Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  Questions & Answers about Words    A right to something "compulsory"?
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
A right to something "compulsory"? Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted
In an excellent article about the proposed European Constitution, I found one idea perplexing. They are proposing a right to receive compulsory education. Does this make sense to you?
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of shufitz
posted Hide Post
quote:
The pharmceutical business is one that rcequires massive investments - it costs more than $800 million to develop and market the average new drug - but where the marginal cost of producing an extra pill approaches zero. That's what makes it such and attractive target for [those] who want to demagogue about the high costs of prescription drugs. ... [Thus,] the U.S. is already facing strong pressure within the World Trade Organization to allow the "compulsory licensing" of drugs to generic producers for an ever-widening array of maladies. Needless to say, the less able drug companies are to recoup the costs of development through patent protection, the less risk they will be willing to take in finding new drugs.
 
Posts: 2624 | Location: Chicago, IL USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of C J Strolin
posted Hide Post
Along similar lines, a recent news story mentioned a "decapitated head," which makes no sense to me. A "severed head," yes, or a "decapitated body," sure, but a "decapitated head"? I don't think so.

When I pointed this out to a friend I was accused of being a smart ass (true, but still...) and rebuked for violating the unwritten "It's-OK-since-we-all-know-what-they-really-meant" rule.


(Bottom line, I probably need some new friends.)
 
Posts: 1517 | Location: Illinois, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
<Asa Lovejoy>
posted
Bottom line, I probably need some new friends.
____________________________________________

Damn, CJ, you have friends? Tell me your secret so I can have some too. The only ones I have disappear when the mixture of mushrooms and poison toad sweat wears off.

Asa, who thinks he's de-cap-itated every time he removes his headgear.
 
Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
A "decapitated head" is just wrong. If we accept words just because we know what is meant, our language will deteriorate precipitously.
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
quote:
I was accused of being a smart ass
Out of curiosity, do Americans use the phrase "smart alec" to describe someone who is always trying to seem more clever than everyone else? Anyone have any clues on the origin of this idiom? Who was the original Alec, I wonder?
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of jerry thomas
posted Hide Post
Here is the google menu
 
Posts: 6708 | Location: Kehena Beach, Hawaii, U.S.A.Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
Yes, arnie, we do use "smart alec." Do the Brits? I wonder if that is how "smart ass" developed.

Thanks, Jerry. I especially liked the wordorigins description.
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
Yes, it's not uncommon here. I was mildly surprised to learn from the Sraight Dope site referenced by Jerry that the phrase is of American origin.
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
"not uncommon" Now, are double negatives not uncommon in England either?
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
They're not common, but not uncommon. Wink
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
These are just one of the devices that we, in the UK, use to increase the subtelty of our communication.

A thing that is "not uncommon" would be rarer than a thing that is "common".

Thus a pub that is "not bad" will be different from a pub that is "good". And a pub that is "not bad at all" will be different again. However, although all of us in England understand the subtelty, please don't ask us to explain it!

Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
<Asa Lovejoy>
posted
"not uncommon" would be rarer than a thing that is "common".
_______________________________________
I believe there's a specific term for this construction, but I can't remember it. Anybody remember?
 
Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
quote:
although all of us in England understand the subtelty, please don't ask us to explain it!
I may be in for a rude awakening when I visit England this fall! Wink
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
The more so it you start speaking about "falls".

That's when we trip up and lose our balance. We have autumn in England.

But please don't worry, the natives are really quite friendly and we are very tolerant of foreigners :-)

Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Graham Nice
posted Hide Post
There is nothing wrong with using a logical phrase such as 'not bad' for good or 'not unlikely' for likely. We reserve the idea of a double negative for a phrase which is illogical, eg using 'Don't never do that again' to forbid something.

Both types would be universally understood here, as would the subtleties concerning the type of person who would use each construction: gobshite or thickie, respectively.
 
Posts: 382 | Location: CambridgeReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
gobshite or thickie, respectively


I like the way you think, Graham! Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
 
Posts: 185 | Location: London, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of shufitz
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by Graham Nice: litotes or meiosis


I'm not so sure these words fit what Asa asked. But for the life of me I can't come up with a better answer.

Litotes seems to be a deliberate, modest understatement (typically meant to imply the opposite of the literal meaning), but it doesn't necessarily use the word "not."
("It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.")

Meiosis is a type of litotes where the understatement is by the name used, rather than by an adjective such as "tiny".
(Said of an amputated leg: "It's just a flesh wound." Or calling the Mississippi River "a stream.")
 
Posts: 2624 | Location: Chicago, IL USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
quote:
The more so it you start speaking about "falls".
So, there is no "fall" season in England? Interesting!

Now, Graham, I can figure out a "thickie", and, yes, those who say "don't never" in the states would be considered a "thickie", too. However, "gobshite"? My online dictionary says it is British slang for "a mean or contemptible person"; is that correct?

I heard another new one today from an English woman who recently moved to the U.S. She used the phrase "key to the door", referring to one who turns 21. She also told a group of us that we speak "American" English, which in England is better known as "bastardized" English. Roll Eyes
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
quote:
"a mean or contemptible person"; is that correct?
Close enough, Roll Eyes

"Gob" means "mouth" and "shite" is "sh*t", so a gobshite is someone who talks, erm, rubbish. It has come to be an all-purpose insult, so the definition you give could well apply. I'm not sure, but I think it originated in Ireland; certainly it is common in Liverpool, which has a large contingent of Irish.
quote:
She used the phrase "key to the door", referring to one who turns 21.
Yes, that's pretty common over here. 21st birthday cards all seem to be decorated with keys. It refers to attaining one's majority - nowadays that happens at 18, but still... Presumably in the past kids weren't trusted with the front door key until they'd grown up completely.
quote:
She also told a group of us that we speak "American" English, which in England is better known as "bastardized" English.
That was rather rude. Red Face We might think that, but we don't normally say it! Cool
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
This expression is sometimes used to denote any corrupted form. It is not unique to language and certainly not unique to US English.

It is not a very common expression and it is, as has been pointed out, rather impolite.

Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
quote:
It is not a very common expression and it is, as has been pointed out, rather impolite
I needed to tell you the whole story. I have to say, watching this English woman talking to a group of Americans was quite a cultural awakening. My fellow Americans were being curious and meant no harm, I am sure, and I think this English woman could see that.

Before the English woman made the "bastardized" comment, the Americans were commenting about the English "royalty" and "food". Their remarks were more out of ignorance than knowledge, but still, they were derogatory. Then someone said that she couldn't understand the British accent (it seemed understandable to me), and she questioned why the English always "misspelled" words. Our English friend, with quite a sweet smile and very poised, then made the comment about "bastardized English". It was so funny because she said it with so much charisma that no one ever took it as an insult. They just shook their heads in agreement, laughing. This woman should go into politics! Wink
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
quote:
she questioned why the English always "misspelled" words.
Ah! In that case she was simply giving as good as she got. Smile
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Especially if she intended "misspelled" to be construed as opposed to "misspelt" Wink
 
Posts: 150 | Location: Amsterdam, NetherlandsReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
The more so it you start speaking about "falls". That's when we trip up and lose our balance. We have autumn in England.


Aktyully:
"Fall" in that sense is a perfectly respectable English word, recorded as far back as 1545, that was brought here by our original colonists. It remained in common use in England until the last half of the 1800's, and then died out there for reasons unknown.

So it's not so simple to tell which is the "bastardized" form. Wink Big Grin
 
Posts: 1184Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of jerry thomas
posted Hide Post
Since "fall" means "autumn" only outside England, the following Limerick loses half of its punnishness for the unfortunate English

quote:

The cadaver of mister McCall
Was found in the spring in the fall.
"What a horrible thing!
"Had he drowned in the spring?"
"No, the truth is, he died in the fall."
 
Posts: 6708 | Location: Kehena Beach, Hawaii, U.S.A.Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
I realise that "fall" was a perfectly respectable word in UK English at one time. However, like so many other "old" words that have survived in US English it is now considered incorrect.

Another good example is "gotten" which was perfectly good old English but which is now pilloried as an "Americanism"

Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Graham Nice
posted Hide Post
I wonder what unbastardised English would sound like: Shakespeare, Chaucer or earlier still.
 
Posts: 382 | Location: CambridgeReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
Another good example is "gotten" which was perfectly good old English but which is now pilloried as an "Americanism"




Apart from "ill-gotten gains", of course.

I'd also take "fall" to task as being used outside the UK only. I'd re-refine that to be only within the North American sub-continent.
 
Posts: 150 | Location: Amsterdam, NetherlandsReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
R.E.: I realise that "fall" was a perfectly respectable word in UK English at one time. However, like so many other "old" words that have survived in US English it is now considered incorrect.

So considered in England's usage, you mean. Wink

R.E.: Another good example is "gotten" which was perfectly good old English but which is now pilloried as an "Americanism".

Though in fact it was not made-in-America.

My point was that when the two lands' usages differ, one cannot simply conclude, "That which is not mine is the bastardized version." You can't tell which is the original -- and change may in itself be good, rather than bad.
 
Posts: 1184Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
quote:
"That which is not mine is the bastardized version."
Both Arnie and Richard admitted that such a comment is considered an insult in the U.K., and Richard said it is uncommonly used.

After all, we in the U.S. often tease about British ways, too. Wink
 
Posts: 24419 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 

Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  Questions & Answers about Words    A right to something "compulsory"?

Copyright © 2002-12