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Author Topic: English is weird  (Read 109571 times)

Barmymoo

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #200 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #201 on: 26 Sep 2012, 11:45 »

 :-o :police:  :-( :cry: :evil: ?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #202 on: 26 Sep 2012, 11:46 »

Wait no

 :evil: :-o :police: :x :cry:
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #203 on: 26 Sep 2012, 11:51 »

 O0
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #204 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:
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #205 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #206 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #207 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #208 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."
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #209 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".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #210 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. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #211 on: 09 Feb 2013, 11:48 »

Like the hospital with a "Director of Infectious Diseases".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #212 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.
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I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #213 on: 04 Mar 2013, 10:34 »

I have neither taken a bus (can't drive them)[...]
Have you stolen or fucked one, though?
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idontunderstand

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #214 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #215 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.
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LTK

Re: English is weird
« Reply #216 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
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Quote from: snalin
I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #217 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #218 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #219 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. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #220 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #221 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #222 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #223 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. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #224 on: 05 Mar 2013, 10:32 »

And if you say "a couple of glasses" that would be four lenses, right?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #225 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #226 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:
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #227 on: 07 Jul 2013, 22:03 »

A recent headline said a man was "discovered dead by his boat".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #228 on: 07 Jul 2013, 22:36 »

Proper singulars or plurals of the word pants has always thrown me off. What exactly is a "pant"?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #229 on: 07 Jul 2013, 23:30 »

 
  :mrgreen:

 Now seriously, wouldn't a pant be "To breathe rapidly in short gasps"? (To Pant).
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #230 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #232 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.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #233 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, or this. Possibly this got started when the term "pant suit" 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #234 on: 08 Jul 2013, 15:38 »

<insert x men joke here>
<insert les miserables joke here>
good joke. everybody laugh. drum rolls. curtain.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #235 on: 08 Jul 2013, 16:11 »

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #236 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. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #237 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #238 on: 09 Jul 2013, 15:18 »

Also scissor sharpeners.

Just accept it and go with the flow.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #239 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #240 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".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #241 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/

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
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mtmerrick

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #242 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #243 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!!
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #244 on: 12 Jul 2013, 01:29 »

What is the context behind the term? Ie, why California?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #245 on: 12 Jul 2013, 01:53 »

my guess would be from the 1849 gold rush:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #246 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!
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I built the walls that make my life a prison, I built them all and cannot be forgiven... ...Sold my soul to carry your vendetta, So let me go before you can regret it, You've made your choice and now it's come to this, But that's price you pay when you're a monster with no name.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #247 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. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #248 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


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Re: English is weird
« Reply #249 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!
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