English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

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Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 14 Apr 2018, 9:12pm

brynpoeth wrote:Usually there are three or more different words for any part of the body or bodily functions, euphemisms are fun, toilet costs 50c now, not a penny, but what are the wee wee frees in Scotland, is that a veiled reference to free toilets?
I use p******e, for tyres, obvious reasons :!:

Did Uncle jack win the grand national?


A euphemism is a word that is felt to be more acceptable than another, naughty one. It is curious what qualifies a word as being sayable in more polite places. Often the Latin derived word is more genteel than the Anglo-Saxon one. Sometimes it seems arbitary. When words refer to the same thing why should one be usable in front of the vicar, but not the other?
Another aspect of this is the magic of actually using a word being more taboo than the thing named.
In the years before dog owners had been trained to clear up after their turd dispensers I upset an old lady by asking why she let her dog sh1t in the street. Me saying the word was more offensive to her than leaving the foul object where someone could tread in it!

Bmblbzzz
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Bmblbzzz » 16 Apr 2018, 12:40pm

Mike Sales wrote:Not all changes in the language are improvements.
Some seem to come from a need to disguise the unpleasant.
I see "pass" for "die" as mealy mouthed. My mother died recently and I made sure to say "she died".

I'm with you 100% on this.
An Americanism I dislike is "ass" for "bottom". We are loosing a good old Anglo-saxon word. Earwig (arsewiggler) and wheatear (whitearse) both derive from it.
I think that problems have all changed into issues from a desire to soften the sense.

I see "ass" and "a-r-s-e" as being different pronunciations of the same word. I've never heard arsewriggler or whitearse and would have guessed the first meant threadworms that children get in their (to use another somewhat twee euphemism) "sit-upons." But "asswriggler" and "whiteass" would presumably work just as well.

Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 16 Apr 2018, 12:45pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:I see "ass" and "a-r-s-e" as being different pronunciations of the same word. I've never heard arsewriggler or whitearse and would have guessed the first meant threadworms that children get in their (to use another somewhat twee euphemism) "sit-upons." But "asswriggler" and "whiteass" would presumably work just as well.


I was not suggesting anyone says arsewiggler or whitearse these days, merely tracing the etymology as an explanation of the word.

Bmblbzzz
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Bmblbzzz » 16 Apr 2018, 12:54pm

Oh, I thought they must be Fenland dialect! Slightly disappointed in fact... :D

Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 16 Apr 2018, 1:00pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:Oh, I thought they must be Fenland dialect! Slightly disappointed in fact... :D


If the fen slodgers used the words they would pronounce them with a long "a".

thirdcrank
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Apr 2018, 1:00pm

Mike Sales wrote: ... An Americanism I dislike is "ass" for "bottom". ...


I'd always assumed that it was a different way of pronouncing the same word. :?

I'm a bit bemused by the expression "fess up." I'm not sure whether it's just another way of pronouncing "face up" or something to do with confessing. I can't help noting the similarity with the French for buttocks and I do wonder if some of those using the expression feel they are being frightfully naughty.

Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 16 Apr 2018, 1:06pm

thirdcrank wrote:
Mike Sales wrote: ... An Americanism I dislike is "ass" for "bottom". ...


I'd always assumed that it was a different way of pronouncing the same word. :?

I'm a bit bemused by the expression "fess up." I'm not sure whether it's just another way of pronouncing "face up" or something to do with confessing. I can't help noting the similarity with the French for buttocks and I do wonder if some of those using the expression feel they are being frightfully naughty.


They also spell it differently. I am bemoaning the loss of the Anglo-Saxon but I do assume it is down to the their residual Puritan prissiness.
My assumption is that "fess" comes from "confess". Just my guess.

thirdcrank
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Apr 2018, 1:32pm

Like it or not, of all those alive today who would consider English as their first language, I think it's correct to say that those actually born in the UK are in a minority and those born in England even more so. I suspect that many of the people who come here to learn English do so because it's nearer to home than the US, rather than any preference for the Queen's English.

In years gone by, Brits learning Russian often went to Prešov in what used to be Chekoslovakia because it's near to what was the Soviet Union and the language was a version of Russian.

The word hegemony seems appropriate.

Bmblbzzz
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Bmblbzzz » 16 Apr 2018, 2:12pm

Fess up is a contraction of confess.

Bonefishblues
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Bonefishblues » 16 Apr 2018, 2:29pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:Fess up is a contraction of confess.

Takes longer to type, mind, especially when one insists on using an apostrophe to signify missing letters :wink:

This modern vernacular - it takes real effort to produce irony these days!

Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 16 Apr 2018, 7:41pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:Oh, I thought they must be Fenland dialect! Slightly disappointed in fact... :D

From today's Guardian Country Diary,
One of the first summer migrants to grace the Highland moors is the wheatear, a dressy little insectivorous “chat” so often seen at the roadside, and instantly identified by its white bottom as it flits delicately to the next perch, never very far away. Just how “white bottom” evolved into “wheat ear” over the centuries is a mystery to me. It has nothing to do with wheat or ears and everything to do with its flashy white rump.


Edit. Bother, I forgot about the electric nanny which has made a nonsense. For "bottom" read a naughty word in its English English spelling.

Bmblbzzz
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Bmblbzzz » 16 Apr 2018, 8:06pm

Thanks! Interesting and timely.

Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 28 Apr 2018, 11:24am

Prevaricate and procrastinate.

Prevaricate means to speak or act in an evasive way.

Procrastinate means to delay or postpone action; to put off doing something.

The other day I heard an academic get this wrong and the distinction seems to be disappearing.
I appreciate that these days usage is king, but I cannot help regretting that useful words are losing their meaning.
How long does it take for a mistake to become accepted as correct?

thirdcrank
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby thirdcrank » 28 Apr 2018, 2:35pm

Do malapropisms really matter? I'm from a generation who seemed to spend a lot of time learning the differences largely for O level: anecdote/antidote; forbidding/foreboding and many more.

My last gaffer before I retired said "compatriot" when he meant "counterpart." eg "Your compatriot at Chap., has had to deal with a major incident." Obviously, I knew what he meant, but there are times when you need to be sure.

In one of my early progress reports, my boss, who was nothing if not forceful, noted my "temerity." As he was usually complaining about a lack of forcefulness on my part, I had the temerity to ask if that was what he really meant. He'd meant "timidity." At least he was able to see the funny side.

Appraisals really are a time when accuracy is important. I remember one colleague coming out from an interview spitting feathers when he'd been described as "pragmatic" and insisting he was flexible in his approach. That particular gaffer had meant "dogmatic" and my chum was none the wiser.

Incidentally, appraise and apprise are words I've often seen confused at work.

Re procrastination and prevarication, no mention of any confusion in the first edition of Fowler, but it's covered in the third edition, so it must be creeping up on us. :shock: For anybody needing a mnemonic, procrastination is said to be the thief of time.
====================================================================
I've thought of another anecdote (rather than antidote :wink: )

During initial training (1967) we were taught first aid by the drill instructor. :roll: For anybody familar with It ain't half hot, Mum imagine me as a combination of Gunner Sugden and lah-di-dah Gunner Graham with a Leeds accent. We were told that dilated pupils might be a symptom of a drug overdose. The meaning of "dilated" was given as "closed up" and clever clogs here explained it meant "widened." The reaction of the West Riding version of Windsor Davies was to put it to the vote, rather than consult a dictionary. Needless to say, I lost 90-1.

Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Postby Mike Sales » 28 Apr 2018, 3:09pm

thirdcrank wrote:Do malapropisms really matter? I'm from a generation who seemed to spend a lot of time learning the differences largely for O level: anecdote/antidote; forbidding/foreboding and many more.



The odd malapropism may not matter, but when it becomes general then we have lost the use of at least one word. This matters to me, but I suppose I am an oddity in that I find words interesting for themselves and for their etymology.
There is always a loss of precision, and a possibility of ambiguity leading to mistakes, when words are used wrongly, even when we can guess what was meant. Sometimes it happens that it can be difficult to decide which meaning was intended.
In your antidote the mistake is rather important, if ninety of your class of ninety one went on duty looking for closed up pupils, not dilated. Of course this is not a malapropism, just a plain mistake.
I once did a course on TV repair, and the teacher consistently spelt problem as probelm. No difficulty caused, and we were not rude enough to correct him, but we always asked each other, "any probelms?"