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Picture of Kalleh
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I saw a comic today about the recent deletion of hypened words in the Shorter OED, and therefore I searched for some information about it. Here is an article talking about some of the changes, such as crybaby becoming one word. All of the examples of two words I had already thought were two words, such as: fig leaf, hobby horse, ice cream, pin money, pot belly, and test tube.

I liked this take on it:
quote:
Chris Robinson, who edits for Scottish Language Dictionaries and gives classes in advanced writing at the University of Edinburgh, says she has bigger grammatical fish to fry, with undergraduates often needing an explanation as to the difference between a noun and a verb and where to place a full stop.
They seemed, in this UK article, to think that Americans have already decreased our use of hyphens. Is there a difference, do you think? Have those of you in England ever seen ice-cream? That looks strange to me.
 
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They seemed, in this UK article, to think that Americans have already decreased our use of hyphens
Confused Where does it say that?

It says that the use of the Internet may have decreased the use, but nothing about Americans that I could see.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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There are some places where a hyphen just has to remain, yet people delete them. Common around here is coworker, instead of co-worker. I'm afraid to ask how one orks a cow!
 
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I undersand the trend is away from hyphenating the compound noun

Don't know where I heard this

But absolutely agree with Asa, to whom thanks for the hilarious esample

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cow-orker

Putting aside the hyphen for the nonce, we have babysit from babysitter, but no truck-drive from truck-driver (US), co-work from co-worker, or handholder from handhold. Pity the poor Chinese, not only no hyphen and no apostrophes, but no spaces between the words (aka scriptio continua). They do have periods.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Where does it say that?

It says that the use of the Internet may have decreased the use, but nothing about Americans that I could see.
You are correct, arnie. I was not precise in that comment. The comments to the article merely suggested that this had been an American trend. I suspect those comments are true, though, because generally we don't use hypens in any of those words they has split into 2 words. I also don't think I've seen hyphens in those words that have become 1 word (i.e., bumblebee, chickpea, crybaby, leapfrog, logjam. Here were the reader comments that I had been referring to:

1) "It looks as if British English is matching American English here. Of all of your examples, none have had the hyphen in printed American English for a long time.
Steven, King George, Virginia, US"

2) "You might have mentioned American usage which seems often to join without a hyphen. One of my students came to me puzzled by an article I had suggested she read: What is a 'nonnative' language? she asked.
Ormond Uren, London UK"

I found the following comment funny, since we don't commonly put hyphens in these words:

"I'm incensed that the word ice cream is two words and that crybaby is one.... what were you thinking?!
Rose, derby, uk"

"Incensed" that there's no hyphen? I think there are a lot bigger things in this world to get "incensed" about!
 
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Ah. I didn't read the comments.

quote:
What is a 'nonnative' language?
I must agree with the student there. The double n would normally mean the second syllable would be unstressed and turn it into something almost unintelligible to a British reader.

The only time I've seen "coworker" used without a hyphen is in fun, and I've also seen it as "cow-orker".


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Nonnative: Then there's genitive, dative, accusative, and ablative. Roll Eyes
 
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Which is the correct form: cooperation, co-operation, or coöperation? Why? (Discuss.)


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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I'm inclined to say that the latter two are both sensible because they both let the reader know that the writer is not talking about the operations necessary to build a coop.
 
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You'd think, but the first one is the standard today. The other too are more or less older variants. I've always liked the third one as it is the most æsthetically pleasing.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Agreed. It's also a pronunciation guide. So long as you know to press ALT 0235 you're in business! (At least on this computer)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by zmježd:
cow-orker
… Pity the poor Chinese, not only no hyphen and no apostrophes, but no spaces between the words (aka scriptio continua). They do have periods .


Not the males, children or elderly women.
 
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Not the males, children or elderly women.

Sorry 'bout that; in the US period also means full stop.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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IMHO "full stop" is as redundant as "very preferable" or "very pregnant."
 
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From the OED: "period [...] 11. A full pause such as is properly made at the end of a sentence. 1587 Greene Penelopes Web wks. (Grosart) V.151 She fell into consideration with herself that the longest Sommer hath his Autumne, the largest sentence his Period. [...] b The point or character that marks the complete end of a sentence; a full stop (.). [...] 1612 Brinsley Lud[us] Lit[erarius or the grammar schoole] 95 In reading, that he [the scholar] doe it distinctly, reading to a period, or full point, and there to stay."

Fun things to take notice of: (1) the use of his in the first citation from the literature instead of the modern its; and, (2) the why-use-two-words-when-one-will-do "rule" is ignored in this case in the UK. Greene's book is available transcribed online [PDF], and Brinsley's grammar, too, scanned, online [PDF].


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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It's a full stop because it means the sentence has come to a complete end. As opposed to a stop, which could mark a pause, and be shown by a comma, semi-colon, etc.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I'm with JT on this one. Why is unique an absolute adjective, but not full or complete? A stop is a stop, no need to modify it. Same with words like finished. Something is either finished or not. By the same reasoning, one could eschew hardly finished, almost finished, not quite finished, etc.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
The only time I've seen "coworker" used without a hyphen is in fun

I've mostly seen it coworker these days. Recently I was quoting a prestigious author from the Carnegie Foundation who had used the word "pre-requisite." I looked up "pre-requisite" and only saw it as one word, which is how I've seen it. Therefore, I felt I had to put a [sic] after the hyphened word. I'll let you know if it sticks; my boss will probably make me remove it...and I probably should. It just feels so fun once in awhile to use [sic]!

I agree about the full stop, versus stop. I'd think it would be stop or pause.
 
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Something is either finished or not

What alternative construction would you use to indicate that something is "nearly finished"? Or that a glass was nearly full? Or almost empty?


Richard English
 
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"nearly finished"

The same kind I would use to say something is almost unique, but if something has stopped that's the end of it. I don't really think that this is the case in either situation. Calling a dot on a page a full stop, period, or smooth virgule is OK with me. Let's just not be selective about which absurdities we let into the language, and which we fight to the death to exclude. (Note: smooth virgule, is, as far as I know, not a real term for punctum.)


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You mean you would simply call it "nearly finished"?


Richard English
 
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You mean you would simply call it "nearly finished"?

Yes, if something were not yet finished, I would say either that it is almost finished or nearly finished. If you're asking about the punctuation mark known in the States as a period, I would simply call it a period. That was the punctuation mark I was discussing above, in the context of written Chinese, and not menstrual cycle as Pearce inferred.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I am aware that Americans call a full stop a "period" - as, I am quite sure, is Pearce. Sadly his joke was apparently lost on those who come from the Colonial side of the Atlantic. Those of us from the Sceptred Isle doubtless had a quiet smile.


Richard English
 
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Sadly his joke was apparently lost on those who come from the Colonial side of the Atlantic.

Oh, it was a joke! I see. Sorry about that. But, you see, my feigned response was jocular. (This parenthetical is only to be used in case you didn't understand my sarcasm.) You see, Richard, I knew that a period is called a full stop in the UK. I also knew that Pearce was being humorous. I just wanted to tease you. It's a kind of pedagogical device, usually called Socratic irony. Something which probably just doesn't translate well. Toodles.


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You see, Richard, I knew that a period is called a full stop in the UK. I also knew that Pearce was being humorous...I just wanted to tease you.

I confess that I am very easy to tease; since it's not something I myself generally do to people. I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. However, I suspect that many people believe I do try to tease and chastise me for what is usually, in truth, a perfectly straightforward comment


Richard English
 
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I suspect that many people believe I do try to tease

Yes, I see their point.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by zmježd:
I suspect that many people believe I do try to tease

Yes, I see their point.

My heartfelt thanks to zmježd and Richard for teasing each other and not me for my feeble joke. I think you have by now flogged it to death.
 
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Sadly his joke was apparently lost on those who come from the Colonial side of the Atlantic.
I am sure that 100% of the readers of this board (Americans or British) got the joke, which wasn't at all feeble, Pearce. I really don't think our senses of humor are all that different; we in the U.S. were "quietly smiling" with you over in England.
 
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My comment was made in response to Zm's remarks which I, in my ignorance of "Socratic irony" thought was a genuine comment.

As I have said, it is not in my nature to tease or try to put people down and I assumed, from his perfectly normal-sounding comment, that he really believed that Pearce had drawn an incorrect inference. My remark of clarification was made in the belief that his was genuine misunderstanding and as an attempt to be helpful. I now understand that Zm was having fun at my expense and I am sorry if others on this board, like Kalleh, are upset that I therefore tarred all Americans with the brush of ignorance of Pearce's humour.

As I have already said, I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. I do not tease people.


Richard English
 
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And on both sides of the pond, we shall defend your right to be straightforward or slant as you please!!

Seriously, mayn't we employ emoticons regularly without being accused of lazy thinking? It's so easy to be taken too seriously without 'em. I, for one, enjoy the occasional ironic broadside (especially before 8am), but daren't use 'em for fear of being thought aggressively argumentative! ('scuse the phraseology, it's early yet. I must have been dreaming about Marmee and the Little Women... Wink)
 
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Richard, I wasn't upset; I was only trying to be clear that we in the U.S. got the joke.
quote:
As I have said, it is not in my nature to tease or try to put people down and I assumed, from his perfectly normal-sounding comment, that he really believed that Pearce had drawn an incorrect inference.
Well, on the other hand, Richard, you said this: "Those of us from the Sceptred Isle doubtless had a quiet smile." You were having fun at our expense; we were having fun at your expense. No difference. I perceive that as "teasing," but apparently you don't. Nobody can deny either of us our perceptions.

My point is that we all have different perspectives, and we really must understand that. One cannot say, for example, that he doesn't come across in a certain way because he's not the one perceiving it. The different perceptions people have was pointed out to me very clearly recently in 2 different situations. In one I, and 10 committee members all in the same room, had a conference call with 6 executive directors of organizations. After the call, I asked the committee for feedback. I was shocked! It was like we weren't on the same call. Some thought they heard hidden agendas and diabolic motives. Others thought we should immediately partner with them because we were all on the same page. The second situation just happened this week on OEDILF in a limerick I wrote. I was back and forth on a few issues, and decided to write someone, whom I respect, for advice. He thought my limerick was hostile! Again, not only was I shocked, but my workshoppers were, too. I am planning to rewrite it because obviously others might perceive it that way as well.

So, you see, even though you might not think you tease people, Richard, others very well may perceive that you do (for example, by that remark on quietly smiling at Americans). We just are all very different people and sometimes we're surprised on how we come across. I sure was in that limerick.

Bethree, I agree with you completely about emoticons. I think they very much help with the nonverbal communication. I experimented briefly without using them, but I felt my posts weren't as rich. Of course it's a personal choice, though.

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quote:
"Those of us from the Sceptred Isle doubtless had a quiet smile."

The quiet smile I was referring to was at Pearce's joke, not at the Americans' apparent inability to get the joke. Had I meant that I would have said something like "...Those of us from the Sceptred Isle doubtless had a quiet smile at this transatlantic ignorance..."

Which just shows how people can misunderstand the most innocent and apparently simple comment.


Richard English
 
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...and the use of the word "ignorance" which, I imagine you take to simply mean "lack of knowledge", could so easily be read as perjorative as that is the way it is most often used.


quote:
Which just shows how people can misunderstand the most innocent and apparently simple comment.
 
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quote:
and the use of the word "ignorance" which, I imagine you take to simply mean "lack of knowledge", could so easily be read as perjorative as that is the way it is most often used.

A particular bête noire of mine. So many people use ignorance as a synonym for stupidity. There are some very clever people who are also quite ignorant. By modern standards, Sir Isaac Newton was a very ignorant man - he wouldn't have even recognised many of the items in the average modern house. But we know that he was actually a very clever man by any standards.


Richard English
 
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Indeed. Many people do. And that is precisely why, when using it, care should be taken that it is not in a context where your intent might be mistaken.
If I were a "transatlantic" poster, I wouldn't know whether your use of the term were meant innocently or insultingly and knowing that you are an educated man who understands (by your own admission) that people use the word in an insulting fashion (perhaps wrongly) I would have to draw the conclusion that you either didn't care that I might feel insulted or were using a deliberately ambiguous word so that you could insult me and then claim afterwards that that was not what you meant.

I'm not saying that this is the case. I'm saying that it's not an unreasonable inference.

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Incidenatally can someone who has current access to the OED check what are the earliest citations for ignorant meaning
a) stupid
or
b) lacking in manners and social graces
rather than
c) lacking in knowledge.

I suspect these are old rather than modern usages.
 
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How would you have phrased my sentence to avoid use of the word "ignorance" - which to me is the perfect descriptor?


Richard English
 
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You could, just a thought, have considered not phrasing it at all.
 
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quote:
You could, just a thought, have considered not phrasing it at all.

Well, I didn't originally do so, of course. My post was simply an explanation of what I might have said, had I been so insensitive as to want to suggest that we, in England, were smirking quietly at the Americans' inability to understand Pearce's joke.

Of course, the idea hadn't even occurred to me until Kalleh suggested that she, and maybe others, had drawn this inference.


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by BobHale:
Incidenatally can someone who has current access to the OED check what are the earliest citations for ignorant meaning
a) stupid
or
b) lacking in manners and social graces
rather than
c) lacking in knowledge.

I suspect these are old rather than modern usages.

From the OED Online:
quote:

5. dial. and colloq. Ill-mannered, uncouth.
¶Sometimes written as iggerant in imitation of vulgar speech.

1886 R. E. G. COLE Gloss. Words S.W. Lincs. 71 Ignorant, ill-mannered. 1886 F. T. ELWORTH West Somerset Word-Bk. 363 gnorant, wanting in manners. The usual description of a rough, uncouth lout. 1946 K. TENNANT Lost Haven (1947) xvii. 273 He used the word ‘ignorant’ in the country sense of knowing nothing of good manners. 1965 Listener 22 July 137/3 He writes what he thinks ‘a Puerto Rican’ is thinking (very elemental, Latin, iggerant, dumb, baffled, passionate). 1966 ‘L. LANE’ ABZ of Scouse 49, I jes' can't stan' that feller, 'e's plain bloody 'iggerant. 1968 New Society 22 Aug. 266/1 Ignorant, meaning ‘bad-mannered’, is non-U.
 
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Thanks tinman. It's as I thought. I've found that very often what some consider modern usages have longer histories than they imagine.
 
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quote:
5. dial. and colloq. Ill-mannered, uncouth.

That to me is the telling annotation. Even though it has been colloquial usage for 120 years, it remains colloquial.

I can't think of a single-word synonym for ignorant but its antonym is knowledgeable, not clever, well-mannered or refined.


Richard English
 
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quote:
Which just shows how people can misunderstand the most innocent and apparently simple comment.
Yes, you are correct; they can. And we all must consider this when posting, no matter where we post. As I had said, I just got into a lot of trouble on OEDILF (being called "hostile") because I didn't consider the implications of what I had said. When you are talking in person, it's fairly easy. However, posts, emails and PMs can be perceived much differently than you intend them.

I apologized for the comment I made on OEDILF. To me, an apology shows character, not weakness.
 
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I'm sorry Richard but I have to disagree. Words "mean" what people intend them to mean. They were not handed down by God with a dictionary attached. The meaning written in a dictionary is, to me, worth rather less than the meaning that is used on the street.
If someone calls me ignorant, I'm 99% sure that he's insulting me (unless of course it happens to be you).

The word is, on the street, MUCH more commonly used to mean ill-mannered than lacking knowledge. In fact I don't believe that I have ever heard it used - once again apart from from you - without insulting or perjorative overtones.
Even when it is used to mean lacking knowledge there is usually the insulting implication that you are at fault for lacking knowledge that the speaker has.

The only exception that I have heard is when the phrase "ignorant of some specific fact " is used and even then it still sounds slightly insulting.
 
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quote:
I'm sorry Richard but I have to disagree. Words "mean" what people intend them to mean.


This is surely a very dangerous concept! I use words with the meanings they are given in respectable dictionaries, since that is, to my mind, less likely to cause confusion than if I ascribe to them some some arbitrary meaning that I want them to have. If I were to decide that, henceforth, whenever I use the word "beer" it actually means "cocoa", my next visit to the pub is likely to be fraught with misunderstandings.

One of the dictionary definitions of "ignorant" is "Unaware because of a lack of relevant information or knowledge" and that is the meaning that I, reasonably enough I believe, ascribed to it. If anything the boot is on the other foot; if the readers of the word choose to ascribe to it some meaning other than that generally accepted then that must be their choice - but they shouldn't blame the originator of the communication.

Having said which, I accept that I need maybe to be wary of the use of the word "ignorant" - which is why, as I said, I would appreciate learning of a single-word synonym for "lacking in knowledge" that does not carry its possible negative connotations.


Richard English
 
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As you are well aware I am not talking about one single person arbtrarilly choosing to use a word in a non standard way I am talking about the fact that the vast majority of the poulation use it with a secondary meaning and that very few people use it with the dictionary's primary meaning.

I repeat, I have never heard anyone but you use the word about another person without there being perjortive overtones.

Even if I describe someone as ignorant, 99 times out of a hundred I mean ill-mannered.
 
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quote:
I repeat, I have never heard anyone but you use the word about another person without there being perjortive overtones.

Maybe it's more commonly used in its "correct" sense in my part of the world. I accept that it does often carry a modicum of derogatory baggage. But unless and until I can find a good synonym I'll probably have to continue to use it.

Oh, and actually I did misunderstand you when you wrote, "...Words "mean" what people intend them to mean..." You actually meant "...Words "mean" what the majority intend them to mean..." and whereas I might disagree that the majority does believe the word ignorant to be a synonym for "bad-mannered", it is certainly more plausible than was my interpretation of your comment.

Now you see how difficult it is to impart a perfectly simple concept...


Richard English
 
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Well, I know when it's appropriate to cease beating an expired equine.
 
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