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29-4-2016 18:54:20  #41


Re: On the fecundity of English

Every time I turn up at a new job, there will at some point appear a notice on the kitchen asking people not to leave the washing up of things they have used to other people, but to do it themselves.  I have a collection of a score or more of these, and not a single one is either written clearly or cannot be interpreted as meaning something different to that which the writer intended.  Anecdotal?  What isn't.


Sincerely,
beak.
 
 

29-4-2016 19:15:53  #42


Re: On the fecundity of English

I guess it's what we're going to have to live with. About the only place we may find proper grammar and usage may only be found in the classic works by authors of long ago? A lot of what I write may not be entertaining or even interesting to some, but I at least try to use as good a command of the English language as I can, as was taught to me by my mother and my English teachers of long ago.


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

29-4-2016 20:55:37  #43


Re: On the fecundity of English

beak wrote:

Every time I turn up at a new job, there will at some point appear a notice on the kitchen asking people not to leave the washing up of things they have used to other people, but to do it themselves.  I have a collection of a score or more of these, and not a single one is either written clearly or cannot be interpreted as meaning something different to that which the writer intended.  Anecdotal?  What isn't.

Well, when you mention "score or more" you are certainly headed toward the statistical statement...!

We may be construing "anecdotal" differently. I hazard a guess you hear this as "hearsay", as in "African lions are not dangerous. I knew a guy who knew a woman who went into the bush and she said that one night a lion came into her tent and just nuzzled her and purred like a kitten". That's a reasonable interpretation of "anecdotal", but when the ilk who do beastly scientific experiments with statistical analysis use it I don't think there is any implication that the anecdotes are necessarily false. From their point of view even if the lion had come in and simply nuzzled her like a kitten that is only a single data point - an anecdote. One of the points of good statistics is that things are arranged to eliminate selection bias and all the other little biases and actually make some objective general statement. 

I have no doubt you have encountered semi-literate people by the gross, and so have I - besides when I look in the mirror to shave every morning. But so what? The majority of the population never was literate - or even able to read and write - and now that we expect all adults to read and write it does not mean that they will write well. Personally I've only just begun to pull the commas out of my own writing and toss them back in the comma jar, and I am still fuzzy on all the little itsy punctuations which are not periods and commas... ellipsis is one of my favorites. Ellipses and dashes and semi-colons, oh my. I must read this King Lear thing soon, I've heard rather a lot about it.


"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton".
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12-5-2016 17:57:02  #44


Re: On the fecundity of English

And from the Richard Lederer School of Thought:

Richard Lederer wrote:

English, even when mastered properly, is a crazy language. For one thing, there is no egg in eggplant, no ham in hamburger, and neither apple nor pine in pineapple. Boxing rings are square, and a Guinea pig is neither from Guinea, nor is it a pig.

Writers write, but fingers don't fing. Grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham. A bunch of tooth is teeth, so why isn't a group of goof geef? If a vegetarian eats vegatables, what does a humanitarian eat? People recite at a play, and play at a recital. We send cargo by ship and ship by truck. We drive on parkways and park in driveways. We can make amends, but we can't make one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends, and you get rid of all but one of them, is it an odd or an end?

We have noses that run and feet that smell. Slim chance and fat chance are the same thing. A house can burn up as it burns down. You can fill in a form by filling it out, and alarms go off by going on.

And one more thing: Why doesn't "buick" rhyme with "quick?"

Last edited by Uwe (12-5-2016 18:32:10)


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

12-5-2016 18:30:59  #45


Re: On the fecundity of English

Richard Lederer should look up the word etymology. More often than not there's a perfectly good reason for why a name exists, and there's nothing crazy about that. (I took the liberty of editing post #44 post to show that it was a direct quote).


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

12-5-2016 19:18:13  #46


Re: On the fecundity of English

Uwe wrote:

Richard Lederer should look up the word etymology. More often than not there's a perfectly good reason for why a name exists, and there's nothing crazy about that. (I took the liberty of editing post #44 post to show that it was a direct quote).

I wasn't too sure of how I could present a quote without getting into trouble with the writer.  It was under "quotable quotes," so I thought I'd try it.  Thank you for the editing.  I am more comfortable with this one now.
 


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

13-5-2016 08:59:38  #47


Re: On the fecundity of English

Richard Lederer is a linguist, though, so he knows there's such a thing as etymology. This is just a bit of fun, and quite right too: English is full of inconsistencies, irregularities, and oddities. I had a lovely Polish lodger for some months who would  get quite a kick out of that little extract, because she was struggling so much with learning English. You certainly couldn't say that English-language etymology was predictable or coherent, given that it takes in languages from throughout time and around the world. And quite often the family of words that you assume a given word belongs to is nothing to do with the word itself - whose actual root may be almost lost in the ancient Indo-European mists...

Even a Classical education used to help a lot, as Latin and Greek roots account for so much. But they don't account for the words that came in from the Vikings, the Normans, the North American Indians, the Australian Aboriginals, India and the rest of the British empire, and now globalism.

I only learned fairly recently that 'shampoo' is an Indian word, for example. As is 'jodhpurs'. Of course!

 

13-5-2016 13:58:07  #48


Re: On the fecundity of English

KatLondon wrote:

Richard Lederer is a linguist, though, so he knows there's such a thing as etymology.

I have to use emoticons more often. My comment was a tongue in cheek response. 
 


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

13-5-2016 14:18:38  #49


Re: On the fecundity of English



 

 

13-5-2016 20:36:22  #50


Re: On the fecundity of English

Folk etymologies are the best etymologies  I can only think of one right now, but it is so good it's worth a whole stack of 'em: "Cordwainer' 

The best part is, there is no folk etymology, only the suggestion of one! It derives from Cordoban, the place that gave its name to a type of leather, and has been cleverly modified to suggest it is formed of English words although its bits are completely meaningless except for the "er". I see this kind of trope at work all the time and I baffle them with plain English. 

Speaking of the need for emoticons, I have been using text only communication for a long time now - I saw the great flame wars on the now semi-fabulous Usenet! - so you would think I absolutely would never forget the lesson of the ease of misjudging tone. But it still happens to me regularly both as sender and recipient. Part of the problem is the anti-emoticon crowd. It does not seem dignified to some and they do not use them. Sometimes I even ape them. But if you are not writing a textbook or a novel but simply having a virtual chat they are are useful additional channels of information. Maybe if they were not all based on smilie faces but on some very serious looking and strictly non-representational combinations of symbols the very serious would be able to use them comfortably! 

Tongue sticking out emoticons are very serious at all. 


"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton".
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