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Author Topic: English is weird  (Read 116883 times)

Method of Madness

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #650 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #651 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.
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #652 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:
  • Nominative:  He She They
  • Accusative:  Him Her Them
  • Possessive adjective: His Her Their
  • Possessive pronoun: His Hers Theirs
Here are sample sentences showing all the options:
  • He has a camera. The camera belongs to him. It is his camera. The camera is his.
  • She has a diamond ring. The diamond ring belongs to her. It is her diamond ring. The diamond ring is hers.
  • They have a tea garden. The tea garden belongs to them. It is their tea garden. The tea garden is theirs.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #653 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #654 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).
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

Method of Madness

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #655 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.
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Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #656 on: 05 Feb 2017, 23:05 »

They and them were explicitly plural too, until people started using them differently.
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #657 on: 06 Feb 2017, 10:07 »

That's arguable, plus we already have a self/selves distinction that fits nicely with themself/themselves.
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They call me Mr. Madness.

Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #658 on: 06 Feb 2017, 10:26 »

Um, yes - which is why I said in the first place that I prefer themself. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #659 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".
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They call me Mr. Madness.

Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #660 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #661 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")
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #662 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.
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They call me Mr. Madness.

Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #663 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.
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #664 on: 06 Feb 2017, 12:05 »

I suppose you're really giving a shit, but giving a shit means something else. Yay idioms!
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They call me Mr. Madness.

Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

LTK

Re: English is weird
« Reply #665 on: 06 Feb 2017, 13:27 »

I suppose one takes a shit (and a piss) like one takes a guess, or a hike.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #666 on: 11 Feb 2017, 23:51 »

But there's the ambiguity of being both a verb and a noun.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #667 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".
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Method of Madness

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #668 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.
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Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #669 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.
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #670 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.
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They call me Mr. Madness.

Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

pwhodges

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #671 on: 12 Feb 2017, 09:27 »

Either is fine; "to" is possibly more common in my experience.
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

Method of Madness

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #672 on: 12 Feb 2017, 10:15 »

Cool. Shame the hypothetical movie was a letdown, though.
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They call me Mr. Madness.

Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #673 on: 13 Feb 2017, 00:02 »

In the words of Marcus Madera from Metacarpolis, "Curse the lack of second person singular in English."
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #674 on: 13 Feb 2017, 16:11 »

Wait, what? I thought it was missing a second person plural.
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They call me Mr. Madness.

Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #675 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.
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"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #676 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).
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Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #677 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #678 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?
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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.

Case

Re: English is weird
« Reply #679 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)) - 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")
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #680 on: 11 Apr 2017, 12:48 »

It is, but maybe not very commonly. My sister, who studies linguistics, didn't know what it meant.
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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 #681 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #682 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, which I guess makes sense, but we just use integer.
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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 #683 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.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #684 on: 02 Jun 2017, 00:59 »

So, why is English so weird?

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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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #685 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)
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #686 on: 02 Jun 2017, 04:23 »

It is typical that local dialects retain older forms, of course (and formal language, such as church rituals).
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #687 on: 02 Jun 2017, 06:24 »

So, why is English so weird?

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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:
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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').
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #688 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #689 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #690 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.   
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #691 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #692 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #693 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #694 on: 13 Jun 2017, 14:56 »

Ah, but those simply have different etymologies.

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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”).

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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.
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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 #695 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #696 on: 13 Jun 2017, 20:47 »

For appointments etc. I would push them back, but always pull them forward.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #697 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:
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #698 on: 14 Jun 2017, 00:01 »

Fix the following sentence so it is completely correct:

The most common word in the English language is.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #699 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."
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