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

135

Posts

  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    from a quick google, the math 'mean' (the noun) derives from the Latin medianus, whereas the other 'mean' as in common or sucky derives from proto-Germanic.

    But then there's a pretty fair share of words which technically mean 'average' but in usage just mean "crappy".

    mediocre
    middling
    pedestrian

    etc etc

    (but then you can also say, "I make a mean martini" so around we go)

    Kana on
    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    Etymological sources are very important:

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php

    But, remember that modern usages of a word are often supported and reinforced by folk-etymology. Even when a common opinion about the origin of a word is not supported by primary sources, the fact that the word connotes something for many people causes them to use it more. We like to use words we feel we have control over.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    Lilnoobs wrote: »
    Yeah, words. "Awful" is a good one too. The term went from meaning to inspire "Awe", full of "Awe", to something terrible. Even as recent as Moby Dick the term "Awful" meant something that fills another with a sense of awe, not necessarily a good or bad thing, so when modern readers come across the passage where the waves are discussed as "awful", they might think of huge, treacherous waves pounding the boat, which wasn't necessarily how Melville would have thought of the word.

    Man what is it about words describing levels of awe that makes them shift into broader meanings? See also:

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    It's one of the semantic shifts that linguists have defined.

    http://www.uni-due.de/SHE/HE_Change_Semantic.htm

    Expansion, Restriction, Deterioration, Amelioration, Markedness, Metaphor, Reanlysis, truncation, and homophony.

    I mean, just think of the word "epic". That seems pretty relevant to that Eddie Izzard clip. Really? An internet post can be epic?

    Lilnoobs on
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    Etymological sources are very important:

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php

    But, remember that modern usages of a word are often supported and reinforced by folk-etymology. Even when a common opinion about the origin of a word is not supported by primary sources, the fact that the word connotes something for many people causes them to use it more. We like to use words we feel we have control over.

    My hope was that this thread would slowly evolve into a philosophy of language thread. One of the issues we could take up is the relationship between etymology and meaning. If a particular word meant X at T1, and later, at T2, means Y, how do we deal with this?

    Then trip from that into a conversation about Wittgenstein and the theory of meaning-as-use.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    poshniallo wrote: »
    Etymological sources are very important:

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php

    But, remember that modern usages of a word are often supported and reinforced by folk-etymology. Even when a common opinion about the origin of a word is not supported by primary sources, the fact that the word connotes something for many people causes them to use it more. We like to use words we feel we have control over.

    My hope was that this thread would slowly evolve into a philosophy of language thread. One of the issues we could take up is the relationship between etymology and meaning. If a particular word meant X at T1, and later, at T2, means Y, how do we deal with this?

    Then trip from that into a conversation about Wittgenstein and the theory of meaning-as-use.

    In the past your take on philosophy of language has been very combative and negative towards everyday usage. Have you mellowed?

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • chocoboliciouschocobolicious Registered User regular
    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/irony

    My pet peeve is people who don't even know the various forms of irony trying to define what is ironic.

    Gods bless Oatmeal for they are a wellspring of knowledge.

  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    My pet peeve is people who complain about people using 'irony' wrong

    It's like the easiest word in all of English to complain about

    Except for maybe 'ain't', but that just makes you come across as a stuffy grandma

    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    And the definition of "irony" specifically features a clause that gives it a broader meaning than they credit it.

    so they're actually wrong.

    which

    is

    ironic.

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

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    i'm not sure why we need to "deal with" the change in a word's meaning, or how we would do so

    since it happens whether we like it or not

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck NONSTOP INFINITE CLIMAX POSTING you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    theres nothing to say about meaning change

    you complain about changes in usage, then they change anyway

    prescriptivism is just good clean fun and makes you feel superior

    in every language game etc

    surrealitycheck on
    obF2Wuw.png
  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    Give us (read: the Arabs, for whom we Pakis are second-cousins) back our words!

  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck NONSTOP INFINITE CLIMAX POSTING you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    linguistic piracy is da best

    obF2Wuw.png
  • HamurabiHamurabi Cambridge, MARegistered User regular
    I haven't actually looked at an exhaustive list before now. Some of these don't even sound Arabic, but I guess that's what happens over 1,000+ years of linguistic transformation.

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    i'm not sure why we need to "deal with" the change in a word's meaning, or how we would do so

    since it happens whether we like it or not

    I think he means deal with philosophically, not practically.

    I think J, when finding the world odd, blames the world instead of his own sense of 'logic'.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Vanguard wrote: »
    I know you can be overwhelmed, and that you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?

    Spoiler:

    I just read a book by Virginia Woolf that did indeed use "whelmed." Although the meaning was pretty much the same as "overwhelmed."

    I don't get the context for "what should we do when word X begins meaning Y instead of Z." In what context? Are you talking about "when updating dictionaries" or "when reading old books" or what? The change itself is inevitable.

    LadyM on
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    I just saw someone write "pain-staking" on their Facebook wall.

    I find this sort of thing amusing, but my linguistics has failed me, so I don't recall what it he correct term is.

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  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    I just saw someone write "pain-staking" on their Facebook wall.

    I find this sort of thing amusing, but my linguistics has failed me, so I don't recall what it he correct term is.
    I do that sort of thing all the time! For some reason I expend extra effort to write the wrong word. Like I'll write "know" instead of no for some reason. I have no idea why.

  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    I just saw someone write "pain-staking" on their Facebook wall.

    I find this sort of thing amusing, but my linguistics has failed me, so I don't recall what it he correct term is.

    If you are going to be breaking it up, shouldn't it be "pains-taking"?

    I assume the etymology of the word is just, y'know, taking pains

    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    I just saw someone write "pain-staking" on their Facebook wall.

    I find this sort of thing amusing, but my linguistics has failed me, so I don't recall what it he correct term is.
    If you are going to be breaking it up, shouldn't it be "pains-taking"?

    I assume the etymology of the word is just, y'know, taking pains

    That is correct and the issue to which I refer, rather than the superfluous hyphenation.

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  • KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    Whoa wait what?

    Free paid membership? This makes no sense!

    My neck, my back, my FUPA and my crack.
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    spool32 wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    queue. Only 5-letter word with 4 vowels!

    Off the top of my head are "eerie" and "aerie" and I'm guessing there are more.

    So, uh.

    No.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    As to "however", what I was taught - and I don't claim this is correct, only what I was taught at some point - was that "however", "but", and the like were properly used as:

    [clause1]; however, [clause2]

    So, for example:

    I don't care for mayonnaise; however, I admit it's a fundamental part of a proper tuna salad.

    So if I'm writing something formal or technical, that's how I use it. For informal writing, I just throw it around willy nilly. And for creative writing, fuck it, all rules are off. (Provided you have a good understanding of what the rules are, and why, precisely, they should be off.)

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    queue. Only 5-letter word with 4 vowels!

    Off the top of my head are "eerie" and "aerie" and I'm guessing there are more.

    So, uh.

    No.

    Only 5-letter q word with 4 vowels!

    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    Kana wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    What is the best word?

    queue. Only 5-letter word with 4 vowels!

    Off the top of my head are "eerie" and "aerie" and I'm guessing there are more.

    So, uh.

    No.

    Only 5-letter q word with 4 vowels!

    I like "gypsy" because it's the only five letter word that starts with a g and rhymes with "tipsy"!

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    Queue is the only 5-letter word with 4 vowels in a row maybe?

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  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    I really hate when people saw "less" when they mean "fewer".

    It's "12 items or fewer" you dumb supermarket express lines.

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  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    Jeffe, it is incorrect to insert however as a conjunction. It's not used in the same way as "but", which is a coordinating conjunction that joins clauses together.

    Correct:
    I am green; however, you are blue.
    I am green. However, you are blue.
    I am green, but you are blue.

    Incorrect:
    I am green, however, you are blue.
    I am green. But you are blue.
    I am green; but you are blue.

    The latter two incorrect ones are largely permissible informally, because starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction is a common stylistic choice with a real function. Using however in the first error example, though, is a glaring error (a comma splice).

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    I use comma splices all the time. It's terrible. I can't help it - if I'm not paying attention i seem to use them exclusively, every sentence.

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  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    One of my favorite quotes on the meanings of words shifting:

    “Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
    Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
    Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
    Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
    Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
    Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
    The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
    No one ever said elves are nice.
    Elves are bad.”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    Comma splices are the most common error for a reason, apo. Don't feel bad. We are trained, both through explicit education and through the natural mechanisms by which we learn language, to treat commas as denoting a pause in spoken language. The actual clause or phrase structure doesn't always match how we would verbalize the sentence.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    I really hate when people saw "less" when they mean "fewer".

    It's "12 items or fewer" you dumb supermarket express lines.

    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • facetiousfacetious a wit so dry it shits sandRegistered User regular
    I love semicolons.

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

    Steam: Chagrin LoL: Bonhomie
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    I really hate when people saw "less" when they mean "fewer".

    It's "12 items or fewer" you dumb supermarket express lines.


    People have already posted that. But I don't see it's direct relevance.

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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    ...You don't?

    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    You don't!

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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Yeah well you misspelled 'sodomize'

    So nyah

    Kana on
    History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck NONSTOP INFINITE CLIMAX POSTING you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    nice try kana

    you colonial you

    obF2Wuw.png
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    You did!

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  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    If you can't see the relevance of Stephen Fry in a thread about language.... May I ask how you got out of your room? The nurses must be worried.

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