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The Strange Case of the English Language

NimranNimran Member Posts: 4,867
I've been thinking (it took a while); you know, words are essential for communication. However, there are some words that, to me, sound silly and/or redundant. These are words that make you think "What's the point of this word?" One such word that I can think of is 'guffaw'. Another one is 'chortle'. Why do these words exist? We already have 'laugh' and 'chuckle'!

Are there any weird words that you can think of that just seem strange or redundant to the point where you think "Why does this exist? What were they thinking when they made this word? Why is this crazy guy asking me this question (some of you are probably thinking this)?" Personally, I like asking myself questions such as this. I just thought I should share this one with you.

atcDavejoluvNonnahswriterJuliusBorisovBlackraven[Deleted User]SmilingSwordBelgarathMTHTeflonButtercheesesparkleav
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Comments

  • NimranNimran Member Posts: 4,867
    No, but after reading such an insightful post, I get the feeling that I should.

    lolienMantis37
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    Every language is like that though; unless the speakers are completely isolated, or trying to live in the past.

    And England in particular, at one point had a global empire that meant exposure to a huge variety of languages. So no wonder a bewildering assortment of words were tacked on to the language. Americans pick it up because we have the odd idea we should be able to read things written in Englnd... (As a serious history nerd, I read a lot of British books. And then I use words that make people look at me like "uhh?" I once had a hard time convincing a PhD Anthropology professor that "iconoclast" was a real word).

    joluvlolienNimranBelgarathMTH
  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 2,136
    Tuth said:

    So, in my eyes there are no redundant words, there is a difference in words that mean the same. If you believe there's none, you can make up the different meaning. Each one of us speaks his/her own combination of language/s. My English is different from yours, since our experience and backgrounds are different.

    I'm reminded of Friday's xkcd: http://xkcd.com/1576/

    abacusTuthdeltago
  • SmilingSwordSmilingSword Member Posts: 827
    @Shandyr after looking up "winklepicker" I now want a pair.

    And now some of favorite words.

    supercilious, masticate, malarkey and ensconced.

    @joluv you double plus ungood duck talker :wink:
    the first thing I thought of after reading the OP was 1984

    joluv[Deleted User]GreenWarlock
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    "flammable" and "inflammable" is an awesome case! And now impossible to forget thanks to the Simpsons.

    What a country!

    elminsterBelgarathMTHNimran
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Having (Miss-)spent my youth reading books and things (the horror) I have tended to grow my vocabulary to the point where very often people look at me with a blank stare until I restate what I said in "Normal" language. I've also been around since before Hector's father was a pup, so I've seen language evolve.

    For what it is worth, my English teacher (creative writing teacher actually) always told me that you should never use the same word twice in a paragraph (other than things like a and the etc...). So often times when attempting to describe something I will often times choose synonyms instead of repeating myself.

    I also think there are colloquialisms, words that indicate their origins based on their usage. That is yet another way to differentiate who is speaking without constantly having to refer back to their names. It adds to context.

    For me where it gets weird is when people name their children things that are pronounced the same way but spelled differently. I suppose that this has happened since the beginning of time and the very first 'Bob' was probably considered to have a weird name. But seriously? Aren't there enough names out there in the world now that you have to make up a new spelling of an existing name?

    atcDaveSjerrielolien
  • AlmateriaAlmateria Member Posts: 257
    Yeah, man, why do we even have different words for the same things? Why do we even have different languages at all? Why do we use different words? Why different letters? Why can't we juaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaa a aaa aaaaaaaa aa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaa a aaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaa aaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Tuthsemiticgoddess
  • wubblewubble Member Posts: 3,156
    edited September 2015
    My favourite word in the English language has to be Flabbergasted. It sounds awesome when you get that into a conversation.

    AnduinNonnahswriterGreenWarlockSkatan
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    I'm partial to piquant. As a non-chef, I'm pretty just now is the first time in my life I've ever used the word...

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,640
    edited September 2015
    @wubble, I'm flabbergasted that you think that.

    wubble
  • SvarSvar Member Posts: 157
    I'm a linguist, so this thread makes me feel like I'm about to explode, because I have so many thoughts on this entire subject and I just want to info-dump everything, but I don't want to spam you with more walls of text.

    BelgarathMTHNimransemiticgoddess
  • meaglothmeagloth Member Posts: 3,806


    For me where it gets weird is when people name their children things that are pronounced the same way but spelled differently. I suppose that this has happened since the beginning of time and the very first 'Bob' was probably considered to have a weird name. But seriously? Aren't there enough names out there in the world now that you have to make up a new spelling of an existing name?

    There is a madi, maddy, Madeline, maddyline, maddie, and I think a maddielyne in my class right now. Not sure about that last one but still.

    the_spyderNimranlolien
  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    Screw Inuits and their 12 words for snow... I've got maybe 50 different terms for my tallywacker!

    Nimransemiticgoddesstbone1
  • AnduinAnduin Member Posts: 5,745
    My favourite quote about the English language comes from Shakespeares the Tempest.

    You taught me language; and my only profit on it is, I know how to curse...

    ...

    Flabbergasted is basically another word for shock, but looking up its etymology it appears it is the conjunction of flabby and aghast (flabby in this case when your flab is in movement)

    So much for hoping it is what happens when a ghast touches you and you fail a will save, eh, @wubble .

    wubbleTuthNonnahswriter
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Hey, on the bright side. At least women never have to admit to being Mad.

    Flabbergasted
    peeved
    irked
    annoyed
    flummoxed
    exasperated
    ticked
    agitated
    disappointed
    disillusioned

    etc... but never mad.

    AnduinNimranJuliusBorisov
  • SethDavisSethDavis Member Posts: 1,812
    can't and won't bug me

    "can't" is a contraction of cannot, not "can not" though they are logically the same
    "will not" does contract, but not to "willn't" like any sane person would assume, but instead to "won't" which breaks all the rules

    NimranAnduinJuliusBorisov
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