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English Usage
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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #41
13-01-2011 10:10 PM

Hm, not sure, Bryan. The original (1926) edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage says that 'forum' is one of those words ending in '-um', originally Latin second declension neuter nouns, which are sufficiently naturalized into English to have the plural '-ums' rather than '-a'; others include 'album', 'asylum', 'harmonium', 'laburnum' and 'premium'. Some of what Fowler calls 'learned' words still take '-a': 'bacterium', 'curriculum' 'memorandum' , 'stratum' etc. In a third group are words that can take either plural: Fowler mentions, amongst others, 'aquarium', 'compendium', 'interregnum' 'medium' ('-ms in spiritualism,' says F.), 'rostrum', 'spectrum' and 'ultimatum' ('-ms better', says F.)

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #42
04-03-2011 10:52 AM

I notice that the interesting but (to me) irritating word 'poo' (noun) is now being used on the 'dog fouling' thread. I have consulted the Oxford English Dictionary (latest edition, I believe) which doesn't recognize it as a noun but which records the verb 'to pooh' - first citation 1980 (from The Times - 'bees pooing on cars'). When I was a boy, 'poo(h)' meant 'smell' - 'Crikey, what a horrible pooh!' - and never s**t. (Will I be allowed to use that word? - ah, no, I see).

What irritates me is the use of the word by adults talking amongst themselves, given that it's basically a nursery word ('slang, originally children's' says the OED 'pooh' entry). I would myself like us to be able to use all four letter words in their original sense - specifically 's**t', 'f***' and 'c**t.' But, given that that's a pipe dream, can't we find a more grown up word that 'dog poo'? 'Dog dirt' is what I was brought up to say. There's also 'dog mess', 'dog droppings' 'dog excrement', 'dog muck', 'dog faeces' ....

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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #43
04-03-2011 11:19 AM

Honestly Robin, you've got far too much time on your hands.

'Dog dirt' makes it sound like soil and thus less offensive. 'Droppings' makes it sound like a mouse. For 'muck' - see 'dirt'. As for excrement and faeces, you can start calling it that on the dog fouling thread if you like. I'll call them chocolate bananas.

I don't think your four letter words represented by 5 asterisks is good England either.

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Thisgirl


Posts: 11
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #44
04-03-2011 11:43 AM

I, 4 1, am gld 2 c da langwage chnge. Bout time itz brought up 2 date.

Ok, so I jest... But, having said that, as many have already said, language, dialects and usage is continually changing. Unless you are speaking/writing as your parents, grandparents and further descendants did, then I fail to see how you can take such umbrage at the evolution of language.

Language evolves based on the common influences of the time. In the same way Shakespeare (the most obvious of many) has influenced many of our phrases and spellings. American culture is a huge influence in this day and age, and therefore, the evolution of language has followed suit.

I have my own bugbears; the misplaced usage of direct instead of directly at times, for one. However, I think it's worth accepting that it's not so much that the American language is taking over and more that our language is evolving continually due to many differing influences. It will not be long before 'your' takes over for all contexts. 'you're' is a dying word it would seem.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em is what I say. Right then, I'm off to have a cupcake...

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #45
04-03-2011 12:08 PM

I don't object at all to language changing. But I think 'poo' is a change for the worse. It implies that our (and our dogs') bodily functions can only be referred to using childish euphemisms.

I expect Jon will respond in due course, but only of course when he can snatch a moment from his obviously frantic schedule. Glad they're keeping you busy, Jon!

Right, now I can go back to daytime TV....

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michael


Posts: 3,200
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #46
04-03-2011 12:21 PM

Does it really matter what we call it, as long as it is clearly identifyable?

With forums and the internet censoring everything, you have to go to great lengths to write **** (although some of us are better at writing **** than others), better just to use childish euphemisms.

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Thisgirl


Posts: 11
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #47
04-03-2011 12:34 PM

Quote:
(although some of us are better at writing **** than others)


Ha! Touché Laugh

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Thisgirl


Posts: 11
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #48
04-03-2011 12:47 PM

Well, you were better at it Michael... Until the censors got to you!

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michael


Posts: 3,200
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #49
04-03-2011 12:53 PM

And there was me thinking I would be clever and bypass the filters by encoding my use of the word **** (did it work this time? - this is making me very childish).

I'm still amused that I wasn't allowed to write 'assess' once on this forum as the filter thought I was referring to bottoms rather than assessments.

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michael


Posts: 3,200
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #50
04-03-2011 12:56 PM

thisgirl Wrote:
Until the censors got to you


oh, I didn't realise I was being censored manually. Blush
Sorry Admin, I didn't mean to make work for you. Please don't throw me off!

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #51
04-03-2011 01:00 PM

Quote:
Does it really matter what we call it, as long as it is clearly identifiable?


Yes, I believe so. Michael. Every word has its own flavour, its own penumbra, its own history, its own baggage, its own connotations. I don't really like the flavour (if you see what I mean) etc. of 'poo'.

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Thisgirl


Posts: 11
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #52
04-03-2011 01:36 PM

Quote:
Every word has its own flavour, its own penumbra, its own history, its own baggage, its own connotations. I don't really like the flavour (if you see what I mean) etc. of 'poo'.


Then, quite simply, don't use it... There are many words/phrases I hate for varying reasons; chipolata, freak, semolina, 'for' free... But I don't expect others to dislike them to the same, or indeed any, intensity... be my reasons coated in historical reasoning or not.

I always think the main importance of language and words is the story or the sentiment behind it. Childish or not, I'd much rather hear someone saying 'dog poo' in an embarrassed tone than an aggressive tone of any other phrasing.

Words are what you make of them. They are but letters. To believe otherwise is always going to lead to disappointment to hear others not using them in the same way as you.

In my humble, anyway...

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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #53
04-03-2011 02:09 PM

I've got time to comment on important issues, such as the disgusting penumbra of dog droppings on our streets, and the potential dangers it brings when you get it on your baggage.

But I couldn't possibly find the time to look up 'poo' in the OED.

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Ghis


Posts: 321
Joined: Jan 2007
Post: #54
04-03-2011 03:06 PM

Words have got a penumbra? If so do they also have a umbra and an antumbra?

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Ghis


Posts: 321
Joined: Jan 2007
Post: #55
04-03-2011 03:08 PM
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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #56
04-03-2011 03:22 PM

Good question Ghis - best ask Robin why the far more complicated 'penumbra' was used when 'meaning' would've done. Perhaps it was too childish!

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #57
04-03-2011 03:25 PM

I'm also quite intrigued to know what Robin meant by 'penumbra' in this context. It gave me quite a 'WTF' moment over my lunch (otherwise I would be off doing more important things, obviously).

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #58
04-03-2011 03:59 PM

Right, now. 'The Archers' has finished, back to more trivial matters.

1. From the Oxford English Dictionary definition of 'penumbra', giving an example of its metaphorical use:

Quote:
2.2 fig. A partial shade or shadow (in various metaphorical applications), esp. regarded as bordering upon a fuller or darker one.

[...] 1862 Masson in Macm. Mag. Aug. 319 Those who can surround a definite designation with the due penumbra.


2. 'Meaning' is a highly ambiguous term. Many thousand books have been written about it. I haven't read more than about two of them, and that was a long time ago. All I can say is that there is a difference between the denotation of a word and its connotation.

3. I've looked at the Stephen Fry thing, 'Ghis'. He seems to be attacking people who think one word or grammatical construction is more correct than another. I am not one of those.

4. Thanks for drawing my attention to 'WTF', Dr Dunlop I had to google it, but now I know what it means (its connotation as well as its denotation, I hope), I shall look out for opportunities to use it.

5. If I understand 'Thisgirl' correctly, s/he is saying that our choice of language is a purely personal matter, and has no social, cultural, aesthetic or ethical implications. I would challenge that, but I'm not sure that I would choose 'poo' as the most illuminating example with which to support my argument.

Sorry, must go now. Got to take the dog out...

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #59
04-03-2011 04:05 PM

I know what penumbra means, Robin, I was asking what you meant by it in this context. Did you mean 'shades of meaning' or did you mean something more subtle, relating to the common usage of penumbra to refer to shadows on the edges of things? I'm not being sharp with you, I am asking you to deconstruct the phrase so I can better understand your meaning.

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Thisgirl


Posts: 11
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #60
04-03-2011 04:36 PM

Quote:
5. If I understand 'Thisgirl' correctly, s/he is saying that our choice of language is a purely personal matter, and has no social, cultural, aesthetic or ethical implications. I would challenge that, but I'm not sure that I would choose 'poo' as the most illuminating example with which to support my argument.


I'm not sure that was my point. But thank you for speaking on my behalf.

Did I suggest: Choice of language personal? Yes. Has no social, cultural, aesthetic or ethical implications? No.

I don't believe I stated or implied it. Merely, I said that how you choose to view language, or take offence to certain terms or words, is personal. The 'c-word' for example, is widely disliked. But what is to dislike? It is a collection of letters, like any other word. Social and cultural influence make it otherwise, and it is a personal reaction or opinion that causes the offence (rightly or wrongly).

My simple logic is that if you don't like a word, don't use it. It's entirely personal as to whether you choose to use a word or also become offended by its use. There are words I choose not to use, as I don't like them. But if others choose to use them, that's their lookout. That was all I meant by my statements. Reading otherwise into them and discussing my belief of language on a cultural and aesthetic(?) and ethical(once again, ?) level is inappropriate to say the least. I don't believe I made any such viewpoints known.

Anyway, I'm new to this board, so don't wish to cause any offence/offense to anyone here, so I would hope my comments have not been taken as offensive or as a personal attack. That's not my intention.

I'm all about the love, man....

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