wills?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 28 Jul 2015, 10:14
Not as spectacular but "tin tin tin" is a completely acceptable and common sentence around here.
How?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 28 Jul 2015, 10:32
It conveys that an object that was sought for is not in it's expected metal container.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Welu on 28 Jul 2015, 10:58
I was trying to find that Jimmy Carr clip but there's no good one's of it.

It's a very shortened version of, "It is not in the tin." and would probably more accurately be written as, "T'in't in tin."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 28 Jul 2015, 11:20
It conveys that an object that was sought for is not in it's expected metal container.
"Tin (isn't in the) tin"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 28 Jul 2015, 12:39
(I)t i(s)n't in (the) tin.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 28 Jul 2015, 12:40
...are we sure that's still English at this point?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 28 Jul 2015, 13:13
Given that some accents/dialects in the north of England can be more easily understood by people from Scandinavia than people from central/southern England[citation needed]...maybe?

At least, so I've heard from relatives up that way.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 28 Jul 2015, 14:50
It would br best described as Yorkshire. It's like English but better.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Welu on 28 Jul 2015, 14:55
The audio is out of sync for most of the video which makes it hard to fully understand even with subtitles.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 28 Jul 2015, 18:25
I wonder just how diluted the Yorkshire accent has become since that Video was made
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 29 Jul 2015, 00:45
...are we sure that's still English at this point?

Pretty prejudiced thing to say, bro
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 29 Jul 2015, 04:18
The joke was that as an American, it was painfully inaccurate. It's more English than the garbage I speak.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 03 Aug 2015, 20:14
(http://smbc-comics.com/comics/20130910.png)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 03 Aug 2015, 21:28
What kind of language produces the non-ironic phrase "sanitary sewer"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gladstone on 03 Aug 2015, 22:03
My favorite grammatically-correct sentence in English is "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo."  Wikipedia only recognizes it as Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo), but I like to make it more violent with added buffaloing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 04 Aug 2015, 05:11
My favorite grammatically-correct sentence in English is "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo."  Wikipedia only recognizes it as Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo), but I like to make it more violent with added buffaloing.

Earlier in this thread, I think we established that literally any number of repititions of the word buffalo is grammatically correct
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 04 Aug 2015, 05:13
I'm not saying that to be a dick, I'm genuinely uncertain whether we did that as a group or if it was all in my head.

I tend to make things up
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gladstone on 04 Aug 2015, 15:15
I'm not saying that to be a dick, I'm genuinely uncertain whether we did that as a group or if it was all in my head.

I tend to make things up

It probably happened.  My fault for not (at least) skimming the thread before jumping in.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 05 Aug 2015, 02:58
Listening to a video on YouTube, I was surprised to hear Magellan (as in Ferdinand Magellan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Magellan) the explorer and navigator) pronounced "Majellan". I have always heard and pronounced the name with a hard G, and Wikipedia lists the two pronunciations as alternatives. Is this a variation between US English and "Commonwealth" English?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 05 Aug 2015, 04:05
I've never heard anyone pronounce it with a hard g, so I guess so.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 05 Aug 2015, 04:44
The OED only lists a hard g, while Merriam-Webster only lists a soft g.  Curiously the Oxford Dictionary of American English also shows it as hard - so what do they know?

As the name is adapted from the Portuguese Magalhães (which has a nasalised pronunciation I think), a hard g would be nearer the original.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 05 Aug 2015, 05:09
I sometimes hear people pronounce Los Angeles with a hard g which is just...what? It's not the city of angles!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 05 Aug 2015, 11:40
Listening to a video on YouTube, I was surprised to hear Magellan (as in Ferdinand Magellan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Magellan) the explorer and navigator) pronounced "Majellan". I have always heard and pronounced the name with a hard G, and Wikipedia lists the two pronunciations as alternatives. Is this a variation between US English and "Commonwealth" English?
I've never heard his name pronounced with a hard G.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 06 Aug 2015, 21:43
I sometimes hear people pronounce Los Angeles with a hard g which is just...what? It's not the city of angles!

I've heard that before, but the person speaking was always saying it as a kind of joke
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 07 Aug 2015, 15:16
*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 08 Aug 2015, 14:22
*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*

I have no idea what that word is, or how it should be pronounced. I assume it's a word pronounced differently than it looks like it should, kinda like Nachitoches. Maybe not a place name, though. I'll find out after I post this comment
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 08 Aug 2015, 14:59
It's a Japanese word, and so should be pronounced with four even syllables, with a like ah, u like oo, e like eh, and the s hissy.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 08 Aug 2015, 16:10
It's a Japanese word, and so should be pronounced with four even syllables, with a like ah, u like oo, e like eh, and the s hissy.

Yeah, I had to google it. Apparently, it's something related to swords/swordmaking? Nachitoches is something like 'nack a tish.'
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 08 Aug 2015, 19:59
Yup

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masamune
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 10 Aug 2015, 02:34
*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*
Or Beijing as Beige-ing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 10 Aug 2015, 02:42
*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*
Or Beijing as Beige-ing.

1. How is that pronounced, out of interest? Never heard it said any other way.

2. Is there not an argument that if you're speaking English, then a city should be pronounced in an English accent? The majority of people tend to say 'Paris' rather than 'Pareeee,' and many other locations have different spellings in their own language, never mind pronunciations.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 10 Aug 2015, 03:00
Bay-jing. Bay as in Baywatch. Jing as in jingle-bells. Simple as that; when speaking English there is no need to worry about getting the tones right.

The soft "French-style" J is as foreign to Chinese as it is to English. I quite take the point that English-speakers say Pariss not Paree, and Mewnick not Moonshen, but the correct pronunciation of Beijing is truer to normal English pronunciation of the letters of the romanisation than the incorrect one is.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 10 Aug 2015, 03:13
Those are two separate discussions in fairness. I didn't realise Beijing had a hard 'j', and will take that on board from this point forward.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 10 Aug 2015, 03:46
Even the BBC occasionally lets a Beige-ing slip through, I'm sorry to say.  Standards aren't what they were, mumble mumble...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 10 Aug 2015, 09:35
Saw this, thought of this thread.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: The Seldom Killer on 10 Aug 2015, 12:50
I did once have a conversation with someone who pronounced somewhere around Bay-zcheing but he had a rather nasally, throaty accent so I think that may have had something to do with it. Being the mimic that I am, I naturally copied him and it probably bled into subsequent usage for a while. Not, I might point out, that I discuss Beijing with any regularity.

As an aside, being a mimic has been very useful in picking up the correct pronounciation of Welsh place names and eastern european surnames.

As an alternative aside, if you ever happen to be in Snowdonia in Wales, keep an eye out for old mileposts and their oddly anglicised spellings of place names. Dolgellau suffers from a multitude of these.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 10 Aug 2015, 16:31
I did once have a conversation with someone who pronounced somewhere around Bay-zcheing but he had a rather nasally, throaty accent so I think that may have had something to do with it.
In Chinese, there are two sounds that are roughly like the English hard J, and they are romanised in pinyin as J and ZH respectively. Someone actually learning Chinese needs to know how to pronounce them distinctly, but when speaking English I recommend just saying both like the J at the beginning of "jungle".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 10 Aug 2015, 18:36
I'm guessing the J one is used in Beijing?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 10 Aug 2015, 19:18
Exactly correct. By contrast Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, and 3rd largest city in China, is pronounced Gwung-joe
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 10 Aug 2015, 19:19
Wait, that example confuses me, because the j in "Joe" is the same as the j in "jungle".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 10 Aug 2015, 20:02
What kind of language produces the non-ironic phrase "sanitary sewer"?

It's basically a marketing term.  As opposed to a storm sewer, a sanitary sewer is a sewer used for sanitation purposes.  When you're trying to sell people on the idea of indoor plumbing, calling the system "sanitary" will get more support. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 11 Aug 2015, 05:50
Wait, that example confuses me, because the j in "Joe" is the same as the j in "jungle".
When speaking English it is perfectly OK to pronounce both J and ZH in Chinese words the same, like the J in jungle. As I said earlier:
In Chinese, there are two sounds that are roughly like the English hard J, and they are romanised in pinyin as J and ZH respectively. Someone actually learning Chinese needs to know how to pronounce them distinctly, but when speaking English I recommend just saying both like the J at the beginning of "jungle".

Edit: I just notice that this was my 5000th posting on this forum!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 11 Aug 2015, 06:54
Ahhh, I missed that they were pronounced the same.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 11 Aug 2015, 15:57
I suppose I'd get into a LOT of trouble by calling it "Peking"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 11 Aug 2015, 15:59
Is that just a different transliteration of the same characters?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 12 Aug 2015, 16:05
Essentially, yes it is. To save myself some typing:
There are few avenues for misunderstanding that Chinese people and "Westerners" have left unexplored. Just to scratch the surface, there are:

Romanization problems. Imperfect and changing systems for writing down Chinese in the Roman alphabet. This is how Chou En-lai changed to Zhou Enlai, and Mao Tse-Tung became Mao Zedong. The habitual omission of tone-marks from English-language texts makes correct pronunciation, and therefore meaning, a matter of guesswork. Untutored readers will inevitably pronounce the letters of the romanization in the manner habitual in their own language, producing ear-bleeding solecisms like pronouncing Cáo Cāo (one of the central characters of The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, and many anime, comics, video-games etc.) as "Cow Cow" (it is "Tsao Tsao"). For English-speakers, correct reading of the old Wade-Giles romanization, or modern Pinyin, requires study. Only the Yale romanization (developed for the US Army) was created with the specific intent of making it relatively easy for native English-speakers to approximate correct Chinese pronunciation, and in many ways it's a pity it went out of style.

Geographic confusion problems. Applying the wrong name to places because the European asking "What is this place?" and the Chinese person answering didn't really understand each other. For example the city now known as Guangzhou (pron: Guang-jo) was called Canton based on the local pronunciation of the name of the province, Guangdong, in which the city is located.

Indirect adoption problems. Some English names for Chinese things are adopted from languages other than Chinese ones. One example is the word "China" itself, which comes from Sanskrit via Persian and Italian. Another is "Mandarin", a Sanskrit word adopted via Malay and Portuguese, meaning something like "counsellor" or "minister". Mandarin Chinese is so called in English, because it was the language spoken by officials, as opposed to the many other regional languages.

"Dialect" problems. The "official" language of China has been based on the North Chinese "Mandarin" family of languages for hundreds of years, but Europeans often entered China from Southern coastal regions where other languages like Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien etc. were, and still are, spoken. Even where the words are the same, and quite often they are not, the pronunciation can be very different.

Language change problems. Like any other languages, Chinese ones have changed over time. The first European scholars to study Chinese language seriously were Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century, and they created the first Romanization systems. We still use many of the names they invented, such as Confucius (Kǒng Fūzǐ), but in some cases Chinese has changed since their time, leaving their romanizations behind like fossils.

The case of Peking is a combination of the last two. The word Peking originated with French Jesuit missionaries and is based on an old pronunciation that altered in a subsequent sound change in Mandarin. The pronunciation "Peking" is also close to that used by speakers of the Fujian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujian) "dialect" around the port city of Xiamen, through which much of China's early contact with European traders, missionaries took place. "Beijing" is closer to the Northern Chinese pronunciation, and is now of course the officially correct one. Bear in mind however that "B" is less "explosive" in Mandarin than English, and can sound quite close to "P" to the untutored ear.

Edit: increased the font size a bit.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 12 Aug 2015, 18:36
Wow, you wait until I'm drunkish to post the wall of text concerning the romanization/verbalization of Chinese language?

I'll probably read it tomorrow when the hangover wears off, the whole discussion has been legit fascinating, but now is NOT the time!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 13 Aug 2015, 14:28
Time is an illusion
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: celticgeek on 13 Aug 2015, 14:30
Lunchtime doubly so.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 13 Aug 2015, 20:35
Lunchtime doubly so.

You should send that in to Reader's Digest. They have a page for people like you
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 13 Aug 2015, 20:36
For people who quote Douglas Adams?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 13 Aug 2015, 20:41


Also people who can quite the entire first chapter of Hitchhiker's Guide from memory.

 Your line would have been "'Drink up,' Ford said grimly, 'the world's about to end.'"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 13 Aug 2015, 20:46
I can't remember the wording, but it goes from that into a crash alerting Arthur Dent to the fact that his house is being knocked down.

Sorry, I found an audiotape of the first and last books when I was in sixth grade, as read by the author. Not even gonna lie, listening on a tape recorder in my parents' back room, that's a core memory for me.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 13 Aug 2015, 20:53
For people who quote Douglas Adams?

Also people who can quite the entire first chapter of Hitchhiker's Guide from memory.

 Your line would have been "'Drink up,' Ford said grimly, 'the world's about to end.'"
Argh, it's been a long day. I also wish you hadn't quoted my failure.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 13 Aug 2015, 21:06
For people who quote Douglas Adams?

Also people who can quite the entire first chapter of Hitchhiker's Guide from memory.

 Your line would have been "'Drink up,' Ford said grimly, 'the world's about to end.'"
Argh, it's been a long day. I also wish you hadn't quoted my failure.

*does some modification*

I don't know what you're talking about
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 13 Aug 2015, 21:20
Yeah, but now it's too late for me to delete my post and pretend it never happened :P
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 13 Aug 2015, 21:25
Yeah, but now it's too late for me to delete my post and pretend it never happened :P

Pretend what never happened? What are you talking about?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 13 Aug 2015, 21:48
Lunchtime.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 14 Aug 2015, 02:09
But it never happened - you imagined it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 14 Aug 2015, 05:18
Just because it's an illusion doesn't mean it never happened.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 14 Aug 2015, 08:57
Just because it's an illusion doesn't mean it never happened.

Who's gonna prove otherwise, and how? What are we talking about, again?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 14 Aug 2015, 09:05
Nobody and nothing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 14 Aug 2015, 15:58
There is no lunch
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 15 Aug 2015, 11:59
Then you will see it is not the cake that's a lie, it is only yourself.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 15 Aug 2015, 15:46
Ahhh, you seek meaning!  Then listen to the music, not the song
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 28 Aug 2015, 17:12
The French car-maker Citroën has just launched a new model here called the C4 Cactus. In Australia, the word "cactus" is slang for something that is broken, not working and generally useless, as in: "My bloody laptop's cactus, mate." What were they thinking?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Metope on 28 Aug 2015, 17:47
Reminds me of this story (http://www.carscoops.com/2007/09/why-honda-didnt-call-fit-jazz-by-its.html).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 28 Aug 2015, 18:04
The French car-maker Citroën has just launched a new model here called the C4 Cactus. In Australia, the word "cactus" is slang for something that is broken, not working and generally useless, as in: "My bloody laptop's cactus, mate." What were they thinking?

Not about Australian slang, apparently. Weirdos.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 28 Aug 2015, 18:29
The same thing they were thinking when they named their entire line "Lemon"?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 28 Aug 2015, 18:31
The same thing they were thinking when they named their entire line "Lemon"?

They have a pattern. This is intriguing. What's next? Kumquat? I hope it's kumquat.

This one should have been kumquat. That's at least another citrus fruit, which fits with the name. Cactus is a bit out of left field, but the same ballpark because both be botanical bits of wording. That was awkward phrasing, but I like alliteration
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Loki on 30 Aug 2015, 23:23
This reminds me of the Sierra Mist which had to be renamed to Sierra Silver in Germany.
Mist means dung and is colloquially used in the same way you would use "crap" in English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 31 Aug 2015, 00:02
This reminds me of the Sierra Mist which had to be renamed to Sierra Silver in Germany.
Mist means dung and is colloquially used in the same way you would use "crap" in English.

 "You want some Sierra Shit? It's so refreshing!'
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 31 Aug 2015, 10:50
This reminds me of the Sierra Mist which had to be renamed to Sierra Silver in Germany.
Mist means dung and is colloquially used in the same way you would use "crap" in English.

OTOH, germans got over Jonny Depp's (http://www.dict.cc/deutsch-englisch/Depp.html) surname somewhere in the early 90s, so YMMV.

English is weird:
The seemingly ubiquitous use of "male/female" as nouns. Even worse when used in order to refer to specific men and women.
I thought only Anthropologists and Ferengi refered to grown (Wo-)Men as "a (fe-)male"?

The german equivalent is considered incredibly offensive, as it uses the diminuative -chen, i.e. "Mänchen/Weibchen" (to make matters worse, the gender of all diminuitives in German is neuter). It is only ever used when refering to animals, or in the abstract sense of "The (fe-)male of the species ..." (Or for comedic value, though many would see that as a pretty lame & puerile joke).

For me, using "a male/ a female" when refering to a specific person always sounds condescending, as if one wanted to imply they are less than human - my subconcious insists that "This is a very Dr. Strangelove thing to say".
Am I overthinking this? :?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 31 Aug 2015, 10:56
This reminds me of the Sierra Mist which had to be renamed to Sierra Silver in Germany.
Mist means dung and is colloquially used in the same way you would use "crap" in English.

OTOH, germans got over Jonny Depp's (http://www.dict.cc/deutsch-englisch/Depp.html) surname somewhere in the early 90s, so YMMV.

Probably has something to do with the quality of the product. I feel like Johnny Depp's a better actor than Sierra Mist is a soda.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 31 Aug 2015, 11:31
This reminds me of the Sierra Mist which had to be renamed to Sierra Silver in Germany.
Mist means dung and is colloquially used in the same way you would use "crap" in English.

 "You want some Sierra Shit? It's so refreshing!'
If you ever find yourself on the beach in Brazil wanting a drink, make sure to order "água de coco" (coconut water), not "água de cocô" (shit water).  :-P
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 31 Aug 2015, 13:12
Quote
For me, using "a male/ a female" when refering to a specific person always sounds condescending, as if one wanted to imply they are less than human - my subconcious insists that "This is a very Dr. Strangelove thing to say".
Am I overthinking this?
IMO, Yes.

Though I will agree it is a bit weird to use male/female when referring to a single individual outside of a clinical setting. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 31 Aug 2015, 13:29
It would also sound natural in a police description.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Detachable Felix on 31 Aug 2015, 15:02
This reminds me of the Sierra Mist which had to be renamed to Sierra Silver in Germany.
Mist means dung and is colloquially used in the same way you would use "crap" in English.

Another car they sell in Australia is the Mitsubishi Pajero. I hope it's not badged as that in Amy Spanish-speaking countries, as Pajero literally means 'wanker'. Admittedly, it's an apt description for the car's target demographic
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: BenRG on 01 Sep 2015, 05:10
My general expectation is that the marketing bods at corporations give products names on the basis that they 'sound cool'. They'd probably be very shocked if they learned that the names actually meant something.

The first episode of the Dilbert cartoon series had an entertaining use of this idea with the board of directors insisting that the new product (currently only extant as a name) called the 'Salmonella' be a care because Salmonella is a 'car name'.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: osaka on 01 Sep 2015, 15:37
This reminds me of the Sierra Mist which had to be renamed to Sierra Silver in Germany.
Mist means dung and is colloquially used in the same way you would use "crap" in English.

Another car they sell in Australia is the Mitsubishi Pajero. I hope it's not badged as that in Amy Spanish-speaking countries, as Pajero literally means 'wanker'. Admittedly, it's an apt description for the car's target demographic

That's something not every company had in mind - the Lumia line of phones are named with a word that only has one Spanish meaning, which is prostitute (http://lema.rae.es/drae/?val=lumia). The Pajero Mitsus were called "Montero" over here in Spain, and raced as "Pajero Montero" on the Dakar rally.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: SubaruStephen on 01 Sep 2015, 19:14
The same thing they were thinking when they named their entire line "Lemon"?

They have a pattern. This is intriguing. What's next? Kumquat? I hope it's kumquat.

This one should have been kumquat. That's at least another citrus fruit, which fits with the name.


Because Nissan beat them to it.....kinda (http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/07/top-gear-jeremy-clarkson-nissan-qashqai-bbc)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 01 Sep 2015, 19:20
"I don't get the joke, even though it's been explained several times and it's quite simple! I'm gonna sue!"

You'd think he was American.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: chaospersonified on 01 Sep 2015, 19:40
The same thing they were thinking when they named their entire line "Lemon"?

They have a pattern. This is intriguing. What's next? Kumquat? I hope it's kumquat.

This one should have been kumquat. That's at least another citrus fruit, which fits with the name.


Because Nissan beat them to it.....kinda (http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/07/top-gear-jeremy-clarkson-nissan-qashqai-bbc)


Good lord, this is glorious, grand, great news, indeed!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 07 Apr 2016, 19:10
On why "I" and "me" can both be correct (http://www.economist.com/node/21696457/print).

Learning to use English correctly is worse than trying to herd cats.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 07 Apr 2016, 20:19
Me agree. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 31 May 2016, 11:16
I saw this today (how did I not know about it?!) and immediately thought of this thread. so enjoy.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 31 May 2016, 18:54
Someone asked a while back about the "many, if not all" construction.

Here's an entire article about it (http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2016/05/31/don_t_use_this_ambiguous_if_not_totally_flummoxing_construction.html)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 01 Jun 2016, 03:17
I don't find that construction ambiguous, but this posting from Papersatan persuaded me to be more cautious about using it, on grounds of intellectual rigour and honesty:
"The rat king is mostly, if not entirely, made of rats" = "If the rat king is not made entirely of rats, than it is mostly rats."
I think it is entirely rats, but I am not sure enough to claim it as truth, but even if the absolute is not true, the next step down is. 

As far as the shades of meaning/rhetorical reasons one would use this construction, the "if not" construction allows one to push their meaning towards something stronger than they are prepared to defend. This construction suggests that the stronger position is true, but keeps the speaker from having to defend it.  "I know many studies are X, and I think it is most of them, but I am not prepared to back that up by having counted."  "I think Abbott is moral toxic waste, but I don't want the the burden of the absolute by saying there definitely isn't even one small good part left." your reader/listener can't unread/hear the suggestion so it can strengthen your position, but you haven't actually claimed it, so you only have to defend the weaker claim.  It is frequently used with the second statement which is an absolute (all, every, entirely, etc.) Absolutes are easy to disprove, you only need to find one good moral position Abbot has, or one mouse in the rat king... In the case of "many, if not most" it is the same idea.  "many" is a vague claim but "most" has a fixed meaning (>50%) and so is easier to disprove.  There is no clear way to disprove "many" and so it is a safer position to take.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: doombilly on 07 Jun 2016, 13:35
it don't make no never mind
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 07 Jun 2016, 14:53
That smells like teen spirit
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 16 Jul 2016, 00:50
I read in a column yesterday that the English 'you' is actually akin to the German 'Sie' as a plural/formal pronoun, whereas 'thou' was the informal pronoun until it fell into disuse, which is funny considering that saying 'thou' would nowadays be considered ridiculously formal!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 16 Jul 2016, 07:31
It's not that using "thou" would be considered formal persay, just archaic and strange.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Carl-E on 09 Sep 2016, 21:38
...unless you're old order Amish.

On another note entirely, I was composing a quicnk email to my students about this last week of class before the final, when it suddenly came to my attention that the phrases "slim chance" and "fat chance" have essentially the same meaning.

It's really hard to use the latter without a sarcastic tone of voice, though!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 09 Sep 2016, 21:49
They probably mean the same thing because fat chance is only used sarcastically.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 30 Oct 2016, 08:42
Somewhere else, the topic was about a US person who wanted to move to Europe, handicapped by a criminal record.

"He would not be allowed to live in the Netherlands" instantly says to a native speaker that the government would forbid him to move there. No humor, no ambiguity.

What was actually said was
Quote
In the Netherlands he would not be allowed to live.

To a native speaker the immediate interpretation is that the Netherlands discriminates against ex-convicts to a lethal degree.

Yet the two are grammatically equivalent.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 30 Oct 2016, 08:57
Well, if you put the emphasis on 'live' instead of 'allowed' in the first sentence, you could get the same meaning out of it as the second sentence. The crux is two different meanings of 'to live', one is 'to be alive' and the other 'to inhabit'.

Another thing: English is so weird, that "it has what it takes" is not a tautology.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 03 Nov 2016, 15:23
Or, it could be taken to mean "He could not move to the Netherlands permanently, but could visit".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 14 Dec 2016, 23:10
Quote
Another thing: English is so weird, that "it has what it takes" is not a tautology.
Why is it weird that this isn't a tautology (and why would it be such?)?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 14 Dec 2016, 23:42
The expression what it takes in this context is intended to mean 'the required attributes.'

But if you take the expression literally, then whatever you take (get into your possession), you must have by definition, and so this is necessarily always true and thus the statement 'it has what it takes' is tautological.

Of course, usually we say 'She/he has what it takes,' not it, but that ruins a good joke, I suppose.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 15 Dec 2016, 06:17
Starting from childhood to this day I have thought that someone who sews should be called a "sewer".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 15 Dec 2016, 06:49
That meaning is indeed in my Shorter Oxford Dictionary and in Chambers and Merriam-Webster.

Also (obs, hist): "An attendant at a meal responsible for supervising the arrangement of the table, the seating of guests, and the tasting and serving of the dishes". :)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: doombilly on 15 Dec 2016, 09:19
Starting from childhood to this day I have thought that someone who sews should be called a "sewer".
Saw a Help Wanted ad posted on a sign here in Boise for "Experienced Sewers."
GROSS
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 15 Dec 2016, 15:10
I've never observed a "windbreaker" to "break wind".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 16 Dec 2016, 05:06
I mean it might appear to if it's tied around one's waist at an inopportune time.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 24 Jan 2017, 17:02
A newspaper headline informs me "Cervical cancer kills more women than thought".

How many women does thought kill?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 24 Jan 2017, 17:04
More than you'd think.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 24 Jan 2017, 18:11
Spotted on-line: "Half-naked Mum walks in on her son as he is live streaming in just her bra and knickers". For want of a comma the meaning was LOLed.
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 25 Jan 2017, 22:18
A different kind of ambiguity (https://leapingsink.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/jokes-get-your-funny-on-when-she-gets-home-she-calls-the-butler-to-her-bedroom-jeeves-take-off-my-coat-yes-madam-jeeves-remove-my-high-heels-yes-madam-jeeves-unzip-my-dr/)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 26 Jan 2017, 05:22
Spotted online: "Half-naked Mum walks in on her son as he is live streaming in just her bra and knickers". For want of a comma the meaning was LOLed.
(click to show/hide)
Either way, that's why you always knock.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 04 Feb 2017, 22:45
Last night I discovered that my wife had never noticed that English male and female pronouns are not in fact dual.

He/She is dual, but Him/Her and His/Hers cover three cases and split them up differently. If you replace all 'his' with 'hers' or all 'him' with 'her' you get it wrong. 

Case 1:  "This pie is his." and "This pie is hers."
Case 2:  "This is his pie." and "This is her pie."
Case 3: "This pie belongs to him." and "This pie belongs to her."

The first two get 'his' and the last two get 'her'.

In spite of never having noticed this, she never ever gets it wrong.  It is absolutely automatic, below the level of thought.  Our language has little strange things in it that we do without ever noticing.

I learned several different dialects of English growing up.  My maternal grandparents were part of an isolated community and spoke something very much like Marlowe's or Shakespeare's English - almost what you'd find in the King James Bible but not quite.  Among other things, If we were being good, he'd call us "Thee" and "Thou", but if he ever started calling us  "Ye" and "You" then either he was talking to more than one of us, or else we'd messed up and he was starting to be annoyed with us.

You can't imagine how much it grinds my nerves to go to a rennaissance faire and hear actors trying to use "thee" and "thou" (or "who" and "whom" for that matter) and getting the nominative/objective distinction wrong.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 05 Feb 2017, 13:28
That reminds me. They/them as a gender neutral is easy enough, but is "themself" a generally accepted thing?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 05 Feb 2017, 13:35
I've come across it - and also the singular genderless use of "themselves".  Although I find it uncomfortable even now, I force myself to use "themself" (in distinct preference to singular "themselves") in the expectation that it will become natural in due course (which for me might not be before I die ;) ).  If I can use it a couple of times in quick succession, the second already feels more natural.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 05 Feb 2017, 13:51
Last night I discovered that my wife had never noticed that English male and female pronouns are not in fact dual.

That's a misinterpretation, because there are more forms to consider than you are looking at - four (and more) each for singular male, singular female, and plural; and in any declension there may be multiple forms the same, but not always corresponding ones. So, note that in the plural all four are different, and in the singular two are the same, but a different pair depending on gender:
Here are sample sentences showing all the options:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 05 Feb 2017, 14:25
Right.  However, I was only concerned with three forms because the nominative case is in fact dual.  Straight replacements will convert it correctly.

But 'her' is both accusative and possessive adjective, while 'him' is accusative only.  Conversely 'his' is both possessive adjective and possessive pronoun, while 'hers' is possessive-pronoun only.

You can regard them as separate words that are pronounced and spelt exactly the same, but that seems facetious to me.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 05 Feb 2017, 14:28
They probably came about that way, though.  Chance euphony during a pronunciation shift, or something (I know little about the aspect of English).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 05 Feb 2017, 21:57
I've come across it - and also the singular genderless use of "themselves".  Although I find it uncomfortable even now, I force myself to use "themself" (in distinct preference to singular "themselves") in the expectation that it will become natural in due course (which for me might not be before I die ;) ).  If I can use it a couple of times in quick succession, the second already feels more natural.
How can "themselves" be singular, though? Using "themselves" as singular just seems like not being used to the idea of "they/them" being singular, and reflexively using the word they associate with "they/them," even though it's explicitly plural.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 05 Feb 2017, 23:05
They and them were explicitly plural too, until people started using them differently.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 06 Feb 2017, 10:07
That's arguable, plus we already have a self/selves distinction that fits nicely with themself/themselves.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 06 Feb 2017, 10:26
Um, yes - which is why I said in the first place that I prefer themself. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 06 Feb 2017, 11:53
Yes, but it seemed like you were saying singular "themselves" was still valid. I'm claiming it's not, but it's understandable that people still use it until they get used to "themself".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 06 Feb 2017, 11:57
In other news, does anybody else think it makes a lot of nonsense to "go take a shit?"

I mean, seriously.  Wouldn't you rather leave one instead?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 06 Feb 2017, 12:00
Yes, but it seemed like you were saying singular "themselves" was still valid. I'm claiming it's not, but it's understandable that people still use it until they get used to "themself".

I'm not saying it's valid, beyond my usual belief that in the end usage trumps any logic that anyone can attempt to apply.  What I actually wrote was:

I've come across ... the singular genderless use of "themselves".  ... I force myself to use "themself" (in distinct preference to singular "themselves")
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 06 Feb 2017, 12:01
Aha. Interesting. I'm not going to pretend I have to get used to "themself," too. Honestly I find myself avoiding singular pronouns in general and just using names unless I don't know the names.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 06 Feb 2017, 12:03
In other news, does anybody else think it makes a lot of nonsense to "go take a shit?"

It's easy to play little games with words whose meanings cover a range.  As a qualifier for a verb, it's no different from "take a step towards your goal", for instance.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 06 Feb 2017, 12:05
I suppose you're really giving a shit, but giving a shit means something else. Yay idioms!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 06 Feb 2017, 13:27
I suppose one takes a shit (and a piss) like one takes a guess, or a hike.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 11 Feb 2017, 23:51
But there's the ambiguity of being both a verb and a noun.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 12 Feb 2017, 07:45
On the topic of reflexive pronouns, does anyone else find it grating when people use then non-reflexively? Too often at work I hear phrases such as "I will call yourself tomorrow", or "you should send that email to myself", or "That notification [that was sent to a customer] came from ourselves". It's like people think it's the formal way of saying "you", "me", or "us".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 12 Feb 2017, 08:01
It's like people think it's the formal way of saying "you", "me", or "us".
That's exactly what people think it is.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 12 Feb 2017, 08:57
Today, as ever is, my wife was complaining to me about someone doing exactly that in an email to her.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 12 Feb 2017, 09:17
I often find that the people who do that often think that "and I" is always correct while "and me" is never correct, ignoring the very easy method of determining which to use. (For non-native English speakers, you use whichever one you'd use if nobody else was involved. So "I went to the cinema" becomes "pwhodges and I went to the cinema" and "the film was a disappointment for me" becomes "the film was a disappointment for pwhodges and me")

Also, now I'm wondering if "a disappointment for me" is wrong somehow. Should it be "to me"? Bah.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 12 Feb 2017, 09:27
Either is fine; "to" is possibly more common in my experience.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 12 Feb 2017, 10:15
Cool. Shame the hypothetical movie was a letdown, though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 13 Feb 2017, 00:02
In the words of Marcus Madera from Metacarpolis (http://www.metacarpolis.com/index.php?id=182), "Curse the lack of second person singular in English."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 13 Feb 2017, 16:11
Wait, what? I thought it was missing a second person plural.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 13 Feb 2017, 16:46
You is originally plural; the singular thou etc has fallen out of use and the originally plural you stands in for it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 13 Feb 2017, 16:50
Yes, that's how it originally was, but in modern actual usage, "you" comes off as singular first and reluctantly plural when people don't make their own pluralization ("y'all" and "yous" being the two that come to mind first).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 15 Feb 2017, 10:57
This may have been covered but I transcribed this for another forum and will just copy paste it here for fun.

Just some English things:

Laid is pronounced like paid but not like said and said is pronounced like bread but not like bead, and bead is pronounced like lead but not lead.

Cough
Rough
Though
Through
all of these words do not rhyme, yet pony and bologna do.

minute and minute shouldn't be spelled the same. I'm not content with this content. I object to that object.  I need to read what I read again.  Someone should wind up this post and throw it into the wind.

Tear and Tier are pronounced the same but tear and tear are not.

The word Queue is pronounced kyoo.  It is a five letter word that is only pronounced with the first letter.

"Why can't you get me some ice cream" is really saying "why can not you get me some ice cream."

Here's a game.  Place the word "only" anywhere on the sentence "She told him that she loved him."

"I NEVER SAID SHE STOLE MY MONEY" has 7 different meanings depending on the stressed word.

Australia has 3 A's and all of them are pronounced differently.

If "womb" is pronounced "woom" and "tomb" is pronounced "toom", shouldn't "bomb" be pronounced "boom"?

"Will smith will smith?" is a correct sentence depending on how you look at it.

English feels like a flawed language every time I am forced to use "that that" in a sentence.

If GH can stand for P as in "hiccough," and OUGH can stand for O as in "dough," and PHTH can stand for T as in "phthisis," and EIGH can stand for A as in "neightbour," and TTE can stand for T as in "gazette," and EAU can stand for O as in "plateau," then a correct way to spell potato could be GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU.

and finally:
dad and mom
treat or trick
josh and drake
cheese and mac
jelly and peanut butter
George and Fred
white and black
Juliet and Romeo
Roll & rock
spice and sugar
Ashley and Mary-Kate
Abel and Cain
Jerry and Tom
cream 'n cookies
suffering and pain
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 11 Apr 2017, 09:41
Why is integer a noun, and not an adjective? Why don't we use it to describe a person with integrity?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 11 Apr 2017, 11:05
Why is integer a noun, and not an adjective? Why don't we use it to describe a person with integrity?

It's used like that in German ('integer' (DE->EN) (http://de-en.dict.cc/?s=integer)) - in Dutch, too?

(Younger Germans may use both, switching to the English pronunciation when they mean integer numbers - take this with a grain of salt, though. My social circles is pretty much "Nerd, and getting payed for it")
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 11 Apr 2017, 12:48
It is, but maybe not very commonly. My sister, who studies linguistics, didn't know what it meant.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 09 May 2017, 22:38
Why is integer a noun, and not an adjective? Why don't we use it to describe a person with integrity?
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but dn integer is a whole number, which can be positive, negative, or zero.  Integrity is a whole different word, meaning high principle, morals, and honesty.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 10 May 2017, 02:58
Integrity comes from the Latin integritas, which derives from integer, meaning 'complete, perfect'. We also speak of the structural integrity of a building. It has entered into useage as an admirable character trait as well because it's such a good metaphor. See also: Upstanding, steadfast.

Wiktionary tells me that the adjective form is integrous (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/integrous#English), which I guess makes sense, but we just use integer.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 10 May 2017, 16:38
'Integrous' specifically refers to structural integrity, personal integrity, etc.

Of numbers we use a different adjective form, 'integral' to describe numbers which are restricted so they can only be integers.

And of equations we use the adjective form 'integral' to state that two equations are related in a particular way - where the equations are usually in terms of non-integral (continuously varying) quantities. 

Thus,
"The members of parliament in that nation are generally an integrous lot."  - meaning they can usually be trusted.

"The state department is integral to our foreign policy."  - meaning that without it our foreign policy is incomplete or incoherent.

"The number of nails in a house is integral" - meaning there are no fractional nails.

"The integral of X-squared is 2X-cubed-over-three." meaning the first expression is the derivative of the second.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 02 Jun 2017, 00:59
So, why is English so weird (https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-english-so-weirdly-different-from-other-languages)?

Quote
English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. ... Why is our language so eccentric? Just what is this thing we’re speaking, and what happened to make it this way?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 02 Jun 2017, 04:17
You is originally plural; the singular thou etc has fallen out of use and the originally plural you stands in for it.

English might not have it, but Scots does.

Hence, 'Ye' and 'Yez' :)

(And Scouse actually.. You and Yous)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 02 Jun 2017, 04:23
It is typical that local dialects retain older forms, of course (and formal language, such as church rituals).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 02 Jun 2017, 06:24
So, why is English so weird (https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-english-so-weirdly-different-from-other-languages)?

Quote
English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. ... Why is our language so eccentric? Just what is this thing we’re speaking, and what happened to make it this way?
From the article:
Quote
According to a fashion that reached its zenith in the 19th century, scientific things had to be given Greek names. Hence our undecipherable words for chemicals: why can’t we call monosodium glutamate ‘one-salt gluten acid’? It’s too late to ask.
This isn't unique to English, and there's a reason for it: Scientists often have to communicate across languages. Today, that's done by everyone just using English, but in the 18th and 19th centuries there was no language as dominant as English is today. So instead scientists published stuff in Latin/Greek, since those languages were taught in schools throughout Europe. If you open the Wikipedia page for 'monosodium glutamate' and look at the language links on the left side (hover over to see the URL), then you'll see most other languages have a closely-related name for it (perhaps with a different name for sodium... many languages use the Latin-derived 'natrium').
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 02 Jun 2017, 18:27
One of the interesting things I noted growing up here in NZ is how Maori pronounce English and, to a certain extent, how that pronunciation has deteriorated among a fair few of the young in the generations since WWII

This has to do of course, with how the Education  System worked here in the generations before then, and how Maori was treated much the same way Welsh was in Wales in the preceding generations and how there was a concerted effort to 'Integrate' Maori into European society here.

The upshot of that was that many who went through the Education System of that era were taught to speak in a clear English (almost Queens English) diction while, mostly with urban dwelling Maori, their native tongue was either never taught or sometimes harshly suppressed

In ensuing years, that has thankfully changed, with many Maori becoming fluent in their language while reconnecting with their culture.  That's not to say there aren't still problems  the fact that there are still far fewer Maori familiar with their native tongue than many would like, and  also the fact that, among many young of the Post WWII era right up to now have a standard of diction that can sometimes make even a person like me cringe., and I ain't exactly someone who the BBC would hire as a broadcaster  :D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 02 Jun 2017, 18:44
You is originally plural; the singular thou etc has fallen out of use and the originally plural you stands in for it.

Wow, that gives me flashbacks to visiting my granddad when I was a kid.  As long as we behaved we were "thee" and "thou" and things were great, but if we got in trouble and he started using "you" and "ye" we knew we had screwed up. 

It's sort of an ambiguity actually.  Among the rare groups of people (and rarer still since my granddad's time)  who still use thee and thou, "you" is a formal singular as well as a general plural, and "thou" is a familiar or personal, not just a singular.  Or, formal-to-get-your-attention the way my granddad used it, like addressing a child by their full name.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 02 Jun 2017, 20:19
That's pretty much how Germans use their 2nd person singular and plural ("Du" und "Sie", respectively) - usually, only familiar people, or children are addressed with the singular. Amongst adults the 2nd person plural is standard, and formally correct is to "offer somebody the 'Du'" as a token of familiarity and friendship, though that is changing, too. In the olden times, children would address their parents with "Sie", whereas the parents used the "Du", as a sign of the difference in rank. Using the singular with a stranger (especially when they've used the plural form before) can express contempt - a sign that you don't take them seriously.

The 2nd person plural is more formal and distant, and can hence be used as an exhortation to behave like an adult - bit like what your granddad did with you. My teachers switched to the 2nd person plural once we completed the secondary education first stage (German equivalent of high school) -most would offer us the "du" again, but one flat-out refused to address us with "du" again, stating that now that we had completed the mandatory part of schooling, he'd address us like adults and expected us to behave accordingly. Definitely grabs your attention.

As a TA, I use the 2nd person plural when I address students - some try to get me to use the singular, and I don't get mad at them when they do, but I stay with the more formal plural.   
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 04 Jun 2017, 17:04
The other night when I jokingly chastised someone (inside my car, not to them) who cut me off while driving in a "curse you, sir or madam!" That got me thinking...what's the gender neutral sir/madam? My girlfriend and I agreed on "esteemed individual," but is there actually something people use?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 13 Jun 2017, 14:03
In the sentence "They have come before you," "before" can have opposite meanings. It can mean "in front of", or "earlier". The former refers to a spatial forward direction while the latter refers to a temporal backward direction, assuming we face the future in our imagined orientation in time. Isn't that weird?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 13 Jun 2017, 14:15
Cleave can mean either to hold on tight or to split apart. Many English words have multiple and contradictory meanings.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 13 Jun 2017, 14:56
Ah, but those simply have different etymologies.

Quote
From Middle English cleven, from the Old English strong verb clēofan (“to split, to separate”), from Proto-Germanic *kleubaną, from Proto-Indo-European *glewbʰ- (“to cut, to slice”). Cognate with Dutch klieven, dialectal German klieben, Swedish klyva, and Ancient Greek γλύφω (glúphō, “carve”).

Quote
From Old English cleofian, from Proto-Germanic *klibjaną, from Proto-Indo-European *gleybʰ- (“to stick”). Cognates include German kleben, Dutch kleven.

"Before" has only one etymology. But wait, could it be related to ranking? What is before you, cannot be after you. Can it be said that the king stands before the peasant, but the peasant cannot stand before the king? After all, the first comes before the second, but the second cannot come before the first.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 13 Jun 2017, 20:20
In the sentence "They have come before you," "before" can have opposite meanings. It can mean "in front of", or "earlier". The former refers to a spatial forward direction while the latter refers to a temporal backward direction, assuming we face the future in our imagined orientation in time. Isn't that weird?

I see what you're saying, but I see "in front of" and "earlier" as essentially being synonymous in the temporal sense - that is, I see "event A occurs before event B" and "event A occurs in front of event B" as saying the same thing.

If you think of it in terms of a queue, then both terms can be used interchangeably either positionally or temporally. The same applies to "behind"/"later".

This logic also tallies with the concept that an appointment can be "pushed back" (set further in the future) or "pushed forward" (set closer to the present).

I don't think it's weird, but maybe I'm too used to it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 13 Jun 2017, 20:47
For appointments etc. I would push them back, but always pull them forward.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 13 Jun 2017, 22:06
Yes, good point. You forced me to say it out loud to figure out what I would really say, which turns out to be "push back" and "bring forward". Similar ideas.

On an unrelated topic: the transitive verb "to ravel" means both "to entangle" and "to disentangle." Yes, "to ravel" can be used to mean "to unravel."  :roll:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 14 Jun 2017, 00:01
Fix the following sentence so it is completely correct:

The most common word in the English language is.

Sent from my NXA8QC116 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 14 Jun 2017, 00:42
I take it that you're after a more specific fix than, say, "Gliosus is not the most common word in the English language."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 14 Jun 2017, 03:47
Put a comma after 'language.'
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 14 Jun 2017, 04:41
Clever, but doesn't that turn it into a completely correct sentence fragment?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 14 Jun 2017, 05:53
Put a comma after 'language.'

A colon, surely, or possibly a question mark?

And yes, it's a fragment, but one for which it is not hard to construct a context in which it could be used meaningfully as an acceptable and idiomatic shorthand.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 14 Jun 2017, 06:25
One word needs to be moved, is all.

Sent from my NXA8QC116 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 14 Jun 2017, 06:31
Fix the following sentence so it is completely correct:

The most common word in the English language is.

Sent from my NXA8QC116 using Tapatalk

"The" is the most common word (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_common_words_in_English) in the English language.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 14 Jun 2017, 06:34
Fix the following sentence so it is completely correct:

The most common word in the English language is.

Sent from my NXA8QC116 using Tapatalk

"is" - the most common word in the English language.
Nope.

"The" is the most common word in the English language.

Sent from my NXA8QC116 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 14 Jun 2017, 07:58
It depends on what the meaning of "is" is.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 14 Jun 2017, 08:29
I don't, know if this has been raised in the topic previously, but a superb example of one sentence meaning as many things as there are words 'in' the sentence is:

"I didn't say I killed him."

Inflection can make that be taken seven different ways...

ETA: (if you count a flat intonation, I'd swither on that one having the same basic meaning as stressing the *didn't*)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 14 Jun 2017, 11:21
"The most common word in the English language exists."

Actually, using that (somewhat obsolete but still used) sense of "is", it was a correct and complete sentence to start with.

It's very much a "garden path" sentence though, in that its structure misleads you into expecting a second argument for "is".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 14 Jun 2017, 14:25
"The most common word is in the English language."

Perhaps not true, but grammatically correct.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 14 Jun 2017, 15:56
Beat me to it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 08 Aug 2017, 14:46
This is fun to read for those who like words. (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/27/robert-macfarlane-word-hoard-rewilding-landscape)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 09 Aug 2017, 08:54
This is fun to read for those who like words. (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/27/robert-macfarlane-word-hoard-rewilding-landscape)

Thanks for that!

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 16 Aug 2017, 17:55
Why do 'oversee' and 'overlook' have such different meanings? And why is 'an oversight' something that has been overlooked?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 16 Aug 2017, 20:45
Looking something over and overlooking something are completely opposite.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 17 Aug 2017, 01:59
Why do 'oversee' and 'overlook' have such different meanings? And why is 'an oversight' something that has been overlooked?

"Oversight" is actually used with both those senses; one can say "He has oversight of that project", for instance.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 17 Aug 2017, 16:04
Then there's overview, which is a summary.

Yep, weird.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 17 Aug 2017, 16:56
I guess this is part of why they introduced Latin words into English, as 'supervise' does not mean 'a really strong pair of metal clamps'. But then, 'vice-' was also introduced from Latin, and for that you may wonder why 'vice-president' does not mean 'one who presides over moral faults'.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 18 Aug 2017, 01:37
Well, that would be because English - via old French - actually borrowed two Latin words, but writes them in the same way:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 18 Aug 2017, 09:36
If a hand towel is meant for drying hands, then it's an ambitious project to attempt a beach towel.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 18 Aug 2017, 21:56
You just reminded me of an awful joke I heard as a kid.

If tinsel is made out of tin, what do they make foghorns out of?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 19 Aug 2017, 17:10
If Nuns live in a Nunnery,, then what do Monks live in?



 :claireface:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 19 Aug 2017, 17:16
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 20 Aug 2017, 17:23
Well, that would be because English - via old French - actually borrowed two Latin words, but writes them in the same way:
  • Vice, n.: moral fault, from vitium: defect, imperfection
  • vice-, : deputy, assistant; from vice, abl. of vicis: change, turn
British Commonwealth spelling makes this even more confusing because what Americans would call a vise is spelled vice. So you could correctly write: "Was it a vice for him to squeeze the vice's head in a vice?"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TheEvilDog on 20 Aug 2017, 17:32
English language, go home. You are drunk.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 20 Aug 2017, 21:34
You're using English to tell English to go home. Mixed message! Maybe you should say "Geh nach Hause, Englisch, du bist betrunken," or something. ;)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: celticgeek on 20 Aug 2017, 22:04
Saesneg, rydych chi'n feddw. Ewch adref!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 20 Aug 2017, 22:59
Aenglisc, thu bist gefordrencet.  Aciere haemsidh.

Oh, wait, that's English again...

Ingles, je si droenke. Goa noar hus.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 21 Aug 2017, 00:48
Angielszczyzno, idźże do domu. Pijanaś.

(for the record: this is 100% grammatical Polish, but deliberately written in an understandable-but-somewhat-fancy-and-a-bit-old-fashioned way. Colloquial Polish is scary, but not THIS scary)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 21 Aug 2017, 04:23
This is working out even better than I had hoped.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 21 Aug 2017, 04:36
This is working out even better than I had hoped.

GETTAE!

(Scots can be quite succinct!)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 21 Aug 2017, 06:28
This is working out even better than I had hoped.

GETTAE!

(Scots can be quite succinct!)

...I think you win.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: TheEvilDog on 21 Aug 2017, 07:06
You're using English to tell English to go home. Mixed message! Maybe you should say "Geh nach Hause, Englisch, du bist betrunken," or something. ;)

Ugh, fine.

Béarla, téigh abhaile. Tá tú ar meisce.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 21 Aug 2017, 07:16
Ingles, je si droenke. Goa noar hus.

Incidentally, don't take this as Dutch; people might not understand you.

GETTAE!

(Scots can be quite succinct!)

May I suggest for German: Raus!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 21 Aug 2017, 07:26
Sithee ooam English lad tha's kaylied.

For those of a Yorkshire persuasion.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 21 Aug 2017, 08:08
GETTAE!

(Scots can be quite succinct!)

May I suggest for German: Raus!

In Polish it's even shorter: Won!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 21 Aug 2017, 08:42
GETTAE!

(Scots can be quite succinct!)

May I suggest for German: Raus!

In Polish it's even shorter: Won!

Well...

There is also...

"A!"

(But that also needs the correct tone. Usaully barked!)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 09 Sep 2017, 08:54
Ingles, je si droenke. Goa noar hus.

Incidentally, don't take this as Dutch; people might not understand you.

I was wondering ... it seems to be some odd mix of French and Bavarian?

GETTAE! (Scots can be quite succinct!)
May I suggest for German: Raus!

Yup, the classic, packs a lot of acoustic punch (though it's strictly an indoors-cuss, meaning 'Get out!'). Tons of other possibilities & regional dialect version. My favourite: "Geh kacken!" ('Go (away) and defecate!').

Though I believe that 'Ga weg!' is a bit more ... authoritative ...  :evil:



I once saw a comedian compare English and Dutch for values of forcefulness whilst cussing people out: 'Ga weg!' ('Go away!' in Dutch) clearly tops 'Geh weg!' ('Go away!' in German), which is why Germans prefer 'Raus!', and both pack way more of an acoustic punch than either 'Go away!' or 'Piss off'.

Dutch has the additional benefit of an entire arsenal of fricatives & weird guttural sounds vaguely reminiscent of Arabic (*) - So while German's lustful 'edginess' is perfectly suited for barking orders, or practising your rock-scream (Exhibit A: Marius Müller Westernhagen, Sexy (1989) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uijw7V8Eh7Q)), Dutch makes up for its somewhat more rounded-, gentler auditorial profile with sounds that impress onto their unlucky target the mental image of several inches of retractable claws (or a little league bat liberally covered in broken glass, if you will.)

(*) Those can put the inexperienced German student of Dutch at risk of accidentally swallowing their tongue, or throwing up. It's accepted wisdom that the adult German student of Dutch, regardless of the effort they invest, will never completely get the pronunciation of words like 'Uit' right (can mean 'out(side)' or 'Exit').

"Uit"

"Really good, just ... make the sound a little farther down your throat"

"AaaUiiitcchhh?"

"Almost ..."

"Arghhharrrgghhllll???"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 09 Sep 2017, 09:20
"The World’s Most Efficient Languages" (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/06/complex-languages/489389/) (Yes, English is weird, but far from the bottom of the rabbit hole)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 10 Sep 2017, 05:43
My brain has problems with Flemish. When I watch cycling videos with Flemish commentary, it tricks the English-language part of my brain into thinking that of it ought to be able to understand it, but of course it can't. It feels like... my needle is skipping on their record? Like the meaning is on "the tip of my tongue" (well, ear really), and just out of reach. I don't have this problem listening to German or Spanish or other languages I do not know.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 10 Sep 2017, 06:13
My brain has problems with Flemish. When I watch cycling videos with Flemish commentary, it tricks the English-language part of my brain into thinking that of it ought to be able to understand it, but of course it can't. It feels like... my needle is skipping on their record? Like the meaning is on "the tip of my tongue" (well, ear really), and just out of reach. I don't have this problem listening to German or Spanish or other languages I do not know.

Even more annoying when you're hearing an interpreter's translation mixed on top of the original audio and happen to be fluent in both languages - feels like my 'ears going cross-eyed'.

Flemish theaters run English-language movies with the original audio track, and two subtitle-tracks (Dutch/Flemish and French). Drove me nuts, because I got acoustic info and visual info in my second, third and fourth language respectively, and my brain feels obligated not to miss any of it (*), which not only ruins the immersion, but is also stressful, since I can't read French that fast (more truthfully, I can 'decipher' French. Calling what I do 'reading' is a bit of a stretch).


(*) In the past, I had this 'training routine' where I used to watch English-language movies with the English audio instead of the dubbed German track (which is almost always offered) and the English subtitles as 'training wheels'. These days, I don't need the subtitles any more & find them distracting. Even more distracting is when the top row subtitles are in Dutch (which I can mostly read quite speedily), and the bottom row in French.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 10 Sep 2017, 10:47
Sigh.  English does in fact have a very forceful one-word command for that.  "Avaunt!" 

Unfortunately it hasn't been popular for a few centuries.  Now that it's no longer in people's immediate vocabulary, it can hardly be called forceful anymore; they're too busy trying to remember what it means.

Certain bits of English vocabulary make sense, if you think about the way words are related and then notice another word that may be a bit less popular. 

When I was younger, I was always amused that people who were reckless always wound up in wrecks.  But now I can see how it came about:  People who are reckless lack rectitude. 

Of course, then I think of some other people I know, and I have to go look and see if "fecktitude" was ever a word.  Maybe it should be.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 10 Sep 2017, 11:54
(*) Those can put the inexperienced German student of Dutch at risk of accidentally swallowing their tongue, or throwing up. It's accepted wisdom that the adult German student of Dutch, regardless of the effort they invest, will never completely get the pronunciation of words like 'Uit' right (can mean 'out(side)' or 'Exit').

That reminds me of trying to teach my international student friends the pronunciation of 'uien', 'euro', 'eieren' and other arcane Dutch vowel combinations. The Spanish speakers picked it up with relative ease (meaning I only had to slowly break down the sound a handful of times), it took a lot of effort for English speakers and yes, it was basically impossible for German speakers. Saying "Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis" was considered a tongue-twister of epic proportion.

Also, if you want to tell someone to get out in even stronger terms, you have "Rot op", alternatively "Oprotten", and many verbs other than 'rot' can be substituted to reach the equivalent of 'fuck off', like 'tief' or 'flikker' which share that nice forceful F.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 10 Sep 2017, 12:52

That reminds me of trying to teach my international student friends the pronunciation of 'uien', 'euro', 'eieren' and other arcane Dutch vowel combinations. The Spanish speakers picked it up with relative ease (meaning I only had to slowly break down the sound a handful of times), it took a lot of effort for English speakers and yes, it was basically impossible for German speakers. Saying "Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis" was considered a tongue-twister of epic proportion.

'De kat krabt de krullen van de trap'  :laugh:

I think it's because German and Dutch are almost 'fraternal twins' - they are so similar that the similarity can be misleading. I was always worried about accidentally using 'false friends' ('verstopt' means 'hidden' ('versteckt' in German), but is almost identical to the German 'verstopft' (clogged)), or to speak 'Germenglutch' (German vocabulary, English Grammar, Dutch pronunciation), rather than proper Dutch. For me it was even easier (or more confusing, respectively) since I'm from the western part of Northrhine-Palatine, so I'd heard in regional dialects some of the Dutch peculiarities that are defunct in modern standard German (like the 'continuous aspect').

Like the 'g' in 'gaan' superficially sounds like a hybrid between the German 'ch' and 'r', and 'ij' in Nijmegen is close to the German 'ei' etc.etc., so you sometimes have to 'unlearn' the German sounds to make place for the Dutch ones - and just when you start thinking "Hey! This is hardly a foreign language, more like a dialect!", sounds like 'ui' or 'eie' sneak up from behind & try to strangle you.

German is more strongly inflected than Dutch, afaics (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niederl%C3%A4ndische_Sprache#Grammatik), which mostly makes Dutch grammar easier to learn for Germans than vice versa, IMO. What I found confusing at first: Dutch, like English, has a continuous aspect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_and_progressive_aspects#German) that was replaced by a different construction in standard German: 'Ik ben mijn handen aan het wasse' (I'm washing my hands) vs. "Ich wasche mir gerade die Hände" ('I am washing my hands (right now)'). However, this continuous aspect appears in several German regional dialects, especially regional Rhenish dialects in my native Northrhine-Palatine - "Ich ben/bin am Hände waschn" - and is sometimes used for comedic effect, or to mock people, and stuff like that sometimes felt weird at first, like 'Bad/Mock German'.

Weirdest word in the Dutch language: uitnodigen ('to invite (invite smb. in)') - to a German, it sounds like a combination of '(hin)aus' ('out (of)') and 'nötigen' ('to coerce'), so that one always gave me cognitive dissonance .... like 'You invite somebody in, so you can kick them out?'
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 11 Sep 2017, 04:20
'English'... alright, I suppose...

I just wanted to let you know of a nice little idiosyncracy of the Dundonian dialect...
(As an exmple, phonetically the above sentence would be said.)
"Ehh jist waantid t'lit y'ken o a nice wee idiosincrisay o' the Dundonian dehehhlecct "

We're well know for our glottal stops and gutteral T's,  (Which is apparent when you realise you can say an entire sentence and use no vocalised consonant's at all... "Eh, eh e' i' a'!" (Yes, I ate it all!))

But something I love is the use of the word Ehh. (Like the E in PEN only slightly elongated)
This word has three meanings.... "I", "Eye", and "Yes" ("Ehh, ehh got sand in meh ehh!" ("Yes, I got sand in my eye!")

The first two uses "I" and "Eye" make immediate sense, being homophones.
But the "Yes..."?

Immediately it doesn't make any sense at all. "I" and "eye" and "Yes" are not remotely alike...
Until you realise what the SCOTS word for 'yes' is...

And you know what that is, aye?  :)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 11 Sep 2017, 04:48
Weirdest word in the Dutch language: uitnodigen ('to invite (invite smb. in)') - to a German, it sounds like a combination of '(hin)aus' ('out (of)') and 'nötigen' ('to coerce'), so that one always gave me cognitive dissonance .... like 'You invite somebody in, so you can kick them out?'
Surprisingly, that's actually the etymological root of the word, being a contamination of 'uitnoden' and 'nodigen', both being derived from 'nood', which means requirement or need - see 'noodgeval', 'noodzaak' - and was probably used in the context of being summoned to the court, which is basically an invitation you can't refuse. Only, we no longer use the verb 'nodigen' so 'uitnodigen' lost its connotation of seriousness and came into general use.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 11 Sep 2017, 06:12
Weirdest word in the Dutch language: uitnodigen ('to invite (invite smb. in)') - to a German, it sounds like a combination of '(hin)aus' ('out (of)') and 'nötigen' ('to coerce'), so that one always gave me cognitive dissonance .... like 'You invite somebody in, so you can kick them out?'
Surprisingly, that's actually the etymological root of the word, being a contamination of 'uitnoden' and 'nodigen', both being derived from 'nood', which means requirement or need - see 'noodgeval', 'noodzaak' - and was probably used in the context of being summoned to the court, which is basically an invitation you can't refuse. Only, we no longer use the verb 'nodigen' so 'uitnodigen' lost its connotation of seriousness and came into general use.

Ah! Thanks! Nötigen/Nötigung (to coerce/coercion) is still used in German (with a respective article in the criminal code) - and has the same root: 'Not' ('distress'), with similar derivates (noodgeval - Notfall - Emergency; noodzak - Notwendigkeit - necessity).

The German 'einladen' (to invite smb.) is probably derived from 'ein' (in) and 'laden' (to load smth. into smth.) - which, admittedly, also doesn't sound like it has much to do with the free will of the invitee (sounds more like an announcement that you'll be loaded into a place at a certain date?  :-\).

So, the Dutch host sends a royal summons, while their German counterpart doesn't bother with all the tedious mind-games & coercion and merely informs you where you will be at a certain time in the future, for your own convenience, should you happen to prefer coming of your own free will.  :-D

My brain has problems with Flemish. When I watch cycling videos with Flemish commentary, it tricks the English-language part of my brain into thinking that of it ought to be able to understand it, but of course it can't. It feels like... my needle is skipping on their record? Like the meaning is on "the tip of my tongue" (well, ear really), and just out of reach. I don't have this problem listening to German or Spanish or other languages I do not know.

From a German POV, Dutch does 'sound' a little bit like German (dialect) with English influences. I guess that part of what makes Dutch sound familiar to you, while you perceive German as genuinely foreign is the "2nd Germanic consonant shift" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_German_consonant_shift) that other west-Germanic languages, like Dutch and English, didn't adopt. So it'd make sense that the Dutch pronunciation of consonants appears more familiar to you than the German one.

Dutch also uses the same Gerund as English (-ing), but only for female verbs (Yes, verbs have a grammatical gender in proper languages).

(P.S.: Do you mean Flemish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flemish) or Dutch? - Flemish is more of a Dutch dialect really, but ... I've always made the distinction in order to not appear rude to Belgians)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 11 Sep 2017, 07:46
(P.S.: Do you mean Flemish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flemish) or Dutch? - Flemish is more of a Dutch dialect really, but ... I've always made the distinction in order to not appear rude to Belgians)

Please do note that in effect Dutch is, in this case meant to mean the language of the entirety of the Low Countries, rather than what is now the Netherlands. Also note that Flemish has been a major influence in the development of the Dutch standard language.

I guess that about makes it clear what side the Moerdijk I'm from.  :roll:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 11 Sep 2017, 09:26
Please do note that in effect Dutch is, in this case meant to mean the language of the entirety of the Low Countries, rather than what is now the Netherlands.

Ok, so ... how do you guys want your language(s) to be referred to? I've always thought that referring to Flemish as simply Dutch was rude to Flemish Belgians? (The fact that the Netherlands have already claimed dibs on 'nether lands' doesn't make it less confusing, I guess ... :wink:)

And I guess that the Frisians might have an opinion on Dutch being the language of 'the lower countries' (whelp, they also have an opinion about being German ...).  :laugh:

I guess that about makes it clear what side the Moerdijk I'm from.  :roll:

Apologies for my ignorance, but ... not so much? German wiki about the municipality Moerdijk says that 'boven Moerdijk' means protestant Netherlands, whereas 'beneden Moerdijk' means catholic Netherlands (Brabant, Limburg). But ... both are in the Netherlands, not in Belgium?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 11 Sep 2017, 09:51
You wouldn't guess that "mercy"  and "mercenary" are related, but they are.

The link, of course is 'Mercari' or money. (Latin?  Italian?)  A down-and-out on the corner asks for money (mercy) and an itenerant soldier (mercenary) fights for money.

But one should not expect mercy from a mercenary.  That's just not how it works.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 12 Sep 2017, 02:06
Please do note that in effect Dutch is, in this case meant to mean the language of the entirety of the Low Countries, rather than what is now the Netherlands.

Ok, so ... how do you guys want your language(s) to be referred to? I've always thought that referring to Flemish as simply Dutch was rude to Flemish Belgians? (The fact that the Netherlands have already claimed dibs on 'nether lands' doesn't make it less confusing, I guess ... :wink:)

And I guess that the Frisians might have an opinion on Dutch being the language of 'the lower countries' (whelp, they also have an opinion about being German ...).  :laugh:

I guess that about makes it clear what side the Moerdijk I'm from.  :roll:

Apologies for my ignorance, but ... not so much? German wiki about the municipality Moerdijk says that 'boven Moerdijk' means protestant Netherlands, whereas 'beneden Moerdijk' means catholic Netherlands (Brabant, Limburg). But ... both are in the Netherlands, not in Belgium?

Well, it's also the linguistic division between Northern Dutch ("Dutch" Dutch) and Southern Dutch (Flemish, Limburgs, Zeeuws, Brabants). The difference between the two does not lie along national borders - not since 1843, at any rate.

Interestingly, the Limburg dialect has been recognised as a separate language in the Netherlands as well - which gives some subsidies from the EU - but not in Belgium. Belgium has anchored the three national languages - Dutch, French, and German - in law, whereas the Netherlands did not anchor their official language in law. Which makes things somewhat easier, recognising Friesian and Limburgian as separate languages. I admit, I forgot to mention the Friesians, a grievous oversight, for which I do apologise.

On the whole, we're alright calling it Dutch - we make the difference between Flemish and Hollands, which doesn't sit well with most of the Dutch. There's also the difference between the official, standardised language, and what is popularly spoken. If we take it to extremes, Flemish is only spoken in our two westernmost provinces, the north of France, and the south of Zeeland. I may have made it a bit more serious than I meant - yesterday was a long day.

What we call our countries has always been intertwined, really. For instance, this is the Leo Belgicus, a map of the Netherlands.
(click to show/hide)
Not to mention that the Germans claimed dibs on Deutsch - which shares the root for Dutch: theodisc - of the people. There was Diets, but that has been coopted by a certain cause in the '30s.

You wouldn't guess that "mercy"  and "mercenary" are related, but they are.

The link, of course is 'Mercari' or money. (Latin?  Italian?)  A down-and-out on the corner asks for money (mercy) and an itenerant soldier (mercenary) fights for money.

But one should not expect mercy from a mercenary.  That's just not how it works.

You're looking for Merces - Reward. It's latin.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 12 Sep 2017, 02:07

But one should not expect mercy from a mercenary.  That's just not how it works.

Depends how much you pay 'em!  :)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 12 Sep 2017, 04:14

But one should not expect mercy from a mercenary.  That's just not how it works.

Depends how much you pay 'em!  :)

Whereas you're shit out of luck trying to buy mercy from a soldier because they're already bought & sold ...  :-D

(No srsly, that's the meaning of the etymological root soldarius (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier#Etymology) - 'someone having pay')

Not to mention that the Germans claimed dibs on Deutsch - which shares the root for Dutch: theodisc - of the people.

:parrot:

It also means 'speaking the language of the people', which is a concept I rather like, because it allows for integration by cultural appropriation (not to mention that it's pretty much a negation of the old 'blood & soil' definition of German ethnicity).

Hey! That's a good argument for our immigration/integration debate "Our ancient ancestors defined 'German' by language proficiency - back to the roots, baby!"  :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 12 Sep 2017, 06:20
My brain has problems with Flemish. When I watch cycling videos with Flemish commentary, it tricks the English-language part of my brain into thinking that of it ought to be able to understand it, but of course it can't. It feels like... my needle is skipping on their record? Like the meaning is on "the tip of my tongue" (well, ear really), and just out of reach. I don't have this problem listening to German or Spanish or other languages I do not know.

Well, they are close relatives - and it's really German that is the oddball, not Dutch. Found a good explanation of the 'High-German consonant shift(s)' (there were three) that successively set German pronunciation apart from the other west-Germanic languages (e.g. English, Dutch, Frisian etc.). So yes, they all have a common root (west-Germanic) and standard German is kind of the outlier wrt. pronunciation. Not surprising that Dutch would sound more familiar to an English speaker.


English vocabulary is so different to the others because of the strong Latin & French influences - it's almost equal parts Germanic, French and Latin (and small change). There's even an ('artificial') 'Anglish' version (Germanic English w/o Romance loanwords) that comes much closer to how words are formed in German (and I guess many other west-Germanic languages, too).


P.S.: Does anybody else think that Frisian (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k14B2JDrFg) is 'basically Dutch'?

P.P.S. For non-Europeans: The high/low distinction is not a value-judgement, but refers to elevation above mean sea level or upstream/downstream (of the Rhine) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminology_of_the_Low_Countries#Low_as_deixis) - which is roughly synonymous with latitude - the 'low' dialects were spoken in the northern/northwestern regions closer to the coast, the 'high' ones in the southern regions closer to the Alps (e.g Bavaria). Very, very loosely related to what the Romans called 'Germania inferior/superior'.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 12 Sep 2017, 07:02
That does explain it.

As for Frisian, it does sound similar, and some of it you can understand - but some of it is fairly unintelligible.

Though, to be honest, the main argument for it being a language on its own, is a long written tradition, and independent standardisation. That's where Flemish, for instance, differs. The main standardisation of Dutch happened with the translation of the Statenbijbel, which was done by a committee that sought expressly to balance the different variants to have a translation that's accessible to all. The standardisation of Flemish - such as it is - only got off in the nineteenth century, notably with Guido Gezelle as a fierce proponent. As French, at the time, was the main language of the top layers of society, however, it was a doomed effort. Hence, no recognition as a language in its own right.

I've often heard it said that a language is just a dialect with an army. There's some truth in there.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 12 Sep 2017, 08:27

But one should not expect mercy from a mercenary.  That's just not how it works.

Depends how much you pay 'em!  :)

Whereas you're shit out of luck trying to buy mercy from a soldier because they're already bought & sold ...  :-D

(No srsly, that's the meaning of the etymological root soldarius (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier#Etymology) - 'someone having pay')

Not to mention that the Germans claimed dibs on Deutsch - which shares the root for Dutch: theodisc - of the people.

:parrot:

It also means 'speaking the language of the people', which is a concept I rather like, because it allows for integration by cultural appropriation (not to mention that it's pretty much a negation of the old 'blood & soil' definition of German ethnicity).

Hey! That's a good argument for our immigration/integration debate "Our ancient ancestors defined 'German' by language proficiency - back to the roots, baby!"  :-D

Pshaww!!

What kind of Mercenary doesn't look to be paid TWICE for the same job??

"He paid you a million?"
"Yeah"
"Do you have the money?"
"I'm not crazy."
"Good, Good... I'll give you another two million to kill *them*"
"Three..."
"What? Are you..."

>click<

"Okay! Okay! Three!"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 12 Sep 2017, 09:35
On the whole, we're alright calling it Dutch - we make the difference between Flemish and Hollands, which doesn't sit well with most of the Dutch. There's also the difference between the official, standardised language, and what is popularly spoken. If we take it to extremes, Flemish is only spoken in our two westernmost provinces, the north of France, and the south of Zeeland.

The West Germanic Dutch Language Family Tree

  Dutch - Protestant Dutch
  Flemish - Catholic Dutch
  Frisian - Middle Eastern Dutch
  Low German - Eastern Dutch
  German - Office Dutch
  English - Romance Dutch/Trader Dutch
  Scots - Highlander Dutch
  Luxembourgish - Mercantile Dutch
  Yiddish - Yidutch
  Bavarian Mundart - Alpine Dutch

 :mrgreen:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 12 Sep 2017, 10:07
There's even an ('artificial') 'Anglish' version (Germanic English w/o Romance loanwords)

The composer Percy Grainger attempted to write with no romance-derived words at all - what he called "blue-eyed English".  E.g.:

Quote from: Percy Grainger
[...] it is wrong for a tone-write {composer} to put his puzzle-wifty {complicated} scores within  the reach of know-nothing-y {ignorant} keyed-hammer-string {piano} players. [...] Allowing keyed-hammer-string dish-ups {arrangements} of my tone works {compositions} (which, in their as-first-was {original} forms were always a-chance-for-all-y {democratic}, & always group-minded) has wrecked my whole job-path {career} as a tone-wright. [...] So Roger and mother (for all their well-wishingness to me) did me an ill turn in planning the forth-printment {publication} of my tone-works.

His scores use, instead of the standard Italian terms, words and phrases like: "louden lots", "soften bit by bit", "violently wrenched", "harped" {arpeggio} "lower notes of woggle {tremolo} well to the fore", "easygoingly but very clingingly", "very rhythmic and jimp {neat, graceful}", "wayward in time" {rubato}, "hold back slightly".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 12 Sep 2017, 14:02
In the same vein, atomic science with only Anglo-Saxon roots:

https://groups.google.com/forum/message/raw?msg=alt.language.artificial/ZL4e3fD7eW0/_7p8bKwLJWkJ
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 12 Sep 2017, 15:41
The difference is that Percy Grainger's was the style he affected for most of his life, not just for a humorous article.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 12 Sep 2017, 16:46
(P.S.: Do you mean Flemish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flemish) or Dutch? - Flemish is more of a Dutch dialect really, but ... I've always made the distinction in order to not appear rude to Belgians)
I don't know really. The cycling events I'm watching are being held in Belgium, and I know the commentary is not in French, so I suppose I assumed it was in Flemish (in some cases the video I'm watching says so), but I don't know if I would be able actually to distinguish between Flemish and Dutch.

I've often heard it said that a language is just a dialect with an army. There's some truth in there.
Certainly the distinction is often more cultural and political than linguistic. It is common, for example, to refer to Cantonese, Shanghainese, Mandarin, Hakka, Hokkien etc. as "dialects" of Chinese, when they are as mutually incomprehensible as English, French, German etc., which are all accorded the status of "languages". There are two reasons for this, I think. One is that written Chinese is basically the same for all the "dialects", but the other is the deeply-rooted cultural belief that "there is only one China". Ever since the unification of China in 221BCE, and however imperfectly this belief has conformed with reality, Chinese people have believed that China was one nation, and they were all one people, so it followed that they had one language, and that variations were dialects.

However, the languages spoken by some ethnic-minority peoples in China (Russian, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Kazakh etc.) are called languages, not dialects, reflecting the "ethnic-essentialist" view of Chinese identity held by both most foreigners and most Chinese people. :-(

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 13 Sep 2017, 00:17
If it's on tv, it's most likely an approximation of the standard language, though with a Flemish accent - much depends on the commentator, really. Thge past few decades have seen the development of an intermediate form between dialects and standard Dutch.


  Scots - Highlander Dutch
 

About that: http://flemish.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/2014/05/09/the-flemish-influence-on-scottish-language/ (http://flemish.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/2014/05/09/the-flemish-influence-on-scottish-language/)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 13 Sep 2017, 03:29
On the whole, we're alright calling it Dutch - we make the difference between Flemish and Hollands, which doesn't sit well with most of the Dutch. There's also the difference between the official, standardised language, and what is popularly spoken. If we take it to extremes, Flemish is only spoken in our two westernmost provinces, the north of France, and the south of Zeeland.

The West Germanic Dutch Language Family Tree

  Dutch - Protestant Dutch
  Flemish - Catholic Dutch
  Frisian - Middle Eastern Dutch
  Low German - Eastern Dutch
  German - Office Dutch
  English - Romance Dutch/Trader Dutch
  Scots - Highlander Dutch
  Luxembourgish - Mercantile Dutch
  Yiddish - Yidutch
  Bavarian Mundart - Alpine Dutch

 :mrgreen:

 You forgot one:

  Jamaican - Pass the Dutchie
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 04 Oct 2017, 10:59
Today I learned that 'yep' and 'nope' are words that were put into writing after it became popular to pronounce 'yes' and 'no' with an unfinished 'p'. So instead of saying 'no', the speaker cuts the 'o' short by closing their mouth, adding a gesture of finality. [Source (https://www.scribd.com/document/261147585/Thoughts-on-Yep-and-Nope)] Imagine:

"Do you want to adopt a cat?"

- "No." = I am not receptive to that idea.
- "Nope." = That is completely out of the question.

In recent times, the same linguistic process has created 'welp' out of 'well', using that same tone of finality mixed with a generous dose of sarcasm.

"I need to get to the shop before it closes."
"It closed half an hour ago."
"Welp. Nevermind."

Interesting, then, that this use was described as early as 1946!

Quote
If the speaker is American, and will observe himself when he utters well as a sign of dismissal of some discussion or activity (as in 'Well'-pause-'what do we do next?'), he will often discover that he has used welp, with unfinished p. Like other actions, this gesture of finality may become a mannerism. At a recent graduation one of the officiating deans managed it conspicuously, on turning to go backstage, as from a job dutifully done, after having recited his list of candidates.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 05 Oct 2017, 03:01
'welp'


Can I just take this opportunity to say..

I fecking HATE Welp/Whelp.
Hate it.
REALLY hate it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 05 Oct 2017, 06:05
whelp (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Whelp_(R37))
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 05 Oct 2017, 06:22
whelp (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Whelp_(R37))

I prefer to think of that as the "Simon van der Stel"

 :clairedoge:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 08 Oct 2017, 14:41
I fecking HATE Welp/Whelp.
What is wrong with you? Whelps are adorable:
(http://i.imgur.com/yVzscuR.png) (https://imgur.com/yVzscuR)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Sorflakne on 09 Oct 2017, 12:13
This weekend.  Both a past tense and future tense phrase.

"We went to the beach this weekend."
"We're going to the beach this weekend."

Last weekend being used to refer to the weekend prior to the weekend that just happened is also sometimes heard where I'm from.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 09 Oct 2017, 14:30
I would suggest that "this weekend" means the nearest, whether past or future; and that it's inadvisable to use the phrase on Wednesdays because of ambiguity.  As a result "last weekend" and "next weekend" mean the nearest which isn't "this weekend" - though that's getting less reliable.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 09 Oct 2017, 20:51
Honestly, I just make sure I include context to make it clear. "What did you do this weekend?"/"What are you doing this weekend?"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 10 Oct 2017, 03:13
Chaos, mister madness. Chaos.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 10 Oct 2017, 13:33
It is practically impossible to use this weekend without some element of context that would render an absolute indicator redundant.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 10 Oct 2017, 16:16
Either way, Tova is right. Chaos is inevitable.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Kugai on 11 Oct 2017, 15:31
Not if the Vorlons can help it
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 20 Nov 2017, 07:36
Why are valiant, radiant and deviant not pronounced like reliant, compliant and giant?

Also I just realised that 'laboratory' is derived from the word 'labor', just like 'oratory' is derived from 'orate'.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 20 Nov 2017, 09:18
Why are valiant, radiant and deviant not pronounced like reliant, compliant and giant?

Also I just realised that 'laboratory' is derived from the word 'labor', just like 'oratory' is derived from 'orate'.

In the same way that "Masturbatory" is derived from "Conservatives"   :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 20 Nov 2017, 09:54
...

I want a 'dislike' button.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 20 Nov 2017, 10:20

The word "gumption" was originally Norse "gaumr" meaning "attention" or "pay attention" depending on whether used as a noun or verb.  It was adopted into Scottish dialect by 1719 as "gumpt", with the meanings of "sense, shrewdness and practical understanding,"  and at the same time into middle english as "gome" with roughly the same meaning as it had in the Norse. 

"Gumption" meaning initiative is found in mainstream English from 1819, and "Gumptious" as a description of a person with gumption is recorded occasionally from 1823 to 1932 but never seems to have caught on.

I want to know whether this has anything to do with Forrest Gump's patronym.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 20 Nov 2017, 10:39
Having done some important linguistic research, I have discovered that the buffalo sentence can also be done with cocks.

i.e. Cocks cocks, Cocks cocks cocks, cocks Cocks cocks. That's a completely valid sentence.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 20 Nov 2017, 11:18
Is it? Shouldn't cocks five and six just be 'cock'?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 20 Nov 2017, 12:39
I think in this instance cock and cocks have the same meaning so are interchangeable.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 20 Nov 2017, 23:59
In that case, I don't understand. Which meanings of cocks does it use?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 21 Nov 2017, 00:35
To tilt in a particular direction. I.e. he cocks his hat to the side.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 21 Nov 2017, 12:57
But they cock their head to the side, hence your sentence, I think, is ungrammatical.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 21 Nov 2017, 14:02
No, I suggesting cocks from Cocks are tilted by other cocks from Cocks.

The placement of the verb in the sentence structure is important to whether an appended s is appropriate though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 21 Nov 2017, 15:33
Is it, now? It's my understanding that in the present tense, as, I believe, you used, only the 3rd person singular differs from the infinitive form, regardless of position in the phrase. I'm afraid I'll have to agree with Tova.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 23 Feb 2018, 20:26
Nothing is better than eternal happiness, and a ham sandwich is better than nothing.

One suburban US police department has "Annual Mass Killing Training", which I can see three possible meanings for.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 08 Mar 2018, 12:42
I didn't know this, but it makes sense - and it does make that "Annual Mass Killing Training" thing sound weird:

(https://scontent.fphx1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/28577858_776167715911310_2490330394368112649_n.jpg?oh=a7c369af6d15e0ec98d3cae8546e53fb&oe=5B47DC57)

(The argument would be that it would be more appropriate to say "Mass-Killing Annual Training" than anything else, but...)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 08 Mar 2018, 15:08
I didn't know this, but it makes sense - and it does make that "Annual Mass Killing Training" thing sound weird:

(The argument would be that it would be more appropriate to say "Mass-Killing Annual Training" than anything else, but...)

Hmmmh - "jährliches massentötungs-training" 'merely' sounds very, very weird, but "massentötung jährliches training" sounds like you forgot a semicolon, or suffered a stroke.

Germans would probably solve the problem in the usual time-honoured fashion - creating a compound-noun. Our police's term for active shooter situations is Amoklage (Amok-situation), and the respective drills for police forces are called Amoklageübung(en) (https://sek-einsatz.de/nachrichten-sek-einsaetze/nordrheinwestfalen/amoklageuebung-der-polizei-koeln/18013) (Amok-situation-training).

German schools train 'Notfallübungen' (Emergency-drills) for other emergencies that involve elaborate evacuation planning, like fire-drills, but apparently, most deliberately don't do school-shooting-drills involving students - there are pre-recorded announcements with situational advice (lock doors, get under tables, mute phones etc.) that can be triggered by teachers, but only the staff know the tone, or the message. There's also no special term for such an activity.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 13 Jun 2018, 08:55
weird mussing that I felt belonged here:

"Your welcome." Shouldn't that have been you're welcome as in "you are welcome?" Was it always bastardized in modern English or does it have a deeper meaning like your (possessive) welcome is needed? On that note, shouldn't welcome be past tense in that phrase since you responding to a thank you of something you did? "You're welcomed."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 13 Jun 2018, 08:58
I don't know anyone who writes it as "your welcome". It's pretty simple, if one person says "Thank you for the help/dinner/your time" the other responds "You are welcome (to it)", just like you could say "You are welcome to help yourself from the fridge."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 13 Jun 2018, 09:05
Maybe its a regional thing but I see it all the time and it just bothers me.  :venonat:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 13 Jun 2018, 09:34
It would bother me too, but then I think about how people say "bye-bye", which is "goodbye" abbreviated and then doubled, which itself is bastardised from "god b'w'ye" which is short for "god be with you" and I realise we are powerless against the forces of entropy eventually removing all grammatical sense from the English language.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 13 Jun 2018, 10:44
Quote from: Anthony Buckeridge, Jennings Goes to School
"Of course not," said Venables. "His name's Temple, and his initials are C.A.T. so naturally we call him Dog.""

"But you didn't call him Dog; you called him Bod."

"Give me a change to get a word in," said Venables. "I haven't finished yet. It's a bit of a sweat calling him Dog, so we call him Dogsbody for short."

"But it isn't short, " protested Jennings. "Dogsbody's much longer than Dog."

"Okay, then, it needs shortening. Bod short for Body, and Dogsbody short for Dog. Really!" Venables shook his head sadly. "You new oiks are dim at picking things up."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Meadomancer on 13 Jun 2018, 16:33
I saw a comic about this years ago. 

Possibly the most abbreviated and bastardized phrase in modern English is "I am going to."  Example:
I am going to go to the store.
I'm gonna go to the store
Ommina go to the store. 

It only makes sense if you say it out loud, but it'll probably be acceptable in print eventually. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Method of Madness on 13 Jun 2018, 17:58
Maybe its a regional thing but I see it all the time and it just bothers me.  :venonat:
I mean, people use "your" when they should say "you're" all the time, wouldn't this just be an example of that?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 13 Jun 2018, 21:22
The apostrophe is oft gotten wrong. So much so that I suppose a future version of English will lack it.

We did pretty much the same thing to all those weird marks a lot of people decorate their vowels with, after all.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 14 Jun 2018, 03:44
Did English really ever use those?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 14 Jun 2018, 04:36
No, never.  There was a while that people liked to use the diaeresis, as in coöperate or naïve for instance, but that's pretty much dead I think.  The occasional use of an accent in loan words, such as cliché, is about the biggest such intrusion.  We've always preferred our pronunciation to be a guessing game, it seems...  :evil:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 14 Jun 2018, 07:49
Hit  þynċeþ swa.

Seems like it's lost some letters, though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 14 Jun 2018, 07:58
Maybe its a regional thing but I see it all the time and it just bothers me.  :venonat:
I mean, people use "your" when they should say "you're" all the time, wouldn't this just be an example of that?

Yes, but in a professional setting that doesn't fly and yet "your welcome" does.  :psyduck:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 14 Jun 2018, 08:56
Shouldn't, though - I'm pretty sure you won't find that usage in any publisher's style manual.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 14 Jun 2018, 09:44
I have an irrationality strong dislike for the misuse of reflexive pronouns. "I will send that to yourselves", "please call myself", and the like seem to crop up all over emails and phone calls. It really sets my teeth on edge.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 14 Jun 2018, 11:25
My impression is that the practice is dying out.

Except possibly among Estate Agents.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 14 Jun 2018, 11:51
Sometimes I want to be a schwa. 

They're never stressed.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 14 Jun 2018, 15:03
I'm in Kerry at the moment and it's strange to hear people a whole people speaking English with native fluency but in an accent that is clearly suited to another very different language. Its something you never hear elsewhere from someone non-British who's learned English, no matter how fluent.

Kerry, for the unfamiliar is a deeply rural part of southern Ireland.

Another observation, each Irish county seems to have a different punctuative word. Kerry is "so", Dublin is "like", Mayo is "then". Not sure how they get decided on.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 14 Jun 2018, 15:20
Is there an English-language term for a style of argumentation that overwhelmingly substitute carefully crafted syllogisms (and/or examination of the topic from multiple POVs) for forceful assertions?

I mean 'it is' - sentences, or worse, their grandiose cousins, the 'they think' - sentences ("argumentatum ad telepathy").

I don't mean 'dogmatic', as that would imply that the assertion is wrong, or only right when viewed through a particularly narrow ideological lense. More of a sort of "advertising department"-style of argumentation.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 14 Jun 2018, 16:47
Aren't those weasel words?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 14 Jun 2018, 17:14
Aren't those weasel words?

That doesn't sound like a good description of what I have in mind (well, one could of course question whether what I have in mind has a correspondence in reality) - It's rather 'dogmatic style of speech, but without a dogma'. A dogmatic is someone who is unwilling to even discuss certain tenets they see as fundamental - but those tenets stay the same (barring, of course, the usual human flaws like hypocrisy etc.) - a dogmatic doesn't have a different dogma for every situation.

I mean speech that that resembles dogmatism in it's claim to axiomatic truth, but is unshackled by a set of core tenets - a dogmatist's argumentation is still vulnerable to examination of internal consistency e.g. whether conclusions drawn from one core tenet conflict with another core tenet. I mean a style of speech that is almost exclusively a string of assertions - which may or may not be true, but the speaker hardly ever bothers supporting their assertions with evidence, or striving for internal consistency. Another characteristic is near-total absence of qualifiers, or an acknowledgement of the underlying paradigm - statements are absolute, forceful, with a tendency to sweeping generalizations.

Come to think of it, it seems more like a "you-are-with-me-or-not" speech - you either agree with the assertion, or you're not in the in-group.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 14 Jun 2018, 17:53
I'm not sure, but I think it is simply known as "argument by assertion."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 14 Jun 2018, 18:13
I'm not sure, but I think it is simply known as "argument by assertion."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_assertion ?

That sounds like it fits the bill, thanks!

Edit: Ipse Dixit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipse_dixit) seems to be a related term.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 14 Jun 2018, 18:42
Ah yep, that's pretty much what I was thinking of.

Thanks for the related link - I was unaware of that expression.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 15 Jun 2018, 01:07
I'm in Kerry at the moment and it's strange to hear people a whole people speaking English with native fluency but in an accent that is clearly suited to another very different language. Its something you never hear elsewhere from someone non-British who's learned English, no matter how fluent.

Kerry, for the unfamiliar is a deeply rural part of southern Ireland.

Another observation, each Irish county seems to have a different punctuative word. Kerry is "so", Dublin is "like", Mayo is "then". Not sure how they get decided on.

Dundee's is 'ken'.
Glasgow's is 'but'.

But to be honest, I think they are dying away due to an influx of americanisms (prob due to the youtube addiction of "da kids!")

Our youngest used the word 'bathtub' yesterday, a word I can pretty much swear to never having used in normal, everyday speech (it's just plain and simple 'bath' here).
Both me, and his mother, were shocked by this sudden usage and asked where it had come from! (He didn't know)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: HughYeman on 15 Jun 2018, 08:28
I have an irrationality strong dislike for the misuse of reflexive pronouns. "I will send that to yourselves", "please call myself", and the like seem to crop up all over emails and phone calls. It really sets my teeth on edge.

That is one of my biggest peeves.

"Can you set up a meeting between Joe and myself?"

"NO! I can't!! Because ONLY YOU CAN SET UP A MEETING BETWEEN JOE AND YOURSELF!!!"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 16 Jun 2018, 15:54
I have an irrationality strong dislike for the misuse of reflexive pronouns. "I will send that to yourselves", "please call myself", and the like seem to crop up all over emails and phone calls. It really sets my teeth on edge.

That is one of my biggest peeves.

"Can you set up a meeting between Joe and myself?"

"NO! I can't!! Because ONLY YOU CAN SET UP A MEETING BETWEEN JOE AND YOURSELF!!!"

Naahhhh ANYONE can set up a meeting with me ! I'm cool about that!  :)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: HughYeman on 16 Jun 2018, 17:52
For me, the most fascinating aspect of the English language is the asymmetries, because they reveal gradients in the way we think. I recently noticed a fascinating asymmetry while writing my Faybles fanfic. You can see it in the "Official Fanfiction Thread", but the tl;dr version is this: the verb "to touch" is singular. We ascribe so much meaning to touch that it has become an all-encompassing metaphor for other sensory inputs. I suspect that touch is atavistic—that it's so thrilling because it's a sign of danger. Be that as it may, you can see the asymmetry for yourself by noting that there are no equivalent verbs for the other senses.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 16 Jun 2018, 21:33
Your post about asymmetries reminded me of something I heard once.

"Like the ski resort full of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls, the situation isn't as symmetrical as it first seems."
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: HughYeman on 17 Jun 2018, 03:59
Your post about asymmetries reminded me of something I heard once.

"Like the ski resort full of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls, the situation isn't as symmetrical as it first seems."
That is giving me a good chuckle.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 17 Jun 2018, 12:48
Speaking of people speaking English with native fluency but an accent suited to some completely different language, you should visit Singapore.  There are tens of thousands of native English speakers there ... sort of. 

Singlish is just about as far as something can diverge, I think, without being called a different language.  Unless you're Chinese, and then you can call Russian or French a dialect of Chinese apparently.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 03 Jul 2018, 07:03
More ESL speakers share their puzzlements (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/35-confusing-things-about-the-english-language_us_5b39b246e4b08c3a8f6b9a3b)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 04 Jul 2018, 01:15
More ESL speakers share their puzzlements (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/35-confusing-things-about-the-english-language_us_5b39b246e4b08c3a8f6b9a3b)

What's wrong with "good" and "food"...? (No: 26)
And No: 32.... come and go? how could they be the same word???
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 04 Jul 2018, 03:06
"Come home" and "go home" mean the same thing. The only difference is where the speaker is.

To be specific, you could rephrase one as "Bring yourself home, where I also am" and the other as just "bring yourself home". It would be understandable for a non-native speaker to miss that.

And 'good', 'food', 'foot' all have different pronunciations, don't they?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 04 Jul 2018, 04:13
"Come home" and "go home" mean the same thing. The only difference is where the speaker is.

To be specific, you could rephrase one as "Bring yourself home, where I also am" and the other as just "bring yourself home". It would be understandable for a non-native speaker to miss that.

And 'good', 'food', 'foot' all have different pronunciations, don't they?


Good and food and foot all sound the same with a Scottish accent!  :)
(Its a long time since my RP lessons, but even using that good and food still 'sound' the same to me. Again, all depends on accent. A M&S advert for example could show a huge difference between Gud and Foow'd)

And you've kinda made my point on 'go' and 'come' being different - they are. Context is all.
The end result go coming home and going home may be the same. But if you are standing in front of someone and say "come home" that means go with them to their own. If you say "Go home" that means go to your own home.
Even if they are the same place, come home (generally)  means go there with that person, "go home" means get away from that person.

(And then there's that odd American (and I think *Irish*) use of "Bring"...)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 04 Jul 2018, 06:25
One of the things that drives me insane about the Co-Op is that their slogan is 'good with food' which only works if you have a Scot doing the voiceover.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Ignominious on 04 Jul 2018, 11:29
Or Bristolian but far less appealing.

-------------

Over the past couple of months I've been exposed to the use of "badly" to mean unwell. I think it's a bit South Yorkshire/North Derbyshire dialect, not sure if it proliferates elsewhere.

example:

- How's tha mum been?
- Ooh, not much, she's been took badly while last week.

As it happens, one of my current colleagues has had a habit of throwing sickies, often the day after a major sporting event, Monday mornings and other major causes for drinking. Inevitably, as it rhymes, this has garnered him the nickname of Badly Padley.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 05 Jul 2018, 02:41
One of the things that drives me insane about the Co-Op is that their slogan is 'good with food' which only works if you have a Scot doing the voiceover.

EVERYTHING works better with a Scot doing the voice-over!

;)

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 30 Oct 2018, 05:22
Lets get rid of the apostrophe (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-30/lets-get-rid-of-the-apostrophe/10433990)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 30 Oct 2018, 06:14
While it is true, as the article says, that no important ambiguities result from omitting the apostrophe, I'm not sure that it's true that there are none whatsoever - though in some cases the apostrophe resolves in writing what is not resolved in speech other than by context (distinguishing singular and plural genitives, for instance).  Also, the usage with genitives of names ending in s would be unclear in writing - is the ss at the end of Hodgess or Chriss a double s or an added genitive? Or should it be written Hodgeses or Chrises to make the pronunciation clear? (Note, I do not omit the second s in this situation - I prefer Hodges's to Hodges' because my name is not a plural, though of course some people write Hodge's even though my name is not Hodge.)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 14 Nov 2018, 02:07
Lets get rid of the apostrophe (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-30/lets-get-rid-of-the-apostrophe/10433990)
Did they just apostrophise the apostrophe?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: brilligtove on 17 Nov 2018, 20:21

It's kind of funny how the definition of "spooky" has morphed from "strange and frightening" to "fun and halloweeny."

It's also funny that Dutch has always had a word for "fun and halloweeny", griezelig, and English is only now catching up.

The Story of Human Language, John McWhorter on Audible. It has lots of discussion on this kind of shift in meaning and understanding1 over time. It's terrific.2

---

1 How does "to stand under" mean "comprehend" because why, exactly?

2 Not in the older sense of causing terror, of course.

Have any of you heard this series? Extremely informative.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 27 Nov 2018, 09:57
From an interpretive edition of the Bible, the educational commentary says
Quote
Ephraim is usually located about twelve miles northeast of Jerusalem
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 27 Nov 2018, 15:09
Wait, is Ephraim the person in that context?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 04 Dec 2018, 18:31
It was a town.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 19 Dec 2018, 08:15
5 Brilliant English Words Only Used in North America

I do use rambunctious, ornery(disagreeably stubborn), and discombobulated. I am not familiar with the others.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 19 Dec 2018, 10:44
Is rambunctious not in the UK as well? Or am I too polluted by American media?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 19 Dec 2018, 11:04
I definitely am familiar with and have used all five.  They are sort of gradations of meaning, the way 'jump' and 'hop' denote slightly different things. 

'Ornery' (spelled with and pronounced without that first 'r') is a word to describe someone who deliberately makes things difficult or puts obstacles or unpleasant surprises in other peoples' way, usually for humor but also if it's a passive-aggressive way to try to get people to do things differently.  Two people think you use too much sugar at the table.  The reasonable one tells you it's bad for you; the ornery one fills the sugar bowl with salt one morning.  'Disagreeably stubborn' sort of misses the nuance.  From the midwest.

'Discombobulated' describes someone who's not capable of acting as they normally would because they're under emotional stress - usually surprised, confused, or bewildered. 

'Rambunctious' ... brings to mind images of bouncy half-grown kittens.  When we old pharts see young kids playing tag, and nod sagely and think to ourselves, 'it's amazing how much mature wisdom is like being too tired', it's usually because the kids are being rambunctious.  Energetically playful, maybe.

'Conniption' was certainly used by either sex about anyone when I was a kid.  'Tantrum' is a reasonable render, but we would have used 'tantrum' for an actual child and 'conniption' for an adult acting childish. 

'Copacetic' is not just "okay" or "fine", it's "okay but we sure didn't expect it to be okay," or "okay and that's a great relief" or "okay and that's a cause for jubiliation" or "that thing we never really admitted to ourselves that we thought wouldn't work, actually worked, so now we're going to feel relieved and smug and we'll probably never really admit to ourselves why...." 


"forty third president Thomas Whitmore?"  I'm sure that's a joke but I don't get it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 19 Dec 2018, 11:19
"forty third president Thomas Whitmore?"  I'm sure that's a joke but I don't get it.
Its just the president in the movie Independence Day who gave a grand speech.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 Dec 2018, 11:26
Is rambunctious not in the UK as well? Or am I too polluted by American media?

To be it seems like a version of the older British word: rumbustious.  The OED doesn't offer a positive link between them, though.

Of those words I use only discombobulated (though it seems my spell-checker thinks I shouldn't, and the OED labels it as North American).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 22 Jan 2019, 18:01
For some reason I started wondering again about the old question of why someone who sews is not called a "sewer".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 23 Jan 2019, 02:02
My best guess is that in Anglo Saxon, where we have seamere and seamestre, someone was defined not by what they do, but what they make, especially when it is one specific  thing. That would explain the difference between a wheelwright and a woodturner.

At first, I thought it might have something to do with the division of labour in making garments, with the tailor cutting the cloth, and the seamstress putting it together, but that's a distinction that isn't there in Anglo Saxon.

Once you come to Anglo Norman, there's the sewer, as a loanword from Latin via Old French, that's interfering with sewer or sewstress taking the place of seamstress. Aside from which, sewstress seems to sound somewhat awkward.

Looking at Dutch, it seems to have always been some variation of naaister (stem of naaien, to sew, and a female suffix), right down to Old Dutch. So it must have happened somewhere even earlier.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 23 Jan 2019, 09:33
I was surprised today to learn that "Ferris wheels" are actually named after someone who built one at the Chicago World's fair in 1893.  They'd existed (earlier, wooden examples) for centuries, but he built a big famous one out of steel, and now they're named after George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.

All this time, I had supposed they were probably called that because the practice of making them out of steel, which started at the same time, had been a significant upgrade both in safety and size.  The new generation of improved wheels, of course, would have been known as "Ferrous wheels", and the spelling morphed, either for trademark purposes or accidentally or by someone who wanted to take advantage of the marketing hype without being sued for making a false claim, sometime later.

But sometimes the world is logical in ways we don't expect.  No, it was in fact because the guy who did it was named George Ferris.

This is sort of like discovering the patent for flush toilets that was, in fact, issued to one Thomas Crapper.....



Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 23 Jan 2019, 17:13
For some reason I started wondering again about the old question of why someone who sews is not called a "sewer".
Sewer has an another meaning, but don't let me drain your enthusiasm.

Of course then there is the question of why sow is pronounced "soh" if it is seeds, but "sow" if it's a female pig, but I don't want to be a boar about it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 24 Jan 2019, 01:17
So, it seems I never actually wrote anything in this thread? I think?

Most things that I found weird about English over the years were not that interesting, I imagine, to most people, because I used to have a very... technical interest in the inner workings of the language and those are not that immediately fun and bizarre without foreknowledge (or a long-winded explanation).

But, there's one thing that has to do with language evolution and is still bizarre and worth sharing. It continues to completely blow my mind years after I've learnt it.

The words "isle" and "island" are not connected via etymology at all. You might assume that one is derived from the other (shortened for example). You might also assume they are similar because they entered the English language from the same source, at different times and they are different because the first changed by the time the second was borrowed (like "chivalry" and "cavalry", which ultimately come from the same word - the French for "horse").

Nope. The words are totally unrelated. Despite the fact that they sound very similar and mean almost the same thing. They are derived from two different langauge groups - and the words they come from are not even similar semantically!

"isle" comes from Latin "insula". The word itself might be etymologically connected with older words for "ocean". A similar word survives in modern English in "peninsula".
"island" comes from proto-Germanic and is historically connected with the same root as the modern word "land" (not surprisingly). It has nothing to do with Latin, with ocean, or the word "isle".

I know this sounds mildly interesting probably, but to me it's utterly crazy and almost incomprehensible - the scale of coincidence in play here. It's like convergent evolution in biology (y'know, how octopus eyes are amazingly similar to mammal eyes, despite evolving completely independently). But in biology, the similarity in form follows similar function. There's a reason for things to look similar. In language, there's no inherent reason for words to sound a certain way.

Two words looking like they are closely related and describing the same concept which are derived from completely different languages *and* words for completely different concepts? I think it's, linguistically, the weirdest thing I've seen, or will see, in my entire life. Certainly in top five.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 24 Jan 2019, 03:09
like "chivalry" and "cavalry", which ultimately come from the same word - the French for "horse"
The French (cheval), Spanish (caballo), and Italian (cavallo) words for horse all derive from the Latin caballus (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/caballus).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 24 Jan 2019, 03:21
like "chivalry" and "cavalry", which ultimately come from the same word - the French for "horse"
The French (cheval), Spanish (caballo), and Italian (cavallo) words for horse all derive from the Latin caballus (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/caballus).

That's true. Still, same source of both words, unlike "isle" vs "island", which is what I was trying to clumsily convey  :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 24 Jan 2019, 03:37
I wonder if going a bit further, it might not come back to the same thing after all. Proto Indo-European is reconstructed as *ensla, wich might easily be construed as the same construction your proto-Germanic has, of combining water and land roots. That's just conjecture, though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 24 Jan 2019, 03:41
I wonder if going a bit further, it might not come back to the same thing after all. Proto Indo-European is reconstructed as *ensla, wich might easily be construed as the same construction your proto-Germanic has, of combining water and land roots. That's just conjecture, though.

Possibly, but if we go that far back, it becomes near-irrelevant, and the fact that the words that diverged so much ended up sounding almost exactly the same would still be a complete coincidence.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 24 Jan 2019, 04:38
It's not that uncommon, actually. See the wikipedia article on false cognates (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_cognate). Similarly, the colour orange and the Dutch royal family name Orange are completely unrelated etymologically, but as a result we still have orange as our national colour.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 24 Jan 2019, 04:41
It's not that uncommon, actually. See the wikipedia article on false cognates (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_cognate).

Thanks for the link, those are pretty fun. Not as extreme examples as isle/island IMO, but fun nonetheless.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 24 Jan 2019, 08:04
I wonder if going a bit further, it might not come back to the same thing after all. Proto Indo-European is reconstructed as *ensla, wich might easily be construed as the same construction your proto-Germanic has, of combining water and land roots. That's just conjecture, though.

Do both Latin and the Germanic languages derive from proto-indo European?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 24 Jan 2019, 08:13
They do: Indo-European Languages (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages)

Or, to put it more visually:
(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 24 Jan 2019, 10:39
Oh, purrrty!

And what is that branch with Dutch, Flemish & Afrikaans called? "Low Franconian"? And why isn't it closer to the High German branch? Dutch is closer to German than English, methinks? And Frisian is definitely closer to German than either English or Dutch?

And what does 'year 0' mean?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 24 Jan 2019, 11:00
And Frisian is definitely closer to German than either English or Dutch?

I thought it was closer to English, as the old rhyme I know (and so does Wikipedia) suggests:

Quote from: Wikipedia
One rhyme that is sometimes used to demonstrate the palpable similarity between Frisian and English is "Bread, butter and green cheese is good English and good Fries", which sounds not very different from "Brea, bûter en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 24 Jan 2019, 11:46
Brot, Butter und grüner Käse sind gutes English und gutes Friesisch.

Hmmmh, Ok, I see what you mean. IDK - for starters, Frisians are Germans, though a lot of them would probably say they are Frisians who happen to also speak German. English really clicked for me, in a way that French never did, and with a good foundation in German & English, Dutch isn't really that hard to learn (though I've heard it's harder the other way round), so for me, Frisian feels more like another color on the spectrum.

Doesn't mean that I could immediately follow a Frisian conversation in a loud bar, but I'm pretty confident I could handle myself given half a year or so of Immersion.

Also: Standard high German is itself as much a specification as a language - it was very deliberately used to strengthen social cohesion during the 150 years of unification. The old dialects are still there. In my native Rhineland, we sometimes use a grammatical construction that exists in standard Dutch, but not in standard German.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 24 Jan 2019, 12:18
Oh, purrrty!

And what is that branch with Dutch, Flemish & Afrikaans called? "Low Franconian"? And why isn't it closer to the High German branch? Dutch is closer to German than English, methinks? And Frisian is definitely closer to German than either English or Dutch?

And what does 'year 0' mean?

It's from a post-apocalyptic comic: year 0 is when disaster struck in the story.

As such, it's not entirely accurate in closeness. On the other hand, it does take into account Limburgs and Luxemburgs as well, along with other smaller languages that often don't figure in the overview As for the relation between Friesian, Dutch, German and English, this is the - decidedly less inspiring - tree wikipedia gives for that branch:

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/18/West_Germanic_languages_%28simplified%29.png/300px-West_Germanic_languages_%28simplified%29.png)

Edit: looking back on the picture of the tree, the detail in the lower panel does give the right sequence for the west-germanic branches.


Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 24 Jan 2019, 12:23
English really clicked for me, in a way that French never did, and with a good foundation in German & English, Dutch isn't really that hard to learn (though I've heard it's harder the other way round), so for me, Frisian feels more like another color on the spectrum.

Personally, I feel people are mostly scared off by the case system that's rather more prominent in German. That's the only thing that's really much different.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 24 Jan 2019, 12:51
You wouldn't normally guess that the words "mercy" and "mercenary" have much to do with each other, but in fact they come from the same root.

The root is the Latin word for money, "mercare."  In the sense of donations made to charity (or money pleaded for by beggars) "mercare" became "mercy."  In the sense of an explanation for why some young men would leave behind civilized behavior, at great risk to their own lives, and slaughter strangers in large numbers without even believing in anything they were fighting for, as long as they got paid enough to party on weekends, it became "mercenary." 

So next time you see someone pleading for mercy from a mercenary, you're going to have to avoid thinking about this, because in that situation, laughing about the linguistic convolutions of those words would brand you as a complete ass insensitive to the suffering of others, as well as probably getting you shot.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 24 Jan 2019, 14:02
Interesting. So you're saying that the words "mercy" and "mercenary" are very much two sides of the same coin.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 24 Jan 2019, 14:33
And Frisian is definitely closer to German than either English or Dutch?
I thought it was closer to English, as the old rhyme I know (and so does Wikipedia) suggests:
Quote from: Wikipedia
One rhyme that is sometimes used to demonstrate the palpable similarity between Frisian and English is "Bread, butter and green cheese is good English and good Fries", which sounds not very different from "Brea, bûter en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk".
I recall that the TV documentary series "The Adventure of English (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventure_of_English)" said that Frisian was a closest relative of English.

I don't know enough about the history of German, Dutch, and related languages to know whether it is historically relevant, but I've spoken before about how Flemish commentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvk6Dv0VcyQ) on cycling events like the Tour of Flanders (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EryZIoVTR8) (Ronde van Vlaanderen) confuses the English-speaking part of my brain into thinking I ought to be able to understand it, because it sort of sounds like English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 24 Jan 2019, 16:57
Well, if you ignore all the romance-vocabulary, English is still a Germanic language.

Sort of.

Nominally.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 24 Jan 2019, 19:36
We all know the popular line about the way English "borrows" from other languages - sometimes a brazen daylight theft and sometimes by following them down dark alleys, beating them senseless and going through their pockets for loose vocabulary.  Let's face it, English is a thug.

English is a bastard child of the Romance and Germanic families that's has fallen into theft and other crimes, and at this point has been cast out by the families of both its parents.  Romance and Germanic families both hem and hum and act embarrassed whenever the subject of English is brought up.

But both seem miffed that being disowned by them doesn't really bother English in the least.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 25 Jan 2019, 03:37
In Europe, it's mostly the romance cultures that are miffed that English has won the European lingua-franca  wars. Crossing that line between the language families is quite challenging, and cultures with substantial shares of the populace that are comfortable with languages from both families are rare - IIRC, in the northwest, only Belgium and Luxembourg.

Until the mid 90s, a large share of both French and German students studied the other countries' language, but since then, that share has dropped.

For the north-western countries, English is simply much, much easier to learn, and with the EU accession of the Central-Eastern countries, and their decision for English as second language, the balance shifted decisively.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 25 Jan 2019, 03:45
Crossing that line between the language families is quite challenging.

It gets even more interesting when you go to where there's an overlap between those. The East Cantons for instance; official languages are both German and French, and they do use both of them. Besides, they're friendly people, so if they hear you speak Flemish, they'll happily throw in whatever vocabulary they have. That was an interesting afternoon.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 25 Jan 2019, 13:09
I think I confused two different languages in our above discussion about Frisian:

There are three different Frisian languages - west-Frisian, spoken by about 430.000 people in the north-east of the Netherlands, as well as east-Frisian and north-Frisian, spoken in a handful of places on the German north sea coast and in Southern Schleswig on the Jutland peninsula.

The latter two are nearly extinct, and have been largely replaced by standard (high) German and local low German dialects.

What I thought of as (east) Frisiam  is in fact East Frisian low Saxon (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Frisian_Low_Saxon), a low-German dialect (According to the respective German wiki, it seems the misnomer is quite widespread amongst non-Frisian Germans).

I knew that the German Frisians regard themselves as an ethnic minority, but our constitutional court rejected their request for official recognition

Low German is indeed ... well German, it can be difficult to understand, but it doesn't feel like a foreign language. Genuine Frisian otoh is definitely a language apart, albeit a related one.  Low German (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_German) dialects - what we call 'platt' or 'plattdütsch' (lit. 'flat German' ) - are spoken in virtually all of northern Germany,, even my own hometown has its own 'platt'. Or rather had :The last people I heard speaking it were my maternal grandparents. So it's no mystery that the Frisian variants of low German would feel familiar to me, since they are related to the low German dialect of my childhood (Sadly, I've lost all but a few words)

North Frisian sounds like this:and here's a bit of east-Frisian low Saxon:
I'd still say that the German Frisian variants sound more German to me than English - if anything, it feels more like Germandutchsomething - , but that might be due to the speakers shifting back and forth between high German and Frisian pronunciation. And yes, this is definitely a language apart, albeit, sadly, one that appears to be destined to fall victim to the very strong pressures to speak high German. I guess that's probably due to policies pursued during the unification process of the last 150 years (Germany, as a nation, is really quite young, and its constituent parts needed quite a bit of convincing to feel German rather than Bavarian, Rhenish, Prussian etc. - that was the original meaning of the (in)famous 'Deutschland, Deutschland über alles': It wasn't at all unthinkable for 18th Century Germans to side with foreign powers in wars against their own brethren)

Sorry, my bad :oops:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 25 Jan 2019, 16:19
and here's a bit of east-Frisian low Saxon:
<youtube>naa naa naa naa naaaaa naaaaaa</youtube>

Well, some things are universal.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 27 Jan 2019, 11:37
One thing about English that I have appreciated is that English has a great capacity for coining new words that are, even though perhaps made up on the spot, recognizable as proper English words. Some are understood by nearly all native speakers  ("He didn't like people in general, but he was feeling particularly _stabby_ that morning because he was angry about the car.") and some by most ("Well, an _omnicidal_ species could launch relativistic kill missiles toward every star in the galaxy relatively cheaply.").  And some are deliberately obscure, or understandable to relatively few ("Trump's foreign policy seems potentially _eschatogenic_."). 

It's mostly a pale shadow of the compounding capabilities of German, in that there aren't any formal construction rules or really exact methods of tying a constructed word its meaning.  But it's remarkably clear and creates relatively short, easily usable words.   And in some ways, I think the very lack of those formal construction rules makes it more flexible.

Mostly it uses existing English root words, with unexpected or unusual affixes.  Or it uses Latin or Greek roots.  Like most of the vocabulary thefts of English, it imports roots meaning the same thing in different languages and then draws distinctions between them for finer gradations of meaning.  Sometimes that differentiation can result in mixed constructions blending roots from different languages.  For example, "_polyamory_", a relatively recent coinage, is a blend of Latin and Greek roots for "many loves" denoting someone who forms multiple romantic attachments, where "_polyphilia_", which would be the consistently Greek form, would denote someone who has many sexual pathologies.  Why? Because one root has been imported into English associated with romantic or emotional love, and the other with sexual deviance.  For unknown reasons.  We don't even think about this, but it just sort of works out.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 28 Jan 2019, 05:47
It's mostly a pale shadow of the compounding capabilities of German, in that there aren't any formal construction rules or really exact methods of tying a constructed word its meaning.  But it's remarkably clear and creates relatively short, easily usable words.   And in some ways, I think the very lack of those formal construction rules makes it more flexible.

While I agree with most of what you say, most languages do not have any real formal rules, outside of the realm of prescriptive linguistics. But the implicit rules that most speakers with a certain rate of proficiency use, are fairly unbending - hence why real language change is a fairly slow process - other than vocabulary fashions. The limit on compounds in English is one example of that.

Although, the inability to form longer compounds might have more to do with the definition of a word in English. Though it's not easy to find a good definition of what can and cannot be considered a word in English - or in most languages.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 28 Jan 2019, 06:05
It's mostly a pale shadow of the compounding capabilities of German, in that there aren't any formal construction rules or really exact methods of tying a constructed word its meaning.  But it's remarkably clear and creates relatively short, easily usable words.   And in some ways, I think the very lack of those formal construction rules makes it more flexible.

Morituri? This is what happened when German discovered that English had a word - spillage - that itself did not:

(https://scontent-ort2-2.cdninstagram.com/vp/1e57e91c07e35338c20c8a61e67781c9/5CF4A6F3/t51.2885-15/e15/11190720_1429129730723656_1426302727_n.jpg?_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-2.cdninstagram.com)

('Tropfmengen sind sofort aufzunehmen' - lit.: 'Drip-amounts are to be soaked up immediately' = 'Please clean up spillages')


Please tell me again about those rules you speak of. :facepalm:



English may be a thieving Bully, German ... is ze Borg. The result doesn't need to be pretty, but you will be assimilated.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 04 Feb 2019, 13:29
In Europe, it's mostly the romance cultures that are miffed that English has won the European lingua-franca  wars.
Do the Italians, or Spaniards, get bent out of shape about it, or is it just the French?  :mrgreen:

One thing about English that I have appreciated is that English has a great capacity for coining new words that are, even though perhaps made up on the spot, recognizable as proper English words.
The fact that verbs have no case in Chinese means that the distinction between nouns and verbs is perhaps a bit weaker than in more strongly inflected languages. Formally a "particle" character is used to tell the reader if the preceding character is to be read as a noun, verb, adjective etc. but it is often dropped if the context makes it clear. So you can pretty freely use nouns as verbs and vice versa. Although English has done this too, for a long time, as displayed by words like "roof", my impression from reading modern English usage, compared to old novels, is that noun-verbing and verb-nouning is becoming more and more common.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 06 Feb 2019, 14:06
More common, certainly - though we still look askance at extreme examples like Shakespeare's "But me no buts".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 06 Feb 2019, 22:48
It sounds interesting. A cursory search doesn't turn up a study on this particular mechanism. I'll have another look on my day off next week.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 07 Feb 2019, 02:25
In Europe, it's mostly the romance cultures that are miffed that English has won the European lingua-franca  wars.
Do the Italians, or Spaniards, get bent out of shape about it, or is it just the French?  :mrgreen:

In my personal, biased, and not at all representative experience? The Italians don't deign to notice(*), and Spaniards will bend you out of shape. :mrgreen:

Getting over your lost Empire is seen as a sign of maturity amongst European societies (**).


(*) Researchers exempted here - they have pretty decent English.
(**) Commenting on the Brexit-debacle, the Spanish (?) foreign secretary recently observed that 'there are only two kinds of countries in Europe: Small ones, and those that don't yet know they are small'

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 08 Feb 2019, 00:02
I’ve got a weird question. I’m ... uh... I’m gunna go ahead and ask it.

Why are Americans so fond of this little mannerism? “I’m gunna go ahead and do something “ rather than simply “I’m gunna do something.” It seems especially popular on YouTube, but I’ve seen it elsewhere (including here).

There’s nothing wrong with it, but it seems redundant and a little odd to my ear.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 08 Feb 2019, 00:54
I say that too, which I think I got from America. It is a bit redundant but has implications to the sentence, because it implies giving yourself permission.

I have primarily used it to re-assert my own agency/authority or, much more likely, because it is a fun and amusing thing to say.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 08 Feb 2019, 01:52
Guessing from a linguistic perspective, it's to put more emphasis on the phrase. That's usually the reason why languages develop phrases that sound illogical and have redundancy.

"I'm gonna" has many meanings and it borders on a purely grammatical construction, with little semantic meaning (it can imply intent, the way things are currently developing, and other things as well). Adding "go ahead" adds a verb that implies active action and intent. "I'm gonna" can be used in plenty context where the person isn't even an active participant in something or doing anything.

(so basically, what Trillho said, but also "I'm gonna is vague")

EDIT: also, "I'm gonna go ahead and (...)" implies an immediate time frame, even moreso than "I'm gonna" in isolation, which again - is fairly nebulous and doesn't imply anything beyond the general direction things are going, and that something is going to happen soonish.

EDIT 2: also, never underestimate just adding words to a phrase to make it more emphatic and for no other reason. See also constructions like "y'all" (and even "all y'all") or adding "literally" to make a statement seem stronger. That's just something people do when a commonly-used phrase feels like somehow not enough.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 08 Feb 2019, 13:10
I say that too, which I think I got from America. It is a bit redundant but has implications to the sentence, because it implies giving yourself permission.

That gels with my understanding of the phrase as well. Which makes it all the more reason for it to be weird for me when it's used by a YouTuber on a video demonstrating something when the demo it's literally the reason I'm watching the video.

EDIT 2: also, never underestimate just adding words to a phrase to make it more emphatic and for no other reason. See also constructions like "y'all" (and even "all y'all") or adding "literally" to make a statement seem stronger. That's just something people do when a commonly-used phrase feels like somehow not enough.

The emphatic usage idea makes sense to me.

Urban Dictionary has an interesting take on it (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=go%20ahead%20and) (for a change). It indicates that the phrase is used to soften a command. This seems feasible.

If this is a popular usage, then it's only a matter of time until people start to use it when describing what they are about to do themselves on YouTube videos.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 11 Feb 2019, 08:00

There's a little noise people make when they're startled and alarmed and I don't know what it's called.  If it were fully voiced, it would be a "Yelp," and a whole lot louder.  But it's  a sharp exhalation, usually partly voiced, often accompanied with a physical startle response like recoiling or jumping back from something.  I'm sure everybody's heard this vocalization at least a few times, even if they personally haven't made it themselves.  What the heck is it called?  A "reverse gasp", in that someone is exhaling rather than inhaling?  A "stifled yelp," in that it's not deliberately or fully voiced?

What is a name for it that I can write down and have people understand what happened without further explaining it?

There's another little noise people make when they're annoyed, and I don't know what it's called either.  But at least it has a ready referent.  Marge, of the TV show "The Simpsons," habitually makes this noise when she's upset but realizes trying to correct the problem would be useless.  It sounds like  "Hmmm," but with a passive-aggressive intonation, more air pressure behind it and a constricted throat.  It sounds like starting to say something and then mentally grinding gears as you realize there's nothing to say.  If it denotes anything, it may be "unwilling but passive acceptance of a bad situation."

What the heck *is* that?  Is there a verb for making that noise?  Is there a noun that is the name of it?  When a character in the theater of my mind makes that sound, what the heck could I write down to describe it?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 11 Feb 2019, 08:40
Grumbling?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 11 Feb 2019, 09:01

There's a little noise people make when they're startled and alarmed and I don't know what it's called.  If it were fully voiced, it would be a "Yelp," and a whole lot louder.  But it's  a sharp exhalation, usually partly voiced, often accompanied with a physical startle response like recoiling or jumping back from something.  I'm sure everybody's heard this vocalization at least a few times, even if they personally haven't made it themselves.  What the heck is it called?  A "reverse gasp", in that someone is exhaling rather than inhaling?  A "stifled yelp," in that it's not deliberately or fully voiced?

What is a name for it that I can write down and have people understand what happened without further explaining it?

Yelp sounds right to me here for some reason even if its not fully voiced.

Quote
There's another little noise people make when they're annoyed, and I don't know what it's called either.  But at least it has a ready referent.  Marge, of the TV show "The Simpsons," habitually makes this noise when she's upset but realizes trying to correct the problem would be useless.  It sounds like  "Hmmm," but with a passive-aggressive intonation, more air pressure behind it and a constricted throat.  It sounds like starting to say something and then mentally grinding gears as you realize there's nothing to say.  If it denotes anything, it may be "unwilling but passive acceptance of a bad situation."

What the heck *is* that?  Is there a verb for making that noise?  Is there a noun that is the name of it?  When a character in the theater of my mind makes that sound, what the heck could I write down to describe it?
I call it a groan
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 11 Feb 2019, 09:49
Hmm.  All of those suggestions seem to me to denote things which are distinctly different - but perhaps I'm drawing distinctions that most don't.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 11 Feb 2019, 11:10
I'd call the latter an annoyed grunt. I don't think there's a word for something this narrow and specific, at least I can think of none.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 11 Feb 2019, 12:21

There's a little noise people make when they're startled and alarmed and I don't know what it's called.  If it were fully voiced, it would be a "Yelp," and a whole lot louder.  But it's  a sharp exhalation, usually partly voiced, often accompanied with a physical startle response like recoiling or jumping back from something.  I'm sure everybody's heard this vocalization at least a few times, even if they personally haven't made it themselves.  What the heck is it called?  A "reverse gasp", in that someone is exhaling rather than inhaling?  A "stifled yelp," in that it's not deliberately or fully voiced?

What is a name for it that I can write down and have people understand what happened without further explaining it?

The only thing I can think of is a "start." Although strictly, that refers to the physical involuntary movement rather than the sound. But I think of one as produced by the other.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 11 Feb 2019, 15:13
I have seen the phrase "an audible start", which might work for some.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 11 Feb 2019, 16:49
I think a "start" might actually be the right way to say that.  You'd have to qualify it with "audible", or just refer to it as a sound in some other way (somebody heard it, etc) - by default it does refer to the physical action, but if you're talking about the sound of a start ... well, it's that sound.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 11 Feb 2019, 21:27
For your other question, the best I can come up with is an “ugh.”
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 21 Feb 2019, 09:49
There was a great zinger in "Words on the Move" where the linguist who wrote it said "English spelling is a tragic accident".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 21 Feb 2019, 20:21
Consider the contrast between the pronunciations of plough ("plow"), cough ("coff"), and dough ("doh")...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 21 Feb 2019, 20:47
I still remember being introduced to the creatively misspelled "ghoti (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghoti)" at school.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 22 Feb 2019, 00:25
Consider the contrast between the pronunciations of plough ("plow"), cough ("coff"), and dough ("doh")...

...and rough ("ruff"), and hough ("hocch" - the glottal CH as in scots "Loch" (not Lock))
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 22 Feb 2019, 02:08
...through (oo); hiccough (up); thought (or); thorough (uh/ə).

Special mentions:  "Slough" can have three of those sounds, with three different meanings; and the town name "Loughborough" uses two of them in the same word (ˈlʌfb(ə)rə)!

Oh, and "hock" is an acceptable alternative pronunciation of hough according to the OED.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 22 Feb 2019, 13:30
English spelling is actually a much better guide to what English pronunciation in the 17th century was like than it is to what English pronunciation today is like.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 25 Feb 2019, 00:42
...through (oo); hiccough (up); thought (or); thorough (uh/ə).

Special mentions:  "Slough" can have three of those sounds, with three different meanings; and the town name "Loughborough" uses two of them in the same word (ˈlʌfb(ə)rə)!

Oh, and "hock" is an acceptable alternative pronunciation of hough according to the OED.

What can I tell ya... it's wrong!!!!   :)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 25 Feb 2019, 02:12
Well, Chambers dictionary also says that - and is, I am led to believe, generally a more reliable source for Scottish usage.  And remember, dictionaries are about reported usage, not opinion of what is right or wrong.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 25 Feb 2019, 07:56
Well, Chambers dictionary also says that - and is, I am led to believe, generally a more reliable source for Scottish usage.  And remember, dictionaries are about reported usage, not opinion of what is right or wrong.

Of course...

But this is a fact... FACT, I tells ya!!!  :)

(Joking aside, I can honestly say I have NEVER heard it pronounced that way. Hock is a totally different thing (the end of a pigs leg! But NOT the hoof!))
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 09 Mar 2019, 10:58
This morning I woke up considering the relationship between the words "Deception" and "Deceased." They sound like they sure ought to be related.   Perhaps by the concept of "cessation."

But if that were the case, I can think of a few people who ought to be falling over dead any day now.

"Deceased" sounds like the past tense of an active verb.  For example you could decease ants by stepping on them.  If that were the case, then the act of deceasing the ants would be called deception.  Which sort of offers a possible etymology, in that often someone must be deceived in order to decease them.

And it may relate to deception in another way.  Once deceased, the ants are no longer ontologically valid.  It no longer makes sense for them to be the subject of a sentence with an active verb. So a statement that the ants do or are doing anything is, prima facie, false, and if presented as truth amounts to a deception.

This sort of thing wanders through my mind between being asleep and awake.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 09 Mar 2019, 14:26
Well, if you cease to live, you're deceased. Kind of weird to go from cease to de-cease, which feels like meaning some kind opposite.

While "deception" is bound to "to deceive", I don't see how it could be connected to cease though.


Funnily enough, transfer and translate come from the same Latino verb. Makes sense though, since translating is transferring text from one language to another. Weird thing though - "translatum" is the past participle of "transferre", which literally kept its meaning as "to transfer".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 09 Mar 2019, 15:33
Well, if you cease to live, you're deceased. Kind of weird to go from cease to de-cease, which feels like meaning some kind opposite.

The de- in this case denotes 'away' rather than 'opposite'.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 19 Mar 2019, 11:37
Does it bother anyone else when someone says or writes "All of a sudden" instead of "Suddenly" when conveying a story?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 19 Mar 2019, 12:00
Well, that depends on the style. In normal conversation? Probably quite weird. except if you're telling some suspenseful story, I see 'all of a sudden' as a possibility.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 19 Mar 2019, 16:09
Does it bother anyone else when someone says or writes "All of a sudden" instead of "Suddenly" when conveying a story?

Not really. You are generally better off conveying a sudden event implicitly through your prose than by explicitly saying so via either of the expressions above.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: JoeCovenant on 20 Mar 2019, 01:22
Does it bother anyone else when someone says or writes "All of a sudden" instead of "Suddenly" when conveying a story?

If it's being used as dialogue, then nit a problem.
But if part of the prose/narration, then editors HATE that word...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 20 Mar 2019, 02:13
I'm confused. I was under the impression that "all of a sudden" is correct. What's wrong with the expression?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 Mar 2019, 02:27
Agreed - it's a perfectly natural idiom to me, expressing more surprise and drama than a simple suddenly.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 20 Mar 2019, 02:40
Grammatically, it's perfectly fine.

Then there's "all of the sudden (https://www.grammarly.com/blog/all-of-a-sudden/)." TIL.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 20 Mar 2019, 13:03
I'm just going to take a moment here to mourn the loss of the word "elite" - which used to designate those distinguished by their great capability - as opposed to "privileged" which used to designate those distinguished by their position in society. 

Now that it has been co-opted as part of a narrative about privileged people abusing their positions, we have a diminished capacity for talking about the great athletes, the geniuses, the autodidacts and original thinkers, the disciplined students, the insightful and enlightened, and those of great spirit, generosity, and character.  Or at least for talking about them in a way that doesn't begin with casting them in suspicion of having and abusing undeserved social standing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 22 Mar 2019, 20:05
Momentarily means for a moment, not in a moment, you barbarians. Try presently.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Dandi Andi on 29 Mar 2019, 19:21
Momentarily means for a moment, not in a moment, you barbarians. Try presently.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we will be landing momentarily, so please prepare to unboard the plane as quickly as possible. We will not be coming to a full stop."

I'm just going to take a moment here to mourn the loss of the word "elite" - which used to designate those distinguished by their great capability - as opposed to "privileged" which used to designate those distinguished by their position in society. 

Now that it has been co-opted as part of a narrative about privileged people abusing their positions, we have a diminished capacity for talking about the great athletes, the geniuses, the autodidacts and original thinkers, the disciplined students, the insightful and enlightened, and those of great spirit, generosity, and character.  Or at least for talking about them in a way that doesn't begin with casting them in suspicion of having and abusing undeserved social standing.

As adjectives, we still have "exemplary", "exceptional", "foremost", "preeminent" and "supreme". and for the noun we have "exemplar", "elect", "choice", "cream" and "top". English is replete with words to say very nearly the same thing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 30 Mar 2019, 14:09
(https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9e6f3ad0ebb11c9e3971263962b485f2abf288f6c55e6abadff396820683f07b.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 23 Apr 2019, 10:37
Linguists find that English is actually rather weird (https://corplinguistics.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/the-weirdest-languages/)  (but, of course, German is weirder - ranked 33rd and 10th out of 239, respectively)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 24 Apr 2019, 00:36
It's interesting, but looking into the full list, there's a couple of surprises. I think some languages might need some more work. And perhaps based off of the efforts that have been made to exhaustively list all features (descriptively), rather than on a 1958 introduction to the language.

Then again, the image might skew a bit, as the database does take into account some, but not all, different variants for some languages, begging the question, which variant did this list take into account or not?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 24 Apr 2019, 01:16
Well, that list seems a bit weird. Hungarian among the ten least weird languages? Admittedly, I don't know that language, but AFAIK the closest relative language to Hungarian is Finnish. OK, being that far down the tree, and basically being the only one left doesn't make a language weird necessarily, but I also heard it's hard to learn (but again that could be attributed to its uniqueness).

The weirdest part about English IMHO is the spelling. AFAIK the spelling didn't undergo the changes the spoken language did, thus weirdness ensued.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 24 Apr 2019, 01:23
Then again, they only picked 21 out of 192 language features to compare against. Pick another 21, and you'll have a completely different image.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 24 Apr 2019, 05:51
The weirdest part about English IMHO is the spelling. AFAIK the spelling didn't undergo the changes the spoken language did, thus weirdness ensued.

They mention that in another article - that English has five vowel-letters, but uses eleven vowel-phonemes.

To me, the weirdest thing about English is the word-order - not because it's complicated, but because it's not. It's rigidly Subject-Verb-Object. I just found out that German is alternating between SVO and SOV (with other possible combinations). Now I know why my brain insists on trying out 'perfectly logical' ways of constructing English sentences that end up sounding weirdAF.

Then again, they only picked 21 out of 192 language features to compare against. Pick another 21, and you'll have a completely different image.

IIRC, in another article, the authors acknowledge that their acculturation may skew their choice of features in ways they can neither recognize, nor compensate for. That African linguists e.g. might choose a completely different set of features.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 24 Apr 2019, 06:29
IIRC, in another article, the authors acknowledge that their acculturation may skew their choice of features in ways they can neither recognize, nor compensate for. That African linguists e.g. might choose a completely different set of features.

Which is rather hard. In trying to be less Anglo-centric, they may have selected, subconsciously, for the features that will prove it to be an outlier.

And then again, it's also a question of which features do they have data for. Much though I like the concept of the atlas, I dare say, looking at the entries for Dutch, it's not complete, and I'm not convinced the sources they quote in the entries are necessarily the most up to date or even correct. But that's going by a sample of one, and only means that there's room for improvement. Like, for instance, including all major variants of a language. I'm not saying they should have every dialect, though. While  massively interesting, that's another level of detail entirely.

Then again, the fact that it is incomplete, does have its own implications for the data of this list.

To me, the weirdest thing about English is the word-order - not because it's complicated, but because it's not. It's rigidly Subject-Verb-Object. I just found out that German is alternating between SVO and SOV (with other possible combinations). Now I know why my brain insists on trying out 'perfectly logical' ways of constructing English sentences that end up sounding weirdAF.

That would be part of it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 24 Apr 2019, 07:49
To me, the weirdest thing about English is the word-order - not because it's complicated, but because it's not. It's rigidly Subject-Verb-Object. I just found out that German is alternating between SVO and SOV (with other possible combinations). Now I know why my brain insists on trying out 'perfectly logical' ways of constructing English sentences that end up sounding weirdAF.

That would be part of it.


Well, yes - obviously, my brain being weird as f**k is a contributing factor. We can take that as a given.  :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 02 May 2019, 21:21
It's interesting that most (if not all) forms of non-rhotic English are viewed as sounding uneducated in the USA. Examples; any form of Southern or rural drawl, Jersey, Bostonian (non-Harvard), African-American Vernacular, Valley Talk, and that one little island off the coast of Maine.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 02 May 2019, 22:12
It would be interesting to construct some sort of metric combining how weird a language is with how many speakers it has. English might not win.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 03 May 2019, 04:13
It would be interesting to construct some sort of metric combining how weird a language is with how many speakers it has. English might not win.

I think that was one of the points of the article - that the 'main' Euro-languages are actually pretty weird (i.e. they share few features with other languages). The least weird language is apparently Hindi.

Quote
Part of this is to say that some of the languages you take for granted as being normal (like English, Spanish, or German) consistently do things differently than most of the other languages in the world.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 03 May 2019, 08:55
Out of curiosity, I've taken the list from the article, and for the languages with data for 14 or more of their selected features, filled in the number of native speakers (based off of wikipedia, but then numbers of native speakers for a lot of languages are only estimates anyway.)

That gives an average weirdindex between 0.48 and 0.60, except for the languages with between 100 M and 1000M speakers, which average at 0.788.

Those are:

The least weird group is, surprisingly, the languages that no longer have any native speakers, averaging at 0.4801

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 02 Sep 2019, 16:33
German-speakers adopting English words, and pronouncing them (to my ears, at least) in a very "English" way. I was intrigued that German didn't have "native" words for whiteboard or whiteboard-marker, but apparently the German translation of blackboard is "Tafel", which doesn't have a colour-word incorporated in it, so I suppose the obvious route of swapping the colour didn't apply.
Plainly the Germans are confident enough to feel no special need to invent new "native" words for new things. Compare and contrast l'Académie Français and l'aéroglisseur vs. l’hovercraft.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 02 Sep 2019, 23:28
L'Académie Française just doesn't want to admit defeat, in acknowledging French isn't the lingua franca anymore. Unless you want to get technical about the term.

You know, way back when I first started learning English in school, the black in blackboard was surprising. For one, in Dutch, it's just the bord, also without colour, and second, most blackboards are actually green, except some of the very oldest I've seen.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 04 Sep 2019, 12:14
German even gets weirder - the colloquial term for mobile phone is "Handy" - and that's pronounced English, like in "that comes in handy". I honestly have no idea where the term comes from, and there are a few urban legends - but none I know incorporates English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 04 Sep 2019, 12:23
German even gets weirder - the colloquial term for mobile phone is "Handy" - and that's pronounced English, like in "that comes in handy". I honestly have no idea where the term comes from, and there are a few urban legends - but none I know incorporates English.

That reminds me of a weird thing in French, extra-remarkable since the language doesn't really borrow from English usually.

Apparently shampoo in French is, for reasons that escape me, "shampooing". The random -ing comes right out of nowhere, makes no sense, and means nothing in French. My best guess is that it sounded vaguely English to French people or something?

(kinda like I've met Americans who think a word sounds more Polish, and is apparently hilarious, if you add a random "-ski" to an English word?)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 04 Sep 2019, 12:34
(kinda like I've met Americans who think a word sounds more Polish, and is apparently hilarious, if you add a random "-ski" to an English word?)

To make things worse, my brain just made this french-polish-fake "le shampooski"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 04 Sep 2019, 12:53
For the record, "-ski" does mean something in Polish. It's a suffix that makes an adjective out of a word. Many (possibly most) adjectives end with it.

So Polish for "sky/heaven" is "niebo", and the word we have for "blue" is "niebieski". "Poland" <--> "Polska" and "Polish" <--> "polski" (the word "Polska" is itself an adjectival form of a word for "field/plain"). And the like.

Also, a LOT of surnames, often surnames of people whose ancestors were nobility, end with "-ski". The most common Polish surname is "Kowalski", and "kowal" is a word for a smith, usually a blacksmith (yes, the most common Polish surname is basically Smith, kinda like in UK/USA. Go figure).

I'll shut up now, because this is getting way off-topic for the thread ;)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 04 Sep 2019, 23:26
Academics say English is a dialect of Mandarin (https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3769893)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 05 Sep 2019, 03:53
German-speakers adopting English words, and pronouncing them (to my ears, at least) in a very "English" way. I was intrigued that German didn't have "native" words for whiteboard or whiteboard-marker, but apparently the German translation of blackboard is "Tafel", which doesn't have a colour-word incorporated in it, so I suppose the obvious route of swapping the colour didn't apply.
[...]
Plainly the Germans are confident enough to feel no special need to invent new "native" words for new things. Compare and contrast l'Académie Français and l'aéroglisseur vs. l’hovercraft.

'Tafel' simply means 'board' - from the Latin 'tabula'. Same word-root as 'table'.

Sometimes we do 'invent' new words instead of using loanwords - e.g. 'Computer' and 'Rechner' (the German word for 'Computer') are used interchangeably. But nothing like the zeal of l'Académie Français, that's true.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 05 Sep 2019, 07:18
[
'Tafel' simply means 'board' - from the Latin 'tabula'. Same word-root as 'table'.

Sometimes we do 'invent' new words instead of using loanwords - e.g. 'Computer' and 'Rechner' (the German word for 'Computer') are used interchangeably. But nothing like the zeal of l'Académie Français, that's true.

TBH, out of context "Rechner" means calculator. But let's face it - so does computer, in a way.


it gets weird if foreign words get Germanized and bent to German grammar.
I wonder how often English bastardises words like that.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 01 Feb 2020, 20:58
I was thinking today, that there ought to be a word, for the kind of nostalgia I feel when I realize the future isn't what it used to be.

There used to be optimism, as everyone seemed to expect that the future would be better than the past.  I miss that.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 01 Feb 2020, 21:10
"The future will be better tomorrow." -- Dan Quayle
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snubnose on 20 Feb 2020, 03:23
German even gets weirder - the colloquial term for mobile phone is "Handy" - and that's pronounced English, like in "that comes in handy". I honestly have no idea where the term comes from, and there are a few urban legends - but none I know incorporates English.
Yep.

And many germans, including me, mistake that for an adoption of an english word, and have to remind ourselves the english word is actually cellphone or smartphone.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snubnose on 20 Feb 2020, 03:28
TBH, out of context "Rechner" means calculator.
No.

"Rechner" means computer.

Calculator is called "Taschenrechner" (translated word by word: pocket computer).

Never heard anyone shortening "Taschenrechner" to just "Rechner".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 20 Feb 2020, 04:11
Afrikaans follows the same logic, and has rekenaar and sakrekenaar for computer and calculator.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 20 Feb 2020, 04:21
Never heard anyone shortening "Taschenrechner" to just "Rechner".

Well, must be a regional thing then. Colloquial shortening.


Point is, German has no differentiation of "compute" and "calculate", whatever the difference may actually be.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 20 Feb 2020, 23:01
TBH, out of context "Rechner" means calculator.
No.

"Rechner" means computer.

Calculator is called "Taschenrechner" (translated word by word: pocket computer).

Never heard anyone shortening "Taschenrechner" to just "Rechner".

Neither have I, but I'd hesitate to lecture a fellow Germanophone (cybersmurf is Austrian) about our shared mother-tongue.

As to Computer and Calculator: I struggle to remember what the difference even is - the explanation of this site here (https://www.difference.wiki/computer-vs-calculator/) seems dubious (I doubt that anyone used electronic calculators before the 20th century, and the main functional difference they cite appears to be akin to parallel vs. sequential operation).  IIRC 'computer' was once a bona-fide job performed by humans. Persistent human errors lead to the invention of Babbage's Difference engine via a requirement by the Royal Navy, methinks - after a RN Destroyer was shipwrecked due to a tiny error in a logarithm table complied by humans.

it gets weird if foreign words get Germanized and bent to German grammar.
I wonder how often English bastardises words like that.

According to my former boss, this is actually a thing in English, too - as well as being a bona-fide research-subject in linguistics (His wife is also a professor at the local Uni, and the resident star-linguist). IIRC, he cited an example that originated with American Football-jargon, where a neologism used by football fans became widely used - but strikingly, the usage of the neologism followed grammar-rules that the original root-word did not.

Afrikaans follows the same logic, and has rekenaar and sakrekenaar for computer and calculator.

Do you understand spoken Afrikaans? My Dutch is very rusty, but I can usually follow the gist of a Dutch conversation - not so with Afrikaans.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 20 Feb 2020, 23:53
FWIW, 'compute' vs 'calculate' in English is the difference between doing algebra (or higher) where you're working with symbols and figuring out how to rearrange equations so you can get the answer you need, and doing the straightforward addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication to transform the equation you computed into an actual numeric answer.

Or maybe, the difference between math that requires some understanding and insight about how to find the answer, and math that is just straightforward work that doesn't require you to think about anything beyond the elementary operations.

That said, the words get used interchangeably a lot - and now that computers are machines, people increasingly don't think of solving the more complex problems as 'computing' a solution any more.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 21 Feb 2020, 02:27
Neither have I, but I'd hesitate to lecture a fellow Germanophone (cybersmurf is Austrian) about our shared mother-tongue.


The biggest difference between Germany and Austria is the common language.
What throws off a lot of people, including Germans, is the difference in intonation.

it gets weird if foreign words get Germanized and bent to German grammar.
I wonder how often English bastardises words like that.

According to my former boss, this is actually a thing in English, too - as well as being a bona-fide research-subject in linguistics (His wife is also a professor at the local Uni, and the resident star-linguist). IIRC, he cited an example that originated with American Football-jargon, where a neologism used by football fans became widely used - but strikingly, the usage of the neologism followed grammar-rules that the original root-word did not.


But every now and then, English follows the other language's grammar, like fiancé/e
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 21 Feb 2020, 02:35
And blond(e).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 21 Feb 2020, 03:45
it gets weird if foreign words get Germanized and bent to German grammar.
I wonder how often English bastardises words like that.

According to my former boss, this is actually a thing in English, too - as well as being a bona-fide research-subject in linguistics (His wife is also a professor at the local Uni, and the resident star-linguist). IIRC, he cited an example that originated with American Football-jargon, where a neologism used by football fans became widely used - but strikingly, the usage of the neologism followed grammar-rules that the original root-word did not.

Afrikaans follows the same logic, and has rekenaar and sakrekenaar for computer and calculator.

Do you understand spoken Afrikaans? My Dutch is very rusty, but I can usually follow the gist of a Dutch conversation - not so with Afrikaans.

It is a very interesting subject. I should probably dive back into it, one of these days.

Generally, I understand spoken Afrikaans better than some northern Dutch dialects, or Friesian. But then, some of those are obscure to anyone but the people of that region.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 21 Feb 2020, 04:06
Neither have I, but I'd hesitate to lecture a fellow Germanophone (cybersmurf is Austrian) about our shared mother-tongue.

The biggest difference between Germany and Austria is the common language.

And here I was thinking it was Johann Gottfried Piefke ... :wink:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 02 Apr 2020, 07:24
Today while putting on my bathrobe, I had a moment of difficulty trying to find the belt loops. 

A moment later, it occurred to me to wonder, why do we say "inside out" instead of "outside in?"

On an unrelated note, I have decided that "Schwa" would be a good name for a cat.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 17 Apr 2020, 12:00
L'Académie Française just doesn't want to admit defeat, in acknowledging French isn't the lingua franca anymore. Unless you want to get technical about the term.

You know, way back when I first started learning English in school, the black in blackboard was surprising. For one, in Dutch, it's just the bord, also without colour, and second, most blackboards are actually green, except some of the very oldest I've seen.
Is 'blackboard' more a regional or generational term?

I've almost exclusively heard it called 'chalkboard' throughout my schooling. And pretty only ever came across 'blacboard' in books and short stories.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 17 Apr 2020, 12:05
Neither have I, but I'd hesitate to lecture a fellow Germanophone (cybersmurf is Austrian) about our shared mother-tongue.


The biggest difference between Germany and Austria is the common language.
What throws off a lot of people, including Germans, is the difference in intonation.

it gets weird if foreign words get Germanized and bent to German grammar.
I wonder how often English bastardises words like that.

According to my former boss, this is actually a thing in English, too - as well as being a bona-fide research-subject in linguistics (His wife is also a professor at the local Uni, and the resident star-linguist). IIRC, he cited an example that originated with American Football-jargon, where a neologism used by football fans became widely used - but strikingly, the usage of the neologism followed grammar-rules that the original root-word did not.


But every now and then, English follows the other language's grammar, like fiancé/e

Blame the French :wink:
More specifically, the Normans who invaded and occupied England.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 17 Apr 2020, 16:45
1960s Appalachia, I seem to remember "blackboard".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: celticgeek on 17 Apr 2020, 18:56
When I started elementary school (1945) the blackboards at school were actually black, and were called blackboards.  When they built a new school (1952) the new blackboards were green, but were still called blackboards, out of habit, probably.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 17 Apr 2020, 19:37
When I started elementary school (1945) the blackboards at school were actually black, and were called blackboards.  When they built a new school (1952) the new blackboards were green, but were still called blackboards, out of habit, probably.
Sounds like it's a generational holderover, then.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 26 Jul 2020, 03:17
Because I'm doing an online Python course, and the instructor's pronunciation of 'python' is driving me to distraction.

How to pronounce -on endings? (https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/408502/how-to-pronounce-on-endings)

Quote
Is there any rhyme or reason to why we pronounce -on endings in two different ways? Sometimes -on sounds like a short o as in marathon, hexagon, and neutron. But more often, the o sounds like a schwa as in carbon, watermelon, and abandon. Is it just a matter of what language the word was derived from?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 26 Jul 2020, 03:30
That article seems spot-on to me.  Python is listed as variable, and I reduce the -on for the snake, but not (or not so much) for the language.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 25 Aug 2020, 14:24
Why are fingerguns so different from handguns?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 26 Aug 2020, 10:20
I’ve got a weird question. I’m ... uh... I’m gunna go ahead and ask it.

Why are Americans so fond of this little mannerism? “I’m gunna go ahead and do something “ rather than simply “I’m gunna do something.” It seems especially popular on YouTube, but I’ve seen it elsewhere (including here).

There’s nothing wrong with it, but it seems redundant and a little odd to my ear.

I've been doing a lot of online learning (via skillshare and its ilk) and this phrase has gone from bemusing to painfully grating. I know, I know. I'm letting a trivial thing get to me, but when I'm listening to a set of instructions and every instruction in every course is prefaced with "... go ahead and..." .... UGGGHHHH.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 26 Aug 2020, 17:08
"Go ahead and" implies that the speaker's been thinking about it, or meaning to do it, or procrastinating about doing it, or considering alternatives to doing it, for some time before making the decision to actually do it.  It signifies making a decision rather than just having a plan.  It's used for decisions that *result* in having plans, so it may be a bit subtle.  When encountered in instructions, it implies that there are a lot of other things you might have done or might have thought you could do, and that this is the one you should decide to do, and that's ... it ranges from "more subtle" to "meaningless verbal tic."

It does grate on the ear.  It tends to be dialect rather than formal speech.  But in the usual case it's dialect that does legitimately signal meaning that formal speech usually doesn't.  In the case of instructions, it signifies considerably less meaning.

For example, "I'm going to go ahead and have that chair fixed" several months after it breaks, after having guests over and finding that there's not enough seating for them all.  As opposed to "I'm going to have that chair fixed" by way of explanation when loading it into the car on the day after it breaks.
Title: Thou art not my meant!
Post by: TorporChambre on 26 Aug 2020, 20:55
Only english of my language forgot it's second pronoun to second-person i.e. ``thou'' e.g. french ``vous,'' ``toi;'' german ``Sie,'' ``du;'' &c. It's peevish English can't say to company ``you'' and know I mean company than representer.
How to pronounce -on endings? (https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/408502/how-to-pronounce-on-endings)
Quote
Is there any rhyme or reason to why we pronounce -on endings in two different ways? Sometimes -on sounds like a short o as in marathon, hexagon, and neutron. But more often, the o sounds like a schwa as in carbon, watermelon, and abandon. Is it just a matter of what language the word was derived from?
Maybe mishearing but hexagonal has schwa, but carbonic not has schwa. Terrible fun.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 31 Aug 2020, 15:05
Only english of my language forgot it's second pronoun to second-person i.e. ``thou'' e.g. french ``vous,'' ``toi;'' german ``Sie,'' ``du;'' &c. It's peevish English can't say to company ``you'' and know I mean company than representer.

I once wondered why calling someone by their first name was such a big deal. Missing said formality, English lacks a certain middle ground. In German I can call someone by first name, but still use the formal "Sie". That has become a rarity, but still is an option.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 02 Sep 2020, 14:06
The classic usted/ustedes frustration, and the source of 'you all and y'all'.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 02 Sep 2020, 14:16
I once wondered why calling someone by their first name was such a big deal. Missing said formality, English lacks a certain middle ground. In German I can call someone by first name, but still use the formal "Sie". That has become a rarity, but still is an option.

We've by and large gotten rid of the formality in most cases, and that's even true in US Spanish, where people I barely knew used the familiar form, and were obviously not trying to be insulting.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 02 Sep 2020, 15:03
The schwa conversation has reminded me that Melbourne residents are so terribly keen to persuade visitors to pronounce the schwa in their city’s name, they refer to themselves as “Melburnites.”
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snubnose on 08 Sep 2020, 03:07
In German I can call someone by first name, but still use the formal "Sie". That has become a rarity, but still is an option.
While some people indeed do that, it sounds REALLY odd, as far as I can tell its not really propper German, and I'm also unaware this was ever common.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 08 Sep 2020, 03:22
In German I can call someone by first name, but still use the formal "Sie". That has become a rarity, but still is an option.
While some people indeed do that, it sounds REALLY odd, as far as I can tell its not really propper German, and I'm also unaware this was ever common.

IIRC, that wasn't uncommon until recently as a way to imply social hierarchy - eg. with bosses addressing their underlings. Look for some movies from the 50s and 60s, where some character tells their secretary "Frau Ursuala, bitte schreiben Sie".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 08 Sep 2020, 05:10
In German I can call someone by first name, but still use the formal "Sie". That has become a rarity, but still is an option.
While some people indeed do that, it sounds REALLY odd, as far as I can tell its not really propper German, and I'm also unaware this was ever common.

IIRC, that wasn't uncommon until recently as a way to imply social hierarchy - eg. with bosses addressing their underlings. Look for some movies from the 50s and 60s, where some character tells their secretary "Frau Ursuala, bitte schreiben Sie".


DARN MILLENNIALS ARE DESTROYING HIERARCHIES!

But seriously. All the companies I've worked for were either too small for much of a hierarchy, so big that you didn't really have had anything to do with the "higher ups", or had really flat hierarchies.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snubnose on 08 Sep 2020, 06:38
IIRC, that wasn't uncommon until recently as a way to imply social hierarchy - eg. with bosses addressing their underlings. Look for some movies from the 50s and 60s, where some character tells their secretary "Frau Ursuala, bitte schreiben Sie".
Hmm. Okay.

Yes conversations between bosses and underlings are strange. I have to know the first name of everybody at my company in order to talk to fellow workers, but the last name of everybody to talk to my boss about them.

Still, "Ursuala" isnt a first name I ever came across. Do you mean "Ursula" ?

And yes, admittedly I basically never watch german movies. General rule of thumb, they suck. I mean, there are a few exceptions, like the really old ones, such as "Metropolis", before the nazireich, when Germany still actually made important movies. And there is of course "Das Boot". And some other stuff, like Otto or Dieter Hallervorden, or some of the stuff of Til Schweiger.

Cant think of anything from the 1960s that I've ever watched though.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 08 Sep 2020, 21:58
Still, "Ursuala" isnt a first name I ever came across. Do you mean "Ursula" ?

No, that'd be her younger sister who works as a receptionist at the Cape Diem Lodge (https://www.capediemlodge.com/) in Cape Town, South Africa.

(https://i.imgur.com/rTtDG7F.png)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 17 Sep 2020, 22:40
I've decided that I prefer the term 'schmaltz' over 'saccharine' to refer to something that is excessively sentimental but that I also have a soft spot for in spite of that, purely because the latter refers to artificial sweetener (which is awful), whereas the former refers to chicken or goose fat (which is awesome*).

* In moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Torlek on 18 Sep 2020, 16:54
I've always interpreted "saccharine" as something artificially sentimental or having a forced sentimentality to the point of being cloying. Something "schmaltzy" is more...I guess honest is the best term. It still makes your roll your eyes, but it means well (like an overbearing aunt or grandmother).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: flfederation on 19 Sep 2020, 21:18
At first I thought the CAPTCHA on this forum was asking "3 > 5?" rather than "5 + 3?" So my first try was "No", but obviously I figured it out.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 20 Sep 2020, 20:43
Why do people call the Republicans the "GOP"?  There's not a single "grand" thing about them.

But there is one remarkable characteristic that stands out:  We could call them the "OWP" because every last one of their senators are Old White People.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 20 Sep 2020, 20:47
Geriatric Old Protestants?
Groaning Old Portraits?
Gravely Old Pigeons?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 20 Sep 2020, 22:48
Government Of Putin
Greedy Old Pædophiles
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 21 Sep 2020, 01:27
Not to be confused with the GPO.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 13 Oct 2020, 11:44
I've decided that I prefer the term 'schmaltz' over 'saccharine' to refer to something that is excessively sentimental but that I also have a soft spot for in spite of that, purely because the latter refers to artificial sweetener (which is awful), whereas the former refers to chicken or goose fat (which is awesome*).

* In moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Sorry for digging this up a month later, but I just stumbled over this again.

In German exists the word "Schmalz". Which literally means ... lard. Pure, unadulterated fat, and (around here) typically pork fat. So, if I twist this a little, you're basically saying "everything is better with bacon", apparently even sentimentalism.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 13 Oct 2020, 14:06
Genau.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 19 Oct 2020, 09:40
Only the fool would take the trouble to verify that his sentence was composed of ten a's, three b's, four c's, four d's, forty-six e's, sxteen f's, four g's, thirteen h's, fifteen i's, two k's, nine l's, four m's, twenty-five n's, twenty-four o's, five p's, sixteen r's, forty-one s's, thirty-seven t's, ten u's, eight v's, eight w's, four x's, eleven y's, twenty-seven commas, twenty-three apostrophes, seven hyphens, and, last but not least, a single !

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am that fool.  It's a perfectly true sentence, but it'd be a lot of work to translate it into other languages.

To be fair, it's not original.  It's a literal textbook example used for pedagogic purposes in one of my grad-school textbooks on Search.  Yes, "Search" is an entire field of study.

If anyone cares, the sentence above represents one solution of a system of nonlinear discrete equations.  Such systems are generally considered insoluble, UNLESS (A) there are many solutions in the search space and (B) the value of each term has consistency constraints against less than half the other terms, and (C) the number of possible values each variable can take is expected to be less than n*log(n) of the number of variables.  If these things are true, then a system of nonlinear discrete equations can be solved (or at least one of the solutions can be found) using an obscure algorithm called Cycle Search.

Cycle Search is not usually implemented even in databases or advanced mathematical packages, because people don't understand the constraints on its usability and when they try to use it on problems that don't meet the constraints it diverges hard.  Besides, solving such systems is considered bizarre and likely to be useless for any practical purpose.  They are far more likely to implement a loosely-related algorithm called the RETE algorithm.  RETE is usable on a set of problems considered far more practical and valuable, and doesn't require the variable values to be numeric.  It could in theory be used on problems like the above, but the RETE algorithm diverges hard on nonlinear cases and would take until well after the sun burns out to find a solution to this.

A sentence like the above is a "small" instance of such searches.  If you are sufficiently OCD, you can do it on paper, by hand (translate that sentence into another language) in about a week with less than 500 pages of paper to work on.   Which is about the same amount of time it takes a good programmer to correctly implement Cycle Search, so it's pretty much a break-even case.  If a problem the same size as the above had only one solution, it could, in theory, eventually be found using Cycle Search, but it might take several centuries of computer time.  Not as bad as RETE, but in a one-solution case, pretty bad.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: flfederation on 19 Oct 2020, 10:26
Only the fool would take the trouble to verify that his sentence was composed of ten a's, three b's, four c's, four d's, forty-six e's, sxteen f's, four g's, thirteen h's, fifteen i's, two k's, nine l's, four m's, twenty-five n's, twenty-four o's, five p's, sixteen r's, forty-one s's, thirty-seven t's, ten u's, eight v's, eight w's, four x's, eleven y's, twenty-seven commas, twenty-three apostrophes, seven hyphens, and, last but not least, a single !

It's really not much trouble:


Code: [Select]
echo "Only the fool would take the trouble to verify that his sentence was composed of ten a's, three b's, four c's, four d's, forty-six e's, sxteen f's, four g's, thirteen h's, fifteen i's, two k's, nine l's, four m's, twenty-five n's, twenty-four o's, five p's, sixteen r's, forty-one s's, thirty-seven t's, ten u's, eight v's, eight w's, four x's, eleven y's, twenty-seven commas, twenty-three apostrophes, seven hyphens, and, last but not least, a single !" | fold -sw 1 | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn  74 
  47 e
  41 s
  38 t
  28 ,
  25 n
  23 o
  23 '
  16 r
  16 f
  14 i
  14 h
  11 y
  10 u
  10 a
   9 l
   8 w
   8 v
   7 -
   5 p
   4 x
   4 m
   4 g
   4 d
   4 c
   3 b
   2 k
   1 O
   1 !

Add an "i" to make 15 instead of 14 though, if you fix "sxteen". And don't worry, the tally is correct-- only the entry of the word is not.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 19 Oct 2020, 11:24
Only the fool would take the trouble to verify that his sentence was composed of ten a's, three b's, four c's, four d's, forty-six e's, sxteen f's, four g's, thirteen h's, fifteen i's, two k's, nine l's, four m's, twenty-five n's, twenty-four o's, five p's, sixteen r's, forty-one s's, thirty-seven t's, ten u's, eight v's, eight w's, four x's, eleven y's, twenty-seven commas, twenty-three apostrophes, seven hyphens, and, last but not least, a single !

It's really not much trouble:

Code: [Select]
echo "$that_sentence" | fold -sw 1 | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn
You didn't really go through all the trouble, your computer did. The question becomes whether your computer is the fool. According to "$that_sentence", he would be.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 08 Nov 2020, 05:05
Why do people call the Republicans the "GOP"?  There's not a single "grand" thing about them.

But there is one remarkable characteristic that stands out:  We could call them the "OWP" because every last one of their senators are Old White People.
I always figured it was meant as a tongue in cheek sort of thing once they got co-opted by rich industrialists and started getting corrupted.

Government Of Putin
Greedy Old Pædophiles

Sorry Hedgie, but they don't have a monopoly on that one. Granted there are more of them on Epstein's leaked client list. WhichI rather hope everyone looks through while voting in their state's run-off elections. There's a Reddit thread for it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: zmeiat_joro on 09 Nov 2020, 08:12
I've decided that I prefer the term 'schmaltz' over 'saccharine' to refer to something that is excessively sentimental but that I also have a soft spot for in spite of that, purely because the latter refers to artificial sweetener (which is awful), whereas the former refers to chicken or goose fat (which is awesome*).

* In moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Sorry for digging this up a month later, but I just stumbled over this again.

In German exists the word "Schmalz". Which literally means ... lard. Pure, unadulterated fat, and (around here) typically pork fat. So, if I twist this a little, you're basically saying "everything is better with bacon", apparently even sentimentalism.

I think "schmaltz" is American English for "poultry fat", while in German it's typically pork fat. Like "pastarmi" is New York English for a kind of dried beef jerky, while in Southeast Europe and Anatolia "pastarma" is pork .
 
My mom just told me pastarma can be made with goat and horse meat also.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 09 Nov 2020, 18:03
In America, pork fat is 'lard' in some contexts and 'suet' in others.  And I think it varies mostly by temperature, in that 'lard' is room-temperature or warmer (or if it has been cooked no matter its current temperature) and 'suet' is room-temperature or colder. 

Either I have that wrong, or it's particularly odd.  But there's nothing odd about oddity.  After all we're talking about dialects of English that aren't even English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 13 Nov 2020, 02:14
I just read an eerie similarity of english ``acorn''---the oak fruit---german ``Eichhörn'' (the ``-chen'' is diminutive)---the creature stereotyped as eating oak fruit. In both cases, there's a false folk etymology, related to oak: english has it like oak-corn but really just meant tree nuts, german has Eiche (oak) Horn (not sure how horn is even remotely squirrelley) but it's really ``aig'' (swiftness) + ``wer'' (burning).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 13 Nov 2020, 02:33
I thought suet was specifically the fat around kidney's and loins, used raw, whereas lard is generally pork fat, that is processed - i.e. cooked and purified.

Also, suet is mostly beef or mutton fat, it seems. If purified, it's known here as Ossewit (Ox white), and mostly used for deepfrying.

In my experience, lard and suet can both be used interchangeably in a lot of recipes, as in, you will get a somewhat decent result, but it will taste differently. If I remember correctly, they have different melting and boiling points as well, so you need to be careful about burning. Especially if you use the unpurified version. But maybe that's something we should take to the cooking thread.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 13 Nov 2020, 04:08
Since this conversation continues, I decided to pull my copy of fat by Australian chef Jennifer McLagan off my shelf to see what she has to say about it. I'm not going to try to claim this to be definitive, but ... well, she's obviously more authoritative than I am.

suet: kidney fat, found in the animal's cavity (usually beef fat, sometimes lamb fat).
lard: rendered pork fat.
schmaltz: In the Jewish kitchen, refers to rendered poultry fat; however, the word is German in origin, where it often refers to pork fat.

I think all of this has popped up in this thread from a variety of posters.

Exercise for the reader: Schweineschmaltz, Flomenschmalz, Griebenschmaltz, Gänseschmalz.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 13 Nov 2020, 04:15
Those match the primary usages reported by the (UK) Oxford English Dictionary.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 13 Nov 2020, 11:03
Oh good, someone actually knows.  :-)

When I'm speculating on the Internet, I at least *try* to mark it out as speculation, instead of giving people stories that I suppose are probably true or think ought to be true or just hope are true, instead of just pretending something is true.

But, while marking it out is at least better than not, obviously it isn't all that helpful when I'm only speculating because I'm too lazy to go look up the facts. 

Hmmm.  If it was beef instead of pork fat when we were putting out suet for birds, then it's confusing how much they smell alike.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 13 Nov 2020, 18:51
Hmmm.  If it was beef instead of pork fat when we were putting out suet for birds, then it's confusing how much they smell alike.

You mentioning putting suet out for birds inspired me to dive for the book again and quote a section.

Quote
Suet

Suet is an ingredient seldom seen in recipes today. For many people it conjures up images of bird feeders rather than culinary delights. Suet is the fat that surrounds an animal's kidneys, and although all animals have it in varying amounts, in the kitchen the term usually means beef suet, which is the most readily available. Suet is a very hard fat with a high melting point, making it excellent for deep-frying and pastry. Rich, but with no strong beefy flavor, suet is good for both savory and sweet dishes. While it is best known for enriching mincemeat, suet is essential for steamed puddings and make slight, fluffy dumplings. Unlike other animal fats, suet doesn't need to be rendered before use; it can simply be grated, making it a great fat to have on hand. So get that suet out of the birdfeeder and put it back in your kitchen.

The book also mentions dripping - "the fat released when the meat is roasted." I remember my parents buying dripping from time to time.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 14 Nov 2020, 18:57
Okay, here's a thing.  The word 'Quixotic' - denoting a great deal of effort spent on a cause clearly futile or unnecessary from the outset.

I grind my teeth every time I hear someone saying it "Quick Sot Tick" because long ago I remember that word as "Key Hoe Tick" - and then it occurred to me that I hadn't heard the correct pronunciation in a long time - even from pros, like TV news presenters. 

We Americans often "text regularize" things - turning the phonetic spelling thing on its head by pronouncing things the way they're written.  So a word that was originally a Spanish name, for example, gets pronounced as though it were a different word.  This new word is pronounced as though the same sequence of letters represented English-default orthography, and coincidentally, spelled the same! 

Is this now understood to have happened to 'Quixotic'?  Do people actually consider the new pronunciation correct?

IIRC we've sort of done the same thing to 'Fresnel.'  The man was French and in his name the 's' was silent.  But when we're talking about the type of lenses he invented, which arre putatively named after him, the 's' is frequently voiced, resulting in me being annoyed.

Even though actually voicing the 's' turns it into the sound we'd write as 'z' if we wanted to be more specific.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 14 Nov 2020, 23:00
Ironically, with Fresnel, you arrive back at the historical French pronunciation, which I understand is still used in some dialects.
Title: Octopodes?
Post by: FreshScrod on 15 Nov 2020, 02:54
I kihotikali adhere to (some) original pronunciations. (Oktapadees is dead, long live oktapoads!)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 15 Nov 2020, 03:14
Here's the thing. English words should follow English pronunciation rules (yeah I know, I can hear you laughing - but still).

If quixotic were a Spanish word, then there would be an argument that we should pronounce it as such. But it isn't. It's an English word. Even if it derives from a Spanish name.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 15 Nov 2020, 05:30
So.. his name's not like ``quick's oat?'' I've been saying it wrong for months (reading/discussing it) and no-one's said a peep about it. Some friends I have, letting me labor under that false impression.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 15 Nov 2020, 07:22
On the other hand, transliteration brings its own problems.

For instance, I've been looking for three days for a certain brand of paint brush, only to find out the surname is transliterated in three different ways in English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 15 Nov 2020, 14:29
So.. his name's not like ``quick's oat?'' I've been saying it wrong for months (reading/discussing it) and no-one's said a peep about it. Some friends I have, letting me labor under that false impression.

One of the big pleasures of this stupid language, that the name 'Quixote' got turned into 'quixotic.'
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 15 Nov 2020, 15:05
Don KEE-OH-TAY.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 15 Nov 2020, 15:21
On the other hand, transliteration brings its own problems.

Yeah, that was the kind of thing I had in mind when I wrote my "I can hear you laughing" aside.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 15 Nov 2020, 18:03
The relationship between English phonology and English orthography is more than a little complex, inconsistent, and problematic, at least, as compared to most languages.

Basically every letter is pronounced every way it ever was in any of the languages we stole words from.  Except we're only guessing on the fly, and usually in a subconscious way only, what language something was stolen from, and we often get it wrong. 

When that happens our pronunciation can rapidly switch from Historically Accurate to Hysterically Approbate.  At the same time the word picks up a new pronunciation and a pack of variations that get pasted on it from the language we're mistaking it for.  And if the meaning or pronunciation drift too far, we'll just steal the original word again!  That's why 'Saloon' and 'Salon' have different (though related) meanings in English.

It's a very sloppy process, and proceeds by steps each and every one of which seems to infuriate a different half of us. 

But it's creative.  English continues to change and adapt pretty rapidly relative to most others, and that may be a feature rather tha a bug.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Wingy on 15 Nov 2020, 18:38
An argument can be made that English is more of a creole than a language, but it's a bit thin.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 16 Nov 2020, 03:06
So.. his name's not like ``quick's oat?'' I've been saying it wrong for months (reading/discussing it) and no-one's said a peep about it. Some friends I have, letting me labor under that false impression.

Tangentially: You said you resent 'queer' since the orginal meaning was 'strange or crazy'. That's maybe true for the word's English usage history - but it's originally a loanword from Dutch and/or German. In German, 'quer' means 'orthogonal to' or 'not parallel to'. Tellingly, German LGBT+folk have adopted the English spelling & meaning, because 'quer' is both ubiquitous as well as rather innocuous. (Would that be a 're-import word'?)

So taken in its true 'original' meaning, queer would be rather apt - especially as it is often used within compound-nouns to signal 'something that is orthogonal to the dominant paradigm' (e.g 'querdenken' = 'thinking outside the box')
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 16 Nov 2020, 03:19
Often the same distant origin word is imported with different meanings.  But one case in which different routes to English give different spellings but the same meaning is the pair of words: "till" and "until".  "Till" was not formed as an abbreviation of "until", but has its own separate history.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 16 Nov 2020, 07:20
I, for one, quixotically insist on the abbreviated version with apostrophe, and will do so 'til the day I die.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 16 Nov 2020, 07:50
So.. his name's not like ``quick's oat?'' I've been saying it wrong for months (reading/discussing it) and no-one's said a peep about it. Some friends I have, letting me labor under that false impression.

Tangentially: You said you resent 'queer' since the orginal meaning was 'strange or crazy'. That's maybe true for the word's English usage history - but it's originally a loanword from Dutch and/or German. In German, 'quer' means 'orthogonal to' or 'not parallel to'. Tellingly, German LGBT+folk have adopted the English spelling & meaning, because 'quer' is both ubiquitous as well as rather innocuous. (Would that be a 're-import word'?)

So taken in its true 'original' meaning, queer would be rather apt - especially as it is often used within compound-nouns to signal 'something that is orthogonal to the dominant paradigm' (e.g 'querdenken' = 'thinking outside the box')

To an extent, you could translate "quer" as 'misaligned'.
Also, there's the expression "sich quer stellen", literally meaning something like "to turn/stand sideways". It mostly means blocking something (think it like a police car blocking a road/lane by turning sideways), more loosely it means being simply uncooperative. And being queer kinda means being uncooperative with the ("conservative") norm - at least in my eyes, simply because you have to be right now. Don't get me wrong in any way, I don't mean that in any way bad or degrading, it's actually a curageous thing, especially in certain areas on this space rock we call Earth.



Okay, here's a thing.  The word 'Quixotic' - denoting a great deal of effort spent on a cause clearly futile or unnecessary from the outset.

I grind my teeth every time I hear someone saying it "Quick Sot Tick" because long ago I remember that word as "Key Hoe Tick" - and then it occurred to me that I hadn't heard the correct pronunciation in a long time - even from pros, like TV news presenters.

Well, that word is quite something. It's an old Spanish spelling, or rather a spelling from a Spanish dialect that has vanished since (or more honestly, probably has been vanished). If you want to explain the difference to someone: ask them why they think it's written Mexico, but spoken as if spelled Mejico. There's a reason why in Spanish the Spanish language can be called "Español" or "Castellano" interchangably.
There's a certain irony to the whole thing though: the institution founded by the Spanish government for promotion of teaching spanish and spanish culture is called "Instituto Cervantes", is named after Miguel de Cervantes, author of El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 16 Nov 2020, 12:15
but it's originally a loanword from Dutch and/or German. In German, 'quer' means 'orthogonal to' or 'not parallel to'. [...] So taken in its true 'original' meaning, queer would be rather apt - especially as it is often used within compound-nouns to signal 'something that is orthogonal to the dominant paradigm' (e.g 'querdenken' = 'thinking outside the box')
It's not that I'd resent it, but consider it inappropriate for what should be simply accepted as part of the world, rather than something in contrast to what's accepted. Something like `strange' or `weird' might be more emotionally charged, but the essence would be the same with `oblique' or 'orthogonal.' But I'm afraid I'd be underqualified to attempt suggesting alternatives.
Tellingly, German LGBT+folk have adopted the English spelling & meaning, because 'quer' is both ubiquitous as well as rather innocuous. (Would that be a 're-import word'?)
If the analogy is `loan' words, that'd be foreclosure.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 16 Nov 2020, 12:24
In fact, Chambers has:

until /un-tilˈ or ən-tilˈ/
preposition and conjunction
Till
ORIGIN: Pfx und- as far as, and till1

till1 /til/
preposition
Up to the time of
To, towards (Scot)
To (with the infinitive) (Scot)
conjunction
Up to the time when
ORIGIN: OE (Northumbrian) til, from ON til; cf OE till a fixed point, Ger Ziel end, goal

TIL  :claireface:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 16 Nov 2020, 12:54
I've spelt out the two separate etymologies of till and until as reported by the OED at some past point in this thread, I think.

EDIT: it seems not (https://forums.questionablecontent.net/index.php/topic,28999.msg1164109/topicseen.html#msg1164109).  So:

Till: Old English (Northumbrian) til = Old Frisian til, Old Norse til; prob. from adverbial use of Germanic noun meaning "aim, goal" (cf till, verb)

Until: Old Norse und, = Old English und, Old Frisian und, Old Saxon und; Old Gothic untē. The later combination with till provides a duplicated meaning.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 16 Nov 2020, 15:51
There's a subtle difference I think (and will, maybe till death---only 'til I learn otherwise, if I 'wil) as of ``to'' v ``unto,'' or ``in'' v ``into.'' Each latter, of these 3 cases, seems more perfective than it's former.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 16 Nov 2020, 18:42
'Weird' is usually said to be from old english, because any other source is uncertain or unknown.  But old english, like modern english was a shapeshifting thief.  I'm fairly sure we originally got 'Weird' from an *earlier* theft of 'qwer' from German.

In Chaucer's time it was sometimes spelt 'wyrd' or 'werde'  and referred to someone's fate, or the meaning of their life, or to the events to come in the future, or for some event or transaction or even person that as a rule profoundly changed people.

I should think that wouldn't be a very bad thing to be called by people - depending, I suppose, on whether the changes associated with knowing me or etc were considered positive or negative. 

But then again, that's not really how we use it today.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 16 Nov 2020, 19:16
'I' before 'E', except after 'C', unless it sounds like 'A' like in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'.

Or it's weird.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 16 Nov 2020, 21:37
most languages absolutely don't have words like 'twelfths', and it's somewhat hard for people who don't to say.  English not only has it, but people often actually say all of the sounds in it.

The 'lfths' is more consonants in a row (even if two of them are 'th' and stand for one sound) than most languages will admit.  And some also find a word that opens with two consonants 'tw' difficult.

ESL speakers almost always wind up saying 'tweffs' os something like that. (to be fair, most native speakers as well, UNLESS the word has the sentence's emphasis.  In context nobody misunderstands, or even really notices, when people get it wrong).

The thing we use 'th' for is considered somewhat unusual among languages.  Many apparently don't have the sound at all, or use it far less if they do, and it's one of the  most frequent sounds in English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 16 Nov 2020, 22:02
Consonant clusters are fairly common in Germanic languages (e.g. “Deutschland”). The sounds represented by “th” also used to be more common in Germanic languages, but they’ve been lost in almost all of them. As far as I know the only remaining ones with those sounds are English and Icelandic.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 17 Nov 2020, 02:01
ESL speakers almost always wind up saying 'tweffs' or something like that.
The trick, I found, is to say it like ``twelths.'' Anytime I listen closely, I hear the ``f'' subsumed in the dental friction. Even stressed. Not listening closely, it sounds like it's just there.. It's not. Not that I've heard, at least.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 17 Nov 2020, 03:44
'Weird' is usually said to be from old english, because any other source is uncertain or unknown.  But old english, like modern english was a shapeshifting thief.  I'm fairly sure we originally got 'Weird' from an *earlier* theft of 'qwer' from German.

Nitpick: When you talk about 'German' spoken centuries ago, it's usually a good idea to add the time-period you have in mind - or better still, the period-appropriate name (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_language). German and Dutch eg parted ways only about a millenium ago.

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Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 17 Nov 2020, 04:44
Limburgish has actually been recognised as a separate minority language in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/148), so there's that. Though it seems that for this language, it's only ratified by the Netherlands. Then again, I don't see Belgium recognising another language anytime soon - it's complicated enough as is.

Hendrik van Veldeke/Heinrich von Veldeke is just about at the moment where German and Dutch started to part ways - and as such is the foundation figure for German, Dutch, and Limburgish literature.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 17 Nov 2020, 05:04
Limburgish has actually been recognised as a separate minority language in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/148), so there's that. Though it seems that for this language, it's only ratified by the Netherlands. Then again, I don't see Belgium recognising another language anytime soon - it's complicated enough as is.

What makes me a bit sad - the standardisation process that led to standard (high) German wasn't really neat and completely voluntary. IMO, it was very much part of the top-down effort to consolidate unification and didn't really cherish the richness of local varieties: I don't speak 'my' local dialect because my maternal Grandmother made a conscious decision not to teach it to her daughters, since she feared it would condemn them to being snubbed as lower caste. I have some fragments - my Granddad would say he'd go 'op dorp' ("(in-)to the village"), and he called the guy making rounds every odd week selling potatoes "de Erpelmann" (I've never seen those written out, so ... take the spelling with healthy doses of scepticism).

When I studied in the Netherlands, I didn't find Dutch that hard to acquire (especially compared to French ...), and was bemused by some of my fellow German students' reluctance to familiarize themselves with the language. I actually thought it snobbery back then - why did they rely on our Dutch hosts' generosity and skill to facilitate communication without at least making an effort for politeness' sake? Now I'm wondering whether I had an advantage growing up amongst people who still retained knowledge of a regional dialect more closely related to Dutch and Belgian dialects than some other German ones?

Edit: Amongst 'my' Bergish folk, it's still not uncommon to use some grammatical constructs that don't exist in standard German, but in standard Dutch (though, these days, they're sometimes used 'ironically' - the speaker signals awareness that it is not 'proper German' grammar) -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhinelandic_regiolect (Especially the continuous aspect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_and_progressive_aspects#German) that is absent in standard German: Using 'am' or 'beim' in a way similar to the Dutch usage of 'aan het'  - Rhenish people will say 'Ich bin am Lesen' just like Dutchfolk will say 'Ik ben aan het lezen', whereas Standard German is 'Ich lese gerade')
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 17 Nov 2020, 07:57
That sounds all too familiar here. What dialect I speak, is rather eclectic, due to not having learned at home, but later in life, in school. It's good to see the dialects in a bit of a renaissance, and taking a place in popular culture again.

Erpelman sounds and reads very familiar to me. Erpelschelder is what we call a potato peeling knife around here.

Rhenish people will say 'Ich bin am Lesen' just like Dutchfolk will say 'Ik ben aan het lezen', whereas Standard German is 'Ich lese gerade')[/size]

Ehm... Either I'm misremembering, or my German teacher dropped the ball on this in high school. :roll:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 17 Nov 2020, 09:51
Rhenish people will say 'Ich bin am Lesen' just like Dutchfolk will say 'Ik ben aan het lezen', whereas Standard German is 'Ich lese gerade')[/size]

Ehm... Either I'm misremembering, or my German teacher dropped the ball on this in high school. :roll:

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 17 Nov 2020, 13:37
German is as diverse as any language with 100 million native speakers. If you look at British Isles, you have several different countries with several variations of one language. And German is no different. Admittedly, Germany is by far the largest and most contributing country, but you have so much variation within. Even if you look at Austria, a country of mere 8.9 million inhabitants has several distinctive dialects. Not even including Western Austria, because that's more Swiss whatever than German 😜
The only reason why everyone thinks German is actually so uniform: we managed to agree to a common ground. Something most people can switch to, at least to a certain degree. Plus the cliché of the meticulous, exact German.


As far as "ich bin gerade am Lesen" is concerned: that kind of sentence is something I actively use, at least in spoken language. You made me realise although I might use that quite regularly, I've probably hardly ever used it in written form apart from direct speech.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 17 Nov 2020, 14:19
As far as "ich bin gerade am Lesen" is concerned: that kind of sentence is something I actively use, at least in spoken language. You made me realise although I might use that quite regularly, I've probably hardly ever used it in written form apart from direct speech.

IDK, I just read that one wiki a while ago and realized only then that this is maybe not how all Germanophones would speak? "Ich lese gerade" or "Ich bin am Lesen" or "Ich bin gerade am Lesen" - all feel correct to me. The wiki sez (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_and_progressive_aspects#German) that this is no longer a Rhenish-exclusive thing, that it has spread across most of Germany recently (and apparently Austria, too)

Then again, I figure there's so much weird shit you can do with German that a nabbed piece of Dutch grammar hardly stands out?



P.S.: How do Austrians feel about the 'Rechtschreibreform' and their northern cousins endlessly tinkering with it? Is it more "Ohey, good idea!" or "This is SO Piefke!"? (bcs, to be honest, it's totally Piefke ...)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 18 Nov 2020, 00:01
P.S.: How do Austrians feel about the 'Rechtschreibreform' and their northern cousins endlessly tinkering with it? Is it more "Ohey, good idea!" or "This is SO Piefke!"? (bcs, to be honest, it's totally Piefke ...)

Well, a lot of people thought it was confusing. And whenthey made some changes (so, now we're talking "Neue (http://Neue) neue Rechtschreibung") it felt like they made some things clearer. It's not something I feel "oh, that's so German!", probably because I was too young when it happened.
I was born in '85, so I started out learning the old spelling, but switching somewhere... mid-education? The year I graduated was the year only the new rules were valid. Until then you were allowed to use either, as long as you stuck to one.


TL:DR of my thst entire conversation: if you think English was weird, you've never delved into the depths of any other language. Any language grown naturally has so many inconsistencies, it just makes them weird too. Just differently weird. looking at French numbers
English spelling rules are just so ancient switching to Cyrillic might be an easier task than a spelling reform.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 18 Nov 2020, 00:17
At least the northern French dialects do it logically, with septante, octante, nonante, rather than soixante-dix, quatre-vingt, quatre-vingt-dix. Four score and ten?

Switching to Cyrillic is a nice idea, but English has the problem of the th-sound, which I don't believe is in there. But it could be more phonetic, like Вустер for Worcester.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 18 Nov 2020, 04:18
English used to have letters for the sounds represented by 'th' (there are two sounds, one voiced and one voiceless; compare 'thin' and 'this'). The letters were thorn (Þþ) and eth (Ðð). They're still present in Icelandic, though they've fallen out of use in English.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 18 Nov 2020, 06:52
And the evolution and eventual decay of that letter led to the stereotypical Ye olde Englisshe.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 18 Nov 2020, 08:19
A very old comic about a German attempting to pronounce 'th' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th_(digraph)#/media/File:A.B.Frost_1879-12_Harper's_355_p160_English_th.png). It's on the Wikipedia article about 'th'.
Title: Эѯакт трансскрыптшн ав англиш тю кирилик (app
Post by: N.N. Marf on 18 Nov 2020, 12:42
Switching to Cyrillic is a nice idea, but English has the problem of the th-sound, which I don't believe is in there. But it could be more phonetic, like Вустер for Worcester.
I thought it'd be ``вустр.'' Russian orthography has some oddities. Whether a consonant is hard or soft depends on whether the following vowel is hard or soft.. except for ш, which is softened by a tail, and always uses soft vowels. It's really stupid, so a few writers are insisting on using only ш, inheriting the hardness or softness from the following vowel, like all other consonant characters do. Fewer writers would do away with the `soft sign,' and give every consonant a tailed version for softening. I think a good compromise would be to do both: add tails to consonants to soften, or the soft sign, or use soft vowels. Sure, it'll add more letters, but it'd simplify it generally: learn the base letters, and two simple ways to soften any letter (no, not a clickbait article title.. yet)
One problem with simply transcribing english cyrillicly, is that certain words are quite tight in our present orthography, but would be diluted in cyrillic. Consider, for example, the word ``I.'' Ай доунт кноу (unsurprisingly, this is how many russians, I've heard, pronounce `kn' words---it's a beautiful thing about english, that the words are spelled exactly how they sound.. -ed a long, long time ago---they're not wrong, you see: they're just insisting on the correct™ pronunciation) хау юл риакт ту ѳыс (compare Theodore Michaelovich Dostoevsky) сэнтэнс. But, as you see, ``you'' 'd be much tighter---which may affect the comparison of those two referents.
I think a more sophisticated reform could be much better, perhaps inspired by cyrrilic, involving whatever of the many wonderful letters the world has to offer. And I'd overhaul the grammar, too. And the vocabulary.. wait, now that's just inventing an idiotic dialect, or ``idiolect'' for short.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 18 Nov 2020, 14:18
'I' before 'E', except after 'C', unless it sounds like 'A' like in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'.

Or it's weird.

Any foreign observer, or anyone named "Keith", if caffeinated enough to become feisty would make you receive notification that this rule is unscientific and bad for society. It's just a weird counterfeit of a rule.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 18 Nov 2020, 14:29
If Stephen Fry wasn't shitting me, there are actually more exceptions than examples.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 18 Nov 2020, 14:42
'I' before 'E', except after 'C', unless it sounds like 'A' like in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'.

Or it's weird.

Any foreign observer, or anyone named "Keith", if caffeinated enough to become feisty would make you receive notification that this rule is unscientific and bad for society. It's just a weird counterfeit of a rule.
Keith is weird.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 18 Nov 2020, 21:31
If Stephen Fry wasn't shitting me, there are actually more exceptions than examples.

How's the quote go?
"English is the result of Norman man-at-arms attempting to pick up Saxon barmaids. And the result is no more legitimate."

Something like that.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 18 Nov 2020, 23:00
Quote

I before e, except after c
Or when sounded as 'a' as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'
Unless the 'c' is part of a 'sh' sound as in 'glacier'
Or it appears in comparatives and superlatives like 'fancier'
And also except when the vowels are sounded as 'e' as in 'seize'
Or 'i' as in 'height'
Or also in '-ing' inflections ending in '-e' as in 'cueing'
Or in compound words as in 'albeit'
Or occasionally in technical words with strong etymological links to their parent languages as in 'cuneiform'
Or in other numerous and random exceptions such as 'science', 'forfeit', and 'weird'.


https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/i-before-e-except-after-c


I never liked those naff and archaic rhymey things teachers tried to make us memorise:

“Thirty days HATH September blah blah blah”
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 19 Nov 2020, 05:35
Thirty days has September
April, June, and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Except February
which has two less thirty one.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Wingy on 19 Nov 2020, 08:25
Except February
which has two less thirty one.
Having passed algebra, I've never understood this.  How can a month have negative days in it?

Fortunately, none of my teachers ever insisted on us memorizing such nonsense, so I never did.  And now that my phone has an easily accessible calendar function, I literally never need to know, I can just look it up...   :lol:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 19 Nov 2020, 08:36
two less [than] thirty-one. (i.e. twenty-nine)

Which is only true one year in four (well, a little less if you consider century years).

Thirty days has September
April, June, and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Except February
Which is all fucked up.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 19 Nov 2020, 09:18
The version I know runs:

Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone
Which has but twenty-eight days clear,
Or twenty-nine in each leap year.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 19 Nov 2020, 09:50
That ei/ie mnemonic is a rule of thumb. As for days per month, a there's handy mnemonic, that doesn't care whether you've lost your thumb to the descriptivist mob (but does that you have all 4 fingers): knuckles being long months, and valleys between being short months, starting at one end, proceeding towards, and recycling at, the last, resetting at year-end---assuming you know, of course, the first short month's idiosyncrasies, and the long/short month lengths---knowing the length of a month, is as easy as counting; comma being recycle, semicolon being year-end: long short long short long short long, long short long short long; Of course, other calendars exist* The convoluted mnemonic should end ``save february, having two less'' (than.. depends on leapyearness)





*This message is provided as-is and shall not be construed. The author disclaims all fitness, is not legal advice, and does not imply the existence of a relationship. By using this message, you agree to indemnify and save harmless everyone except yourself, and pay me 1% of your gross income forevermore.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: celticgeek on 19 Nov 2020, 11:04
Thirty days hath September,
All the rest, I can't remember.
Why bother me with this at all
When there is a calendar upon the wall.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 19 Nov 2020, 14:09
My ex pointed out to me that mnemonics take many forms and that I have inevitably used them, but the ones that are about memorising the order of something but swap the words out - the ones for the orders of the planets, say - never worked for me. Like, I am already trying to remember the order of what may as well be some random shit, why would replacing it with other even less related shit help?

It obviously works for some people but I never got it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 20 Nov 2020, 06:50
Mnemonics based on word-swapping (or swapping out anything) work if it's a striking mental image to you. "You" being the key component. It has to be personal and tailor-made for your way of thinking, otherwise it's near-useless.

Side note, not really related, but tangential and (I feel) fascinating: people who remember long sequences of numbers competitively associate an image with each number of 00 through 99 (and if they're really good, for each number of 000 through 999). So for example, you can memorize "25" as being a carrot, and "41" as being a table (or whatever), which allows you to remember 2541 as a carrot laying on a table. I'm oversimplifying, but from what I've heard, it's a common technique.

I once read an article explaining that it essentially shifts the legwork from remembering a long sequence of numbers in the moment to spending a considerable amount of time *once* to learn a hundred (or a thousand) images. The initial investment of time and effort pays off in that when you're supposed to remember a 30-digit number, now you don't have to remember 30 characters that don't mean anything, but instead 15 consecutive images that you can build a scene out of, which is meaningful and weird enough that it's not meaningless data.

Back to the topic: using other people's mnemonic systems is BS and you should never do it. You should come up with your *own* mnemonics that strike an emotional note for you, that are funny to you or associated with something that makes sense to you, personally. The trick is not to replace one meaningless memorisation with another. The trick is to come up with something that you can't help but remember.

I have a very good memory, I feel, but part of it is coming up with ridiculous stuff (usually involving a lot of vulgar and scatological phrasing and imagery) that sticks in my memory. It can work for anyone*, you just have to come up with your own brand of weird/funny/memorable/striking stuff. And that will HEAVILY vary from person to person.

* - the "sticking in memory" part, not the "scatological" part. The latter is just me being weird.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 Nov 2020, 07:55
I use lots of mnemonic systems.  However, the problem is that I soon forget that there's anything I'm trying to remember!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 20 Nov 2020, 08:19
The first time I ever set up KDE, I had created keybinds for pretty much everything.  Of course, the ones I didn't use every day were soon forgotten, and it was actually faster to rely on the GUI than look through a cheat-sheet.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 20 Nov 2020, 08:28
Like the epithet "spider biter" - It's a phrase that, once heard, sticks in my memory.  So it could be a mnemonic, if only there were a way to attach it to something I want to remember? 

(used as a slur/epithet against members of a nonhuman species in a dream.... because my brain goes there, I guess.)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 20 Nov 2020, 09:23
'I' before 'E', except after 'C', unless it sounds like 'A' like in 'neighbor' or 'weigh'.

Or it's weird.

Any foreign observer, or anyone named "Keith", if caffeinated enough to become feisty would make you receive notification that this rule is unscientific and bad for society. It's just a weird counterfeit of a rule.

I have seen Anglophones make the mistake of swapping 'ie' and 'ei' in their spelling of some words, and always wondered why that is an issue? Now I learn there's even a mnemonic for it?


(In my first language, 'ie' and 'ei' are two very different sounds - not to mention that the German 'i' sounds roughly like the English 'e'. On top of that, the German 'ie' sounds (roughly) like the 'ei' in 'Keith', whereas the German 'ei' more closely resembles the 'ei' in 'feisty'. Guess my brain just gave up on trying to work of off similarities and learned each of the English phonemes separately)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 20 Nov 2020, 09:52
Trying to actually understand the English language is like reading from the Necronomicon.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 20 Nov 2020, 10:03
Distinct pronunciations of ei and ie in English (as I pronounce it):

ei: ceiling, height, eight, leisure, heir.
ie: believe, die, friend, sieve, quiet, soldier, view.

Note the first two can be spelt either way (in the right places!)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 21 Nov 2020, 04:11
I guess someone has to go there (again?): The Chaos (https://www.learnenglish.de/pronunciation/pronunciationpoem.html). Yes, that poem about pronunciation. But this site has the whole thing with audio files, so you can hear what it is correctly.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 21 Nov 2020, 13:18
Terpsichore doesn't rhyme with trickery.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 22 Nov 2020, 07:21
Terpsichore doesn't rhyme with trickery.

What does it rhyme with, then?
And as far as my experience with english and non-english names goes, it is quite possible that it does. But as English is not a native language of mine, I'll never have a way to know exactly.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 22 Nov 2020, 07:56
Terpsichore doesn't rhyme with trickery.

They rhyme when I say them.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 22 Nov 2020, 09:38
Turp-sih-core.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 22 Nov 2020, 11:51
Terpsichore (/tərpˈsɪkəriː/; Τερψιχόρη)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 22 Nov 2020, 17:16
Turp-sih-core.

Ah.  I see the problem.  Thing is we stole that one from Greek, and we definitely aren't the only people using that name, or retelling her story, and students of literature from across a dozen languages are familiar with the same spelling and pronunciation we use, so if we ever attempted to regularize either, the response from everybody in the world would have been 'YOU GOT IT WRONG.' Where most of the time, ordinary words, etc. they really don't much care how we spell them.   Or, if they do care, I'm sure they curse our ancestors.

Noah Webster is to blame for most of the consistency in English spelling (in the sense that before his dictionary and 'standard spellings' it was even worse).  He faced the unenviable task of settling on consistent conventions for spelling words in a language having ten to thirteen vowels depending on your dialect, using an alphabet that has only five.  I believe that 'silent e' at the end of a word signifying a different sound for an earlier vowel, is his invention for example.

Anyway, I think of Noah Webster here because if a word sounded exactly like what you're thinking of?  That's probably how Webster would have spelled it.  You can tell it's not one of his because a lone 'e' at the end of the word is NOT silent.  He got rid of those in his standardization because they would have interfered with his silent-e convention. 

Noah Webster was alive at what may have been the very last opportunity to settle on a set of related spelling conventions for entire large groups of words.  Spelling before that time was pretty much optional, in that people would pretty much spell everything any way they liked and there wasn't enough agreement on any single spelling of anything to call any of the other spellings wrong.  But his dictionary got traction in a way no dictionary had before.  It was taken up and used by newspaper publishers who dictated that everybody writing for them should use the same spellings of things for the sake of consistency.  And after a while, we wound up with the idea that there is such a thing as a wrong spelling - basically, any spelling we can't find in the dictionary. 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 22 Nov 2020, 17:27
Honestly we'd probably have done better adopting the umlaut from German.  It gives them a nice way to keep track of some extra vowel sounds, and it doesn't seem like too much trouble.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 23 Nov 2020, 03:14
Honestly we'd probably have done better adopting the umlaut from German.  It gives them a nice way to keep track of some extra vowel sounds, and it doesn't seem like too much trouble.

Not to be nitpicky or something, what you mean is called Diaeresis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaeresis_(diacritic)).
And yes, it would be quite helpful.

German only uses the Umlaut, but not the diaeresis, so purely from written language we can't say whether "ue" is pronounced separately ("uë"), as "ü". For reference: if you can't write or display Umlauts, German uses the non-umlaut letter with an e behind it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: FreshScrod on 23 Nov 2020, 08:56
Turp-sih-core.
[snip]

At first I misread Terpsichore as terpischore like it rhymed with harpischord - Nope! I've been misreading - and mispronouncing - harpsichord, too, since I first learned it - I've known it for a few years, and this is the first time I'm writing it... wow I feel dumb (not really, we all must learn sometime... hopefully I'll learn sooner than later, but what I can I do to help it? Alot, but that's getting off topic.)
Honestly, I think that standardized spelling is one of the weirdest things about written languages generally. Not per se, but as a social phenomenon. I think it would be much more interesting if everybody spelled their words however they liked, so long as it could be recognized as the sound of the spoken word. That doesn't deal with homophones, but we seem to manage to discern which one was meant in speech, so at least, if we write how we speak, we won't have that problem any more than we do in speech. I think it's a limitation of the past, of physical typesetting, to have only five-and-some-halfs vowel signs, that computers can deal with - sure, there's only so many keys we can add to a keyboard before it's cumbersome, but we can use some sort of composition of characters that the computer can translate to the appropriate end sign, or how Chinese input systems let one type so many different glyphs with so few keys. At the least, it would make reading more immediately fun, trying e.g. to if I can discern authors by their preferred spellings. And writing can be more fun, too, letting different characters signified by different preferred spellings. We could still have some sort of standard spelling, for stuff like official paperwork with corporations, but it should feel like something unnecessarily stiff, rather than the opposite of diverse spellings feeling sloppy.

Honestly we'd probably have done better adopting the umlaut from German.  It gives them a nice way to keep track of some extra vowel sounds, and it doesn't seem like too much trouble.

Not to be nitpicky or something, what you mean is called Diaeresis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaeresis_(diacritic)).
And yes, it would be quite helpful.

German only uses the Umlaut, but not the diaeresis, so purely from written language we can't say whether "ue" is pronounced separately ("uë"), as "ü". For reference: if you can't write or display Umlauts, German uses the non-umlaut letter with an e behind it.

No, I think Morituri did mean umlaut, as in meaning a sound-shift. That's how I read the "extra vowels" bit, anyway - extra vowels in the language, rather than extra vowels next to each other in a word. It's the same mark, which in English is primarily meaning diaeresis, e.g. noone looks like it sounds like noon, instead of no-one, but noöne would clear it up, if QWERTY let diacritics by default - I don't really feel like figuring out how to do it, so I bookmarked some wiktionary's letter variants pages (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Variations_of_%22o%22), though i don't really use it that much anyway... it's nice to have around just-in-case. Neither is very popular, it seems, in English. I think both could be useful, but they can't be the same mark, then. I don't that will ever happen in English, though, because the only thing we seem to be good for is tangling other language's features into our own - we're not too big on making our own words or grammar or whatnot.

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: zmeiat_joro on 24 Nov 2020, 11:30
Honestly we'd probably have done better adopting the umlaut from German.  It gives them a nice way to keep track of some extra vowel sounds, and it doesn't seem like too much trouble.

Not to be nitpicky or something, what you mean is called Diaeresis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaeresis_(diacritic)).
And yes, it would be quite helpful.

German only uses the Umlaut, but not the diaeresis, so purely from written language we can't say whether "ue" is pronounced separately ("uë"), as "ü". For reference: if you can't write or display Umlauts, German uses the non-umlaut letter with an e behind it.

My grandmother's sister had a German sewing machine where, instead of an umlaut there was a small "e" on top of the "U". I don't think I remember the brand name, though. It evolved from two lines above the vowel in handwriting.

I don't know about the origin of the diaeresis in French orthography. EDIT: oh right, it's from Greek; don't know when it was adopted in French, it's probably complicated probably around the òc/oïl split.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 24 Nov 2020, 13:59

Not to be nitpicky or something, what you mean is called Diaeresis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaeresis_(diacritic)).
And yes, it would be quite helpful.

Actually, I did in fact mean the umlaut.  Where spun is the past tense of spin, but the spün goes next to the knïf and fork when you're setting the table.

Because I'd far rather have letters for most of the extra vowels, and save digraphs for diphthongs or vowels pronounced as separate syllables.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 24 Nov 2020, 14:41

Not to be nitpicky or something, what you mean is called Diaeresis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaeresis_(diacritic)).
And yes, it would be quite helpful.

Actually, I did in fact mean the umlaut.  Where spun is the past tense of spin, but the spün goes next to the knïf and fork when you're setting the table.

Because I'd far rather have letters for most of the extra vowels, and save digraphs for diphthongs or vowels pronounced as separate syllables.

I stand corrected.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 24 Nov 2020, 14:44
...said the physiotherapy patient.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 25 Nov 2020, 10:04
The little e's atop the a, u and o vowels are an alternative/older symbol for the German umlouts. https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umlaut

Not sure whether the Umlaute are strictly speaking 'additional vowels', or merely "sound-shifted" pronunciations of the original ones. Um-laut means something like "re-sound(ed) (vowel)" - if you can pronounce them, you'll notice the ö and ü differ from the original vowels merely in a little shift in the position of the tongue. (https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vokaldreieck)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 25 Nov 2020, 10:41
In English we have something of the same idea of 'shifted' pronunciation.  When we are in grade school we are learning the difference between "long" and "short" vowels - and if we pay attention we notice the same thing about the distinction in pronunciation being mainly the position of the tongue.

I went looking for an article on this and found this one.  It's a little more general than I was looking for in that it discusses English vowels generally.

https://www.speechactive.com/english-vowels-ipa-international-phonetic-alphabet/

Among its more spectacular claims is that English has 20(!) vowel sounds, although I know of no variety that distinguishes all 20.  You might need to learn all of these if you intend to be able to produce every variety of English, but knowing nine or ten will make it possible to effortlessly communicate with English speakers because we tolerate some 'accent' in vowels mostly without noticing.  You'll just sound like someone used to a different dialect, and in English dialect is a relatively minor issue.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 25 Nov 2020, 11:06
American English:  You can hear all 20 of those vowels here, but not in any one variety. All these people understand each other.  Often without even noticing.

Here's about the thickest an American Accent gets.  This guy speaks a low-status dialect; everybody understands him, but if he wants to be taken seriously in a large part of the country, he will have to work - and if he grew up speaking it, he will have to work HARD - to learn to speak a different variety.

Warning:  This is vaguely political, insofar as he's arguing against stupidity.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 25 Nov 2020, 11:15
As a non-native speaker of English, Americans who say they "don't have an accent" infuriate me. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "not having an accent". In any language.

There's some kind of metaphor about American culture in there: it's all extremely varied, but for some reason a LOT of people think anyone similar to them is basically the default, and it's other people that differ and stand out.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 25 Nov 2020, 11:38
There is what is widely considered to be a "neutral" accent in American English, it is generally taught in broadcasting school/training. This could be what people mean when they say they "don't have an accent".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 25 Nov 2020, 12:30
There is what is widely considered to be a "neutral" accent in American English, it is generally taught in broadcasting school/training. This could be what people mean when they say they "don't have an accent".

Yes, I'm aware of that. But that's still not the same as not having an accent, and even if it possibly stems from ignorance about what words mean, I still associate it with a "what's happening here is the default" attitude I associate with American culture strongly.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 25 Nov 2020, 14:48
There is what is widely considered to be a "neutral" accent in American English, it is generally taught in broadcasting school/training. This could be what people mean when they say they "don't have an accent".

Back when I got English lessons in ... the early neolithic, we were told that we'd be taught the only true English, that it's called 'BBC-English', and the only place it was spoken correctly was Amsterdam ...  :wink:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 25 Nov 2020, 15:01
There is what is widely considered to be a "neutral" accent in American English, it is generally taught in broadcasting school/training. This could be what people mean when they say they "don't have an accent".

Not to speak for Oddtail, but I think what he means is something similar to what Margaret Atwood (she of 'Handmaiden's Tale'-fame) meant when she wrote that little essay about the 'one-way mirror' along the US-Canada border.

That when the Canadians look south, they see Americans, but when Americans look north, they see only reflections of themselves.


Quote
The noses of a great many Canadians resemble Porky Pig’s. This comes from spending so much time pressing them against the longest undefended one-way mirror in the world. The Canadians looking through this mirror behave the way people on the hidden side of such mirrors usually do: They observe, analyze, ponder, snoop and wonder what all the activity on the other side means in decipherable human terms.

The Americans, bless their innocent little hearts, are rarely aware that they are even being watched, much less by the Canadians. They just go on doing body language, playing in the sandbox of the world, bashing one another on the head and planning how to blow things up, same as always. If they think about Canada at all, it’s only when things get a bit snowy, or the water goes off, or the Canadians start fussing over some piddly detail, such as fish. Then they regard them as unpatriotic; for Americans don’t really see Canadians as foreigners, not like the Mexicans, unless they do something weird like speak French or beat the New York Yankees at baseball. Really, think the Americans, the Canadians are just like us, or would be if they could.

"Through the one-way mirror", Margaret Atwood, 1984 (https://www.urbandaleschools.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Through-the-One-Way-Mirror.pdf)

Thing is - it's not only the Canucks anymore feeling like that. It's basically anyone whose lives have been shaped to a not-insignificant degree by the process called 'Englishization' (and the US becoming 'the sole remaining superpower'). Of course, we on the other side of the one-way mirror come from vastly different places, with vastly different degrees of privilege - but at the core, there's an experience that a white MAWG from Germany shares with people from India, exchange students from China or my former office-mate from Kamerun: And that's being 'not-default in the eyes of America' - or more polite, but no less vexing: 'Default in the eyes of America when we're reallyreally not'.

And yes, it does feel exactly like that - Americans do tend to speak as if they instinctively assumed they are the default, and that everybody else is just the same, except maybe for a regrettable fact of their having to run to catch up so they, too, can "get with the program already" (And yes, 'Merricans abroad actually do say that line. And no, it's not just the pinky-skinned ones).

And it's a lot of 'you' - to varying degrees - even admirably ethical and painstakingly considerate folk like IICIH (sorry for making an example of you, IICIH)

It's OK, we still like you - Why do you think we spend non-negligible shares of our free time seeking out conversations with 'you guys'? And it's not like it's your fault being shaped by the place you were born into, just like we all were. It's just ... yeah, it is 'a thing' - and 'the thing' in this our world and these our times is that there's lots of places, and then there's America.

[Edit: And no, I don't think it's the same thing as 'American Exceptionalism' - rather something adjacent. And no, this isn't an accusation or a 'you have to change your ways' or anything. It just ... is.]



P.S.: Come to think of it: You, SnS, are probably the 'worst' example of an American to tell this to -> I have yet to see you write something that even remotely smacks of your assuming yourself to be the default, in any meaning of the word. Just coincidence, hope I didn't overstep my bounds.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Cornelius on 25 Nov 2020, 15:13
Some people seem incapable of seeing an accent as something that could apply to them. Some of them will even maintain that theirs in no way differs from what is seen/ set as the standard.

I suspect in some cases, that may be true; that through lack of opportunity or inclination, they never developed the ability to hear the differences. Actively hearing a different phonology is what makes learning another language difficult, and some people simply map approximating phonemes they know over ones that they don't.

This is even stronger if the media they come into contact with, uses an accent that is close, if not simply the same as theirs. Any difference they may pick up, is easily rationalised as just another register of their language, since it is broadcast. As an aside, many people will shift register if interviewed.

And some can be just simply arrogant, and dismiss anything but their own accent as inferior. But I suspect you can find those in any language.

Warning: an interesting post came through while you were typing, 
Okay, I'm letting that speak in stead of the second part I was writing.

Edited to cross dotted t's and dot crossed I's.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 25 Nov 2020, 17:31
I thought that was just what accents are, almost by definition: one of the things about your own speech that you yourself never hear. 

"I don't have an accent" is best interpreted as a joke, or as a statement so obvious it's dumb.  Somebody might as well say "The sky looks blue to me."  Give it a belly laugh and go ahead with what you were doing.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: FreshScrod on 25 Nov 2020, 18:53
I always thought it's really silly whenever someone points out accents. Like, who cares? I'm sure some people do, and it's interesting to listen to different ways the same language can sound. Doing it in person, seems like another unnecessary divide between people. Sometimes, as a joke, I'll respond like: "I don't have an accent. Nobody has an accent.", have an inward chuckle, and keep doing whatever it is I was doing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 25 Nov 2020, 20:40

P.S.: Come to think of it: You, SnS, are probably the 'worst' example of an American to tell this to -> I have yet to see you write something that even remotely smacks of your assuming yourself to be the default, in any meaning of the word. Just coincidence, hope I didn't overstep my bounds.

To be fair, I am pretty far from the "default" as far as the culture of the USA considers it, being a gay Indigenous woman. I am only an "American" because the current occupying force has labeled me such.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Wingy on 26 Nov 2020, 06:19
I always thought it's really silly whenever someone points out accents. Like, who cares? I'm sure some people do, ...
A lot of people do.  Accent is used as a first approximation for social class, which anyone from the south eastern portion of the US moving north and/or west-wards rather quickly learns.  Simply answering common introduction phrases in a Southern accent can dig one a social hole that may take decades to get out of, and can directly affect pay rates, job opportunities, etc.  I'm not saying that's in any way right, but I have observed it.

Growing up military and moving around the US a lot, I was exposed to many accents growing up and can mimic many of them pretty well.  Please note that there is a difference between idiom (word choices) and accent (way words are pronounced).  I've learned to keep my accent fairly flat since I moved to the upper midwest so I sound like most people.  But with few exceptions I've avoided taking on the idioms of my area, which I find mostly horrifying.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 26 Nov 2020, 06:42
Truth be told, if the 50 accents in the vid Morituri linked are realistic samples ... I hardly hear the differences, I have to admit. Except for the southern "drawly" (?) ones, that is. They're very noticably not British accents, but that's about it.

A few years back, the "Liberal Redneck" guy (love him, btw) would have been beyond my capacity to parse - but apparently, my English-ears have become better. I have to focus a bit, but it's nowhere near an Australian "Bogan" accent (POIDAAAH! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqFcdz4gGKA)), for example, or some of the British ones.


P.S.: I should point out that as a non-native speaker, I approach English accents as a challenge - I couldn't care less about where the people come from (I'm a foreigner to whatever place they come from), or whatever nitwit thinks about their social class: To me,  it matters how much mental resources I have to expend to enable communication (In my experience, conversation in my second language will always tire me out faster than convos in my native one - and accents add to the amount of 'brain-fuel' I have to expend), whether there's a polite way to ask the speaker if they could switch to a more standard pronounciation etc.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 26 Nov 2020, 09:09
American English:  You can hear all 20 of those vowels here, but not in any one variety. All these people understand each other.  Often without even noticing.

Here's about the thickest an American Accent gets.  This guy speaks a low-status dialect; everybody understands him, but if he wants to be taken seriously in a large part of the country, he will have to work - and if he grew up speaking it, he will have to work HARD - to learn to speak a different variety.

Warning:  This is vaguely political, insofar as he's arguing against stupidity.

There's a little island off the Coast of Maine that technically speaks English.
Then there's getting into the deep back woods of Arkansas, some parts of the Appalachians, and Cajun.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 26 Nov 2020, 09:17
As a non-native speaker of English, Americans who say they "don't have an accent" infuriate me. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "not having an accent". In any language.

There's some kind of metaphor about American culture in there: it's all extremely varied, but for some reason a LOT of people think anyone similar to them is basically the default, and it's other people that differ and stand out.
Apparently I have a 'cosmopolitan accent'. Most people can't really tell where I'm from, just that I grew up in a 'big city'. I've had guesses for New York New York [1] and 'California'. Though, I'm told that I have a little bit of a Wisconsin undertone even though I've never been and my grandfather from Kenosha hadn't lived there for 30 years by the time I came around.

[1]Nebraska, one of the hickest of hick states. Sorry, but it's true. And I'm not just saying that as a Kansan.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 26 Nov 2020, 09:31
Apparently I have a 'cosmopolitan accent'. Most people can't really tell where I'm from, just that I grew up in a 'big city'.

Is that 'most people in the US can't tell which part of the US I'm coming from' or 'most English speakers can't tell which continent I live on'?

Bcs if you sound remotely like the compatriots of yours that I've met, pretty much anyone on the planet knows where you're coming from the second you open your mouth, if you know where I'm coming from?  :wink: :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 26 Nov 2020, 09:34
With the people in the 50-states vid, the accents are at the level where you could just interpret them as some particular speaker's pronunciation and cadence.  It's within "normal" and understood without thought.  And this is a pretty accurate rendition of the way it's spoken in major cities.  Which, at this point, means by well over 80% of the US population.

The further you get from big cities - the more you're among those who've lived generations in those places instead of a decade or so - the stronger accents tend to be.

The 'Redneck Liberal' guy is demonstrating an accent found mainly in rural areas of southwestern Louisiana. eastern Texas, or southern Arkansas.  I can be pretty specific because I used to live fairly close to there.  Urban people who live within a hundred miles of him have a barely-noticeable 'twang' but that's about it.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 26 Nov 2020, 09:41
@Morituri: Sorry, didn't you mention something about growing up with 'Pennsylvania Dutch'? (which isn't actually Dutch, btw, but German with a heavy Palatine dialect - it's just that the German word for 'German' is 'Deutsch')
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 26 Nov 2020, 09:57
As a non-native speaker of English, Americans who say they "don't have an accent" infuriate me. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "not having an accent". In any language.

There's some kind of metaphor about American culture in there: it's all extremely varied, but for some reason a LOT of people think anyone similar to them is basically the default, and it's other people that differ and stand out.
Apparently I have a 'cosmopolitan accent'. Most people can't really tell where I'm from, just that I grew up in a 'big city'. I've had guesses for New York New York [1] and 'California'. Though, I'm told that I have a little bit of a Wisconsin undertone even though I've never been and my grandfather from Kenosha hadn't lived there for 30 years by the time I came around.

[1]Nebraska, one of the hickest of hick states. Sorry, but it's true. And I'm not just saying that as a Kansan.
According to the New York Times dialect quiz, I'm from Tennessee (my top matches were Knoxville and Nashville). A grad student in my old lab (in Wisconsin, but he was from California) insisted that I sounded like I was from upstate New York. And in Pennsylvania they made fun of my "southern accent".  :psyduck:
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 26 Nov 2020, 10:16
Truth be told, if the 50 accents in the vid Morituri linked are realistic samples ... I hardly hear the differences, I have to admit. Except for the southern "drawly" (?) ones, that is. They're very noticably not British accents, but that's about it.

A few years back, the "Liberal Redneck" guy (love him, btw) would have been beyond my capacity to parse - but apparently, my English-ears have become better. I have to focus a bit, but it's nowhere near an Australian "Bogan" accent (POIDAAAH! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqFcdz4gGKA)), for example, or some of the British ones.


P.S.: I should point out that as a non-native speaker, I approach English accents as a challenge - I couldn't care less about where the people come from (I'm a foreigner to whatever place they come from), or whatever nitwit thinks about their social class: To me,  it matters how much mental resources I have to expend to enable communication (In my experience, conversation in my second language will always tire me out faster than convos in my native one - and accents add to the amount of 'brain-fuel' I have to expend), whether there's a polite way to ask the speaker if they could switch to a more standard pronounciation etc.

Which is hilarious because the Southern accent and dialect of the U.S.A. is derived from the pre-Received Pronunciation British upper-class accent.

Apparently I have a 'cosmopolitan accent'. Most people can't really tell where I'm from, just that I grew up in a 'big city'.

Is that 'most people in the US can't tell which part of the US I'm coming from' or 'most English speakers can't tell which continent I live on'?

Bcs if you sound remotely like the compatriots of yours that I've met, pretty much anyone on the planet knows where you're coming from the second you open your mouth, if you know where I'm coming from?  :wink: :-D

Ja.....it's country level as opposed to international.  :roll:  But I can do a fairly decent imitation of a southern central Canadian English dialect.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 26 Nov 2020, 10:29
Yes, my Grandma Kate and Grandpa Sam were Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch.  They lived in Yoder, Kansas, which was part of the Amish community around Hutchinson.  (I would have to check to see if Yoder is still on maps.  There were only about 25 people when we visited them decades ago. The town may be no more.)   We spent a few days to a week with them several times a year.  They spoke an antique, crazily beautiful, variety of English that got stuck somewhere around the turn of the 18th century. 

It was my grandparents on the other side - Grandpa Charlie and Grandma Beryl - who came originally from Southern Arkansas.  They had moved north (near Lake of the Ozarks) before I was born but we still had cousins south of that area and went to see them too.

And I worked for a few summers on custom harvesting crews and got to live for a few weeks, each time, in East Texas, Oklahoma, Central Kansas, Northern Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, dealing the whole time with co-workers from everywhere else along the way.

I don't know if you're aware of the tradition but we had "custom harvest" as summer employment.  Custom Harvesters start somewhere in Texas, work a few weeks there until the wheat is in, then pack up their camp and move a few hundred miles north to where wheat harvest is just starting, rinse and repeat until by the end of summer they're finishing up at their last station somewhere in North Dakota.   It's pretty crazy; on those crews you work hundred-hour weeks sometimes.  When I was doing it, it was almost the only way to earn enough money for a year's college tuition during a single summer.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 26 Nov 2020, 11:28
Yoder is still on maps and even has a bit of a tourist trap element to it now.

Definitely worth a visit for the food alone.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: FreshScrod on 26 Nov 2020, 12:29
I just wrote the word "diaphragm" and noticed how strange it is. The g is silent, like in sign - I've known that g tends to be silent before n but this is the first time I'm noticing it silent elsewhere. Funnily enough, it's not silent in signature, or signatory, signal, signify, signet... I actually used to think it was spelled cygnet, I think because I read the title Dance of the Cygnets before hearing about cygnet signet rings.
But I'm pretty sure it's not the same as the silent g in enough. I think I read somewhere that it used to signify that the h is voiced.

David Alan Stern has a set audio programs, Acting with an Accent, for different accents. They're a couple hours each, and they do a good job explaining how the accent works, like in the mouth, stuff like center of resonance - taught in the accent, for immersion, which stood out to me, especially, because, each time, I thought that was their default accent. I haven't done all of them, though. Maybe they're American? (https://drama.uconn.edu/person/david-alan-stern/)
Tried various forum searches... didn't someone mention affecting an American accent? While playing a video game, but when they changed back to their usual (British?) accent, the other players didn't believe it was real. I might have daydreamed that, because I had a similar experience: a transfer student, for their whole first month, affected Received Pronunciation - pretty poorly but it fooled everyone - so they got alotta flak the week they changed back for "making fun of our [American] accent". To be honest, I was waiting for them to change to a third accent for the third month. They never did. I wonder if that might be interesting as part of a performance art piece. Maybe the same play, but with different accents for different acts or different performances.

Edits: removed unnecessary mention of gender, corrected markup error.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 26 Nov 2020, 13:41
And here I always thought that a cygnet was a baby swan.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 27 Nov 2020, 00:26
And here I always thought that a cygnet was a baby swan.

Presumably when cygnets are ringed for identification, it's done using cygnet rings...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 27 Nov 2020, 13:57
Well if we're talking about regional accents in the UK

I'm from the East Midlands, which is an area with accents heavily influenced by both the North East and West Midlands of the country, ending up somewhere weird in between.

Better yet, my parents are both from the Kent area, much further South. So what accent did I have? Well, if you ask my school friends, 'posh' would be the answer. I only realise with hindsight that I was middle class as fuck (my parents owned their house) despite feeling like we lacked many of the obvious trappings of being not-poor (Playstations, fashion labelled clothes). But I sounded very out of place in my comprehensive school, as an identifiably posh boy.

This as also given me a lifelong vowel problem. Depending on who I am talking to, the 'grass'/'grarse' sounds can both show up in the same sentence, because having been raised by 'grarse' parents in a 'grass' area I never really settled on one.

Then I moved to the North West, where anyone who had been to my hometown could pick me out, but then got confused why I didn't sound that much like it. Being in the North West also shoved a whole lot more of the working-class/Midlands elements into my speech than there used to be. And yet, I was always a 'Southerner.' Because I was from the South, you see. Because anything that isn't The North is The South, if you're a Northerner. Great.

Then I moved to Oxfordshire, in the South East. This is when Hodges met me, the only person who still frequents this forum regularly enough and has met me to be likely to comment. So I would be most interested to know what the fuck he thinks I sound like if anything. Around that area, I was noticeably too working-class/Northern sounding to fit in. I was now surrounded by people who were, generally, much posher-sounding than I was, and all of a sudden I became a Northerner.

Do people from Southampton call people from Northampton Northerners? I genuinely might want to know this. It drove me insane, in both places.

Now I live in Berkshire, which is both more posh than Oxfordshire (loads of people who work in London live here in ludicrously expensive houses) and then also less (the urbanised areas, however, are much more urban and run-down than those in Oxfordshire). Having now lived in the South of the country some eight years, when I visited my Northern friends a summer or two ago they were aghast at how Southern I sounded.

Sigh.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 28 Nov 2020, 05:50
his is when Hodges met me, the only person who still frequents this forum regularly enough and has met me to be likely to comment. So I would be most interested to know what the fuck he thinks I sound like if anything

I am not a good person to ask about accents, and more so in this case because I met Thrillho some years ago now.  I don't particularly notice accents, or at least I don't link them with people in my memory, so I'm afraid I can't recall what I thought about Thrillho's!  If he was then "Northern sounding" that would simply have been a variety of normal that my father had familiarised me with, and so unremarkable in my mind.

My own background is solidly upper middle class - father was a university professor in Reading, though from a Sheffield working-class background, mother a grammar-school English teacher who grew up in a country rectory, and I went through a classy (not famous, though) boarding school and Oxford University.  So my accent is variously described as RP, BBC, or simply "posh" (but not proper posh like landed gentry etc). Back in the 70s I used to get Americans come over to me in an aeroplane and ask to listen to me speak - I guess they found me quaint!  You can judge for yourself - there are a number of links in this forum of me reading various stories and book extracts (early in this thread, even).  But because some of those links are dead, I've collected them all here (https://cassland.org/sounds/Paul/) for you.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 05 Dec 2020, 02:22
Why the hell is the 'l' in 'solder' silent?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 05 Dec 2020, 03:01
You mean the "i" in "soldier", I presume.  Well, it isn't; it modifies the "d" to be more of a "j" sound in many people's speech - though I was ridiculed at school by my Latin master for that pronunciation (in the 1950s, to put it in perspective), as he insisted on a simple "di" as the central one of three syllables...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 05 Dec 2020, 04:12
Why the hell is the 'l' in 'solder' silent?

I've never understood this myself about US English, but Google has answers (https://www.circuitspecialists.com/blog/solder-not-sodder-the-story-behind-the-silent-or-not-so-silent-l/).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 05 Dec 2020, 04:24
Ah, I misunderstood - you were on the "l" not the "i" (I read it as capital i and presumed a typo). 

I have never heard the "l" in solder not pronounced nor had any idea that was a possibility, and so that is a complete surprise to me.  British dictionaries don't mention the possibility either.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 05 Dec 2020, 07:49
Ah, I misunderstood - you were on the "l" not the "i" (I read it as capital i and presumed a typo). 

I have never heard the "l" in solder not pronounced nor had any idea that was a possibility, and so that is a complete surprise to me.  British dictionaries don't mention the possibility either.
You all say 'solder' as "sol-der"?

EDIT: "Solder (/ˈsoʊldər/,[1] /ˈsɒldər/[1] or in North America /ˈsɒdər/)"

*side eyes New Jersey and Boston, MA*
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: alc40 on 05 Dec 2020, 08:11
In the Renaissance some people tried to make English spelling more like Latin; there's an article about it here (http://www.aloveofwords.com/2009/09/02/renaissance-spelling/).  Apparently sodder > solder was among those changes, and then in Britain the pronunciation also ended up shifting while in American English the older pronunciation continued.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 05 Dec 2020, 18:56
I believe, without specific evidence that I remember, that the 'f' and 'ph' spellings now pronounced in the same way used to have different pronunciations.

Thing is, it's ridiculously subtle.  You produce the 'f' sound with the lower lip and upper teeth, and you produce the 'ph' sound with both lips and no teeth.   The problem with this is that unless I'm actually the one doing it, I cannot *hear* any difference between these sounds.  One unvoiced approximant aspiration sounds pretty much the same as another to me. 

*BUT* there's also the exception of 'th.'   Unvoiced 'th', (as in 'thief' or 'teeth') is also an unvoiced approximant aspiration, produced between tongue and hard palate, and it sounds very different to me.  And I don't know whether that's because it's *more* different from other unvoiced approximant aspirations, or because I as a speaker of modern English have learned to attend to it because the distinction is important in English.

*AND* there's the other exception of 'th'. Voiced 'th' (as in 'the' and 'there' and 'they' and 'other') is genuinely a different sound, but in English they are sort-of regarded as equivalent.  Even though we pronounce lots of words containing them, every day, and even though we have 'picked up' which version of the 'th' to use in which word more or less from context, the distinction is hardly ever taught.  And a good number of adult speakers of English are surprised to learn that it exists - they just never thought about it before, and when you inform them that there are different sounds, you watch their faces as they finally realize, yes, they have been hearing the difference and producing it in speech every day for most of their lives, are likely not to have messed it up since they were two years old, and have.  never.  even.  noticed.  it. 

And I don't know if that ... ignorance?  "Cognitive" deafness entirely unrelated to a genuine inability to hear and speak?  Whatever you call it, I don't know if that's properly part of being a native speaker or has anything to do with the way we don't distinguish other unvoiced approximant aspirations?  Maybe the difference is there but we don't 'code' it because it doesn't matter in language, the same way we *almost* don't code on the different 'th' noises.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LTK on 06 Dec 2020, 03:56
Quote
Thing is, it's ridiculously subtle.  You produce the 'f' sound with the lower lip and upper teeth, and you produce the 'ph' sound with both lips and no teeth.   The problem with this is that unless I'm actually the one doing it, I cannot *hear* any difference between these sounds.  One unvoiced approximant aspiration sounds pretty much the same as another to me.

You do? I pronounce words like 'elephant' and 'phase' just like if they had an f instead of a ph.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: alc40 on 06 Dec 2020, 09:23
I believe, without specific evidence that I remember, that the 'f' and 'ph' spellings now pronounced in the same way used to have different pronunciations.

Thing is, it's ridiculously subtle.  You produce the 'f' sound with the lower lip and upper teeth, and you produce the 'ph' sound with both lips and no teeth.
(Preliminary: In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the English "f" sound is written as /f/ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_labiodental_fricative) and the other sound you describe is written as /ɸ/ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_bilabial_fricative).  I'll use those below.)

I'm not aware of English ever having contrasted those sounds, and I think it's quite unlikely.  There are apparently a few languages in the world that do contrast them (such as Ewe) but it's very rare and generally at least one of the sounds would be modified a bit to increase their difference.

English words written with "ph" generally come from Greek.  In Modern Greek the letter phi is pronounced as /f/, but it has changed over time.  It's certainly possible that at some point in English history scholars might have tried to pronounce Greek loan-words with a different sound, basically treating them as foreign words before they became fully adopted into English.  If they did, though, I don't know where they would have gotten the idea of using /ɸ/.  As far as I can tell, the /ɸ/ might have been used in some Greek dialects during the last couple centuries BCE and the first couple centuries CE, but it became /f/ long before any English scholars were trying to pronounce Greek words.

There is a possible point of confusion since the IPA symbol for /ɸ/ does use a form of the Greek letter phi.  But that's only the IPA; the Greek language itself has used the sound /f/ for over a millennium now, and in any case it never contrasted those sounds.  The original letter phi was pronounced somewhat like the modern English "p", then later it turned into /ɸ/ and finally /f/.

Another complication is that in Classical Greek the letter phi contrasted with the letter pi (in a way that doesn't involve /f/ at all) but it did involve a contrast that's hard for English speakers to perceive.


As far as the voicing difference in "th", I suspect that spelling has a significant influence.  People tend to be more aware of sound distinctions that require different spellings, while sounds that are written the same way may only be distinguished subconsciously.  For example, many people tend to think of the "n" in the word "thank" as an "n", not realizing that they pronounce it like the "ng" in "sang".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 06 Dec 2020, 09:49
Yeah, I pronounce them the same way too.  I can do the thing if I'm thinking about it, but nobody else hears the difference when I do, and I don't hear the difference if anybody else does.  It has turned into a big old semantic zero, vaguely remembered in some fossilized spellings that may reflect the way words were pronounced in earlier versions of the language.

Like I said, I can't hear the difference.  The difference absolutely doesn't *exist* in modern English.  I was musing about whether the *ability* to hear it - which seems near-impossible to modern speakers - is because it's something that's inherently hard, or just something English hasn't trained us to do.  Like, is there somebody out there who grew up with a different language, who'd find it easy to hear or obvious to produce?

My neighbor across the street had a hard time with ESL when he was a new immigrant some years ago.  He is a native speaker of a language that doesn't distinguish the 'l' sound and the 'r' sound and had real difficulty first learning first to *hear* the difference, and then to *produce* the distinct sounds.  Their language has *a* sound, made in approximately the same place in the mouth by doing approximately the same thing with your tongue, and speakers make the 'l' and 'r' sounds both as minor variations of it, the way we have but don't  really 'code' the difference between the rounded 'o' and the front 'o' (Minnesota/Canuck/Newfie accent vs. "Mainstream Urban" American accent). 

Meanwhile, his wife found it much easier and his kids who have grown up from toddler age to high-school age speaking English have no problem with it at all and don't seem to understand how their dad ever did.

And what I'm wondering, is whether we English speakers have done the reverse - actually merged two distinct but "close" sounds - sounds that once seemed obvious to speakers of some earlier dialect - into one sound, where the distinction is one that we no longer learn to even hear.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: alc40 on 06 Dec 2020, 10:22
Some languages do use both in a contrasting manner, but the 2 such languages that I know of modify one of the sounds a bit to increase the difference.  So they're probably quite a bit closer acoustically than "f" and "th" are.

The 2 that I've found are Ewe (where the upper lip is raised more than a typical /f/), and Venda (where the /ɸ/ is pronounced with the lips slightly rounded).

Edit: In contrast to what I wrote above, this paper (http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/phonlab/documents/2005/MaddiesonEweLabReport199-215.pdf) concludes that Ewe speakers don't exaggerate the difference, and the acoustic plus visual differences between the sounds may be sufficient to distinguish them without much difficulty.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: FreshScrod on 06 Dec 2020, 11:11
Isn't there a langauge with only one word for blue and green, and all those colors (that we'd call green or blue) are often used as the same color? I think that might be similar to the "l" or "r" distinction. I don't know if it's the same about "f" or "ph" (what about "pf"?), but I have always thought "oof" was spelled wrong, like it should have a "ph". Maybe it's because of that lips thing, that if you're getting your wind kicked out of you, you're not gonna curl your lip up to your teeth, so the fricative-ness would come from the lips close to each other?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 06 Dec 2020, 15:52
Japanese is the well-known example.  The classical word is ao (or aoi) which covers both.  But later they added midori for green, which is commonly used; however, ao has not become restricted to blue, and will be used for the colour of a traffic light for go, or even by some for vegetables.  Interestingly, this has gone the other way, and the "green" traffic light in Japan (https://www.google.com/search?q=colour+of+japanese+traffic+lights&client=opera&hs=1I7&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjT7JfVxbrtAhUmTRUIHXJABFgQ_AUoAXoECBcQAw&biw=1285&bih=1446) is often distinctly blue!

However, the overlap of these colours has actually occurred in many languages, as Wikipedia will tell you (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue–green_distinction_in_language).
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 06 Dec 2020, 20:12
See, I would just translate that word as 'turquoise' which is a color name in English for a shade between blue and green.

However, it's also the name of a rock, which can cause confusion to an ESL speaker if they are familiar with one word and not the other.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 06 Dec 2020, 20:27
Japanese is the well-known example.  The classical word is ao (or aoi) which covers both.  But later they added midori for green, which is commonly used; however, ao has not become restricted to blue, and will be used for the colour of a traffic light for go, or even by some for vegetables.  Interestingly, this has gone the other way, and the "green" traffic light in Japan (https://www.google.com/search?q=colour+of+japanese+traffic+lights&client=opera&hs=1I7&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjT7JfVxbrtAhUmTRUIHXJABFgQ_AUoAXoECBcQAw&biw=1285&bih=1446) is often distinctly blue!

However, the overlap of these colours has actually occurred in many languages, as Wikipedia will tell you (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue–green_distinction_in_language).
Something that sticks out at me about the horizontally-mounted Japanese traffic lights is that green/blue is on the left. Some areas in the U.S. (in particular, Texas) mount the traffic lights horizontally like that, but red is always on the left.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 07 Dec 2020, 04:03
In the UK, traffic lights are never horizontal.

See, I would just translate that word as 'turquoise' which is a color name in English for a shade between blue and green.

But turquoise is a fairly specific shade in the middle of the range.  Ao can be any part of the whole blue and green range.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 07 Dec 2020, 12:23
Something that sticks out at me about the horizontally-mounted Japanese traffic lights is that green/blue is on the left. Some areas in the U.S. (in particular, Texas) mount the traffic lights horizontally like that, but red is always on the left.
It would be tempting to think that this had something to do with the right to left reading that was traditional in Japan, and persists in the reading order of panels in manga, but it is not obvious whether red should be the beginning or end of a "line".

In Australia, as in the UK, traffic lights are always vertical with red at the top. So no, our traffic lights are not upside-down.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 07 Dec 2020, 12:34
I started writing a response then consulted a wikipedia article and thought this is better information than what I was going to say....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity_and_the_color_naming_debate
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 07 Dec 2020, 12:36


I was thinking it could have to do with Japan driving on the left-hand side of the road (like the UK and Australia), but without any other left-driving countries known to mount lights horizontally, it’s not clear if it’s because of that, or something that’s just particular to Japan.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 07 Dec 2020, 12:37
It is tempting to think of the reading direction, or whether people drive on the right or the left - but I was actually thinking of all the people who are red/green color blind and thinking how completely unfair and unforgiving this contrast is for anyone who wants to drive in both places.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 07 Dec 2020, 12:42
It is tempting to think of the reading direction, or whether people drive on the right or the left - but I was actually thinking of all the people who are red/green color blind and thinking how completely unfair and unforgiving this contrast is for anyone who wants to drive in both places.
That’s a very good point. With vertical traffic lights, there’s an international standard that the red should be on top. So if you’re red/green colorblind, you can tell which light is which by their positions. There doesn’t seem to be any such international standard for horizontal traffic lights.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 09 Dec 2020, 14:07
Curious: One sees it as a their own affectation, while another considers it (slightly more than) a spelling error---really (according to Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=thot&oldid=59698861)) it's a longstanding (since 16th century) nonstandard form, that's recently (popularized 2012) been made homographic with a slur:
I wouldn't ordinarily call out a simple spelling error, but.
'Thot' has a meaning, as a noun, so I am not sure that's something we should keep flying around.
It's a personal affectation I've done for many years, probably predating the usage you refer to.
One more thought: it's a noun, too.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 09 Dec 2020, 14:57
It is tempting to think of the reading direction, or whether people drive on the right or the left - but I was actually thinking of all the people who are red/green color blind and thinking how completely unfair and unforgiving this contrast is for anyone who wants to drive in both places.
That’s a very good point. With vertical traffic lights, there’s an international standard that the red should be on top. So if you’re red/green colorblind, you can tell which light is which by their positions. There doesn’t seem to be any such international standard for horizontal traffic lights.

I can faintly remember someone telling me that the red-yellow-green sequence is either top down or left to right, as per international agreement for both variants (to help colorblind people). But if in Japan the hue of green is going towards blue, it might be better distinguishable for people with red/green colorblindness.


Curious: One sees it as a their own affectation, while another considers it (slightly more than) a spelling error---really (according to Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=thot&oldid=59698861)) it's a longstanding (since 16th century) nonstandard form, that's recently (popularized 2012) been made homographic with a slur:
I wouldn't ordinarily call out a simple spelling error, but.
'Thot' has a meaning, as a noun, so I am not sure that's something we should keep flying around.
It's a personal affectation I've done for many years, probably predating the usage you refer to.
One more thought: it's a noun, too.

Begone, spelling error!

Anyway, my brain just wondered what the difference between "error" and "mistake" is, because until now I always thought they were basically synonymous.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 20 Dec 2020, 20:50
It is tempting to think of the reading direction, or whether people drive on the right or the left - but I was actually thinking of all the people who are red/green color blind and thinking how completely unfair and unforgiving this contrast is for anyone who wants to drive in both places.
That’s a very good point. With vertical traffic lights, there’s an international standard that the red should be on top. So if you’re red/green colorblind, you can tell which light is which by their positions. There doesn’t seem to be any such international standard for horizontal traffic lights.

I can faintly remember someone telling me that the red-yellow-green sequence is either top down or left to right, as per international agreement for both variants (to help colorblind people). But if in Japan the hue of green is going towards blue, it might be better distinguishable for people with red/green colorblindness.


Curious: One sees it as a their own affectation, while another considers it (slightly more than) a spelling error---really (according to Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=thot&oldid=59698861)) it's a longstanding (since 16th century) nonstandard form, that's recently (popularized 2012) been made homographic with a slur:
I wouldn't ordinarily call out a simple spelling error, but.
'Thot' has a meaning, as a noun, so I am not sure that's something we should keep flying around.
It's a personal affectation I've done for many years, probably predating the usage you refer to.
One more thought: it's a noun, too.

Begone, spelling error!

Anyway, my brain just wondered what the difference between "error" and "mistake" is, because until now I always thought they were basically synonymous.
Believe it or not, I saw a joke about the difference a few weeks ago. I don't recall it well enough to recount it, but it was a marriage joke about when a husband screws up.

Personally, I figure that 'error' specifically applies to logic chains and computational processes. 'Logic error', 'computing error', 'mathematical error', etc.
'Mistake' feels a bit more generalized.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 20 Dec 2020, 21:21
I worked on avionics once and there was a box on a diagram labeled "error amplifier".

It's not as funny as it sounds. "Error" is in that context the technical term for the difference between where a control surface is commanded to be and where it currently is. Every time it has to move, there is an "error" measured.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 21 Dec 2020, 02:36
The difference (or lack thereof) between "error" and "mistake" can vary wildly depending on context and how casual the use is.

But! I'm competent to explain the difference in one particular context, that is in linguistics.

A linguistic mistake is a slip-up that is one-time and holds no significance. It may be a careless misspelling, a slip of the tongue, generally - using language wrong that is no indication of actual language competence. One may or may not notice it, but when shown the mistake, the person who made it will be able to clearly see it.

A linguistic error is systematic - it's not an incidental imperfection, it's due to actually using language wrong. It's a repeatable mistake. The general assumption in linguistics is that language errors is what learners of a language do, due to imperfect grasp of the language's grammar - a native speaker doesn't make language errors by definition. As in - if you use language a certain way, that's your particular idiolect of that language, and is by definition correct (at least in the approach I've been taught in college - I don't know if mainstream consensus has shifted since I studied at university, but I doubt it did). If you use a foreign language, you're a non-native user, so your language intuition is based on learning the language and not acquiring it naturally, so you're reproducing a language that isn't natural for you. Therefore, you can make systematic errors.

I'm sure the mistake-error distinction can mean something else outside that specific context, and even when talking about language, it's probably not how it works when not using precise linguistic terminology (I think in casual speech, the two are pretty much interchangeable?). But thought giving that extra piece of info might possibly be useful.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 21 Dec 2020, 04:12
Sounds like it's a function application.

So it seems like errors occur while working within some sort of system. Whether it's a foreign language, a positioning system, mathematics, etc.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: FreshScrod on 21 Dec 2020, 17:25
I think "error" is the more general one, and "mistake" is when it's done by someone. You can make a mistake, but your computer can't - those are errors. (I've also read that "bug" and "glitch" have a similar difference. I think it's that "glitch" is the symptom, and "bug" is the cause - but the first computer "bug" was a literal bug mucking up the works, so it would really be a glitch?) That's the way I use it, at least. I think then, when "mistake" is applicable, it's a different connotation if you just say "error" - I think "error" would then focus on the consequences, as they differ from how it should be, while "mistake" makes it more personal. I think in the specific case of a spelling error, unless I'm familiar with the process of how the text came to be, I can't really know if it was the author or the "printer" that caused the error. Actually, I first typed "made the error" for the previous sentence, but that looked wrong, so I think it's really that "error" denotes the effect, while "mistake" is the glitch in the human that is erroneous.
I also agree with oddtail's example. I'm starting to get the impression that "error" is also more abstract, while "mistake" is more tangible. Back with the spelling error - if I caused the spelling error, I use the word "mistake" in my mind, but if I see that something else caused it, like a glitch in the computer, then I use "error". Similarly, I don't know about how the error happened in the case of seeing someone else's writing having poor spelling, so I use "error" for that.

IICIH? I think the avionics one is because "err" originally meant "wander" so the "error" would be how much the flight has strayed from the precise course, which I understand is expected and natural in flight.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cybersmurf on 22 Dec 2020, 06:45
Is it possible "error" is more quantifiable? Since it's called "margin of error". Something in the likes of hair vs hairs (not singular vs plural, but the quantifiable amount of single hairs vs. the thing as a whole)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 24 Dec 2020, 06:22
Is it possible "error" is more quantifiable? Since it's called "margin of error". Something in the likes of hair vs hairs (not singular vs plural, but the quantifiable amount of single hairs vs. the thing as a whole)

That's partly why I said errors happen when working within a system. Errors are more science-y related.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Wingy on 24 Dec 2020, 07:18
I worked on avionics once and there was a box on a diagram labeled "error amplifier".

It's not as funny as it sounds. "Error" is in that context the technical term for the difference between where a control surface is commanded to be and where it currently is. Every time it has to move, there is an "error" measured.
And for those not versed in analog systems, the error amplifier exists to make the apparent error larger so the remainder of the analog computer 1) knows it exists and 2) can then use the resulting value in the next calculations and movement.  The goal is to drive the error value to zero, which will never happen in a physical system, but when the system is relatively stable, zero can be approached pretty closely, which means sensing the error can be difficult and then responding to it properly is similarly difficult.  Digital systems avoid this problem but at the expense of having "dead bands", places in between where a particular sensor can take a meaningful reading.  If the dead band is small enough, that is designed properly, it's not an issue.  Example: if your flight surface can be positioned between +90 and -90 and an analog sensor can read this to within one decimal place (+/- 0.1) and the system commands the surface to move to 5.0, after the movement is complete the surface might be anywhere between 5.2 and 4.8.  Let's assume it's at 5.2; the error between the actual and the command is 5.2-5=0.2.  That error will then be fed back into the next command to the flight surface to hopefully get smaller.  And as the error gets smaller, down to the sensor limit, the more important it is to amplify so the system will be able to compute an appropriate adjusted result.  However, if the system is digital and the sensor is accurate to 1.0, then the actual error of 0.2 would be read as an error of 1.0 (the sensor limit) or 0, depending.  Now the digital system would feed either 0 or 1 back into the next movement and the cycle repeats.  Notice that there is finer control in the analogue system, but that may not be important to the overall stability of the aircraft - it would depend on many other design factors.  And that's why you hire top engineers who know their stuff.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 02 Jan 2021, 06:49
So, 'foyer' and 'lobby' are interchangeable, but what's the difference between those and a 'vestibule'?

According to wiktionary, a vestibule is an 'entrance court', but the space between the two sets of doors at any grocery store or W*lm*rt or T*rget are also referred to as a vestibule. And I've seen some pretty dinky vestibules.

[IDK why I used asterisks. It just seemed appropriate.]
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 02 Jan 2021, 07:14
I have only experience vestibule being used to refer the space between two sets of entry doors, vaguely akin to the airlock in a spaceship. I've never heard anyone use it to refer to a courtyard.

Also, in my area of the country, "lobby" and "foyer" are typically used for different things. Lobby is used for the central public area near the entrance of business, apartment complex, or government building while a foyer is generally the area just inside the front entrance of a house.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gnabberwocky on 04 Jan 2021, 09:16
Is there an adverb form of "friendly?" Like a single word for "in a friendly manner?"
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 04 Jan 2021, 09:37
Friendlily is possible, but rare.  Reasonable alternatives are: warmly, amicably, cordially, kindly, sincerely, genially.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 05 Jan 2021, 15:26
(https://i.imgur.com/FkksEuK.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Case on 05 Jan 2021, 16:42
English - a language with half a grammar and three vocabularies.

What could possibly go wrong?
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Wingy on 06 Jan 2021, 09:14
English - a language with half a grammar and three vocabularies.

What could possibly go wrong?
And at least 4 major, separate, regions where it's actively spoken (and therefore morphing).  I find it amazing Aussies, Brits, Indians, and USnians can even understand each other, let alone as well as they do.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 06 Jan 2021, 11:15
Hell, even within those different regions are mutually unintelligible dialects.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 07 Jan 2021, 23:32
I have only experience vestibule being used to refer the space between two sets of entry doors, vaguely akin to the airlock in a spaceship. I've never heard anyone use it to refer to a courtyard.

Also, in my area of the country, "lobby" and "foyer" are typically used for different things. Lobby is used for the central public area near the entrance of business, apartment complex, or government building while a foyer is generally the area just inside the front entrance of a house.

I only know the bit about courtyards due to the definition I looked up.

As for foyer, the church I grew up in called the large entry space a foyer.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 08 Jan 2021, 01:43
Hell, even within those different regions are mutually unintelligible dialects.
And at least two of them have regions of snoots who insist anyone who doesn't talk like them must be stupid.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: snubnose on 08 Jan 2021, 07:04
English - a language with half a grammar and three vocabularies.

What could possibly go wrong?
And at least 4 major, separate, regions where it's actively spoken (and therefore morphing).  I find it amazing Aussies, Brits, Indians, and USnians can even understand each other, let alone as well as they do.
So can Germans, French, Spanish, Italian, ..., Arab, Iranian, Iraqi, ... Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, ... etc etc etc

Its the global village and we ALL communicate over the internet now. In english.

Thats why everybody can understand everybody else ... there is no chance of the language drifting without everybody noticing anymore.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 08 Jan 2021, 07:40
Hell, even within those different regions are mutually unintelligible dialects.
And at least two of them have regions of snoots who insist anyone who doesn't talk like them must be stupid.
And regions where if you don't talk like them, they think you must be a uppity, snobbish wanker.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 11 Jan 2021, 04:02
Thats why everybody can understand everybody else ... there is no chance of the language drifting without everybody noticing anymore.
English drifts constantly, and everyone does notice, but thinks everyone outside their dialect group is doing English wrongly. The price native English-speakers pay for not having to bother to learn anyone else's language is that English does not belong to them any more.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 11 Jan 2021, 13:56
Hell, even within those different regions are mutually unintelligible dialects.
And at least two of them have regions of snoots who insist anyone who doesn't talk like them must be stupid.
And regions where if you don't talk like them, they think you must be a uppity, snobbish wanker.

I've been on both ends of both of these.

Part of the fun of being from the central part of the nation, and thusly being northern to the southerners and southern to the northerners.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 11 Jan 2021, 20:45
Hell, even within those different regions are mutually unintelligible dialects.
And at least two of them have regions of snoots who insist anyone who doesn't talk like them must be stupid.
And regions where if you don't talk like them, they think you must be a uppity, snobbish wanker.

I've been on both ends of both of these.

Part of the fun of being from the central part of the nation, and thusly being northern to the southerners and southern to the northerners.
Hell, there's parts of the far west that consider us 'Southern' despite having the contiguous center in our state.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 12 Jan 2021, 08:24
Stolen from another forum:
(https://64.media.tumblr.com/c795e26d09085e8e381af19ebc6d9c26/6d342a35e4cbb85c-a4/s1280x1920/edda7900425b919bf276c8cca1e126fd43251a97.jpg)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 12 Jan 2021, 11:05
So, this depends on what you mean by weird...
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Pilchard123 on 12 Jan 2021, 12:04
<snip>

I've been on both ends of both of these.

Part of the fun of being from the central part of the nation, and thusly being northern to the southerners and southern to the northerners.

Liar. The Midlands don't exist.

Also:

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 12 Jan 2021, 12:14
So, this depends on what you mean by weird...
On a global scale, the non-weird thing is to have no articles at all.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Thrillho on 12 Jan 2021, 13:14
<snip>

I've been on both ends of both of these.

Part of the fun of being from the central part of the nation, and thusly being northern to the southerners and southern to the northerners.

Liar. The Midlands don't exist.

Also:


Funnily enough I have seen this, and was delighted they did some new episodes this year!
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 14 Jan 2021, 16:15
So, this depends on what you mean by weird...
On a global scale, the non-weird thing is to have no articles at all.

And yet you used "the" in your sentence. #irony
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: cesium133 on 14 Jan 2021, 16:17
So, this depends on what you mean by weird...
On a global scale, the non-weird thing is to have no articles at all.

And yet you used "the" in your sentence. #irony
On global scale, non-weird thing is to have no articles at all, and in Soviet Russia, party finds you.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 11 Feb 2021, 16:02
In communist China, party find you.

Not only does Chinese dispense with articles, it does without verb tenses and conjugations as well.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 26 Mar 2021, 08:53
I've been thinking about the way English uses prepositions.  Or, alternatively, I could have said I've been thinking it over.  There is the obvious use denoting something's actual position relative to something else - between, behind, before, below, et cetera.  But in English prepositions also do a strange array of seemingly unrelated semantic functions.

We mean different things when we say a politician is on the right or in the right.  The same politician can be behind an idea or over it.  We say that we believe in things or that we know of things or that we are working on things or that we have been worked over.  But when we say that we have been worked over, we mean a different thing than we mean when we say that we are doing something over.  We talk about one idea being built on several others, or that we choose this over that.  When we want to know what reasoning supports a peculiar idea or how a peculiar situation came to be, we ask what's behind it. We can be so distraught that we are beside ourselves.  And then someone will tell us to just get over it. Maybe by going and spending some time on a hobby that we're into.

And so on.  Coming from a language like Russian that completely lacks prepositions it must be incredibly difficult to learn all the ways we English speakers use them. None of these are really inherently obvious. They just seem that way because we're used to them.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 26 Mar 2021, 15:20
There's no understanding prepositional idioms. They are just a bunch of things you have to memorise.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 26 Mar 2021, 16:43
Join the argument - different from or different to?  ;)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Tova on 26 Mar 2021, 18:47
I am not taking that bait.  :-D
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: N.N. Marf on 27 Mar 2021, 04:27
And so on.  Coming from a language like Russian that completely lacks prepositions it must be incredibly difficult to learn all the ways we English speakers use them. None of these are really inherently obvious. They just seem that way because we're used to them.
Idiomatic prepositionalities rarely affect otherwise clear writing---any preposition, vaguely, works. By that synthetic language, where all grammar is by affixes, coming by this analytic one, having separate words carrying grammar, they are perceived by space-separated affixes.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 28 Mar 2021, 03:44
Prepositions are tricky, and I remember when I was in school, other students often had trouble with some of their uses in English.

But since the grammatical alternative is to inflect words, and that can get very complicated, fast, I still consider English to be a very simple language. I've known people for whom Polish is a foreign language, who have been immersed in it for many, meany years, and they still get conjugation or grammatical cases wrong.

Heck, when learning German, I struggled with noun cases - and there are only 4 in German, as opposed to 7 in Polish (and I... think they're roughly analogous? Still a nightmare to learn and I ultimately didn't). I'll take having to learn/memorise plenty of idiomatic prepositional phrases over inflection-based grammar any day.

(and after a while, you develop a feeling for what preposition "feels" right in certain phrases. It's arbitrary to an extent, but I don't think it's completely arbitrary, even when it seems to be)
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: jwhouk on 28 Mar 2021, 09:38
English is about the only language out there that you have to speak to understand.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 28 Mar 2021, 19:16
My wife made her living for years analyzing and classifying the use of prepositions in English.

Russian does have prepositions: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Russian/Prepositions
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 28 Mar 2021, 21:10
Huh.  If it does, then clearly I must have missed another part of the story, namely 'why would he have said that in that case....?' 

It's something I heard from a Russian immigrant who was a coworker a few years ago...  and I always just assumed it was true.  But, consulting a proper source, clearly it's not.

I guess we learn something every day.  Thanks for calling it out.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 29 Mar 2021, 05:01
If Russian is anything like Polish wrt prepositions, it's that they strictly refer to things in relation to other things. In Polish at least, it's very straightforward and there is less variation and usage that, to a Slavic speaker, would seem weird in English (which can't rely on inflection).

Plus, I don't know about Russian, but Polish just has fewer choices to increase confusion. For instance, Polish doesn't distinguish between "of" and "from" (in the sense that it has one preposition that roughly covers both concepts in most contexts). I suspect Russian is similar in that regard.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 29 Mar 2021, 09:06
Hmm. My knowledge is limited and long decayed, but I do remember there's a metaphorical use of a preposition in Russian. Where an English speaker would talk of "laughing at" someone, a Russian would say "laughing over".

I do not know how common this is.

Guessing what someone else means is usually foolish, but I could speculate that your co-worker was thinking of how Russian can switch a word to genitive case instead of using an "of" prefix and over-generalizing.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: pwhodges on 30 Mar 2021, 02:58
You can use "laugh over" in English, for a situation but not a person.

"We had a good laugh over the way that went".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 30 Mar 2021, 10:03
That's true.  For a person it's always "laugh at." 
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: hedgie on 30 Mar 2021, 10:49
Unless they're on the ground and you're standing over them.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: sitnspin on 30 Mar 2021, 18:58
Yes, but in that instance you are literally over them.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 31 Mar 2021, 21:33
Then each preposition can do multiple contradictory things, as in the story of the man who walked into the auto parts store and asked the clerk to sell him a rear view mirror for his Yugo.

The clerk said "Well, that is a fair trade, but we only take cash and credit cards".
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: LeeC on 06 Apr 2021, 21:20
(https://i.imgur.com/6ztbLcj.jpg)

I should use some of these in conversation. Especially 6.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: oddtail on 07 Apr 2021, 04:47
I think it'd be very easy to re-introduce any of those. If you told me, context-less, that any of these phrases is contemporary Internet slang that I just haven't heard, I'd probably believe you.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 07 Apr 2021, 09:53
I have actually heard #8 and #5 in person. 

From the same guy, actually.  An elderly Scottish immigrant to the US, who always developed the most amazing case of logorrhea after just a couple of beers.  He was not drunk, understand; still bright, together, considerate, and coordinated - but he'd get in a happy/social/voluble mood, and I considered it a treat to just listen to him. 

I have no idea what he'd sound like if he were actually drunk.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 30 Apr 2021, 18:10
I can't think of a better place to put this, though it doesn't really fit.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/04/25/989765565/tower-of-babble-non-native-speakers-navigate-the-world-of-good-and-bad-english

Summary: expecting or requiring ESL speakers to reach the skill levels of people like Akima is exclusionary and unnecessary since clear communication is possible with far less effort.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Gyrre on 30 Apr 2021, 22:33
I can't think of a better place to put this, though it doesn't really fit.

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/04/25/989765565/tower-of-babble-non-native-speakers-navigate-the-world-of-good-and-bad-english

Summary: expecting or requiring ESL speakers to reach the skill levels of people like Akima is exclusionary and unnecessary since clear communication is possible with far less effort.

We've got several folks where I work who are ESL speakers, can confirm that it's a dick move.
I started carrying around a dry erase marker for the back of my clipboard for the deaf and hard of hearing employees, but me writing things can also be a big help for the ESL speakers since we have to deal with machine noise on the production floor.
Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Morituri on 01 May 2021, 09:01
Yah.  With coworkers from all over the planet during my career, it didn't take long to work out that the quality of someone's ideas had little to do with the fluency of their speech.  We grow up thinking of ungrammatical or hard-to-understand speech as something we associate with small children who haven't learned the language yet, and we have to adjust our view of the world to really get that difficulties with the language don't predict difficulty with thinking.

I observed though that people who work with formalisms and ideas that get evaluated according to 'hard' inflexible criteria, like engineers and programmers, tend to get it faster than most, because by hard criteria, ideas work or don't work.  Or doing things in terms of an idea is easy or hard, regardless of where or with whom the idea originates.  People who work exclusively with people, however, don't really have those 'bright lines' and tend to evaluate people in terms of social norms.  As a result they form poor expectations of colleagues who have difficulties with language and that tends to lead to unfair evaluations of their ideas and performance.

More than once 'sensitivity training' was required to bop someone over the head and guide them toward making profitable decisions instead of stupid ones.  GOD I wish they'd use a better name for it; 'sensitivity training' does not convey that it reduces business stupidity, and it's widely seen as a thing sort of irrelevant to actual business decisions.  Instead, people who hear it called by that name think of it as just training them to be 'sensitive people' who offend others less.  Which is true, but often they don't value that.  Its effect on what you decide is more important than its effect on who you offend.

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Akima on 04 May 2021, 07:09
Summary: expecting or requiring ESL speakers to reach the skill levels of people like Akima is exclusionary and unnecessary since clear communication is possible with far less effort.
Definitely. Whatever level of competence I have achieved in English is mainly the result of being dropped into immersion in an English-speaking environment at a young age, which is not an... opportunity that most ESL students get. And while the general assumption that I must be stupid because my English was poor was a sharp spur to improve, I do my very best not to make that mistake myself.

Edit: Fixed stupid mistake. Especially embarrassing where I'm being complimented on my English. :oops:

Title: Re: English is weird
Post by: Is it cold in here? on 04 May 2021, 09:34
>Whatever level of competence I have achieved in English

I do hope someone along the line has had the integrity to tell you that you are above the average for native speakers.