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I received this article on my LinkedIn account:

40 Incorrectly Used Words that Can Make You Look Dumb (Jeff Haden)

I suppose I'd add using the word "dumb" to mean "stupid." Wink

Most of them, of course, we've talked about here.
 
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For the most part, I like the article's content-- tho not its presentation (threatening reader with sounding uneducated). Writing sounds precise & crisp when you choose the word that means what you're trying to say! I like to see a distinction between countable & uncountable quantity in written English, just for its good looks Wink. And I have to agree that using 'whom' correctly sounds pretentious in conversation & informal writing.

My admitted peeve these days, as a close follower of educational news/commentary, is 'principle' instead of 'principal' when referring to school head!
 
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Every once in awhile I get principal and principle mixed up with principal investigators (PI). Also, the main definition of complementary and complimentary are clear. However, it can be confusing, for example, if you want a complimentary copy of something. Why the i then? It just gets confusing.
 
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Originally posted by bethree5:

My admitted peeve these days, as a close follower of educational news/commentary, is 'principle' instead of 'principal' when referring to school head!
If it's a Latin school could you use
Princeps? Wink
 
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Some of these are not mistakes. I don't buy their supposed bring/take distinction, among others.
 
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We've talked about fewer vs. less being nitpicky, and I think the same of further vs. farther. They certainly don't make people sound stupid or inarticulate.

As for irregardless, it is in the OED so I am not sure that one's legitimate either, though she did seem to acknowledge that. I personally detest irregardless since to me it's a double negative. But I don't think people are stupid for using it.
 
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Whether or not "They certainly don't make people sound stupid or inarticulate" depends entirely on who's listening! Or let's say "ignorant", rather than "stupid", for it's easy for a far-from-stupid person simply to be ignorant. I tend to notice "fewer" and "less" misuse very readily. By the way, I am ashamed to add (in the interest of truthfulness) that I occasionally make the wrong choice of these words when speaking. When I do, I tend to notice at once, and I wish I could roll back time by a few seconds! But the reasonable person, even if a severe pedant, must forgive the occasional speaking error. After all, speech is constructed "on the fly", with an utter minimum of opportunity for editing.

As for "take" and "bring", I agree with the writer's comments. Three words that involve conveying or accompanying stuff are "take", "bring" and "fetch" ... and they differ in the direction of movement involved. "Take" means "convey away from here", "bring" means "convey towards here", and "fetch" means "go from this place (without the stuff/article), and convey the stuff/article back to this place". Sometimes "take" and "bring" are interchangeable, but only when "this place" is not evident; in this case, the use of one or other of these words then implies a direction. For example, your fridge's user manual might contain, with equal validity, either of the following variants:

-- "When you visit the Service Department, bring your proof or purchase with you."

-- "When you visit the Service Department, take your proof or purchase with you."

... but the following sentence would be incorrect or awkward if you were to replace "bring" with "take":

"When you visit our Service Department, bring your proof of purchase with you."

In the sense discussed here, badly used words for me are "irregardless" (it really does make one sound foolish - I've often heard third-party remarks about this when it is used), and "decimate" as a synonym for "annihilate". Also, for me, the widespread misapplication of the words "I", "me" and "myself" as in "Please give back the book to either Judy or I" or "If there are questions after the presentation, please come and see myself or my assistant."

The OED, intent on not becoming any sort of language police - tries not to judge word usage, but rather, tamely presents words as they become generally or widely used (or misused). Both "irregardless" - that was for years not a word - and "decimate" (used "incorrectly") are in now the dictionary, for they have been so widely misused on a general basis as to make them words. The growth of language (particularly with respect to what a word means) has always owed much to ignorance and general misunderstanding! "Home" to mean "house" is another verbal obscenity, for which we can thank the real estate industry, that is now in the OED! The OED occasionally uses the condescending term "Americanism" to characterize word usage that the OED editor finds particularly offensive, but which he must [reluctantly] include in his dictionary!

Aside, and completely off-topic: Happy Christmas and beyond to you all.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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WeeWilly, thank you for stopping by again! We are always delighted to see you.

Fetch isn't used that much in the U.S., is it? I always think of it as a word the English use.
 
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In the USA "fetch" seems to be used mostly WRT throwing a ball or stick for a dog to retrieve.

Oh - let's not forget schlep!
 
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Originally posted by WeeWilly:
The growth of language (particularly with respect to what a word means) has always owed much to ignorance and general misunderstanding!

Yes. This is why I don't think we can have a measure for what is correct besides usage. If we use and understand "bring" and "take" certain ways in a certain context, then those are the correct uses of "bring" and "take" in that context. MWDEU has an entry on bring/take, I'll post about it later.

quote:
Originally posted by WeeWilly:
"Home" to mean "house" is another verbal obscenity, for which we can thank the real estate industry, that is now in the OED!


I think it's been in the OED with this meaning for a while. The OED has "Also (chiefly in later use): a private house or residence considered merely as a building; cf. house n.1 1a." This citation seems the fit the definition:
quote:

1871 E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest IV. xvii. 81 [He] returned to the home which, almost alone among princely homes, supplied a model for lowlier homes to follow.

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Yes. This is why I don't think we can have a measure for what is correct besides usage.

This is a non-sequitur, for no one is arguing anything else - to wit, I entirely agree that usage is a proper measure of language correctness. But this detracts not one whit from the fact that ignorance and general misunderstanding are perhaps the biggest contributors to the growth of language.

The practical problem arising from this is the significant lack of clarity that accompanies any usage during its evolution. And you inadvertently (or cleverly?) supply a delightful for instance - to wit, your example citation using "home".

In that example, I take it, you infer that the citation refers to "home" as "home, the edifice" where I am fairly confident (all else being equal) that this is referring to "home, the hearth" in the "correct" or older sense of the word. Certainly the quote is quite logical in using "home" with this latter meaning. On the other hand, the quote makes considerably less sense if "home" is used as meaning the house or the edifice. How could that building reasonably serve as a model for lowlier houses to follow? Clearly, I submit, the reference here is intended to be at where one's heart, hearth and sense of family kinship are centred ... it is this "way of going and view of family values" that is being put forward as the model, not the physical building.

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"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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I agree that we don't use "fetch" much, but when we do use it, we tend to do so correctly - per Geoff's example usage.

"Schlep" is, I suspect, one of those delightful German-through-Yiddish words, tinged with the jocose. It manages to suggest that there is something arduous, awkward, or reluctant about carrying the burden in question. And wouldn't you agree that "schlep" carries no sense of direction (from or to) as is the case with the other three words?


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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• Fetch (geography), the length of water over which a given wind has blown
• Fetch (game), a game played between a human and a pet in which the human throws an object for the pet to retrieve
• Fetch (folklore), a doppelgänger or double in Irish folklore
• Fetch, a software FTP client—see Comparison of FTP client software
• ‌Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman‌, a children's animated television series
• Fetch-execute cycle, a typical sequence of computer machine actions
 
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Originally posted by WeeWilly:
The practical problem arising from this is the significant lack of clarity that accompanies any usage during its evolution.


Language change is always happening all the time, and sometimes confusion arises. But I don't see it arising in the cases of house/home and bring/take. If I use "take" when you think I should have used "bring", then you know what I meant (or else you would not know what I "should" have used), so there is no confusion.

You have an opinion about the usage of "home", and that's fine. I'm taking issue with your assertion that this usage is new and incorrect. "Home" has meant "house" for a while, and not just in real estate. The word "mansions" in the line from the King James bible "in my father's house are many mansions" was rendered in the Lindisfarne Gospels with Old English hamas, the source of English homes. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage has the citation from 1835: "the stately homes of England". We disagree about the citation I gave earlier, but how about these:

quote:

1440 Promptorium Parvulorum (Harl. 221) 244 Hoome, or dwelly[n]ge place, mancio.

1882 Harper's Mag. Dec. 58/1 A lovely drive..is bordered with homes, many of which make pretensions to much more than comfort.


About bring/take: either one can be used when the point of view is irrelevant to the reader or hearer. For instance Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing (act 3 scene5):
quote:
Go, good partner, go get you to Francis Seacoal; bid him bring his pen and inkhorn to the jail.

The direction implied with "bring" is entirely in Dogberry's head.

Comedy of Errors:
quote:
Antipholus (of Ephesus). And with you take the chain, and bid my wife
Disburse the sum on the receipt thereof.
Perchance I will be there as soon as you.
Angelo. Then you will bring the chain to her yourself?

Each of the men think that the other one has the chain.

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... forgive me if you find this post too long. I sometimes like writing essays, and I can only hope (fatuously, perhaps?) that you are not bored by such nonsense! If you are, the solution is readily at hand! So...

goofy, I am losing sight of the discussion mostly because so much of what you suggest I agree with, and seems to refute nothing. For example, I agree that language is changing all the time, but not all the time to every word! Language changes because (a) ignorance is as profound as it is ubiquitous, (b) society changes to the extent that old words MUST assume greater or new duty, (c) new concepts, or things arise that simply and "honestly" require new words, and (d) of fallout from political, commercial and other agendas. This latter force is often born from a desire to "hitch one's wagon" up with some desirable, sparkling, or laudable aspect of an existing word. A ready example of this is "gay", a word that has been commandeered by a self-interest group to the extent that its original meaning has been warped and, indeed, utterly destroyed. I mention this because I see "home" to be such a word ... and the offense to it is of far longer standing that it is for the word "gay".

Moreover, I already agreed that sometimes, either "bring" or "take" can be used interchangeably, but I went on to opine that, whichever is chosen carries with it - and inexorably adds in - an implied direction of movement, either "to here", or "to there" (= "from here"). Nothing you say refutes this; and anyway, I doubt that you would disagree about the implied direction. So your example:

quote:
The direction implied with "bring" is entirely in Dogberry's head.

... actually, not "entirely", for it's in my head, too (and, perhaps, in those of other perspicacious readers, as well? Wink ). Here the implication I draw from this is that Dogberry intends to be at the jail as well, making "bring" la mot juste here.

So this discussion appears to have devolved into argument for argument's sake, at least, with respect to nuances around "bring" and "take". I suspect rather strongly that you know this very well - it's not rocket science, after all - but you are merely out "to put me in my place" ... possibly a laudable sentiment!

Also, although I enjoyed it, I don't understand Proofreader's listing off various meanings for "fetch", except perhaps, that he may be objecting to my introducing an extraneous word into the conversation! Or maybe he is saying, "Wait a minute, guys, the word is not as dead as you imagine!" Anyway, for many years, I have seen these three words (viz, "take", "bring" and "fetch") as a triumvirate whose very raison d'etre is to attach or suggest a direction of movement to an otherwise neutral act of conveying - and nothing in this discussion has done anything but strengthen this conviction!

As for my particular abomination, "home", the discussion here applies somewhat differently. I hate this word as much as Nero Wolfe his "contact's" (Help! I don't know how to place here quote marks and apostrophe - but, please, no-one tell me that the apostrophe is not required!) being used as a verb. For me, "home" slides too easily of the oily tongues of slick real estate agents who never sell a "house", but always a "home". This particular usage for "home" is a long-standing personal animus of mine, and I detect, in goofy, a chap who has been mis-using "home" to mean "house", and he is damn well not going to let some saucy know-it-all taint his long history of misuse! After all, particularly in North America (with its very hot real estate action), his use of "home" has lots and lots of company! Of course, I am being cheeky, but this is a forum for opinions about words, and I hope, also a place for fun. But to continue ... there are two legitimate concepts that rate a word to describe them - to wit, the home (as "home and hearth") and the house (the edifice) - and I see no honest reason to blur their meaning. As a matter of fact, even "house" is acquiring some of the taint of "home" as in such expressions The "House of Usher", where the reference is not really to the edifice owned by the Ushers, but rather, to the Family Usher. But I am not sure that this is a taint as much it is simply another honest meaning for house!

Somewhat on topic here is a mention of aspects of our modern society that have much to say (to answer for?) here, and this applies more, I suspect, in North America than in other places. I have touched on this elsewhere, and I offer these below as opinions ...

First, our written language skills are abominable. This is clearly seen in the business world, where I have a long and direct experience. This is largely because developing language skills at school is passe, and is simply not done. Indeed, almost anything that requires discipline is viewed askance by the modern school system (and is seen as restricting a child's ability to grow and develop). Creativity is king and discipline is out. Sesame Street is a huge offender in this regard, as its focus is ruthlessly (and regardless of cost) on bridging the gender gap, mutual respect, a vigorous PC agenda (notably around issues of feminism and racism), and tolerance or passivity.

Second, everyone's opinion is everywhere seen as being equally valid, and everyone is encouraged to speak up - however empty and ill-formed their opinions. This scourge is the prime marker of our times. Furthermore, we have the ready tools to voice our opinions, many of which are, in fact, vapid and utterly stupid. Read any popular forum, and look at what is said, and what idiocy people believe and say. By the way, this is not some sly reference to this forum (or others like it), for the people here all clearly think about things, and do so with interest. Moreover, language is the issue at hand! The kind of "popular forum" I have in mind is offered by any chatroom, or any place where opinions are expressed about music, TV shows, celebrities, child rearing, and so on ... the popular culture vehicles.

Third, an adjunct of the above, is the notion that anyone is a training course or two away from being a nuclear physicist. This notion is peddled avidly by human resource specialists in the business world (where so many of us work, and where we are so influenced). It is pervasive in our society, and is given tangible evidence in close-to-meaningless new words like "enable" and "empower". This whole movement has emerged with the rise of other non-professions such as "grief counselor", "personal image consultant", "child psychologist", "ethics assessors", "soi disant business experts", talking heads on TV/radio, and a host of similar non-knowledge-based entities that leach productivity away from legitimate concerns everywhere. The common thread here is that the ignorant, too, have a right to stand up and be heard! These voices are numerous indeed and clamorous, and this is the kind of world where knowledge and discipline have little value and less respect. It is a world where ignorance expressed is often saluted as "courageous".

There are other similar forces at work, abetted by the legal system and media, that all work to provide a very odd - or, less provocatively - a very new force on life and language. The results are profound and, at least in my opinion, they carry many very questionable values into the mix. The end result is that language is under huge stress at the moment, and many words and concepts are extremely divisive, unclear, bumptious and controversial. Consider the word "niggardly" that is a perfectly good word, but its usage has caused huge controversy Look Here. Poor old David Howard found himself apologizing to the public for their ignorance.

Anyway, that is enough of a rant, but, my, I've enjoyed myself! Now it's time to join the holiday, and I'll once again wish you all a Happy Christmas.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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quote:
Or maybe he is saying, "Wait a minute, guys, the word is not as dead as you imagine!"
 
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Originally posted by WeeWilly:

goofy, I am losing sight of the discussion mostly because so much of what you suggest I agree with, and seems to refute nothing. For example, I agree that language is changing all the time, but not all the time to every word!


Language changes much more often and in many more subtle ways than you seem to think. You list 3 reasons language changes but there are many more than that. I will try to come up with some details later.

You say that certain uses of "bring" and "take" are incorrect - I would argue that if we all use and understand them, they can't be incorrect.

But I don't care about that. My larger point is that you're saying things that are just not true. You say that this meaning of "home" that you don't like is new and the fault of real estate developers. Not true.

You say that "gay" has been "commandeered by a self-interest group to the extent that its original meaning has been warped and, indeed, utterly destroyed." No, its "original" meaning was destroyed long before that:
https://wordcraft.infopop.cc/ev...=521107676#521107676
 
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You list 3 reasons language changes


... actually, goofy, I listed four, and the last is not insignificant. But our exchange of views is traveling in ever-decreasing circles, and seems to be of little general interest. Ergo, I suspect that we have wrung what we can out of this discussion, and so, it is time to move on - if not for you, then certainly for me.

But thank you for pointing me to the exchange of views in this forum on the word "gay". This came up several years ago on another forum, with similar sentiments being expressed on both sides.

Cheerio.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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I've been reading this, but not commenting. While I agree that "home" and "house" are used interchangeably these days, in my mind anyway there is a subtle difference. Do you agree, Goofy?
 
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I'm sorry if I misunderstood you. I don't feel like you've addressed my points, and maybe you feel like I haven't addressed yours.

Other reasons for language change:
Analogy. For instance "hang" used to have the past tense "hanged" and this changed to "hung" in some areas by analogy with "sing/sung".
Language contact: English borrowed a large number of words from Norman French, possibly because French was perceived as more prestigious.
Economy: for instance simplifying "going to" to "gonna".
Migration: even a small geographical distance between two groups can cause linguistic divergence.

Kalleh, I think sometimes there is a difference between house and home, and sometimes there isn't, depending on context.
 
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Originally posted by goofy:



Kalleh, I think sometimes there is a difference between house and home, and sometimes there isn't, depending on context.

http://books.google.com/books/...html?id=MJVhi1ID-AYC
 
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Hi wee willie, I finally have a little time to take you on (said she w/kitchen still a disaster area from Christmas dinner). Mustn't think your dialog w/ goofy is of little general interest, I would have chimed in earlier but for holidays.

After writing the below, I read the rest of the thread & see my last 2 paras echo items goofy took issue with, but honest I wrote 1st w/o peeking Wink

I like your 'peeve' with this specific aspect of the evolution of language (here I select only the words I like): "[when a word] is commandeered [in service to a current agenda] to the extent that its original meaning has been warped and, indeed, utterly destroyed." That would irk the heck out of me, too! But I'm not sure it really happens.

In the one area of politics I consistently follow, for example, "education reform" means something entirely different today than it did five+ years ago. Fortunately 'reform' will probably not be tainted longterm in this context, as opponents have coined "education deform" Wink


Oops. I was going to say something entirely different here, but looked first at history of 'gay' usage on wiki. Now I'm thinking that was a mighty strange word for the political movement to select. Perhaps it was done with an in-your-face bravura, or perhaps this was just the gradual evolution in that secondary meaning of 'gay', libidinous, sexually immoral etc which has been around for centuries... Have to agree that the second meaning overwhelms the first at present. I do believe we can credit that to homophobia rather than to dastardly word-destroying intentions of a self-interest group; I expect the older meaning of gay will right itself as old fogeys die off!

I'm not sure I agree that the meaning of 'home' has been watered down or changed at all. The word still invokes the warmth of hearth and family. And it has also been used for as long as I can remember as a rather snobby substitute for house to imply greater size, expense, or higher-classed inhabitant. Regardless of Robin Leach & HGTV, it's still 'houses for sale' and 'I'm buying a new house'.
 
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Hi bethree5;

Egad! "Take me on" indeed. Hopefully I am not that bellicose or awkward!

As for "home", it is precisely its use "as a rather snobby substitute for house" that I deplore. The substitution of the grandiose "home" for the straightforward "house" often carries manipulative overtones that makes this substitution a particular offense for me. I flinch in the same way when I hear would-be-erudites using "utilize" rather than "use", and so on. But let me be the first to acknowledge that this is a personal bias, where the home-house thing is particularly off-putting!

"Gay" is a dead issue in our world, for in practical terms it now only means "homosexual", regardless of the OED (that is even slower to drop meanings than to ascribe new ones as language evolves).

The manipulatory nature of words and their usage cannot be overestimated, and it is best if all of us remain on guard against this. This manipulatory offense goes on all around us, and it is very successful at advancing an agenda. This is a fit subject for its own thread, for pursuing it here would take us sadly off-topic, I fear. George Carlin did his own [excellent] rant on words used as manipulators. Politicians (both with an uppercase and a lowercase "p") are well aware of this, and hence "uttered an untruth" and "mis-spoke" get used instead of "lied", "detainees" gets used (in some places) instead of "prisoners", "Africa Americans" instead of "negroes" or "blacks", and so on. I'll put forward another of my many pet peeve manipulatory expressions - to wit, "First Nations" as a substitute for "aboriginals". Look how far the [political] agenda of aboriginals is legitimatized and advanced solely by getting this expression on the tongues of all and sundry. I intend no comment here on the validity of that agenda, but merely on the effect of the expression!

Lastly, I'll touch yet again on something that I have discussed before - to wit, business writing - for it is at the bottom of many of my diction preferences and pet-peeves. North America is deplorable at this particular art form, and one of the ubiquitous offenses in this respect is picking words and expressions to obfuscate or to sound "in the know", impressive, friendly, erudite or upper-class - or any of a host of other "dishonest" reasons. The idea of business writing should normally be to achieve clarity, without giving offense, in as concise a manner as possible. This tends to be best achieved by using the simplest language that will do the job. Oddly, people with a reasonable education can learn this art form surprisingly quickly; one to two weeks is really all that is required, where a good deal of that time will go into simply dismantling the deep-seated prejudices about what makes "good business writing".

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"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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There's more than one kind of house.
 
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Doesn't "first nations" and "aborigine" mean nearly the same? "Ab origine" is Latin for "from the origin." An aboriginal "nation" might consist of only a few people dwelling as a relatively cohesive clan who arrived before all known others, so "nation" isn't used as we might expect.

As for "house, there's also the Burt Bacharach verson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O_uGOAJVBw
 
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Have to agree that the second meaning overwhelms the first at present. I do believe we can credit that to homophobia rather than to dastardly word-destroying intentions of a self-interest group; I expect the older meaning of gay will right itself as old fogeys die off!
Bethree, I am a little confused. Are you saying that "gay," meaning "homosexual," is pejorative and homophobic? It surely doesn't seem that way to me, but then I may be misunderstanding you. Also, "old fogeys? Do you think "gay" is used more by the older generation?

This has been an interesting dialogue and shows the different views of descriptivists versus prescriptivists. (I know those two words aren't perfect; they are much like "liberals" versus "conservatives." You know what is meant, but the specific definitions don't work.)

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Hi Geoff; it's my fault for bringing up the topic in this thread, but "First Nations" is a loaded term carefully chosen to advance and aggrandize the ongoing aboriginal agenda to win concessions (eg, of land, power, status and money) from the North American people (Canadians and Americans).

Both the words "First" and "Nation" are aimed directly at the heart of their fundamental argument that this land is theirs, that they were here first, and that they constituted a legitimate nation ... with the tacit corollary being that this land was stolen from them and should be given back. Thus, by getting the loaded term "First Nations" freely accepted and widely used - and by their opposition, at that - their fundamental position is given a kind of unearned legitimacy! By "unearned" I mean one NOT arrived at by reason and argument. In passing, note that the actual series of events that gave rise to the current face-off in North America between aboriginals and the State is, in fact, open to other very credible interpretations that are much less favorable to the aboriginals' case. In contrast to "First Nations", the term "aboriginal" is essentially neutral.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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Bethree:
quote:
I'm not sure I agree that the meaning of 'home' has been watered down or changed at all.


I don't know whether you are aiming this at me, but neither do I think that about "home". I am ruing the pervasive "illegitimate" (my opinion) choice of word "home", when "house", the edifice, is exactly what is being referred to ... and where the aim in so doing is to "falsely" evoke the comfort of hearth and family warmth (if I might so word it). For example, my contention is that real estate agents sell a "house" and never a "home".

Proofreader: Very droll! I used to love that cantankerous chap, and the actor who played him.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." Robert Frost

Some pejorative terms get co-opted by the targets of the term, and "gay" is among them.

For a good look at the aboriginal American issue, one might read, American Colonies by Alan Taylor. Taylor shows how internecine warfare did them in along with the European invasion. A few, such as Tecumseh, made valiant efforts to unify the aboriginal residents, but they were too few, and too late.
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
Bethree, I am a little confused. Are you saying that "gay," meaning "homosexual," is pejorative and homophobic? It surely doesn't seem that way to me, but then I may be misunderstanding you. Also, "old fogeys? Do you think "gay" is used more by the older generation?
Yikes! I guess I could have worded that better, sorry! What I meant was: I would expect that over time, as homosexuality loses hot-button social-issue status, folks will increasingly return to using the word 'gay' in its ancient sense. Right now it has an asterisk, thanks not only to homophobes and/ or 'old fogeys' but also to the politically correct crowd, and to gays themselves, who embrace the term in order to undermine its use as an epithet. You can observe the latter phenomenon happening with 'queer' also.
 
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Hi Geoff;

I rather agree with Kalleh in ascribing nothing negative to the term "gay" - even if I decry the fact that this word has, in practical terms, been damaged beyond repair as meaning "playfully merry and frivolous". But, perhaps when it is used in the expression "they had a gay old time" it still wouldn't raise any sniggers!

The aboriginal issues in North America constitute a huge topic (and one that I do have definite opinions about!), but maybe it was unfair of me to raise such a provocative topic so casually, where pursuing it must needs carry us far beyond the bounds of not only this thread, but of this entire forum! It's just that I find the term "First Nations" an excellent example of an explosive "designer term" that loads the dice in favor of an agenda!

BTW, thanks for your reading suggestion; even your quick precis of the book is EXACTLY in line with my take on the issue, and would be my starting point in arguing the hopeless inaptness of the term "First Nations".


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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Hi goofy;

My list of forces that cause language evolution was never particularly intended to be an exhaustive one! Even then, I rather feel that your "analogy", "economy" and "migration" examples are arguably subsets of the forces I listed.

But I am losing sight of where you are going. It may be apropos to note that if you don't associate a "direction of going" with each of "take" and "bring" then you will miss implications in some of what I, at least, might say or write (even as you [apparently] did in Shakespeare's Dogberry quote - per your example) Therefore, I have some difficulty resolving this with your remark:
quote:
I would argue that if we all use and understand them, they can't be incorrect.
... as this seems to beg the very issue at hand!

I don't understand the point of your "hung" vs "hanged" example, unless it is merely to provide an instance where my list of forces on language evolution is incomplete. At any rate, I am not sure that you are quite correct with the example itself, and I offer the following excerpt from the Grammarist:
quote:
Hanged vs. hung

Hung is the past tense and past participle of hang in most of that verb’s senses. For instance, yesterday you might have hung a picture on the wall, hung a right turn, and hung your head in sorrow. The exception comes where hang means to put to death by hanging. The past tense and past participle of hang in this sense, and only in this sense, is hanged.

When someone is hung out of malice but with no intent to kill, as described in the example below, hung is the conventional word:

They hung him by chains and tortured him. [Day Press News]

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"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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Originally posted by WeeWilly:
The idea of business writing should normally be to achieve clarity, without giving offense, in as concise a manner as possible. This tends to be best achieved by using the simplest language that will do the job. Oddly, people with a reasonable education can learn this art form surprisingly quickly; one to two weeks is really all that is required, where a good deal of that time will go into simply dismantling the deep-seated prejudices about what makes "good business writing".
Well said.

I miss the days of business writing as you define it in the first sentence above. It really did exist. I came in on the tail-end of it, having been trained at Katharine Gibbs in an early '70's course specifically designed to help college-educated women sneak in the back door of male-dominated business fields (which I subsequently did). Even in my '60's high school everyone had some training in this despite the decline of the 'business course', & there was a fondness for unadorned literary style (esp Hemingway's).

You've put your finger on why common-sense writing has nearly disappeared from the corporate world: it was called 'business writing' and taught to secretaries. That sort of speech was reserved for upper-level mgrs & their exec sec'y's for client communication. Meanwhile the hoi polloi was shooting from the hip in interoffice memos typed by clerks. In my field those folks were often engineers whose Eng ed was neglected, compounded by increasing numbers of imported techies with a weak grasp of the language. Today they're typing & sending via email. Exec sec'y's & clerks gone with the wind. Those who possess good communication skills as well as tech & leadership ability are well-rewarded. But their job in this tight market entails very long hours & much re-writing.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by WeeWilly:
But I am losing sight of where you are going. It may be apropos to note that if you don't associate a "direction of going" with each of "take" and "bring" then you will miss implications in some of what I, at least, might say or write (even as you [apparently] did in Shakespeare's Dogberry quote - per your example) Therefore, I have some difficulty resolving this with your remark:
quote:
I would argue that if we all use and understand them, they can't be incorrect.
... as this seems to beg the very issue at hand!

The standard prescriptivist line with bring/take is " bring implies movement away from the speaker, and take implies movement toward the speaker." But this is incomplete; we use and understand bring/take in other situations. Now I'm not sure if your argument is exactly the same as the standard prescriptivist one. In any case I see nothing wrong with "When you visit our Service Department, bring your proof of purchase with you."

quote:
Originally posted by WeeWilly:
I don't understand the point of your "hung" vs "hanged" example, unless it is merely to provide an instance where my list of forces on language evolution is incomplete.

Yes, it's an example of language change by analogy, but it's not the clearest example. There were 2 verbs in Old English:

hōn, past tense heng , past particle hangen
and
hangian , past tense hangode
By the 14th century these verbs had collapsed into one verb. By the 16th century it had 2 past tenses: the regular past tense hanged, and hung which arose by analogy with sing/sang/sung.

Other examples of analogy

quote:
Originally posted by WeeWilly:
At any rate, I am not sure that you are quite correct with the example itself, and I offer the following excerpt from the Grammarist:
quote:
Hanged vs. hung

Hung is the past tense and past participle of hang in most of that verb’s senses. For instance, yesterday you might have hung a picture on the wall, hung a right turn, and hung your head in sorrow. The exception comes where hang means to put to death by hanging. The past tense and past participle of hang in this sense, and only in this sense, is hanged.

When someone is hung out of malice but with no intent to kill, as described in the example below, hung is the conventional word:

They hung him by chains and tortured him. [Day Press News]


I'm not convinced. No reason is ever given for this prescription, and we don't follow it anyway. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage provides many examples (including Pepys, Austen, Faulkner and O'Connor) of hung used in the execution sense, and concludes that if you observe the distinction, "you will spare yourself the annoyance of being corrected for having done something that is not wrong."

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their fundamental position is given a kind of unearned legitimacy!

Unless you are native American, you have even less right to claim legitimacy over the land. Europeans invaded and stole the country. Maybe today's native Americans can't claim sovereignty, but their ancestors certainly could.
 
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But, Proof, they were constantly at war with one another for territory, slaves, and prestige. They even modified the land to suit their purposes by burning it. They were every bit as nasty a lot as were our ancestors; there just weren't enough of them to cause wide-spread environmental destruction. Their only ethical superiority as far as I know is that they killed animals only for use of the beast and not for sport. Even that is questionable given the destruction of beaver, otter, deer, etc. for sale of hides to the Europeans.

Oh, and they gave Europeans syphilis in exchange for smallpox. Roll Eyes
 
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they were constantly at war with one another for territory, slaves, and prestige

And we weren't? I don't propose we return the country to the Indians (to the victor go the spoils) but you can't deny they were here first. We'd be in much the same situation if alien invaders arrived from space and claimed the planet as their own. We could complain but their superiority would make our plaints irrelevant.
 
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While I agree that the position that "bring" implies motion towards the speaker and take implies away, is too narrow, it seems to me that goofy and WeeWilly are actually making the same point.

I feel that in using "bring" there is an implication of to somewhere - though not necessarily to the speaker either in his current location or elsewhere. By contrast "take" has the implication of away from somewhere usually away from what will be the listeners location at the time the action of "taking" begins.
The verbs emphasise not the position of the speaker but the direction of the person doing the bringing or taking at the point the action takes place.

As for home I think WeeWilly has a point in some uses but then generally, if someone points to a house and says - "This is my home." how, without asking him or reading his mind, could you possibly know whether he means "this is a pile of bricks that I own" or "this is where I live in the bosom and comfort of my family". The two words are indeed different concepts but the object being referred to is often, maybe even usually, both.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Egad, another essay: (sigh): --

Hi BobHale:
Your notion of the implied direction in "bring" and "take", tallies exactly with mine.

As for "home" vs "house", you make my point splendidly --

In your example, if the man points to his house and says "this is my home", I would take him to mean his "bricks and mortar" house, but I agree that we couldn't be certain. After all, what do we take from an instance of a man's pointing to his head and saying "This is my mind!"

But the material point about "house" and "home" is not challenged by your example, because we agree that what might be referred to are two different things (because of the lack of clarity in meaning between the two words). You, yourself, state that we wouldn't know what the pointing man is referring to, and in so doing you illustrate the potential problem with using the wrong word! This is precisely why I flinch when I hear a real estate agent's talking about buying or selling a "home" ... because there we know for sure that he is actually dealing in houses, not homes. Calling them homes is a "manipulative elevation" of his business, I claim, where the idea is to hitch his marketing to all the vaguely desirable and warm scents of "home"! In some dimension, this is presumptuous and fraudulent! ... and oily!

This is where I point to my previous posts in which I express a preference (at least in business writing, and, by extension, anywhere else where clarity is required) that we use the language properly! In short, don't use "home" if you mean "house"!

In passing, note that this is the sort of thing that gets accolades for "good marketing", a notion that really comes down to systematically making a thing appear greater or better than it actually is - and this, in turn, is simple dishonesty, clothe it as you will!

---------------

The aboriginal discussion is hopelessly beyond the forum's purview, and I am waiting for the forum moderators to descend on me like a hammer, but since we've got into it a bit, I'll add in my two cents (to support my contentions that the term "First Nations" is inapt).

Geoff's reark is on the money:
quote:
they were constantly at war with one another for territory, slaves, and prestige


The aboriginal tribes of North America were not nations, or anything like them. They were essentially extended families, very similar to old-world clans. Furthermore, they were deadly enemies of one another, and any would happily commit genocide on any other that competed with them. See the excellent, but cruel and grim 1991 movie Black Robe, screenplay by Brian Moore, taken from his book of the same name.

The point is that these individual tribes did not constitute a nation (in contrast to the Scottish clans who developed enough cooperation between themselves to establish a nation). When the Europeans arrived in force in NA, they became yet one more player in the mix of contestants, each player of which fought to retain and expand control over its territory. But the Europeans were, by nature, more organized, cooperative, and technically advanced than the aboriginal tribes. So, inevitably they were far more successful at doing what every player in the mix was doing - to wit, extending and holding its territory - but soon that European territory encompassed the whole continent! I skip, as immaterial, discussion of the three separate countries that constitute NA.

Somewhere during that evolution of ownership, the aboriginals soon learned they were up against a force that had exactly the same basic drive as they had, but with a dangerous capability of "delivering", and they, the aboriginals, were in a battle for their lives. They remained largely divided forces (although some aboriginal alliances were formed), but they stood not a snowball's chance in hell of surviving, as they had before, in the face of the European juggernaut. [Aside: the Europeans were not interested in genocide. If they were, the aboriginals would long ago have been no more.]

Lastly, the way that people spread over the globe is still an evolving theory, and so, any of it is open to interpretation and challenge. Thus, claims about who arrived first in NA is not a fact beyond contention. Also, over the whole globe, no nation is one that hasn't been owned/occupied by someone previous to it.

The point is that "firstness" and "origins of nationhood" are concepts that are contentious and exceedingly elusive. The measurement of these concepts seems to lie with whoever first had the force and will to declare and hold ownership!

Therefore, "First Nations" is a term that - at least, from a linguistic point-of-view - is wholly unjustified, and a ridiculous presumption.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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The point is that these individual tribes did not constitute a nation

Self-justification
 
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Self-justification

... with the wonderful quality of being true.

And why does it justify me? I had nothing to do with it; I was merely explaining why "First Nations" is a highly-charged presumption because there are many claims and arguments around this issue.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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And why does it justify me? I had nothing to do with it; I was merely explaining why "First Nations" is a highly-charged presumption because there are many claims and arguments around this issue.

It's "highly charged" to you but I'd bet those on the opposing side think it's a valid representation of their position. The best you can do to describe your side would be "Usurping Nations."
 
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... btw, Proofreader, when I see reasoned argument abandoned in favor of attacking the commenter (even when it's mild), I sense that a nerve has been hit. A side-effect of selecting a charged term to illustrate a point on language is that the term is - er - "charged", and so, may unwittingly evoke all sorts of emotions, prejudices, animus, affronts, biases and so on! I offer no apology here (except for straying outside the forum's purview), because anyone's reaction to a comment says at least as much about them as it does the comment itself! As it has been observed "offense is taken not given" (the source of this aphorism is moot, but it certainly originated with neither Ricky Gervais nor Jimmy Carr, for it is far older than they are).

I want to stay on topic and within the bounds of the forum. Language usage is, God knows, a big enough topic, after all, and I (we?) have already strayed unconscionably far afield! But we are all innocent heirs and beneficiaries of history's leavings, and there are fascinating issues to discuss here - well beyond the context of a forum on language, I mean. If you would like to dabble in this, perhaps you'd let me know an appropriate forum?

Cheerio.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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Proofreader, I didn't see your last post (as you were apparently penning it even as I was penning mine).

You:
quote:
I'd bet those on the opposing side think it's a valid representation of their position

No doubt, but there are alternate views that others clearly see every bit as valid. That is the very definition of contentious, and why the term is charged. But this has nothing to do with the forum topic, where I only advanced the term as an example of wording designed to advance an agenda, and the term in question sure does that!

That is pretty-well all I have to say about this issue (on this forum, at any rate).


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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Originally posted by WeeWilly:
But the material point about "house" and "home" is not challenged by your example, because we agree that what might be referred to are two different things (because of the lack of clarity in meaning between the two words). You, yourself, state that we wouldn't know what the pointing man is referring to, and in so doing you illustrate the potential problem with using the wrong word! This is precisely why I flinch when I hear a real estate agent's talking about buying or selling a "home" ... because there we know for sure that he is actually dealing in houses, not homes.


You admit you have no trouble understanding this use of "home" to mean "edifice". So where is the lack of clarity?
 
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Goofy:
quote:
You admit you have no trouble understanding this use of "home" to mean "edifice". So where is the lack of clarity?


I admit nothing of the kind! You gotta' be careful when you go cherry-picking. Two points, from previous posts:

I:
quote:
I would take him to mean his "bricks and mortar" house, but I agree that we couldn't be certain.
... I guess you missed the text in bold. BTW, I would take him (in Bob Hale's example) to mean his bricks and mortar house because (a) he is pointing at something substantive, and (b) I am well aware of the widespread misuse of "home" to mean "house". So, this is a comment on the - er - intelligence of the listener at trying to make sense out of a muddled communication! Wink

BobHale:
quote:
... then generally, if someone points to a house and says - "This is my home." how, without asking him or reading his mind, could you possibly know whether he means "this is a pile of bricks that I own" or "this is where I live in the bosom and comfort of my family". The two words are indeed different concepts but the object being referred to is often, maybe even usually, both
... confusion, don't you think?

But don't you think that we are beating a dead horse, and that we have wrung what we can out of this "house" and "home" discussion? We all have food for thought, after all, and what more could we want?


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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quote:
Originally posted by WeeWilly:
Goofy:
quote:
You admit you have no trouble understanding this use of "home" to mean "edifice". So where is the lack of clarity?


I admit nothing of the kind!


But you wrote in the bit that I quoted:

quote:
Originally posted by WeeWilly:
This is precisely why I flinch when I hear a real estate agent's talking about buying or selling a "home" ... because there we know for sure that he is actually dealing in houses, not homes.


So you know what he means by "home"! You're basically saying "he is using word X to mean Y" - you understand him.

quote:
Originally posted by WeeWilly:
You gotta' be careful when you go cherry-picking. Two points, from previous posts:

I:
quote:
I would take him to mean his "bricks and mortar" house, but I agree that we couldn't be certain.
... I guess you missed the text in bold. BTW, I would take him (in Bob Hale's example) to mean his bricks and mortar house because (a) he is pointing at something substantive, and (b) I am well aware of the widespread misuse of "home" to mean "house". So, this is a comment on the - er - intelligence of the listener at trying to make sense out of a muddled communication! Wink


Yes exactly, this is how language works. We rely on context. Just about every word has more than one meaning. If we're not sure about something, we ask for clarification. Ambiguity is everywhere. Ambiguity is a feature, not a bug. If there is real confusion about what someone means when they say "home" (and I haven't seen any evidence that there is*) then there is confusion over every utterance in English.

* I mean the only evidence we have so far is Bob's example, but it's not convincing. If someone points to a house and says "this is my home", I'm not confused about what they mean. I might not know if they are thinking about "a pile of bricks that I own" or "where I live in the bosom and comfort of my family". But I don't think I need to know that in order to understand that that is the place where they live.

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Wow - I miss a day and all of this! Bethree, thanks for your clarity on the use of "gay." You may be right about the word eventually getting back to its original meaning, though I doubt it. Won't we always want to identify homosexuals as something? And, at least for me, "gay" sounds better than "homosexual."

quote:
...concludes that if you observe the distinction, "you will spare yourself the annoyance of being corrected for having done something that is not wrong."
Love it, Goofy, and it reminds me of all those Strunk and White "rules" (like not ending sentences with prepositions). We've found here, after looking into the historical uses, that many of them were just made up rules with no background, nor rationale, for the prescriptiveness.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Wow - I miss a day and all of this! Bethree, thanks for your clarity on the use of "gay." You may be right about the word eventually getting back to its original meaning
But WHICH original meaning? Somewhere on here Z refuted my rant about the word, pointing out that "gay" has cycled through many meanings throughout its history. Maybe you can find it for us.
 
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