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Or, how to spot a chemist...

Haberdasher mentioning the counterintuitive pronunciation of cation (cat ion) reminded me of an article in a journal recently about how to spot a chemist.

Write the words "periodic" and "unionised" on a piece of paper and ask the person in question to read them out loud.

If you get per-iodic (fully co-ordinated with iodine) and un-ionised then you have a chemist...

It's a (rather lame) in-joke amongst chemists to mispronounce such words, so one frequently hears references to periodic acid (i.e. a substance that is acidic only periodically) and unionised water (water run by a trades union, presumably!).

Ros
 
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I've heard the un-ionised joke before, but hadn't come across per-iodic!
 
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Are chemists the ones standing by themselves at parties??

(But worryingly, Ros, I did find that strangely interesting. May I stand with you in the corner?)
 
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You've discovered my secret shame, Paul! I am indeed a nerd. Big Grin You're welcome to share the corner with me though. Cool

Actually, my personal experience is that it's the civil engineers that stand by themselves at parties, discussing cement in hushed tones...

Ros
 
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In the U.S. it is definitely the accountants! Wink
 
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A nerd? Be still my heart. (Back off, paul, she's mine Smile Big Grin )
-------------------------------------------------
Kalleh says, In the U.S. it is definitely the accountants!
Or even more so the actuaries, definded thus:
actuaries - mousey men who sit on high stools, and whose chief virtue is that they are exceedingly unlikely to reproduce
 
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Ros

Have you ever heard ir peaks being called troughs?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ros:
I am indeed a nerd. Big Grin You're welcome to share the corner with me though. Cool



OK, I just need to rearrange the biros in my shirt pocket first ...

<blushes furiously>
 
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"Biros," I am quick to point out to my fellow Americans, are pens to our British brethren and sistren, something along the lines of "Bics" here.

(And this is from the only Yank who knew what "Kecks" were. These boards are definitely instructive!)
 
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My brother-in-Law is an actuary and has two children...

Biro is a term well-understood in the UK and used by those who do not object to using brand names as generics as meaning a ball-point pen. The ball-point pen was, of course, invented by Laslo Biro, who died just a few years ago.

I am impressed with Kecks, though, few English speakers away from Merseyside would know what they are.

Richard English
 
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Sorry, just to get things straight, a "chemist" on that side of the pond is what we call a "pharmacist", one who fills perscriptions and puts the medicine in the bottles for the clients?
 
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A chemist is a practitioner of chemistry!!! Definitely not a pharmacist!!! Sorry Morgan - you just hit a sore spot there.

Wordnerd - I suspect my husband might have something to say about your comment to Paul!

Sorry Graham - missed your question there. Peaks and troughs in IR and UV seemed to be used interchangeably, which drove me up the wall...
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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f you get per-iodic (fully co-ordinated with iodine)
____________________________________________
I've heard Brits pronouncing iodine with short "I"s, whereas in the USA it's with long "I"s.

Now, speaking of engineers, I'm reminded of the three engineers arguing about what type of engineer God might be. The electrical engineer maintained that since the human body functioned through electrical charges, God must be one of his ilk. The chemical engineer made a similar argument. The civil engineer had the best argument, however, stating that God had to be one of his types because only a civil engineer would run the sewer system right through the playground!
 
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eye-oh-deene is how it is usually pronounced over here

Your joke about the engineers reminds me of a similar one.

Four engineers were travelling in a car, when it suddenly ground to a halt. They got out, arguing about what the problem was. The structural engineer thought the chassis was the problem, and insisted they had to rebuild the whole car. The chemical engineer was convinced the fuel was the problem. The electrical engineer thought the wiring was the problem. The computer engineer said "Can't we just turn it off and turn it back on again?"

Ros
 
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Sorry Ros! Frown Please see your Private Topics.
 
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I was listening to a New York radio station recently and realized that New Yorkers say "be cause; we in the midwest say "be cuz". Obviously it should be the former, and I assume that is what you Brits say?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Obviously it _should_ be the former, and I assume that is what you Brits say?


Why "obviously" ?

As we all know the way a word is pronounced doesn't necessarily relate to its spelling or derivation.

I'd say that over here it's pretty well always pronounced with the neutral schwa vowel sound and a terminating "z" sound. This is also the way my various dictionaries including Cambridge Online show the word. (Although that one shows the be-caws pronunciation as an alternative.)

In other words very like be-cuz.

(Damn I wish I knew how to post phonetic symbols !)

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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quote:
Why "obviously" ?
Hmmm, I am not sure, but I guess because it sounds so proper with the "cause"--and I think of the English as speaking proper English. New Yorkers definitely say "s" instead of "z" in "because", while we midwesterners say "z".
 
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I pronounce it "be-coz".

Roll Eyes
 
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Same here Arnie. Be-coz, definitely. Big Grin
 
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More like b'coz, surely? And have you ever noticed how many (well-educated) British speakers pronounce perhaps as prehaps?

I quite like the NY accent -- writers sounds exactly the same as riders, and congratulations is prounounced congradulations. Great fun.

The American harASSed seems to have replaced our HARassed, which I'm not so keen on. I think I'm the only person left who still says HARassed.
 
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No, I think I do tend to sound the "e". Trying it out mentally, they all sound equally odd!

Oh, and I still say HARassed. And contROVersy. And DECades...

I used to know a half-Finnish, half-English girl who had attended an American school in Finland until she was 10, and she always pronounced t as d. Considering I was living in the Medway Towns at the time, haven of Estuary English and the lovely glottal stop (or should that be glo'al stop?), this always threw me. I was used to hearing wri'ers, not riders!
 
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Bee-coz defininitely, hence its shortening to cos.

Bee-coors is one of those affected pronunciations that has pretty much died out except in people trying to tak posh, like saying dawg for dog, hice for house and creche for crash.
 
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Definitely b-coz!!

Also, what about RE-search vs. re-SEARCH?

Which brings to mind those other irritations to be found on BBC news reports.
Something known as VY-lenss
and some people known as the P-LEESE.

Roll Eyes

Tadpole
 
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Definitely reSEARCH! And how about those strange beasties, PROH-jects?
 
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So I think too.

But then someone will DE-bate or de-BATE that answer!

(I blame Eastenders!!)

Tadpole
 
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I de BATE, but I also re SEARCH...though many in the U.S. say RE search. I have never heard "prehaps". However, the strangest, yet, to me is conTROversy. Were you to say that to me, I would probably not understand you.

We have talked on this board before about the use of the word "queue" in England. It just so happens that the voice mail at my daughter's college says, "There are more than 10 in the queue so you will have to call back later." I thought that was very British for a Californian school. Big Grin
 
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Kalleh, I wasn't here when the word 'queue' was being debated previously, so I wonder, would you mind telling me what you would call a line of people waiting for a service, bus, train, counter assistant etc.?

There are very many US pronunciations of words that have had me bewildered trying to discover what on earth they meant!!
Buoy, oregano, insurance and basil are amongst them.

Eek

Tadpole
 
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At the wedding reception ........

What's another word for that queue at the table, each waiting to dip a cupful of potable liquid from that large bowl ......

That, Sir, is the punch line.
 
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In British (RP) speech, there is a valid distinction to be made between the noun and the verb form of some synonyms, surely? So one would proJECT a missile, but produce a school PROject. One would reSEARCH a subject to produce a piece of REsearch. And indeed farmers proDUCE some PROduce. (The word debate seems to be an exception: d'bate in both forms.)

Tadpole, how many syllables do you get out of vegetable? Smile
 
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The BBC ... "secretary" (especially in Secretary of State) is usually sek-ret-tree or sek-er-tree rather than sek-cret-airy. Almost as bad a new-killer for nuclear.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I have never heard "prehaps".


American interviewees seem to me to say it quite often. Perhaps you'll notice it now I've sensitised you to it! It's like proof-readers not being able to read a book for pleasure, isn't it?!


(Incidentally, some of this obsessiveness on my part comes because I used to make professional audiotapes on IT subjects, and we interviewed a lot of people who had to be extensively edited. Nothing like spending four hours in an edit suite working on someone's twenty-minute interview to make you obsessive! When you start to disect recorded "normal" speech, it's amazing how fluid people's speech patterns are. Repeated words, partial sentences, convoluted meanings ... really nothing like writing at all. We had to be careful not to over-correct, otherwise it lost its "sparkle", but it did teach me how completely undetectable most sound edits are when made by an expert -- never trust what you hear!)
 
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> some of this obsessiveness on my part

This will make me sound like a twit, but I don't mean it that way. It seems to me that there's a subtle shade of difference between obsession and obsessiveness, but I can't put my finger on it. Help!

(And admittedly, this may seem like obsessiveness on my part. Smile)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by wordnerd:
It seems to me that there's a subtle shade of difference between obsession and obsessiveness, but I can't put my finger on it. Help!

I think obsessiveness is a character trait that describes a person who is obsessive (i.e., excessively preoccupied with an idea, thought, feeling, emotion), while an obsession is a specific emotional feeling that often leads to compulsive behavior.

WordNet has two definitions for "obsession". The first, synonymous with compulsion, is "an irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions against your will", and the second, synonymous with fixation, is "an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone".

Tinman
 
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I have no problem with PROject/proJECT. What I object to is PROHject - long o rather than short... Likewise with PROHduce...

New-killer is also a particular whinge of mine!

Oh, and don't even get me started on SCHEDULE!!!
 
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How about when you finish making a model car and you put a DECAL on it?
 
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Pauld wrote:
'Tadpole, how many syllables do you get out of vegetable'

4.

Or, it could also depend on which vegetable you had in mind.

Ros, about 'schedule'....????
Surely, in the UK, it is SHED-YOOL? And SKED-YOOL in the U.S.??

Tadpole
 
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My native language is General American.

The first time I heard "SHED-yool" I thought the speaker had a speech defect.

I eat vedg-tuh-buls (has anyone found a way to type that most ubiquitous --- schwa ---- yet?

Another "Britishism" that I have noticed recently is the apparently random insertion of the word "then" in discourse. I haven't heard this among Americans.

Comments then?
 
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Well now, at the end of the day, he turns round to me and says, like, 'Yes, it's part of are culchure innit?'

Listening to people speak what they consider to be the English language makes me cringe. Yet more alarming is the fact that my daughter is studying English at University, preparatory to teaching it, and not only does she indulge in these expressions, but no attempt is made on the part of her tutors to correct them.

Frown

Tadpole
 
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quote:
Originally posted by jerry thomas:
... has anyone found a way to type that most ubiquitous --- schwa ---- yet?


Depress the Alt key while simultaneously typing the following numbers on the numeric keypad:
Alt + 0228 = ä
Alt + 0235 = ë
Alt + 0239 = ï
Alt + 0246 = ö
Alt + 0252 = ü
Here's another chart: Special Characters and Diacritical Marks.... Voilà!

Tinman

[This message was edited by tinman on Sun May 25th, 2003 at 0:07.]
 
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Another "Britishism" that I have noticed recently is the apparently random insertion of the word "then" in discourse. I haven't heard this among Americans.

Comments then?


You don't do it then? But then, I do it all the time.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Another "Britishism" that I have noticed recently is the apparently random insertion of
the word "then"
===========================================
Although I don't do it, I like it! However, an affectation - or is it something else - heard in the USA is the insertion of "you know" into sentences, regardless of whether the listener knows.
 
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That's quite common here too, unfortunately. Ya note mean? (you know what I mean?)
 
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Picture of C J Strolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Tadpole:
Well now, at the end of the day, he turns round to me and says, like, 'Yes, it's part of are culchure innit?'

Along with the Beatles and the original 13 colonies, quite possibly the best thing ever to come out of England is the term "innit" for "isn't it." The sound of that contraction (oddly hyphen-less) evokes a feeling of immediate intimacy between the speaker and the person addressed. To me, anyway.

I've tried to transplant this little Britishism over here with complete failure. Sadly, it seems like an affectation which, when you consider it, is odder still. People see me as trying to portray myself as being better, in some regard, than I actually am by means of using a word generally not used by the upper classes. I mean, I can't really picture our R.E. saying, "It's a nice Rolls Royce, innit?", can you?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ros:
Ya note mean? (you know what I mean?)


This is one of my pet hates.
I once travelled home late one night on a bus where two teenage girls were holding a loud conversation at the back. Every other sentence ended with "note mean ?" or "note mean like ?"

I wanted to walk to the back, give them both a good slapping and yell "Of course she knows what you mean, you're mutilating the same language !"

It's interesting though how this phrase has shrunk over the years.

Do you know what I mean ?
You know what I mean ?
Know what I mean ?
Know wa'a mean ? (thats a glottal stop, not an apostophe)
Note mean?
Na'a'min? (Ditto - two glottal stops.)

Each with an optional "like" at the end.

It's hard to see how they can shorten it further but I bet they'll find a way.

Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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Now, now, Grampa. Mustn't get our knickers in a twist!

When you were the same age as the two (much younger, I'm assuming) girls on the bus, I can imagine you saying to a friend "Know what I mean?" and having a fellow bus rider, the same age then as you are now, turning blue in the face over the fact that you (you horrible whippersnapper, you!) so blatantly left out the "Do you" from your question.

But here's another way to look at it: In one way, I don't mind that the usage of our language is becoming more and more deplorable as time goes on. Simply by maintaining my own standards, I appear to be all that more intelligent to (as my father used to call them) The Great Unwashed. If I grow liguistically for whatever reason (exposure to this board comes to mind) I can appear positively brilliant!
 
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This is all part of the homogenisation of English regional accents. In my youth, you would hear all sorts of contractions: aint it, ent it, baint it, etc, depending on how far west you were from London.

I am quite sure that innit has reached the upper classes. I can easily imagine Tony Blair or Prince William using it.
 
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Of course, innit is no longer exclusively used to mean isn't it. In my neck of the woods, East London, it's quite common to hear innit used as a general interrogative.

"You've got a job interview tomorrow, innit?" which always makes my hackles rise!

Ros
 
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Gosh, I hope the cyberninnies don't attack me, using a word like resurrection!

My assistant today threw me with her pronunciation of the word "cement"; she says seement. Strange?
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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she says
seement. Strange?
________________________________________
As long as she doesn't say, "semen -t." It's kinda sticky stuff, but it doesn't seem strong enough to hold most couples together. Rather, it often sows seeds of discontent. (Baaad pun, Asa, shame on you!)
 
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