English thread. Why not?

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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Enjay » Sun Aug 15, 2021 2:50 am

Random X chromosome inactivation.

I have a female dog. We always refer to her as she, her, girl etc. Often people who don't know her will start talking about her using male pronouns (how old is he etc) but when they realise she is female (possibly by hearing me using she etc) they switch.

Using "it" and other gender neutral and quite impersonal terms is acceptable for an animal; especially animals that we have less empathy for. No one would get too upset about someone referring to a bug of some sort as "it" even if its gender was apparent. However, a person could also use he/she etc and it would not seem odd either.

On they/them (which was mentioned earlier) I have an increasing dislike for that. I used to think that it was a good way to write and speak using gender neutral terms but I have read quite a few documents recently and they/them/their can become very confusing and sometimes can be grammatically very clumsy and even misleading. One place where it can be confusing, for example, is if a document is referring to an individual using they/them who is interacting with a group of individuals. Unless the passage is written very carefully, it can very quickly become unclear who "they" are (is it the individual or the group). It also leads to grammatical ugliness or uncertainty. For example how to deal with 'she is walking down the street"? Does it become "they are walking down the street" which sounds right but using "are" to refer to one person doing a thing is odd. However, "they is walking down the street" sounds awful. I have seen both used.

I very much agree that language needs to evolve and that it is important for new words to appear. People do it all the time in English. Often the word will be used in conversation, understood and then forgotten. Adding a y to a word to create an adjective or an adverb is common (Joss Whedon did this a lot for the dialogue in Buffy) but they rarely get adopted long term. Occasionally new words become widespread and adopted (usually because they were used on some widely consumed medium or because they are relevant to some new, widely used technology). Shakespeare possibly goes down as one of the most prolific word inventors. He is generally credited with inventing around 1700 words.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Gez » Sun Aug 15, 2021 3:15 am

Yeah, but there are some caveats to apply to Shakespeare's word coinage. The first is that he's the oldest known written source for some words. That doesn't necessarily mean he invented them, merely that he's the earliest known user of these words. But obviously we cannot account for spoken use of these words before, or for written works by other people that were lost.

The other caveat is tha a lot of these coinage are very obvious, the kind of things you do without even realizing. Like turning an adjective into an adverb by suffixing it with -ly.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Enjay » Sun Aug 15, 2021 3:51 am

Gez wrote:Yeah, but there are some caveats to apply to Shakespeare's word coinage...

Indeed. My contrafibularities to you on picking that up. I have long considered the 1700 to be a touch on the generous side. It often goes hand in hand with people trying to either impress people with how great Shakespeare was or to make the point that there is nothing wrong with inventing new words because "even Shakespeare did it". I suppose what I wrote could be taken as the latter but it wasn't intended quite that way. I merely mentioned it because it seemed relevant.

Back to the word cromulent - it is only something that I have come across online from US English speakers. I actually thought that people were using it as a joke. I hadn't realised that it was actually becoming adopted.

Speaking of adopted words, gotten. This word is common with US speakers but it is increasingly common in the UK too (probably because of the prevalence of US culture in the UK). The thing is, it's an absolutely unnecessary word. I have yet to come across a situation where "gotten" has been used that the shorter "got" could not. So that strikes me as a weird one.

I have also noticed, not so much a new word but, the usage of a word. Increasingly common (I started noticing it about six or seven years ago and it has become very prevalent in the last couple) is to use the word "so" at the start of an opening sentence. It seems to be basically nothing more than an "ummm" that, I suppose, people think doesn't sound as bad. It is very common to hear it when people are answering questions. (I first noticed it when running mock interviews for training purposes at work and a large number of candidates started their answers with "so".)

"What was it about this position that attracted you?"
"So, I read your advert and..."

It is very common to hear it on news programmes where a journalist goes into the streets to get some sound-bites from the general public. I would suggest that it is more common in England than In Scotland. As a result, this manifestation stands out because our news programmes tend to be England (mostly London) centric and, also, the pronunciation of "so" in a south of England accent sounds subtly and yet distinctly different to someone with a Scottish accent. (People around here would tend to associate the "O" sound of "so" in a southern English accent as sounding "posh" (rightly or wrongly).)

To me, even more strangely, it has made its way into the written word. Just look at how many posts on here start with the word "so".

"So, I'm trying to get a door to work on my map..."

Seriously, loads of people are doing it. Weird.


Sorry to have caused anyone any pericombobulation.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Gez » Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:08 am

Enjay wrote:I have also noticed, not so much a new word but, the usage of a word. Increasingly common (I started noticing it about six or seven years ago and it has become very prevalent in the last couple) is to use the word "so" at the start of an opening sentence. It seems to be basically nothing more than an "ummm" that, I suppose, people think doesn't sound as bad. It is very common to hear it when people are answering questions. (I first noticed it when running mock interviews for training purposes at work and a large number of candidates started their answers with "so".)

"What was it about this position that attracted you?"
"So, I read your advert and..."

It is very common to hear it on news programmes where a journalist goes into the streets to get some sound-bites from the general public. I would suggest that it is more common in England than In Scotland. As a result, this manifestation stands out because our news programmes tend to be England (mostly London) centric and, also, the pronunciation of "so" in a south of England accent sounds subtly and yet distinctly different to someone with a Scottish accent. (People around here would tend to associate the "O" sound of "so" in a southern English accent as sounding "posh" (rightly or wrongly).)

To me, even more strangely, it has made its way into the written word. Just look at how many posts on here start with the word "so".

"So, I'm trying to get a door to work on my map..."

Seriously, loads of people are doing it. Weird.



People should go back to using hwæt for that.

"Hwæt! I'm trying to get a door to work in my map..."
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Enjay » Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:52 am

Or, you know, just:

"I'm trying to get a door to work in my map..." ;)

Well done though. You got me googling hwæt, and I learned stuff about the apparent misinterpretation of it in Beowulf.

https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/n ... iscovered/
or
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-ente ... 21027.html
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Apeirogon » Wed Aug 18, 2021 12:30 pm

Enjay wrote:Random X chromosome inactivation.

I have a female dog. We always refer to her as she, her, girl etc. Often people who don't know her will start talking about her using male pronouns (how old is he etc) but when they realise she is female (possibly by hearing me using she etc) they switch.

Using "it" and other gender neutral and quite impersonal terms is acceptable for an animal; especially animals that we have less empathy for. No one would get too upset about someone referring to a bug of some sort as "it" even if its gender was apparent. However, a person could also use he/she etc and it would not seem odd either.

On they/them (which was mentioned earlier) I have an increasing dislike for that. I used to think that it was a good way to write and speak using gender neutral terms but I have read quite a few documents recently and they/them/their can become very confusing and sometimes can be grammatically very clumsy and even misleading. One place where it can be confusing, for example, is if a document is referring to an individual using they/them who is interacting with a group of individuals. Unless the passage is written very carefully, it can very quickly become unclear who "they" are (is it the individual or the group). It also leads to grammatical ugliness or uncertainty. For example how to deal with 'she is walking down the street"? Does it become "they are walking down the street" which sounds right but using "are" to refer to one person doing a thing is odd. However, "they is walking down the street" sounds awful. I have seen both used.

I very much agree that language needs to evolve and that it is important for new words to appear. People do it all the time in English. Often the word will be used in conversation, understood and then forgotten. Adding a y to a word to create an adjective or an adverb is common (Joss Whedon did this a lot for the dialogue in Buffy) but they rarely get adopted long term. Occasionally new words become widespread and adopted (usually because they were used on some widely consumed medium or because they are relevant to some new, widely used technology). Shakespeare possibly goes down as one of the most prolific word inventors. He is generally credited with inventing around 1700 words.



But jokes aside it just a specifics of language, that you probably did not realize, since you didnt have other language to compare it with.

For example, in russian here are quite phrase "Гло́кая ку́здра ште́ко будлану́ла бо́кра и курдя́чит бокрёнка" which reads as, approximately, "glOckaya kUzdra shtEko budlanUla bOckra i kcudrYAchit bockrEnka" (capital letters is a word stress). In russian it didnt have any meaning, since its literally a phrase constructed from meaningless words. BUT, because of specifics of russians semantic, and not only russian, language meanings of a phrase as a whole have meaning (tautology) for native speakers.

In the phrase, all word stems (glok-, kuzdr-, shtek-, budl-, bokr-, kurd-) are meaningless, but all affixes are real, used in a grammatically correct way and — which is the point — provide enough semantics for the phrase to be a perceived description of some dramatic action with a specified plot but with unknown actors. A very rough English translation (considering no semantic information is available) could be: "The glocky kuzdra shteckly budled the bocker and is kurdyaking the bockerling." Phrase are used to emphasise the importance of grammar in acquiring foreign languages. - thank you wikipedia.

In other words, you are stepped into the area of language, where you starts to doubt is word "woods" are actually describe....well woods. Have you ever seen woods? Is word "woods" are ACTUALLY sounds like real "woods" it should describe? Is it describe actual woods? What a strange word "woods"... Is word "woods" are a real word? Is the word "woods" are even exist? Am I even exist or it just an illusion of perception of a time?

So just try to learn some foreign language to see some 'obvious' flaws/specifics of an english language. I recommend french, because most girls for some reason really like when you says something like " Et qu'ils parlent de moi....qu'est ce que ça peut me faire..." (require guitar). Of course its highly specific, some of them would like to hear german "Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium..." (require orchestral ensemble and chorus). But the main point is still to see difference in language and how it "bend" ephemera though into common human communication pipeline.



I really should stop using internet when Im drunk....
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Reactor » Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:34 am

Fresh question for you :) Is there any key difference between "deliberately" and "intentionally"? There is only one word for them in Hungarian.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Rachael » Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:37 am

The two words are nearly identical in meaning, but their roots are different, which changes their meaning somewhat, but not with how they are used.

"Deliberately" implies there was deliberation involved with an action, which implies a decision making process, whereas "intentionally" only implies intent, and that does not require anything at all other than a desire for an outcome.

But with how they are used, they are interchangeable and may not actually have been intended that way by the person using those words.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Gez » Mon Oct 18, 2021 12:18 pm

You can look at it this way: the opposite of intentionally is accidentally. The opposite of deliberately is impulsively. Anything done deliberately is also done intentionally, by definition; but vice-versa, you can have things done intentionally but not deliberately, because they were a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Let's go shopping. If you buy something after having looked at your finances, compared through a few shops to see which had the better offer, thought about whether you should buy it or not, etc., then you bought it deliberately. If you were just walking through the street and then saw in a shop's window an interesting offer that convinced you to get it, then you bought it impulsively. In either scenario, it was bought intentionally. Now if you slipped on a banana peel and crashed through the shop and broke the item in question so the shopkeeper forced you to pay for the damage you caused, then you bought it accidentally.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Rachael » Mon Oct 18, 2021 1:10 pm

Not sure about Hungarian, but I know most Latin European languages can be analyzed the same way. In fact, many words cross the inter-language barrier this way as well, especially words that are of Latin (and sometimes even Germanic) origin themselves. One very prominent example of this is the word "No". That word means the same thing in several different languages.

But for a less obvious example - let's look at the word "simplemente" in Spanish. What does that mean? Well - if you try to look at the root of the word you'll see something very familiar - cut off "mente" and you get the word "simple". Of course, that hints at its meaning but that's not the actual word. Actually, it's translated to "simply".

As you might guess, studying word roots gives you a massive leg up on understanding a lot of Western European languages.

Here's another word to try. The Swedish word "Kattsand" - actually, this one is quite obvious. Just say it out loud as if it were an English word and you get its literal meaning. Yes - cat sand. Or rather, to be more specific - cat litter.

While this thread is not about other languages - understanding this relation between other languages helps you understand intra relations between English words, themselves. A lot of clues can be gleaned just by looking at parts of the word.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby ramon.dexter » Thu Nov 04, 2021 4:16 am

Well, when I left high school, I attended one year in a languages school, just to fill the gap between high school and university. I started with spanish as a complete begginer, only to find out that with knowledge of english, basic german and some latin words, I can instantly understand most of the words. And as a hobby-linguist, I must say that most wetsern languages are connected somehow.

And as apeirogon started it, here is a czech speciality, that is most unspeakable for foreigners. Mostly because it lacks any vowels:

Strč prst skrz krk.

In english:
Stick a finger through a neck.

Doesn't have any real meaning. We're calling these phrases a 'tonguebreakers' and these are especially popular amongst pre-school kids, because many kids have difficulties speaking these out.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Rachael » Thu Nov 04, 2021 4:26 am

ramon.dexter wrote:And as a hobby-linguist, I must say that most wetsern languages are connected somehow.

Yes - you are right, they absolutely are, and it is no accident.

Languages proliferated mostly via conquests through ancient Europe and beyond. The Roman Empire is probably the most well-known example of this - Latin was its native language and it spread that language to all corners of Europe and a little into Africa and Asia. Because of that, all countries' native languages adopted a lot of Latin influence - for example the glyphs (letters), some forms of pronunciation (vowels and consonants), and many words. Germany had its own language which, while still heavily influenced by the Romans, managed to keep a lot of their own words. Because they were in England before the Romans were, that simply meant that English became what was heavily a fusion of ancient Latin and German, of course obviously eventually taking on its own identity and evolving to what it has become today.

Fun little thing - even Latin itself had some Greek influence. That is why a some of the Greek and Latin letters are similar.

As a side note - I find it funny the movies that try to be historically accurate by hiring British actors for pre-Victorian stories. I don't think we'll know for sure how exactly they talked back then - but we can be pretty sure post-Victorian English was not it. In fact, it's quite likely that Americans have a closer accent to the pre-Victorian English dialect than the English do, now, because America never had a monarch that tried to essentially reform the language and change the way everyone talked.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Gez » Thu Nov 04, 2021 6:08 am

Rachael wrote:it's quite likely that Americans have a closer accent to the pre-Victorian English dialect than the English do

The thing to understand is that there wasn't actually one pre-Victorian English dialect. There were dozens. Every region had its own.

It's with radio, television, and nationalism that there was an attempt to unify the way people speak across a country. It wasn't even completely successful, there's still many, many differences in accents and idioms.

It's not just English, this is true of all language. German, since you used it as an example, used to be a dialect continuum going from the northernmost parts of Italy to the Netherlands, Denmark, and the Scandinavian peninsula. Even today, a Swede can understand what a Norwegian or a Dane says, while a Dane would have trouble understanding what a Norwegian says. Old English was part of this continuum, being essentially a variant of Old Frisian. In modern times, Germany attempted to standardize Hochdeutsch as "the" German language, but go back a couple centuries and someone from Muenster would have an easier time understanding someone from Amsterdam than someone from Munich.

Rachael wrote:because America never had a monarch that tried to essentially reform the language and change the way everyone talked.

You don't need a monarch for that!

In fact many enduring differences between American and British English originate from an American desire to separate themselves symbolically from the British. Noah Webster, in particular, was instrumental in this, what with his dictionaries being used to educate American children in how words are supposed to be spelled and pronounced.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Enjay » Thu Nov 04, 2021 12:54 pm

Gez wrote:
Rachael wrote:because America never had a monarch that tried to essentially reform the language and change the way everyone talked.

You don't need a monarch for that!

In fact many enduring differences between American and British English originate from an American desire to separate themselves symbolically from the British. Noah Webster, in particular, was instrumental in this, what with his dictionaries being used to educate American children in how words are supposed to be spelled and pronounced.

Indeed: - to emphasise that point, it could be argued that it was specifically because they didn't have a monarch (indeed, had actively got* rid of one) that Americans reformed aspects of their language.

And while I'm certainly not discounting monarchs as influences on language, there have been many other influences too. Fashion (which of course, can often be traced back to monarchs as well) is surprisingly influential and with consequences that may last much longer than the fashion that created them.

One of the most interesting changes in the English language, in my opinion, is The Great Vowel Shift which gives some historical context to many of the apparently weird and illogical spellings of words, particularly in relation to their modern pronunciation.

*see how I used the word "got" there. Just by an on-topic coincidence, it's a example of a place where an American might use the word "gotten". "Gotten" is an interesting word and it has caused much discussion in our house in recent months. These days "gotten" is primarily an American English word that, as far as we can tell, doesn't really need to exist. Wherever "gotten" is used, the word "got" or "get" could probably be used in its place to convey exactly the same meaning. However, it pre-dates American English and was in use in medieval English (derived from Old Norse). So, to a modern UK reader, "gotten" seems very American, because it really isn't in common use in the UK (and hasn't been for a few hundred years) but it has continued in the US. However, many medieval texts will use the word. Of course, with the influence of American culture in the UK, "gotten" seems to be on the rise again. So we have a word that was long-abandoned in UK English, but preserved in US English, making a comeback to UK English, kind of like a locally extinct species being reintroduced to an area where it once existed. Kind of.
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Re: English thread. Why not?

Postby Ravick » Fri Nov 26, 2021 9:15 pm

(It was particularly interesting to ready all this just after I've watched "America, the Motion Picture". :o )

___

Could you help me on another one? Lets assume that, because of some silly plot's sake, Doomguy just meet himself. The other Doomguy would say "I am you" ou "I am yourself"? :?:

___

[edit]
(...)kind of like a locally extinct species being reintroduced to an area where it once existed. Kind of.


Outside the Americans vs British thing, this, in particular, made me interested. I always understand languages as ecosystems, in which words act just as species. Every time someone says/write a word, it was that species performing they ecological (linguistic) function(s). And each person's vocabulary and speech act as areas where the ecosystem and its species could exist. And, each time a person learns a new word, that species was just able to perform a succesfull reproduction. When a person invented a new way of pronouncing/writting or using the word, it was analogue to natural genes mutations.
Uh... anyway, just some silly thoughts of mine! :B :mrgreen:
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