A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Never stick a rifle up your grandmother*s vest

Post 6641


whatever you do, don't do a google search on "up your grandmother's"!

smiley - yikes

smiley - laugh

Never stick a rifle up your grandmother*s vest

Post 6642


Guess what?

I haven't yet checked all of the 140.000 sites so I'm just working on a hunch. My grandmother was rather partial to harp and harpsichord music. Sad to say she didn't have an attic to stash antiquities so I've had to work (well, after a fashion) for a living.
Right - back to the music.
Ahhhhhhh ...

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6643

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

Thesis - theses
Prothesis - protheses
Synthesis - syntheses
Cannabis - cannabeses

smiley - biggrin

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6644


cannabes, surely?

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6645

You can call me TC

If a fat person is obese, is a thin person obis?

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6646

Moving On

Naw.. just enviable smiley - smiley

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6647

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

>> cannabes, surely? <<

Oh, thank you.
Don't mind if I do.
Most kind of you to offer.
smiley - ta

smiley - biggrin

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6648


Now, now, ~jwf~, don't be flippant.

Let's say Clare is correct:

"Clare is correct."
smiley - biggrin

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6649

You can call me TC

I am going to make a very pretentious - even arrogant - statement. This is not really like me, but either: (a) it's already been said and I was too daft to notice/interpret it (b) no one has dared say it yet.

It's to do with languages changing as their usage changes. I always find myself in a quandrary about this. This morning it finally occurred to me why.

If a word changes over the years due to people using it wrongly out of ignorance (such as the spelling of judg(e)ment, or the use of a word to mean something it really doesn't mean in the original Latin or Greek) it is not really acceptable and only a sad proof that standards of education are declining.

If, however, a word changes because times have moved on and the word is simply redundant in its hitherto capacity, then it should be allowed to change. i.e. if even people who know better have found it more sensible to change the meaning or spelling of a word, then perhaps it should be accepted.

The problem is drawing the line. Who is to decide who "knows". Who is to decide which arguments hold water and will we have a battle of the ignorant majority against the intellectual, hair-splitting, minority. (I consider myself a member of both factions, just for safety's sake)

The recent spelling reform in Germany has backed the ignorant minority, by the way, in that it now allows germanised spellings of foreign words, regardless of their origins. Some words are now almost unrecognisable when spelt in the official, almost phonetic way. In most cases it is offensive, - at the least just gobbledegook - to native speakers of the original languages (words from the French, Spanish, Italian, English, whatever)

For example, the French word "porte-monnaie" has always been a perfectly acceptable word for purse or wallet in German - probably more so in the West, where I live, which borders on France, and has been under French occupation on and off for the last 400 - 500 years. (they last left 7-8 yeasr ago)

This word I read yesterday, spelt, according to the new law "Porte monee" Which, read as though it was German, would render the correct phonectics, but which looks just plain daft.

However, if anyone wants an example where a word ought to change because it really does need to - Hmmm. I am a bit stuck for an example there. How about "different from" finally giving way to "different than"? Although I wince at the use of the latter, it doesn't exactly not make sense.

How's about the Brit Eng Thread declares itself custodian of the English Language and WE decide what's right and what's wrong? We must be about ready to produce our own dictionary by now......

smiley - teasmiley - teasmiley - teasmiley - teasmiley - teasmiley - teasmiley - tea

............. just right in this hot weather. Assuming it is so hot wherever you all are.

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6650


Off the top of my head I can't think of any words that ought to change.
'Different from' - one of my personal bugbears! I hate the acceptance of 'different to', which to me is totally illogical.

I'm not sure that accepting a changed meaning or grammatical use is necessarily proof of declining standards in education. Changes perhaps, in that children are taught different things. In the past, they were drilled in the 3Rs but didn't cover so many other subjects. There just wasn't the knowledge available to impart. I think most schools do try to teach good spelling & grammar, but don't have the time to reach the same standards, or the children are starting from a lower point (e.g. English is their second language)

It seems to be the people who compile dictionaries who are arbiters of acceptance. This appears to be on the grounds of common usage, where lower standards/errors tend to be dominate. I wonder if there's also an aspect of youth adopting their own use of language to be different but gradually this gets absorbed into the language generally as they grow older.

Spellings have of course evolved in all sorts of arbitrary ways. Most of us have trouble reading olde englishe. Being an old pedant, I like to stick to the spellings I learnt, although I can see the merit in some phonetic spellings. Is it really necessary for reading & writing to be so difficult for some people? Just please don't let us start accepting texting instead!

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6651

Gnomon - time to move on

Who's we?

You'll have to fight against me if you declare yourself the custodian of the language. Because I speak a different dialect from you, and of course, my dialect is correct!

English is as it is spoken. There are no rules, only guidelines. My children tell me that it is perfectly correct to say "Me and Andrea did this" and I am inclined to believe them. I wouldn't teach this to students of the language, but I feel less and less inclined to correct them. Should I really insist on dice being plural? Should I say that people are speaking incorrectly if they throw the dice and are only throwing one small cubical piece of wood? How about data? If they say that the data indicates that I am wrong, should I be down on them like a tonne of bricks, or should a ton of bricks to, even though I am fully metricated?

We have to move with the times, and record English as it is, not as we think it should be. Because there are other usages than our own. And Norfolk English will never be Dublin English.

More forrin plurals still considered necessary

Post 6652



"My children tell me that it is perfectly correct to say "Me and Andrea did this" and I am inclined to believe them."

Leaving aside, for the moment, the way I shall cast my vote for the Brain of British English, if your children were my children, I should disown them. Suitably, for Trinity Sunday, my reasons are threefold:

the grammatical inexactitude of using an accusatve (or similar) as a subject. If Andrea decided not to, how would you take to "Me did this". (Assuming your offspring is more than three years old.)

The construction is ugly, leading to the pronunciation "me yand ..."; and

it is not very polite to put oneself first. Bearing in mind your location, I expect this last would carry quite a lot of weight.

(Now, where did I put that ballot paper?)

"she's my mother. she's my sister. she's my mother . . .

Post 6653


oh no! I agree with both sides!

"she's my mother. she's my sister. she's my mother . . .

Post 6654

Gnomon - time to move on

Anhaga, no longer hedged in, is sitting on the fence. smiley - biggrin

Plaguesville, the reasons you give are exactly the ones I quoted to my children, but they were not impressed. They would not dream of saying 'Me did this' but the rule as far they are concerned is that when Andrea is involved, the 'I' changes to 'me'. Who am I to argue with the common man?

"she's my mother. she's my sister. she's my mother . . .

Post 6655

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

>> oh no! I agree with both sides! <<

I second that typically Canadian wishy washy position! smiley - cheers

But then in the interest of peace, I leap at the opportunity to remind ourselves of certain well worn thoughts on the broader issue:

1. Usage is the only authourity, therefore Experience is the only teacher.

2. Kids say the darnedest things, so Example is the only sure way to instruct children.

3. Rules are made to be broken, because there's no fool like an old rule.

*joins anhaga on the picket line*
smiley - biggrin

"she's my mother. she's my sister. she's my mother . . .

Post 6656


Like Justice with Mercy, I feel that Usage should be tempered with logic. I don't care much about split infinitives: that's a rule that derives from Latin usage where the single word infinitives could not be split. But the English infinitive offers a rhetorical device -- the embedding of an adverb within the body of the verb -- unavailable to the Romans.

But I do have concerns about usage which violates simple logic: the use of the reflexive as a direct object instead of subject complement ("you can contact myself"), and the present "me did it" example.

If logic doesn't suffer, I don't worry to much about how people speak; but if their words say something they don't intend, it strikes me as lazy and undereducated.

But I agree with part of what I think Gnomen is saying: We don't need a Language Academy. But we do need education and we shouldn't just say "whatever people say is just fine." If we don't agree on a fundamental set of rules, we're playing tennis without a net.

"she's my mother. she's my sister. she's my mother . . .

Post 6657

David B - Singing Librarian Owl

I like rules in language, but only where they make sense (no splitting of infinitives? phooey). And let's face it, English doesn't always make sense.

I would veer towards the "'Me and Andrea' is a horrible construction" side of the argument, but have grudgingly come to accept that this is 'normal' usage these days. The one point on which I feel I shall never be moved is apostrophes - my temperature starts to rise and I begin to smiley - grr and smiley - steam when I see an it's where an its should be, or worse still, someone offering a 'kilo of apple's'.

David - back to lurking on this thread

"she's my mother. she's my sister. she's my mother . . .

Post 6658

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

>> "The English infinitive offers a rhetorical device -- the embedding of an adverb within the body of the verb -- unavailable to the Romans." <<

I may want to often quote that line.
smiley - biggrin

"she's my mother. she's my sister. she's my mother . . .

Post 6659


What a sad life it must be to often have the opportunity to quote that line.

smiley - winkeye

Empathic / Empathetic

Post 6660

David B - Singing Librarian Owl

Thank you, now I feel able to freely split my infinitives! Hurrah!

On a completely unrelated matter, a colleague spotted what he thought was a terrible error in the 'blurb' for a show in the Radio Times, which used the word 'empathetic' rather than 'empathic'. I maintained that this was acceptable, he disagreed and headed for the dictionary, which lists both as acceptable. However, I'd argue that there is a slight difference in meaning:

Empathic I would use when referring to a supernatural or near-supernatural ability to hone in on the emotions of others (like Troi does in Star Trek).

Empathetic seems a more human adjective, simply referring to the ability to understand and relate to the emotions of others, a display of empathy.

I'd feel comfortable using either word for the second sense, but only empathic for the first sense. Any thoughts from the wise wordsmiths of this thread?


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