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

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

Post by Jdsk »

Stevek76 wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 1:15pm Mis-use of gaslighting to describe someone being disingenuous. And sometimes for any sort of lying at all.
Loss of precision is one of the best reasons for opposing change in the language. ("Not what I learnt at school" being one of the worst.)

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

Post by thirdcrank »

We don't have a system for recording who coined a new usage or, indeed, what they meant when they did so. A big disadvantage with new expressions is that a burst of popular usage can give them credibility. I've looked up "gaslighting" at some point and doubt if I could define it without another look, always assuming that the meaning hasn't changed in between times, but the fact that people repeat something, doesn't necessarily make the underlying allegation true.
Mike Sales
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by Mike Sales »

thirdcrank wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 2:25pm We don't have a system for recording who coined a new usage or, indeed, what they meant when they did so. A big disadvantage with new expressions is that a burst of popular usage can give them credibility. I've looked up "gaslighting" at some point and doubt if I could define it without another look, always assuming that the meaning hasn't changed in between times, but the fact that people repeat something, doesn't necessarily make the underlying allegation true.
I understood that the term was derived from a film, and I find that Wikipedia says that.
The term is derived from the title of the play and films entitled Gas Light which are stories of a husband who uses trickery to convince his wife that she is insane in order to steal from her.[
mattheus
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by mattheus »

Jdsk wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 1:58pm
Stevek76 wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 1:15pm Mis-use of gaslighting to describe someone being disingenuous. And sometimes for any sort of lying at all.
Loss of precision is one of the best reasons for opposing change in the language. ("Not what I learnt at school" being one of the worst.)

Jonathan
Agree with the bold. (Not totally onboard with the latter statement ...)

Is "onboard" ok on this thread? I did use it as an adjective, not a verb!
Jdsk
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by Jdsk »

mattheus wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 2:37pm
Jdsk wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 1:58pm"Not what I learnt at school" being one of the worst.
Not totally onboard with the latter statement ...
My debracketing.

It's a usage thread... go for it!

: - )

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

Post by thirdcrank »

Mike Sales wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 2:35pm
The term is derived from the title of the play and films entitled Gas Light which are stories of a husband who uses trickery to convince his wife that she is insane in order to steal from her. (My bold)
All I'm say is that if somebody is alleging that the bit I've highlighted applies, then in the interests of clarity, those are the words to use. One of my starting points is that even where there are names for specific offences, people get it wrong eg they report being robbed when they've had a burglary. It's not something that does my head in, but I know it can cause confusion if people use the same expression to mean different things
drossall
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by drossall »

Jdsk wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 1:58pmLoss of precision is one of the best reasons for opposing change in the language. ("Not what I learnt at school" being one of the worst.)
I'm not sure that you can choose between them?

As a non-linguist, I rather enjoyed reading recently Guy Deutscher's The Unfolding of Language. It was recommended in a thread like this. One thing I took away is that language development is driven by the way that people naturally look for rules. Sometimes, they over-apply rules, and so irregularities become regular; for example, the false perception that plurals always end in s has made data and media into effective singulars, much as I despise that.

Or, they may just get the rules wrong, often creating irregularities by accident, through not seeing the wider picture. For example, possessives are marked by declining the noun(s), so Mrs Brown is Mary's and John's mother, assuming that they are siblings. The rule is to decline the noun, not just to add an apostrophe-s, as in "Mary and John", so "Mary and John's mother". But, to understand that kind of rule, you have to be taught it at school, because that kind of "shared possession" is a relatively-rare construct.

Even rarer are the cases where the precision matters. It's just not very common to hear "I met Mary and John's mother in town last Saturday", and be unsure whether that was one person - the mother of both Mary and John - or two - Mary, accompanied by John's mother. Even rarer are the cases where the imprecision causes more than a momentary hesitation, followed by a request for clarification. But, no doubt, the odd international incident has been caused by misunderstandings that were facilitated by such imprecisions.

So, for me, precision has to be taught, because so often blasting away with a few words in the right general direction will actually hit the target. And hence we can't really choose between precision and what we learnt at school.
Last edited by drossall on 12 Oct 2021, 5:56pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jdsk
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by Jdsk »

drossall wrote: 12 Oct 2021, 5:54pmAs a non-linguist, I rather enjoyed reading recently Guy Deutscher's The Unfolding of Language. It was recommended in a thread like this.
That's good to hear.

: - )

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

Post by drossall »

Apologies, was it your recommendation? I did mention that I was trying to read too many books concurrently, and by the time I had finished the book, I'd lost track of the message suggesting it :roll:
Jdsk
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by Jdsk »

It was. Isn't it great?

: - )

Jonathan
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Mick F
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by Mick F »

I was going to say that when we go past a cast-iron cover that says "Water" on it, I want to say that it isn't water, but a piece of cast iron. :wink:
Similar to seeing a van with "Horses" written on the front and back, when it isn't a horse but a van!

Any road up, walking the doggie the other day, it occurred to me that cast-iron covers are labelled.
Water stop-cocks have "Water" written on them or maybe just "W" and gas ones have "Gas" or "G".
Fire-hydrants have "FH" and access valves have "AV".
Telecon hatches have "BT" or "PO" or even "GPO".

However, sewage hatches don't say "Sewage".
Why not?

Are the hatch manufacturers embarrassed?
Mick F. Cornwall
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by thirdcrank »

When I see a vehicle marked HORSES IN TRANSIT I have been known to remark "That's not a transit." (Cries of "frequently!")
Jdsk
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Re: English Language - what "Does your head in" ??

Post by Jdsk »

Mick F wrote: 18 Oct 2021, 3:18pmHowever, sewage hatches don't say "Sewage".
Why not?
Older drainage systems usually combined foul water and surface water. In newer systems (after c 1970) they're kept separate.

There's a body of craft knowledge to distinguish them.

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

Post by Jdsk »

thirdcrank wrote: 18 Oct 2021, 5:35pm When I see a vehicle marked HORSES IN TRANSIT I have been known to remark "That's not a transit." (Cries of "frequently!")
What do you call a Ford van that's alway breaking down?

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

Post by thirdcrank »

I don't know. What do you call a Ford van that's always breaking down?
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