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The Strange Case of the English Language

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  • TuthTuth Member Posts: 233
    As far as I know the verb "to read" was supposed to change into "red" in the past tense etc. similarly how "to lead" goes into "led". However, some professors thought that people would cofuse it with the colour, so yeah, now we have what we have.

    JuliusBorisovNimranBelgarathMTHlolien
  • NimranNimran Member Posts: 4,864
    Is wysiwyg a thing? My auto-correct seems to think so...

    lolien
  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    Nimran said:

    Is wysiwyg a thing? My auto-correct seems to think so...

    What You See Is What You Get

    It was a 90s thing...

    Also known as modern style word processing/ e-doc production... What's on the screen is what comes out of the printer.

    BelgarathMTHNimranlolien
  • NaveenNaveen Member Posts: 81
    Funny, I used guffaw once. I needed a word to describe the laughter of an orkish creature, but laughter was too human and "long", chuckle didn't make much sense and it was too short. I wanted a powerful, short, brutal, and mocking laughter. So I wrote, "cruel guffaw". Mocking laughter would have worked, but meh.

    Most synonyms have different nuances and I'm not sure any two words mean exactly the same. Well, there are some that mean the same but whose origin is different, for example, one is germanic and the other french. Lord and Liege mean the same, but Liege is more restricted and has a french/medieval aura which is very useful if you are writing about a feudal setting. Ghost is nice, but phantom is more... classy (it's french, so you know it's good). 'The phantom menace' sounds ominous -like the Phantom of the Opera- but "The ghost(ly) threat"* sounds too literal or stupid, like a Chinese knock-off of Ghost Busters.

    *In Spanish, for example, threat and menace would be translated with the same word: Amenaza, like in "La Amenaza Fantasma". Threat and ghost are germanic, so there is no close equivalent, I think.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_with_dual_French_and_Anglo-Saxon_variations

    BelgarathMTHlolienSmilingSword
  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    Tough
    Though
    Through
    Trough
    Thorough
    Thought

    BelgarathMTHlolienJuliusBorisovSmilingSword
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,640
    edited September 2015
    abacus said:

    Tough
    Though
    Through
    Trough
    Thorough
    Thought

    @abacus , good examples!

    "I thought it through thoroughly, though, and it was tough!"

    It's kind of amazing how easily a sentence like that flows off the tongue of a fluent English speaker.

    (I couldn't figure out how to work "trough" into the sentence.)

    JuliusBorisovSmilingSword
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    "I thought about the trough thoroughly, though and it was tough."

    Trough is just a long narrow box (usually filled with water).

    BelgarathMTHNimranJuliusBorisovSmilingSword
  • FrancoisFrancois Member Posts: 452
    A guffaw is a loud, energetic laugh. A chortle is more like a breathing laugh. Actually the sound of the word sounds a bit like the sound of the laugh they describe.

    Haberdashery is a weird word. It sound vastly more esoteric than a place that sells buttons.

    NimranSmilingSwordlolien
  • NonnahswriterNonnahswriter Member Posts: 2,520

    "I thought about the trough thoroughly, though and it was tough."

    Fixed.

    ...

    I think I need to stay out of this thread...

    NimranSmilingSwordlolien
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Hootenany was always a fun one.

    I do feel the need to quote Oz from Buffy though in saying

    "hootenanny, well, it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny."

    Another one that I have trouble with is obsequious.

    NimranSmilingSwordSethDavis
  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 3,009
    edited September 2015
    Francois said:

    A guffaw is a loud, energetic laugh. A chortle is more like a breathing laugh. Actually the sound of the word sounds a bit like the sound of the laugh they describe.

    There is a word for those sorts of words: onomatopoeia.

    Onomatopoeia, itself, is not in the class of self-referential words such as "short" or "pentasyllabic".

    SmilingSword
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,818
    I've always been amused by the really long words, such as floccinaucinihilipilification, pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism and pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

    JuliusBorisovNimran
  • BillyYankBillyYank Member Posts: 2,769
    I like archaic slang and expressions:
    Land sakes!
    Gadzooks!
    I can jive with the hep-cats!

    My biggest language pet peeve is the misuse of words, especially by people who should know better. Every time I hear a reporter use decimate as a synonym for annihilate, I figuratively want to kill every tenth newscaster.

    wubbleBelgarathMTHatcDave
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

  • wubblewubble Member Posts: 3,156
    @Shandyr Decimation was a Roman (I think) tactic to enforce morale that involved singling out every tenth man and getting the other nine tenths of the men to beat him to death.

    And the stress on figuratively is because people frequently say things like "I'm literally dying here" when they aren't dying but they want to make it sound worse, what they should say is "i'm figuratively dying here"

    [Deleted User]JuliusBorisovBelgarathMTH
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

    wubbleJuliusBorisovBelgarathMTHatcDave
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

    BillyYankBelgarathMTHsemiticgoddess
  • meaglothmeagloth Member Posts: 3,806
    Shandyr said:

    BillyYank said:


    My biggest language pet peeve is the misuse of words, especially by people who should know better. Every time I hear a reporter use decimate as a synonym for annihilate, I figuratively want to kill every tenth newscaster.

    Uhm, would someone please explain this for non-native English speakers?
    Decimate means reduce by 1/10 but no one ever uses it that way. It's always used as "the town was decimated by the brutal civil war" when it was probably really rude end by 9/10 or something. Or "I decimated that cake" and you actually ate the entire thing.
    A while ago people started using literally for emphasis. "I will literally kill my self" or "This is literally the best book I ever read" when it actually wasn't. Of course it wasn't. The lord of the rings was.
    The use of literally in that way is usually associated with teenage girls. I don't know if there's a German equivalent but I'm sure you guys have slang that's reserved for teenagers.

    image

    SmilingSword
  • BillyYankBillyYank Member Posts: 2,769
    edited September 2015
    Shandyr said:

    But doesn't decimation figuratively mean annihilation while it literally means killing every tenth?

    I would say no, but it's probably a lost cause by now.

    On figuratively/literally:
    http://www.snorgtees.com/misuse-of-literally-makes-me-figuratively-insane

    BelgarathMTH
  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308

    I don't know where, I don't know how, but someday "winklepicker" *will* appear in a game I write.

    Might be worth noting that in England we colloquially refer to winklepickers as sh**flickers...

    SmilingSword
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,640
    @BillyYank , thanks for pointing out the literally/figuratively problem. I cringe every time I hear somebody misuse the word "literally", which is probably around 90% of the time the word is spoken or written.

    Often the newscaster, "talking head", television personality, or writer, throws a "literally" into a sentence that doesn't even need an adverb. They'd be communicating more concisely and clearly to leave out the word altogether.

    No adverb is needed in most hyperbole. Saying, "If I hear somebody misuse "literally" one more time, I am going to kill myself!" is clearly use of hyperbole, and there is no need to insert an unnecessary adverb to mark it as such.

    wubbleTeflon
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    Word definitions absolutely change with time; and sometimes, being too well read just gets really annoying.

    The decimation case is one where the meaning has simply changed. The funny thing is, taking 10% casualties is often the baseline of a SUCCESSFUL military operation. Roman decimation was extreme because it was punishment inflicted on one's own military for an operational failure. But the word simply has nothing to do with "tenths" anymore. It's come to mean disastrous destruction.

    The literally/figuratively is even more annoying because "literally" is coming to mean something radically different than its denotative meaning. That one I may not be so tolerant of. But apparently all that means is, I'm old... And literate...

    BelgarathMTH[Deleted User]lolien
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,640
    @atcDave , What bothers me so much about "literally", is that the non-literate speakers are trying to make it mean exactly the opposite of what it actually means.

    If someone says something like "This job has literally driven me insane!", I want to reply with "I'm sorry. I'll dial 911 and call for an ambulance to get you to the psych hospital. They should be able to help you with medications."

    [Deleted User]atcDavethe_spyderJuliusBorisov
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    Yeah that one really is extreme. And of course "literally" should be absolutely forbidden for sports broadcasters! Literally!

    BelgarathMTHlolienJuliusBorisovTeflon
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    I guess I could mention 'though; a few times I've heard "literally" used correctly it sounds painfully prosaic. ("He literally ran away..." Well duh!)

    lolienJuliusBorisovSmilingSword
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,818
    On the other hand, I think sometimes I've seen instances of people calling things figurative when they aren't. If someone says, "he devoured a book," that's literal because that's one of the definitions of "devour."

    Nonnahswriterthe_spyder
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