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Luckmeister
2010-Jan-18, 08:36 PM
People on forums are always loosing things and don't know wear they are. :doh:

With the exception of those whose primary language is not English, when people older than elementary school age misuse common words, I and I'm sure many others then question their intelligence and education. That's an unfortunate stereotype because I've met brilliant engineers with poor writing skills, but I have to wonder how many job resumes are filled with those mistakes.

The bolded words below are shown in their proper usage and punctuation:

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

I might lose my mind because I'm losing patience with loose language habits.

Some seemed to wear out their welcome because they didn't know where all the words they wanted to use were.

I know it's proper to put each word in its appropriate context.

There is no excuse for people not using their brains when they're writing.

It's frustrating when you're not using your words properly.

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

Unfortunately, spell checkers don't catch improper word usage, but most people don't bother to use them anyway.

End of rant

Fazor
2010-Jan-18, 08:48 PM
First off, I'm prone to those mistakes, but it's not a matter of not knowing the difference between the words or which to use when. It's more a matter of my typing fingers being much quicker than my slow, under-preforming brain. ;) Eta: Oops, meant to include my sub-par editing skills. See?

That's an unfortunate stereotype because I've met brilliant engineers with poor writing skills, but I have to wonder how many job resumes are filled with those mistakes.


I don't get to see many resumés, as I'm not in charge of hiring and we don't do any hiring anyway. But occasionally one will find it's way to my desk (I get the incoming mail), and sadly, 9 out of 10 (probably literally, as I doubt I've seen more than 10) are full of errors like that.

I feel bad for the people sometimes; I give anyone credit for coming up with a resumé and sending it out to random businesses in a field/fields you may be qualified to work. It shows gumption and at least an attempt to find work; much more than most of the people around here show anyway.

I couldn't help but laugh at one that literally was written like this:

Among the skills listed, it said "Excellent communication skills."
Then went on to say:

My skills include. Writing. Microsoft Word and Excel. Communication. And good customer service.

Bah. I'm (obviously!) no grammarologist (;)), but I can't hire you knowing that you include communication skills as one of your job traits, but you can't even correctly use commas to form a list (particularly since writing letters and memos and notes are a big part of what we do).

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-18, 08:53 PM
I recently received an application for an administration position in one of our facilities. In addition to a complete lack of capitalization, it contained other glaring errors, such as the consistent misspelling of "manual" as "manuel".

Fazor
2010-Jan-18, 08:57 PM
Combined with the lack of capitalization, maybe he/she meant they had a lot of experience with Manuel, and that you should contact Manuel as a reference? :)

Swift
2010-Jan-18, 09:12 PM
Rant away if you like Luckmeister, but a few mistakes in a forum doesn't upset me. Heck, I've made my share. They are mild compared with the grammar-free, punctuation-free, paragraph-free, free-range-spelling posts we get from native speakers (check out the CT forum for examples).

But to do that in an application or a resume, as Peterscreek describes.... all I can say is "duh".

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-18, 09:21 PM
word LULZ!1!

RAF_Blackace
2010-Jan-18, 09:44 PM
Lasd weak I cudnt evun spel injuneer. Dis weak eye yam one.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

:)

DippyHippy
2010-Jan-18, 09:54 PM
LOL BLackace

My spelling and punctuation is usually fine - I used to write freelance - but I always put "it's" when I should be using "its" - I have to remind myself that "it's" is basically short for "it is"

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-18, 09:56 PM
I've started to see "segue" misspelled as "segway" lately (curse you, Dean Kamen!).

"Just deserts" is misspelled so frequently that even google gets confused (Did you mean: Just desserts).

Spot the error here (http://comics.com/9_chickweed_lane/2010-01-12/).

Nick

Luckmeister
2010-Jan-18, 10:04 PM
Occasional typos and mispellings don't bother me. I goof up on my spelling sometimes, but I proofread every post before sending. I think that's because I developed my writing habits long before internet forums and phone texting existed. With today's rapid-fire text dialogue, most people type what they have to say and hit Send immediately.

I also worked as a writer and editor for ten years, so I've been trained to look for mistakes. That's why, on this forum, I live in constant fear that Gillian will catch an error and correct me. :lol: But I really don't mind that. I'm impressed with her language skills and welcome corrections (She could probably find things wrong with this post). :shifty:

Mike

Tobin Dax
2010-Jan-18, 10:20 PM
Spot the error here (http://comics.com/9_chickweed_lane/2010-01-12/).
I'm sure the P.O.W.s received plenty of medical attention, so it might be true. I doubt any drove big rigs, though. (Yes, it did take me a second read to spot it.)

Albion
2010-Jan-18, 10:33 PM
What kind of world would it be if only the ideas of those with perfect grammar skills were taken seriously?

I have a neighbor who can neither read nor write. One day I was working on my lawn mower trying to get it running. He came over, told me how to fiddled with a few things, and boom goes the dynamite, I was on my way with a working lawn mower. Point being, it would have been ignorant and arrogant of me to assume him unintelligent and send him on his way because of his illiteracy. Much less, lecture him about how he should learn to read and write.

Honestly, you're not going to change anything with your rant. People will continue to blather poor grammar and you'll continue to stress about it (opps, not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition). Problem is, all of that stress gets you nothing but an early death. So, in other words, quit stressing about it and enjoy the company of those around you no matter how much better you think you are then they (or them).

-Al

Luckmeister
2010-Jan-18, 10:51 PM
Honestly, you're not going to change anything with your rant. People will continue to blather poor grammar and you'll continue to stress about it (opps, not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition). Problem is, all of that stress gets you nothing but an early death. So, in other words, quit stressing about it and enjoy the company of those around you no matter how much better you think you are then they (or them).

-Al

Actually it wasn't really a stressed out rant. I just thought it would be good to post a short style-guide of the proper usage of some commonly misused words. My example sentences made it look like more of a rant than was intended. Don't worry, I won't be giving myself a heart attack over it. :)

Mike

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-18, 10:57 PM
... People will continue to blather poor grammar and you'll continue to stress about it (opps, not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition). ...
Your observation about not ending sentences with a preposition is correct, but you're not guilty of that in this case: "it" isn't a preposition.

But I see the point you were getting at.

"At" is a preposition, so I'm guilty. ;)

Gillianren
2010-Jan-18, 11:02 PM
My spelling and punctuation is usually fine - I used to write freelance - but I always put "it's" when I should be using "its" - I have to remind myself that "it's" is basically short for "it is"

"Basically"?


Occasional typos and mispellings don't bother me. I goof up on my spelling sometimes, but I proofread every post before sending. I think that's because I developed my writing habits long before internet forums and phone texting existed. With today's rapid-fire text dialogue, most people type what they have to say and hit Send immediately.

Oh, indeed. People are always going to misspell things. It's just the way of the world. The operative word, however, is occasional.


I also worked as a writer and editor for ten years, so I've been trained to look for mistakes. That's why, on this forum, I live in constant fear that Gillian will catch an error and correct me. :lol: But I really don't mind that. I'm impressed with her language skills and welcome corrections (She could probably find things wrong with this post). :shifty:

Could and did, but thank you kindly. I went with stealth correction this time--use the word, or a variant thereof, spelled correctly. I'm always pleased when people pick up on that, and I don't generally get snippier than that unless there's a reason. After all, we have had many people go beyond "occasional" into "totally incomprehensible."


What kind of world would it be if only the ideas of those with perfect grammar skills were taken seriously?

I think you miss the point. No one is asking for perfect grammar skills. Just the avoidance, or attempted avoidance, of the really obvious errors which we see all the time. And, in formal communication, it actually is reasonable to expect that effort will be put into grammar.


I have a neighbor who can neither read nor write. One day I was working on my lawn mower trying to get it running. He came over, told me how to fiddled with a few things, and boom goes the dynamite, I was on my way with a working lawn mower. Point being, it would have been ignorant and arrogant of me to assume him unintelligent and send him on his way because of his illiteracy. Much less, lecture him about how he should learn to read and write.

He should learn to read and write; it's heartrending to me to find out that he can't. Imagine how far he could go in life if he did. Unintelligent? No, not necessarily. Ignorant? Uncorrectably so until he learns to read.


Honestly, you're not going to change anything with your rant. People will continue to blather poor grammar and you'll continue to stress about it (opps, not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition). Problem is, all of that stress gets you nothing but an early death. So, in other words, quit stressing about it and enjoy the company of those around you no matter how much better you think you are then they (or them).

Since when is wanting people to put a little effort into their communication and being annoyed when they don't thinking you're better than someone? I happen to communicate better than the average person. On the other hand, I can't walk as well--or cope as well. My grammar skills don't make me better. However, using them to the best of my ability makes me more considerate than those who don't try.

RAF_Blackace
2010-Jan-19, 12:27 AM
Aoccdrnig to a rscheeahcr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

djinn
2010-Jan-19, 12:31 AM
So, in other words, quit stressing about it and enjoy the company of those around you no matter how much better you think you are then they (or them).

....Then they what?

You may think I'm being picky, but that brought me up short, making me wonder what was missing from the end of the sentence, and I had to reread it to make sense of it.

(I wouldn't normally mention the occasional mistake, and only did so this time because Albion was the one ranting, and he accused Luckmeister of thinking he's better than others).

I welcome Gillianren's (and anyone else's) corrections. It's simply common courtesy to make an effort to make one's writing as easy to understand as possible. My posts are hardly worth reading once - why should I expect anyone to have to do it twice?

One of my pet hates is people pasting
text they wrote, or found, elsewhere and not
checking the formatting.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-19, 01:10 AM
Aoccdrnig to a rscheeahcr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
It's later been shown that not all scramblings are equally easy to read, it is also important that letters with ascenders and descenders should be kept in roughly the same place, as the contour of the word is also an important shortcut in recognizing it.

And that still doesn't detract from the fact that using the wrong real word in a sentence makes it harder to read for people who have gotten past the "reading aloud internally" stage.

Moose
2010-Jan-19, 01:14 AM
Loose/lose is sure to annoy me, but not half as much as reading all about some gaming nerd's* rouge.

/ * Speaking as one myself. And if you're a masochist, I can tell you tales about the many rogues in my life.

ngc3314
2010-Jan-19, 01:35 AM
At the risk of causing Gillianren some kind of blood-pressure trouble, I hereby rant about the apparent reversal of the intent of "may have"/"might have" that I've noticed in fairly formal magazine and newspaper writing in recent years. As I picked them up, one described a hypothetical case which did not in fact occur, the other was used for an event whose outcome is not (yet) known. What bothers me is that the usage has become so consistently wrong (with respect to my ingrained patterns) as to make me question whether I picked up a widely-used distinction in the first place. (Where is that copy of Strunk and White?)

Jens
2010-Jan-19, 01:39 AM
I don't get to see many resumés, as I'm not in charge of hiring and we don't do any hiring anyway. But occasionally one will find it's way to my desk (I get the incoming mail), and sadly, 9 out of 10 (probably literally, as I doubt I've seen more than 10) are full of errors like that.


Can you spot the error in your sentence? :)

And actually, as a serious response to the OP, I think in fact that ironically it is almost always native speakers who make errors between "its" and "it's", probably because we mostly learned the language as a spoken language and learned the writing (imperfectly) later. Whereas foreigners think through things logically.

Van Rijn
2010-Jan-19, 02:23 AM
Can you spot the error in your sentence? :)

And actually, as a serious response to the OP, I think in fact that ironically it is almost always native speakers who make errors between "its" and "it's", probably because we mostly learned the language as a spoken language and learned the writing (imperfectly) later. Whereas foreigners think through things logically.

I call it "pattern matching" versus "rule based" thinking. I'm a native speaker, and for the most part, I use pattern matching and statistical processes when writing (that is, "this is the way I usually see it, so this is probably correct"). I did spend some time learning usage rules back in school, but I've (at least consciously) forgotten most of them. The "its" versus "it's" issue is one place where I still consciously remember the rule, though. I think I still do reasonably well in spelling, but I'm sure my grammar could be better.

Jens
2010-Jan-19, 02:33 AM
...but I'm sure my grammar could be better.

If it's an comfort to you, I've never noticed that.

Regarding your idea about pattern matching versus rules, it's probably true. As an interesting aside, when I see a post with atrocious grammar but good spelling, I can be virtually certain it's a non-native speaker, whereas a post with good grammar but horrible spelling is nearly always from a native speaker.

Van Rijn
2010-Jan-19, 02:33 AM
Loose/lose is sure to annoy me, but not half as much as reading all about some gaming nerd's* rouge.

/ * Speaking as one myself. And if you're a masochist, I can tell you tales about the many rogues in my life.

"Rouge" versus "rogue" annoys me too. A couple other common ones that bother me are "alot" and folks using "suppose" where they should be using "supposed."

Jens
2010-Jan-19, 02:37 AM
Another one (that I don't see very much, thank goodness), is "I should of gone."

Tobin Dax
2010-Jan-19, 02:53 AM
"Rouge" versus "rogue" annoys me too. A couple other common ones that bother me are "alot" and folks using "suppose" where they should be using "supposed."
"aswell" :mad:

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-19, 02:55 AM
One tends to see a lot of rogue rouge on women who use too much make-up.

Gamblers hate rogue rouge when they place on black.

The Moulin Rouge is a night club in Paris, whereas Don Quixote chased some rogue moulins on the Spanish countryside. And lost.

I suppose one could say that the so-called "Planet-X," in Nancy Lieder's description, could be called a rouge rogue.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-19, 02:59 AM
That's rediculous.

(That's one that makes me cringe and seems to be increasing in frequency.)

Tinaa
2010-Jan-19, 03:04 AM
I'm such a terrible speller I use spell check even on forums. My grammar is usually okay, at least legible. I used to carry a dictionary with me. I still have one in my desk at work. The incorrect usage described in the above posts drives me absolutely nuts. Probably because I'm so anal that I have to check my spelling and grammar before I hit submit. I know my speech is even worse than my written words.

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-19, 03:06 AM
That's rediculous.

(That's one that makes me cringe and seems to be increasing in frequency.)
It's actually easy to remember: "ridi!" means "laugh!" (ridi pagliaccio) and ridiculous means laughable.

"re-" is for "again" resp. something that is repetitive.

Jens
2010-Jan-19, 03:12 AM
It's actually easy to remember: "ridi!" means "laugh!" (ridi pagliaccio) and ridiculous means laughable.


Why does that make it easy to remember? How are we supposed to know that ridi means laugh in some language. Italian? Or Latin? Or is "ridi pagliaccio" a phrase that we're supposed to know? I've never heard it before, but maybe it's something from opera?

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-19, 03:18 AM
I think it would be easier for somone to remember that being rldiculous makes one subject to ridicule.

As closely related as the words are, I can't recall seeing the misspelling, redicule.

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-19, 03:22 AM
... "ridi pagliaccio" ... maybe it's something from opera?
Yes. And If you've seen The Untouchables in the Costner & Co. version, then you've heard it.

I guess I just take too much for granted. :cry:

Tinaa
2010-Jan-19, 03:22 AM
I think it would be easier for somone to remember that being rldiculous makes one subject to ridicule.

As closely related as the words are, I can't recall seeing the misspelling, redicule.

My bold. Sorry couldn't help myself. Though it would really be considered a typo.

Tinaa
2010-Jan-19, 03:24 AM
How come I can always see the mistakes other people make but have a hard time proofreading my own stuff?

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-19, 03:25 AM
Definitely a typo...fat thumbs typing on an iPhone!

GalaxyGal
2010-Jan-19, 03:34 AM
I have the opportunity to read resumes on a regular basis. They're often poorly written. However, applicants don't bother me as much as the people we actually hire. We've had a recent spate of formal powerpoint presentations replete with spelling and grammatical errors. It's bad enough in a document, but amplified on a 26' screen is far worse.

Here are a few of the errors from the past month:
"Your invited"
"Loose weight in our wellness program"
"physicians' drug they're feet" Wow - the trifecta of grammatical errors!

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-19, 03:39 AM
How come I can always see the mistakes other people make but have a hard time proofreading my own stuff?
When you proofread your own copy, you read most of it out of the "cache" in your brain which remembers what you intended to write. That can supercede what your eyes (i.e. your brain) see when you re-read it.

When you read what others have written, your "cache" is empty and you read what is on the page/screen, and not what you expect to see.

Jens
2010-Jan-19, 03:41 AM
"physicians' drug they're feet" Wow - the trifecta of grammatical errors!

Boy, that's a whopper. I couldn't even understand what it meant. At first I thought it was a statement about a new tendency among doctors to suck on their toes, and the correct version should be (with only two corrections!):

physicians' drug: their feet :)

Gillianren
2010-Jan-19, 03:48 AM
When you proofread your own copy, you read most of it out of the "cache" in your brain which remembers what you intended to write. That can supercede what your eyes (i.e. your brain) see when you re-read it.

When you read what others have written, your "cache" is empty and you read what is on the page/screen, and not what you expect to see.

Precisely. It's why, when I was writing for publication, I always had someone else read my copy. I saw what I had meant to write. The byzantine wanderings of some of the opinion pieces we got, I could generally piece together. As for my own, spell check caught the missing letters--if a word starts with the same letter as the word before it ends, I tend to miss one of them, a problem worsened when I'm writing by hand. Missing words, my coworkers caught for me.

GalaxyGal
2010-Jan-19, 03:51 AM
It was a formal project status report for a medical office under construction. The presenter was trying to explain that key decisions were delayed by the doctors.

DonM435
2010-Jan-19, 04:07 AM
People on forums are always loosing things and don't know wear they are. :doh:
.
.
.


I think I mentioned that there's a shop in Cocoa Beach FL whose sign reads:

FLIRT / Wear the clothes / do the talking.

I was ready to report that transgression here, until I realized that if it could be clever wordplay. That, or a goof.


Yes, I note "loosing" all the time for "losing.:

Quite a few people spell "weird" weirdly, as "wierd."

"Here, here!" is a bad accolade one often sees. Where? Where???

Jens
2010-Jan-19, 04:20 AM
Yes, I note "loosing" all the time for "losing.:

Quite a few people spell "weird" weirdly, as "wierd."


I think that is partly an unfortunate result of the stupid rule about "i before e except after c".

Gillianren
2010-Jan-19, 04:28 AM
"I" before "e" is right a lot more often than it's wrong. That said, the mnemonic we're looking for here is "we are weird."

schlaugh
2010-Jan-19, 04:55 AM
Spelling checkers are partly to blame. A spell check allows for "lose" when the author meant "loose" (and vice versa) or "insure" when 99% of the time the writer meant "ensure".

When I worked at our local fish wrapper years ago in Florida one of our newer editors had a problem using "affect" and "effect" correctly so he typed a short definition and left it on his desk. The older hands would steal the scrap of paper and swap the definitions, then put it back on his desk. Later they'd replace the substitute with the original, then swap them again, and so on and so on for a couple of weeks. I don't think he ever caught on. :) (And of course we never received any letters from complaining readers.)

Lost Horizons
2010-Jan-19, 10:01 AM
Aoccdrnig to a rscheeahcr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Your post is to me very much a counterexample.

Jens
2010-Jan-19, 10:51 AM
Your post is to me very much a counterexample.

Really? I actually had little trouble reading it. Maybe partly due to the context, i.e. expecting what word would come next.

Lost Horizons
2010-Jan-19, 10:55 AM
Really? I actually had little trouble reading it. Maybe partly due to the context, i.e. expecting what word would come next.

I think I would rather drink acid than read an extended text written like that.

Strange
2010-Jan-19, 10:59 AM
Complement versus compliment. I have seen these misued so often, and almost no one else seems to see the problem, that I have pretty much given up on it. Maybe we just have to accept that they are now homonyms with [arbitrary] alternative spellings.

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 11:13 AM
...I have to wonder how many job resumes are filled with those mistakes.

I have tended to be involved in graduate recruitment down the years, in a business where much thinning of CVs is needed before the interview stage (12,000 applicants for 100 jobs the year I applied, for example). A CV or application form with such poor use of English would have to be truly outstanding everywhere else to have any chance at all of remaining after the first sift, and even then such egregious examples would generally mean that it would not make it.

On a related note, when corresponding with certain colleagues in the US office, I've had relatively everyday words such as mendacious, egregious, biennial and others commented on as "$10 words", as though their use is unusual enough to raise eyebrows. Is this genuinely the case amongst educated people over there, or have I just lucked into a subgroup whose reading is of a level that views Dan Brown as highbrow?

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 11:18 AM
What kind of world would it be if only the ideas of those with perfect grammar skills were taken seriously?

Possibly a better one. Although it may have taken you a little while longer to fix your lawnmower, it could have been more than offset in the long run by your deciding that the erudite instruction manuals on everything else are good enough to read for pleasure, and thus by your never again being stumped by recalcitrant consumer durables.

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 11:27 AM
....Then they what?

You may think I'm being picky, but that brought me up short, making me wonder what was missing from the end of the sentence, and I had to reread it to make sense of it.

I think that this demonstrates something which people with weak reading and writing skills simply do not understand. For the rest of us the sentence above feels like a scratch in a record, or a pothole in the road. Where previously we would have smoothly moved past it, we are pulled up short with a lurch, and need to go back and attempt to divine what the author intended when they composed it. If, on the other hand, you read one wrd at a time, with a finger underneath each one, sounding it out, then these errors make little difference.

It is also the case that although some very intelligent people with great input can hardly string a sentence together, they are certainly in the minority, and so a reader skimming a forum is often well served by just ignoring the posts which start off with a howler, in favour of savouring the more lexicographically pleasing and well-formed offerings.

And there, sadly, I've veered well off into verbosity and pomposity, which are as bad as any flaws at the other end of the scale when clarity was needed.

On this point, I remember my chemistry teacher telling me to write "translated laterally" instead of "moved sideways" in a report. I disagreed with her then, and I disagree with her now.

mahesh
2010-Jan-19, 11:39 AM
Lasd weak I cudnt evun spel injuneer. Dis weak eye yam one.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

:)

Oh H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N...combeck...alles fourgivin...

mahesh
2010-Jan-19, 11:54 AM
...(opps, not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition). Problem is, all of that stress gets you nothing but an early death. So, in other words, quit stressing about it and enjoy the company of those around you ...

Well done, your neighbour, with the mower and the bang...

Albion, recently, I came across an incredibly funny joke in a grammar book...in a section about prepositions / endings etc. Everytime I recall it I'm in hysterics. I'm weird like that.

I doubt that I should repeat it on BAUT board.

I might pass it by the mods to test its 'acceptablity'...

Ivan Viehoff
2010-Jan-19, 11:58 AM
Misspelled is commonly misspelled. Mispronunciation is not also commonly mispronounced, but misspelled too. The distinct spellings of embarrassment and harassment causes more self-reference.

Many people these days have a problem remembering that there is a spelling change in forming the past tense of lead, but not read. Unfair trick really.

I remember as a child it took me a long time to recognise that when I saw "misled" I was looking at the past tense of "mislead", because it looked like it ought to be the past of "misle", which for some reason wasn't in the dictionary. I sometimes deliberately mispronounce the word that way for fun.

I once wrote a report for the financial regulator in which the "commingling" of investors' funds was an important topic. Everywhere we looked it was spelled "comingling" or "co-mingling", even in communications from the Bank of England and our client, and Word's spellcheck was happy with it too. It was only by chance we discovered the dictionary spelling. We asked our client whether they thought that a new spelling had in effect established itself, or whether they wished to go back to the dictionary. To our surprise, they decided to go with the dictionary, and since that time "commingle" has become a less rare beast. A rare case.

Moose
2010-Jan-19, 12:11 PM
On this point, I remember my chemistry teacher telling me to write "translated laterally" instead of "moved sideways" in a report. I disagreed with her then, and I disagree with her now.

Which you use depends on your audience. If you're writing for chemistry layfolk, yeah, "moved sideways" is preferable. If you're writing for chemists, using the jargon is preferable. There is a degree of precision and nuance in technical jargon (properly used) that you can't replicate in casual speech.

A trivial example of this is the term "theory" in experimental science. Contrary to colloquial expectations, it's a technical term with a very precise meaning to other scientists. (Although I would agree "tested explanation" is probably an easier sell to layfolk.)

The other reason you should consider using technical jargon where appropriate is that there's a (perhaps unconscious) perception of wannabe-hood when you use colloquial speech in a formal setting. (Lab write-ups are the "Dick and Jane" of the peer-review world. There are formalities and conventions that must be considered, for good or for ill, and it's best to get used to them early, even if they make English majors cringe.)

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 12:24 PM
Which you use depends on your audience. If you're writing for chemistry layfolk, yeah, "moved sideways" is preferable. If you're writing for chemists, using the jargon is preferable. There is a degree of precision and nuance in technical jargon (properly used) that you can't replicate in casual speech.

No, on this particular example I don't agree. Moved sideways gives precisely the correct meaning to any and all who will read it.

A good book which I believe ought to be read by all science communicators is "The Complete Plain Words" by Sir Ernest Gowers. It sets out quite nicely examples where people will insist on more "technical" language where it does nothing whatsoever to improve the communication. It was recommended when I was a government scientist, and its lessons still apply now that I am a financier instead.

Argos
2010-Jan-19, 12:49 PM
Why does that make it easy to remember? How are we supposed to know that ridi means laugh in some language. Italian? Or Latin? Or is "ridi pagliaccio"

Actually, the Latin verb is "ride" (rideo, ridere) [pronounced REE-deh].

I personally think that, generally, poor writing is a result of poor reading.

Moose
2010-Jan-19, 12:53 PM
No, on this particular example I don't agree. Moved sideways gives precisely the correct meaning to any and all who will read it.

Mmm. I don't want (mostly time issues) to get into a long discussion over this (considering I'm a chemistry layperson and cannot directly observe the context in any case), but "move sideways" implies the existence (and relevance) of a fore-aft axis where "translated laterally" does not imply an orientation other than the distinction between the horizontal and vertical planes.

If you're good with the extra implication, then okay. Otherwise, I would strongly disagree with "any and all". You may have injected an avoidable ambiguity.

For what it's worth, I distinguish firmly between Just-Us League vocabulary and technical jargon. Marketing/Business, for example, is rife with buzzwords intended to conceal meaning rather than reveal it.

mahesh
2010-Jan-19, 12:59 PM
...and need to go back and attempt to divine what the author intended when they composed it...

This form of expression gets my goat. Everytime. Use of they/them reflecting singular form of unidentifiable gender.

An unfortunate and a fairly recent phenomenon of abuse of English grammar.

Moose
2010-Jan-19, 01:11 PM
Use of they/them reflecting singular form of unidentifiable gender.

Heh. Guilty. I've been trying to break myself of that habit for a while now. It's been pretty firmly ingrained since my freshman year in the 90s when gender-neutral language became en vogue.

Lost Horizons
2010-Jan-19, 01:17 PM
This form of expression gets my goat. Everytime. Use of they/them reflecting singular form of unidentifiable gender.

An unfortunate and a fairly recent phenomenon of abuse of English grammar.

Not that recent. (http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/austheir.html#X1a)

mahesh
2010-Jan-19, 01:46 PM
...ahem...cough...thanks for the link LH...

it still grates and gets my goat (quickly followed by the rest of my barn-yard friends...as in poopee time...)

slang
2010-Jan-19, 01:53 PM
your stupid! Viola! Einstien.

ETA: And affect/effect, except/accept.

Strange
2010-Jan-19, 01:53 PM
This form of expression gets my goat. Everytime. Use of they/them reflecting singular form of unidentifiable gender.

An unfortunate and a fairly recent phenomenon of abuse of English grammar.

You would hate my writing then; I use it all the time. Not unfortunate and not recent, but very useful. Next!

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 02:09 PM
I saw a Facebook group last week which was all about how I hate when people mispell words.

When I pointed out it should be misspell the young lady was terribly embarrassed.

Sports commentators have a lot to answer for, I think. The problem being that these days almost all sports commentators (at least is Aussie Rules Football and Australian cricket coverage) are retired players.

In football this is a particular problem, because they've been knocked about too much and may not have been our greatest minds to begin with.

The result is commentators who use words incorrectly, pronounce words incorrectly and put poor inflections on words. If you are trying to sound out a word and their examples come to mind you're bound to spell it wrong.

"That was absahlutely reeeediculus!"

OK, sporting commentators aren't necessarily the best folk to train the youth, but what do a great many of the youth love to watch? In comparison it becomes an absolute pleasure to hear an educated sports journalist call the action.

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 02:26 PM
This form of expression gets my goat. Everytime. Use of they/them reflecting singular form of unidentifiable gender.

An unfortunate and a fairly recent phenomenon of abuse of English grammar.

Not recent at all, nor viewed by most people as incorrect. People have been using they in place of he/she or other ugly versions for centuries.

http://www.askoxford.com/betterwriting/classicerrors/grammartips/hesheorthey

Edited to add, it seems that I was beaten to the correction.

And edited again to add, when I came down South from my Northern comprehensive to study at Oxford, not only did my accent render me literally unintelligible to a good fraction of my fellow students, but I had been brought up with a grammar that was also off from the mainstream (and yes, a language can contain within it dialects both of which are consistent and correct, but which do not match, and my birth language had more than a fair hint of old Norse in it).

This meant that I had to put in a real effort to learn where the differences lay, and to understand why my speech came across as unusual (which made me appear less than brilliant to some ears), (as well as of course learning theoretical physics), and has perhaps left me more liable than most to pick up errors in others.

One of my pet peeves is "missle" in place of "missile".

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-19, 02:38 PM
...
This meant that I had to put in a real effort to learn where the differences lay, and to understand why my speech came across as unusual (which made me appear less than brilliant to some ears), (as well as of course learning theoretical physics), and has perhaps left me more liable than most to pick up errors in others.


Or do you mean "likely"? :lol:




One of my pet peeves is "missle" in place of "missile".

At least it wasn't "missal," which would have generated some interesting mental images.

Nick

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 02:51 PM
Or do you mean "likely"? :lol:

That's an interesting one, and I wonder now if I've been affected by its more common appearance in the media in recent years. I agree that "likely" would have worked well there, and probably been more elegant, but the use of "liable" is perhaps also fine, as it's being used in the same sense as in "materials liable to form peroxides in storage" (to pick the first such use I found in Google), which I think most people would view as acceptable.

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 02:55 PM
I may not be correct, but I thought if you were liable to notice errors it would work fine. Being more liable just sounds a little strange - if more so I'd have used likely.

That said, I'd probably have mangled it completely. It's so much easier to find errors in someone else's work than in your own.

ETA: I can't stand hearing people pronounce it missle, but do people actually misspell that regularly? It looks awful.

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-19, 02:56 PM
That's an interesting one, and I wonder now if I've been affected by its more common appearance in the media in recent years. I agree that "likely" would have worked well there, and probably been more elegant, but the use of "liable" is perhaps also fine, as it's being used in the same sense as in "materials liable to form peroxides in storage" (to pick the first such use I found in Google), which I think most people would view as acceptable.

It was a gentle tease (which is why I used the smiley) but it's one of those distinctions that get many grammarians in an uproar. "Liable" does seem to be losing the connotation of being responsible these days.

Nick

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-19, 02:59 PM
...
ETA: I can't stand hearing people pronounce it missle,

It seems to be the preferred (or at least most common) pronunciation in American English.

Nick

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 03:03 PM
It was a gentle tease (which is why I used the smiley) but it's one of those distinctions that get many grammarians in an uproar. "Liable" does seem to be losing the connotation of being responsible these days.

Nick

When I read it back, it did read badly, so I agree with you, as I think that my usage is a bit of a corruption from the correct use.

I take the same issue with fraught and ilk, and am unhappy hearing people describing a situation as simply being "fraught" as a shorthand for the cliched root which is "fraught with tension", or if using "ilk" to mean simply "kind" instead of "of that name".

http://www.talktalk.co.uk/reference/dictionaries/english/data/d0082233.html

Another one which grates is hearing "secretary" spoken as "secketary". It's a minor affront if it happens when speaking to a builder in Essex, but it has suddenly come into common usage on Radio 4, which has traditionally needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into using any pronunciation or word usage more recent than the reign of Edward VII.

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 03:14 PM
It seems to be the preferred (or at least most common) pronunciation in American English.

Nick

Oh no - really? So do Americans (by and large) say nukular too? (I don't mean to offend, it's actually a concerned question - I know not all do, but the masses?)

I remember as a young fellow I used to get annoyed at hearing Americans saying aluminum. Then I found out it was spelled that way there. I could never understand that.

Strange
2010-Jan-19, 03:15 PM
Or do you mean "likely"?

Anyone else noticed that Americans often (always?) use "likely" as an adverb (The president will likely appear in a new frock tonight) while Brits use it as an adjective (The prime minister is likely to come home drunk)?

It looks like an adverb (-ly) but I don't know which is the older usage, nor the origin of the word.

Strange
2010-Jan-19, 03:17 PM
I remember as a young fellow I used to get annoyed at hearing Americans saying aluminum. Then I found out it was spelled that way there. I could never understand that.

I believe that is what Sir Humphrey Davy named it originally. Not sure when it changed. (Not all metals have the -ium ending; platinum is an obvious example).

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 03:22 PM
Ah, so _we_ are all wrong.

Well then, my apologies to anyone who's ever heard me rant about this in the past. Research really is a good idea!

He initially called it alumium, then aluminum, then decided he liked it as aluminium. As stated here (http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/aluminium.htm).

According to that, U.S. chemists apparently favoured aluminium initially, then changed to aluminum in the early 20th century.

Strange
2010-Jan-19, 03:22 PM
It [missle] seems to be the preferred (or at least most common) pronunciation in American English.

Along with fertle for fertile, moble for mobile, etc. I guess this is a general trend; didn't subtle used to be subtile? (before my time, though)

On the other hand, Americans have diphthongized basil to baysil. I'm not sure of the process involved, but this is a bit surprising given the numbers of Italian-Americans.

Apologies to those who don't think nouns should be verbed.

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-19, 03:24 PM
I believe that is what Sir Humphrey Davy named it originally. Not sure when it changed. (Not all metals have the -ium ending; platinum is an obvious example).

I think it was originally "alumium" and then in flux between "aluminium" and "aluminum" before it was standardized differently on each side of the Atlantic.

Nick

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-19, 03:29 PM
Oh no - really? So do Americans (by and large) say nukular too? (I don't mean to offend, it's actually a concerned question - I know not all do, but the masses?)
....

No, we still make fun of other Americans who say "nukular," which is definitely non-standard. I'm not sure why that has anything to do with the pronunciation of "missile," for which "MISS-le" is a standard pronunciation according to American-usage dictionaries.

See the Merriam-Webster entry:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/missile

Nick

ineluki
2010-Jan-19, 03:31 PM
"Rouge" versus "rogue" annoys me too.

You would have absolute loved (or loathed) the old "alt.games.diablo" newsgroup...

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 03:32 PM
Along with fertle for fertile, moble for mobile, etc. I guess this is a general trend; didn't subtle used to be subtile? (before my time, though)

I don't know the correct name for the US tendency to pronounce a T as a D, but that too is one which rings strangely in English ears. I heard a podcast the other day where a couple had named their son "Atom", which to them was pronounced the same as the more frequent name "Adam". This will lead to all sorts of confusion if he's one of the 50% of his countrymen who ever go abroad.

We here in the old country also find the pronunciation of "herb" as "erb" to be a strange one, but not half so strange as our colonial cousins' ability to somehow pronounce "coriander" as "cilantro" or "aubergine" as "eggplant"...

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 03:33 PM
Nick: Fair point. "Missle" is dropping a vowel whereas "nukular" is purely mangling a good word.

Henna illustrated the vowel-dropping issue above fairly clearly. I don't like it, but I accept it as it is - I know that Australians say things rather improperly. I've even been given a darn good stirring for my pronunciation of "beer" as "beeya". GUILTY!

NorthernBoy: To be fair, in my travels around various parts of the world, if I'm just on holiday I generally don't find myself using the word "atom" that much. (I know, some other words it may be more of an issue. Just picking nits. It's a primal thing.)

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-19, 03:37 PM
...
We here in the old country also find the pronunciation of "herb" as "erb" to be a strange one, but not half so strange as our colonial cousins' ability to somehow pronounce "coriander" as "cilantro" or "aubergine" as "eggplant"...

We also pronounce "courgette" as "zucchini."

We tend to use coriander and cilantro interchangeably, but I notice when the seeds are used, we tend to say "coriander" but "cilantro" when the leaves are used. I think the latter is the Spanish form, and most Americans were first exposed to the use of cilantro/coriander leaves in Mexican cuisine.

Nick

Strange
2010-Jan-19, 03:38 PM
I know that Australians say things rather improperly.

It's not improper, it's just Australian. After all, you wouldn't want to sound like a Pom.

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 03:40 PM
Oh, heck no! :D

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 03:49 PM
NorthernBoy: To be fair, in my travels around various parts of the world, if I'm just on holiday I generally don't find myself using the word "atom" that much. (I know, some other words it may be more of an issue. Just picking nits. It's a primal thing.)

But you likely do have to use your own name, which is where this chap is going to have a problem, as his passport will say "Atom", but he will have to be forever telling people that it is pronounced "Adam".

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-19, 03:52 PM
I had no idea until I lived in the US that "queue" was not in common usage, either as a noun or a verb, and that it would immediately mark me out as an outlander when used.

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 03:55 PM
Maybe he should just accept that he's pronouncing his own name incorrectly.

Honestly, could I demand people refer to me a Sboons if I choose to say it that way? (I don't but let's just say I do for the sake of the argument.)

ETA: What is said in the U.S. - "line" and "line up"?

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-19, 03:58 PM
It's not improper, it's just Australian. After all, you wouldn't want to sound like a Pom.

Or a Kiwi?



A NZ'er moves to Australia and is embarassed by his nationality. He is particularly aware of his unmistakable accent. One day he walks into a shop and asks for "five dollars worth of FUSH and CHUPS".

The shopkeeper immediately replies "You're from New Zealand aren't you?" and the NZ'er runs out in embarrassment. He goes home, determined to rid himself of his accent.

He practices: "FISH and CHIPS, not FUSH and CHUPS," over and over again. Each day he passes the shop, but does not go in, just says to himself over and over again, "FISH and CHIPS," "FISH and CHIPS." Days, weeks, months roll by until eventually he has perfected a normal (Aussie) accent.

So he decides it is time to face the test. Into the shop he goes, and in a perfect voice says "Five dollars worth of FISH and CHIPS."

Imagine his shock as the shopkeeper replies, "You must be from New Zealand."

"OH NO" he cries. "This accent always betrays my nationality. I just cannot hide it."

"It's got nothing to do with accents, mate," replies the shopkeeper. "This is a hardware store".


Quoted from here (http://www.snopes.com/humor/jokes/quarterback.asp).

Nick

Spoons
2010-Jan-19, 04:09 PM
Heh heh heh. Very nice.

I heard most of my favourite kiwi jokes from a kiwi friend of mine. (His favourite had the punchline - "I was just trying to push it through, your honour.")

Brilliant sense of humour, as a nation. How's that for generalisations?

AndreasJ
2010-Jan-19, 04:21 PM
Can you spot the error in your sentence? :)

And actually, as a serious response to the OP, I think in fact that ironically it is almost always native speakers who make errors between "its" and "it's", probably because we mostly learned the language as a spoken language and learned the writing (imperfectly) later. Whereas foreigners think through things logically.

That doesn't really match my experience; back when my English was poor, I got "it's"~"its", "their"~"there"~"they're", etc, right without thinking, but now, when my English is pretty good*, I have to think about it and frequently get it wrong anyway. I'm not the only one - several other L2 speakers I know have described the same development.


* Yes, I realize that saying this guarantees that this post will contain at least one grammatical or orthographical howler.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-19, 05:50 PM
For what it's worth, I distinguish firmly between Just-Us League vocabulary and technical jargon. Marketing/Business, for example, is rife with buzzwords intended to conceal meaning rather than reveal it.

Indeed. Whereas grammarians' terms mean exactly what we want them to, but no one else knows them.


This form of expression gets my goat. Everytime. Use of they/them reflecting singular form of unidentifiable gender.

An unfortunate and a fairly recent phenomenon of abuse of English grammar.

You've been corrected already, but let me throw my two cents in. I use it all the time, because I think it's preferable. I think in part this is to preserve a distinction between thinking entities and objects, objects being filed under "it." Is this necessary? Meh. But I like it, and if I'm in the company of Chaucer on it, well, so be it.


We here in the old country also find the pronunciation of "herb" as "erb" to be a strange one, but not half so strange as our colonial cousins' ability to somehow pronounce "coriander" as "cilantro" or "aubergine" as "eggplant"...

I knew a kid in high school named Basil--BAA-sil--who got really annoyed when his name was mispronounced. I don't know why we've lopped the "h" off "herb"; I assume it has something to do with where our linguistic ancestors brought their accents from. But since "eggplant" predates "aubergine" by some twenty-five years, per the Online Etymology Dictionary, that's a more interesting question.


I had no idea until I lived in the US that "queue" was not in common usage, either as a noun or a verb, and that it would immediately mark me out as an outlander when used.

It's somewhat more common now, as Netflix calls the list of discs you've got to be sent to you your queue, but I'm quite sure it's mispronounced all over the place.


ETA: What is said in the U.S. - "line" and "line up"?

Yes. Depending on your region.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-19, 05:59 PM
My wife is a hairdresser and we visited a couple of supply shops when we were out and about running errands yesterday. In one shop, a flyer was posted on a bulletin board, advertising for stylists. They claimed it was a good "buisness opertunity".

Luckmeister
2010-Jan-19, 06:47 PM
I saw a Facebook group last week which was all about how I hate when people mispell words.

When I pointed out it should be misspell the young lady was terribly embarrassed.


She's not the only one. If you look back at my second post (#10), you'll see that I did the same thing. :eek: In my case, it was a typo. I do know how to spell the word, but this was a case of my fingers getting ahead of my brain. But wow, what a horrible time for that to happen! Now, almost 100 posts later, it hasn't been called to my attention. Maybe people were just being polite by not pointing it out.

My first job out of college was working as a civilian tech writer on Air Force contracts for the Atlas and Titan boosters. My writing skills were dumbed-down considerably by writing for two years to an eighth grade level. I learned to use simpler, more commonly understood words whenever possible. That permanently changed my writing style. I stopped looking at writing as an art form, but more as a practical communications tool. Today, the vocabulary I understand is much larger than the one I regularly use.

Mike

Gillianren
2010-Jan-19, 07:38 PM
She's not the only one. If you look back at my second post (#10), you'll see that I did the same thing. :eek: In my case, it was a typo. I do know how to spell the word, but this was a case of my fingers getting ahead of my brain. But wow, what a horrible time for that to happen! Now, almost 100 posts later, it hasn't been called to my attention. Maybe people were just being polite by not pointing it out.

My "stealth correction" comment was for naught!

Luckmeister
2010-Jan-19, 08:23 PM
My "stealth correction" comment was for naught!

No it wasn't. That got me to look back at my posts, but in my early morning stupor (before coffee) I missed it. And I didn't realize that was the mistake you were referring to. I figured there were probably others as well.

Your vigilance is now fully recognized. :)

Mike

Fazor
2010-Jan-19, 09:20 PM
Your vigilance is now fully recognized. :)
Mike

Yes, I've found you can't slip much (or anything?) by her. Instead, one can only bludgeon her with gross grammatical incompetence until she figures it's all for naught and starts letting them go untouched.


:whistle:

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-19, 10:21 PM
On this point, I remember my chemistry teacher telling me to write "translated laterally" instead of "moved sideways" in a report. I disagreed with her then, and I disagree with her now.
"Translate laterally" has the added information that no rotation was involved, which "moved sideways" doesn't, hence the preference for the former.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-19, 10:34 PM
My first job out of college was working as a civilian tech writer on Air Force contracts for the Atlas and Titan boosters. My writing skills were dumbed-down considerably by writing for two years to an eighth grade level. I learned to use simpler, more commonly understood words whenever possible. That permanently changed my writing style. I stopped looking at writing as an art form, but more as a practical communications tool. Today, the vocabulary I understand is much larger than the one I regularly use.

Mike
I actually consider writing on complicated subjects clearly and simply is an art form in itself, one that very few have mastered and many have substituted with dumbing down.

One of my favorite examples is Feynman's Six Easy Pieces and Six Not-So-Easy Pieces which gives a very good introduction to very complicated subjects in clear easy to understand language.

RAF_Blackace
2010-Jan-20, 12:08 AM
I think I would rather drink acid than read an extended text written like that.

So would I, but what it shows is that the human mind can ignore mistakes once it is familiar with the expected outcome. That is probably why it is difficult for some, to proof read text and correct their own spelling mistakes. Although the argument does not hold water for grammatical errors.

My English is quite poor, so I tend to use as much help as is available. I am not proud of my mistakes, but I learn as I go along.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 05:13 AM
Anyone else noticed that Americans often (always?) use "likely" as an adverb (The president will likely appear in a new frock tonight) while Brits use it as an adjective (The prime minister is likely to come home drunk)?

It looks like an adverb (-ly) but I don't know which is the older usage, nor the origin of the word.

Well I'm an American and I also use it as an adjective, as in, "the likely winner of the contest" for example.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 05:23 AM
ETA: I can't stand hearing people pronounce it missle, but do people actually misspell that regularly? It looks awful.

When you say pronounce it "missle", do you mean that they pronounce it like "miss-luh"? Or like "miss-leh"? I can't say I've ever heard that.

Spoons
2010-Jan-20, 05:28 AM
I refer to not verbalising the 'i' rather than miss aisle. By aisle I mean like "mop up in aisle 3".

I suppose if I had to type it a phonetically different way I'd type it missel.

I'm not sure whether you were offended or just misunderstood, but if you were offend I'd like to apologise, as that wasn't my intention.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 05:31 AM
I don't know the correct name for the US tendency to pronounce a T as a D, but that too is one which rings strangely in English ears.

It's not really pronounced as a D, it just sort of sounds that way. It's actually an alveolar tap, which is not a D. It's close to the way R is pronounced in Spanish when it's not trilled.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 06:53 AM
I refer to not verbalising the 'i' rather than miss isle. By isle I mean like "mop up in isle 3".

Or "aisle," even.

Spoons
2010-Jan-20, 07:07 AM
Whoops. Yes, that one.

I wouldn't want that to confuse the point, though I am not convinced Jens was actually interested in the answer to his question. Or that the question was serious in the first place.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 07:20 AM
Whoops. Yes, that one.

I wouldn't want that to confuse the point, though I am not convinced Jens was actually interested in the answer to his question. Or that the question was serious in the first place.

Actually when I posted it I didn't understand. But after posting it, or actually when I read the post about "fertile" and "fertle," I figured out that you meant pronouncing it with a schwa vowel at the end.

Interestingly, with regard to "missile," I pronounce it both ways, depending on how fast I'm talking I think. But I was born in America but partly raised in Europe, so I might not be the best representative of American English.

Spoons
2010-Jan-20, 07:26 AM
Ah, ok - that makes sense, I just found the silence curious. Yes, I think when people are talking fast a lot of words get mangled or trimmed down. That sort of thing is no shocker, in my opinion. If it's always said that way I would become more interested in it.

I understand that sometimes it's just a matter of accent, I'm more curious about whether words have been adjusted a little intentionally. Not quite as in the example of aluminum/aluminium, maybe due to confusion between two words caused by certain accents or some other reason.

That sort of thing I find somewhat interesting. I am not looking to pick on accents themselves, as we all say little things differently.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 07:34 AM
That sort of thing I find somewhat interesting. I am not looking to pick on accents themselves, as we all say little things differently.

It's something that interests me as well, and though I can't speak for anybody else, I can say that there is nothing people might say about accents or usage that would really offend me. I might disagree, but that's not the same thing.

How about an instance of a word that I think is very common to "mispronounce"? Comfortable. I never (at least in English) pronounce it the way it should be pronounced. I say something like "komfterble". Note that the "r" and "t" are reversed! When I'm speaking French, though (I grew up partly in France), I pronounce it the way it's spelled.

Spoons
2010-Jan-20, 07:40 AM
Yes, as I was reading this sentence (How about an instance of a word that I think is very common to "mispronounce"?) I was thinking of "comfortable", even before seeing your next word.

That and library are the first two that come to mind for me.

The third one, ironically, is "pronunciation". I remember I used to hear "pronounciation" a bit, although I can't say I've heard it said that way for a while.

Van Rijn
2010-Jan-20, 07:54 AM
No, we still make fun of other Americans who say "nukular," which is definitely non-standard.


Non-standard, but becoming more common. Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nuclear) lists it as an alternate pronunciation and says this:


Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in \-kyə-lər\ have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, United States cabinet members, and at least two United States presidents and one vice president. While most common in the United States, these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers.

For the record, I say "nuclear."

Van Rijn
2010-Jan-20, 08:05 AM
Nick: Fair point. "Missle" is dropping a vowel whereas "nukular" is purely mangling a good word.


I think it is more than that. It seems to me that "nukuler" is a bit easier to pronounce, with softer transitions.

Spoons
2010-Jan-20, 08:08 AM
I'd hoped it was only the extremely ignorant and those who are trying to stir people up.

My brother used to take great joy in saying arks, rather than ask, just because he knew he could get a rise out of our dear mother.

If this nukular thing is more than just a stirrer having fun then it's quite a worry.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 08:28 AM
My brother used to take great joy in saying arks, rather than ask, just because he knew he could get a rise out of our dear mother.


You might be surprised to learn that Chaucer used "ax" to mean "ask," because it was a regional variant even in that time. You can see an explanation here (http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19991216).

Another example of metathesis. Do you say "asterisk" or "asteriks"? I actually use both, depending on how careful I am.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 08:30 AM
If this nukular thing is more than just a stirrer having fun then it's quite a worry.

Actually, as Van Rijn said, it is just an easier way to pronounce it. It's like comfortable. It's a very common process, and not anything to be overly concerned about. Though I do admit I found it funny when a certain former president of the US used it.

Jens
2010-Jan-20, 08:35 AM
And another good example of metathesis that I hadn't though of: iron. I think almost everybody pronounces it "eye-urn". If you said "eye-ron," people would probably look at you funny.

One that I didn't know about, is that bird was originally brid.

Spoons
2010-Jan-20, 09:04 AM
I looked that up (bird/brid) and on this site, they suggest that this is all a very positive thing.

Apparently "anymore" is going to start being used incorrectly, and may already be happening.
(I hope it is ok to quote this little section as the example - if not, could a mod let me know or delete it themself?)
"If you listen carefully, you can hear language change in progress. For example, anymore used to occur only in negative sentences: I don't eat pizza anymore. But now, in many areas of the country, it's being used in positive sentences: I've been eating a lot of pizza anymore. In this use, anymore means something like 'lately'. If that sounds odd to you now, keep listening; you may be hearing it in your neighborhood before long."
http://www.lsadc.org/info/ling-faqs-change.cfm

I've been eating a lot of pizza anymore? So, lets just switch words however we please now? It's madness I say!

jokergirl
2010-Jan-20, 09:51 AM
I'm quite sure I don't say "Eye-urn Maiden".

"Iron Maiden? Excellent!" (http://www.billandted.org/sounds/ea/eairon.mp3)

;)

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-20, 11:18 AM
It's not really pronounced as a D, it just sort of sounds that way. It's actually an alveolar tap, which is not a D. It's close to the way R is pronounced in Spanish when it's not trilled.

It differs for some, but not for all in the US, as the below text suggests. There are many who would pronounce utter and udder as homophonous there, and, of course, the parents who I mentioned above have called their child Atom, (pronounced as Adam), so to them the difference is at most negligible.

"2. Pairs like 'atom' and 'Adam', while phonetically homophonous for
many speakers in casual speech and for some speakers even in careful
speech, are not phonetically homophonous for everybody. Even in the
most casual speech, some speakers report that they consistently use a
voiceless tap for /t/ but never for /d/, and some speakers report that
they consistently make the familiar distinction of vowel length, with
a longer first vowel in 'Adam' than in 'atom'."

From

http://linguistlist.org/issues/12/12-2228.html


so I might not be the best representative of American Englis

This might explain why you are one of the people who distinguish a d from a T in speech still. The interesting question is, will your children?..

GalaxyGal
2010-Jan-20, 11:27 AM
I'm quite sure I don't say "Eye-urn Maiden"

If you're south of the Mason-Dixon line, it's "Arn May-den" ;)

mahesh
2010-Jan-20, 12:17 PM
... and I wonder now if I've been affected by its more common appearance in the media in recent years...
Umm..that's what I meant to say...about my goat being got at... with that phraseology... and see it and hear it soooo often...
makes my goat bleeeaaat.

I should persevere and think calm, calmly. I too, like Gillianren, do pray at the altar of Mr William Safire.

Deep breaths and count to ten.

mahesh
2010-Jan-20, 12:38 PM
...(I hope it is ok to quote this little section as the example - if not, could a mod let me know or delete it themself?)
...It's madness I say!

Oh my g g goat, Spooooons!

...and pls don't start me with pizza, anymore, already!

mahesh
2010-Jan-20, 01:11 PM
Heh heh heh. Very nice.

I heard most of my favourite kiwi jokes from a kiwi friend of mine. (His favourite had the punchline - "I was just trying to push it through, your honour.")

Brilliant sense of humour, as a nation. How's that for generalisations?

I love their style of cricket too. Gentle and delicious.

edit:
On the subject of cricket ...and use of language...
I find, (my opinion only) that the live text commentating, on the BBC website, is awful and atrocious. It's not Cricket and it's not even English! I dread to think who IS in charge in the TMS-corner or wherever such decisions are made/being made. I speak of the coverage of South Africa / England series.

Whatever happened to the likes of Mr Brian Johnston and the Professor...Dear Mr Henry Blofeld???

I don't like the changes one bit. At least the (unjustifiable) use of airtime to write / text-speak such garbiage verbiage.
These aren't just personal memos. This trash is being beamed across the world / and the around our Universe!
Oh my...I shudder... [/rant over]

I should take up this small matter with Aunty BBC

djinn
2010-Jan-20, 01:17 PM
The error that annoys me the most is the use of "there's" with plural nouns, as in "there's lots", or "there's millions of", or "there's many people who".
This has become so common in the UK now that even newsreaders on the BBC do it all the time. I hear it from them every day (and every time I hear it I scream at the TV :lol:).

The National Health had a nationwide poster ("billboard" for you Yanks, I think) campaign which began "There's millions of reasons".

Think how many people must have been involved in designing, approving, and printing those posters. Either no one noticed, or (even worse) no one knew that it was wrong. Aaaaargh!

Carphone Warehouse had posters in all their UK outlets reading "iPhone's available". Being (very) bored, I went in to one shop and asked "iPhone's what are available?" Even when I explained the correct usage of apostrophes the manager just couldn't understand my point. I vowed to never give them a penny of my money.

mahesh
2010-Jan-20, 01:34 PM
Reason: fear of Gillianren
...hmmmm...me liiiike!!!:D

hhEb09'1
2010-Jan-20, 03:41 PM
Another one (that I don't see very much, thank goodness), is "I should of gone."I attribute that to the misheard "I should've gone" so it includes "I would of gone," "I might of gone", and my favorites, the ones I like best, "I wouldn't of gone" because the alternative is "I wouldn't've gone" which also seems to drive people craxy for some reason.
This form of expression gets my goat. Everytime. Use of they/them reflecting singular form of unidentifiable gender.

An unfortunate and a fairly recent phenomenon of abuse of English grammar.I'm afraid you're just going to have to settle for having your goat get got. Not only am I guilty of that, I'd encourage it--it makes people think. :)

Or drives 'em craxy.


I refer to not verbalising the 'i' rather than miss isle. By isle I mean like "mop up in isle 3".

I suppose if I had to type it a phonetically different way I'd type it missel.
Of course that'd be "aisle 3" :)

When I worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space we pronounced it "miss-els". Looking at the AmeHerDic it shows that pronunciation first. But I don't object to the second pronunciation, as that is listed as well.


I actually consider writing on complicated subjects clearly and simply is an art form in itself, one that very few have mastered and many have substituted with dumbing down.

One of my favorite examples is Feynman's Six Easy Pieces and Six Not-So-Easy Pieces which gives a very good introduction to very complicated subjects in clear easy to understand language.Ditto on that, but I'd like to point out that those books are just 12 chapters from his three volume red books of lectures--all of which are interesting and accessible.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 05:50 PM
I'm quite sure I don't say "Eye-urn Maiden".

But then, there is I. Ron Butterfly!

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-20, 06:47 PM
But then, there is I. Ron Butterfly!

I was thinking of the pastor's pronunciation of this from the Simpsons as I read the above texts too.

Spoons
2010-Jan-20, 10:53 PM
OK, I had left my error as it was so that Gillianren's comment made sense but I think it's best I fix it now before I get my nose rubbed in it any further. ;)

Oh well, pride is for lions.


I find, (my opinion only) that the live text commentating, on the BBC website, is awful and atrocious. It's not Cricket and it's not even English! I dread to think who IS in charge in the TMS-corner or wherever such decisions are made/being made. I speak of the coverage of South Africa / England series.

Whatever happened to the likes of Mr Brian Johnston and the Professor...Dear Mr Henry Blofeld?

Mr Blofeld - what a lovable old character!

I found a year or two back that cricinfo had Indian folk doing the commentary most the time, and their commentary was generally better than native English speakers because they kept it simple.

Unless one is being artistic I much prefer a concise sentence. I remember my mother once had a boyfriend, when I was a teen, who always tried to squeeze in big words at the dinner table. It was clear that he didn't quite understand them all and it just made him sound like a fool.

When his son tried to emulate him it was a mix between hilarious and downright sad.

GalaxyGal
2010-Jan-21, 01:16 AM
I remember my mother once had a boyfriend, when I was a teen, who always tried to squeeze in big words at the dinner table.

We should avoid using a large word when a diminutive one will suffice. I was taught to eschew obfuscation and espouse elucidation. ;)

Jens
2010-Jan-21, 01:37 AM
We should avoid using a large word when a diminutive one will suffice. I was taught to eschew obfuscation and espouse elucidation. ;)

Cruel parents. They were cutting off a potential career in politics. :)

GalaxyGal
2010-Jan-21, 01:53 AM
And it limits the points earned in Scrabble!

Luckmeister
2010-Jan-21, 07:37 AM
Here's the mistake I hear the most frequently in conversation:

Somehow, the comment "I couldn't care less" became "I could care less," which means the exact opposite. That mistake is so common, I've ceased attempts to correct the usage by pointing out the difference.

Mike

Strange
2010-Jan-21, 07:54 AM
Here's the mistake I hear the most frequently in conversation:

Somehow, the comment "I couldn't care less" became "I could care less," which means the exact opposite. That mistake is so common, I've ceased attempts to correct the usage by pointing out the difference.

Mike

I think that started out as a "witty" variation which seems to have caught on (in the US at least). Perhaps because it was picked up by TV. It might even have been invented by a scriptwriter, who knows (Friends as a possible culprit comes to mind.)

Jens
2010-Jan-21, 08:09 AM
Here's the mistake I hear the most frequently in conversation:

Somehow, the comment "I couldn't care less" became "I could care less," which means the exact opposite. That mistake is so common, I've ceased attempts to correct the usage by pointing out the difference.


I wouldn't call it a mistake, because it's common and I think we all know what it means. Maybe non-standard is better, like the word "irrespective," which is illogical but very common. Looking around, I found another, common idiom that is strange when you think about it. We say "head over heels" to mean "upside down," but it should be "heels over head," because "head over heels" is our normal state.

Spoons
2010-Jan-21, 09:15 AM
If I had a goat, "irregardless" would get it.

Luckmeister
2010-Jan-21, 09:59 AM
I think that started out as a "witty" variation which seems to have caught on (in the US at least).


I wouldn't call it a mistake, because it's common and I think we all know what it means.

Okay it's common, but "could" and "couldn't" are not variations of each other. They have opposite meanings. That makes it a mistake by simple definition of the words. Just because it's common makes it no less so. Our language is difficult enough to learn without bad habits of usage like that, but it's with us now and probably will be for a long time, so I'll just have to let it go. :)

Mike

GalaxyGal
2010-Jan-21, 10:02 AM
If I had a goat, "irregardless" would get it.

That's my #1 goat-getter.

A close second is the improper use of "affect" and "effect".

Jens
2010-Jan-21, 10:09 AM
Okay it's common, but "could" and "couldn't" are not variations of each other. They have opposite meanings.

Hmmm. Here's an interesting one. Suppose I hit my finger with a hammer, and go to the doctor. He tells me the bone is broken. I have two reactions:

That's terrible.
That's great.

Don't they mean the same thing? Granted, that's very colloquial.

But how about one that is a real tough one in teaching English, but which is not at all wrong:

"Few people" means "few" whereas "quite a few" means "a lot." That's totally illogical.

Spoons
2010-Jan-21, 11:40 AM
Okay it's common, but "could" and "couldn't" are not variations of each other. They have opposite meanings. That makes it a mistake by simple definition of the words.
If it's done intentionally and while aware of it being wrong it's not a mistake, but it's still either incorrect or simply not proper (and rather meaningless).

I've thought about that few vs quite a few thing before - it is rather bizarre. I wonder whether seemingly wrong phrases like that come about by repetition of a misunderstood word usage.

(Wait, should I have a question mark at the end of that last sentence? Does it depend on inflection and intent? I intended it as a statement of what I have mused, but I suppose it was a half-question half-statement.)

mahesh
2010-Jan-21, 11:44 AM
..."Few people" means "few" whereas "quite a few" means "a lot." ..
I'd've thought that there'd be not much difference, like, percentage-wise.
A lot less than your potentially 'a lot'.

Phew! Let's have a phew (beers and quite-a-phew pizzas) after class, Class!

Strange
2010-Jan-21, 11:58 AM
"Few people" means "few" whereas "quite a few" means "a lot." That's totally illogical.

That is why logic only gets you so far in analysing language.

The English instructions on ATMs in Japan used to say "please wait for some time", presumably intending an unknown but probably short delay. To me it always suggested I could be there for several hours.

Why does "flammable" mean the same as "inflammable" and not the opposite?
Why does "cleave" mean the opposite of "cleave" and not the same?

Strange
2010-Jan-21, 12:02 PM
I'd've thought that there'd be not much difference, like, percentage-wise.
A lot less than your potentially 'a lot'.

This may be a dialect thing. To me, as well, they are very different quantities.

Spoons
2010-Jan-21, 12:11 PM
If I were to try quantify the two terms in percentages, I'd consider few to be 10-20% and quite a few to be 40% or so.

But this seems to be getting rather subjective.

SeanF
2010-Jan-21, 02:54 PM
Hmmm. Here's an interesting one. Suppose I hit my finger with a hammer, and go to the doctor. He tells me the bone is broken. I have two reactions:

That's terrible.
That's great.

Don't they mean the same thing?
No, they mean the opposite. The second is being used sarcastically.

Which was probably what Henna Oji-san meant about it being a witticism. Although, it's also possible that it was originally used by a character with the intention of the character being wrong.

Which, actually, is not entirely different than how "cold feet" came to mean what it does.

Argos
2010-Jan-21, 03:07 PM
'Sorta', 'woulda', 'shoulda'... That´s how the creolization begins.

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Jan-21, 06:26 PM
...
Why does "flammable" mean the same as "inflammable" and not the opposite?
...

See:

http://www.write101.com/W.Tips215.htm

Nick

Dgennero
2010-Jan-21, 07:24 PM
What I like to rant about are certain (not all) euphemisms.

For example "restroom" and "bathroom".
True, every town should have some rest-rooms, places where the weary traveller can rest for a while. Not like a motel - just a room to take a breather and maybe a short nap.
A room where he/she can bathe. Why not? However, I've seen signs in public bathrooms that say: "No bathing." Too bad...

And: I recently read in an obituary: "XY left this planet for a better world."
Quick, where's the next spaceport, I want a ticket ;)

I'd prefer it if we'd call a spade a spade.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-21, 08:24 PM
I think that started out as a "witty" variation which seems to have caught on (in the US at least). Perhaps because it was picked up by TV. It might even have been invented by a scriptwriter, who knows (Friends as a possible culprit comes to mind.)

It couldn't have been Friends. The phrasing long predates it.


(Wait, should I have a question mark at the end of that last sentence? Does it depend on inflection and intent? I intended it as a statement of what I have mused, but I suppose it was a half-question half-statement.)

No question mark. It isn't a question if you start with "I wonder" unless it's being used as a parenthetical phrase as in, "I wonder, does anyone really care?"


For example "restroom" and "bathroom".
True, every town should have some rest-rooms, places where the weary traveller can rest for a while. Not like a motel - just a room to take a breather and maybe a short nap.
A room where he/she can bathe. Why not? However, I've seen signs in public bathrooms that say: "No bathing." Too bad...

There is no word in the English language for that room and that fixture which is not a euphemism--or dysphemism, the lesser-known variant. (Like "kicked the bucket" for "dead.") "Toilet" is a word meaning, roughly, "preparation for being seen," as in "putting on makeup and doing hair."

Strange
2010-Jan-21, 08:28 PM
There is no word in the English language for that room and that fixture which is not a euphemism--or dysphemism, the lesser-known variant.

I know at least one. But it is probably too vulgar for this forum....

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-21, 09:05 PM
... Somehow, the comment "I couldn't care less" became "I could care less," which means the exact opposite. ...
Much like the comparative "older" seems to mean "less old" and not "more old."

An "older person" usually describes someone who is younger than an "old person."

But, as a few stated above, that's the way it is.


... There is no word in the English language for that room and that fixture which is not a euphemism--or dysphemism, the lesser-known variant. ...
Well, besides "crapper," which I doubt would ever be put on a sign in a restaurant, there's always "WC" (water closet) which is quite common in England.

It doesn't describe the bowl itself, but it's neither wrong, a euphemism, or a dysphemism.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-21, 09:43 PM
Well, besides "crapper," which I doubt would ever be put on a sign in a restaurant, there's always "WC" (water closet) which is quite common in England.

The former is definitely a dysphemism!


It doesn't describe the bowl itself, but it's neither wrong, a euphemism, or a dysphemism.

It does refer to the room, certainly. My etymology-fu fails me (it's a phrase!), but it appears to have originated in the days where it would have literally been a closet converted to other use. Still, that leaves the fixture.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-21, 09:53 PM
There is no word in the English language for that room and that fixture which is not a euphemism--or dysphemism, the lesser-known variant. (Like "kicked the bucket" for "dead.") "Toilet" is a word meaning, roughly, "preparation for being seen," as in "putting on makeup and doing hair."

I was going to offer latrine as a possible exception but I see that it originates (as does lavatory) from the Latin verb lavare, which simply means "to wash".

Although it's usually a child's term, perhaps potty is the least euphemistic, being based on chamber pot.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-21, 11:57 PM
Although it's usually a child's term, perhaps potty is the least euphemistic, being based on chamber pot.

Though, of course, "chamber" is here the euphemism. Fun, isn't it?

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-22, 12:07 AM
You consider "chamber" a euphemism rather than a (now archaic) synonym for "room"? But yes, it's fun.

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-22, 12:12 AM
Though, of course, "chamber" is here the euphemism. ...
Not really.

The chamber pot/**** pot was a vessel kept in the bedroom in a small cabinet or just under the bed and which was used for nocturnal defecation or urination. It was emptied outside in the morning.

The "chamber" part of the word differentiates it from the outhouse and from pots used in the kitchen, i.e. the pot used "in the chamber/bedroom", and not outdoors or for cooking.

No euphemism there.

"Potty" is, however, a nice diminuative.

edit: Peters Creek was quicker to the chain, so to speak.

Strange
2010-Jan-22, 12:23 AM
The former is definitely a dysphemism!

Is it? Or just vulgar?

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-22, 12:30 AM
And now for a timely reminder that using some of the words related to this topic and/or masking such words to circumvent the board language filter runs afoul of rule 3. Let's be a little more circumspect, please.

Spoons
2010-Jan-22, 12:40 AM
Doesn't the whole of the English language derive from Latin & Germanic? If so, I would think lavatory, as adapted from Latin into the English language, should be a proper term for the room with a toilet.

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-22, 12:48 AM
Doesn't the whole of the English language derive from Latin & Germanic? If so, I would think lavatory, as adapted from Latin into the English language, should be a proper term for the room with a toilet.
One has to differentiate between primary derivation and secondary use/adaption.

aastrotech
2010-Jan-22, 12:55 AM
And actually, as a serious response to the OP, I think in fact that ironically it is almost always native speakers who make errors between "its" and "it's", probably because we mostly learned the language as a spoken language and learned the writing (imperfectly) later. Whereas foreigners think through things logically.

I think people misspell because they mispronounce. I see plenty of people, both native and non native speakers, who misspell with common mispronounciation. When they talk they can be understood or sometimes not when the mispronounciation is really bad. But the most illegible writing I find is misspelling due to mispronounciation.

sarongsong
2010-Jan-22, 01:07 AM
My current grating fave:
Of Forbiden things (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/99637-forbiden-things.html)

Spoons
2010-Jan-22, 01:12 AM
aastrotech: As google says;

Did you mean: mispronunciation?

Sorry for the nitpick, but my error was picked up earlier, so I'm just paying it forward.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 01:31 AM
You consider "chamber" a euphemism rather than a (now archaic) synonym for "room"? But yes, it's fun.

I know it's a synonym, but it's like the use of "closet." We were carefully avoiding mention of which room we were talking about.


The chamber pot/**** pot was a vessel kept in the bedroom in a small cabinet or just under the bed and which was used for nocturnal defecation or urination. It was emptied outside in the morning.

I'm aware, yes.


The "chamber" part of the word differentiates it from the outhouse and from pots used in the kitchen, i.e. the pot used "in the chamber/bedroom", and not outdoors or for cooking.

But in "chamber," the distinction is not the room. After all, we don't call them "kitchen pots," should we need to distinguish--we call them "cooking pots." The more vulgar term is not a euphemism, but "outhouse" rather is, if you think about it. Oh, it's out. But you do very little in it that you'd do in a house.


Is it? Or just vulgar?

Both. The vulgarity in question is an intentional dysphemism of the technical term--it's being vulgar on purpose, for the sake of being vulgar.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-22, 01:35 AM
I think people misspell because they mispronounce. I see plenty of people, both native and non native speakers, who misspell with common mispronounciation. When they talk they can be understood or sometimes not when the mispronounciation is really bad. But the most illegible writing I find is misspelling due to mispronounciation.
You misspelled mispronunciation because of its pronunciation :D

Jens
2010-Jan-22, 01:46 AM
'Sorta', 'woulda', 'shoulda'... That´s how the creolization begins.

What do you mean by "creolization"? My understanding of creolization is something like this:

"The hybridization of a culture, as it absorbs and transforms forces from outside."

So for example, the cultures of the Caribbean are considered creolized because they are a kind of hybrid of the local Indigenous culture with the Spanish (mostly) culture and the African culture brought by slaves.

I don't think "sorta" has to do with that, but is just a case of what is called "economy" in language change.

Jens
2010-Jan-22, 01:50 AM
Doesn't the whole of the English language derive from Latin & Germanic? If so, I would think lavatory, as adapted from Latin into the English language, should be a proper term for the room with a toilet.

I'm basically repeating what Gillianren is arguing, but the point still remains that in Latin, lavatory is a euphemism. It means a place to wash, which isn't actually what we do. And "chamber pot" is also euphemistic by omission. We have no problem saying "a cutting knife," because that is what a knife is for, but don't like to mention what the chamber pot is actually for. Like saying "the little boy's room," which may be true but isn't actually stating what is done in the room. Any attempt to actually use a proper term would run afoul of rule 3, so I'm afraid we'll have to discuss this euphemistically. :)

Jens
2010-Jan-22, 02:01 AM
I also wanted to add that this whole thing with euphemisms is really hard because if we go back far enough, we sometimes find that even words that are considered direct and non-euphemistic were actually euphemisms at some time in the past. I just looked at the word "die" (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=die&searchmode=none) in the online etymology dictionary, and although it's not so clear, it appears that "die" itself may originally be a euphemistic usage.

Even the four-letter word for excrement is related to the word "shed," and is originally a euphemistic usage from "to separate," and is even related etymologically to "science."

Spoons
2010-Jan-22, 02:16 AM
At what point does the extended and widespread usage of a euphamism cause a transition from being a euphamism into a proper word itself. (Apologies, I'm not sure what the correct term would be for a non-euphamism.)

Is this similar to the way certain slang terminology is vetted and then included in dictionaries?

(This is the sort of thing that concerns me - the possibility of popular usage allowing words like "wassup" to become considered an actual word.)

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 04:22 AM
At what point does the extended and widespread usage of a euphamism cause a transition from being a euphamism into a proper word itself. (Apologies, I'm not sure what the correct term would be for a non-euphamism.)

That is not an interesting question. That is two interesting questions! I, alas, do not have answers to either.


Is this similar to the way certain slang terminology is vetted and then included in dictionaries?

Probably, but again, I'm not entirely clear on the process as a whole. If "die" was a euphemism once, it certainly isn't anymore. Honestly, I don't really consider "toilet" one anymore, though it kind of is. Oh, language! Why does anyone think you're boring?


(This is the sort of thing that concerns me - the possibility of popular usage allowing words like "wassup" to become considered an actual word.)

If it's any consolation, slang terms seldom stick around unless they serve a purpose there was no word to serve before that. Okay?

Jens
2010-Jan-22, 04:49 AM
At what point does the extended and widespread usage of a euphamism cause a transition from being a euphamism into a proper word itself. (Apologies, I'm not sure what the correct term would be for a non-euphamism.)

I don't think there is a term for non-euphemism. Non-euphemism is fine. A euphemism is a special term, so generally speaking, we don't have words to indicate things that are not members of a special class. For example, what do you call an animal that is not a mammal? A non-mammal would be the only way.

PS I don't think euphemism is spelled with an "a" anywhere, but I could be wrong.

Spoons
2010-Jan-22, 06:05 AM
No, the a in euphemism (well, I typed euphamism - at work we only have IE7, which doesn't appear to have spell-check) was purely my error, not some Australian-English quirk.

We go by English-English here, though that seems to be changing the more people use the internet, since google returns the American-English spelling corrections.

ANd thanks, Gillianren - at least I know I'm not overly ignorant in that area. Language is a fascinating area of study - I've searched for the correct phrasing on the net a number of times and got carried away reading the hostorical background for hours. It can be very illuminating!

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 07:49 AM
And thanks, Gillianren - at least I know I'm not overly ignorant in that area. Language is a fascinating area of study - I've searched for the correct phrasing on the net a number of times and got carried away reading the historical background for hours. It can be very illuminating!

If you haven't yet, I advise seeking out the On Language columns of the late William Safire. I didn't always agree with the battles he chose--and we won't discuss his politics--but he was always interesting. He also wrote the most beautiful speech never given, the one Nixon would have given had Apollo 11 been stuck on the Moon.

AndreasJ
2010-Jan-22, 10:27 AM
At what point does the extended and widespread usage of a euphamism cause a transition from being a euphamism into a proper word itself. (Apologies, I'm not sure what the correct term would be for a non-euphamism.)
A criterion that has been suggested is that it's stopped being an euphemism when people feel the need to come up with new euphemisms to replace it.

(This being descriptive linguistics, there are a couple obvious catches here - something can be an euphemism for some while for others it's simply the normal or only word for something, and a word can stop being an euphemism because the thing refered to ceases to be taboo, so no new euphemism is needed.)

Spoons
2010-Jan-22, 10:56 AM
Gillianren: Ah, ok, that sounds interesting - thanks Gillianren. It seems it is available in a book collection. I'll have a dig around the planet for that one. Looks like a bit of fun.

AndreasJ: Who was it that suggested that idea? It does sound like a reasonable way to deal with the issue. Is it a widely accepted idea? Is there any authority on these matters?

AndreasJ
2010-Jan-22, 11:19 AM
AndreasJ: Who was it that suggested that idea? It does sound like a reasonable way to deal with the issue. Is it a widely accepted idea? Is there any authority on these matters?
Don't recall. Yes. Dunno. Not really.

Dgennero
2010-Jan-22, 05:12 PM
If something has a stigma, euphemisms in the end take on the meaning of what they try to hide - and that's why I usually don't like them.
Excuse me, I have to powder my nose ;)

djinn
2010-Jan-22, 05:15 PM
I also wanted to add that this whole thing with euphemisms is really hard because if we go back far enough, we sometimes find that even words that are considered direct and non-euphemistic were actually euphemisms at some time in the past.

Very true. Even the four letter "f" work is also a euphemism. It originally meant "beat".
Kestrels (Falco Tinnunculus) were originally known as "Windf...ers", then "Windbeaters/Windhovers".
My father told me that. :) He was a big Gerard Manley Hopkins (http://www.flickr.com/photos/artimagesmarkcummins/2757040788/) fan. ***** LINK WARNING - possibly offensive language *****

Hmm, "The Beatles"?

I wonder, were there were ever any solely rude words?.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 05:41 PM
Gillianren: Ah, ok, that sounds interesting - thanks Gillianren. It seems it is available in a book collection. I'll have a dig around the planet for that one. Looks like a bit of fun.

There are quite a few--I think I have a half-dozen, and I know I don't have all of them. But the first, simply called On Language, was a gift from a beloved English teacher back in high school.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-23, 12:34 PM
I would guess one way an euphemism stops being an euphemism is when the language it was an euphemism in stops being part of common understanding so that the literal rather than euphemistic meaning is lost.
So eg. even though lavatory is the bathroom euphemism in Latin, it stopped being an euphemism when people stopped understanding the Latin phrase.

Strange
2010-Jan-23, 01:06 PM
I would guess one way an euphemism stops being an euphemism is when the language it was an euphemism in stops being part of common understanding so that the literal rather than euphemistic meaning is lost.
So eg. even though lavatory is the bathroom euphemism in Latin, it stopped being an euphemism when people stopped understanding the Latin phrase.

And then people may come to consider the euphemism too vulgar and start using a euphemism for it. Such as restroom. Which is where, I think, we came in ...

BigDon
2010-Jan-23, 01:51 PM
I haven't read the whole thread but if nobodies mentioned it there is a recognized phenomena called "euphemism treadmill"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism_treadmill#Euphemism_treadmill.

A fine example here is, because it's a science forum, I can write "penis" BUT the auto-censor will nab the word for male poultry, a euphemism for penis. So penis has come all the way back around the treadmill and the alternatre name for rooster is now on the bottom.

(And being on the bottom or" the new vulgar" seems contingent on what percieved social group is using it.)

Dgennero
2010-Jan-23, 05:37 PM
You mean they DO censor rooster? ;) Or was that c*ck...
There's a nice site for modern definitions: http://www.urbandictionary.com/
Oops - I'm outta here :)

hhEb09'1
2010-Jan-23, 05:48 PM
Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius

ETA: O! you mean your auto-censor.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-23, 08:05 PM
I do know the chat room won't let you discuss Hitchcock. You are suddenly discussing Hitchweiner, which is spelled wrong anyway.

hhEb09'1
2010-Jan-24, 07:39 AM
Our talkinator chatroom? the one up in the corner? I just now tried all sorts of naasty stuff and it was totally unfiltered. Maybe it was because I was known as DumbFace.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-24, 07:58 PM
That's the one. It also replaced "Hitler" with "Ghandi," also misspelled, and we couldn't even discuss poooptake mushrooms.

kleindoofy
2010-Jan-24, 08:03 PM
So they're protecting little school kids' tender ears and eyes in a chatroom they will never visit?

Silliness doth know no boundries.


... it was totally unfiltered. Maybe it was because I was known as DumbFace.
No, it's because the vBulletin admin-panel allows turning off/overriding the word-filter for selected user groups or individuals. My guess is that the mods have that privilege.

Tobin Dax
2010-Jan-24, 10:28 PM
So they're protecting little school kids' tender ears and eyes in a chatroom they will never visit?

Silliness doth know no boundries.


No, it's because the vBulletin admin-panel allows turning off/overriding the word-filter for selected user groups or individuals. My guess is that the mods have that privilege.

Well, I just tested it out and there was no censorship. I even tried a couple of words mentioned by Gillian. Just in case there was anyone watching, I'm going to go hide now. :shifty:

slang
2010-Jan-25, 12:33 AM
Well, I just tested it out and there was no censorship.

It certainly was there when that chatroom thingy was introduced. It doesn't seem to do it now, but it really did replace some terms with others, even if the naughty word was formed by the last two letters of one word, and the first two of the next! That certainly made for some awkward moments, including a check if the fingers were on the right keys for touch-typing. "Gosh it is quiet here" would turn into "Gopo op is quiet here". Really. "Was Hitler German?" "Wap Oopler German?". Etc.

ETA: I may misremember the Hitler replacement, reading Gillian's post #188

GalaxyGal
2010-Jan-25, 12:45 AM
I tried it out today and there was no censorship. But anytime I go in, I'm all alone...alone....alone.

hhEb09'1
2010-Jan-25, 05:39 PM
So they're protecting little school kids' tender ears and eyes in a chatroom they will never visit?Why would they never visit? Seriously.


Silliness doth know no boundries.We knew that! :)

No, it's because the vBulletin admin-panel allows turning off/overriding the word-filter for selected user groups or individuals. My guess is that the mods have that privilege.Maybe. I'm not an admin, but clearly, from the other posts, that feature has been turned off. I don't know when that happened.

slang
2010-Jan-26, 12:10 AM
No, it's because the vBulletin admin-panel allows turning off/overriding the word-filter for selected user groups or individuals. My guess is that the mods have that privilege.
Maybe. I'm not an admin, but clearly, from the other posts, that feature has been turned off. I don't know when that happened.

To the best of my knowledge, the chatroom interface has absolutely no connection to vbulletin settings (and I just tested the word filter using a non-logged in other browser.. no censoring). It did, at some point, appear to be changed quite a bit from the version we were using at first, I guess the chatroom website developers dropped their overzealous "bad-word-replacement". .

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-26, 12:22 PM
I pointed out a while back that this site censors perfectly polite words, such as the Northern English town of S****horpe.