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[The English Language] Etymology, Words, Phrases, Dialects and other fascinating things

LucascraftLucascraft Registered User regular
edited April 2012 in Debate and/or Discourse
I find language to be fascinating. Specifically, the English language, which is much like the Borg of Star Trek. It assimilates and makes other words its own, adapting and changing all the time. I took a class in college called "American English" which was probably my most favorite class ever. The class was about the language itself. Word history. Dialects. Slang. Regional sayings, phrases, and pronunciations. It was a fun class just to learn random trivia about words.

I've wanted to make this thread for a while. A thread where we can discuss all things related to the English Language. Does a certain phrase confuse you? Want to discuss its meaning with other people on the internet? Lets use this as a place to have an intelligent conversation about words.

Here are a few simple references to help with basic understanding:
dictionary.com
thesaurus.com
urbandictionary.com

There's also a thing called the Oxford English Dictionary, or OED for short, which is one of my favorite books/resources of all time. Unfortunately the website requires paid membership to access it. While I was a student, I had the privilege of a free paid membership. I used the hell out of it. Being able to look up a word, find out things such as the earliest recorded usage of the word, its various definitions, with dates of when that definition came into existence, and all sorts of other things is just the best. Simply the best.

I had a conversation just tonight with a friend, who stated that she was "plum tired." I've heard the phrase before, but I decided to google it and see what I could learn. It turns out, its actually spelled "plumb" and as best as I can tell, the phrase itself uses the word plumb as an intensifier of sorts. A plumb-line is a tool used to measure the depth of something. Another phrase, "plumb deep" means something is really deep. And from there, as best as I can tell, "plumb" evolved into a word which is basically synonymous with "really." Crazy how something can originate as a metaphor and turn into an accepted figure of speech.

On the topic of figures of speech, one major difference between American English and British English (other than the accent/pronunciation) is all of the figures of speech we use in our daily conversations. In America, we use TONS of baseball metaphors. "Knock it out of the park" "Swing for the fences" "Getting to third base" etc. I personally am not much of a baseball fan, but I still will occasionally find myself using phrases which originated in the game, simply because its an accepted cultural way of talking. Its been socially bred into me.

So anyway, enough rambling for this OP. Lets talk about words!

Lucascraft on
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Posts

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    I love learning about languages! And you might like HotForWords, she investigates the origins of English words and idioms. It is one of my favourite video websites.

    Richy on
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  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    From Sports Night:

    DAN: There's such a word as disheveled, but "sheveled" is nowhere to be found in the dictionary.

    CASEY: Danny...

    DAN: I'm just sayin' English sucks.

  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    What is the best word?

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
  • shrykeshryke Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    Esoteric

    Because the word itself is esoteric.

  • Uncle_BalsamicUncle_Balsamic Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    Sesquipedalian

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  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    I love thinking about words and where they came from. Having a wife who is a non-native speaker really makes you think about it while you try and explain why things are so weird.

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  • y2jake215y2jake215 I found a girl and brought her back, because that's what a daddy do. Stay wild, blap blap blap. Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    Turgid

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    maybe i'm streaming terrible dj right now if i am its here
  • Caveman PawsCaveman Paws Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    Moist.

  • y2jake215y2jake215 I found a girl and brought her back, because that's what a daddy do. Stay wild, blap blap blap. Registered User regular
    I like the way you think Caveman Paws

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    maybe i'm streaming terrible dj right now if i am its here
  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    I've been reading a lot of P.G. Wodehouse books lately. Besides being riotously funny, I'm learning all these fantastic bits of bygone slang. I am totally going to refer to money as ooph or spondulick from now on.

  • lonelyahavalonelyahava One day, I will be able to say to myself "I am beautiful and I am perfect just the way I am"Registered User regular
    I took a summer linguistics course for my degree that focused on the accents in the US.

    it was a few years ago, only 3 weeks long and I've forgotten most of it. But occasionally I notice myself slipping into my northeast/philadelphia habits.

    like putting the word 'anymore' at the end, or really anywhere, in a sentence. It doesn't really belong there, it really doesn't fit at all, but I do it anyway. (also I use 'anyways' a lot)

    I don't know where I picked the habit up, but I've been talking like that forever.

    My Little Corner of the World || I am ravelried! || My Steam!
    You have to fight through some bad days, to earn the best days of your life.
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    Baseball metaphors are common even in British or Commonwealth English, probably due to tv or movies. The use of the three strikes or out of the park are especially common

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    LadyM wrote: »
    I've been reading a lot of P.G. Wodehouse books lately. Besides being riotously funny, I'm learning all these fantastic bits of bygone slang. I am totally going to refer to money as ooph or spondulick from now on.

    Wodehouse is fantastic.

    I wish I'd been a valet in the naughts to the Idle Rich.

    "I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde
    Real strong, facetious.

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    But yes I love the English language. I am obsessed.

    I treat the language as an aesthetic beauty, both in textual and aural form. For one example, I am obsessive about never ending sentences with prepositions - but it's not for grammatical adherence, it simply does not flow well. I have zero shame about flagrantly eschewing the rules of grammar for a sentence that reads or sounds more prettily. It's the poet in me, I suppose.

    facetious on
    "I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde
    Real strong, facetious.

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • BethrynBethryn Registered User regular
    Floccinaucinihilipilification is good
    Syzygy is good

    Oojah-cum-spiff is pretty awesome (as are most variants of oojah); Wodehouse got a lot of use out of it. http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-ooj1.htm

    John Allison seems to have a particular fondness for odds bits of dialect in Scarygoround; nang and pash are two I thought I'd never see used in contempory works. http://www.scarygoround.com/?date=20120403

  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    ... I have been known to use 'pash' in regular conversation. >_>

    But then that's sort of my thing. I've been accused of "trying to sound smart", but really I just enjoy words and try to use the most apt in a given situation. Oftentimes a more obscure word will have a more precise meaning that suits what I'm trying to say.

    Some of my favourite words:

    audacity
    chagrin
    sobriquet
    oyez!
    panache
    ubiquitous.. which I use far too often and I swear that's not meant to be a pun.

    facetious on
    "I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde
    Real strong, facetious.

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • Uncle_BalsamicUncle_Balsamic Registered User regular
    I'm at uni doing linguistics and, yeah, language is fun. Boo to pedants, incidentally.

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  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Yeah pedantry is dumb.

    (although I like the word "pedantry" and all its various forms)

    Speaking of:

    facetious on
    "I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde
    Real strong, facetious.

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    The only thing I'm really pedantic about these days is the proper usage of the possessive forms "whose" and "its".

    Mainly because I think both are pretty.

    "I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde
    Real strong, facetious.

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    facetious wrote: »
    But yes I love the English language. I am obsessed.

    I treat the language as an aesthetic beauty, both in textual and aural form. For one example, I am obsessive about never ending sentences with prepositions - but it's not for grammatical adherence, it simply does not flow well. I have zero shame about flagrantly eschewing the rules of grammar for a sentence that reads or sounds more prettily. It's the poet in me, I suppose.

    Where my prepositions at?!

    steam_sig.png
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Bout ye, Language Thread? What's the craic? A weean was yapping 'cause she was foundered, so I said "Houl yer whisht!" and dandered over to the shop and had a hoke for Soda Farls. They didn't have any! Their bakes were spouting feckin gobshite about being closed at me lugs. So I said "What are yous on about? Shut yer gobs!" The eejits made me want to boke. I'm totally scunnered at them! Me plans are totally banjaxed today.[/Mid Ulster English]

    If you weren't aware, I enjoy my local dialect. :P

  • Uncle_BalsamicUncle_Balsamic Registered User regular
    Jib being dialectal; it's pyah gret.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    circumloquacious

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  • ALockslyALocksly Registered User
    surreptitious

    Yes,... yes, I agree. It's totally unfair that sober you gets into trouble for things that drunk you did.
  • YogoYogo Registered User regular
    Can't have a language thread without this.

  • GoodKingJayIIIGoodKingJayIII Registered User regular
    I have always been a big fan of lascivious.

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  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular


    where my gerunds at

    parenthetical

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  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    as far as good words go

    you can get a lot of work out of the word goetia

    also obligatory callipygian and bathycolpian

    surrealitycheck on
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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    The real best word in english:
    Spoiler:

    I also have a penchant for any words descended from nautical slang. Even when the word's probably not ACTUALLY from nautical slang, I don't care, it's great anyway.

    At Loggerheads
    son of a gun (screw you snopes)
    three sheets to the wind
    learning the ropes
    slush fund

    Also: that "room to swing a cat" is NOT nautically based, is not referring to a cat o' nine tails, and is in fact apparently genuinely referring to swinging cats.

    But "the cat's out of the bag" is one.

    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Oh, also even though I mostly don't have a problem understanding differences in regular British slang, Brit cooking terms and food names can absolutely destroy me sometimes. In terms of fine cuisine we Americans took most of our terminology from the French, I'm guessing because of Escoffier, but who knows.

    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    mostly by doing things like pronouncing the word "fillet" like it was "filet", but still pronouncing it horribly

    dont do it man

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  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo Crushing pussy; Marry a man Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Kana wrote: »
    Oh, also even though I mostly don't have a problem understanding differences in regular British slang, Brit cooking terms and food names can absolutely destroy me sometimes. In terms of fine cuisine we Americans took most of our terminology from the French, I'm guessing because of Escoffier, but who knows.

    Yes, you took their words and then used them wrong, which makes it incredibly annoying. And I don't even mean cute things like using "à la mode" to mean "with ice cream".

    Seriously, calling the main course the entrée? That doesn't strike anybody as incredibly stupid? Shame on you all!

    Obviously in God's language we never, ever steal and then misuse words. Never. Would not dream of it.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    or biscuit

    dear mother of god how do you get "biscuit" so very wrong. you dont even cook the fucking thing twice

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  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    I like the phrase 'at loggerheads'.

    Also I like pretty much any British slang, but despite being a giant Anglophile the main reason I use the 'ou' spelling is because I think it looks nicer. I go back and forth on 're'/'er'.

    "I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde
    Real strong, facetious.

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    I'm fond of the word queue. 4 completely useless letters. Obfuscate is also becoming popular between me and a coworker.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    I was reading this thread and thinking I don't really like any specific words except for swear-words. Especially new swearwords or mixes. Fuck-knuckle. Cunt-bucket. John Cooper Clarke's poem, 'Twat':



    But then I realised I do like metalanguage: synecdoche, metonymy, ergative, trochee, dactyl, bilabial plosive, velar fricative, acceptability, deixis...

    I really love finding that there's a technical term for an aspect of language that I've seen but never isolated before. And once I learn the term, I see it all the time.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    adumbrate

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  • AtomikaAtomika (citation needed)Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    So, my in-laws are all Scottish; Edinburgh and Glasgow. My family is all from Texas and Louisiana.

    That's fun.


    My poor kids are going to sound like crazy people.

    Atomika on
  • Uncle_BalsamicUncle_Balsamic Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    But then I realised I do like metalanguage: synecdoche, metonymy, ergative, trochee, dactyl, bilabial plosive, velar fricative, acceptability, deixis...

    Yay velar fricative: scouse as fuck.

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  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    I feel this is now necessary:

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