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Author Topic: English is weird  (Read 109546 times)

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #600 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #601 on: 14 Aug 2015, 09:05 »

Nobody and nothing.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #602 on: 14 Aug 2015, 15:58 »

There is no lunch
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #603 on: 15 Aug 2015, 11:59 »

Then you will see it is not the cake that's a lie, it is only yourself.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #604 on: 15 Aug 2015, 15:46 »

Ahhh, you seek meaning!  Then listen to the music, not the song
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #605 on: 28 Aug 2015, 17:12 »

The French car-maker Citroėn 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?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #606 on: 28 Aug 2015, 17:47 »

Reminds me of this story.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #607 on: 28 Aug 2015, 18:04 »

The French car-maker Citroėn 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #608 on: 28 Aug 2015, 18:29 »

The same thing they were thinking when they named their entire line "Lemon"?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #609 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #610 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #611 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!'
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #612 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 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? :?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #613 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 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #614 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 "įgua de coco" (coconut water), not "įgua de cocō" (shit water).  :-P
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #615 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. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #616 on: 31 Aug 2015, 13:29 »

It would also sound natural in a police description.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #617 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #618 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'.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #619 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. The Pajero Mitsus were called "Montero" over here in Spain, and raced as "Pajero Montero" on the Dakar rally.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #620 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #621 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #622 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


Good lord, this is glorious, grand, great news, indeed!
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #623 on: 07 Apr 2016, 19:10 »

On why "I" and "me" can both be correct.

Learning to use English correctly is worse than trying to herd cats.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #624 on: 07 Apr 2016, 20:19 »

Me agree. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #625 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.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #626 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #627 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #628 on: 07 Jun 2016, 13:35 »

it don't make no never mind
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #629 on: 07 Jun 2016, 14:53 »

That smells like teen spirit
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #630 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!
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #631 on: 16 Jul 2016, 07:31 »

It's not that using "thou" would be considered formal persay, just archaic and strange.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #632 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!
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #633 on: 09 Sep 2016, 21:49 »

They probably mean the same thing because fat chance is only used sarcastically.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #634 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.
« Last Edit: 30 Oct 2016, 10:06 by Is it cold in here? »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #635 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #636 on: 03 Nov 2016, 15:23 »

Or, it could be taken to mean "He could not move to the Netherlands permanently, but could visit".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #637 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?)?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #638 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #639 on: 15 Dec 2016, 06:17 »

Starting from childhood to this day I have thought that someone who sews should be called a "sewer".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #640 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". :)
« Last Edit: 15 Dec 2016, 06:55 by pwhodges »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #641 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
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #642 on: 15 Dec 2016, 15:10 »

I've never observed a "windbreaker" to "break wind".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #643 on: 16 Dec 2016, 05:06 »

I mean it might appear to if it's tied around one's waist at an inopportune time.
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Is it cold in here?

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #644 on: 24 Jan 2017, 17:02 »

A newspaper headline informs me "Cervical cancer kills more women than thought".

How many women does thought kill?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #645 on: 24 Jan 2017, 17:04 »

More than you'd think.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #646 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.
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Is it cold in here?

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #647 on: 25 Jan 2017, 22:18 »

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"Non-compliance is a social skill"
Quote from: an unnamed minister's sermon
In your face, darkness!  We are the light and we outnumber you!

Method of Madness

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #648 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.
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Either way, that's why you always knock.
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Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
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Morituri

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #649 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.
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