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Author Topic: English is weird  (Read 208420 times)

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1150 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".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1151 on: 06 Apr 2021, 21:20 »



I should use some of these in conversation. Especially 6.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1152 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1153 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.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1154 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1155 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1156 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.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1157 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:

« Last Edit: 04 May 2021, 15:01 by Akima »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1158 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.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1159 on: 21 May 2021, 08:48 »

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.

Sensitivity isn't wrong in that context, either. The issue is, so often the word is associated with (only) taking and not making offense. Really, sensitivity is an excellent business skill, letting one discern more, leading to more and finer opportunities to profit---In my mind, it's made quite strange that persons blame profit-seeking---not stupidity---for uncaring businesses: It pays to care! Maybe the training'd be better received called don't be so damn obtuse.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1160 on: 21 May 2021, 19:23 »

Followup to the "good English" article:
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/05/16/995963311/prepone-that-your-accent-is-funny-readers-share-their-esl-stories

I've said "prepone" myself. I instantly figured out the meaning the first time I saw it, either that or I independently invented it.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1161 on: 27 May 2021, 23:51 »

A streamer I follow recently tweeted "I have resigned with <Agency Name> Management for a second year."

The end of the sentence finally gives the context needed to disambiguate, but great example of a word that can literally mean the exact opposite depending.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1162 on: 28 May 2021, 09:07 »

Ouch, I still got it wrong after that. I figured it was a clumsy way of saying he'd declined an option for a second year.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1163 on: 28 May 2021, 13:06 »

Caught me out too; a hyphen can help (resign vs re-sign).
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1164 on: 05 Jun 2021, 00:15 »

I would go so far as to say that failure to include a hyphen for clarification in that context is bad writing.

On another topic:

Grammar's subject-verb and singular-plural agreements were violated even by Shakespeare
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1165 on: 08 Jun 2021, 21:06 »

He considered resigning, but eventually became resigned to resigning. English...
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1166 on: 08 Jun 2021, 22:42 »

A redeeming feature of English is that it is an excellent toy.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1167 on: 22 Jun 2021, 23:13 »

Under the heading of, "I learned something today."

From code documentation:

"The target value for bottomScore is the score that is exceeded by 75% of all tests.
  Likewise the target value for topScore is the score that is subceeded in 75% of all tests.
  This routine attempts to keep them close to targets during live updates."

I could tell instantly from this context what it meant, but I wondered if 'subceeded' were a real word or just a programmer's playful construction.

So I looked it up.  Subceed (to be less than) is a real word.  It's the opposite of exceed.  It's been around since forever.  But hardly anyone has ever heard of it (I hadn't!), nobody ever uses it when speaking, and three of five different dictionaries didn't even have an entry for it.

And the programmer in question, for what it's worth, evidently didn't even know that it was a real word.  He just guessed correctly.  But that's a tremendously useful word!  How can it be so completely unused??

Of course there are related words, equally obscure:  Having a subcess of rope, for example, might mean you can't climb a mountain.  Subpression is apparently an earlier form of 'suppression' and means the opposite of 'expression.'  America's response to the Covid-19 pandemic under Trump's policies can be described as 'subcessive' in that we didn't do enough.

These are too useful to languish away and be forgotten.  I'm going to try using them from time to time.
« Last Edit: 22 Jun 2021, 23:19 by Morituri »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1168 on: 06 Jul 2021, 10:37 »

From Slashdot:
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Saw a sign the other day that read "Do not ride bikes or scooters in the park. Children and the elderly may be injured."

Thought that was a bit daft, no riding your bike but beating up old people and kids is okay?!
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1169 on: 10 Aug 2021, 06:17 »

That's the trouble you get when you use "may" when you should use "might".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1170 on: 10 Aug 2021, 08:58 »

Glad you're here. I had you in mind when I started the thread, remembering you had described English as "your bizarre language".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1171 on: 01 Sep 2021, 01:00 »

In England, "booster shot" is spelled "borchestershire shot."
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1172 on: 01 Sep 2021, 03:38 »

Here I assumed it would have been “boostre shot”.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1173 on: 02 Sep 2021, 17:33 »

In Australia it's a "boostashot". We want to get our words out quickly before the flies get in our mouths.

Speaking of shots... It occurred to me the other day that "earshot" is a peculiar word. Most "shot" words refer to the emitter of the shot: bowshot, gunshot etc. but earshot refers to the distance from which someone can hear something.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1174 on: 02 Sep 2021, 20:07 »

As I understand them they denote the distance itself, irrespective of which endpoint it's measured from.  Making "earshot" no more peculiar than "bowshot" - one means either of us could be heard by the other and the other means either of us could be hurt by the other.

I think they originate in military tradition, where (symmetric!) attack and detection ranges are tactical considerations.

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1175 on: 29 Sep 2021, 16:50 »

Today I learned about a Russian word.  'Pizdets' (which I have certainly misspelt since I'm not using Cyrillic) is the feeling of lurking, inevitable doom.  I realize this is leaning into a stereotype, but that just seems like the sort of thing Russians would really need a word to express.

We Anglophones don't have any equally succinct way of expressing it.  Although the phrase 'pucker factor' comes close.

But to the baffled speaker of Russian trying to make sense of the phrase 'pucker factor' I could not possibly explain what it has to do with kissing.  Mostly because I can't talk and laugh at the same time.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1176 on: 29 Sep 2021, 17:09 »

"Pizdyets" would be a more precise transliteration.

More about the word, NSFW language:
https://waytorussia.net/WhatIsRussia/Russian/UntranslatableWords.html
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1177 on: 06 Nov 2021, 13:31 »

English preposition roles are an endless source of trouble and fun.

It's normal to speak of things like an attack on Pearl Harbor, an attack on a crime victim, or an attack on democracy.

This was a headline:
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Knife attack on German train severely injures 3 people

And most native speakers, I believe, would automatically get the correct sense of "on", meaning on board the train, and never notice the potential mis-parse.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1178 on: 06 Nov 2021, 19:33 »

George Carlin: "Get on the plane. Fuck you, I'm getting in the plane. Let Eviel Kineval get on the plane."
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1179 on: 06 Nov 2021, 23:27 »

My Chambers dictionary lists 30 distinct definitions of the proposition 'on'. Including: "In or to a position or state of being supported by."

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1180 on: 07 Nov 2021, 11:14 »

30 definitions? I know someone who built a CMU master's thesis on preposition roles.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1181 on: 07 Nov 2021, 13:16 »

Oh, for sure! This is just my little Chambers dictionary, not the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary, which would doubtless have more.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1182 on: 13 Nov 2021, 10:38 »

As a change from different pronunciations of the same letters (see "ough"), I offer widely varied spellings of the same sound.

Eight and ate (in some dialects) sound the same; but here are two less-known spellings with the same sound: ait and eyot - which are in fact also the same word historically, meaning a small, possibly temporary, island in a river, typically but not only the Thames.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1183 on: 13 Nov 2021, 15:17 »

After previously being tripped up by a pun that for me didn't work at all, but worked in a specific region of the USA, I want to ask you how you pronounce all four of those words.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1184 on: 13 Nov 2021, 15:25 »

« Last Edit: 13 Nov 2021, 15:30 by pwhodges »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #1185 on: 13 Nov 2021, 17:35 »

Okay. No surprises there, then, as it turns out.

If you'd asked me to guess how "eyot" is pronounced, I wouldn't have guessed "eight". Even if I'd successfully guessed that the "ey" was pronounced like the first syllable of "eight", I would have thought that there'd be a schwa in there.

But then, English is weird.
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